Automatic airsoft guns are intriguing pieces of equipment. They fire BBs consistently as long as you have your hand on the trigger, helping you subdue opponents quickly. How do they work?
Fully automatic airsoft guns work by the contacts of the gun staying engaged with the motor after the pull of a trigger. The engaged motor continues to force compression for as long as the trigger is engaged. Fully automatic airsoft guns are gas or electric powered because the motor needs power.
The rest of the article will cover how the two main types of fully automatic airsoft guns work. We’ll also cover maintenance tips to keep in mind if you own one of these.
The Core Concept of Airsoft Guns
To understand how fully automatic airsoft guns work, you need to first grasp how the guns work in general. The various airsoft guns have slightly varied mechanisms, but the core concept is the same.
They use compressed air to fire plastic 6 mm (0.6 cm) BBs and are replicas of real guns that are mostly designed for target practice, military simulation, and leisurely shooting games.
The method of compression used varies across the main types of airsoft guns which are:
- Electric-powered airsoft guns
- Spring-powered airsoft guns
- Gas-powered airsoft guns
The overall design of these types of airsoft guns means that only electric-powered airsoft guns and gas-powered airsoft guns can be fully automatic.
Did you know that full auto is not allowed at some games? Here you can find out why.
How Electric Powered Airsoft Guns Work
Also known as Automatic Electric Guns (AEGs), electric-powered airsoft guns feature batteries. Their overall design means that they are typically the most realistic-looking airsoft guns.
It’s why they are also popular amongst expert airsoft enthusiasts.
The guns have fully automatic modes, but some of the popular designs also have a semi-auto mode. Since these guns are battery-powered, you need to have spares on hand during gaming sessions.
Electric-powered airsoft guns feature a motor that has three plastic gear sprockets inside, which is connected to the battery. When the gun is cocked, the plastic sprockets compress the bolt, pushing it directly onto the spring.
The bolt is fully compressed against the spring by the time you pull the trigger.
So, the trigger transmits a signal to the plastic gears, which initiates a knock-on effect that pushes the spring and the bolt forward very rapidly.
During this process, air accumulates between the bolt of the gun and the projectile. The accumulated air leads to a strong pressure behind the projectile as soon as the bolt is released, which forces the projectile out of the barrel and towards the intended target. In fully automatic modes, the mechanism is modified to keep the motor running for as long as the trigger is compressed.
So, the bolt remains fully compressed against the spring to maintain the air pressure required to continually release BBs.
How Gas Powered Airsoft Guns Work
Gas-powered airsoft guns rely on a spring mechanism to work.
They feature gas tanks that provide the momentum a projectile needs to power through the gun barrel. The guns come with cartridges that hold the gas instead of batteries inside, which can be propane (green or black gas) and CO2 (red gas).
The gases can be used interchangeably across the guns, but some designs are only modified to work with a specific gas. Read through the manual before you buy a gas cartridge for your gun.
You may also find a sample cartridge in the box when you buy a new gun. It’s best to only buy replacement gas of the same type to ensure smooth operation for your gun each time.
The gas cartridges fit into the magazine section of the gun. The core concept of the design is the cartridge will release a specific amount of compressed CO2 every time the trigger is pulled. The gas will provide momentum to the BB, pushing it towards the target.
When you pull the trigger of a gas-powered airsoft gun, the gun’s pressure nozzle forces compressed gas to be released from the gas cartridge.
The BB pellets are also released into the barrel of the gun and into the air by that mechanism.
In automatic gas-powered airsoft guns, the mechanism features a motor that ensures a continuous release of air from the cartridge for as long as the trigger is under pressure.
The Difference Between Automatic and Semi-Automatic Airsoft Guns
Fully automatic guns continue to fire BBs until you release the trigger, while semi-automatic models only shoot one BB for every trigger pull. So, the design of the semi-automatic airsoft guns features the vanilla mechanism.
The gun contacts don’t get engaged with the motor after pulling the trigger, making them the opposite of fully automatic airsoft guns. With a semi-automatic airsoft gun, you have to squeeze the trigger ten times if you want to fire ten BBs, while you only need to hold down the trigger on an automatic gun for the same results.
Feature Options on an Automatic Airsoft Gun and How They Work
There are many feature options to choose from when selecting an automatic airsoft gun. Each of these features adds a distinctive twist to the overall airsoft experience.
Let’s take a look at these distinctive features.
Blowback or Non-Blowback Feature
The blowback feature gives the gun a more realistic feel because it delivers recoil with each BB shot. Airsoft guns that are blowback enabled are designed to align with the Newton Third Law of Motion (action and reaction).
The design uses some part of the compressed air to achieve these results.
In non-blowback airsoft guns, you won’t feel any recoil as you fire off pellets. Of course, it looks less realistic and breaks a few laws in physics. However, such guns have their advantages.
Most leisurely airsoft players don’t care about recoil or having the exact real-life gun experience. They just want to shoot and have fun. Also, most non-blowback automatic airsoft guns deliver better performance overall because all the compressed air delivers momentum to the projectile.
