This is intended as an introduction to airsoft, it is a general guide to airsoft in the UK, though many of the points here will be the same abroad. Any advice regarding the law is intended as a rough guide only and you should research further or consult a lawyer on points in detail if you wish to.
Vintage Airsoft is not responsible for any action you take regarding this advice!
Part One, a really basic starting point is HERE.
This is Part Two A and will look in detail at eye protection, Part Two B at equipment and Part Two C at guns finally!
Part Three will look at specific airsoft genres.
So, you’ve tried airsoft and you like it!
That’s great, I don’t blame you! So you’ll want to start assembling your gear. Before I get to the fun stuff, here’s the important bits:
There are quite a few options for eye protection. Some eyepro is airsoft specific, some is general. I’ll not go into specific requirements for eye protection standards but will show some pros and cons of each type.
These aren’t really designed for airsoft, though they are used. These usually (but not always) meet the minimum safety requirements for airsoft but you should always test them before relying on them for protection.
These are usually inexpensive, and the most discrete to wear. However some goggles do have a gap around the edge, which can leave you vulnerable to BBs getting through this gap.
All clear eye protection fogs from time to time, with warmth and sweat or moisture in the air. Safety specs do have an advantage over other forms of eyepro in that you can reach into them to clean dirt and moisture in the field without taking them off. If you get fogging then you can wiggle them up and down to clear them in a few seconds.
Because of their low profile, they are popular with themed airsoft games such as WWII and Vietnam. They are also a good choice for snipers as you are unlikely to get lit up at close range so the reduced protection is less of an issue, but the ability to clear them is vital and they don’t get in the way of a scope or clunk on the buttstock.
You can get larger lab specs that go over spectacles, but these have large gaps around the bottom typically so be wary of them.
These are the next step up. A good pair of safety goggles wrap all round the eyes and it will be pretty well impossible for a BB to get past them. As far as safety is concerned, these are the safest eye protection.
However due to the reduced capacity for air flow, these are likely to fog and are harder to clean in the field, but this can be done with practice. Some higher end goggles have fans built in to improve this, other use a thermal lens to keep mist at bay. Some less expensive goggles may distort your view at the edges. Any large goggles can get in the way of rifle stocks for aiming, which can be an issue with using sniping scopes. However if you wear spectacles, these are a valid option.
There are two main types, large goggles and small ones. Large ones protect the full eye area, small ones just cover the eyes themselves. These have the profound advantage of not misting up or getting smeared.
However, cheap mesh goggles do have their drawbacks. Cheap BBs can shatter on impact and small fragments can get through. The large goggles can get in the way of aiming on some guns, but some thin glasses can be worn beneath them. In bright sunlight, the light can dazzle through the holes, which is distracting!
Full face protection.
It is also possible to get eyepro built into full face protection, either in mesh or clear form.
While this provides a pretty seamless level of protection across the whole face, if you use clear eyepro in this format it will still mist up and cleaning it is nigh-on impossible in the field. However some versions do have built in fans or thermal lenses to help offset this. If you wear glasses with these, both the lens and the glasses themselves may fog and you won’t be able to clean either! Some face protection can cause issues with aiming certain guns.
You can also get themed full facepro if you have a specific load out you’re aiming towards. For example, I make the WWI tank crew spatter mask for this purpose, but you can also get gas masks, horror masks, replica faces and so on!
If you decide to take you airsoft seriously and need glasses, you can get safety specs and goggles that take prescription lenses. They are usually better than the average safety specs and of course allow you to see very clearly. As ever with clear eyepro, they will still mist up from time to time.
Some final eyepro tips:
1. In an ideal world, shoot any eyepro you have to test it before you use it. If it’s a pair of inexpensive safety specs, get two pairs and test one. Use a 350fps gun in full auto at close range, test the frame and the glasses themselves. Any signs of cracking or splintering then do not use them. If you have access to a DMR or sniper rifle (450 to 550fps in the UK) then it is also worth testing with them to simulate a worst case scenario. When you have tested your first pair, use the second as impacts can degrade the protection.
When testing eyepro like this, WEAR EYEPRO. Just in case you forgot that BBs can take your eye out…
2. There are dozens of different standards for impact ratings, but not all are suitable for airsoft. This is why I recommend the above test before any skirmish use.
3. Anti-mist for clear eyepro is a constant debate. Honestly, I think mist is nearly unavoidable and when I remember, wash my goggles and specs in a detergent solution which largely keeps it at bay. Carry some clean blue tissue around with you for a cheeky wipe in the field if needed, most sites have a stock.
4. DO NOT USE SKI GOGGLES. These and other related forms of eye protection are not designed to protect against impacts. They will shatter and send splinters into your eyes.
Sorry for such a long post on this, but there is a lot to cover! Next time we will look at webbing, helmets and other more exciting equipment.
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