What is an Airsoft Gun – Comprehensive Answer

An airsoft gun is a replica of real guns used in airsoft games. It is a unique form of a low-power air gun constructed to shoot spherical bullets made of resins or plastic materials. These guns are designed in power plants with a low muzzle velocity rating.

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In this article, we will show you everything you need to know about airsoft guns. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about airsoft and its regulations. Stay with us!

What is an Airsoft Gun Used for?

Airsoft is now used for training military personnel in close-quarter battles. In fact, in 2018, the US Coast Guard, which is in charge of enforcing maritime laws in the territorial waters of the United States, adopted the SIG-branded P229 for the training of its personnel.

Gas blowback guns are now used for military drills such as muscle memory training, force-on-force simulations, weapon manipulation, and stress inoculation. The reason for this is that airsoft weapons are quite cheaper than real weapons.

An airsoft gun can also be used in elementary and advanced shooting drills because it is safer than actual guns, which has a high rate of accidental discharge.

As of today, there are teams, associations, and clubs committed to organizing airsoft events in different locations across the globe. That said, Europe is considered to be the epicenter of airsoft events. It boasts of thousands of participants in most events organized in the region.

Prior to 2012, airsoft was seen as only a recreational activity. But since when gas blowback airsoft system was adopted by the United States federal and state agencies, that narrative has changed.

For example, the Fulda Gap Airsoft Game organized in Taylorsville, North Carolina, recorded over 1200 participants. That same year, the Operation Lion Claws Military Simulation Series (OLCMSS) also recorded a large turnout of more than 900 individuals.

Other airsoft events that recorded a large number of participants include the Ballahack, Black Sheep, and American Mil-sim. The reason for the influx of the large crowd is most likely because of the plethora of sophisticated weapons used and the intensity of the games. In such events, you get to see airsoft guns, missiles, and vehicles that you never knew existed.

As a highly regulated sport, owners of airsoft guns are expected to be registered with the appropriate airsoft associations in the region. Moreover, even the field used in hosting or simulating airsoft events is registered with the appropriate authorities.

Apart from the sophisticated weapons and customization features of airsoft games, the reenactment of historical battles and wars is another thing that attracts a lot of people.

With the daily improvements in airsoft ammunition, some companies like Celsius Technology and Systema Engineering are now specialized in developing realistic and non-lethal airsoft guns, grenades, assault rifles, pistols, and landmines for military training. In addition, airsoft ammunitions are used as props in movie production.

What are the Types of Airsoft Guns?

The different types of airsoft guns available today include:

i. Spring-powered airsoft guns

ii. Electrically-powered airsoft guns

iii. Gas-powered airsoft guns

Let’s expound on them…

Spring-powered Airsoft Guns

This type of gun is also known as an air-cocking airsoft gun. It is a single-shot gun that uses the potential energy kept in compressed coil springs in propelling piston vacuum pumps. These pumps, in turn, pressurize the trapped air in the pump cylinder when the trigger of the gun is pulled.

Spring-powered airsoft guns are very similar to spring-piston firearms, so it is easy to confuse them. To make matters worse, they are both operated similarly. Before you shoot a spring-powered airsoft gun, you must recompress the spring by dragging the slide or pistol back.

In addition, spring-powered airsoft guns are not designed for automatic and semi-automatic shots. This is because the spring that propels the trigger is manually recompressed by the shooter.

Also, note that this type of airsoft gun is more powerful compared to electric-powered airsoft guns, mainly because the motor-gearbox is not usually overloaded. However, spring-powered airsoft guns are less powerful when compared to gas-powered guns.

Notwithstanding, spring-powered airsoft guns and rifles are still very powerful. In fact, some of them boast of muzzle velocities as high as 700 feet per second. Another great thing about this type of airsoft gun is that it is usually very affordable. Although some very sophisticated shotguns and sniper rifles are not precisely pocket-friendly.

In addition, spring-powered airsoft guns are easily accessible compared to others. You can find them in almost all airsoft gun licensed department stores. As a matter of fact, 70% of airsoft players have spring-powered guns because of their affordability, simplicity, and availability. Whether it’s for competitive purposes or just for replica value, airsoft guns have dominated the airsoft industry.

The major drawback of spring-powered airsoft guns is that they are not built to last, which is mainly because of the tension on the gun due to the recoil of the spring. But thankfully, most spring-powered airsoft guns are upgradable and customizable, so you can develop them to meet your needs.

