Written by Gregory Miller
With millions of enthusiasts around the world, airsoft is a popular sport in which participants eliminate one another by shooting opponents with guns that expel round non-metallic pellets. Airsoft guns can be powered by gas, electric gearboxes, or manually spring-loaded.
The sport of airsoft consists of three fundamental components:
Practically anyone can enjoy airsoft. It doesn’t matter the age or gender, as long as participants follow the safety protocols and step onto the field with a good attitude anyone can participate.
You may be wondering what makes airsoft so appealing to so many different types of people? That’s simple; warfare has been a part of human history since antiquity. Over the centuries, mankind's fascination with war has led to the creation of war games and simulations. Airsoft falls into the category of “war simulation” where individuals emulate military scenarios and police actions with realistic replicas of real-life firearms. Keep in mind, that airsoft is a fun and physically demanding sport when performed in a designated area (such as an airsoft field). However, there have been individuals who chose to brandish their weapons as real firearms and were killed as a result. “Never” take your weapon into a public area no matter the circumstances.
These images illustrate how realistic some airsoft replicas can be:
Imagine if a police officer were to pull you over and one of these weapons were sitting in the passenger seat. Unless an individual were to examine your weapons closely, it’s safe to assume that they would think that it’s real. You don’t want to even consider the scenario of such an event.
As the owner of an airsoft gun, it’s your responsibility to use common, sense. Always treat your airsoft guns as if they were the real thing. Common sense dictates to NEVER point a loaded airsoft gun at another person, NEVER take your weapon into an environment where it can be mistaken for the real thing (such as a public area), ALWAYS engage the safety on your weapon when you’re not on an airsoft field, ALWAYS keep your weapon pointed at the ground unless you’re ready to engage a target. These rules don’t just apply to airsoft pistols and rifles, but also to grenades, mines, and rubber knives. Maintaining this type of mindset will help you to avoid misfires and will keep you and everyone around you safe.
Airsoft is a fun activity that’s available for everyone to participate. However, the rules must be observed for the safety of both yourself and everyone around you.
When it comes to airsoft, safety is the name of the game. There are many rules and guidelines in place to ensure that you’re as safe as possible while you’re out on the airsoft field. A large part of airsoft safety is the type of gear that you bring onto the field. With that being said, wearing a mask (such as the one below)
is absolutely vital. You can run around bare-chested if you’d like (not recommended), but it’s crucial that your eyes are protected at all times. Check out this mask for excellent protection for the face (insert image and link). Also, check out these goggles if you’re looking to just protect your eyes.
Before we go any further on the subject of safety let’s break down the safety ratings you’ll typically find in the world of airsoft:
There are many different weights for airsoft ammunition, but by far the most popular is arguably the .20g round. Let’s say, for example, that a .20g bb shot from a rifle travels at 300 fps. This will exert approximately 1J of force. If this bb were to strike your goggles or face mask, you would want something that would be able to take the hit. Goggles that meet either the ANSI or ASTM requirements are more than enough to handle most rounds fired from airsoft guns.
There are many laws and regulations in place to ensure that airsoft guns are used in a safe and respectable manner. In most cases, these laws are common sense and simple to uphold. With that being said, here’s a list you should examine closely before engaging in actions that may get in trouble with the law concerning airsoft guns.
One of the classifications of airsoft guns is “gas powered” in which compressed gas is filtered into a gun. One of which is “Green Gas”. As a side note, the owner of the company Airsoft Innovations, Carl, made a discovery that changed that the game was played; “Green Gas” was advertised as having a chemical composition of CH2FCF3CH3, but Carl discovered that it was composed of C3H8, AKA propane.
Despite this discovery, there have been many who remain skeptical of the safe use of propane in airsoft guns. Propane is indeed flammable, but it’s completely safe to run through a gas powered airsoft gun. In its gaseous form, propane is non-toxic and only becomes lethal when it’s inhaled in large quantities (in which propane suffocates the victim by displacing the air in the lungs). Though this sounds dangerous, this can only happen if an individual were exclusively inhaling large doses of propane. Also, this is much more then what you would need to fire an airsoft gun.
