Are Airsoft Guns Accurate?: A Guide to Accuracy and Range
"Are airsoft guns accurate?" is a fair question to ask before you spend your hard-earned money on a new airsoft gun. The answer to this question, however, is ultimately dependent on a number of factors.
If you are used to shooting real-steel firearms, you are probably going to find that airsoft guns are not quite as accurate as the real thing. It simply isn't feasible to compare the accuracy of a lead round traveling at thousands of feet per second to that of a plastic BB traveling at a fraction of those speeds. With that said, though, it is certainly possible to achieve a high degree of range and accuracy with a quality airsoft gun or proper upgrade parts. In this article, we'll address the question of how accurate are airsoft guns based on a variety of different factors in addition to exploring how to make an airsoft gun more accurate.
What Factors Determine Accuracy?
"Are airsoft guns accurate?" is a question that can only be answered by taking into account the six different factors that can influence airsoft accuracy: range, inner barrel, BBs, hop-up, buckling, and gun quality. Let's take a look at each one to determine the ideal formula for an airsoft gun that is as accurate as possible.
The first and most obvious factor impacting the accuracy of an airsoft gun is going to be the range at which you are firing. Like anything else that fires a projectile, airsoft guns are going to be much more accurate at close range than they are at longer ranges. The maximum effective range of even the best airsoft guns is around 100 meters (328ft). However, you'll need to purchase a high-quality sniper rifle to have any chance of maintaining accuracy at this range. Electric airsoft guns (AEG) both rifles and SMGs will have a maximum effective range closer to 50 meters, while the maximum effective range of most airsoft pistols will be even shorter. Thankfully, many airsoft fields are designed with these ranges in mind and are laid out in a way to encourage engagements within the effective ranges of the guns that most players will be using.
Airsoft guns come equipped with two different barrels - a thin, inner barrel that the BB actually travels down and a thicker, outer barrel that is there for aesthetic purposes. When it comes to airsoft accuracy, the quality of the gun's inner barrel is an incredibly important factor.
When your gun is brand new, you may not notice much difference between a cheaper, brass barrel and a high-quality steel barrel. Over time, though, cheaper brass barrels can oxidize and experience small deformities that will negatively impact the gun's accuracy. Steel barrels, on the other, hand are more durable and will maintain a perfectly smooth and polished surface for much longer. There are several manufacturers that make good inner barrels but two stand out amongst the rest, Prometheus from Japan and Maple Leaf from Taiwan. Both brands create exceptionally well made inner barrels that help you achieve high degrees of accuracy. These inner barrels are designed to work with airsoft guns that range all the way from pistols to sniper rifles!
In addition to the material that the gun's inner barrel is made of, another factor that can impact the accuracy of an airsoft gun's inner barrel is how well it is attached to the outer barrel. If the inner barrel is not properly secured, it may vibrate when a BB is fired and thus reduce the gun's accuracy.
Not all airsoft BBs are created equally, and the type of BB matters quite a lot when it comes to optimizing your gun's range and accuracy. While round projectiles are not known for being the most aerodynamic projectiles in the world, a projectile that is perfectly round is going to fly much truer than a projectile isn't a perfect sphere. High-quality airsoft BBs are constructed using a more precise molding process, leading to BBs that are more perfectly spherical - and thus more accurate - than cheaper alternatives.
Weight is another important factor to consider when choosing airsoft BBs. Heavier BBs will typically be more accurate than lighter BBs so long as the gun you are using is designed to accommodate them. However, this isn't always true, and it's a good idea to test out several different BB brands and weights in order to find the combination that works best for your specific gun.
The hop-up is an assembly of components found in almost every airsoft gun and is the assembly of components that the BB travels through before reaching the inner barrel. When the trigger is pulled and a new BB is cycled, a blast of high-pressure air pushes the BB into the gun's hop-up chamber and ultimately out its inner barrel. It is important for the gun's hop-up to feature a high-quality seal that will prevent any compressed air from leaking out when the gun is fired. If air is allowed to leak out of the hop-up when the gun is fired, the BB won't have as much energy behind it as it should and will therefore be less accurate. It is also essential for the gun's hop-up to include high-quality bucking, the importance of which we will discuss further in the next section. Learn more about hop-ups by checking out our article we wrote on it!
One of the most vital components in an airsoft hop-up assembly is the bucking - a rubber or silicon cylinder that features a nub that is designed to impart backspin on the BB before it exits the barrel. If you've ever thrown a football or a baseball, you'll know that spinning projectiles are much more accurate than projectiles that do not spin. This is why real-steel rifles and handguns feature rifled barrels that impart spin on the round as it travels through the barrel. For airsoft guns, the bucking found in the gun's hop-up is the equivalent to a rifled barrel.
However, low-quality buckings can wear down over time, leading to inconsistent spin on the BBs and a gun that is less accurate. In addition to choosing a high-quality bucking that won't wear down, it's also important to consider the hardness of the bucking in your gun's hop-up. Harder buckings made from more rigid materials are better suited for high FPS guns such as DMRs and sniper rifles. However, softer buckings tend to work better for guns that shoot under 400 FPS. Soft buckings are also recommended for airsoft players that live in colder climates since soft buckings will retain their properties better in freezing weather than hard buckings.
Gun quality is somewhat of a broad-ranging and difficult to define factor, but it's also one that can certainly influence how far airsoft guns shoot. Usually High-quality airsoft guns will typically feature higher-quality components such as steel inner barrels, tightly-sealed hop-ups, and durable, precise bucking. High-end airsoft guns are also more likely to accommodate heavier BBs that will improve the range and accuracy of your gun. Lastly, more expensive airsoft guns tend to fire BBs at a higher FPS - and the more energy there is behind a BB, the more accurate it is going to be at longer ranges. Of course this is not always the case as different manufacturers prioritize different aspects of their products when pricing their guns.
However, the old adage that you get what you pay for certainly applies to airsoft guns, and one of the things you are paying for when you purchase a high-quality airsoft gun compared to a budget model is improved accuracy and range. If you want the most accurate airsoft gun possible, you'll probably need to be prepared to splurge a little on a high-end model.
How to Improve Accuracy
In addition to choosing a high-quality airsoft gun that is equipped with the right components and BBs, there are several other steps you can take to improve the range and accuracy of your airsoft gun.
Equipping your gun with a quality scope or other optic is one great way to boost your accuracy. If you are struggling to use the iron sights on your gun accurately at longer ranges, try using a scope instead.
It is also essential to perform regular maintenance on your airsoft gun in order to optimize its accuracy throughout its lifecycle. From the bucking to the hop-up to the inner barrel, there are a number of components inside an airsoft gun that will negatively impact the gun's accuracy if they become damaged or wear down. With regular maintenance, though, you can keep these components performing properly for as long as possible.
The final step to improving the accuracy of your airsoft gun is regular practice. Many times, inaccuracy is just as much due to user error as it is the gun itself. By practicing with your airsoft gun as often as you can, though, you can familiarize yourself with how it performs at various ranges and ensure that the maximum limitations of the gun you are using are the only thing that limits your accuracy on the airsoft field.