Airsoft is a modern combat sport or recreational hobby in which participants eliminate opponents by hitting each other with spherical non-metallic airsoft bbs, launched from airsoft guns. Participants typically employ the use of varying types of guns designed as replicas, tactical gear, and accessories used by modern military and police organizations.
Airsoft has its roots in late-1950s East Asia, specifically Japan where firearms were difficult or impossible to obtain due to local laws; sought a legal alternative for enjoying their passion. Airsoft is still today most popular in several Asian regions, such as Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, and to a certain extent, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The vast majority of airsoft guns, accessories, and after market upgrade parts are also manufactured in these countries.
There is also a growing interest in North America and Europe, especially in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Poland, Lithuania, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Italy, Belgium (which is also visited by Dutch players, as the game is illegal in the Netherlands), and Denmark bolstered by an active and expanding Internet scene.
Methods and structures of play
Airsoft participants organize meetings, either indoors or outdoors, at dedicated airsoft battlefields to play a variety of games ranging from short-term skirmishes, organized scenarios, military simulations, or historical reenactments. Combat situations on the battlefield often involve the use of common military tactics to achieve the objectives set in each game.
Fundamentally, airsoft is a game played within a predetermined area where the objective is to hit the adversary. It is generally accepted that when a player is hit, they will declare it. Unlike paintball, which leaves visible marks on clothing, determining hits are usually based on an honour system. Some common game variations include Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Close Quarters Battle. Also there is respawn and respawn team in which a player who is hit counts for a predetermined amount of time, then is back in. The way one wins is by hitting all of the opponent or all the players on the opposing team.
MilSim (Military Simulation) generally combines airsoft play with some military live action role-playing elements. Several goals or missions are assigned to each team, along with a basic loadout of ammunition, (6 millimetre pellets) rations, batteries, and other suitable equipment. The teams will remain in the field for the duration of play, only returning to a staging area or "safe zone" for medical emergencies, or other such circumstances.
A popular basis for airsoft gaming is that of re-enactment, in which players put on clothing and equipment based on a pre-determined time period (for example, World War II) or a prominent military action, such as the Battle of Mogadishu. The game types played usually imitate combat of the time and often impose milsim-like restrictions on players.
Special rules are often incorporated into airsoft games in order to make basic games more interesting or to increase "longevity" with seasoned players. These may include Medic rules and rules regarding hits to one's equipment.
An "honor system" is employed whereby the players rely on each others honesty to admit to being hit, because unlike paintball, the plastic pellets don't leave marks on clothing. Depending on the muzzle velocity of the gun and distance from which a person is shooting, the person on the receiving end of the shot will usually receive tiny welts on their skin. The pellets can sometimes break skin at very close ranges.At point blank range, it is possible for pellets to embed themselves within the skin. In other cases, the sight of the plastic pellets ricocheting off a player or the sound of them hitting a player can be used as a positive indicator of a hit.
To a new player choosing between airsoft and paintball, a beginning package for either is roughly equivalent in terms of apparel and cost. One major difference, however, can be seen in the cost of ammunition and upkeep of the packages - due to the type of ammunition used, airsoft guns are less prone to "jamming", and airsoft pellets are considerably cheaper to manufacture than paintballs.
Most players typically wear military uniforms known as BDUs consisting of separate pants and shirts or jackets when playing, because it not only provides protection against the impact of pellets, but also – just as with real soldiers – aids concealment from adversaries. Aside from protection and the advantage of camouflage, some participants aim to faithfully replicate a specific military (particularly in games such as MilSim).
The choice of camouflage pattern of the BDUs is normally determined by suitability to the playing area, but sometimes simply local availability. Typically military surplus stores are a good source for such items. In the U.S. the most common pattern is "Woodland" camouflage pattern, but recently MARPAT (recently adopted by the United States Marine Corps) and ACU (adopted in 2005 by the United States Army) have also become popular choices in North America, but most European camouflage patterns are suitable with Flecktarn (Germany) being a popular alternative or even strictly commercial patters such as Multicam.
Similarly in Europe, local military uniforms are more readily available and probably more suitable to local conditions. Popular patterns include the German Flecktarn, British DPM or Swiss alpenflage.
However it should be noted that the use of current Irish Army issue equipment is illegal for use for any activity other than while engaged in defence forces activities.
