|What is Airsoft gun?|
Airsoft guns are replica firearms, or a special type of air guns used in airsoft, that fire 6mm spherical projectiles of many different materials, including (but not limited to) plastic, aluminum, and biodegradable material. This is achieved by a technical solution of either:
- compressed gas
- spring-driven piston
- electrical piston
- a combination of electrical- and spring-driven piston
The Airsoft guns are designed to be non-lethal and to provide realistic replicas.
ManufacturersCurrently, a large number of airsoft weaponry manufacturers are on the market, these include AGM, ARES, A&K, APS, Army Armament, ATS, Both Elephant, Celcius Technology, Airsoft Atlanta, Classic Army, C-TAC, CYMA, D-Boys, DeepFire, Double Eagle, Echo 1,T.I.E.R.,G&G Armament, G&P, GHK, HFC, ICS, Jing Gong, Jing Peng, Galaxy, King Arms, KJ Works, KWA (which is OEM for KSC), KWC, Lucid, Mad Bull Airsoft, LCT, Marushin, Maruzen, Pro Arms, RWA, Silesia Factory, SRC, Systema Engineering, Team SD, Tokyo Marui, Umarex(elite force), VFC, WE Tech, Wei-E Tech, Well, Western Arms, Crosman, and WinGun.
Companies, such as Aftermath, Crosman, Cybergun, Echo 1, and UTG, re-brand and distribute guns, sometimes with other accessories in countries where some manufacturers may not have an established distribution network.
Emerging on the international airsoft scene is the Italian brand Evolution Airsoft, they position their products on the high quality end but with an affordable price tag. The guns are faithful replicas of the real gun counterpart, all trademarks and designs are used under exclusive license from the real gun manufacturer, this is something that really takes apart their guns from the mass and is a valuable extra mostly appreciated by collectors. The quality level is very high as the guns are entirely designed and developed in house in Italy, then mass-produced in Asia under Evolution Airsoft engineers supervision, which Apple proved to be a winning strategy.
Many of the best-selling airsoft weapons are high detailed replicas of real lethal weapons, which are manufactured and designed by companies headquartered in Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and China, however, European and North American brands exist also. As mentioned the biggest European manufacturer is Evolution Airsoft. Beyond airsoft guns proper, those companies may produce other items like BBs, airsoft grenades and airsoft landmines (like Airsoft Innovations and S-Thunder), as well as spare parts and a varied range of accessories for the replicas, like scopes, mounts and suppressors.
UsageAirsoft in the past was used almost solely for recreational purposes, but in 2012 GBB airsoft technology became adopted by US federal and state institutions as an affordable and reliable training tool. The GBB guns allowed for correct weapons manipulation and training for a fraction of the cost of conventional conversion kits that used UTMs and Sim rounds. The Airsoft guns are also safer for training allowing for basic and advanced shooter training in a safer environment by reducing the risks of injury or death from a negligent discharge.
There are airsoft clubs, teams and even athletic associations devoted to airsoft events around the world. Europe is home to some of the largest events, with skirmishes of over 2,000 people participating. In 2012 Fulda Gap in North Carolina had over 1,100 people and O.L.C.M.S.S. Lion Claws (John Lu) had 800 people attend at Georges Air Force Base, California. American Mil-sim, Black Sheep, and Ballahack also host large games. The attraction of the larger games is due to the intensity and variety in equipment that is used ranging from small arms to armored vehicles.
In many countries, every airsoft gun owner and active enthusiast must be affiliated with an accredited airsoft association or federation. Most airsoft players host games at a registered field where combat situations are simulated using airsoft weaponry like replicas of pistols, carbines (including submachine guns), rifles (including sniper rifles), grenades and landmines. Great variety and profusion of militaria is usually used. Historical reenactment of war situations is another favorite of many airsoft players and clubs. In addition, a number of companies such as Systema Engineering and Celcius Technology manufacture ultra-realistic high-velocity airsoft rifles designed specifically for the police and military for non-lethal training purposes. People today can also use it for film making props for shooting films.
