Tuesday, July 16, 2013

TSA Travel Tips Tuesday: Traveling With Airsoft Guns


Airsoft Gun
Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons
I’ve been noticing an uptick in the number of Airsoft guns and grenades that are being discovered in carry-on luggage and checked baggage. So, I wanted to give all of the Airsoft enthusiasts a heads up about traveling with these items.

For those of you not familiar with Airsoft, it’s an activity similar to paintball, but the guns shoot plastic pellets. While the guns don’t fire real bullets, they look alarmingly realistic. Most of the guns have orange tips on the muzzles, but on the X-ray screen, they look like the real deal and will cause an incident and delay you and your fellow passengers. They’re also prohibited from the aircraft because they’re considered a realistic replica and would likely cause panic and commotion if seen on a plane.

Like paintball guns, Airsoft guns are perfectly fine to transport in your checked baggage, and as with BB and pellet guns, there is no need to declare them as you would a real firearm.

There are also Airsoft grenades and mortars that look realistic. These are not OK in carry-on or checked baggage. Keep in mind that if your gun uses compressed gas cartridges, those are prohibited as well. CO2 cartridges are only permitted with life vests and mechanical limbs.  

Airsoft Grenades Discovered in Checked Baggage at SJU
Airsoft Grenades Discovered in Checked Baggage at SJU

See you next week with more travel tips! 

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team 

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.


39 comments:

RB said...

If airsoft guns look like the "real deal" on xray then why don't they cause a concern in checked baggage?

Anonymous said...

Because items in the carry-on baggage are easily accessible while you're on the plane. You cannot get your stuff inside your checked baggage until you wait for your bag to show up in baggage claim at the airport.

Anonymous said...

I fly a few times a month for business and just wanted to take the time to thank TSA for a professional job well done. I have never encountered anything but highly intelligent, courteous, and well-trained Federal Officers.

Anonymous said...

IF you put a true firearm in checked baggage and it doesn't have a "checked" tag within the case, they'll yank a half-hitch in you. So, what the other fella (RB) is asking is if the airsoft guns are realistic looking, but aren't required to be declared, why doesn't TSA folks screening checked baggage throw a nutty when they seem 'em on their X-Ray screening?

It suggests to me that they open the cases and see if they're real or not. More chance for TSA to remove other things from your bag(s) during such endeavors!

Anonymous said...

I think what RB is saying is that, since the guns look real on an x-ray, they will cause problems when the checked bag goes through screening. That bag will have to be pulled aside and checked because it won't be in a locked case like a normal gun. Depending on the airport, that may lead to delays or possibly evacuating the terminal.

RB said...

RB said...
If airsoft guns look like the "real deal" on xray then why don't they cause a concern in checked baggage?
.............................
July 16, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Anonymous said...
Because items in the carry-on baggage are easily accessible while you're on the plane. You cannot get your stuff inside your checked baggage until you wait for your bag to show up in baggage claim at the airport.

July 17, 2013 at 3:58 AM
.................................

I think you missed the point of my post.

Bob says Airsoft guns look like the "real deal" on xray.

If a firearm is not declared in checked baggage and one is viewed on xray then that should result in a hands on inspection which results in a dilution of screeners attention for real threat items.

If an Airsoft gun looks like the "real deal" then unnecessary alarms are happening and TSA screeners are having to open bags for invalid reasons.

Of course Airsoft guns might actually look differently on xray than real firearms which gives question to the accuracy original post.

I find it hard to believe that the plastics in Airsoft toys and metals used in real firearms look the same on xray.

In other words I think we are being feed a line of bullhockey by TSA.

Anonymous said...

RB said...If airsoft guns look like the "real deal" on xray then why don't they cause a concern in checked baggage?


I knew it!!! I knew you didn't actually read the posts. If you don't know the SIMPLE answer to this question............... Well,you must not be the aviation security expert I believed you to be.

Airsoft Atlanta said...

Hey, this is great information from the TSA. We have customers asking all the time, "how do I bring airsoft guns on a plane" when traveling to Atlanta. They don't know if they should pack it up, if it's OK to begin with, etc. This is good stuff. We're going to post this up in our store and put it on our website too. Thanks again for the very informative post!

