A Brief History of Airsoft Guns
Airsoft weapons originated from East Asia, and in the middle of 1970s, Japan introduced first airsoft gun. It was the replica of firearm, as back then, it was illegal to carry private firearms. Born of necessity for amateurs, first airsoft gun was spring-powered, which shot 6mm spherical pellets or BBs made of plastic or biodegradable resin. The popularity of electric airsoft gun then extended to China, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines and Hong Kong, majorly due to the restriction on firearm.
Before Japan, in 1950s, an American toy company ‘’Mattel’’, had already launched a product like spring guns, with the name of ‘’Shootin Shells’’ in the market. Afterwards, Daisy BB Gun Company in 1980s, also introduced a spring-gun which went with the name ‘’Replisoft’’. However, in mid-1990s, the popularity of airsoft guns began in Europe and US and in 2003, Daisy started producing airsoft guns in US, under the brand named ‘’Powerstrike’’. Now, many other manufacturers are following Daisy and are coming up with many other models of electric airsoft guns in the market.
Besides private possessions, electric airsoft guns were mainly used for sports. Until now, players use these in shooting games, or participate in police or military game scenarios. This usage of airsoft guns impelled the manufacturers to make realistic looking weapons. Some manufacturers even use real molds of actual weapons to give realistic look, size and even weight. Due to such realistic feel these toy weapons could be hard to differentiate from real weapons but despite the similar appearance, these can never be transformed into actual firearm to shoot lethal ammunitions.
- Automatic Electric Guns (AEG)
Spring powered gun, as the name says, are powered by the spring in the way that the user has to cock the spring first then fire. Other name for spring-powered guns is “air-cocking gun”. Generally, used by beginners, spring powered guns are very sturdy and rather inexpensive as compared to gas-powered and electric guns. Muzzle velocities of spring powered shotguns or rifles may vary depending on the stiffness of spring (i.e. 400-700 ft/s). Due to its simplicity and cheap price, spring powered guns are readily available at any departmental store and used as training guns for the new airsoft players.
Then there are gas-powered guns. These guns store compressed gas within and use pneumatic potential energy to carry shooting process. Functionality of these guns totally differ from that of spring or electric powered guns. Gas is stored in magazine or on-board and drive semi-automatic firing by recoiling the slide back and forth. Thus, create ease for users. Usually player of intermediate level use gas powered airsoft guns. gas powered airsoft guns come in various varieties, most common of which is ‘’Gas-blowback’’ or GBBs.
There also come High Pressure Airsoft guns which use pressure from external air to operate. These are well known because of FPS (speed feet per second) and ROF (rate of fire).
Most popular and widely used airsoft guns are Automatic Electric Airsoft Guns (AEG). These are most expensive ones. AEGs were first manufactured by Tokyo Marui in Japan and still gives top notch quality rifles. These guns are highly accurate and highly powerful.
How AEGs Perform?
AEGs, like a spring gun, use a spring-loaded piston, which is compressed through a gear box system. An internal electric motor is attached to the gearbox system and electricity is supplied through rechargeable Nickle Cadmium Battery packs. There are now different kinds of batteries available for electric airsoft guns. The electric motor propels a three-gear train affixed in a gearbox. The gear train compresses the pump piston attached to spring, which when released, propel the pallets from chamber. Generally saying, muzzle velocity of AEG can reach up to 650ft/s. The gear then recoils the piston in cyclic form, thus eliminating the manual need to cock the gun again and again. This is the system which tags the name “Automatic Electric Gun (AEG)”. This is the basic model of AEGs which is still followed with various additional supplements, adding up slight improvements. Modern Automatic electric guns also come with the selective fire options, like 3-round burst. These guns can be converted for semi-automatic operations using a cut off lever fixed under gear system.
Types of AEGs
There are three most common types of AEGs: The H&K MP5 series, AK or Kalashnikov series and AR-15 series (for example M4 Carbine, M16 rifle etc.). Beside these, there are other types of AEGs with varying features.
Low Powered Electric Gun
These are types of electric airsoft guns with relatively low powered than more powerful electric guns. Originally these were made just out of novelty because it has all features and mechanism similar to powerful electric guns. LPEGs are considered below the spring-powered guns. these guns have low velocities and are rather less expensive and made a better choice.
Medium Price Electric Guns
Advancements in quality and performance led to airsoft models which are said to be mid-ranged electric airsoft guns. These are not very expensive yet highly effective like MP5 or AK-47. Airsofters usually call these middle/medium priced electric airsoft guns (MPEGs). Companies, like Tokyo Marui, introduced copies or let’s say ‘clones’ of full-priced electric guns. some other brands also manufactured ‘’fully compatible’’ MPEGs at almost half the price of actual full-priced electric airsoft guns. these are so precisely manufactured and imitated with upgraded parts, making it possible to achieve performance of high-powered electric gun.