PerformanceAirsoft guns shoot plastic pellets at velocities from 30 m/s (98 ft/s) for a low-end spring pistol, to 200 m/s (660 ft/s) for heavily upgraded customized sniper rifles. Most non-upgraded AEGs are in the middle, producing velocities from 90 m/s (300 ft/s) to 120 m/s (390 ft/s). The internal components of most guns can be upgraded which can increase the pellet velocity significantly. Using heavier pellets (.25 g, .3 g, etc.) will significantly reduce the gun's muzzle velocity, but can increase accuracy at range and reduce susceptibility to wind drift. Lighter pellets have less kinetic energy than their heavier pellets, despite their higher exit velocity. Decreasing the pellet's weight does not generally increase its range. High-velocity AEGs often employ heavier pellets. Most high-end AEGs, such as Classic Army and Tokyo Marui, should not be loaded with anything lighter than 0.2 g pellets, as the lighter pellets (0.12 g, 0.15 g) are typically made for low-end guns, and are not built to the same quality (such as surface smoothness). The stresses the pellets go under upon firing could shatter lighter or poorly made pellets as they leave the barrel, potentially damaging the weapon.
Airsoft guns can be modified to increase pellet velocity, rate of fire, reliability, or accuracy/range. For an electric airsoft gun, the pellet velocity can be increased by two different methods. The first is upgrading the inner barrel of the gun. The inner barrel is what the BB travels within while in the gun. Stock AEG inner barrels are usually between 6.05-6.10mm. An airsoft inner barrel is considered "tight-bore" when the inner diameter is less than 6.05mm. Typically, tight-bore barrels that are 6.03mm in diameter are installed into stock AEGs, so that accuracy as well as an up to 30fps increase is enjoyed by the player. Tighter bores risk a higher chance of pellet jams and a need for higher quality pellets and require more lubrication as well as a larger cylinder inside the gear-box in some cases(to contain more air to be forced through, most commonly called a "bore-up" upgrade). Tight-bore barrel upgrades as small as 6.01mm are usually reserved for high-powered sniper rifles. The second is simply upgrading the mainspring. Doing this will increase the air pressure subjected to the pellet produced during operation. But due to the higher forces at play, it is advised that other parts should be upgraded together with the mainspring in order to maintain a high level of reliability. The rate of fire is increased by using a battery with a higher voltage, high-speed ratio gears and/or a high-speed motor. Rates of fire can be increased to over 20 rounds per second with very few upgrades, but with careful selection and extreme modification of gearbox components, rates of fire in excess of 50 rounds per second are not unheard of. In the case of gas guns, a higher pellet velocity can be achieved through the use of different types of gases and/or changing the valve. Some gases have detrimental effects to some plastic components inside the airsoft gun.
The ballistics of spring or electric powered airsoft guns differ from real firearms in that a longer barrel will not always result in better accuracy. In spring/electric airsoft weapons, barrel length does not have a significant effect on accuracy. The "sweet spot" for barrel length in a spring/electric powered airsoft gun is around 400-500mm. Past that length, added barrel length will not improve accuracy. In any case, barrel quality, fps consistency, and hopup quality/design are more important factors in regard to accuracy. However, added barrel length will result in slightly increased velocity if the cylinder size and compression are appropriate for the barrel length. For example, a gun with a large cylinder and a long barrel will shoot slightly harder than a gun with a small cylinder and a short barrel(with everything else being equal). This rule will apply even for barrels longer than 500mm, if there is enough cylinder volume and air compression to propel the BB through the barrel. However, the resulting FPS increase will be hardly noticeable. The only considerable advantage of using a longer inner barrel in an aeg or spring powered gun is that it generally will make the gun quieter. Gas powered replicas function more like real firearms. In gas powered guns, added barrel length (to an appropriate degree) will result in significantly increased velocity, and increased accuracy to a degree.
Another common upgrade done by players is in the "Hop-Up" system. Most mid to high end AEG's, as well as gas guns and spring sniper rifles, feature this hop-up system, in which the wall of a rubber tube, called a bucking, is forced into the path of the pellet right before it begins flying down the inner barrel. This contact imparts backspin, which in turn gives the pellet lift to maintain a flatter trajectory for a longer period of time. This is adjusted by screws or gears that cause the bucking to only show a small or large presence in the barrel. Different degrees of firmness of the rubber are considered when a hop-up is being upgraded. The hop-up can either make or break an airsoft gun's range and accuracy: Too much hop-up makes the pellet fly very straight, but can also cause it take a sharp curve upward toward the end of its flight. If a light enough bb is used, adjusting the hop-up can even cause the trajectory to curve upwards straight out of the barrel. The hop-up is adjusted around the weight of the pellet and the speed at which it is leaving the barrel. A well-tuned hop-up puts just enough spin on the pellet to maximize its range without drastically effecting the curvature of its trajectory.