If you have used different types of airsoft guns, you may have noticed that many electric-powered airsoft guns are fitted with springs that propel the bullets by driving the air pump. The main difference between them is electric airsoft guns require an external power source to function, while the other does not.

Also, note that spring-powered airsoft guns are not exactly the best if you are participating in a competition. This is because their rate of fire is the lowest compared to other types of airsoft guns. What’s more, they are not very accurate and far-reaching. So if you use them in competitions, you will be at a disadvantage.

However, some few spring-powered guns are superb. You can use these in competitive events because their muzzle velocity and accuracy are high. But then, they come at a price.

That said, the environment you are in plays a huge role in the type of airsoft gun you should go for. For instance, in cold environments, spring-powered airsoft guns are more effective than all other types of airsoft guns.

This is because only spring-powered guns are not affected by low temperatures. What’s more, they are also not affected by water, so you can still use them even when it’s raining, unlike electric-powered airsoft guns that may short circuit or stop functioning when wet.

In light of the above, even though spring-powered airsoft guns are not exactly the best in terms of performance, they will save you when you find yourself in cold regions. Because of its non-reliance on external power sources, spring-powered guns are more environmentally-friendly compared to other types.

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Electrically-powered Airsoft Guns

There are different types of electric-powered airsoft guns available in the market. They are:

Automatic Electric Guns

As we mentioned earlier, an automatic electric airsoft gun uses a piston pump that is spring-loaded to propel the pellet. This operation will not be possible without the help of rechargeable batteries that power the electric motor.

Furthermore, automatic electric guns, automatic, semi-automatic, and 3-round burst firing are possible. In fact, it is for this particular reason; the gun is called “automatic.” Electric guns can get to a maximum muzzle velocity of about 700 feet per second. And their rate of firing can be as high as 1600 rounds per minute.

Meanwhile, automatic electric guns were built in Japan by Tokyo Marui, which is the same company that created the first gearbox system. The gun is designed to function with a combination of three gears, which are placed on the gearbox. Once that is done, the spring can be released to push the piston plunger, which then propels the pellets.

Today, we now have companies improving on Tokyo Marui’s design, to get higher performance in automatic electric guns.

As an electrically powered gun, a nickel-metal hydride battery is used for providing the needed power supply. The ratings of these batteries are measured in milliamperes and voltages.

Furthermore, the most prominent automatic electric gun battery you will find is the 8.4 Volts, which has a capacity of up to 5000 milliamperes. This battery is marketed as a “large capacity” battery. Because of its capacity, it’s not surprising that it is the most expensive.

That said, if you need a lower capacity battery, you can go for the ones that have a capacity between 1000 – 1700 mAh and a voltage of 7.2 – 13 Volts. In buying batteries for your automatic electric airsoft guns, the rule is that the higher the battery’s rating, the longer the battery’s lasting power.

Although, just recently, we have started seeing a lot of lithium polymer (Li-Po) batteries that are energy-packed to last much longer than conventional batteries. These lithium polymer batteries can also be recharged without causing any voltage depression issues. They are also portable and lightweight, so you can easily carry them to any location.

Apart from the battery enhancements, external features like reinforced plastic and metallic bodies have been added to the new automatic electric airsoft guns to make them ultra-realistic and attractive. In fact, the guns manufactured by Tokyo Marui and Classic Army are so real that you may not be able to differentiate them from their actual counterparts if they are placed side-by-side.

While Classic Army uses metal bodies in crafting their airsoft guns, Tokyo Marui employs ABS plastics to get the job done. That said, some of the most common automatic electric airsoft guns you will see in the market are M4 carbine, M16 rifle and AR-15 series, Kalashnikov series, H&K MP7, FN P90, and the ArmaLite.

These guns are repairable and customizable, so you can choose to tweak some of their functions to get optimum performance.

Low-powered Electric Airsoft Guns

This type of airsoft gun is slightly different from automatic electric guns. Although they both have the same operating mechanism and design, low-powered electric airsoft guns are more powerful. This gun also Bear great semblance with mini electric airsoft guns, but they are not the same.

When they initially came into the airsoft industry, they were seen as rivals with spring-powered airsoft guns because of their low muzzle velocities and build. However, there are tons of spring-powered airsoft guns that outshine the low-powered electric airsoft guns, so you have a lot of options.

