If you’re a veteran airsoft player, you’ve more than likely seen and used all different types of airsoft guns so far. However, this article is aimed at people just starting the sport and learning the basic differences between the platforms. In general, if you’re the run and gun, in and out of cover kind of player then you’re probably more interested in the AEG – or Automatic Electric Guns. If you’re a keen sniper then you will most definitely end up using a Spring powered sniper rifle along with a Gas powered pistol backup at some point!
It does not matter how the weapon is powered, the primary purpose of an airsoft gun is to fire plastic projectiles known as BBs. With that being said, the mechanics and workings behind Electric, Gas and Spring powered rifles are extremely different and can drastically change the way you play the game with them.
Spring Airsoft Guns
Spring Airsoft guns utilise the power of a compressed spring to propel BBs down the barrel. Spring guns work purely on a mechanical system, meaning they have to be cocked back (for things such as Pistols/shotguns) or alternatively, set in place with a bolt in the case of a sniper.
The most common Spring gun you will see is the sniper. Due to its increased FPS (feet per second) limits, it plays a big part out on the airsoft fields as it can take out targets a lot further than your typical AEG. However, what you gain in accuracy and power – you lose in rate of fire due to the manual cocking needed to fire the weapon. Also there are engagement distance limits in place, thus usually you won’t be able to fire the sniper at a target closer to you than at least 20 metres.
Automatic Electric Guns or AEGs for short are the most commonly used guns on airsoft fields around the world, and come in various different shapes, sizes and models – most based on real steel firearms.
Simply put, an AEG is powered by an on-board battery similar to those used in R/C Cars, helicopters etc. The battery sends power to a motor (normally located in the AEG’s pistol Grip) which turns 3 gears within the gun, to compress and release a piston within the gearbox to create a blast of air to propel a BB down the barrel.
Due to the way an AEG is powered, with some modifications (some even do this out of the box such as the G&G ARP9) you can get very high ROF (rate of fire) such as 28 RPS (rounds per second) with AEGs.
These high rate of fires are usually achieved with high torque motors, upgraded gears – often shimmed in order to create a smooth and prolonged gearbox operation and a MOSFET. MOSFET protects the electrical wiring within your AEG to stop them from melting things like the trigger contacts, up to a 11.1v LIPO.
Custom gun builds can take up to 14.4v LiPos however they require heavy modification and subsequently cost a lot more money. Some Umbrella Armory products use 14.4v LiPos. Click here to see some of their epic builds.
Also see our other post about Top 5 Starter Guns which includes a few AEG’s!
Gas Powered Rifles/Pistols
Gas Blowback aka ‘GBB’ are Airsoft guns that utilize the power of gas to propel the BB down the barrel. In a GBB gun, the magazine is filled with Gas which is kept from escaping by a valve found at the top of it.
As like the real steel variants, when the trigger is pulled a hammer/bolt inside, rather then striking a round within the chamber, it pushes against the valve for a very short period of time to allow gas to be released into the barrel and the BB to be propelled down the barrel. Due to the force that the Gas creates when released from the magazine, it pushes a bolt or slide back (depending on a pistol/rifle etc) at a very fast speed to get ready for the next BB in the chamber. This action causes the recoil felt when firing these GBB airsoft guns.
If you would like to see an in depth breakdown and review of a gas blow back pistol head over to our review of the TM Glock 17!F
I hope this article has clarified the principles and differences between AEG, spring and gas rifles for you! If in doubt, leave a comment or send us a message and we will get back to you with an answer!
Written by Brandon Clarke
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Edited by Kamil Turecki