Typically, propane will combust to form CO2 and H2O. However, this is not always the case. If there is a lack of oxygen, carbon monoxide, or oxide an incomplete combustion may take place. As an airsoft player, you shouldn’t have to worry about this happening. This type of situation shouldn’t occur in an airsoft setting.
There are two major dissimilarities concerning Airsoft “Green Gas” and commercial propane:
Because propane is a refrigerant, NOT adding silicone lubricant may cause the gas operated weapon to “dry out” which may lead to performance problems. To fix this problem, add silicone lubricant to the neck of propane bottles.
There are several reasons that propane is more appealing than “Green Gas”. For one, propane is far more readily available. Because of the weak canisters that they are housed in, “Green Gas” is illegal to transport through regular shipping. Propane is also very cheap. You can typically buy them at $3 per canister as opposed to paying $12 per canister for “Green Gas”. Propane is also easy to transport. Furthermore, some players prefer the smell of the leak detection odor as it simulates a gun smoke sell and helps to add realism to the game.
There are also “duster gas” adapters that further innovate the game. Simply attaching a duster gas adapter to a compressed gas canister that you’d use to clean your electronics will provide you with a viable substitute for HFC134A gas.
In the realm of airsoft, rules and etiquette are king. Because airsoft rounds don’t leave a physical mark when it strikes its target, it’s expected that every player will abide by the “honor system” in which individuals are expected to call themselves out when they’re eliminated from the battle. In many cases, judges will be present to assist in this process.
The honor system is the lifeblood of the airsoft community. Plastic bbs don’t leave brightly covered marks on an opponent’s body like their paintball counterparts. Thus, it’s expected that every player will abide by the honor system at all times no matter where you play the game.
The honor system is rather simple: the moment you’re hit call yourself out and exit the field (unless otherwise directed). In many cases when players don’t call themselves out it may be because they didn’t feel the round hit them. Many players come equipped with heavy body armor that repels plastic bbs with ease. However, instead of screaming and arguing with someone over the subject, it’s best to keep shooting them until they call themselves out. That may sound cruel, but airsoft ammunition is cheap and overshooting a target is a better alternative to starting an argument that ruins the experience for everyone else!
If your opponent makes a habit of breaking the honor system, you should strongly consider banning that person from the game (and perhaps future activities as well). Airsoft is a game for honorable players who love having fun and who are honest. Breaking the honor system ruins the game for everyone.
You’ll find that rules vary depending on the scenario of the game as well as field to field. Despite this, there are a few rules that are mandatory no matter where you go or who you play with.
One of the more critical aspects of an AEG is the version of the gearbox that it contains. Tokyo Marui, an airsoft manufacturer, classifies their gearboxes with a specific version number that describes their compatible aftermarket parts, shape, and function.
V1 – The first version gearbox had a very specific goal in mind. It was designed for the FAMAS F1 Tokyo Marui’s first AEG. The V1 can only use a specialized motor called the EG560 and won’t operate correctly with aftermarket parts without modifying the entire design. As of this time, the Famas F1 is the only gun to house the V1 gearbox.
V2 – The V2 is one of the more straightforward designs in the market today and is also one of the most common. The V2 is an excellent gearbox for first time modders due to its simplistic design. There are numerous tutorials on how to modify the V2 as well as many aftermarket parts available for modders to choose from. The V2 isn't without problems. Issues with improper mounting and the constant possibility that the gearbox shell may crack when used in tandem with a powerful mainspring led to the design of the more efficient V3 gearbox. Despite its shortcomings, the V2 gearbox is still widely used because of how easy it is to upgrade the system. The V2 can often be found in common weapons such as the M4 and the Mp5.
V3 – The V3 is seen as the crème of the crop as far as gearboxes go. Just like its predecessor, the V3 is used in many weapons and is cross compatible with the V2 on nearly every level. The V3, however, has several improvements over the V2. One of the more notable improvements is the thicker shell that allows the V3 to handle stronger mainsprings. One unique design aspect of the V3 is the motor cage that secures the motor to the gearbox shell. This design very nearly eliminates the need to adjust motor height. The most common weapons that house the V3 gearbox are the G36, AK-47, and MP5K.