Originally Posted by The Defence Act 1954
(1) In this section, the expression “military property” means any property being –
(a) any arms, ammunition (including bombs, grenades or similar missiles), equipment, instruments or clothing issued for the use of members of the DF, or
(a) If any person –
(i) buys, exchanges, takes in pawn, obtains or receives from any person, on any pretence whatsoever, any military property, or
(ii) solicits or entices any person to sell, exchange, pawn or give away any military property, or
(iii) assists or acts for any person in selling, exchanging, pawning or making away with any military property,
such person shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds together with treble the value of any military property of which he has become possessed by means of the offence or, at the discretion, of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
(1) If any person (not being a member of the DF) wears without permission granted by or on behalf of the Minister, any uniform of the DF or any colorable imitation thereof, such person shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding ten pounds or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding three months.
(3) In this section the word “uniform” includes any distinctive part of a uniform.
(1) If any person wears any uniform of the DF or any dress, having the appearance of, or bearing any of the regimental or other distinctive marks of, any such uniform, in such a manner or in such circumstances as to be likely to bring contempt upon that uniform, such person shall be guilty of an offence under this subsection.
(3) Any person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (1) or (2) of this section shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months.
Players wear tactical clothing and accessories not only for the added realism, but to fulfil practical needs similar to that of a real soldier such as being able to carry spare magazines, water, food or other equipment. The most common accessories are holsters and load bearing vests such as MOLLE, ALICE and the British PLCE systems. Some players even wear military-style helmets, such as the kevlar PASGT helmet or hydration systems, such as those manufactured by Camelbak.
First, just to clear up some general misconceptions; (Thanks to Hivemind187 )
i) The difference between Airsoft, paintball and BB guns/Air Guns are as follows.
- Airsoft (a term coined by the original Japanese releases, literally "soft-air") is a device that propels a soft, 6mm elastic round, weighing about 0.2g at speeds in the region of 300 fps. These devices are specifically designed to be safe as a sporting device to "tag" another player without causing any physical harm (short of a sting and the occasional welt).
- An Air-Gun uses compressed gas to propel a lead pellet at high velocities and is used mainly for target practice and hunting small game (rabbits, rats etc) The general muzzle energy of an Air-Gun is around the 17 joule mark
- A BB gun (BB being the gauge of the round and NOT a reference to a "ball bearing"). BB guns operate under spring, gas or pump and are capable of propelling a metal bearing at speeds approaching 1000 fps. These devices are used by some shooters as a practice weapon or to hunt fowl and small game.
- A Paintball marker is a gas powered (or spring in some smaller devices) designed to propel a paint filled, cellulose or thin plastic ball at speeds around 350 fps. The weight of the Paintball (around 3g) as well as the dimensions (between 1 and 2 cm cubed) requires a muzzle energy of between 12 and 17 joules. Paintball devices are specifically designed to be safe for use against people (hence the round) and rarely inflict more than a mild bruise on impact.
ii) Airsoft devices are not weapons. A weapon is an object wielded with the intent to harm, Airsoft devices are designed to do "tag" another player and to hit targets at a limited range.
iii) Airsoft devices are not capable of being converted to fire live ammunition. Their design and construction material are incapable of handling the pressure that would be placed on them by the gas expansion generated by live rounds - not to mention the lack of a chamber, proper firing pin, extractor, suitable barrel design etc
iv) Airsoft devices look like the real thing for a reason. The people who buy them demand realism and value for money. Due to the very nature of Airsoft as a sport (including the MilSim, recreations etc) it is desireable for the devices to imitate the real thing as closely as possible while still remaining safe to use. Responsible ownership and careful operation negates any potential danger from Airsoft devices - exactly he same common sense rules that apply t any other sporting equipment ranging from martial artists' nunchucku to fencers foils to pool players cues.
v) "Airsoft and Paintball glorify violence, gun fights, war, criminality and terrorism" - This is a common point of view. It is also exactly the same one that many people have towards video games, metal/rap music, modern cinema, television shows and the 9 0'clock news. It is nonsense and there has never been a conclusive study to show that partaking in a sport increases the chances that people are more likely to be violent. In fact, martial arts classes which specifically teach people how to injure one another are known to reduce the likelihood of someone getting involved in belligerent activities.
