What is an airsoft battery?

Finally, your new airsoft gun arrives on your front porch, and you're all excited to try it, but likely it doesn't take standard AA batteries. Most Electric Airsoft guns require high-power rechargeable batteries, and you also need a battery charger to juice it up. The most popular Airsoft batteries are Lithium Polymer (LiPo) and Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion). But do you know how long to charge an Airsoft battery? Not all battery chargers are intelligent and know when to stop charging. Will I fry the battery, or worse yet, burn down the house? Read on as we give you a quick crash course on airsoft batteries and how to charge them.

Electric Airsoft Guns (AEG) need rechargeable batteries to operate
Modern Day aeg, The SIG AIR MCX VIRTUS SBR.

Most automatic electric guns (AEG) these days do not come with a battery or charger, so it's a good idea to do some research before swiping that card. Depending on which AEG you buy, the connector type is different from brand to brand too. There are several different kinds of connector plug types, so keep in mind which one your gun uses when purchasing a battery. To save from buying all kinds of different batteries, you should consider standardizing on one plug type across all your AEGs so that your batteries are cross-compatible on all your Airsoft guns.

Mini Tamiya connector commonly found in R/C cars
Mini Tamiya Connector.

Most standard AEGs come with a standard plastic semi-translucent connector plug known as mini-Tamiya. This plug type is very popular in R/C cars and planes. The benefit of using this type of plug is that they have a locking mechanism that prevents accidental disconnection. This connector physically isolates the positive and negative wires, which means it's safer to use in damp environments. Safe for use in relatively low-current applications (up to about 15 A), the design provides safety and is fool-proof. If you like crawling around in the dirt or going prone, then the mud or water shouldn't be able to penetrate this connector.

Traditional Tamiya plug connector
This is NOT a Mini Tamiya Connector! Its a Tamiya connector.

The issue with these connectors is that the area of contact is small. Thus it can cause issues with the current flow, slightly decreasing your trigger response! Since they are made from softer nylon-based plastic, they can break quite easily and not as durable as deans. Tamiya plugs are also bulky compared to deans plugs, which we will talk more about below. But Tamiya plugs are still popular in Japan, and hence Japanese made Airsoft guns will usually come with them.

Deans plugs are sometimes called T-plugs are the preferred choice for serious players
Deans connector.

Moving on to the other type of connector are Deans. The connectors are based on big metal pieces shaped in the letter ‘T’, which lock into each other when connected. This provides a huge area of contact, which results in a higher flow of electrical current to the motor. Say hello to a higher fire rate and consistent electricity flow! They last longer than mini Tamiya as its constructed out of better materials. Slowly being phased out, Mini Tamiya is replaced by Deans.

Are Deans connectors worth it though? – Yes!

In the airsoft community, one of the most common questions regarding airsoft batteries is “How long do I charge my battery for?”. Every battery is different, so there are no set rules on how long to charge it for.

We at Redwolf Airsoft have all kinds of batteries available, not confuse you we will stick to the ones we offer. If you own an RC model then you may notice they use very similar batteries. In fact, they are the same batteries!

What is the purpose of an airsoft battery?

Think of your aeg as an electronic device, mobile phone, shaver, wireless headsets, etc. They are all powered by one thing, a battery. This brings life into the products we use on a daily basis which applies to an aeg too. Without it, your aeg is as good as a mantlepiece in your home.

Known as mAh, or milliamp Hour, this is the number of energy batteries can store. Commonly used to measure the energy capacity of a battery, it's a unit that measures (electric) power over time. In general, the more mAh there is, the longer the battery life which means more pew. 

Let there be life!

So does this mean you'd want to find the one with the most capacity? Yes, but you have to make sure it can fit into your aeg! In most cases the more mAh, the bigger size of the battery. A good rule of thumb is to stick to something around 1500 mAh as they will most likely last a full day and fit most regular stocks. Just keep in mind if you're trigger happy and enjoy beams of BBs at full auto then it may not last an entire day. We recommend a back-up battery just in case; there’s nothing worse than running out of power during the final moments of a game and without a spare in sight! 

Different kinds of airsoft batteries?

Nickel-metal hydride (NiMh), lithium-ion polymer (LiPo), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), and alkaline are the four types of batteries used in an aeg. Barely anyone uses NiCad or alkaline anymore as they are not as efficient or cost-effective. 

With so many different types of batteries and a choice of plug types, deciding the right battery can be daunting
Where do I start?

NiMH batteries are like your everyday rechargeable AA batteries, common, very safe, withstand cold weather, and hold charge well which can last for one to two years even when charged often. In recent years the trend in this type is transitioning away to current generation batteries which are similar to tablets or mobile phones (LiPo). NiMH batteries will self-discharge when left alone, especially in a warm environment. To squeeze more life out, it shouldn’t be fully depleted every game, though once in a while discharged fully.

