Airsoft guns are replica firearms that propel plastic pellets (also known as BBs) by way of compressed gas, electric motors, or spring-driven pistons. Depending on the mechanism driving the pellet, an airsoft gun can be operated manually or cycled by either compressed gas such as Green Gas (propane+silicone mix), or CO2, a spring, or an electric motor, but are ultimately fired from a piston compressing a pocket of air. All these products are designed to be non-lethal out-of-the-factory and to provide realistic replicas.
- 1 Manufacturers
- 2 Usage
- 3 Types of airsoft guns
- 4 Sights
- 5 Magazines
- 6 Performance
- 7 Maintenance and lubrication
- 8 Trademark problems
- 9 Safety concerns
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Currently, a large number of airsoft weaponry manufacturers are on the market, these include AGM, ARES, A&K, Both Elephant, Celcius Technology, Classic Army, CYMA, D-Boys, DeepFire, Double Eagle, Echo 1, G&G, G&P, HFC, ICS, Jing Gong, Jing Ping, Galaxy, King Arms, KJ Works, KSC/KWA, KWC, Mad Bull Airsoft, Marushin, Maruzen, Silesia Factory, SRC, Systema Engineering, Tokyo Marui, VFC,Wei-E Tech, Well, Western Arms and WG. Companies, such as Aftermath, Crosman, Cybergun, Echo 1, and UTG, rebrand and distribute guns, sometimes with other accessories in countries where some manufacturers may not have an established distribution network. Many of the best-selling airsoft weapons are high detailed replicas of real lethal weapons, which are manufactured and designed by companies headquartered in Asian countries or territories like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and China, however, European and North American brands exist also. Beyond airsoft guns proper, those companies may produce other items like BBs, airsoft grenades and airsoft landmines (like Airsoft Innovations and S-Thunder), as well as spare parts and a varied range of accessories for the replicas, like scopes, mounts and silencers. Mid-High end companies such as Ares, Classic Army, King Arms, Maruchin, Tokyo Marui and Star (to name a few) will often find that their products have been illegally copied and sold at a fraction of the cost by Chinese companies such as AGM, CYMA and JG (are the most common) the Chinese Government clamped down on this practice in 2007, manufacture has now been resumed. However the cheaper price and similar quality has made them ideal platforms to upgrade without the risk of destroying an expensive airsoft gun.
Airsoft is used almost solely for recreational purposes. There are airsoft clubs, teams and even sports associations devoted to airsoft events around the world. In many countries, every airsoft gun owner and active enthusiast must be affiliated with an accredited airsoft association or federation. Most airsoft players host games at a registered field where combat situations are simulated using airsoft weaponry like replicas of pistols, carbines (including submachine guns), rifles (including sniper rifles), grenades and landmines. Great variety and profusion of militaria is usually used. Historical reenactment of war situations is another favorite of many airsoft players and clubs. In addition, a number of companies such as Systema Engineering and Celcius Technology manufacture ultra-realistic high-velocity airsoft rifles designed specifically for the police and military for non-lethal training purposes.
Types of airsoft guns
Spring-powered airsoft guns are single-shot devices that use elastic potential energy (EPE) stored in a spring to compress air to launch an airsoft pellet down the barrel of the gun. The user must cock a spring gun prior to each shot. This is typically achieved by pulling back the slide (pistols), bolt (rifles), or the grip on a shotgun, which in turn compresses the spring and makes the gun ready to fire. Because of this, these guns are by definition incapable of automatic or semi-automatic fire. Spring-powered airsoft guns are generally not as powerful as gas and electric models, although some spring shotguns and sniper rifles can be very powerful and shoot at velocities of 400–700 ft/s (120–210 m/s). These are not hard to find and are generally inexpensive, excluding the high power bolt action sniper rifles and shotguns, and don't usually last long because of the tension created by a powerful spring. However, many "springers", as they are called, can be modified and upgraded to last longer and shoot better.
While most electric guns also use springs for propulsion of the BB, they are not considered to be in the same category as the single-shot spring-powered guns. Low-end spring guns tend to be much cheaper than their electric-powered equivalents due to their simplicity and lack of electrical components (spring assembly, electric motor, battery, and battery charger) and thus are widely available. These guns are less suited for competition because they are at a disadvantage against automatic guns in close combat and do not provide enough accuracy and power for long-range use. There are some exceptions, however, as higher-end spring-powered airsoft rifles can be quite expensive; these guns are typically suited for "marksman" applications in airsoft matches and provide competitive muzzle velocities. Additionally, pump shotguns are sometimes used, especially in CQB (Close Quarters Battle). In colder weather, spring pistols are more reliable than gas-powered pistols and even the batteries on AEPs (Automatic Electric Pistols) both of which can be adversely affected by extreme cold.
