Although airsoft guns and BBs aren’t likely to cause any serious injuries to the body, as any player knows getting hit can leave welts and even bruises on the body.
Further, the likelihood of coming away with some gnarly marks increases with the use of more high powered airsoft guns in-game (HPAs, anyone?)
Many times it’s not just your opponent’s BBs that you have to watch out for, either.
If you play outdoors (or even indoors), your face can be exposed to branches, bushes, random objects and corners, all of which can leave their own tell-tale signs and injuries.
While it’s certainly true that many airsoft players get away with only using eye protection, for the rest of us coming home with swelling, scratches, bruises, cuts and other weekend momentos on our most publicly facing body part can be less than ideal and may require some explanations, particularly if you have to go to school or work the next day or have a date.
While it goes without saying that eye protection is a must in airsoft, if you play airsoft regularly (and enthusiastically), investing in a good quality face mask can be a very wise idea
Aside from looking cool, they aren’t necessarily all that expensive, don’t irritate other players quite as much as a full shield and can go a long way in protecting your eyes, cheeks, nose and mouth from headshots as well as field hazards.
In this way they can prevent many embarrassing and painful injuries from occurring and let you get back to your life (or another game) as quickly and painlessly as possible.
What to watch out for when buying or using an airsoft face mask
Skull-like masks and movie replicas might look cool, and stalking the field in a Jason Voorhees-like mask might intimidate just about anyone, but keep in mind that it’s you who has to wear this thing on your face while running around and generally exerting yourself.
Consequently, you’ll want to make sure that your airsoft facemask is well ventilated.
Whether you play airsoft inside or out, and whether you’re running and gunning or stealthily picking out targets as a sniper, any face mask will reduce the flow of air over your skin and reduce your natural ability to cool yourself off.
The more properly placed ventilation openings a face mask has, the better the airflow and the more comfortable it will be on you face in the long run.
Ideally, look for facemasks with plenty of small openings near the mouth and nose, which makes for easier breathing and communication with teammates.
Also look for ventilation along the jaw or cheek line, which will maximize lateral airflow and keep the side of your head nice and cool.
In fact, properly drilled out, a face mask’s ventilation ports can create a wind tunnel effect, channeling cool air from the front of your face towards the back of your head
Interestingly, some full face masks may also include a built-in cooling fan, a novel feature that both cools down a user’s face and can help with fogging.
Keep in mind, however, that it can also be another point of failure mid-game, stopping suddenly by damage or when it runs out of battery.
So while things like fans can be a cool extra, it’s important to make sure that the mask itself is intrinsically well ventilated just in case.
Vent holes and BBs
Sadly, some manufacturers get a little too carried away with comfort and styling and forget the main reason users buy their masks- namely, to keep BBs from slamming into their face.
Poorly constructed airsoft masks have been known to drill out ventilation holes or weave mesh wiring a little too widely, allowing BBs to occasionally pass through, much to the shock of their wearer.
To reduce any chance of an unaccepted surprise from a one-in-a-million shot, make sure you look for a face mask from a reputable and experienced company.
Also, keep in mind that vertical or otherwise oddly shaped slits are preferable to nice, bullseye-like holes and don’t get too distracted by design, keep an eye out for any opening that looks like it could be close to 0.25 inches in diameter (6mm), i.e. BB-sized.
Although less of a concern than with helmets and other airsoft protective gear, any airsoft facemask can add extra weight to your head.
This can get uncomfortable over long periods of time and may even cause a little neck strain if you suddenly need to whip around.
When it comes to face masks the more lightweight the better, although keep in mind there is a fine balance between protection, quality and weight.
Whether you are wearing a full face mask or a half mask and goggles, you’ll probably find that you’ll have more of an issue with fogging as more of your breath is trapped and driven upwards towards your eyes.
Proper ventilation can help, but it’s worth it to look for a good anti-fogging spray.
If you count yourself among the large number of bespectacled airsoft players, you’ll often find that, as with goggles and eyepro, finding a mask that comfortably sits in front of them without unnecessarily squeezing, twisting or crushing them can be a bit challenging.
Even half face masks, which often sit on top of the nose can quickly become an annoyance.
As with goggles, there are face masks specifically designed to be glasses-friendly. These usually having a thicker, deeper design around the eyes and nose to accommodate the extra inch or so that your spectacles will add,
Full Face Masks for Airsoft
|More complete head and face protection||Can limit vision|
|Various styles available||A little more constricting, especially for those with glasses|
|More secure||Can be more expensive|
|Can be more intimidating to opponents|
Full face masks offer the most complete protection for airsoft players, protecting the eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth and sometimes even ears from BBs as well as impacts and scratches from play.
They also tend to be a lot easier than other mask styles to deal with in the field, as, being a single piece with integrated goggles, there is a lot less to fiddle with and they are a lot simpler to put on or take off.
That said, as they do cover more of your skin, they can be a little hotter and uncomfortable to wear without proper ventilation and can feel a bit more restricting, being particularly annoying for those with glasses to wear unless specially constructed.