Using a fast charger will likely heat it up before fully charged, unfortunately, they cant be quickly charged. A slow charge is much safer and healthier for these types.

They also discharge much faster than any other when left standing, in high discharge applications it can’t reach their full potential. Charging them with more than 1.5 amps or quick discharges will damage the battery.     

You may have heard the term “Memory Effect”, older generation batteries had problems as they memorized when it was discharged to a certain point repeatedly, causing a reduction in capacity. Fear not as current NiMH batteries on the market will not do that! It will come back to its full capacity after each and every charge. When overcharged it can be brought back to life by safely discharging, that's why it's preferred by many airsofters for its sheer reliability.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Commonly used in many aeg airsoft guns
  • Withstand cold weather
  • Longer lifespan

Cons

  • Slow charge
  • Discharge at a higher rate than other types
  • Slowly phasing out of the market
  • Lower energy capacity

Holding way more charge and last longer compared to NiMH batteries, LiPo batteries are the most advanced battery on the market. Used practically everywhere including your mobile phone or tablet these are current gen of batteries. They come in two voltages, 7.2v or 11.2v perfect for an upgraded aeg that has a high rate of fire. If overcharged they can explode and cause chemical burns, fires, or even death in some cases. With an average price tag of $63 or more for just the battery and another $54 for the charger, it can be expensive. A lot of fraudulent sellers out there that label incorrectly rated batteries that make them even more dangerous. So rest assured as we only sell quality, safe batteries, and chargers.

Unlike the NiMH battery type, there are no methods for an optimal and healthy life of the LiPo battery, just make sure to never let it fully discharge. So as soon as your aeg starts to slow down and the gears turn slower with each shot, return to the safe zone and pop some new ones in.

Pros

  • Unaffected by hot/cold
  • Commonly used in many aeg airsoft guns
  • Supports fast charge
  • Lighter than NiMH

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Dangerous if overcharged
  • Fragile
  • Require specific charger

You may have heard of nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries, they are similar to the NiMh batteries but bulkier, heavier, and cant handle extreme temperatures well. What's impressive about these is that they are able to quick charge and discharge with almost no damage done to the cells, perfect for guns that draw large energy and high rates of fire! Overcharging it can cause battery cells to split, leak, and even cause a fire so they should never be left alone even with a smart charger.

Traditional NiCD battery is heavy and bulky, and are obsolete
Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad)

The OG of batteries, alkaline. You won't see this in airsoft these days because they cannot take the energy consumption from an aeg nor provide a high rate of fire. If stored in a room temperature (70F), or colder environment they can last years before losing even a sliver of a charge! Being very common this makes them way more affordable compared to NiMh or LiPo. Due to the chemical property, they can't be recharged numerous times and can't take the high voltage pull that aeg requires. Your pew time would be cut short as they barely have the capacity! 

Pros

  • Undamaged cells via charging/discharge
  • Lowest charging time out of all other types

Cons

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Prone to temperature changes hot/cold
  • Outdated
  • Only recharge when empty
Some Airsoft Electric Blowback Pistols and BOYS Series rifles use regular AA and AAA batteries.
Variety Of Alkaline Batteries.

Pros

  • Common
  • Hold charge for a long time

Cons

  • Limited capacity
  • Limited aeg support
  • Weak output
  • Cannot recharge

To find out which battery voltage is best suited, be sure to check out the replica’s manual. The majority of aeg rifles that can run a 7.4V LiPo will be able to run either of the NiMHs; the reason being, a 7.4V LiPo is more powerful than a 9.6B NiMH. Do keep in mind only the expensive replicas or upgraded ones with better motors and gearboxes are able to run 11.1V LiPo batteries due to their immense power.

You may have heard of C rating, it's usually displayed next to the voltage number on a battery typically shown as 10c to 25c. How much power is discharged from the battery is all it means.

Titan Power Nunchuck Deans Battery And Smart Charger.

Basically, the higher that number is, means more burst of power the battery sends to the motor. The gears spin faster, thus providing a higher fire rate and trigger response. However, this will result in the battery running out of charge quicker. So in the end it's a balance of looking for lifetime and performance. The majority of aeg out there are not able to handle anything more than 15c, so be sure to check the replica manual first!

Lithium Ion batteries from Titan are popular for their stable performance and safety
Brick – Shaped like a flat/round rectangle, it's commonly used for compact guns. 

The battery connector is usually located in the buffer tube, inside the handguard, or even outside the handguard. So best ask around or visually inspect the replica to identify the battery space and which one will fit. As there are many different appearances and styles of batteries around. Choosing the right battery that's able to run it and fit in is essential, as most airsoft aeg have limited battery space. 