This represents one of the major advantages of spring-powered airsoft gun, as it can be fired in any situation, without reliance on an external source of power, such as batteries or gas. The lack of reliance on external power sources causes some players to favor spring powered guns. Spring guns are also less susceptible to the effects of water, where a battery-powered gun could malfunction when wet.
Spring-powered weapons are often cheaper than electric or gas powered weapons. They are also more readily available in most department stores. Because of their price and availability, spring guns tend to act as "training guns" to bring new players to airsoft games and are considered the primary weapon of "backyard skirmishes". Almost all airsoft players at some point owned a spring weapon, whether for its actual use in the sport or for the replica value since some airsoft weapons are only available as spring versions. However, some airsofters still rely on sniper-rifle type springers as a primary arm due to the reliability, accuracy, and low noise, as well as their ease of repair and modification as compared to electric powered guns.
Automatic electric guns
Electric-powered airsoft guns typically use a rechargeable battery or batteries to drive an electric motor, which cycles an internal piston/spring assembly in order to launch pellets. Automatic, 3 round burst, and semi-automatic operation is possible which gives these guns the popular name "automatic electric guns" or AEGs. These guns often attain muzzle velocities from 150 to 650 ft/s (46 to 200 m/s) and rates of fire of between 100 and 1500 rounds per minute. They are the most commonly used and widely available type of airsoft gun.
These type of guns were developed in Japan and the Japanese company Tokyo Marui dominates the market. In a Tokyo Marui AEG, the motor drives a series of 3 gears mounted inside a gearbox. The gears then compress a piston assembly against a spring. Once the piston is released, the spring drives it forward through the cylinder to push a pellet into the chamber, through the barrel, and forward from the muzzle. Many manufacturers have now more or less replicated this basic model, adding reinforced parts or minor improvements. These guns are powered primarily by nickel metal hydride (NiMH) with varying voltages and milliampere hours ratings. The most common battery is an 8.4 V large battery (between 2200 and 5000 mAh.) Also available are "mini" and "stick" batteries, which generally have 900–1600 mAh capacities. Voltages for NiMH batteries range from 7.2 V, all the way up to 12 V. The rule of thumb usually is the higher the mAh, the longer the battery lasts while the higher voltage, the higher Rate of Fire (RoF). Recently, however, Lithium-Polymer, or Li-po, batteries are becoming more popular in the airsoft world. These batteries can last longer and have higher mAh and Volts while at the same time, being small and light. Li-po batteries are usually at 11.1 V or 7.4 V varying in mAh from 500 mAh to 6500 mAh.
External modifications, such as metal bodies and reinforced plastics that make AEGs look and feel even more realistic, have become very popular. AEG manufacturers such as Classic Army and Tokyo Marui produce replicas that are visually nearly identical to their real counterparts. Tokyo Marui uses an ABS plastic, whereas Classic Army features full metal bodied guns and stronger furnishings. Most AEGs produced as of late are designed to be as visually realistic as possible.
The three most common AEGs on the field are the AR-15 series (M16 rifle, M4 carbine, etc.; sometimes referred to as the ArmaLite or Colt series), the Heckler & Koch MP5 series, and the AK or Kalashnikov series. Also increasing popular is the Heckler & Koch G36 and more recently, FN P90. Subsequently numerous parts for repairs and modifications are commonly available for these rifles. AEG models range from a simple pistol to an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) all the way to a Minigun.
Hybrid Airsoft guns are the newest type of airsoft guns on the market. Hybrid airsoft guns are basically standard AEGs or Gas Blowback Airsoft Guns with a "little extra reality" built in.
- AEG Hybrid Operation
the magazine is loaded with shell cases, each containing a single plastic pellet. These shell casings can have a small red cap, the same as those found in any child's toy cap gun placed on the top of them. These guns feature an electrically powered, full blowback system and operate on a "round-per-shell" basis such that for every pellet fired, a shell casing is ejected and the cap is fired providing a realistic sound and smoke effect. Since its debut, the only Hybrid guns seen on the market are cheap non-scaled M4 series and AK series guns, as well as M1 Garand, Kar98, and other rifle models. These guns are the least common type of gun on the market today and are generally used by collectors and re-enactors rather than skirmishers.