What follows is what I believe to be the most relevant information on the wiki airsoft gun page. Might stop the same old questions popping up all the time. I've read through it and it all seems correct. If anyone notices any errors tell me and I'll edit it.
Airsoft guns (also known as Soft Air guns by some manufacturers, such as Cybergun and Crosman) are spring, electric, or gas powered air propelled guns that fire small spherical plastic pellets of either 6 mm or 8 mm diameter (0.24 or 0.32 inches). Inexpensive airsoft guns are often used as toys, while more expensive modes may be used for firearms training or in the sport of Airsoft, which is similar in concept to Paintball.
Generally they are replicas (in appearance only) of real firearms, but occasionally fictional firearms are available, such as the M41A Pulse Rifle from the Aliens films. Some very inexpensive airsoft guns are reduced scale models (such as the Boys models by some makers) or caricatures (like the mini-electrics) of firearms.
Because airsoft guns are visually accurate replicas they are often used as movie props.
Electric-powered airsoft guns typically use a rechargeable battery to drive an electric motor, which cycles an internal piston/spring assembly in order to launch pellets. Automatic and semi-automatic operation is possible which gives these guns the popular name "automatic electric guns" or AEGs. These guns often attain muzzle velocities of 200 to 400 ft/s (60 to 120 m/s) and rates of fire of between 300 and 1100 rounds per minute. They are the most commonly used and widely available type of airsoft gun.
These type of guns were developed in Japan and the Japanese company Tokyo Marui dominates the market. In a Tokyo Marui AEG, the motor drives a series of 3 gears mounted inside a gearbox. The gears then compress a piston assembly against a spring. Once the piston is released, the spring drives it forward through the cylinder to push a pellet into the chamber, through the barrel, and forward from the muzzle. Many manufacturers have now more or less replicated this basic model, adding reinforced parts or minor improvements.
These guns are powered primarily by nickel cadmium (NiCad) or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) with varying voltages and milliampere hours ratings. The most common battery is an 8.4 V large battery (usually about 2400 mA•h.) Also available are 8.4 V "mini" batteries, which generally have 600 mA•h capacities. Voltages for large batteries range from 7.2 V, all the way up to 12 V. The rule of thumb usually is the higher the mAh, the longer the battery lasts while the higher voltage, the higher Rate of Fire (RoF).
External modifications, such as metal bodies and reinforced plastics that make AEGs look and feel even more realistic, have become very popular. AEG manufacturers such as Classic Army (Yick Fung) produce replicas that are visually nearly identical to their real counterparts, boasting metal bodies and stronger furnishings. Most AEGs produced as of late are designed to be as visually realistic as possible.
The two most common AEGs fielded by players are the AR-15 series (M16 rifle, M4 carbine, etc.; sometimes referred to as the Armalite or Colt series) and the Heckler & Koch MP5 series, because parts for repairs or modifications/customization are commonly available. Also popular are the AK or Kalashnikov and FAMAS and more recently the Heckler & Koch G36 and even more recently, the Springfield M14.
Spring-powered airsoft guns are single-shot devices that use potential energy stored in a spring to launch an airsoft pellet down the barrel of the gun. The user must cock a spring gun prior to each shot much as you would a real shotgun or bolt-action rifle. This is typically achieved by pulling back the slide (pistols) or bolt (rifles), which in turn compresses the spring and makes the gun ready to fire. Because of this, these guns are by definition incapable of automatic or semi-automatic fire.
While most electric guns also use springs for propulsion of the airsoft pellet, they are not considered to be in the same category as the single-shot spring-powered guns. Low-end spring guns tend to be much cheaper than their electric-powered equivalents due to their simplicity and lack of electrical components (spring assembly, electric motor, battery, and battery charger) and thus are widely available. These guns are less suited for competition because they are at a disadvantage against automatic guns in close combat and do not provide enough accuracy and power for long-range uses. Some exceptions: higher-end spring-powered airsoft rifles can be quite expensive; these guns are typically suited for "marksman" applications in airsoft matches and can provide competitive muzzle velocities. Additionally, pump shotguns are sometimes used, especially in CQB (Close Quarters Battle). In colder weather, spring pistols may actually be the best possible backup gun, as gas pistols function very poorly (see below), and even the batteries on AEPs (Automatic Electric Pistols) won't do too well in extremely cold weather.
