The constant struggle to achieve the highest range and accuracy for our airsoft rifles is something most, if not everyone can relate to. We put so much time, effort and money into making our weapons look and perform (where possible) as similar to real steel as we can. The problem is, constantly adding upgrades to try and eek an extra few feet out of the range can get costly, so you need to make sure you're spending your money in the right places. We’ve put together a hit-list of what you need to spend your time and money on, and what you can probably get away with neglecting.
First of all, we’ll look at addressing the age-old FPS vs range debate. Ultimately, FPS does improve range, slightly and only up to a point. Once you get up to the limits of the airsoft site, the improvement in range goes relatively unnoticed. A 30 FPS difference does not give you an extra 30 feet range! There are other aspects of the gun that can improve range more significantly, which we’ll be looking at in this article. If all things were equal, EXACTLY the same, then more velocity would mean more range, but things are rarely equal.
There are two aspects to quality ammunition; the first is that it looks good, in that there are no physical imperfections on the surface of the BB, the second is that it’s made well, with a consistent internal structure. A BB that looks good will be well polished with no surface imperfections or mould marks as these will throw the accuracy off when the BB is sent flying through the air. A high-quality internal structure will mean there are no air bubbles inside the BB which could affect the hop spin or get damaged while loading. Despite what we might think, some high-quality BBs can actually be quite soft which means they can damage easily affecting range and accuracy.
If you don’t have the money to put into new upgrades for your weapon, then there are things that can be done to improve the range of weapons with already existing parts. This can include stabilising the barrel, shimming the hop arm, wishbone or Omega nubs, some people even PTFE tape the hop rubber! It does, however, work better to buy upgraded hop-up parts and to get a strong, high quality unit.
Having consistent FPS won’t necessarily improve range per se, but when there are inconsistencies in your weapon’s FPS it’s a sign you may have issues with your weapon such as air seal problems. Having inconsistent FPS will also affect the hop settings and the BB weight that you use. Stable FPS will ensure that each shot fires similarly, if not the same to the previous shot. If the weapon has unstable FPS then the hop will work differently for each shot meaning possible range drops or BBs spinning off.
As we mentioned at the start of the article, things are rarely equal; even two guns from the same batch and set up exactly the same can vary in BB weight preference and hop settings. It’s worth testing out different BB weights and settings to check to see what works best with your weapon. It’s also worth trialling different trajectories for each rifle to see what your preferred style is. Some weapons will give a long and flat trajectory, like a typical bullet, and some will give an arcing loop. Make sure you know what your weapon’s trajectory is and feel comfortable using it. Remember, just because your airsoft gun doesn’t have great range out of the box, doesn’t mean you should tear it apart and start figuring out where to upgrade. Some hop rubbers need a little time to ‘bed in’ a few hundred shots through them should give you a proper idea where you stand! Some may even come contaminated with oil from the factory, so a good clean is a great start!
The word to focus on here is ‘quality’. Having a really nice hop setup won’t do a thing if the BB is rattling down the barrel afterwards. Make sure you have your quality setup in place first before looking at the wide bore and tight bore barrels. Wide bore barrels will need a lot of air behind them which means that they are best suited to HPA or shorter barrelled/higher cylinder weapons such as VSR Snipers. In the past, tight bore barrels used to be the way to go for snipers wanting prime accuracy, however, this isn’t always the case nowadays. Shrinking down to a 6.01 barrel can reduce the ‘cushion’ of air that should surround the BB and mean that the pellet touches the side of the barrel causing the rattling we mentioned beforehand; this will then affect the hop. Don’t always believe the long-barrelled means more accuracy myth either; this isn’t always the case. For us, it’s got to be a nice 6.03 or 6.05 bore 3-400mm long barrel for almost every weapon type.
We hope this article has given you some ideas for going and tuning your kit to get the most range. If you have any tactics or techniques to get the best range from your gear, we want to know! Get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.
Oh and remember, no matter what happens, never ever oil your hop rubber! (and don’t trust anyone that tells you too!)