Anonymous said...

http://www.whec.com/news/stories/S3101080.shtml?cat=566 So now you're searching people's cars?

Anonymous said...

"I fly a few times a month for business and just wanted to take the time to thank TSA for a professional job well done. I have never encountered anything but highly intelligent, courteous, and well-trained Federal Officers."

**********************************

Wow...most every time I pass through an airport checkpoint and observe the TSA I feel sorry for our country...

Anonymous said...

For starters assuming that ALL airsoft guns are made of cheap plastic is entirely NOT true. Not everyone plays with $30 toys from Wamart.

The majority of the high-end replicas are made from high-grade polymer and aluminum and/or steel.

Some of the rifles that run off propane gas function exactly like real firearms with the only exception being that there is no firing pin.

I highly dobut some Joe-Schmoe TSA officer with no firearms exp could tell the difference.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that many airsoft weapons are made of steel or aluminum and are externally very near to identical to their more deadly counterparts.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
RB said...If airsoft guns look like the "real deal" on xray then why don't they cause a concern in checked baggage?


I knew it!!! I knew you didn't actually read the posts. If you don't know the SIMPLE answer to this question............... Well,you must not be the aviation security expert I believed you to be.


July 17, 2013 at 9:28 AM
.....................
Oh, I read them, even yours, but nothing spoke to my questions.

An undeclared weapon should be getting some attention when in checked bags so either Airsoft guns don't really look like the "real deal" as claimed by Bob or TSA is wasting a lot of time opeining bags and looking for toys.

Now unless you work for TSA I don't see how anything you have to say will add value to this discussion.

RB said...

TSA searches valet parked car


Bob, just where does TSA get any authority to search people or peoples property when not trying to gain entry to an airports secure area.





Anonymous said...

Will the TSA being expanding the program described in this article?

http://www.whec.com/news/stories/S3101080.shtml?cat=566

Will it be expanded to other parking lots, other airports, roads leading to airports? Are you going to expand it to cars parked out front of people's homes since the road is public? The lady in the article didn't seem to have an issue with the search, just that she wasn't notified about the search. You can't be too careful, can you? Anything for safety and if you don't have anything to hide, you have nothing to worry about. Is that correct?

screenshot

Ash Wolford said...

"I find it hard to believe that the plastics in Airsoft toys and metals used in real firearms look the same on xray."

Except most good airsoft guns -- that means ones you didn't buy from WalMart -- are made of much the same materials as the Real Steel weapons. Metal where metal was used in the real gun, plastic where plastic was used. Not to mention, there are different types of airsoft guns that may appear more or less realistic. AEGs, gas guns, polarstars, all have different internals and may appear differently to someone checking xrays. Keep in mind, airsoft isn't something only practiced by 13-year-olds in their back yards. A lot of us are adults who play 'professionally' and have much more advanced 'toys'.

RB said...

Honest Travel Trips

Seems that terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo get a less invasive pat down than do travelers who have done nothing to deserve such treatment I have to wonder just why TSA can treat innocent travelers more harshly than dangerous prisoners are treated? .

GITMO Detainees No Longer Getting Groins Groped, TSA Still Touching Yours

Maybe Bob will explain why TSA can feel up our crotches but doing it to Gitmo terrorists is to harsh.

Something is not right with this picture.

Is it that TSA just likes to play touchy feely with travelers?.

Any violation of Constitutionally protected speech will be reported to the DHS OIG. This post is in complete compliance with the illegal TSA Posting Guidelines.

Anonymous said...

Hey, at least we're learning about airsoft guns!

Anonymous said...

Actually, Airsoft guns and Real Steel rifles have a LOT in common.
About half of the real rifles are made from A VERY strong plastic, the same ones we use for the higher-end Airsoft guns.
While the metal may be slightly different, the x-ray beams won't go through it any differently.
For example: The H&K G36 rifle is made with the same (almost exactly!) nylon polymer build of the ARES G36c, a 'nice' Airsoft gun.
An M14 made by an Airsoft company (G&G) is made of the same metal that most Vietnam era real M14's were forged out of.
A GBB rifle looks almost exactly like a RS version, with the same metal, dimensions and all.
I've seen pictures to where you can't tell which is which, real or replica.
this is useful info to us real airsofters.

