Airsoft player wearing tactical gloves

In our latest piece on airsoft protective gear, we are looking at the clothes and gear you need to protect your arms, hands and torso when playing. The BBs fired from airsoft rifles can easily bruise your skin, particularly if you are playing close quarter combat, so having protection will mean you are not leaving at the end of the day in pain.

If you are thinking about updating your airsoft clothing or are new to the sport, read on to see our suggestions for the protective clothing you should wear when playing. Of course, it also depends on personal preference, so don’t expect everyone to be wearing exactly the same.

BDU Shirt

Battle Dress Uniform shirts were used by the U.S. Armed Forces as standard uniform from the 80s to early 00s. BDU shirts are reminiscent of jungle fatigues used in Vietnam and tend to have a classic camouflage pattern. Though BDU shirts have been replaced in the U.S. Armed Forces, they have remained popular for airsoft. A nylon-cotton blend, BDU shirts, also called assault shirts, are lightweight and sturdy to wear for airsoft, and the long sleeves protect your arms. The various pockets also allow you to bring along extra equipment without the need for a bag. You can get BDU shirts in different camouflage designs too, from woodland to desert, depending on personal preference.

A BDU style jacket from Surplus Store


A UBACS (Under Body Armour Combat Shirt) is a classic combat shirt designed to be worn under body armour or assault vests in warm weather. Made from lightweight and breathable material is absorbs sweat and keeps the user cool and comfortable no matter how hot the conditions are. You can also get UBACS with extra padding on elbows and shoulders, adding some extra comfort when you need to crawl or lie down during a skirmish.

Compression Shirt

Though compression shirts don’t work so much for protection from BBs or accidental hits from your surroundings or fellow airsoft players, they can help with circulation, chafing or when you are active for long periods. Compression shirts keep you warm or cool and help your muscles stay warm to prevent strain. The thin shirts are tight, so can easily be worn underneath other protective clothing for your upper body.

Assault Vest

An assault vest doesn’t just provide extra protection for your upper body, but also adds to the authentic military look you might be going for with your airsoft gear. We stock a variety of assault vests, with pouches for your mags, adjustable sizing and added padding, in a range of colours and designs that can easily accommodate any additional attachments you may want. An assault vest is ideal for protecting your torso from hard hits, and there are several types to choose from, from the multifunctional, soft vests and those with plate carriers. Depending on your needs, you are sure to find the solution amongst our stock.

An assault vest from Surplus Store

Arm Sleeves

During the summer months when a BDU shirt or UBACS seems a bit much, and you prefer just to wear a t-shirt, arms sleeves are useful for offering protection for your arms. Arm sleeves or arm gaiters are a great way to protect your forearms from BBs in close quarters and can be easily removed for in-between plays. They also offer moisture wicking and often have a tight elasticated band at the top so they won’t slip down your upper arms.

Tactical Gloves

Your hands are exposed when playing airsoft, and a hit on the hand can hurt a lot, as there isn’t much muscle to protect you. As such, gloves are a must, and will also keep your hands warm and nimble when playing in the cold, wet weather – a common occurrence for the UK. Whether playing in CQB or woodland your hands are your go to point of contact if something goes squiffy, even if you’re playing in shorts and a vest a pair of gloves is an essential item! A go-to brand is Mechanix, and we stock a wide range of Mechanix tactical gloves on our online store at reasonable prices. Gloves made from breathable material are best, keeping your hands comfortable while you work, and you should also look for gloves with pinched fingertips which offer you more control and strength.

Tactical gloves from Surplus Store

At the end of the day you are signing up to shoot people and be shot at so a little pain is to be expected. Don’t fall into the trap of layering up too much; if you don’t feel the hit you could be seen as cheating and nobody wants that! If you are wearing plate carriers and heavy padding be sure to listen for your hits too! Sometimes you might not feel the hit, but you can hear it!

Be sure to take a look at our previous blog posts on face and head protection for airsoft, and our recommended eye protection. Let us know your preferred protective clothing for your arms and torso too – do you use an assault vest? Leave a comment over on Facebook!