Remember, part of the compressed air force goes towards delivering the recoil effect.
You should also keep in mind that guns featuring the blowback feature are typically more expensive due to the additional moving parts and the increased complexity of the guns. Non-blowback options are therefore easy to use and maintain, and they run a lot more quietly overall.
A blowback gun makes noise, albeit a small one, due to the recoil mechanism.
Choosing one side of the divide comes down to unique preferences. If you prioritize effectiveness, an automatic airsoft gun without the blowback feature is the better option to go with.
However, if you want an experience that’s as close to the real thing as possible, you’d love the fanciness of guns with the blowback feature enabled.
Double or Single Action Feature
In automatic airsoft rifles with the single action feature, you have to cock the hammer each time you pull the trigger for a shot. On the other hand, you’ll only have to cock the hammer once in those with the double action feature.
In single-action rifles, the hammer drops after every shot, so you have to cock the gun again each time you want to shoot. The hammer stays in place in double-action rifles, so you won’t have to cock it again before a shot.
You should carefully consider your options here because having to cock the hammer each time you release the trigger can affect your speed and general efficacy. Guns with the double-action feature complete shots faster compared to single-action ones.
However, the trigger pull is longer here.
Single action guns have the shorter pull, but that’s an advantage canceled out by the longer time between consecutive shots.
The Hop-Up Feature
In guns with the hop-up feature, the projectiles are impacted with a backspin, increasing their range overall. The core concept at work here is the Magnus effect. The silicon bucking embedded inside the gun barrel delivers a backspin to the BB when they both come in contact.
The contact reduces the air pressure on the top side of the BB, increasing the range of the plastic projectile without changing the overall velocity.
The BB can increase its range because, after the backspin, the BB starts to push air downwards and towards the rear, which delivers the lift and increases the range overall. Competitive shooters choose guns with the hop-up feature because it increases the probability of hitting a target.
How To Maintain Your Automatic Airsoft Gun
You need to regularly maintain your automatic airsoft gun to ensure optimum performance at all times. Let’s take a look at some of the things to keep in mind.
Maintain the Power Source
The power source of your airsoft gun is as important as the gun’s inner mechanism. Keeping it properly maintained is vital if you want to enjoy hitch-free sessions. Here’s what to do for the two main power sources for automatic airsoft guns.
Gas Powered Automatic Airsoft Guns
If you have a gas-powered airsoft gun, you need to maintain airflow efficiency. Check the seals safely to ensure there are no leaks. Places to look include the space between the nozzle and the router, as well as the space between the hop-up chamber and the loading nozzle.
Leaks typically occur around those areas.
A good tip for avoiding leaks is to avoid expelling gas from the gun through the release valve. The gun’s O-ring will likely freeze and become brittle if you do this frequently. To appropriately release gas from the gun, squeeze the trigger a few times without BBs loaded and allow any remnant gas to dissipate naturally in storage.
Electric-Powered Automatic Airsoft Guns
The most important maintenance tip to keep in mind with battery-powered automatic airsoft guns is to make sure you’re using batteries that are the correct voltage. Using the wrong voltage will reduce the overall power of the gun and will also wear down parts quickly.
You should also keep your batteries charged at all times.
Change Worn Out Parts Frequently
It’s important to find time to disassemble your gun occasionally to check the working parts. If any aspects have failed, you’re likely to notice when next you try to use the gun. However, you can still pre-emptively change parts that look out of place or slowly worn out.
The main culprits typically include barrels, gearboxes, trigger mechanisms, and hammers. When changing the parts, only go with options that match the specifications in your user manual.
Lubricate the Gun Regularly
All kinds of airsoft guns, including automatic variants, have to be lubricated regularly. The lubrication frequency will come down to how often you use the gun. You also need to lubricate the gun immediately after you start to feel some friction in the gun’s core mechanism.
To lubricate the gun, here’s what you should do:
- Remove the magazine.
- Point the gun upwards and away from your face.
- Apply a spray of silicone oil to the gun’s hop-up.
- Hold the gun in the upwards-facing position for a few minutes.
- Turn it back up and load it.
You also need to lubricate the gearbox occasionally. To do this, remove the motor from the gun and then spray some silicone oil into it through the hole around the bottom part.
Hold the gearbox upside down for a few minutes to allow the oil to seep into the compartment before coupling it all up. Flex the trigger for a few minutes before loading the gun with BB pellets.
The trigger mechanism will push more silicone oil deeper into the parts of the motor.
Automatic airsoft guns provide thousands of players worldwide with incredible fun while helping them develop their shooting skills. They work by using a motor to maintain constant air pressure to release pellets for as long as you have a finger on the trigger.
Understanding how the guns work can help you choose the perfect design for your unique needs. It will also help you better handle the maintenance process and ensure your gun will last long. Don’t hesitate to decouple your gun to take a closer look at the inner workings!