Airsoft started in Japan during the early 1980s, when ownership of guns by citizens was made illegal. Since they did not have access to real gun, the demand for replica firearms grew. It is from this demand that airsoft surfaced.
At first the replicas were made by private hobbyists, and they were made to fire plastic pellets instead of live ammunition. As the replicas became more common on the Japanese market, Japanese companies caught on and started producing them on a larger scale. After they caught on in Japan, exportation to other countries in the region started. As a result airsoft guns became more popular in the Phillipines, Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan. The trend soon caught on and spread to the rest of the world, including Europe, North America, and the UK.
Airsoft guns started out as spring powered guns, where they had to be cocked before each shot. Eventually Japan developed the guns further, and they evolved into fully automatic gas and battery powered airsoft weapons.
As airsoft evolves, new and improved weapons continue to be released. They become more realistic and closer to their real steel counterparts. They become more powerful and more accurate, with new innovations such as hop-up units and the use of CO2. Although the electric and gas airsoft guns are more expensive than their earlier spring counterparts, the growing popularity of airsoft continues to make airsoft guns more affordable.
The airsoft guns of today are very sophisticated. They are popular among hobbyist skirmishers as well as law enforcement officials and military personnel who use them for training.