- Gas Blow Back Hybrid Operation
Hybrid Gas Blow Back Airsoft guns are quite similar with hybrid AEGs and their operations are similar with Gas Blow Back Airsoft Guns. A single 6mm pellet is still loaded to a shell casing. Then it is placed into a magazine. The Airsoft Replica itself also has a tank for compressed gas as propellant (Such as Green Gas). So as the slide/bolt is pulled back, it loads a shell into the chamber. As the trigger is pulled, it releases a small burst of propellant and the pellet is forced out the barrel.
Low powered electric guns
Called low powered electric guns (LPEGs) to distinguish them from the original, more expensive and more powerful AEGs even though their mechanical/electrical design and operation is similar. They are not to be confused with Mini Electrics (described below). Originally they were only of novelty value, often regarded below spring operated guns due to their construction and low velocities. Since there are spring action guns that can notably outperform the true low-end LPEGs and can be found at comparable prices, they are generally considered to be better choices.
Medium powered electric guns
Some companies - like UTG with their popular MP5 and AK-47 models - have improved their quality to such an extent that some models are now considered simply as mid-ranged AEGs that are more affordable but still reasonably effective. Among airsofters, these are commonly called middle powered electric guns (MPEGs). Sometimes, MPEGs are copies or 'clones' of designs by full-price manufacturers like Tokyo Marui. As of late 2008 a small number of MPEG brands such as Echo-1/Jing Gong, and CYMA are considered by many to approach the quality and match the performance of the originals, at less than half the price. "Fully compatible" MPEGs imitate the Marui or Classic Army originals so precisely that standard upgrade parts will work with them, making it possible to hot-rod an MPEG to well beyond stock out-of-the-box AEG performance.
Electric blowbacks, also known as EBBs, are high-end AEGs which generally run from a rechargeable 9.6 volt battery. Most models utilizing this system are rifles. EBBs simulate the blowback action of a real pistol or rifle but generally have less of a kick. Essentially an AEG in design, EBBs are just as powerful. However, a drawback to having the blowback feature is that the battery is quickly depleted, additionally blowbacks can cause extra stress on the gear box which may result in the gearbox's shorter life span. The blowback system can be disabled with some tinkering.
Electric blowback can also refer to a feature in some higher-end guns which offers more realistic operation. Companies such as G&G now offer guns such as the combat machine M4 which has moving parts linked directly to the main mechanism of the gun, such as the bolt. Echo 1 has recently released a Blowback MP5SD. Also APS (accuracy pneumatics shooting) makes EBB M4A1, M4 Commando, and the AK47. The M4's also have 3 others with an ris unit. These weapons perform identically to similar non-blowback offerings, with the added realism of reciprocating bolts and some recoil. Most models incorporate pneumatic blowback systems but some feature mechanical systems.
Recently, the company UHC, well known for its spring guns, began manufacturing a range of electric guns in miniature size that fire only full automatic. They differ from LPEGs in that they are not replicas of real firearms, being miniaturized version of real firearms, mostly made of black or clear plastic.
They have a small ammo capacity, usually between 50 and 100 rounds, but they have good range and a functional hop-up. They have become very popular in recent years, and are now being manufactured by Tokyo Marui. These “minis,” as they are referred to, are not a viable option in games against AEGs since their small ammo capacity, short range and poor far range accuracy leave their wielder at a large disadvantage. Mini electric guns are able to compete with spring pistols at close ranges however, primarily due to their higher rate of fire.
Automatic Electric Pistols
Automatic Electric Pistols, abbreviated AEPs, were first introduced by Tokyo Marui in 2005 with their Glock 18C (followed later by a Beretta 93R model). They were the first handguns to incorporate an electric powered system that is capable of fully automatic operation.
In cold weather, AEPs are often considered better sidearms than gas powered pistols, because batteries are not as badly affected by frigid weather. Gases like CO2 and green gas are stored in liquid form and require heat in order to vaporize. A gas pistol at 10 °F (−12 °C) will usually only get one to two usable shots from a full magazine, and even will be at reduced power because of the lowered pressure of the gas.
Because the AEP gearbox and battery are smaller, the velocity of AEP BBs (usually between 200 to 280 ft/s (85.3 m/s)) is relatively slow by the standards of airsoft simulations, rendering them useful only for close-range simulation. However, the advanced hop up units on these new guns tend to compensate for the low power and can produce an effective range comparable to those of an AEG. CYMA has made a clone Glock 18C, which is a lower priced alternative.
