What Are Airsoft Guns?

airsoft guns

With a meteoric rise in the popularity of airsoft around the world, there is no better time than now to learn all there is to know about the types of guns, tertiary equipment, and the safety and performance of airsoft guns.

Airsoft guns are replicas of weapons, comprised of a smoothbore air-based shooting system, which uses non-metallic projectiles. Often called BB’ guns, they are relatively safe as they are restricted to having a rather low muzzle energy rating, and the pellets used have considerably lower stopping and penetrative power. Their resemblance to genuine firearms allows them to be used in military training, simulations, and historical enactments. Since the early 1970s, these guns have been used extensively in both casual and competitive sports.

In the following sections, we shall take a look at what kind of airsoft guns are available, what sort of accessories you can put on a gun, the safety and performance of these guns, and the airsoft sport that has shot to fame in recent years.

A Comprehensive Overview of Airsoft Guns

Airsoft guns are widely sold imitations of genuine firearms that use a smoothbore, rather than a rifling based system. The projectile used in airsoft is also non-metallic in order to be safer. The guns also have relatively lower muzzle energy, which is less than 1.5J. There are mainly two variations of airsoft guns based on their firing system: mechanical and automatic.

There are primarily six types of airsoft guns, each of which differs in either their working or their build. Let us take a detailed look at each type of airsoft gun, to get a better understanding of which gun is the right one for you. 

– Spring-powered guns: These guns are the most basic guns as they are single action ones that work on elastic potential energy in a coil spring that drives a piston based air pump. The action works when the trigger is pulled, which pressurises the air in the cylinder and thus pushes the pellet through the chamber. Since it is single use, you need to recompress the spring, which is done by pulling back the locking mechanism that differs from gun to gun. This type of gun is typically more powerful than electric-based guns, however, are weaker than gas powered ones. They are the most inexpensive variety and if you are a beginner, this could be the perfect gun for you. 

– Battery-powered guns: These guns work on the same principle as a spring-loaded gun, but instead of being operated manually it relies on a battery pack that in turn powers a motor to pull the spring. These guns are not single-action and you can select from a range of firing options. This property has lent battery powered guns the popular name Automatic Electric Guns’ or AEGs’ for short. By design, the seamless internal system allows manufacturers to make the guns virtually indistinguishable from that of real guns. There are also other sub-types of battery-powered guns, which differ in size and operational capabilities.

– Gas-powered guns: The major difference between this and other forms is the working of the gun. It uses pneumatic potential energy, which is produced from the compressed gas that is used in the shooting mechanism. The guns of this type are generally called gas blowback (GBB), which simulates recoil that simultaneously loads the next shot. The gas used is either propane, carbon dioxide or nitrogen. This sort of mechanism is mainly used in airsoft pistols, as the blowback simulates the action of a real firearm.

– Hybrid guns: The latest rage in the world of airsoft, these guns are either AEG or GBB that comes with more power and bit of realism. The guns use the same mechanism, but the magazines also include shell cases, which is ejected when the gun is fired. These guns are collectors favorites and are used by them rather than airsoft enthusiasts.

– Training guns: These type of airsoft guns are mainly rifles made of high-quality materials such as aircraft-grade aluminium and stainless steel. They are intended for use by the military and law enforcement agencies. These guns are very much like real firearms and certain models can even be converted into guns that can be used in practical law enforcement.

– Classic Guns: This type is the older variant of the gas-powered gun and is powered by an external tank of gas. These guns cost more than general AEGs as their rate of fire can be altered. These guns are used widely in airsoft.

Safety and Performance

Airsoft is an honor-based sport where the person who gets hit calls out immediately owing to the fact that the pellets do not leave a visible mark. The manufacturers and retailers advise that the gun be treated like a real gun at all times. This is done to ensure that safety is the first priority and so that accidental discharges do not hurt another individual. A lot of the rifles also come with an orange tip, which the manufacturers encourage to be kept on the rifles at all times as it helps distinguish between a real and an airsoft rifle. People are also encouraged to wear ballistic eyewear, which should be ANSI Z87.1 impact-rated. The rating is very important as ordinary goggles can break on impact from an airsoft pellet.

There are also community rules, such as limiting the muzzle velocity and putting engagement guidelines.The most common engagement distance is a minimum of 10 feet. In general, the airsoft gun is required to be placed in a barrel bag, the magazine removed and the chamber cleared at all times. There is also a differing limit on the muzzle velocity, which is capped at 350 ft/s for indoor arenas and 410 ft/s for outdoor settings. For airsoft sniper rifles the velocity is capped at 525 ft/s. The usage of BB pellets is disallowed as they can damage and even break through safety goggles. All in all, the safety aspect of airsoft is well rounded, with parameters in place to ensure that no individual is in danger from airsoft guns.

The performance aspect of an airsoft rifle is of concern to only trained practitioners. When competing professionally, or even recreationally for that matter, even the smallest aspects such as the weight of the pellet can make a world of difference. The quality of the pellet is also equally important, a bad pellet can break in the barrel when the stress from the gun is too high. The guns can be modified to increase pellet velocity, accuracy and rate of fire.

Airsoft Gun Accessories

A major reason for airsoft’s popularity as a sport is that you can add a range of accessories, that resemble real firearm add-ons. They help emulate the guns that are used in combat and add to the feel of partaking in battles and scenarios. Some of these accessories are: 

– Magazines: This is perhaps the most realistic looking part of an airsoft firearm. They are made of the same material as a standard magazine, like high-impact plastic or metal. They can come in various sizes, ranging from the low capacity (low-cap) to mid-cap and high-cap. There are also magazines which come in the form of a drum or box and replicates the ammunition used in belt-fed weapons like sub-machine guns. There are also magazines, which contain the exact number of rounds in a real magazine. However, in airsoft, it is more common to purchase magazines which contain far more rounds as it increases the flexibility. 

– Barrel attachments: When it comes to barrel attachments, there are mainly two types – one is a suppressor, which makes the gun quieter, and the other is a barrel extender, which helps increase the muzzle velocity of the gun. The latter is important in skirmishes and battle scenarios, where it can be the difference between winning and losing. 

– Sights: Red dot sights are the most common type of sight used in airsoft rifles. The complexity of the sight can range from general inexpensive ones used in .22 rifles to actual sights designed for use in real firearms. Holographic sights are by far the most popular attachments for airsoft rifles.

Airsoft as a Sport

Airsoft, in general, is considered one of the most popular shooting games worldwide. You can choose from a variety of types of games that involve airsoft guns. They can be fun and challenging at the same time, encouraging you to build rapport with the team and brainstorm for strategic manoeuvres. Games such as capture the flag, king of the hill, escort, close quarters battle, and fortress are very popular. They are games which require you to shoot, run, and think, all at the same time. These games are a great way to unwind from stress and spend a few hours with other passionate players.

Airsoft guns are all the rage. From hardcore law enforcement to casual sporting events, airsoft is swiftly skyrocketing in popularity. With the widespread availability and a rising number of players, this is perhaps the right time to purchase a gun and get right in the thick of the action.