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A Quick Guide to Airsoft Guns

Updated: 06/26/2024
Airsoft Gun Guide

Airsoft guns are basically BB guns that fire plastic balls instead of metal ball bearings. They evolved in Asia from realistic children’s toys that operated with a pull-back spring. Although these cheap toys were popular, they often broke due to the force involved and had poor muzzle velocities.

Manufacturers realized that there was a demand for realistic-looking weapons that could actually be used for sports and military games. From there, they started to evolve, and a sport called Airsoft involving the guns spread throughout the world. It’s one of the fastest growing outdoor sports.


Although many different producers made a great variety of different systems and calibers, it has generally been agreed that 6 or 8mm BBs are the way to go. And no longer a lever-activated or spring-cocked firing system: a battery-operated electric motor that, through a system of gears, pushes a BB into the chamber, pulls back a spring and then fires it, then repeats. This spawned the acronym AEG – Automatic Electric Gun.


An AEG is capable of attaining muzzle velocities of 200 to 500 feet per second (60 to 150 meters per second) and can fire from 300 to 2000 pellets per minute. How many you actually shoot depends on your magazine. These are usually classified as low-cap: around 50 BBs, mid-cap: around 120 BBs, or high-cap: 200-500+ BBs. These push the BBs into the chamber either using a spring or a manually-operated ratchet. You can even find guns with electrically-operated magazines that can hold up to 5000 pellets. However, if you are entering a military-simulation game, your magazine capacity may be restricted to ensure you are as close to the real thing as possible.


Smaller guns use gas as a propellant, although it is also becoming more in demand for the larger models due to its less artificial feel and noise. Oil and fragrances are even added to the gas to heighten this sensation. A container on the gun that may be refilled from a propane camping gas bottle may be used. The automatic electric gun has a further range than gas-powered guns, though, the batteries usually hold out for longer than the gas tank.


Airsoft guns are also getting better in terms of quality, with metal being used for many parts. Aluminum and alloys are taking the part of plastic in many of the moving parts, making them more durable and longer-lasting. However, most of the gun is still plastic. Some guns even have metal weights in them to make them feel like the real thing.


Bullet velocity is from 50 m/s (160 ft/s) to around 125 m/s (410 ft/s). With the right adaptations, muzzle velocity can be souped up to 180 m/s (590 ft/s). You may install a module to cause backspin on the BB. This increases the amount of lift on the BB by the airflow on the underside of the ball being offset by that on the top. Lift increased and so does range. This is called a hop-up unit. Although the AEG range is usually up to 75 meters (250ft), the hop-up unit can double this.

You can buy 6mm paintballs for your Airsoft gun, but these may explode inside your chamber, meaning a ruined gun.

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