Saturday, July 5, 2008

Airsoft 101

There are LOTS of great resources across the web and if you're reading this you probably want the most important things to know.

So here the list of things you'll need to know to hit the ground running.

  • Safety is absolutely paramount!Acts of foolishness are easy to guard against and sometimes impossible to recover from.
  • Airsoft guns are also known as "Soft air" guns and they fire small bbs (Usually) 6mm in diameter.
  • 3 power methods: Spring (Requires user to manually cock before each shot), Gas (CO2, or Propane aka "Green Gas"), Electric (Batteries power an electric motor which cocks the gun automatically before each shot). The electric models are also known as "AEGs" which stands for Automatic Electric Gun.
  • Airsoft guns usually fire at a velocity of between 200 and 350 fps. Spring powered pistols are usually on the low end of the spectrum whereas the spring powered and electric models usually top the scale. (Note there are models that will exceed these numbers but they are generally the exception).
  • Hop up is a term for the internal mechanism which puts back spin on each bb fired. Imaging "Slicing" a tennis ball to get it to spin. The mechanism is designed to increase the range of each bb.
  • Low cap, mid cap and high cap refer to "Low, mid and high capacity" magazines. The low cap usually have one single channel into which the bbs are inserted. (Picture a drinking straw filled with bbs with a small spring on the bottom pushing the bbs upwards). Low caps usually hold 10-100 (at most). The mid caps generally use clockwork spring mechanisms that push the bbs from an internal chamber to the feed tube that attaches inside the gun. The high caps use the same kind of clockwork mechanism, but larger and require more winding. The low caps excell in providing constant feeding of the bbs. The mid caps provide more ammo capacity but require some winding (Though not as much as the high caps). The high caps provide the best ammo capacity but require frequent winding.
  • MPEGs - A term used to describe the airsoft guns which cost less than the higher priced offerings. Stands for Mid Priced Electric Gun.
  • Brands - there are MANY MANY brands of airsoft gun, some of which can easily mislead. Many times different brands are put on identical guns and sometimes the price difference is substantial. A&K, Classic Army, CYMA, Echo 1, T$80-$300 depending on the model.
  • Effective range: This is a point that many will disagree about, however, based on my own tests and experience I have found most airsoft guns can accurately hit targets at no more than 150 feet. There are many factors involved in accuracy, but most airsoft players use bbs that weigh .2g and fire at a velocity of around 300 fps. Within these parameters the laws of physics tend to prevent flat trajectories at and tight groupings at ranges greater than 150'.
  • Which gun should you get? First, there is no right answer but here is what I tell everyone who asks me: First decide which "look" you like. For some people this is the classicm H&K MP5 style. For others its a more exotic bullpup design like the Steyr AUG. Once you decide on the style, choose a reputable brand. (A&K, Classic Army, CYMA, Echo 1, TSD etc...) research the brand and model on the web forums. You will find all the info you need on the make and model you have your sight set on. The biggest thing to remember is that the accuracy and range are nearly identical accross the airsoft world. Remember the above point, the bbs fire at about 300 fps and weigh .2g, whether your using a "Sniper" style rifle or a SMG style AEG, your range will not vary much more than a few yards. When you remember this point you will be able to get the gun you really want because virtually any airsoft gun can be upgraded and tweaked to offer improved perfomance.
  • Speaking of upgrades here are the basic ones to consider: Tight bore barrel - because the bb literally bounces from side to side through the barrel installing a tight bore barrel will limit the bouncing and tighten your groups somewhat. Additionally, it will provide a better seal between the bb and barrel preventing excess air from escaping and being waster. This helps to increase the velocity of the bb as well. Battery - Most stock batteries operate at a lower voltage than the internals can take. An increase in the voltage can result in increased Rate of Fire or ROF. Wiring - Most stock AEG wiring can be changed and swapped for a larger gauge which can yeild higher ROF and battery efficiency. Hop up - this is usually a small piece of silicone or rubber that touches the top part of each bb to put backspin on it. In many less expensive models, the rubber is tough and sometimes uneven which can affect accuracy.More in depth upgrades include a stiffer spring, re-enforced gears, polished, metal and re-enforced spring guide rods, pistons, piston heads, cylinders (ported and otherwise) and air nozzles. To get familiar with the latter upgrades be sure and familiarize yourself with the gearbox internals. Take a look at for an EXCELLENT resource on this topic.
This article really doesn't begin to cover the more in depth issues that you will hopefully learn through increased exposure to the sport. The best method of learning about the details is to frequent forums like or

We have gained invaluable knowledge from both and of course you might stop by our forum as well. We have many experienced and helpful enthusiasts who would be happy to try to answer your question.

Go and click on the "Forum" link.

Remeber to always respect airsoft guns and understand that though they are technically "toys" they can cause tremendous harm if used improperly. Saftey is what keeps this sport fun so please always be as safe as you can be!

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