An AEP differs from electric blow-backs because the AEP has a fixed slide (in which there is no external movement of the slide during operation), while an EBB simulates the "blow back" action in the slide experienced in a real pistol or Gas Blow Back (GBB). An AEP, however, has much more power and accuracy.
One of the newer AEP-styled guns is the Marui replica of the Heckler & Koch MP7. It is considerably larger than either of the other guns, and can be upgraded to a much higher power through the use of an external battery, but uses the same system as the AEP, so the classification is ambiguous. It is slightly more powerful than the others and is a suitable choice for CQB (Close Quarter Battle) games due to its small size and decent barrel- to gun-length ratio.
Some semi-automatic pistols can be modified to be automatic pistols. To make them more effective, they use rechargeable batteries supplied with the gun, and can be replaced with a larger battery to make their ROF higher.
Due to restrictions on size, either the electric motor or batteries have to occupy space in the hand grip, reducing the available space for a magazine. Because of this no AEP uses a full size magazine found in most gas powered pistols.
In addition, most AEPs are constructed almost entirely of plastic and have a light, toy-like feeling to them.
High-profile, top-quality airsoft gun manufacturers such as Japan's Systema Engineering (PTW) and Hong Kong's Celcius Technology (CTW) developed a truly professional concept of airsoft guns and accessories intended for military and law enforcement training. These airsoft guns are made of aircraft grade aluminum combined with stainless steel parts that gives strength, stability, excellent weather protection, and easy maintenance. Using sophisticated electronics and ingenious mechanics, the training weapons offer the most realistic replicas and a proper display of the most accurate military firepower for an airsoft gun. The advanced high performance AEGs engineered and built by these companies are training weapons which are among the most expensive items that an airsoft enthusiast can buy.
Gas powered airsoft guns
These guns are capable of automatic and semi-automatic operation. The most common gases used are "green gas" and Propane which requires an adaptor, HFC-134a. Less commonly used gases include "red gas" (which is actually HCFC-22), CO2 and nitrogen/high pressure air. It is unlawful to use HCFC-22 as a propellant in the US. HCFC-22 is a Class II ozone depleting substance and its use as an aerosol propellant has been banned since January 1994 under section 610(d) of Clean Air Act.
Red gas is usually avoided unless the airsoft gun has undergone modification, as its relatively high critical pressure can cause damage to the airsoft gun, such as breakage of the slide or bolt. CO2, nitrogen, and high pressure air are less common because they need to be stored at higher pressures than "green gas" or HFC-134a.
The first ever gas powered airsoft guns were commonly referred to as 'classic' guns, owing to their age. These guns were most commonly powered by liquid propellants such as R-12 (Which was marketed by the Japanese as FLON-12 or DuPont tradename Freon 12)CFC-12 feed system with a majority of the configurations containing two tanks, one containing the CFC-12 and one used as an expansion tank, and the gun itself. CFC-12 was a commonly used refrigerant for car air conditioning and refrigerators.
It is considered a highly potent ozone depleting substance and listed as a Class I Ozone Depleting Substance by the US EPA. Its use as a general purpose aerosol propellant has been banned by the US EPA since March 1978 under 43 FR 11301 for use in aerosol use with a very few exceptions. Its use is also banned in many countries under United Nations treaties. On Dec 31, 2008, the use of CFCs for medical inhalers were banned.
The use of Later users modified these old guns to be powered by regulated CO2 canisters or nitrogen/high pressure air bottles to increase power and consistency. However, these guns have largely been superseded by the newer and more versatile AEGs, or automatic electric guns. One of the reasons for this is because the most commonly available propellant, R-12, is costly. Additionally, at high flow rates, liquid propellants tend to cool down, eventually freezing. As cooldown progresses, the rate of fire gradually decreases until the gun ceases operation. The user would then be forced to wait for the propellant to warm up again. CO2 is not affected as badly by this tendency, and nitrogen/high pressure air is immune to it. Furthermore, if liquid propellant is introduced into the gun's mechanism, rubber parts can freeze and eventually damage the gun. However, it is unlikely for this to occur since once the gas is released from the containing cylinder it instantly turns back into its gaseous state, and expands rapidly. It is doubtful whether the retained pressure behind the BB before it begins to accelerate down the barrel is enough to keep the gas in a liquid form. Also, any gun that is expected to be exposed to the intense cold of de-pressurizing gas should have materials that can handle it.