This represents one of the major advantages of a spring powered airsoft gun, as it can be fired in any situation, without the need of an outside force. In a situation where the user is either out of gas or his/her batteries have died, it renders their selected weapon useless whereas one using a spring-powered weapon is not hindered by problems such as this. Also, while not often thought of or even considered, a spring gun may be completely immersed in water and still function with little or no effect on the weapon's performance. In the case of an electric or gas weapon, the concept would be unthinkable and would cause the obvious damage one would expect that water would cause, but in the case of a springer, the only real damage that the gun can suffer is possible rusting of metal parts which can be avoided by thoroughly drying the weapon.
The other major advantage that spring weapons hold over other powered airsoft guns is price. True AEGs can range from $200-$500 and high-end gas pistols can cost well over $120, each also requiring extra equipment; gas, batteries etc. Spring guns tend to not exceed $50, except in cases of high end "sniping" rifles which average out to be around $100-$370 in price. Most players start with a spring pistol as their first, which will usually cost about $10-$30. They are also easier to find because they are sold at department stores like Walmart and K-Mart. Because of their price spring's tend to act as "training guns" to bring new players to airsoft games and are considered the primary weapon of "backyard skirmishes." Almost all airsoft players at one point in their interest in the sport own a spring weapon, whether for its actual application or for the replica value as there are examples of certain firearms that only exist in airsoft renditions as spring weapons.
Traditionally, spring pistols or low quality rifle are used as low-end side arms, and high end sniper rifles used for marksman applications.
Gas-powered airsoft guns use pressurized gas to propel pellets. These guns are capable of automatic and semi-automatic operation. The most common gases used are "green gas" (which consists of a mixture of propane and a polysiloxane lubricant) and HFC-134a. Less commonly used gases include "red gas" (which is actually HCFC-22), CO2 and nitrogen/high pressure air. Red gas is usually avoided unless the airsoft gun has undergone modification, as its relatively high critical pressure can cause damage to the airsoft gun. CO2, nitrogen, and high pressure air are less common because they need to be stored at higher pressures than "green gas" or HFC-134a.
The first ever gas powered airsoft gun are commonly referred to as 'classic' guns, owing to their age. These guns were most commonly powered by liquid propellants such as R-12 (Which was marketed by the Japanese as FLON-12 or brand name Freon-12) freon feed system with a majority of the configurations containing two tanks, one containing the R-12 and one used as an expansion tank, and the gun itself. R-12 was commonly used in car air conditioning systems. It is also illegal in some states and parts of the world because it is not environmentally friendly. Later users modified these old guns to be powered by regulated CO2 canisters or nitrogen/high pressure air bottles to increase power and consistency. However, these guns have largely been superseded by the newer and more versatile AEGs, or automatic electric guns. One of the reasons for this is because the most commonly available propellant, R-12, is costly. Additionally, at high flow rates, liquid propellants tend to cool down, eventually freezing. As cooldown progresses, the rate of fire gradually decreases until the gun ceases operation. The user would then be forced to wait for the propellant to warm up again. CO2 is not affected as badly by this tendency, and nitrogen/high pressure air is immune to it. Furthermore, if liquid propellant is introduced into the gun's mechanism, rubber parts can freeze and eventually damage the gun.
Gas power tends to be used in airsoft pistols where size constraints make electric-powered mechanisms impractical. Other instances where gas is favored are where adjustable velocities are required or where a blowback feature is desired. A blowback feature is a mechanism which cycles a slide or bolt to better simulate a real firearm's operation. Because of the mechanical complexities involved with distributing and regulating gas, these guns have largely given way to electric guns for less specialized applications, however, they still remain a favorite amongst airsofters and no competitive airsoft game is ever complete without a 'pistols-only' match. They are not just limited to pistols; submachine gun airsoft replicas and sniper rifle airsoft replicas commonly use gas mechanisms. Whilst the submachine gun replicas typically feature a blowback mechanism similar to the pistol replicas, sniper rifle replicas usually omit the blowback mechanism in favour of reduced recoil and increased muzzle velocity.
Along with using gas to power guns, it is also applied for use in replica grenades. These grenades are both projectiles, fired from a grenade launcher such as the M203 or GP-25, or throwable. The shells work on the system of an internal piston, filled with gas. Either a series of BBs or in some cases a rubber or soft foam head is seated in or on top of the shell. When the pressure is released the projectile(s) are shot from the launcher sent downrange.
