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Ultimate Guide to Airsoft Hop-Ups [Illustrated]

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How does it work?

Hop up is an essential part in every airsoft replica. This is because BBss are very light and while they travel, they lose a lot of velocity quickly after leaving the barrel. In order to improve range of your replica, hop up bucking nudges the top of BB to create backspin which makes it behave like a glider. In the essence it “hops” the pellet. It’s all about aerodynamics! Too much backspin and the BB will fly up. Not enough, it will fall.

The rubber is located on the beginning of the barrel, which has special cutouts to accommodate the bucking and nub. This allows for the hop arm to push the nub down onto the bucking and into the inner barrel and connect with the BB.

Different platforms have varied means accessing the hop up; in order to access hop up adjustment in most AEGs you need to pull the charging handle back in order to open the dust cover revealing adjustment wheel for hop up. This is a standard location of hop-up adjustment for all M4 and M16 airsoft replicas.

How to adjust your hop-up?

There are many types of hop up which are based on the type and the internal space of the replica. There are different designs invented to provide different levels of adjustment or ease of construction. Most budget friendly AEGs for example, have a standard hop up system which enables player to tune the amount of hop that is pushed onto BB by using a wheel behind the bolt in dust cover.

However, there is a better and more precise rotary version of the hop up system which allows for more precise tune up. The adjustment wheel has higher diameter meaning that it takes more turning to make a significant difference which allows for much better precision.

If you are wondering how to set up the replica in order to have its optimum range, there is only one way of doing so. You need to find an open, and most importantly safe place, where you can test your rᎥfle. Ideally you can do it on airsoft game field before the game. I would recommend to fire of a good ten to twenty rounds to warm up the hop rubber (yes, it is a thing!). The ideal path for BB should be straight with tiny upwards ark. Perfectly adjusted bb will drop after hopping up again in the last 10 meters.

Read More: ‘Which BB weight is best to use?’ with all the essential info in regards to FPS/Joules, recommended brands and BB weights for optimum performance!

Hop-up Rubber/Bucking and Nub

Most players know that the hop up rubber and nub set up is far more important when it comes to improving accuracy and range. To quickly clarify:

Hop-up Rubber – This is a rubber bucket which is inserted on the end of barrel. It serves 3 purposes:

  • Holds the hop up unit together with the barrel.
  • Provides hop on the BB by contacting it through the bulge inside.
  • Creates airseal due to bucking lips leaning against air nozzle.

There are softer and harder versions which differentiate in their durability and somewhat performance. Softer means usually better grip, but it does not last as long. Also cheap quality buckings will freeze up during cold weather and will provide less friction.

Hop-up Nub is what presses on the bucking to allow for backspin. This part is very important too, as it allows for compression when a bb passes through. If it were to be made out of plastic, or other hard surface, the bbs would not be able to get through as easily and it would wear the bucking quickly. Many people change original nubs in order to have a specific shape or more surface area to hop the pellet better which we’ll cover in the flat hop section. Generally, most nubs come in a package with a bucking – double check when purchasing.

Degrees of hop up

There are variations of hop up in their thickness and softness of rubber material. This is very similar to car tyre compounds. You can decide whether you want softer hop which will have better traction and stronger effect on BBs or you can choose harder and more reliable version which will have more durability.

  • Low degree are soft, they range around 50-60 degrees
  • Medium are about 65-70/75 degrees.
  • And hard are 75-80 degrees and up.

Another aspect people should look at is the temperature reaction of said hop up buckings. The thickness does make a difference, mainly whether the bucking will or will not partially freeze up in cold weather. However, softer buckings will warm up quicker during gameplay through friction with fired bbs; partially, because some companies use compound specific material to perform better in cold weather. With those, you will not have to choose lower degree bucking just to counter weather issues.

Our Favourite Bucking

Prometheus Purple

Recommended Buckings

When purchasing any of the above, make sure to double check what replica types they are compatible with in the description of the product. Generally speaking, there are two types of inner barrel cuts that divide into “AEG” and “Sniper & PᎥstol”. So just simply make sure you’re not buying a sniper bucking for an M4.

Read More: ‘Ultimate Guide to Inner Barrels’ in which we cover the recommended brands, length & diameter effect and maintenance tips.

Advanced – Types of hop

Airsofters have taken it upon themselves to modify the way hop up nudges the BB. There are several types of hop up modifications which deliver better results at a cost of trial and error installation; make sure to have enough spare time when setting up an R-HOP and be patient, rushing won’t help.

There are many guide videos which walk through the process of modifying a hop, although results of said mods are based on skill of the craftsman. Finally, there is a multitude of new hops being invented all the time, however, we will focus on the most effective ones and only list the others.

Flat Hop – This modification is simple to work on, but it does not provide tremendous difference compared to standard hop. It focuses on creating more flat space on the top of the BB allowing for less wobble and more hop contact when the BB shoots through.

Here are our recommended flat nubs:

R Hop – This particular modification is difficult, but when executed correctly, it provides much more consistent, accurate and longer shots. Instead of nudging the BB flat on top, the rubber patch underneath the bucking provides a “cushion” all around BBs top which allows for a lot more precise hop and accuracy.

In terms of the nub, we would recommend using a flat nub or preferably a concave (s) nub/patch such as:

Generally, the effectiveness of R Hop relies heavily on one’s craft and patience. Many airsofters can confirm that you never get the R hop right the first time you do it yourself; however, it is worth trying or paying for a trusted tech to do it for you.

Alternatively, you can get your hands on a pre-tuned set with all the necessary pieces for an r-hop installation on Ebay:

  • Custom Hops – As mentioned earlier, there are lots more custom hop up modifications such as; ER Hop, G Hop or S hop. When researching for alternative configurations to the ones we’ve tested ourselves, I found a new hop mod every time I clicked a on a new link. However, generally all of these had mixed reviews so we recommend starting your hop up mod journey with either Flat Hop or R Hop; then if need be, experiment with others. Majority of players will confirm to stick with R hop as it provides the best contact with the BB and produces best results.

This article is part of our AEG Wiki series, click here to see more informative articles such as this one.

Final Words

So there it is! Now you have the basic knowledge about the essential part of any airsoft rᎥfle and variety of its configurations. In terms of replica’s accuracy and range, this is by far the most important component – it’s responsible for the two factors that make your replica perform well across airsoft sites! Remember, that buckings, just like any other rubber gets worn out with heavy use. If your replica starts shooting astray, make sure to inspect the condition of the hop up unit and its internal parts before delving into the gearbox.


Written by Wojtek Lawer

Edited by Kamil Turecki

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