Airsoft guns commonly come with mounts or rails on which the airsofter can add external accessories. Some common customizations added are flashlights, scopes and lasers. Many airsoft guns are made 1:1 in scale and detailing to their realsteel counterparts, but few if any, are able to safely swap external components. Airsoft replicas of real scopes are commonly made available for sale at a much lower price (sometimes thousands of dollars less). The replicas differ from their real-steel counterparts in that the replicas are not made to function in a high-recoil environment such as that in of an actual firearm. In no way can an airsoft rifle be modified to shoot real ammunition. In most cases, add-ons are more for aesthetics than performance. However, scopes can allow for greater precision at longer ranges with proper firing technique by the user/operator (the installation of a scope does not physically make the gun fire pellets more accurately). Other attachments, such as replica grenade launchers can act as under-barrel shotguns, and a mock silencer can be added to provide concealment for a longer inner barrel therefore improving accuracy and range.
Safety concernsAirsoft is relatively safe when played with proper protection. Most airsoft guns on the market are usually below 350 ft/s (110 m/s), but projectiles expelled from any type of airsoft guns can travel as low as 65 ft/s (20 m/s) to more than 700 ft/s (210 m/s) and are capable of breaking skin at 300 ft/s (91 m/s). If under 300 ft/s (91 m/s), the hit would have to be within a short range. Blood can be drawn, but injuries that do occur are predominantly superficial. Protective eyewear (goggles or glasses) is widely considered the minimum protection for airsoft players, as the eyes may be injured by any type of impact. Some impacts (particularly at close range with powerful guns) are capable of cracking or damaging teeth. Dentists have reported broken teeth that require root canal and crowns to repair damage. A face mask (like that used for paintball) is recommended to protect eyes and teeth.
There are legal issues in airsoft as well as several rules imposed in a game by game basis. Most airsoft fields only allow up to 350 ft/s (110 m/s). In order for an airsoft gun to cause any serious injury, it would have to be well over that limit. To even reach such speeds the gun would have to be highly modified. So it is therefore unlikely to cause permanent or serious damage with any stock airsoft gun. The use of metallic BBs, or any foreign objects, is very dangerous for the user and other people and property in close vicinity, and may damage the airsoft gun as well. However, specially designed and built metallic 6mm BBs for airsoft guns can be found on the market. These metallic BBs should not be used for airsoft play because they can break airsoft player protections like goggles.
Although Airsoft guns in the United States are generally sold with a 6mm (0.24in.) or longer orange tip on the barrel in order to distinguish them from real firearms, this is not in fact required by federal law. There is some controversy on this topic as Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations, on foreign commerce and trade, stipulates that "no person shall manufacture, enter into commerce, ship, transport, or receive any toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm" without approved markings; these may include an orange tip, orange barrel plug, brightly colored exterior of the whole toy, or transparent construction (part 272.2, formerly part 1150.2). However, section 272.1 (formerly 1150.1) clearly indicates that these restrictions shall not apply to "traditional b-b, paint-ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of compressed air, compressed gas or mechanical spring action, or any combination thereof." Local laws may differ by jurisdiction. Full or partial preventive painting of airsoft guns as a legal obligation to avoid confusion of the airsoft replicas with real lethal weapons is in practice in several jurisdictions around the world.
Trademark problemsSome airsoft guns can be such accurate replicas that they violate intellectual property laws (specifically those regarding trademarks), most notably some models from Tokyo Marui bearing Colt or Heckler & Koch trademarks that may not be imported into the United States. Certain companies such as Classic Army or ICS avoid this problem by licensing their replicas from the original manufacturers such as ArmaLite by license from ActionSportGames or Olympic Arms. The airsoft company ActionSportGames has licensed trademark rights from many well-known firearm manufacturers, such as Armalite, Dan Wesson, CZ, Steyr, STI, B&T, Franchi etc.. Another company who licence the designs of gun companies is Evolution International. They have a portfolio of exclusive licences from TangoDown, ZM Weapons, DSR precision, Lone Star Tactical, SAR and ADC Armi Dallera Custom. In addition, there have been reports of companies taking action in defense of their intellectual property rights. Some end users have made attempts to sell their guns, some in the style of Glock pistols, only to find Glock blocking the sale and threatening legal action. In addition to these actions, Glock, as well as HK, have blocked the sale, trade and distribution of replicas bearing resemblance to their products.
- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia