Replica Firearms

Written by Johnny Kitchens
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Airsoft guns have always been in a rather strange category. They are toys, technically, but toys that strive to be as close to the real thing as possible. They are like building cars for kids, with working doors and horns, but with no engines and made out of plastic. Such an item would surely be a toy, but on such a scale and with such detail, it could only be called a toy replica. Even more than its firing characteristics in some instances, an Airsoft gun's realism is the key to its value.

Airsoft guns pay homage to all of the people that have spent years designing and perfecting modern firearms--modern meaning WWII and forward. With very little effort, you can find replica Lugers, Berettas, MP5s, SPAS12 shotguns, and even Colt revolvers. The more expensive versions of these guns even match the weight and other physical dimensions of their namesakes. The most expensive are made almost entirely of steel and wood.

The Airsoft industry actually built itself up from next to nothing on the strength of the realism of its guns. Airsoft began in the 1970s in Japan and Taiwan, where gun control laws were extremely prohibitive. The designers of the first Airsoft guns wanted realistic-looking guns that were almost completely harmless. This would allow them to be legally classified as toys and would allow people interested in firearms to collect them without fear of prosecution.

Spreading Airsoft to the World

Airsoft remained relatively localized in Asia, despite a few attempts to branch out to the West, until Tokyo-Marui designed an automatic electric gun that allowed for compact, reliable operation of fully automatic replica assault rifles and machine guns. This accomplishment paved the way for Airsoft to grow into the industry that it is today. The Internet then allowed enthusiasts to band together and make Airsoft one of the leading mock combat games ever.

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