What are the types of airsoft guns?
Airsoft guns are comprised of a variety of forms and different functions, primary weapons are usually airsoft rifles or snipers whereas secondary weapons are almost always pistols. Airsoft guns use different systems like electric gearboxes, HPA systems or even gas propellant (GBB), but which is the best suited for you?
Airsoft Springer Pistols and Rifles
The first airsoft guns were based of a simple spring system that would compress a spring that was held back by a trigger system, which would allow the shot of one BB. The spring would push a plunger into an air cylinder, which would propel the projectile out of the barrel. This system is used in very rudimentary airsoft guns due to its simplicity and is usually seen in an airsoft pistol. The same concept can be applied to airsoft shotguns and airsoft snipers and some rifles, as these are weapons that don’t need to use fully automatic fire, hence the manual cocking back of the spring after every shot.
Airsoft Electric Guns – AEG’s
A system that was pioneered by Tokyo Marui is the AEG (automatic electric gun). This system is comprised of an electrical system that uses a high torque motor to drive a series of 4 gears that winds and cocks a spring and piston system. An AEG piston has teeth that enable it to be driven back, this enables the gears to release the piston once the gear ratio has achieved one cycle. Once the piston is released, the piston head uses an O-ring that expands into a brass cylinder, which compresses air and propels the projectile out of the barrel. This system, mixed with a mechanical cut off lever is what allows this platform for semi-automatic and full automatic fire, as the cut off lever cuts the system so that one trigger pull equates to one shot. This platform has developed over the years with new gear ratios allowing for faster rate of fires (ROF) and for quicker trigger responses. In the past years we have also seen the adoption of MOSFET (Metal-Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor) systems that have become an industry standard with higher end airsoft guns as these allow protective capabilities for your electrical system, and also programmability. Rather than relying on a physical cut off lever to enable semi-automatic fire, MOSFETS can use a signal component like a magnetic switch or an actual sensor that can grant the same semi-automatic fire mode. Fire modes like 2/3 round burst can also be programmed with these systems using the same principles.
Airsoft GBB/GBBR – Gas Blowback Guns
Another category of airsoft guns is GBB (gas blowbacks). These platforms offer the most realistic imitation of a firearm as the function of the weapon utilises the same blowback function to re-chamber a round into battery. This blowback in gas blowback pistols and GBBR’s (gas blowback rifles) emulates a small-scale level of recoil, which is missing in most forms of AEG airsoft guns. Rather than using the combustion of black powder as a propellant, the standard for gas blowback guns are compressed gases like green gas or propane, although some systems use co2 as a propellant as co2 can often perform better in colder temperatures. Using a gas propellant allows the simulated function of a real airsoft rifle – airsoft pistol without having actual combustion, which would hinder the safety aspect of airsoft. The gas propellant is mixed with silicone oil which coats the internal mechanics of a gas blow back gun, which maintains form and function of the gun. Gas blowback guns often need the same level of maintenance as a real firearm as the gas blowback gun uses the exact same function to propel and reload a projectile. GBB/GBBR (gas blowback rifles) aren’t heavily suggested for beginners but for people competent with firearm systems and overall safety and knowledge with them, should be able to use and maintain these airsoft guns, as they require regular maintenance. Many people forget about the maintenance aspect as the benefit of using a blowback system with recoil emulates a much more realistic style of gameplay, which is beneficial to people seeking a more realistic experience. Gas blowback guns are the predominant platform adopted by people seeking to train their real steel skills in a safer manner due to the realistic function and action of these airsoft guns.
Airsoft HPA Guns – Rifles
The last category that has only been used in the past few years is HPA (high pressure air) systems. These systems utilise a paintball style air tank and pressure regulator, filled with high-pressured oxygen that is released with either a mechanical output valve or a electrical solenoid through a small electrical system that allows a small burst of air to propel the projectile out of the barrel. This new system has been adopted by many players as it offers a much more efficient system that requires less maintenance due to the benefit of such few moving parts. The Polarstar system uses a single piston element, which shows how little there is to go wrong with HPA systems. The use of solenoids in this system allows for a very fast trigger response, which is one of the main attractions to this system. There are some drawbacks to HPA however, as HPA requires a large tank of pressured air to function. This will often be located in a pouch on the player’s tactical vest connected to a remote line that feeds into the gun. Some people see this as a large drawback as it does hinder the realism aspect, as having a tube sticking out of the gun is deemed unrealistic. HPA systems are also quite expensive when compared to AEG or even GBB platforms so it usually isn’t suggested for the introductory player.
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