What is an Airsoft Gun?
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Looking to get into the exciting world of airsoft? Feeling intimidated by this fascinating hobby is not uncommon. Newbies tend to hesitate and even back out just because airsoft may look complicated from afar.
But let me tell you this.
It’s not a game that’s very hard to get to know. In fact, all you need to know are a few basics and you’re ‘field ready’.
And have I told you how much fun getting to know the game is? Selecting airsoft guns for your loadout alone is one heck of a thrill.
Read on and let me walk you through the most basic things you need to know about airsoft guns to set you up for your first airsoft game.
What is an airsoft gun?
Airsoft guns are replica toy guns that are made to resemble real steel firearms. They are used in war games or even in target practice.
These airsoft replicas are non-lethal and are also made to be low in velocity so as not to hurt.
In addition to that…
…airsoft guns use plastic BBs as projectiles. These BBs were actually originally called pellets as BB initially refers to the ammo of an air gun, which uses steel BBs as opposed to airsoft guns’ plastic ammo.
This makes airsoft guns safer and more user- and beginner-friendly, resulting in their still rising popularity.
Did you know?
Airsoft guns were invented long before paintball guns came into the scene.
Airsoft guns originated in Japan in the 1970s. They’re made for shooting enthusiasts that were restricted by the state laws regarding real guns. They were first called Soft Air Guns and later on, BB guns when they’re adopted by the Western company Daisy BB gun.
For your information…
…the first brand of airsoft gun is Tokyo Marui.
So how about the materials?
You might notice that most of these imitation firearms are made of either metal, plastic, or a combination of both.
Some BB guns which are sold quite cheap could be made entirely of plastic or polymer. If you’d ask me, this kind is more suited to youngsters or complete beginners who are still trying to get a feel of an airsoft gun in their hands.
This is because a heavy amount of stress is being put in the internals whenever you shoot and there’s a chance that they could break if they’re made of weak material such as plastic.
…most mid-tier airsoft pellet guns on the market nowadays are made with at least metal internals along with polymer handles so they’re not super heavy but still durable enough to last.
What’s cooler is you can now also get a full metal airsoft gun without breaking the bank. Most of these models are made to be exact replicas of an actual firearm and even come with a license.
Types of airsoft guns
Now we come to the fun part. Just as how a real gun could come in many different forms, we also have different types of airsoft guns.
Spring powered airsoft guns
The original type of airsoft gun is the spring-powered gun. They are also called springers or air-cocking guns (Tokyo Marui).
They are single-shot airsoft guns that you need to cock or pump first before firing. These airsoft guns fire a relatively slower rate of fire and they also aren’t for long-distance shots. But they can be very reliable in close-quarter battles.
Because of its simplicity…
…it’s considered one of the best airsoft guns for new or practicing airsoft players as it’s very easy to use and not intimidating. Not to mention, it also helps the user practice muscle memory and gun handling.
In addition to that, most spring-powered airsoft guns come very cheaply, just perfect if you’re still not sure whether to dive into airsoft or not.
On the flip side…
The downside of springers is they don’t have automatic firing capabilities.
Gas Airsoft Guns
A gas-powered airsoft gun operates very differently from a spring gun. Basically, it’s powered by pressurized gas which is contained in a canister that’s usually kept inside the gun’s handle.
The pressure from the gas is what propels the airsoft pellets to shoot forward.
…the most common type of gas-powered airsoft gun is the gas blowback gun or GBB and the most common gases used for gas-powered guns are green gas and CO2.
Green gas is a kind of lubricated propane that is odorless and usually requires an adapter to use.
One of the benefits of using green gas is it’s very cost-efficient and it tends to give more shots compared to CO2.
But what’s cooler…
…is because it has silicone in it, the green gas can also lubricate your gun, resulting in smoother action. But most green gas airsoft guns have a relatively lower pressure than CO2. While you may see it as a disadvantage, it can also mean that it’s easier on your airsoft gun.
On the other hand…
…CO2 is simply pressurized air or carbon dioxide in a canister. The most common is the 12-gram CO2 which is more or less the size of your thumb.
While green gas is much gentler on your gun, if you love some extra punch, you can rely on CO2 gas to do the job for you.
Because it’s more pressurized, a CO2 Airsoft gun usually has a higher FPS and heavier punch.
And that’s not all.
CO2 is also very dependable on cold weather, much more than the lubricated green gas.
Gas-powered guns are popular as sidearms. While they’re more convenient than spring guns, not many gas imitation firearms are perfectly accurate and most of them tend to spray BBs everywhere.
Automatic Electric Guns (AEG)
Sometimes called Airsoft Electric guns, most AEGs are powered by rechargeable batteries.
AEGs are fast becoming a favorite among most players as they’re very easy to use, don’t require tuning, are easy to maintain, and can be very powerful.
A powerful AEG could go as fast as 650 FPS. Seriously!
…AEG guns tend to have decent to excellent velocity and range, especially ones that come at over $100.
Aside from spring guns, AEGs are also recommended for beginners as they’re not very fussy to use.
Who can buy and use them?
In case you’re wondering, in federal law as well as in many countries, anyone can use BB guns as they’re mostly categorized as toys.
Some laws dictate that only people who are 18 years old and above can buy one while some allow for the underage to get one so long as they have their parents’ or guardians’ permission.