V4 – Whereas the V2 and V3 share many similarities the V1 and V4 also share a similarity in the sense that the V4 is also a “specialty” gearbox and can only be found in the PSG-1. What makes this design so unique is the piston that cocks back before each shot, as opposed to during each shot. This is a great aid to those who favor sniping. The V4 is rare, and there isn’t much aftermarket support available. Customized M4s have been said to house the V4 gearbox.
V5 – The V5 was explicitly designed to work with the Uzi. The V5 isn’t used in any other weapons to date.
V6 – The V6 is a next-generation gearbox that overhauls the V3 and V2 designs. The most significant changes include the moving of all wires to the exterior of the gearbox as well as the trigger mechanism. The V6 can be easily upgraded since the plastic wiring harness can be entirely removed from the gearbox. This also allows for the simple replacement of firing or wiring components. Just like the V2 and V3 designs, you can find the anti-reversal latch on the opposite side of the gears. The cylinder head nozzle, however, is positioned higher than previous designs. Most parts of the V6 are compatible with the V2 and V3 such as the cylinder, gears, spring guide, and piston. Weapons that sport a V6 gearbox are the Thompson M1A1 and the P90.
V7 - The V7 is also a specialty gearbox, having been designed exclusively for the M14 rifle. Sharing similarities with the V6, the trigger mechanism can be found on the outside, though there have been reports that the trigger mechanism of the V6 is much simpler than that of the V7.
V8 – it’s understandable if you confused the V8 for the V2, but any in-depth inspection will reveal small differences in the design. These differences allow the V8 gearbox to engage in 3 round bursts, a simulation of a real firearm. The only weapon to carry a V8 gearbox is the Type 89.
There are times where your standard rifle isn’t enough to get the job done, especially if that position is role specific. If you need a bit of extra firepower, there are entire classifications of weapons to suit your needs.
Most grenade launchers use 40mm grenades. The launcher houses the shell and activates the 40mm grenade when launched. A small button rests on the base of the shell that’s pressed down when the trigger is pulled on the grenade launcher. This expels the gas from the shell.
Regarding tactical usefulness, different grenade launchers fulfill various roles. Depending on the model and brand, the price and build material may vary from launcher to launcher.
If you’re looking to retain the usefulness of your primary weapon with the versatility and firepower of a grenade launcher you’ll want to invest in a modular launcher like the Lancer Tactical EGLM. In most cases, modular launchers are breech-loaded and require a reload with each shot.
Standalone grenade launchers are typically wielded by players who are dedicated to the role of grenadiers. Because standalone launchers aren’t integrated with another weapon, they tend to reload much faster. The ICS-190 is an excellent example of a standalone grenade launcher. In most cases, standalone launchers tend to be more expensive than their modular counterparts though of course this depends on the manufacturer and build material.
• Muzzle Mounted Launchers
Muzzle mounted launchers are a special type of 40mm grenade round that screws onto guns with a threaded barrel. The round is activated when the gun is fired, and the bb strikes the round.
Despite the fact that some rocket launchers are designed to take 40mm grenade rounds (technically classifying them as grenade launchers), their aesthetical appearance classifies them as rocket launchers.
In most cases, rocket launchers aren’t commonly manufactured by an airsoft company but are homemade weapons created by airsoft players. Despite this, rocket launchers do indeed exist but are typically tagged with a high price tag.
This specific weapon is designed to fire 40mm grenade rounds. It’s a realistic replica due to its full metal construction and has enough space to fit a 57mm nerf football.
Depending on the manufacturer you’ll find different types of grenades that have various functionalities and price. Most airsoft grenades can be reused multiple times in most cases, but the design of some grenades only make them single use. All grenades are powered by compressed gas.
The Deep Fire MK II is based on the design of WWII era grenades. Like most airsoft grenades, the shell of the Deep Fire MK II separates from the body upon detonation, however, instead of splitting into two pieces, the shell sheds into four separate sections. Loading the grenade is relatively simple due to its design, but like most grenades, it has the drawback of many detachable parts.
The escort grenade is powered by gas and shoots in a directional pattern out of the bottom. The bbs burst out after the rubber plug attached to a cord is released. The cord may break after regular use, but the only part that could be actually lost is the pull-pin. Many players find this grenade impractical due to is directional fire pattern.
