(Gel Blasters) Do Water Bead Guns Hurt?: What You Need To Know

Paul West/ Outdoor Games

It’s certainly true that water bead gun use is very popular with young people and adults alike in the US.  Whether for fun with friends or family, maybe a corporate team event or a festival attraction, water bead guns (also known as  ‘gel Blasters’) can be great fun.

However, do water bead guns hurt at close range or greater distance. I’m sure anyone considering their first game will be wondering exactly that.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at gel blasters to find out whether they’re safe backyard fun or something to be wary of. We’ll cover everything from how they work and feel to critical safety precautions for responsible use. This is your quick but comprehensive guide to getting the most from water bead guns safely.

Key Takeaways

  • Gel blasters can sting moderately but are designed not to cause injury when used properly. Exercise basic safety precautions.
  • Wearing protective eye goggles is an absolute must to avoid the risk of a gel ball causing eye injury. Keep goggles on at all times during play.
  • Set clear shooting boundaries and safe zones and enforce them strictly. Adult supervision is ideal to ensure safety rules are followed.
  • Compared to paintball, gel blasters deliver a milder stinging sensation without risk of bleeding, bruising or mess.
  • While blasters can technically be modified for more power, this poses substantial risk and is discouraged, especially for casual backyard play.

What Are Gel Blasters?

Gel blasters are air-powered toy guns that shoot small water-absorbing beads, typically made of sodium polyacrylate. The beads rapidly expand in size when hydrated and resemble colorful orbeez beads.

Loaded into the blaster, these dried gel beads are called “gellets.” When fired out of the muzzle at high speeds, they can travel over 200 feet per second. However, unlike airsoft pellets or paintballs, gellets are made of a soft, harmless material designed specifically for safe recreational play.

The best way to think of gel blasters is as a hybrid between water guns and airsoft guns. They have more power and range than water guns, but they lack the hardness of airsoft pellets. Gel blasters fill a nice middle ground between the two.

Do Gel Blasters Hurt?

So what does it feel like to get hit by a gel blaster? Most people describe it as a stinging sensation, akin to being snapped with a rubber band or hit by a thick water balloon. At close range, it will certainly grab your attention, but it’s far from unbearable pain.

The stinging stems from the impact of the gel beads at high speeds. While the gellets themselves are soft, the velocity imparts a popping sensation not dissimilar from a paintball or airsoft gun. However, gel blasters do not break skin or cause bruising like those options can.

Overall, gel blasters fall on the lower end of the pain scale compared to most recreational projectile toys. The sensation is strong enough to disincentivize getting hit while still maintaining a fun element of adrenaline and excitement. Just don’t expect it to feel like a simple water gun fight!

Gel Blaster Safety Precautions

While gel blasters are designed with safety in mind, you should still take proper precautions, especially when playing with younger kids. Here are some top tips:

  • Wear Eye Protection – Getting hit in the eyes would be extremely unpleasant, so always wear durable protective goggles. Anything designed for airsoft play should suffice.
  • Cover Exposed Skin – Thicker clothing over your arms, legs, and torso will help reduce sting. A t-shirt and shorts offers minimal protection.
  • Establish Safe Zones – Set clear boundaries and safe zones where no shooting is allowed, such as patios, pools, or seating areas. Enforce violators sitting out rounds.
  • Limit Range Indoors – Gel blasters can shoot over 200 feet outside, which is dangerous indoors. Use lower powered spring-powered models only inside.
  • Adult Supervision – Like any projectile toy, gel blasters call for attentive adult supervision, both for safety and enforcing rules of fair play. Don’t let things escalate out of hand.

Following basic precautions like these will help ensure gel blaster play stays fun for everyone involved. Responsible use is key!

Gel Blasters vs. Paintball

If you have paintball experience, you may be wondering how gel blasters compare in terms of impact and pain levels. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Paintballs have a thick outer shell that causes more bruising and stinging broken skin when they break upon impact. The mess also necessitates cleaning off paint splatter.
  • Gel blasters lack the outer shell, so they deliver a more diffuse stinging sensation without bruising, bleeding, or mess.
  • Paintball masks offer protection for the entire head, compared to just goggles for gel blasters.
  • Gel blasters can be used in more locations since they don’t leave paint splatters.
  • Gel blaster ammo is reusable unlike paintballs.

Both can be played safely with proper protective gear, but gel blasters deliver a softer and cleaner recreational shooting experience overall. The choice comes down to personal preference for the style of game play.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the effective range of gel blasters?

Most gel blaster models can shoot ‘gellets’ over 200 feet per second with a maximum range of around 230 feet outside. Indoors, the effective range is reduced to about 130 feet or less. The power depends on the muzzle velocity of the specific model. Always exercise caution regarding safe shooting distances.

At what ages are gel blasters appropriate?

Like any projectile toy, gel blasters call for a certain level of emotional maturity to play safely and responsibly. Children under 8 years old lack the judgement for safe play without extremely close adult supervision. Ages 8-12 are fine with parental oversight. Teenagers 13 and up can safely use them independently, but adult supervision is still recommended. Proper protective gear should be mandatory for all ages.

Can gel blasters cause injury or permanent damage?

While gel blasters can sting and potentially cause welts at close range, they are not capable of causing any form of permanent injury or damage. The gellets lack enough mass and hardness to penetrate skin or break bones. Always wear protective eye wear, avoid shooting at the face, and enforce safe shooting distances to minimize potential for pain and tears. Responsible use minimizes any real risks or hazards.

How many shots can you get per co2 cartridge?

The number of shots from an 12g CO2 cartridge in a gel blaster varies based on usage conditions, but expect approximately 50-100 shots per cartridge on average depending on the firing frequency. Maintaining an optimal temperature prolongs CO2 efficiency. Bring extra cartridges for longer games or rapid fire usage.

Can gel blasters be modified for increased power?

Technically yes, gel blasters can be modified to increase muzzle velocity and range by experienced users. However, this poses significant risks and is not recommended, especially for recreational play. Increased power magnifies potential safety hazards if gellets strike unprotected skin or eyes. Most areas prohibit modified blasters, so confirm local ordnances before making any unauthorized changes. Play safely using blasters in their stock factory configuration.

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Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!