Anonymous said...

"...Where does TSA get any authority to search people or peoples property...?"

People: There's a war on by people who hate our freedom. The safety of all people depends on the vigilance of our government and its agents. Anyone who weakens this vigilance plays into the hands of terrorists. Which side are YOU on?

Fox Airsoft said...

This is a great resource for Airsofters! There are a good number of guys that travel with their guns and gear to different national events and competitions around the country and this helps to clarify how to travel for them.

Many players mail their gear and guns but this can be pretty costly and hard to coordinate logistically.

This is yet another example of how airsoft guns really need to be responsibly handled similar to "real steel" guns. We always tell our customer how paramount it is to handle airsoft guns with forethought and care.

Appreciate the Resource Bob, we will be sure to share it with our community!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said,
People: There's a war on by people who hate our freedom. The safety of all people depends on the vigilance of our government and its agents. Anyone who weakens this vigilance plays into the hands of terrorists. Which side are YOU on?July 18, 2013 at 9:13 PM"

I call shenanigans on this post. Playing the "if ye ain't fer us, yer a terrrrrist!" card? ROTF! Knock off the fake posts, TSAnonymous.

Anonymous said...

"I call shenanigans on this post. Playing the "if ye ain't fer us, yer a terrrrrist!" card? ROTF! Knock off the fake posts, TSAnonymous"

Really! I'd say 98% of the critics of TSA on this site are uploading fake posts.

RB said...

Anonymous said..."...Where does TSA get any authority to search people or peoples property...?"

People: There's a war on by people who hate our freedom. The safety of all people depends on the vigilance of our government and its agents. Anyone who weakens this vigilance plays into the hands of terrorists. Which side are YOU on?July 18, 2013 at 9:13 PM

?...............................

I am on the side of freedom and the United States Constitution.

The real question is why so many of you wish to give up your heritage and rights.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said, " Really! I'd say 98% of the critics of TSA on this site are uploading fake posts."

That makes no sense. The TSA is the one who makes a blog post. People comment on it. How are critical comments by the American public "fake" or "posts?"

What is your evidence of this 98% statistic?

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I am still confused.

Can we put an airsoft rifle in CHECKED baggage or not?

If we do this, do we have to declare that we have an airsoft rifle in the bag?

If we do not and the baggage checkers see a weapon inside the checked bag and they are not sure if it is airsoft...what happens? Will they open it and will this cause a delay on the flight? Will the person to whom the bag belongs be detained by TSA?

What is the procedure to put airsoft rifle in the checked bag (I'm not buying that you can just put an airsoft weapon in there and not be hassled).

So, please, blogger...respond with more accuracy.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

If TSA really had anything to hide, why would they provide the forum for complainers?

Anonymous said...

It says that you can put them in checked baggage, but not carry on, did you not read the entire article? It was fairly clear, but even if you don't have to declare it, it won't hurt I had a friend who was going to a Lion Claws game and they called him back to security with the cops there when they found the airsoft guns in his checked bags, but when he told them that they were airsoft guns(and they checked and saw they were) they let him go without an issue, and told him next time to declare them so that issue wouldn't happen again

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

If TSA really had anything to hide, why would they provide the forum for complainers?

July 21, 2013 at 11:44 PM"


Much like TSA's security theater, this is public comment theater. TSA doesn't post many comments, even when the comments are on topic and follow the Comment Policy.

TSA also ignores serious issues to play police blotter and folksy jokesy "aw shucks, here's another post about deodorant."

In other words, they post some blogs, let through a small fraction of allowable comments and say, "Hey! Looky! We're like, y'know, intersecting, er, interacting with the public!"

I will say a few times a few blogs have slipped through that gave some real information, but probably Boss Blog wasn't in the office that day.