Airsoft Guns – Safety Concerns
Just because pellet guns are mostly categorized as toys should mean you can let your guards down when handling one.
An airsoft gun is only safe if it’s handled with care and protective gear.
…most airsoft fields also impose restrictions when it comes to the velocity of the airsoft guns.
Indoor airsoft fields usually limit BB guns up to 350 to 400 FPS. Outdoor fields usually allow higher limitations as an airsoft player would most probably need higher FPS for long-range shooting such as with sniper rifles.
So what’s the safest power for me?
It all depends on where you’ll be using your airsoft gun. You can refer to your local airsoft field’s limitations or you can depend on who will use the gun.
BB guns for minimum engagement distances could use up to 350 FPS. 400 would be okay but it would most probably hurt.
In addition to that…
…you also have the essential gear you’ll have to equip yourself with before you hold your combat machine.
First off- and probably the most important one- is your mask or eye protection.
Airsoft is all fun and games until you’re hit with a pellet in the eye. I won’t go into details as to what might happen next but it sure is enough to make you cringe.
That’s why you have to wear eye protection whenever you’re using a BB gun. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just a light backyard game or a serious battle. You have to at least protect your eyes.
Yes, even in target practice as BBs also tend to bounce off from surfaces after being fired.
Did you know?
In picking the right eye protection for an airsoft game, you have to have at least one that meets- if not, exceed- ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 standards so you can play confidently with the knowledge that your eye protection won’t break easily and fail you.
Some people opt for mesh coverings. While it’s good in the sense that it doesn’t fog or break, you can’t be one hundred percent sure that the mesh covering will catch the BB before your eyes do.
What you want to do…
…is to choose eye protection or goggles that perfectly seal your eyes but also have a well-designed vent to keep moisture from building up and clouding your vision.
Now, when it comes to clothes…
…you’d want to wear something a little rough and thick enough to protect you.
If you’re playing outside, you must expect some crawling and scrambling. Without proper airsoft clothes on, you’re in for a day of scratches and even wounds.
Aside from being thick, your airsoft top and/or pants should also be strongly weaved and durable enough so as not to break when it, say, gets caught in a twig or a branch.
You can also use gloves not only to protect your hands but to add a better grip on your airsoft gun. They come in handy especially if your hands sweat a lot.
In addition to these…
…if you think airsoft masks are only for the pros, then read on. Some people do actually get broken teeth by playing airsoft. So you’d definitely do better to wear a well-built airsoft mask.
Aside from the essential airsoft gear, there are things you’d want to remember especially if you’re new to airsoft.
- Point your airsoft gun in a safe direction at all times.
- Never attempt to look down the barrel. You’d never know when there’s an overlooked BB stuck inside and waiting to be accidentally fired.
- Don’t put your finger on the trigger if you’re not yet ready to shoot. Make it a habit. Only touch the trigger if you’re about to fire your airsoft gun.
- This is one of the most important reminders in handling a real gun and the same very well applies to airsoft and airguns- always treat your gun as if it’s loaded.
- And lastly, treat your airsoft gun as if it’s a real gun and not just a toy.
Airsoft Guns – Laws and Regulations
Under federal laws, airsoft or BB guns can be bought and used by anyone at any age but buying one is another matter. One must be 18 years old and above to be able to purchase an airsoft gun. Minors can do so only with their parents’ or guardians’ permission.
Some countries have applicable laws that deem BB guns as illegal, such as in Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, and Thailand.
…Canada outlawed the importation of realistic imitation firearms or “replicas.”
In the States, the only requirement needed for BB guns being imported into and within the country is a minimum of 6 millimeters of wide blaze orange tip so as not to be confused with real guns.
Additionally, removing this orange tip is also deemed illegal.
Some laws also require particular limitations on muzzle velocity, trademarks, and even the coloring so it’s important to know your law before getting one.
Why Users Should Aim for Safety?
Although airsoft guns are almost always seen as toys, the reality is that they are also weapons that fire projectiles and can seriously hurt or damage private property.
The rise of airsoft injuries over the past few years has been concerningly dramatic and according to a study that’s done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of the recorded non-powder gun injuries have been individuals 20 years old and below. (See)
Aside from damaging the eyes, you can also permanently damage your teeth when playing airsoft without proper gear or protection.
Trust me, it happens.
But aside from these…
…the infamous orange tip is also an important aspect in keeping safety when handling a BB gun.
Why is that, you ask?
Over the past few years, police shootings have been on the rise just because they didn’t recognize a fake gun from genuine firearms- resulting in shooting the bearer in seemingly desperate moments.
Why Not All Air Guns are the Same
You must have known by now that airsoft guns are more than just toys.
In fact, they’re now even used as training tools in the military. Some people also use BB guns for pest control.
A single plastic pellet sure can’t kill, but don’t let that be the reason to underestimate this bad guy.
They can cause permanent damage and injuries such as welts on the skin and a blood clot in the eyes.
That being said…
…not all airsoft guns are the same so it’s important to get one that corresponds to its user’s age, skills, and purpose.
Conclusion: What is an Airsoft Gun?
Airsoft guns have come a long way from being mere toys. For some people, it’s even a whole lifestyle.
Getting into this hobby sure needs some investment of time, research, and money but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, the reward is more than satisfactory.
Just remember to never forget the safety precautions, apply them, and keep repeating them until they become second nature and you’re on your way to being the coolest seasoned airsofter!