When you are looking to buy a new airsoft gun, you might be wondering which variety you should choose from. There are three distinct sorts of airsoft guns to pick from, which are spring, gas powered and electric.
We have taken a look at these in a bit more detail below, to help you make the correct decision.
An airsoft spring gun is the variety that makes use of a manually cocked spring to aid in the firing of the BB. You have two main types of spring gun, your budget BB gun, which is a more cost-effective type of gun, and usually found in a pistol or handgun style, and your airsoft sniper rifle, which is usually a high end rifle designed to be more accurate and more powerful than your average AEG.
The budget BB gun is a great choice for back garden plinking, if you are new to the sport and want to try it out in your back garden, without investing too much into your kit to start with. The higher end airsoft rifles are a different beast altogether, most of the time you need to upgrade a lot of the internals to get them on a par with what you’ll find on the skirmish field and they need to be handled differently in the field (minimum engagement distances, lots more tactical field work is needed, not the best start for a beginner).
The reason it is low-cost is due to the fact it does not take any external energy to power such as gas or electrical energy. They work on mechanical power, which means that have to be cocked after every round is fired. This can become a tad frustrating over time, as it’s not seen as being too realistic, and if you come into close quarters combat with someone who has an electric gun, chances are you’re not going to win that battle…
Although they are seen as entry level due to them being the “weakest” of the three, as mentioned there are some spring powered rifles and sniper rifles that generate a lot of power, which may be difficult to handle if you are new to the sport!
Edit: There is also a third type of springer which we have shamefully omitted! The springer Shotgun! They sit fairly squarely between the two with some models capable of incredible range for not a lot of money. They come in two main types, single shot (fires one BB per pump) and triple shot (fires 3 BBs per pump). Though some of the very inexpensive single shots can hold their own on the skirmish field many people prefer the triple shots, what's cooler than sending 3 hopped .25g BBs down range toward the enemy at a time...? Well 6, but I'll get back to that later!
Gas powered guns, as the name implies, are powered by compressed gas. These are more for experienced players, and generally shoot the BBs at higher velocities than spring-powered budget BB guns.
Gas powered guns are generally semi-automatic with full auto capable, although some models are available locked either to semi or full. Gas powered airsoft guns are generally not for novices, as the magazine capacity is much lower than your average AEG (M4 = 30 rounds vs 300!) and the recoil can take some getting used to, so proceed with caution!
There are a number of different gases that can power the guns, including propane, Green Gas and CO2. Most gas powered guns can perform poorly in cold temperatures, as the pressure of the gas drops in the lower temperatures, meaning it cannot generate as much power. CO2 can help them work better into the lower temperatures and some of the newer high pressure gasses can keep them working even further, but once the ice really sets in they will stop working.
Edit: There are shotguns here too! Old school shotguns in 6mm or 8mm. New into this area are the Tokyo Marui M870 shotguns which are gas powered and switchable between 3 and 6 shots at a time. There are also some APS shotguns and a couple of others kicking about on the edges of the scene.
Like the spring-powered models, electric airsoft guns use springs to propel the projectiles, although they use electric energy to compress the spring, meaning you don’t need to manually cock the gun after each shot.
Due to this, electric guns are generally both semi-automatic and fully automatic with some being locked either way (DMRs are lock to SEMI, Support Guns are usually full auto only). Generally, electric guns are the most popular style of gun found in team and league play, and are good for any level player from the beginner to the vet. We recommend the G&G Raider series to anyone who is looking to seriously start out airsofting!
Electric powered models are generally very durable, and can be powered by rechargeable batteries, which saves money in the long run as you don’t have to constantly buy a new power source. However, if you get caught out in torrential rain you may run into problems (if you have any exposed electrics), and if you run out of juice on the battlefield and you haven’t got a spare battery, it’s game over.
Edit: More shotguns??? Well shotgun, the TM AA12, it's a beast, electrically powered and fires 3 BBs at a time, 10 shots per second...
These are just a few pros and cons of the different variety of airsoft guns, with the final decision ultimately coming down to ability level, how frequently you play the sport and personal preference.
If you have any questions about the different variety of guns, or you would just like some general advice, please do not hesitate to give us a shout!