-What is airsoft?
-Why airsoft over paintball?
-Where can I play airsoft?
-Are there different types of airsoft guns?
-Does it matter what kind of BBs I use?
-BBs come in different weights?
-My gun says "hop-up" on it. What's that?
-What does the "voltage" and "mAh" of my battery mean?
-What are the differences between "NiCd," "NiMH," and "LiPo" batteries?
-What is a "sportline?"
-What kind of gun should I get?
-Should I get an AEG or GBB?
What is airsoft?
Airsoft is a game similar to paintball (though it has actually been around slightly longer), though it is played with realistic replica firearms which fire 6mm BBs. These guns can be used for target shooting, training, and military simulation and other types of "war games." Airsoft guns are also collected and used for display purposes by collectors. For more in-depth information on airsoft, visit our Airsoft in a Nutshell page.
Why airsoft over paintball?
While airsoft and paintball game play is somewhat similar, there are many differences between the two sports. In airsoft, there is a much greater focus on realism, which ranges from how the guns look, to how the players dress, with many using real or replica military gear. Airsoft games often revolve around specific objectives similar to how a real military mission might operate, rather than just "shoot the other team." Airsoft guns are generally more accurate than paintball guns, and can reach farther in general. While military simulation (MILSIM) paintball does exist, it is much less common than the standard speedball and woodsball games, and one's gear has an unfavorable habit of being covered in paint. It is also very difficult to get a paintball marker to resemble a real gun, and even when they do, the way they operate is still much different. Airsoft fields also use a more realistic setup, rather than the inflatable bunkers used in speedball type paintball games. Those interested in a more real-world combat experience should give airsoft a try.
Where can I play airsoft?
It can be dangerous to play airsoft in unsanctioned areas, and it is illegal. Players must play on either private property where they have permission from the owner to play, or on sanctioned airsoft-specific fields. Most airsoft fields have websites where players can gain more information. To see a list of our recommended fields, visit our Where to Play page.
Are there different types of airsoft guns?
Yes. There are three main types: manually cocked spring action guns, battery powered electric guns, or AEGs, and gas powered guns. For more information on the three, visit our "Airsoft in a Nutshell" page.
Does it matter what kind of BBs I use?
Yes! It is very important to use high quality BBs in order to preserve the life of your airsoft replica, and to get the maximum performance out of your gun. Low quality BBs often have imperfections, such as cracks, seam lines, or other deformities, and are of a weaker composition in general. This means that a gun firing them will have less consistent accuracy, and there is a danger of the BBs breaking apart in the barrel, which can possibly damage or break internal components of the airsoft gun. BBs sold at sporting goods stores are not high quality!
BBs come in different weights?
They sure do. .12 gram weight BBs are generally used for low powered, lower-quality guns. Most .12g BBs are also of a lower quality. The most common type of BB used on the field for standard AEGs are .2g BBs. These are a nice intermediate weight and give a nice balanced performance. Other commonly used BB types are .23g, .25g, and .28g for sniper rifles. There are heavier BBs as well, generally designed for sniper rifle use. Heavier weight BBs provide a boost in accuracy, as well as a gain in range, due to the higher inertia of the projectile. However, they suffer a loss in velocity, which will be greater the heavier the BB is that one uses, meaning that the BB will get to the target slower. They do, however, lose additional velocity slower than a lighter BB would. Each player has their own preferences when it comes to BB weight used.
My gun says "hop-up" on it. What's that?
Hop-up is a clever system designed to increase the range of an airsoft gun. To explain it simply, it puts a backspin on the BB to give it lift and provide extended range. The higher you set your hop-up, the greater the backspin, and the farther you can shoot.
What the "voltage" and "mAh" of my battery mean?
Airsoft batteries have two different types of rating, both the voltage, or the battery's output, and its milliamp hour rating (mAh), which is the battery's capacity. The higher your battery's voltage, the quicker it will fire, and the faster its rate-of-fire (ROF) will be. The most common voltages seen in airsoft batteries are 8.4v and 9.6v, though they also come in 7.2v, 10.8v, and 12v sizes as well. Most stock guns can handle up to a 9.6v battery. A battery with a higher mAh rating will last longer than one with a lower rating. As a general rule of thumb, most stock guns will get about 1.5 shots per mAh. So, a 2000 mAh battery will provide roughly 3,000 shots before it needs to be recharged.
What are the differences between "NiCd," "NiMH," and "LiPo" batteries?
Nickel-Cadmium, or NiCd, batteries are the most basic type. These batteries must be drained completely either through use or through the use of a discharger before they can be recharged, otherwise the battery will be damaged and will not hold as much power.
Nickel Metal Hydride, or NiMH, batteries, are a more advanced battery than NiCds. These batteries do not need to be discharged prior to charging, so they can be "topped off" at any time. These are the most popular among airsoft players because of their low maintenance and ease of use.
Lithium Polymer, or LiPo, batteries, are a very high-output battery, and recommended to be used only by experienced players. These batteries come in two voltages, 7.4v and 11.1v. A 7.4v LiPo is roughly equivalent to the output of a 9.6v NiMH battery, and an 11.1v LiPo is similar to a 12v NiMH battery. The benefit of LiPos over NiMH or NiCd batteries is that they are much smaller than a NiMH or NiCd of a similar voltage and mAh rating. Thus, experienced players often use them because they can fit into tight places, such as an M4's buffer tube. Most stock airsoft guns are not durable enough to handle an 11.1v LiPo out of the box. Always verify that your gun can handle a LiPo battery before using one. CAUTION: Only use high-quality LiPo batteries. Low-quality LiPos can malfunction and damage your gun, or even catch fire. Even with high-quality LiPos, it is important to use the proper charger, and take proper care of the battery
What is a "sportline?"
Sportline guns are models produced by high quality manufacturers such as Classic Army or ICS, but feature a plastic body and slightly different internal components, in order to lower the price. Sportlines are aimed at newer players or players on a budget, and are a great deal for new players, as they get a higher quality gun for the price of a mid-level gun.
What kind of gun should I get?
Different guns are right for different people. It depends on what you value in your gun: are you on a budget? Do you want a gun with high quality, metal externals? Do you want something with robust internals, which can handle a LiPo out of the box? Which gun type do you prefer, M4s, M16s, AKs, G36s, or something else?
Should I get an AEG or a GBB?
It depends on what you need the gun for. In most cases, players use AEGs as their primary weapon. AEGs are the most efficient, convenient, easiest to use, and are generally cheaper in the long run. Gas blow back guns are more realistic, and more fun to use, but carry less ammo, cost more in maintenance, and the price of magazines is higher. Most players use GBB pistols as their secondary weapon, if they carry one.