what is a blowback airsoft gun

What is a Blowback Airsoft Gun?

Seriously, what is a blowback airsoft gun? Gas powered airsoft guns are often confusing to learn about. In this article, we will go over the basic differences between the gas powered airsoft guns and the electric powered airsoft guns.

So, what is a blowback airsoft gun? Blowback airsoft guns are guns which use electricity (EBB) or pressured gas (GBB) to give the realism of firing a real gun. The “blowback” refers to the recoil or the “kick” from the gun that the user experiences after firing pellets (often referred to as “BBs”) at a target. Often, these airsoft guns are made as replicas of real guns and are therefore used in training simulations in law enforcement, military, and paramilitary exercises as well as in recreational competitions.

Now that you know what the term “blowback”, read on to learn about the different types of blowback airsoft guns!

What does Blowback Mean in Airsoft?

what is a blowback airsoft gun

Gas blowback airsoft guns are powered by compressed gases such as HPA (high pressured air), CO2, propane, or some other type of red or green gases. Electric blowback airsoft guns are powered by electric batteries.

Mechanically, blowback happens when a BB is fired and the slide or bolt mechanism will slide back then forward, which simulates the recoil action or “kick” of a real gun. For this reason, blowback guns, whether electric or gas-powered, are commonly used for their educational and recreational purposes.

There are also hybrid airsoft guns that use both electric and gas-powered components. 

Electric Blowback (EBB)/ Automatic Electric Gun (AEG)

Electric blowback airsoft guns (EBB), popularly known as automatic electric guns (AEG), simulate blowback of a real gun. However, these types of airsoft guns typically have much less of a recoil or kick than real guns or their gas-powered airsoft counterparts.

They work by replacing the manual pump operation of spring-powered airsoft guns with an automatic pump that utilizes an internal motor powered by rechargeable battery packs. Because of the automatic pump action, these airsoft guns are capable of automatic and semi-automatic firing.

Here are some things to consider about using an EBB/AEG: 

  • Quickly depletes battery to power the blowback of the slide. 
  • Adds extra stress to the gearbox and other mechanisms which requires more maintenance, more frequent replacement of parts, and shorter lifespans for the gun. 
  • Depending on the make and model of the airsoft gun, an EBB can be disabled if you tinker with it.
  • Batteries add weight and take up space.

That being said, electric blowback airsoft guns are widely popular because of their ability to be recharged, because they lack the complexity of gas distribution and regulation, and because of the realistic experience the user gets from using them.

If you carry extra batteries and pellets (BBs), you will be unstoppable!

What does GBB Mean in Airsoft?

Gas-powered blowback airsoft guns (GBB) use pneumatic potential energy of compressed gases or air from connected canisters or bottles to drive the mechanism that propels pellets instead of the electric batteries of their EBB counterparts.

Unlike EBB airsoft guns, these guns release compressed gas which propels the pellets.

After a pellet is shot through the barrel, another pellet is automatically loaded which makes these guns capable of automatic and semi-automatic firing. This allows gas-powered airsoft guns to be much smaller than their electric counterparts, which makes them famously popular and more efficient as airsoft pistols. Canisters and bottles can usually be refilled, depending on their make and manufacture.

Here are some things to consider about using an EBB/AEG:

  • Gas distribution and regulation make these guns a little more complicated to make and fix.
  • Gases must be purchased for prefill or refill, adding extra cost to use. 
  • Cold temperatures can “freeze” the gas, making for difficult use.

Despite this, gas-powered blowback airsoft guns are very popular because of how realistic they are and because they reduce the size and weight of the overall airsoft gun. Make sure you carry spare gas canisters for lengthy games!

3 Types of Gases used in Gas Blowback Airsoft Guns

1. H.P.A.

These are high pressured air systems that often use a pneumatic motor connecting a high pressured air tank through hoses to the gearbox mechanism. 

2. Green Gases

These are gases such as pressurized propane and HFC-134a. These are more popularly used. 

3. Red Gases

These are gases such as CO2 and nitrogen. These are less commonly used because they need to be stored at a higher pressure and because some variants have become illegal to use due to environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act of 1994.