Full head airsoft mask
A variant of the full face airsoft mask, a full head airsoft mask integrates a full face covering with a helmet, enclosing the head and provide maximum protection to the player’s head and face.
Rare and more expensive than a full face mask, these can be styled into a variety of intimidating and, let’s face it, pretty cool shapes.
Unfortunately, they also amplify many of the potential drawbacks of a full face mask, being more constricting and trapping even more heat and sweat.
Half Face Masks for Airsoft
|Increased versatility||Not as complete protection|
|Increased skin breathability and comfort||More cumbersome to put on / take off|
|Less constricting||More things to come loose in-game|
|Usually more affordable|
Half face airsoft masks, as the name implies, cover the lower portion of the face.
They mainly provide protection to the mouth, nose and cheeks, but leave other areas more or less unprotected.
Covering less of the skin, does mean that they can feel less constricting, however, and allows more of the user’s face to breathe, meaning they don’t trap as much heat or sweat and as a result can be more comfortable to wear.
Because they use less material, half face masks also tend to be more affordable to buy, which is nice if you’re on a budget.
Unlike full face masks, half face masks rarely include eye protection, which means that users are free to use whatever type or design of goggle or eye protection they would like, making half face masks quite versatile.
On the downside, being a two-piece system means that there is more work to do when putting them on or off, making them slightly more cumbersome to use in-game and post, and there is more potential for things to go wrong should your goggles or your mask suddenly come loose and start jiggling around in an inopportune moment.
Airsoft Face Mask Materials
In airsoft full face masks can be made of a few different types of materials, most commonly these are:
Typically made of padded nylon, cotton, polyester or even neoprene (the stuff scuba suits are made of), full face masks made of fabric tend be styled after balaclavas and leave only a small portion of the face exposed, usually the eyes.
This means that, like a half mask, often times airsofters will need to use them in conjunction with goggles, although many now come with mesh eye and/or ear protection as well.
In terms of breathability and comfort, much like ski masks they tend to be more comfortable around the face than other options but their breathability is very dependent on how much padding they use and the fabric they are made of.
As a general rule of thumb, cotton tends to breathe the best, meaning air has a better chance to circulate, while artificial “moisture wicking” options like spandex, nylon and neoprene tend to trap heat and sweat and thus breathe less well.
Overall, Fabric face masks tend to be more affordable, comfortable lightweight compared to other options, but tend to offer less impact protection and can be prone to tearing and wear over time.
Made of durable and advanced thermoplastics, polymer full face masks offer the greatest protection against injury and tend to come in a wide variety of styles, even being molded into a variety of interesting and often intimidating shapes.
Covering the entire area in durable plastic means that very little will scratch, tear or bounce off your face during game play, and being made of durable thermoplastics means that they will tend to last quite a lot longer than other options.
Most polymer-based full face masks also include built-in eye protection, be it mesh or integrated goggles, which saves players the need to go out and buy additional equipment.
As plastic, however, they tend not to be very breathable and require well-placed and well-designed ventilation to prevent a build up of sweat and heat.
Plastic face masks also tend to be bulkier than other options and can feel more constricting to those sensitive to it.
Overall if you’re someone who tends to engage in more..spirited airsoft play, you may want to consider one of these.
Fiberglass is a highly useful material that is most often seen in custom or specially designed face masks, as they can be easily and rather inexpensively molded into a variety of highly detailed shapes.
Fairly durable and rigid, a fiberglass face mask can stand up to most of the rigors of an airsoft game.
That said, keep in mind that fiberglass face masks aren’t quite as flexible and durable as thermoplastics in the long run, and can be prone to developing cracks if exposed to a sudden hard impact and sharp blow.
Often made of interlocking steel wires, mesh is a common component in face masks, particularly around the eyes and ears and it’s fairly common to see complete mesh face masks on the field.
The reason for this is that mesh is very comfortable to wear, it is a very light weight material with a maximum of ventilation and, properly woven, mesh will stop BBs, errant branches and the occasional bump from causing damage to your face.
Mesh is also a top choice to its higher visibility it offers, especially when used around the eyes.
That said, mesh isn’t as durable a material to use, particularly in high FPS games, as heavy impacts can and will leave deformations, dents or even tear through the material in some cases (350 FPS+, for example).
Further, while mesh is usually good at stopping the 6mm/0.25 inch BBs from hitting the wearer’s face and causing injury, the wider holes mean that it is possible that shards of fragmenting BBs can pass through causing an injury.
Although this is not a particularly common occurrence, we wouldn’t recommend it to replace goggles or other proven eye protection.
Airsoft face masks can provide more complete protection for players, protecting them not only against headshots but also against the many field hazards and accidental bumps and falls that come with enthusiastic game play.
For those who would rather not show up to work, family gatherings or social events with cuts, scrapes and bruises on their faces, they can provide essential protection for very little cost and in many cases will help you look badass on the field while doing so.
Ted Clark– Hailing from Florida, Ted has been an avid airsoft enthusiast since he was in middle school. When he’s not checking out and reviewing airsoft guns, he enjoys picking off his enemies one by one on the field as a sniper.