Anonymous said...

Broken record here.. again. Folks, if it looks like a gun, even if it is one of those cheap-plastic-walmart airsofts, don't put it in your carry-on. If it takes an HP tank, depressurize the tank and then remove the valve stem. If it takes real ammo, remove the ammo from the magazine. Pack it in a secure box, declare it as an 'item', pay the ludicrous airline fee for it being baggage, and then collect it at the other end.

BOS TSO Patrick said...

As a TSO, and also an airsoft player at that, I like this post.

Furthermore, I was going to comment on how little a difference there is between "airsoft toys" and real firearms there are, but I've been beaten to the punch by fellow commenters who are also airsofters.

Plus, in typical RB fashion, he'd rather not listen.

Alex Peterson said...

A clarification:
For those people who (like myself) occasionally do travel with airsoft gear, the gas cartridge/cylinder rule doesn't apparently apply to gas blowback magazines and clips. Mind you, whenever I've put one in my checked bag I expected to, and did, find a note indicating the luggage had undergone a hands-on search. Also, I was careful on each of these occasions to fully discharge the mags in question (to the point where the output valve depresses with no resistance). I would bet that a charged mag would be taken out of your baggage, at the very least, with a higher probability that the TSA screeners would confiscate the entire airsoft weapon or weapons.

south mp3 said...

I think what RB is saying is that, since the guns look real on an x-ray, they will cause problems when the checked bag goes through screening. That bag will have to be pulled aside and checked because it won't be in a locked case like a normal gun. Depending on the airport, that may lead to delays.

Anonymous said...

Wow, really? First: A slippery slope argument is considered a logical fallacy because they are almost never proven right, and they are usually cited "just because". Really, by what foreknowledge can you claim that examining weapons that could cause the fiery screaming death of hundreds in one fell swoop is in any way the same as searching your car on the street in front of your house? Stop thinking of the TSA as some big brother organization and instead think of them as people employed by you to keep you and yours safe. It makes a lot more common sense. Finally, "looks the same on x-ray" is not true at all. A plastic bb gun looks nothing like a real gun on "x-ray". Which I quote, because x-ray is not the sole screening technique.

Anonymous said...

So security is a waste of time to you? Checking an airsoft gun is not a waste of time. It's their JOB. They open bags like crazy. My wife's bag got checked because of cosmetic products. My son's was opened because his Xbox looked suspicious I guess. Or their clothes looked like bombs apparently.
So don't make a fuss about airsoft guns. They don't slow anything down. Security is important. Everything is checked to ensure your safety without you even realizing or appreciating it. Yeah I don't like it either, but it is a necessity since 9/11 and a few bomb threats.
Quit complaining about it.

Christiano Martin said...

You may only transport firearms, ammunition and firearm parts in your checked baggage. Firearms, ammunition and firearm parts are prohibited from carry-on baggage.

There are certain limited exceptions for law enforcement officers who may fly armed by meeting the requirements of Title 49 CFR § 1544.219. Law enforcement officers should read our policies on traveling with guns.

Christiano Martin said...

Also, I will like to add here that airlines may have their own additional requirements on the carriage of firearms and the amount of ammunition that you may have in your checked baggage. Therefore, travelers should also contact the airline regarding its firearm and ammunition carriage policies

John Here said...

Hello,

Due to customs restrictions, a certain US company can't ship orders to any address outside the US/Canada. I do have relatives in the US and thought that maybe they could buy the product for me, then bring them along on their next visit to Europe.

The problem is: I am intending to buy "Airsoft Guns"; toy guns that shoot small plastic pellets, but look pretty much like the real thing. Since we Europeans hear the wildest stories about US airport security, I wonder if these Airsoft Guns could cause my uncle any trouble if he was to carry them in his luggage. I don't want him to get arrested and spend his big Austrian birthday party in a US jail. ;-)

If you can't help me either, maybe you can point me in the right direction. I've already surfed the Homeland Defense, but found no email address there.

kind regards

alisa jacqueline said...

I suppose the same goes for paintballing grenades, flashbangs etc? ;)