Medium Priced Electric Airsoft Guns

These guns have almost the same quality as automatic electric airsoft guns. A globally recognized brand such as UTG makes electric-powered AK-47 and MP5 gun models that are moderately priced.

Most of these medium priced electric airsoft guns are clones of the high-end models like the ones made by Tokyo Marui. But recently, brands like CYMA and Echo-1/Jing Gong are going the extra mile to ensure that their products have the same quality and superb performance as the high-end guns and still maintaining their moderate prices.

Furthermore, because most of the medium-priced electric airsoft guns are clones or dupes of high-end ones by the Classic Army and Tokyo Marui, you can replace their parts with the more sophisticated ones.

Electric Blowbacks

This is another type of electric-powered airsoft guns. It is powered by a 9.7 Volts rechargeable battery. These batteries are usually used in rifles and other far-reaching firearms.

Electric blowbacks mimic the pressure action of rifles, but they do are not the re in comparison to real pistols. These guns have just about the same performance as the automatic electric airsoft guns.

However, the letdown about them is that their batteries tend to run down quickly. In addition, electric blowbacks can reduce the shelf life of the gearbox because of the stress they exert on it.

Due to the performance of electric blowbacks, they are often incorporated into higher-end firearms to upgrade their features. In fact, as of today, airsoft brands like G&G and Echo 1 have started developing guns that have detachable parts that can be connected to the main power source of the gun. This improvement can be noticed in guns like MP5SD, M4 Commando, M4A1, and RK47.

Meanwhile, without the inclusion of blowback features in most electric airsoft guns, they can still perform excellently and realistically.

Gas-powered Airsoft Guns

This is another type of airsoft gun. It uses pneumatic potential energy kept in compressed gas to propel the gun to shoot. The operating principle and design of the gas-powered airsoft gun are quite different from that of electric-powered and spring-powered airsoft guns.

The most prominent gas-powered airsoft gun is the gas blowback gun. It features an inner canister in the magazine, which allows you to shoot the pellets by releasing the compressed gas. The inner canister also facilitates the recoil of the gun and loads it for another shot.

In light of the above, gas-powered airsoft guns are designed for both automatic and semi-automatic shooting. The gun uses propane and green gas as its propellant. Some examples of this gas are HCFC-22, nitrogen, CO2, and HFC-134.

We must quickly point out that it is illegal to use the HCFC-22 propellant in the United States due to its ozone-depleting nature. Also, using HCFC-22 to act as an aerosol propellant is against the law. These gases are mainly used in pistols because they have low-pressure plastic sliders, which will make the chances of damaging very unlikely.

Furthermore, red gases such as HCFC-22 is generally advised to be avoided in gas-powered airsoft guns, unless they have been modified. This is because they tend to not only affect the environment but also damage the gun in the long run. Instead of using it, you can opt for CO2 or nitrogen, which are more common and environmentally friendly.

The first generation of gas-powered airsoft guns was known as “classic” because of their age. They used liquid propellants like R-12, which is referred to as Freon 12 in Japan. The guns had two tanks: one for expansion and the other for housing the R-12.

R-12 is also used as a refrigerant for refrigerators and vehicle conditioning. However, it is no longer in circulation due to its ozone-depleting tendencies. In fact, the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency classified it as a Class I Ozone-Depleting Substance. It would also interest you to know that it’s not only the United States that banned this substance. Most member-nations of the United Nations also prohibit the use of aerosol and other CFCs. That said, the ban on aerosols and R-12 has some exceptions.

Video: Airsoft Guns Explained

This video shows you what you need to know about airsoft guns. Check it out…

How are Airsoft Guns Regulated?

In Canada, the importation of airsoft firearms is prohibited, while in the United States, airsoft gun owners are required only to transport it within the country. On importation, only airsoft gun tips with a minimum of 6mm width are allowed into the country. This is to prevent confusing it with real lethal guns.

Airsoft gun sellers always disclose that their guns have a 6mm orange tip. Besides, removing the orange tip is prohibited. In the United States, airsoft gun owners or users must be 18 years and above. In Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, and Thailand, airsoft weapons are totally prohibited.

Also, note that some states in the US have put in place stringent regulations to prevent unauthorized use of airsoft firearms. Some of these states include San Francisco, California, Washington DC, Michigan, and New York.

Furthermore, some nations have special laws guiding the use of airsoft firearms. They dictate the muzzle velocity, the brand, and the coloring of the airsoft guns that are allowed in their territories.

