The Complete Guide on How Electric Airsoft Guns Work

East Asia was the primary origin of the famous airsoft guns; specifically, Japan produced the genesis of airsoft guns way back in the 1970s. But before, airsoft was mainly powered by springs shooting 6 mm (0.23 in) pellets or commonly known as BBs. It then gained modernization by switching to electric airsoft guns.

Electric airsoft guns work by using different parts, such as the piston, spring, and motor, working together to shoot a BB through its barrel. Rechargeable battery packs supply power to the internal electric motor. The motor allows the gearbox to compress the pump spring to shoot the bullets.

With the growing popularity of electric airsoft guns, sometimes it leaves us to wonder how that gun replica works precisely. If it has piqued your interest, continue reading. In this article, I’ll discuss how electric airsoft guns work.

The Energies That Make an Electric Airsoft Gun Work

Though airsoft guns do the same function as one another, they differ in the process and power. So instead of just thinking about shooting BBs as a whole, we must know these details before fully engaging ourselves in purchasing one.

We need to understand that electric airsoft guns use three energy types – electrical, pneumatic, and mechanical. Again, as we mentioned, these types of energy work hand-in-hand to fully function as an electric airsoft gun. Fortunately, you can use this as a note to help you deduce the main problem.

Here are the typical functions of each energy inside an airsoft gun:

  • Electrical Energy: Lithium Polymer or Nickel-Metal battery delivers both electric current and electric potential through the installed electrical circuit inside the airsoft gun.
  • Mechanical Energy: Primary responsible for providing energy to the moving parts inside airsoft guns. The gun has gears and pistons to work, so it’s only essential to have mechanical energy in the works.
  • Pneumatic Energy: Once you press the trigger, electrical and mechanical energy will start getting to pneumatic energy. This energy mainly relates to the pressurized air when the piston begins launching from its cylinder to produce that pressurized air that shoots a BB from the nozzle.
Video: How does an AEG work (Automatic Electric Gun)

Electric Airsoft Gun Mechanism

Like I’ve mentioned, a typical electric airsoft works hand-in-hand with different forms of energy to function correctly. The correct arrangement of parts inside will simultaneously work to shoot out a BB from the nozzle once you pull that trigger.

Now you know the core parts of an electric airsoft gun; let’s dissect how it shoots a BB right from the moment we pull the trigger up to the BB coming out from the air nozzle.

The electric airsoft gun has a battery and a motor, which mainly connects to the bevel gear. Once the trigger has been pulled, it will signal the battery to provide power to the motor.

The motor will start the bevel gear, allowing it to move the spur gear and then the third gear – the sector gear. Once the sector gear starts moving, it will retract the piston from its cylinder to fully compress the spring.

While the sector gear pulls the piston, it also pulls the tappet plate alongside the piston, allowing a BB to be fed upwards into the air nozzle. The tappet return spring then places the tappet plate back to chamber the BB fully.

Once the sector gear finally releases the piston, the spring will shoot the piston back to its cylinder. The piston returning inside the cylinder will push pressurized air out of the air nozzle, which will lead to fully firing the BB out.

If we review the whole process, we can see where the change from electrical to mechanical energy led to pneumatic energy.

The trigger’s pull mainly sent electrical signals to the battery, causing the electrical energy change to mechanical energy. Due to the battery power, the motor started the movement of the gears and finally ended with pressurized air shooting the BB afar, which is the pneumatic energy.

Features of an Electric Airsoft Gun

  • Full and Semi-Automatic Mode: Like with regular guns, BBs will continually shoot out from the gun if your finger pulls the trigger down if you’re on full-automatic mode. Whereas for the semi-auto, it will only shoot one BB at a time.
  • Blowback and Non-Blowback Mode: The blowback is the more realistic approach to airsoft guns. They offer a decent amount of recoil in every pull of the trigger, adding a bit of realism to your experience. On the other hand, the non-blowback doesn’t have the same recoil, allowing the airsoft gun to use the air to the momentum instead of the recoil.
  • Single Action and Double Action Mode: Single action mode will have its user cock the hammer every time they take a shot. While in double-action mode, they only need to cock it once, and they’re good to go the whole round. The single-action mode needs to be cocked every time because the hammer goes down in every shot.
  • Hop-Up Feature: It allows the gun to increase its range by putting a backspin to the BBs itself. It happens when the BB comes in contact with the silicon bucking inside the barrel, thus reducing the air pressure on the top side of the BB, leading to a more extended range overall.

Full automation is only available if you own an electric airsoft gun or a gas-powered gun. So getting an electric one is a clear choice if you’re looking for a full-auto feature, but it will still fully depend on your preference.

If you plan to buy your first electric airsoft gun, I recommend the Game Face GFAP 13 on It shoots 6 mm (0.23 in) bullets at 250 FPS through its barrel and has a durable gearbox powered by a rechargeable battery pack.

Purchasing this airsoft gun comes in a set, which includes a battery, charger, and 30 round magazine.