Gas power tends to be used in airsoft pistols where size constraints make electric-powered mechanisms impractical. Other instances where gas is favored are where adjustable velocities are required or where a blowback feature is desired. A blowback feature is a mechanism which cycles a slide or bolt to better simulate a real firearm's operation. Because of the mechanical complexities involved with distributing and regulating gas, these guns have largely given way to electric guns for less specialized applications, however, they still remain favorable amongst most airsofters. They are not just limited to pistols; submachine guns, sniper rifles and assault rifles commonly use gas mechanisms. Whilst the submachine gun replicas typically feature a blowback mechanism similar to the pistol replicas, sniper rifle replicas usually omit the blowback mechanism in favor of reduced recoil and increased muzzle velocity.
Along with using gas to power guns, it is also applied for use in replica grenades. These grenades are both projectiles, fired from a grenade launcher such as the M203 or GP-25, or throwable. The shells work on the system of an internal piston, filled with gas. Either a series of BB's or in some cases a rubber or soft foam head is seated in or on top of the shell. When the pressure is released the projectile(s) are shot from the launcher sent downrange.
In the case of the throwable grenades, inside the grenade there is a similar piston to the one used in the shells, but is on a literal "timer" that allows the user to clear the area of effect. BB's or powder act as the projectile in the case of these grenades. Currently both types of grenades are not very common, mostly because grenade launchers are quite expensive and the throwable grenades are not very reliable.
Classic airsoft guns are usually older variety airsoft guns which are gas powered. Unlike the gas pistols of today, they can run on either an internal tank using conventional airsoft gas or use an external CO2 tank much like a paintball gun. They generally cost more than the standard AEG but provide a more realistic approach to airsoft. Some models, such as those made by the Sun Project, feature a type of "recoil" provided by these guns. While these guns can become more powerful than AEGs, almost all users operate them at AEG power. These replicas often are fitted with a LRB (Long Range Barrel) instead of a traditional hop-up unit. The LRB turns the entire barrel into a hop-up system, giving a consistent spin on the BB. The rate of fire on these can be regulated by the amount of air being fed through the system, versus the motor strength of an AEG.
Optical sights are fairly common for use on rifles; mostly red dot sights for short-range use, and telescopic sights for longer-range use. These range from inexpensive sights designed for use on pellet guns and .22 rifles, to mid-range sights, usually inexpensive replicas of actual rifle sights (such as replicas of the M68 Aimpoint, Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG), and imitation holographic weapon sights that are actually red dot sights), to actual sights designed for use on rifles, including the EOTech holographic sight, and the Trijicon ACOG TA01NSN. Most of these sights are mounted on a MIL-STD-1913 Rail, however some guns including replicas of AK47s, MP5s, and G36s have special mounts for specific sights.
Magazines are usually realistic looking replicas of real firearms' magazines and as such are made of the same materials like stamped metal or high impact plastic. They occasionally feature markings and/or engravings that match or mimic their real counterparts.
Airsoft magazines are divided into the following classes according to the number of pellets they hold:
Low capacity (Low-cap)
Low capacity magazines are the type of magazine provided by Tokyo Marui and some other manufacturers with their guns. They are known as "Low capacity" or "low-cap" as they hold much less BBs than most medium capacity or high capacity magazines. Many contain around 68 BBs (the standard amount for a Tokyo Marui magazine) and are normally loaded by inserting pellets down a shaft, compressing a spring held inside that will later feed the pellets into the gun.
Low capacity magazines offer quiet operation (no rattle or manual winding of high-capacity magazines) and are sometimes the only option available for certain airsoft gun models. They are also useful to help players limit their ammunition consumption and simulate more realism by simulating the 20–40 rounds in a real rifle.
Low-cap magazines almost only come with Tokyo Marui guns whereas some companies like Classic Army or ICS supply high-capacity magazines with their guns. However, most magazines will not feed every single pellet, leaving 2–3 pellets at the end of the magazine or in the feed tube of the hop-up chamber (some players may circumvent this problem by inverting the gun to allow gravity to feed the pellets instead).
Medium capacity (Mid-cap)
These kinds of magazines are either bought or modded to accommodate from 90–190 BB's Traditionally, they still function like a low-cap/real-cap magazine and as such keep the advantage of quiet operation over high-capacity magazines (that require a winding mechanism), but minimize the disadvantage of a low capacity magazine's lower number of rounds. They are also somewhat more reliable because of the lower level of dry firing due to the higher number of rounds that can be shot off without having to even touch the clip, whereas high-cap magazines need winding every 20-40 shots. Increasingly, however, winding magazines are being released to the market and can be placed into this category due to their 200 rounds or less capacity, though usually when magazines are referred as mid-cap it is assumed that they are non-winded magazines with capacity of 90 to 190 rounds.
