Anyone who’s seen or handled an airsoft gun will agree that they look very much like actual firearms; the only giveaway is the orange tips they come with. And since the orange tip doesn’t affect the gun’s performance in any way, folks wonder if they need to keep the orange tips on the airsoft guns.
Airsoft guns don’t need to have orange tips. Although US federal law mandates that all replica guns imported, transported, manufactured, or sold in the country have orange tips, this law doesn’t require owners to keep them on afterward. However, some state laws require orange tips at all times.
This article explains the laws requiring airsoft guns to have orange tips and instances when they aren’t needed. It also explores ways to both remove and replace an orange tip.
Why Do Airsoft Guns Have Orange Tips, and Do You Need To Keep Them on?
It’s almost impossible to buy an airsoft gun without an orange tip because a US federal law of 1988 makes it illegal to do so. That law does not prevent airsoft owners from removing or painting the tip, but many state and city laws do not allow it.
According to US Code, Title 15, Chapter 76 — § 5001, “it’s unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, transport or receive any replica or imitation firearm unless it contains a 6mm (0.24in) blaze orange tip”.
The law is self-explanatory. It means that you can’t make, buy, or sell toy guns (airsoft included) that don’t have an orange tip. Additionally, it’s illegal to carry airsoft and other toy guns across state lines if they don’t have the orange tip.
However, the law requiring orange tips applies mainly to manufacturers, importers, and retailers. It doesn’t prevent you from modifying the airsoft gun after buying it, which means that airsoft guns don’t need to have orange tips, and you can remove or paint it if you don’t like it.
But while federal law doesn’t prevent you from removing the tips, some state and city laws may not allow it. For example, in California, it’s illegal to paint or take off the orange tip from an airsoft gun. The states of Illinois and New Jersey also have similar laws.
What’s the Purpose of Orange Tips on Airsoft Guns?
The orange tip on airsoft guns makes them identifiable as airsoft guns and not actual firearms. This helps prevent individuals from using airsoft guns in armed robberies and helps police distinguish between an airsoft gun and a firearm.
Many people find the blazing orange tips distasteful, as they believe it looks ugly and makes their airsoft guns look less authentic. These people are quite right — the orange tips make airsoft guns seem less real, which is, in fact, their primary purpose.
You’d agree that airsoft guns bear a striking resemblance to actual firearms, and many of them are physically identical to gun models available on the market. This resemblance makes them difficult to differentiate from real guns. The orange tips help other individuals better identify an airsoft gun and not mistake it for an actual firearm.
There’s much sense in having orange tips on airsoft guns, as has been proven numerous times by the many instances where people, including the police, have shot at individuals brandishing airsoft guns that didn’t have orange tips.
In every instance, these people fired because they mistook the airsoft guns for actual firearms and acted in self-defense. Many of these incidents could have been prevented if there was an orange tip on the airsoft gun.
How To Remove Orange Tips From Airsoft Guns
The only time you should remove the orange tips is if the laws of your city don’t require airsoft guns to have them on at all times. If that’s the case for you, then you can go ahead to remove the tips. But note that doing so voids the manufacturer’s warranty, and if you’re not careful, you may damage your gun.
Before removing the tip, you first need to look and determine how it was fixed to the airsoft gun. Orange tips are usually attached to the gun in one of three ways:
If you see an allen screw, then you’re in luck. Simply use an allen wrench to get the screw out, then use your fingers to unscrew the orange tip. Sometimes it might be too tight, and you may need a plier or wrench to unscrew the orange tip. Remember to turn the end counterclockwise to remove it.
Pins are more complicated than allen screws. To remove them, you’d need to use something sharp (like a flat-head screwdriver) to chip off the plastic around the pin. Doing this will expose more of the pin and allow you to push it out with the flat of the screwdriver or pull it out with pliers.
Alternatively, you can use a heat gun or hairdryer to heat and weaken the plastic around the pin, then pull it out with pliers.
Sometimes, the orange tips are attached to the gun using glue. You can tell it’s glue when you don’t see a pin or screw anywhere on the surface of the tip.
To remove these kinds of tips, you need to weaken the glue by warming it up, and the best way to do this is by putting the tip in hot water for about five to seven minutes.
After the glue has warmed, take the tip from the water and pull it off the gun. If you encounter some resistance, twisting them in both directions as you pull can help.
Removing Metal Orange Tips
Some airsoft guns use orange tips made of metal. These types are generally fairly easy to remove. All you need is a plier to unscrew the tip. If your metal tip is also attached to the airsoft gun with glue, you will need to follow the steps above, then try unscrewing it again.
Pros and Cons of Removing Orange Tips From Airsoft Guns
Like everything, there are both advantages and disadvantages to removing the orange tips, and they’re outlined below.
- It makes the airsoft gun more realistic: Removing the tip improves the look of the gun and makes it appear more authentic, which is essential when playing airsoft games like MilSim.
- It makes camouflaging easier: Orange tips are designed to be bold and conspicuous. So removing it makes it easier to be stealthy and blend into the environment.