Typical Electric Airsoft Gun Parts

As we discussed the energy responsible for airsoft gun parts’ movements, we also need to understand the main components that make an airsoft gun. This section of the article will see the typical features inside once you decide to disassemble it.

  • Spur Gear: One of the mechanical parts of an airsoft gun. It mainly serves as a toothed component that transfers mechanical motion, speed, power, or torque. Inside the airsoft gun, it works closely with the bevel and sector gear.
  • Bevel Gear: Since it’s a cousin of the spur gear, it’s also responsible for transferring mechanical energy and such, but mainly on an intersecting shaft.
  • Sector Gear: Sector gear helps transfer mechanical energy coming from the spur gear going to the piston itself.
  • Anti Reversal Latch: This is a blockage for the bevel gear to ensure that the gears won’t reverse during the process.
  • Spring Guide: It mainly makes sure the spring itself is aligned accordingly.
  • Spring: Once the Spur gear transfers the energy to the piston, the piston will slowly compress the spring back.
  • Piston: It’s responsible for creating that pneumatic energy due to the compressed air it will push toward the BB or pellet.
  • Cylinder: It works closely with the piston. Like cars, they are the main component responsible for the pressurized air the airsoft gun is producing.
  • Cylinder Head: An essential part of the cylinder. It serves its purpose by being the correct passage of air for the cylinder.
  • Tappet Return Spring: From the word itself, return spring. Once the tappet plate gets dragged along with the spring and piston, this return spring will help retract the tappet plate back into place.
  • Tappet Plate: A BB will be fed in the air nozzle once the sector gear drags the tappet plate.
  • Wire to Battery Connector: If you don’t have this, nothing will power your airsoft gun. It mainly transfers the energy from the battery to the motor itself.
  • Switch Assembly: It serves as the mainboard for the airsoft’s switch.
  • Trigger: This component speaks for itself. Once you pull the trigger, this is where the whole process starts.
  • Motor with Pinion Gear Attached: From the battery to the motor then to gears. It mainly provides the energy for the said gears to work.

It’s not required to know every part or component of your airsoft gun. Still, it’s a great plus if you know your way around your weapon since you’ll not have a professional available to speak regarding your airsoft gun every time. It may take time to remember the core parts, but trust me, it’s worth the time, especially if you need to look for a specific part for your gun.

Difference Between Gas-Powered and Electric Airsoft

The main difference between the two is how they fire the BB out of the chamber. The gas-powered airsoft gun uses a compressed gas reservoir to shoot a BB out the nozzle entirely.

While on the other hand, the electric airsoft uses a battery to trigger the spring and piston in creating pressurized air for the BB. Though there are pros and cons for both sectors, it will still depend on your preference in which one you’ll be getting.

Pros and Cons of Using an Electric Airsoft Gun

Undoubtedly, an electric airsoft gun is a powerful choice against the others. However, there are also flaws in its design, which makes you want to rethink purchasing one. Knowing the pros and cons of an electric airsoft gun is essential to make sure you are aware of what you’ll be using.  


Being powered by an electric motor with a rechargeable battery makes it versatile for almost any condition. One selling point of having an electric airsoft gun gives you the advantage of charging and swapping batteries to continue firing.

Furthermore, using rechargeable battery packs is a lot more affordable compared to gas-powered airsoft guns. This is an important factor to take note of, especially if you are looking for a quality product at a lower price.

Interestingly, an electric airsoft gun is potentially capable of reaching more than 500 FPS. In addition, electric airsoft guns already come with a plethora of choices, so if you prefer a quick-firing rifle or downgrading to a pistol, an electric airsoft gun is the best choice.

Moreover, electric-powered airsoft guns are also often known for their tactical appearance. Its bulky design and sturdy looks make it more appealing to the masses. So if you are aiming for performance, cost, and style, purchasing an electric airsoft gun is an excellent choice.


Though the electric airsoft guns may seem the superior choice among the three, it still has its drawbacks when it comes to usage.

The main con of having an electric airsoft gun is you won’t be able to use it in wet conditions. Since the electric airsoft gun is powered by a battery pack and is built with electrical wirings, it is prone to having problems when it gets damp.

One of the most common issues of electric airsoft guns is that they tend to lag when wet. If this happens, you’ll have short delays or won’t be able to shoot BBs, so it is not the best choice to use in wet fields.

Lastly, since an electric airsoft gun is powered with a battery pack, you’ll become powerless once your battery dies. A spare battery is often the solution to prevent such problems, but changing batteries in the airsoft field is risky and time-consuming.

Final Thoughts

Once you familiarize yourself with an electric airsoft gun’s main functions and parts, it can serve as an added skill for you to self-repair your own gear. However, if you don’t feel comfortable fixing or maybe simply taking it apart, it is best to consult a professional to avoid any mishaps with your gun.

Remember, even though it’s a replica of the actual thing, you still need to take full caution upon handling the gun. Getting to any gun-related accidents is the last thing you would want, even if you’re holding a replica.

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