Medium capacity magazines are somewhat the preferred medium among many players, as they offer a fair amount of rounds without winding, bring some variability to game play in terms of magazine change, simulate reality the best and prevent endless spraying from guns that are not really designed to do so. That's why it's not unusual for many games to only allow the use of mid-cap (expect for i.e. light machine guns) magazines in game.
High capacity (High-cap)
High-cap mags hold more shots than a mid-cap (about 200–800), but a wheel has to be wound every 50–100 shots. High-caps are loaded by pouring BBs into the tank and either winding the wheel on the bottom of the mag or operating an electric motor.
Drum and Box Magazines usually have the greatest ammunition capacity of all airsoft magazines; ranging from 2000 to 5000 rounds. These magazines replicate the ammunition boxes used by belt-fed support weapons such as M249s and M60s. Drum Magazines tend to replicate magazines like the Beta C-Mag and the equivalent for weapons such as G36s, AK-47s and MP5s. Internally these magazines work very similarly to High-Cap magazines and most have a push button operated electric motor to wind the spring that drives the feeding system.
Real capacity (Real-cap)
Real-caps are identical in operation compared to low capacity magazines, but they carry the same amount of ammunition that the real version of the magazine can carry, which is often much less than the low-cap magazine, e.g. an M-16 real-cap will hold 30 rounds instead of the 68 of a low-cap magazine. Some ultra-realistic groups require the magazines to be weighted to actual firearm specs.
These tend to be used solely by those wanting the most realistic MilSim ("MILitary SIMulation") games. They also offer the stealth of no rattling rounds, but their main use is for the realistic qualities.
Single stack magazines are reserved for pistols and pistol-like weapons. The magazines hold anything from 7 to 28 shots depending on the weapon type. The BBs are stacked on top of each other, hence the term "single stack". These and double stack magazines are also seen with some airsoft spring and gas sniper rifles, with some exceptions to electric sniper rifles which occasionally use a mid cap magazine.
"Double stack" magazines are reserved for pistols and pistol-like weapons. Unlike the single stack magazines, these are loaded in a staggered column, similar to many real firearm magazines. This allows for more BBs to be loaded without extending the length of the magazine. The term "double stack" or "double column" is a common misnomer.
Alternate Style Magazines
Some other magazine styles are seen with a few models of airsoft guns, typically airsoft sniper rifles. Most airsoft sniper rifles employ a magazine that is similar to a mid cap magazine as with the twisting spring design seen in most mid cap magazines, while maintaining a relatively low magazine capacity.
Airsoft guns shoot plastic pellets at velocities from 100 ft/s (30 m/s) for a low-end spring pistol, to 500 ft/s (150 m/s) and beyond for heavily upgraded customized sniper rifles. Most non-upgraded AEGs using the Tokyo Marui system are in the middle, producing velocities from 270 to 325 ft/s (80 to 90 m/s) with the exception of companies such as G&G, G&P, Cybergun, Echo1, Aftermath Airsoft, D-boys, Cyma and Jing Gong which manufacture guns that produce velocities of over 350 ft/s (or 1J with a .2 g pellet) stock. The internal components of most guns can be upgraded which can increase the pellet velocity significantly. Using heavier pellets (.25 g, .3 g, etc.) will significantly reduce the gun's muzzle velocity, but can increase accuracy at range and reduce susceptibility to wind drift. It is often thought that, the lighter the pellet, the further it goes, but dedicated airsoft players found out that lighter pellets are more prone to air resistance, due to the higher initial velocity, and thus lose their kinetic energy earlier than their heavier counterparts. Therefore it recently became commonly accepted, that decreasing the pellet's weight will not increase its range. High-velocity AEGs often employ heavier pellets, as the velocity penalty does not affect them as much, while the accuracy benefits remain. Most high-end AEGs, such as Classic Army and Tokyo Marui, should not be loaded with anything lighter than 0.2 g pellets, as the lighter pellets (0.12 g, 0.15 g) are typically made for low-end guns, and are not built to the same quality (such as surface smoothness). The stresses the pellets go under upon firing could shatter lighter or poorly made pellets as they leave the barrel, potentially damaging both the weapon and the target.