Nunchuck batteries are named aptly by their appearance and are designed for small handguards and crane stocks.
Nunchuck – Designed to fit in two small tubes in the stock. 
Crane battery
Crane – Similar to the nunchuck, except it’s attached to two or three tubes of batteries.
Stick type battery - usually suited to go into stock tubes or narrow handguards
Stick  – Batteries lined up looking like a stick, always comes as a single tub.
These large NiCD or NiMH batteries are a bit outdated but some people still use them
Large – Almost like the stick but lined up side by side and not as long.
This is a small size NiCD or NiMH battery which is a bit outdated nowadays
Mini – This is a flat battery, smaller than the larger cousin. 
This LiPo battery is small enough to store inside a PEQ box - for guns that do not have a battery compartment
PEQ – These type are stored in a battery pack and can be concealed in a PEQ box

How long to charge the airsoft battery?

Worried you’ll set your house on fire? Blowing yourself up with a battery? We will guide you through how to safely charge and handle your batteries! But first things first we recommend using a smart charger if possible, as it takes a lot of hassle and danger out of the equation. Don't have one? We have a secret method to find out if your battery is fully charged and how long it should be charged.

Don’t use an extension cord or a power strip if possible, this may be obvious but be sure the charger is plugged directly into the wall. If the power strip doesn't have a built-in surge protector, a surge can potentially destroy the battery. Being safe is important!

If you charge your batteries properly, this won't be you.
The fear of setting the house on fire.

How long to charge your airsoft battery depends on how many mAh it has. Of course, a 1400mAh will charge much faster than a battery with 2800mAh. Take a look at your charger, you will notice some information on the sticker. There should be an output rating on that sticker, something along the lines of  “OUTPUT: DC 8.4v 300mA'' which varies from brand to brand. The 300mAh means how much charge per hour so if you have a 3000mAh battery and a 300mAh charger, it's simple mathematics from this point.

Battery Capacity (mAh) ÷ Output from charger = Hours 

3000 ÷ 300 = 10

It was that easy to calculate?

It’ll take ten hours to charge this completely dead/new battery to its full capacity. Simply just divide the mAh from the charger to the mAh of the battery! It can be left and claimed later but do keep an eye on it from time to time. This is a quick way to find out, but be aware this isn't accurate since the battery might not be completely empty before charging.  The temperature is also another factor that can affect how long a battery would take to charge. Using this formula is easy, but if you arent there whilst it's charging or make the wrong calculations, there's a chance the battery could get damaged.

How Do I Know The Battery Is Full?

How do we know if the battery is fully charged without a smart charger or voltmeter? Simple! Just touch the battery from time to time to check its temperature. Most likely fully charged if it's warm, not lukewarm! Though if it's hot to the touch then you may have damaged the battery, which isn't good for your skin or battery. A stove that's left on is similar to your battery being charged. Chances are chaos will be waiting for your return if it's left unattended whilst you away. So please guys if you do charge it like this, we ask you to watch over it like a baby! 

Sensing the temperature of the battery is one unscientific yet effective way to see if the battery is charging.
Secret method? It works but not 100% foolproof!

Never ever rely on this method 100 percent of the time, we know it's a lame technique but effective to check if the battery is charged. It’s not foolproof and in some freak situations, it may not work at all. If you plan on getting serious into airsoft, we recommend a smart charger should be the first major investment to your ever-growing collection of airsoft gear.

How to know when the airsoft battery is charged? The best and safest way to know when the airsoft battery is fully is using a smart charger. But keep in mind that do not try to charge 2 battery packs at the same time unless the charger can support it. If the battery charger has more than 1 input, you should charge one at a time or you might damage the charger. Don't skimp out on a charger, as the cheaper ones provide constant charge even when the battery is full! 

Be careful not to puncture batteries as they may catch fire or explode
It's going to blow!

Here are a few things to take note of to protect you and others around in case something goes wrong. As using the wrong charger or wrong battery things can go south very fast so be careful if it's your first time charging airsoft batteries. If your battery dies, remember to find a place to recycle them. This will prevent any harm done to kids or animals!

  • Never attempt to charge a non-rechargeable battery, the label on the sticker usually states what type it is.
  • Be sure to use the correct charger: look at what type of battery it is and what type of charger. 
  • If there's a hole in the battery or burn marks, dispose of them safely as they are faulty or damaged
  • Swollen up or fat batteries. This is the end of the line for the battery, get rid of it immediately.
Swollen or fat batteries are damaged and cannot be used again
If its swollen up like this, get rid of it fast!

If you plan on not using the airsoft batteries for several months (such as winter), it can ruin their lifespan. With some TLC, it'll be kept for many years. Batteries naturally gradually discharge themselves if they are not in use for a long time. Especially if you leave the battery connected in your airsoft gun when not in use, this can drain them much faster. There's a chance small electronic parts could corrode which results in permanent damage if unused daily. Not only that but if someone doesn't know there's a battery inside they might shoot someone by accident or break something. To be sure it works next time it's out, fully charge the battery and left in an environment where the temperature is stable.

We hope this gives you a deep insight into how to charge an airsoft battery and wisdom about how they work. To find out more and learn more variety of batteries and chargers we have available.