Airsoft Bushings vs. Bearings: Everything You Need To Know

Whether you are new to airsoft guns or have been shooting for ages, understanding how the guns work can be confusing. However, if you want to optimize and modify your weapon, one of the first things you might consider upgrading is your bushings or bearings. These small metal rings adjust the torque and the firing rate of your weapon. 

Airsoft bushings and bearings hold your airsoft gun’s gears in place. Bushings are more durable than bearings, and they have more mechanical resistance. Bearings, which have small balls in their sockets, have less mechanical resistance, but they are also more likely to break under stress. 

So, which one is right for you? Let’s talk about the differences between bushings and bearings and outline the best uses for each one so that you can decide whether bushings or bearings are best for your airsoft setup. 

Video: Ball Bearings vs Bushings Explained

Difference Between Bushings and Bearings 

Automatic electric and spring-powered airsoft guns use a spring to shoot projectiles. For the spring to work, airsoft guns use gearboxes that rewind the coil when you cock it. Bushings and bearings are small metal rings that belong in the gearbox of an airsoft gun. 

The largest gear in the weapon, the spur gear, fits in a bushing or bearing, allowing the gear to spin at a certain speed. Because it holds the spur gear in place, the bushing or bearing will make your gun cock faster or slower, and it will adjust the torque of your weapon. 

Bushings and bearings are also used on the other gears in the weapon, which is the bevel and the sector. These gears bear less weight than the spur gear. 

Pre-Installed Bushings

Most airsoft guns come with pre-installed bushings. 

Bushings look like simple, short pure metal washers, and are commonly made of steel or brass. Since they are solid, they have more mechanical resistance, meaning that your airsoft gun will cock slowly when you use a bushing. 

You will also have to lubricate your bushing regularly to keep it in good condition. 

However, the main advantages of using bushings are that they last much longer than bearings, and they are more reliable. They can withstand very high torque setups and fast-shooting weapons. 

Streamlined Bearings

Bearings look a bit different from bushings. 

They have the same basic construction, but bearings have a slight ridge containing several metal balls or ceramic balls around the socket. The balls, or ball-bearings, make a gun’s gears spin much faster, reducing shooting time and minimizing torque. 

Because of their streamlined design, bearings have a much lower mechanical resistance than bushings. That’s why bearings spin much faster than bushings. 

They are also much quieter and put less stress on the gearbox. 

In addition, you do not need to lubricate bearings since a slippery surface could dislodge some of the balls in the bearing. Also, the lube could trap dirt and sand in the ball bearings, making the entire gearbox malfunction. 

However, many people avoid using bearings because they are more likely to break than bushings. Since bearings have a hollow core filled with balls, they can easily bend or shatter under high pressure. 

Still, most airsoft guns are not powerful enough to break a bearing, and if they do fail, it is usually after prolonged use. 

Video: Gearbox Bushings and Bearings demonstration

When To Use Bushings

Bushings have high mechanical resistance, and they are much more durable than bearings. So, it is best to use bushings with airsoft guns that shoot at 400 feet per second (fps) and over since bearings might blow out in high-torque weapons. 

They are also better for faster-shooting guns since they can take pressure better than bearings. If you use a bearing on a weapon that shoots 50+ rounds per second, the balls in the bearing might come loose, or in the worst case, the bearing might explode. 

Generally, it is always best to use bushings on the spur gear of your weapon. 

Spur gears take the most weight from the spring, making them susceptible to breaking or blowing out. With the bushing in the spur gear, the gun is more likely to last longer and shoot more efficiently over time. 

So, overall, if you want a foolproof way to keep your airsoft gun in good shape and don’t want to risk putting too much stress on your gears, go with a bearing. They are simple and can endure plenty of stress, making them perfect for high-torque weapons. 

When To Use Bearings

Bearings are more efficient and faster than bushings. 

However, they are weaker, so you shouldn’t use them in high-power airsoft guns. As a general rule, you should avoid using bearings in guns that shoot at more than 400 fps and those with a rate of fire higher than 50 shots per second.  

If you have a less powerful gun, bearings are the way to go. They don’t require lubrication, so they are much lower maintenance than bushings. They also work faster and use the torque more efficiently, so they are overall very desirable for lower-power weapons. 

You might also want to avoid using bearings on the spur gear of your airsoft gun. Since the spur gear is what takes most of the pressure from the spring, the bearing is more likely to break on a spur gear. 

Bearings are also quieter than bushings in most cases because they create less friction in the gearbox, making the gears run much more smoothly. 

However, many people use bearings on the bevel and sector gears and a bushing on the spur gear. This setup keeps the gears working as efficiently as possible while preserving the bearings and bushing for many years. 

Final Thoughts

Bushings last longer than bearings and can withstand more stress, but they aren’t as efficient as bearings. As a general rule, higher power guns need bushings, while lower power guns work best with bearings. Still, you may have to try to reconfigure your airsoft gun’s gearbox to optimize it for your weapon’s level of power and your personal shooting preferences.