Also, due to the realistic nature of some airsoft guns, you may easily mistake them for real guns. To prevent this confusion and possible security threat, states like California make it illegal to use realistic airsoft firearms. In fact, using an airsoft firearm to commit a crime, have the same penalty as using real guns.

The establishment of these stringent laws is to create checks and balances in the use of airsoft firearms public spaces. So they are entirely understandable.

What are the Rules Governing Airsoft Games?

The following rules guide the playing of airsoft around the world:

i. Eye goggles must be worn at all times when in an airsoft field.

ii. Ensure that an airsoft gun is directed appropriately, with all fingers away from the trigger.

iii. Physical or verbal form of fighting is prohibited in the field.

v. Climbing windows, walls, banisters, or any related facility is not allowed.

iv. Shooting facilities in the arena like cameras, signboards, speakers, lights and fire hydrants, props, and game enhancers are prohibited.

vi. Do not enter the field while there is an on-going game.

vii. Always respect the decision of the referee.

viii. On no account should a player that has surrendered be shot.

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Airsoft guns are realistic, but non-lethal firearms designed for playing airsoft games and for military training. These guns are usually powered by gas, spring, electricity, and batteries.

Although airsoft guns only cause pain, it is important that you do not use them indiscriminately. Today, gun violence is a source of global concern, so stringent regulations have been put in place by governments around the world to monitor and control the use of airsoft guns.

What is an Airsoft Gun – Related FAQs

What is the difference between a BB Gun and an Airsoft Gun?

The major differences between airsoft guns and BB guns are ammunition, realism, how they are used, and performance. Airsoft guns shoot plastic BBs as imitation bullets, while BB guns make use of small lead or metal BBs. BB guns are mainly used for target practice, hunting and pest control activities. On the other hand, airsoft guns are used for professional training and mil-sim games.

Airsoft guns outmatch BB guns in realism and aesthetics. Airsoft guns have a more realistic feel to them and look nearly the same as actual firearms.

Can a Felon Own an Airsoft Gun?

A felon can own an airsoft gun. Airsoft guns are not considered real firearms since they have far less potential to cause serious damages. According to the federal description, firearms are weapons that are designed to fire a projectile through the action of an explosive. Since airsoft guns are not designed to fire projectiles through this means, they are not considered firearms.

However, some states place restrictions on the usage of airsoft guns. While some states allow airsoft guns to be used, others disallow it completely. To be on the safe side, check the local laws for the legality of airsoft guns before using one.

Is it Illegal to Take the Orange Tip Off of an Airsoft gun?

Taking off the orange tip from an airsoft gun is illegal. The orange tip is a requirement enacted by the federal government and not the state government. The orange blaze tip is a way of differentiating real firearms from toy guns or imitation firearms. If the tip is removed, it is assumed that the toy gun is a real weapon. Not only is this a criminal offense, but it is also punishable by law.

However, if the gun is to be used for a movie, a play or a TV show, then the user is free to take off the orange tip.

How Far Can a 400 FPS Airsoft Gun Shoot?

A 400 fps airsoft gun can fire BBs at a range of 25 – 35 yards, which translates to a distance between seventy and a hundred feet. However, with better components and proper tuning, the airsoft gun can fire BBs to reach distances between fifty and seventy yards. This translates to a distance near 200 feet.

Upgrading an airsoft gun to be able to shoot farther distances is quite expensive. Notwithstanding if the upgrade is worth it, then there should be no reservations about the cost.

Can a 300 FPS Airsoft Gun Kill a Bird?

A 300 FPS airsoft gun can kill a bird. However, this will depend on the kind of bird and the areas the BBs hit. If an airsoft gun will be used to hunt down birds, then it will be wise to note that to kill the bird, the BBs have to be shot on sensitive areas like the head or eyes.

Overall, it is better to use a pellet gun or shotgun for hunting. They are more effective as they can kill with a single shot.

Can a BB Gun Go through a Skull?

BB pellets cannot go through a human skull. BB guns fire lead pellets or small metal BBs that undoubtedly have the potential to cause serious injuries if they are fired from a far distance. They can penetrate and break the skin but that is all there is to it.

On the other hand, if a BB gun is upgraded to a firearm, then the bullets can penetrate a human skull. Ordinarily, the typical firearm bullet will only penetrate a single side of the skull, but if the bullets were to be the 0.357inch magnum semi-jacketed bullets, then they can penetrate both sides.