Being the most realistic grenade in the market isn’t necessarily a good thing. The RAP4 can be loaded with bbs as well as powder disks to simulate smoke. One handy feature is that the internal timer can be adjusted between 1 to 8 seconds. Each time this grenade is fired, the rubber seals must be replaced. Also, the RAP4 Pineapple comes with 6 detachable parts which is considered to be a very high number.
The Thunder B is different from all of its counterparts in the sense that it uses non-reusable shells. When primed and activated, the Thunder B emits a powerful blast with only 2 detachable parts (the pull-pin and detonator). The Thunder B is activated by inserting a 12g Co2 cartridge (likely available at your local WalMart). After that, you can fill the grenade with whatever applicable ammo that you wish. Thunder Bs are aptly named, as they emit a massive explosion after a few seconds when the pin is pulled.
The tornado isn’t exactly the most realistic grenade out there, but it is by far the most popular. Not only does it only have one detachable part (the pull pin), but it’s the only airsoft grenade that has a safety feature. You can engage this feature by removing the screw on cap from the bottom thus rendering it safe. Many airsoft players agree that the Tornado is the best hand grenade available in the market today.
Mines are a very viable weapon on the airsoft field. They’re both unique and functional and work great for ambushes.
Just like its real-life counterpart, the claymore mine emits a powerful blast when activated, spraying bbs up to 30ft away. Using tripwire or remote detonation is a great way to keep your enemies on their toes at all times.
This mine doesn’t take any ammunition but is instead filled with powder (such as flour), so that when enough pressure is applied to the top, it will explode everywhere. Reportedly, this mine can be stepped on multiple times without being set off due to its composition of high-impact ABS. This mine is about the size of a CD, so its usefulness may be limited.
Knives are always fun to bring to an airsoft battle, but real knives made of steel are never allowed on the airsoft field.
Airsoft knives are used to "tap out" other players. Some rubber knives can be very realistic. As such, knives brought onto the airsoft field should be both soft and flexible enough to avoid injuring someone in the event of a close quarters engagement. In most cases, rubber knives are perfectly fine to use.
You’ll find that players can be very creative when using knives on the airsoft field. Knives made of duct tape, foam or even cardboard have been used in airsoft matches around the world. Plastic should be avoided due to its hardened composition.
Whether you agree or not, the quality of your ammo can make or break your team’s ability to win an airsoft game. Remember, not all ammo is created equal on the field of battle. In fact, if you use the wrong type of ammo with the wrong kind of gun, you could cause damage to the weapon itself.
Most bbs measure around 6mm in size whereas most weapons have an inner barrel that measures .1mm. That leaves little room for correction when the trigger is pulled, and a bb comes flying through the barrel.
Before making a purchase decision, you should always do your homework to ensure that you’re buying the right kind of ammo. There are a ton of resources that should guide you in making the right type of purchase decision. Opinions tend to vary depending on who you ask, but the following bb categorization has been deemed as safe to follow:
Despite the above list, there are too many variables in the world of airsoft to categorize airsoft ammunition into “good” or “poor” groupings. There are a lot of brands out there that fall somewhere in between “good” and “poor", and it’s often quite difficult to categorize them. If you’re ever unsure of the quality of your ammunition, you should test it firsthand.
Just like ammunition for a real gun, airsoft ammo comes in varying weights. Keep in mind that airsoft ammunition is weighed in grams (g).
The cardinal rule of thumb is to run high-quality ammunition through your gun at all times. Despite this, different guns may require different grades of ammunition. Typically, if your gun shots at a high fps, you should use heavier ammo for the sake of maintaining accuracy. This rule also applies when changing the Hop Up on your gun. The higher the Hop Up, the heavier the BB.
Quite frankly, the only way you’ll be able to truly test to see which ammunition works with your specific weapon is to test it for yourself. No matter how many lists you read or videos you watch on the subject, testing for yourself is always the best route to go.
In the field of manufacturing, tolerance describes an acceptable margin of error in the sizing and shape of parts made. This holds just as true for airsoft ammo as it does for any other subject. With that being said, you should never fall for those claims on bb packages that state that their ammo is “perfectly symmetrical” or something of a similar effect. It all comes down to tolerances during the production process.
