What is an airsoft rifle, you ask? My completely non-scientific answer…Airsoft rifles are just plain fun. I’m talking go-kart grin fun 🙂 . In addition to being f-u-n to shoot, the best airsoft rifles are excellent training tools for any gun owner, whether they are law enforcement officers or just weekend warriors. (They are excellent tools for blanks in the military, too!). For all you academics, here’s a more scientific answer for what is an airsoft rifle:
So, what is an airsoft rifle? An airsoft rifle is a replica toy gun used in simulation exercises, target shooting or for playing casual war games. It replicates the look, weight and feel of a real rifle, but shoots 6 or 8 mm plastic or resin pellets, sometimes called BBs.
There are a few types of airsoft rifles, as well as a variety of firing mechanisms used to propel the pellet out of the gun. Depending on what you intend to use an airsoft rifle for, you’ll want to take these into consideration.
2 Types of Airsoft Rifles
1. Airsoft Assault Rifle
The airsoft assault rifle is a good choice for beginners as it is easy to use and comes in a variety of sizes. Various replicas include the M4, M16, AK47, G36, ARX160 and more.
Many airsoft assault rifles use Standardization Agreement (STANAG) magazines. These are standardized magazines, meaning they’re interchangeable with most brands.
If you’re on the playing field in the heat of battle, magazines can be shared with teammates regardless of the airsoft assault rifle being used. This is a handy feature and can potentially be the difference between winning and losing a game.
2. Airsoft Sniper Rifle
The airsoft sniper rifle is a long rifle, often equipped with a scope and better for “long-range” shots. Of course, because these are still airsoft guns, they typically don’t have any more power than the other airsoft varieties.
They can be particularly useful on the playing field for the teammate assigned to guard a particular area and pick opponents off. In this instance, the additional accuracy afforded by having a scope can make a difference.
The airsoft sniper rifle is also a good option for simulations, where learning to handle and shoot this type of gun is important. They have been used extensively by the U.S. military and law enforcement for training exercises.
What is an Airsoft Rifle Firing Mechanism? (3 Types)
Airsoft rifles come with one of three types of firing mechanisms, each with advantages and disadvantages:
Spring-powered airsoft rifles are typically the most affordable of the three types. These are an excellent option for beginners or kids as they are very easy to use.
Spring-powered guns must be cocked. This mechanism causes them to look less realistic than a real gun, but makes them easier to use. When the gun is cocked, the lever compresses the spring that compresses air. When the trigger is pulled, the air is released, launching the pellet from the gun.
These rifles have unlimited shooting capacity as you don’t have to replace gas canisters or recharge batteries as you do with the others. However, they have a lower firing velocity (FPS) than the others, meaning the pellet won’t shoot as far or as accurately.
The exception to both the affordability and firing issues are on some airsoft sniper rifles. They can come with firing mechanisms having a higher FPS, thus making them more expensive.
Electric-powered airsoft rifles are the most expensive, but are also the most popular and come with their own set of distinct advantages and disadvantages.
These use rechargeable batteries, typically 8.4V, that are attached to a small motor. This motor operates an internal spring that launches the pellets. These typically have a firing speed of 500 FPS, making them more powerful than their spring-powered counterparts.
Typically the batteries last many rounds before needing to be recharged; however, it is wise to carry an extra one in case you run out of battery-power in the middle of a game. Battery quality varies, so it pays to make sure you are using high-quality batteries.
Airsoft rifles are available in automatic and semi-automatic and do not need to be cocked. Because of this, they are more realistic looking. They are also quieter, making them popular for games where you don’t want your location given away.
Gas-powered airsoft rifles fall in the middle range of affordability and are popular with professional and advanced users and for military and law enforcement training. Rather than using batteries or a spring, they use gas cartridges.
There are two types of gas used: red gas, which is CO2, and green gas, which is propane mixed with a lubricant and scent. Many airsoft rifles can use either, but some specifically require one or the other.
The gas pushes through the barrel, creating the momentum required to fire the pellet into the air. The shooting velocity can be adjusted and they do fire at higher speeds than the others.
These offer the most realistic shooting experience.