Airsoft guns can be modified to increase pellet velocity, rate of fire, or reliability. For an electric airsoft gun, the pellet velocity can be increased by two different methods. The first is upgrading the inner barrel of the gun. The inner barrel is what the BB travels within while in the gun. Upgrading it to a tighter barrel can make the gun both more accurate and give an increase in FPS that can be up to a +30FPS increase. The second is simply upgrading the mainspring (which has been simplified by ICS' revolutionary adjustable spring guide and the Ares quick change spring system). Doing this will increase the air pressure subjected to the pellet produced during operation. But due to the higher forces at play, it is advised that other parts should be upgraded together with the mainspring in order to maintain a high level of reliability. The rate of fire is increased by using a battery with a higher voltage, high-speed ratio gears and/or a high-speed motor. Rates of fire can be increased to over 20 rounds per second with very few upgrades, but with careful selection and extreme modification of gearbox components, rates of fire in excess of 50 rounds per second are not unheard of. In the case of gas guns, a higher pellet velocity can be achieved through the use of different types of gases and/or changing the valve. Some gases have detrimental effects to some plastic components inside the airsoft gun.
Airsoft guns commonly come with mounts or rails on which the airsofter can add external accessories. Some common customizations added are flashlights, scopes and lasers. Since some airsoft guns have the exact external frame as real guns, you can use these external parts meant for real guns, but the opposite does not apply. In no way can an airsoft rifle be modified to shoot real ammunition. In most cases, add-ons are more for aesthetics rather than performance. However, scopes can commonly increase accuracy at longer ranges and can also allow for quicker aiming on large airsoft guns, with proper firing technique by the user/operator (the installation of a scope does not physically make the gun fire pellets more accurately). Other attachments, such as replica grenade launchers can act as under-barrel shotguns, and a mock silencer can be added to provide support for a longer inner barrel therefore improving accuracy, as well as accuracy and range in all airsoft guns. Tight bore barrels are also available for lower air tolerances, thus increasing power and improving accuracy.
Maintenance and lubrication
One should wipe his/her airsoft gun with a clean cloth after use, remove any dirt, oil and other contaminants. On the inside of the chamber and the barrel a cotton swab should be used to remove any dirt or possible shrapnel from shattered pellets/BB's. After every 3,000 to 4,000 shots fired, the airsoft gun should be lubricated, by placing a few drops or sprays of silicon-based oil or silicone grease into all moving parts of the gun, including the piston and cylinder, hop up chamber, and inner barrel,inner barrel should be lubricated more often to decrease barrel wear and corrosion depending on the inner barrel material, brass should be regularly lubricated the most (1500 to 2000 shots) to protect it from moisture and wear due to its malleable and easily stained state, other inner barrel materials (aluminum, stainless steel) can be lubricated less. Gears should also be regularly lubricated by using a specially made silicone grease that will not fail in high temperatures created by the friction the gears generate during operation. It is important to not use too much oil, and wipe excess oil off the gun since excess oiling can lead to jams and will accumulate dirt and grime inside a gun. Stored airsoft guns should be placed in a cool, clean room. Storing a gun that is cocked is not recommended because it will wear out the spring, on AEG's this can be achieved by firing firing a few shots on semi-automatic or using the spring release when available.
It is also highly recommended to not store pellets in your magazines. Due to smaller sizes and lighter materials of the spring, it will relax considerably fast causing it to be weaker, thus not being able to feed as many pellets and subjecting your gun to more misfeeds. This should especially taken into consideration with high cap, manually winded magazines.
One of the most important parts of proper airsoft gun maintenance, is to use quality BBs. Some BBs, like the BBs most airsoft guns come with, are too light or carry surface imperfections that can damage the gearbox of a airsoft gun. Using BBs that are at least .2g or heavier is the most beneficial for the airsoft gun parts. One should never re-use BBs, as once fired they become chipped, scarred or covered with contaminants that can jam the airsoft gun. The use of metallic BBs, or any foreign objects, may damage the airsoft gun.
Airsoft guns, like any mechanical device are prone to heat and friction which cause wear. The airsoft gun owner can take steps to reduce wear and get the most life out of his/her airsoft gun as possible. A proper maintenance program that includes regular airsoft lubrication is very important to getting the most out of an airsoft gun. Silicone greases are widely used in airsoft gun parts, internals and mounts in order to avoid corrosion, abrasion and general aging of the materials. A dry-set lubricant is delivered with a solvent carrier to penetrate the mechanism. The solvent evaporates, leaving a clear film that lubricates but does not attract dirt and grit as much as a traditional "wet" lubricant. Airsoft safe lubricants use non-petroleum based, inert propellants that will not harm the rubber and plastic parts on the airsoft gun such as the Hop rubber and "O" rings.