- Allows you to attach other accessories: Removing the orange tip reveals grooves that can be used to attach other airsoft gun accessories like suppressors, sound amplifiers, and tracer units that can improve the look of the gun.
- Safety hazard: Airsoft guns without orange tips can be mistaken for actual firearms. Law enforcement officers can shoot at you when they see such guns.
- Voids warranty: By removing orange tips, you lose your warranty. Retailers will refuse to replace or repair your airsoft gun even when it’s within the warranty period and even if the fault has nothing to do with the orange tips.
- Possible damage: Some orange tips can be challenging to take off, and in the process, you can damage the barrel and thread of the gun.
It’s Better To Conceal Than To Remove
Rather than removing the orange tips from the gun, consider concealing it.
This method involves hiding away the orange tips rather than removing them. The orange tip remains on the gun but is dressed up with black electrical tape or rubber coating to hide the color.
There are several reasons why concealing the orange tips is better than outrightly removing them. Here are some of the reasons:
- The tape or rubber coating can be easily removed to reveal the original orange tip. As such, the warranty on the gun isn’t affected.
- There’s a lesser risk of damaging the gun. Compared to removing the orange tips, simply concealing it is far less risky, as there’s little need for forceful actions that can damage the gun.
- It saves cost as you don’t need to buy replacement tips. When visiting states that require orange tips, you can peel off the tape or rubber coating to reveal the orange tips rather than buying replacements. Some folks might argue that the tape and rubber coatings cost money the same replacement tips do. They’re right. However, tapes are often cheaper and can be used for other things besides the airsoft gun.
How To Hide Orange Tips on Airsoft Guns
As mentioned earlier, you can conceal orange tips using black tape or spray-on black rubber coating. You can also use spray paint.
This method is quite straightforward. All you need to do is take some black electric tape and roll it over on the orange tip.
The only downside to this method is that the tape will block out any holes or slits in the orange tip. So it’s best to use tapes on plain tips, without any slits or holes.
Spray-On Rubber Coating
This method is the best way to disguise the orange tips, as it works well with all kinds of tips, even those with holes or slits. You spray the coating over the orange tip, and the result is a durable, non-slip coating that can be peeled off at any time.
Before you start spraying, put some tape over the barrel right next to the orange tip. The tape will prevent the spray from getting on the other parts of the gun.
Use short and quick sprays, going over the tip until it’s covered completely, and no orange show. Let it air dry for two to three hours before touching it.
If you decide on rubber coatings, I recommend using the Plasti Dip Multi-Purpose Rubber Coating (available on Amazon.com). It’s non-slip, flexible, insulating, has a matte finish, and can be used on multiple surfaces.
Spray painting is the third and least recommended way to conceal the orange tips. It’s very similar to the rubber coatings method explained above, and the exact directions and precautions apply.
The downside to spray painting is that you can’t take it off easily like tape and rubber coatings. And applying it may make you lose your warranty.
Replacing Orange Tips
If you’re moving across state lines or to a state that requires orange tips at all times, you’ll need to replace a removed tip. Here are ways to do it:
- Replace the original tip if it’s not damaged. If the tip isn’t lost or damaged, you can apply glue and put it back in place.
- Buy replacement tips in stores or online.
- Spray paint, rubber coating, and tape. If you’ve replaced the orange tip with a flash hider or suppressor, you can change the color to orange with spray paint or rubber coating. You can also wrap it up in orange tape. But however you do it, ensure that the new orange tip is up to 6mm (0.24in), as the law requires.
Do Airsoft Fields Allow Guns Without Orange Tips?
Most, if not all, airsoft fields don’t mind if your guns have orange tips or not, and most players use guns without your tips. Airsoft fields are mainly concerned with the FPS rating of your gun being within the acceptable limits.
Safety Precautions When Using Airsoft Guns Without Orange Tips
There are admittedly some advantages in removing the orange tips. But these advantages don’t outweigh the sole disadvantage of the increased risk of a person getting shot because the airsoft gun was mistaken for a real firearm.
But if you insist on removing the orange tips, here are some precautions you should take:
- Only use the gun in official airsoft fields and events.
- Never travel across state lines without orange tips on your gun, and always carry it in a gun case.
- Find out if the city you live in requires airsoft guns to have orange tips. It’s unlawful to remove the orange tips in California, Illinois, New Jersey, and some others, and you’ll get a heavy fine if you get caught.
- Never brandish an airsoft gun in public, even one that has the orange tips.
Federal law states that imitation firearms need to have orange tips when manufactured, sold, or transported. The law doesn’t require individuals to keep the orange tips afterward, and you may remove them if you wish. But this depends on where you live, as some states require the orange tips at all times.
Your airsoft gun may not need to have orange tips, but it’s strongly advised that you keep them on. Orange tips help differentiate airsoft guns from actual firearms, preventing law enforcement and other individuals from mistaking them for real weapons and shooting at you.