Although there are only 3 types of Airsoft guns available, gas, electric and spring, each type has different versions with added features and extras. Making a decision on the type of Airsoft gun to purchase will ultimately depend on the reason you want the gun, whether it is for practicing shooting at targets or playing in a game with other players.
Spring Airsoft Guns or Rifles are the easiest type of Airsoft gun to use, pull back the slide which compresses the spring and the gun is ready to shoot. These guns are great for target practice, relatively cheap to buy and there is no need for gas or charging it up to make it work. On the other hand it has to be ‘reloaded’ each time it is fired (like a shotgun/rifle) so isn’t very suitable for games where speed is the main factor. Airsoft Gas Guns are generally for the more serious gun enthusiasts and as they operate by a gas driven mechanism powered either by carbon dioxide and/or green gas have to be refilled each time. Be aware too that if conditions are very cold, gas guns won’t work. The Electric Airsoft Guns and Electric Powered BB Guns, (also known as AEG) are the most popular airsoft guns on the market today and the perfect choice for games. Made in Japan, they have a rechargeable battery used to power the electric motor that enables the inner mechanism to discharge the pellets. They can be fired continually and are great for games. Another advantage to the electric guns is they often have high capacity magazines that can hold hundreds of BBs.
When selecting your gun you should keep in mind the following;
• How long the gun could be expected to last? With some TLC and the correct maintenance guns can last for many years. Its durability will also depend on the quality of the gun and the material it’s made from; plastic won’t last as long as metal and breaks easier but is a cheaper option.
• Precision is decided by the bore, length and quality of the inner barrel. Precision inner barrels can be purchased in a variety of lengths and bore diameters in order to improve the predisposition of the BB and make it return to the same targeted spot each time the trigger is pulled.
• If the gun is damaged it can prove costly to have to replace it so take into consideration whether parts can be replaced inexpensively or even upgraded thus improving the quality of your gun at a fraction of the cost.
• Think about the accessories you might want to buy to go with your gun, are they reasonably priced? What kinds of extra magazines can be bought and what are the costs for these?
• Note the FPS speed (Feet Per Second). This is the speed at which the pellets leave the gun barrel, so the higher the FPS, the faster the pellet will go. Be aware though, that the faster the bullet the more impact it will have on contact with a part of the body. Roughly, a gun with a 2/300 FPS will hit someone within ten feet skin and cause some very painful bruises. From 500 FPS upwards, pellets can penetrate the skin. The higher the FPS can put more pressure on a gun, possibly damaging other parts of the gun if they aren’t built as well. Generally, the faster the speed the further the pellet will travel, but if the gun has problems with accuracy then these could be increased with a higher FPS.
• The amount of rounds that can be fired from the gun in a certain amount of time is called the ROF (Rate of Fire). Obviously, automatic guns have the highest ROF. This feature is often hyped up as the more rounds aimed at the target the chance of a hit increases but inevitably more ammunition is used.
The ideal place to find information and advice on buying an Airsoft gun is to read some reviews on the Internet; take a look around some different sites so you get a good idea of general opinion on each type. Airsoft Forums can be valuable sources of information, you can ask questions there too and get impartial advice and opinions. Don't consider buying a gun just because it looks good, weigh up all the facts before you come to any decision.