Some airsoft guns can be such accurate replicas that they violate intellectual property laws (specifically those regarding trademarks), most notably some models from Tokyo Marui bearing Colt or Heckler & Koch trademarks that may not be imported into the United States. Certain companies such as Classic Army or ICS avoid this problem by licensing their replicas from the original manufacturers like ArmaLite by license from ActionSportGames or Olympic Arms. The airsoft company ActionSportGames has licensed trademark rights from many well-known firearm manufacturers, such as Armalite, DanWesson, CZ, Steyr, STI, B&T, Franchi etc..
House Resolution 607
Directs the Secretary of Defense to require that any contract entered into or renewed by the Department of Defense include a provision prohibiting the contractor from requiring toy and hobby manufacturers, or merchants to obtain licenses from, or pay fees to, the contractor for the use of military likenesses or designations on items provided under the contract.
This would have meant that airsoft manufacturers producing airsoft guns based on those used by the Department of Defense would not have to pay licensing fees for importation into the United States, allowing legal airsoft versions of U.S. Military guns, with trademarks intact.
This bill never made it past subcommittee.
Airsoft is relatively safe when played with proper protection. Most airsoft guns on the market are usually below 350 ft/s (110 m/s), but projectiles expelled from any type of airsoft guns can travel as low as 65 ft/s (20 m/s) to more than 700 ft/s (210 m/s) and are capable of breaking skin at 300 ft/s (91 m/s). Though, if over 300 ft/s (91 m/s), the hit would have to be within a short range and breaking the skin is not the same as penetrating it. Blood can be drawn, but flesh is usually left intact or bruised at worst. Protective eyewear (goggles or glasses) is widely considered the minimum protection for airsoft players, as the eyes may be injured by any type of impact. A little known fact is that the teeth can also be injured (fractured) by the impact of a pellet. Dentists have reported broken teeth that require root canal and crowns to repair damage. A face mask (like that used for paintball) is recommended to protect eyes and teeth.
There are legal issues in airsoft as well as several rules imposed in a game by game basis. Most airsoft fields only allow up to 350 ft/s (110 m/s). In order for an airsoft gun to be lethal or a threat to an airsoft player physical integrity, it would have to be well over that limit. To even reach such speeds the gun would have to be highly modified. So it is therefore unlikely to kill anyone with any standard airsoft gun sold. The use of metallic BBs, or any foreign objects, is very dangerous for the user and other people and property in close vicinity, and may damage the airsoft gun as well. However, specially designed and built metallic 6mm BBs for airsoft guns can be found on the market. These metallic BBs should not be used for airsoft play because they can break airsoft player protections like goggles.
In the United States, it is federal law to have an orange tip on the gun for transportation and sale only. However, local laws may differ by jurisdiction. Full or partial preventive painting of airsoft guns as a legal obligation to avoid confusion of the airsoft replicas with real lethal weapons is in practice in several jurisdictions around the World.
Airsoft guns should be stored in a safe place, out of reach of children. The replica should be completely unloaded, including magazine and chamber. AEGs should be stored without its batteries connected.
- Airsoft related
- Other air powered guns
- ^ Airsoft Manufacturers, DCP Airsoft
- ^ Airsoft Manufacturers, Airsoft Reportcard
- ^ Airsoft Obsessed, DCP Airsoft
- ^ List of airsoft manufacturers, Mahalo.com
- ^ a b airSOCOM.com Gun Propulsion
- ^ "Airsoft Guide and Information - What is Airsoft!? ." Airsplat. 15 May 2008 http://www.airsplat.com/airsoft-definition.htm.
- ^ http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/aerosol/aerosol.pdf
- ^ 58 FR 50464 | Ozone Layer Protection - Regulatory Programs | US EPA
- ^  Advanced Guide To Airsoft Ammo
- ^ ESOG ADMIN GUIDE "Equipment Requirements, #3"
- ^ GovTrack.us. H.R. 607--110th Congress (2007): Military Toy Replica Act, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation) http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-607 (accessed Mar 28, 2007)
- ^ H.R. 607 [110th]: Military Toy Replica Act (GovTrack.us)
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