In the case of the throwable grenades, inside the grenade there is a similar piston to the one used in the shells, but is on a literal "timer" that allows the user to clear the area of effect. BBs or powder act as the projectile in the case of these grenades. Currently both types of grenades are not very common, mostly because grenade launchers are quite expensive and the throwable grenades are not very reliable; but with innovations in design they are becoming a much more promising concept and may soon become part of an airsofter's stock arsenal.
Some cheaper and lowered powered AEGs are called low powered electric guns (LPEGs) to distinguish them from the original, more expensive and more powerful AEGs even though their mechanical/electrical design and operation is similar and are not to be confused Mini Electrics. Originally they were only of novelty value, often regarded below spring operated guns due to their cheap building materials and extremely poor performance (attributed to velocities under 100 ft/s).
Some companies - like UTG with their popular MP5 and AK47 models - have improved their quality to such an extent that some models are now considered simply as mid ranged AEGs that are more affordable but still effective.
Since there are spring action guns that can notably outperform the true low end LPEGs and can be found at comparable prices, they are generally considered to be better choices.
MPEG's first came onto the scene back in 2005 with the introduction of UTG's Navy Seal MP5. It retailed around $100 at release. It soon had a cult following by many of the "noobs" in airsoft since they saw that it was a Tokyo Marui clone, and the price was much better than a Tokyo Mauri, and it could use Tokyo Marui upgrade parts. Most of the airsoft regulars cast the gun aside rather quickly, due to the fact that this was a brand-new company, had not shown itself on the field, and the gun was rather poorly built. The first version of this gun has many lemons, and soon a version 2 was released, fixing many of the magazine problems, and improved gearbox quality. Version 3 and version 4 have also been released, with different magazines and batteries.
Soon after the release of the UTG MP5, UTG release the WarHawk, a Romanian AK-47 styled gun. Some players consider the WarHawk a bad gun, due to a very high lemon rate and lower performance than the MP5 at a higher price.
Automatic Electric Pistols (AEP) was first introduced by the Tokyo Marui company with their Glock 18C (followed later by a Beretta 93R model). They were the first handguns to incorporate an electric powered system, capable of full-automatic operation.
In cold weather, they are considered better sidearms than gas powered pistol, because batteries are not as badly affected by very cold weather. Gases like CO2 and green gas are stored in liquid form and require heat in order to turn into a gaseous form. A gas pistol in 10°F will usually only get one to two usable shots from a full magazine.
Because the AEP technology is relatively new, the velocity of the pellets is considered slow for airsoft play. The velocity of the AEP is usually between 200 to 225 ft/s. However, the advanced hop up units on these new guns tend to compensate for the low power and can produce an effective range comparable to those of an AEG.
An AEP differs from what is commonly known as an "Electric Blow Back" or "EBB" in that the mechanical operation of an EBB attempts to simulate of the "blow back" in the slide experienced in a real pistol or Gas Blow Back (GBB). An AEP, however, has a fixed slide where there is no external movement by the slide during operation. At present, Marui GLOCK 18C is the only EBB pistol which provides full-auto fire power. Like all other Marui EBBs, it is marketed towards beginners and thus has a lower power, using four AAA batteries.
The latest AEP style gun is the Marui replica of the Heckler & Koch MP7. It is considerably larger than either of the other guns, but uses the same system and is therefore classified as an AEP not an AEG. It is slightly more powerful than the others and is a suitable choice for CQB (Close Quarter Battle) games due to its small size and decent barrel length relative to its size.
Other Airsoft related terms
Airsoft hop-up devices apply a backspin to the bb so that the pressure force acts on the bb opposite to the direction that gravity is pulling it. This causes the bb to fall less over a given distance than it would without the spin applied to it. The hop up can usually be adjusted, as heavier bbs made of denser plastic, such as bbs weighing .25 grams or more, require more of a backspin in order to counter attack forces of gravity. If hop up is adjusted accurately, it can ensure a completely straight trajectory for the projectile. This increases range and accuracy significantly. Most cheap airsoft guns don't come with this function.
Different Types of Mags
Mimics the reel steel magazine capacity. No need for winding
4 times + normal magazine capacity. No need for winding
Large amount of bbs poured into a well. After 30-60 rounds, a wheel at the bottom must be wound forward to load more bbs into place.