To give airsoft tracer ammo the same visual effect that we come to expect from its real counterpart, it’s used together with a “tracer unit”. The tracer unit houses a flashbulb that engages the light absorbing material coating the tracer round, causing it to glow in the dark. Tracer rounds are best used in situations with low light as they create an amazing visual display while aiding with accuracy.
The vast majority of the airsoft community uses 6mm ammunition for their guns, but there are a few manufacturers (such as Marushin) that create weapons with an 8mm bore. 8mm is both larger and heavier than many 6mm rounds and hits with a harder impact as a result. Of course, just like with 6mm rounds, 8mm rounds vary in weight.
It doesn’t get any stranger than 7mm ammunition. This type of ammo might have been popular at some point in the past, but now it’s odd shape, and even odder size makes it a rare sight indeed on modern-day airsoft fields. 7mm ammunition isn’t exactly spherical. It’s shaped more like a conventional .177 caliber lead pellet. This type of ammo was used in the 1980s, in only certain types of spring powered guns. Despite the fact that this ammo was so unique and theoretically more stable than a typical round bb, manufacturers have quit producing the types of weapons that can fire 7mm ammunition. Furthermore, most guns that could fire 7mm ammunition would be considered woefully underpowered by today’s terms, firing at around only 70fps.
*this information was supplied by justpistols.uk
The following list will attempt to compile airsoft ammunition based on weight, size, and manufacturer.
1. 1st Target Delight 2. 1st Target Bio 3. Airstrike 4. BCB Airblister 5. Cybergun 6. CYMA 7. HFC 8. Lasersoft 9. Matrix 10. Matrix Glowin-the-dark 11. P Force 12. Sansei 13. Softair 14. STTI 15. TFC 16. Tokyo Marui 17. UK Arms
1. 1st Target
1. UHC 2. 1st Target Smooth 3. 1st Target Colo
1. 1st Target 2. TFC
1. 1st Target Color 2. 1st Target Smooth
1. 1st Target Color 2. 1st Target 3. Blaster Devil 4. Crosman 5. Echo 1 USA 6. HFC 7. ICS 8. King Arms 9. King Airsoft Super King 10. King Airsoft Rough 11. 1st Target Smooth 12. AIM TOP 13. Airsoft Elite 14. BCB 15. BCB New Generation 16. Bioval BBBFLUO 17. Bioval BIO 18. Biostar BB 19. Excel 20. Excel biodegradable 21. Excel biodegradable tracer 22. G&G BioDegradeable BB 23. G&G P.S.B.B. 24. Gameface 25. Gameface Verdict 26. Gameface Verdict BIO 27. Greendevil BB Platinum 28. LH 29. Madbull Biodegradable 30. Matrix 31. Matrix Glowin-the-dark 32. P-Force Biodegradable BB 33. PHX Elite 34. PHX BIO Super King BIO 35. TFC 36. TSD Tactical BIO 37. Ultimate BB 38. WE 39. Xtreme Shot -BIOX
1. Western Arms
1. AIM TOP 2. Airsoft Elite 3. Echo 1 USA BB 4. Matrix 5. Matrix Bio-degradable
1. AIM TOP 2. Matrix 3. Airsoft Elite 4. Blaster 5. Echo 6. USA BB 7. Excel 8. G&G Biodegradable 9. G&G P.S.B.B. 10. Golden Ball 11. Madbull 12. Matrix 13. Dark Knight 14. TSD
1. Bioval BBBMax
1. G&G Biodegradable 2. G&G P.S.B.B. 3. WE 4. Echo 1 USA BB 5. Matrix
1. Maruzen Super Grand Master 2. KSC Grand Champion
1. Bioval 2. Matrix 3. Madbull 4. HFC 5. Tokyo Marui Superior Grade
1. 1st Target 2. P Force
1. Straight 2. Madbull 3. WE
1. Madbull Ultimate Heavyweight 2. Matrix 3. WE
1. Madbull Ultimate Heavyweight 2. PHX 3. TFC 4. WE
1. Piper's Precision Products