These are miniature size battery powered guns introduced recently in market. These are fully automatic electric airsoft guns and are not replicas of real firearms but miniature version of firearms. Usually clear or black plastic is used in its manufacturing. BB capacity in mini electrics is relatively less, ranging from 50-100 rounds. However, they incorporate a functional hop-up to give a fair range. Yet these are not a good option in games against AEGs due to their small capacity for ammunition. Mini electric airsoft guns can be used against spring guns though, but from a short range.
One of very kinds of AEGs is the Electric Blowback, abbreviated as EBB. These are very expensive and commonly operate at 9.6 volts rechargeable battery. Electric blowbacks imitate the blowback action of real rifle or pistol, but the force of kick is relatively less. However, you can face some disadvantages of having EBBs, that the battery is depleted faster, and blowbacks can directly affect and distort gears. If user wish, the blowback feature of these electric airsoft guns can be disabled. Other than this, EBBs are as powerful as AEGs.
Modern guns are being introduced in the market with moving parts, such as the combat machine M4 or the combat machine “RK47” manufactured by G&G. Similarly, Echo 1 and APS has recently launched Blowback MP5SD and EBB M4A1, M4 Commando, AK47 respectively. The performance of these airsoft weapons is similar to no-blowback weapons, offering additional accuracy of recoiling and reciprocating bolts. Several models integrate pneumatic blowback system, but some come with mechanical system as well.
Automatic Electric Pistols
Automatic electric pistols, also called as AEPs were introduced for the time in 2005 by Tokyo Marui. Launched with the company’s another product Glock 18C, AEPs were very first handguns to join fully automatic, electrically powered system. AEPs has size restrictions which consequently cause a shortage of space for magazine as the battery or electric motor occupies the available space in hand grip. Moreover, these guns do not give realistic feel as these are manufactured purely with plastic which gives toy-like sense and are light weighted. Other advantages of AEPs include: these highly reliable in performance, are user friendly, easily accessible and rather inexpensive. Even the magazines for AEP are available at really cheap rates. Automatic electric airsoft guns are easy to maintain and carry enough power to compete with on the battlefield of game.
As compared to gas powered pistols, AEPs are far better in performance in frosty weather when gasses like CO2 and green gas, which are stored in liquid form, get frozen in temperature below 12-15 degrees. Hence require heat to vaporize again. These pistols will be at lesser power and in such situations, usually give one or two shots out of full magazine. Electric batteries on other hand are less affected due to harsh weather thus leaving AEPs on advantage edge when compared to gas pistols. Due to smaller gearbox and battery in AEPs, these guns propel BBs at rather low velocity, usually ranging from 200-280 ft/s. hence these are suggested useful at short ranges only. However, recent hop-up addition in these pistols seems to compensate this drawback of low power and could compete that of actual AEG. CYMA has produced an inexpensive alternative for AEP, that is a copy of Glock 18C. Semi-automatic pistols can be transformed into fully-automatic pistols by using a rather large rechargeable battery which could enhance the rate of fire. But not all semi-automatic pistols can be converted.
AEPs, when compared to electric airsoft guns having blowback features, have non-movable, fixed slides which do not have any external moving part. Whereas, this feature exists in EBBs and gas-powered blowbacks. Despite this, AEPs possess more power than both weapons, mentioned earlier.
Now you can see, AEGs come in many different varieties and it merely depends on user that which features of electric airsoft guns appeal them the most and they buy the weapon according to their need. Having too many choices is a bad choice though.
Choosing Among the Automatic Electric Gun Brands
Tokyo Marui is the best of all as these are the pioneers for introducing most of the models of AEGs. G&G and Specna Arms are also good brand names to go with.
Thinking of accessories for electric airsoft guns? Hold on! Accessories for AEGs are either do not exist or are really very expensive. Extra clips for automatics or semi-automatics generally cost 30-40 bucks approximately. Although they are very handy if you have them but paying 30-40 bucks for a clip seems a lot. Then there are laser, scopes and lights. Scopes are mere red dots which do not enlarge your shot. Laser are just an accessory you can have to enhance looks unless you spend enough money to have a laser which you can adjust. Besides, guns are not always consistent with the direction of laser or scopes to hit at the direction they are pointing. Unless anyone of you have enough money to purchase high quality and more expensive scopes and lasers. But I do not recommend this for the beginners. However, light is the only accessory you can have as it is cheaper.
Things to Consider
So, before buying and AEG, keep in mind the power, accuracy, durability and looks as these are the major factors for airsofter. Fully automatic AEGs are really fun to use and you can put down your opponent with crashing and emphatic volume of electric airsoft guns BBs. Although AEGs are the most expensive ones among airsoft weapons, the experience they give to the player in battle is thrilling. In addition, the expert players usually carry these who have full command over the its features and operations. I strongly condemn its use by the beginners as they will be unable to handle it and may cause injury to themselves or to other players around them.