Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few things that we are asked on a regular basis, so here we aim to provide a fairly comprehensive one-stop-shop for all of the things new and experienced Airsofters might like to know.
Drop us a line with any questions at all and we'll add them to this list for future reference.
Please note, this is a work in progress.
1. What is the best gun for ‘x’ amount of money?
This is a very interesting question and one that changes many times each year with the release of new platforms by established manufacturers and the emergence of new players on the scene wishing to make a splash.
There are many aegs that offer superb value for money in an all around package but for the sake of brevity, I shall initially restrict the answer to the Armalite platform as this is the most popular but will expand this over time.
The specific answer to the question must be narrowed down to enable an single answer. There are many different reasons to buy any given aeg over all the others so I shall define some categories first.
1) Best all around gun on a shoe-string ie. <£150
The Cyma AK series and G&G Combat Machine series are excellent choices for beginners or those on a tight budget
2) Best all around gun for a medium budget ie. <£300
My personal favourite here would be the WE M4 aeg
3) Best all around gun with no budget restrictions
When money isn’t a problem, you don’t have to worry about the internals so choose the platform with the best bodywork and go from there.
Real Sword, Inokatsu, VFC, G&P, LCT, E&L or even a ground-up build are excellent choices here.
My favourite bodywork is made by Madbull, with the JP Rifles Competition receiver set and OmegaX RIS topping that list.
2. What are the best upgrades for ‘x’ amount of money?
I’ll answer this one by going into the most popular upgrades and upgrade packages that I do on the guns I work on. I’ll assume that the usual tuning has already been done or will be done so I can focus on actual parts; so before any of these recommendations would come: Cleaning, Shimming and Regreasing.
Probably the best upgrade for any given aeg, is a Sorbothane Pad.
It has a number of benefits while keeping it’s price very low and is probably the best value for money upgrade out there, at £5.
It corrects the Angle of Engagement, quietens the sound of the piston hitting the cylinder head and absorbs a large portion of the shock of that impact - which in turn greatly lessens the likelihood of the shell cracking.
The next upgrades on my list are usually recommended together as they compliment each other wonderfully. Again, virtually every aeg on the market can benefit from this selection:
Simple MOSFET with Genuine Deans Ultra Connector
High Torque Neo Magnet Motor
The MOSFET protects the trigger contacts from degradation due to electrical arcing and has a lower electrical resistance than the mechanical trigger so you’ll also see a slight rise in RoF and trigger response.
The ones I use also come with a high quality wiring loom, which will further amplify the above benefits. If you finish that off with a Genuine Deans Ultra connector, you’ll have removed all of the most common electrical bottlenecks which will allow the system to operate as efficiently as it can.
A good quality, High Torque Neodymium Magnet Motor will spin up and stop faster than any other motor. They have a much wider efficiency band so they can pull a much larger load before starting to struggle.
This makes them ideally suited for all forms of high performance upgrades, be they high speed, high response or high power.
An R-Hop is the first upgrade to be considered when range, accuracy and consistency are required.
After the Sorbothane Pad, this is my most popular upgrade with slightly over two thirds of all builds having one installed.
These three upgrades, along with a Service to cover the Sorbo Pad and general tuning, are what I call a mid-range upgrade package.
Virtually every aeg released to date would benefit from this selection.
3. What is an R-Hop?
The R-Hop is the true next-generation hop-up system.
It is a concave, rubber-compound patch that is installed in the hop window of an inner barrel.
There are surrounding modifications to the barrel, hop rubber and chamber which are required to give optimal performance.
When installed correctly it provides a much longer contact area to impart backspin on the bb.
It is capable of applying more backspin in an even manner. This results in a much greater amount of potential backspin which in turn allows you to effectively use much heavier ammo.
Due to the law of the conservation of momentum, the heavier ammo - if an equivalent amount of backspin can be applied - will travel further than lighter ammo in almost every build.
The R-Hop matches the shape of the inner barrel so the BB is held in the center of the barrel instead of slightly to one side.
The end result is a system that can float bbs to much greater ranges with much greater accuracy and consistency than traditional hop systems are able to.
Contrary to popular accounts, the R-Hop is fully adjustable once installed however care should be taken when adjusting the system as it is possible to apply too much hop and jam the ammo in the chamber.
This can be prevented from happening during the installation stage by using a smaller buffer to apply the pressure but it may limit the maximum usable weight of ammo.
4. What is the best ‘tightbore’ barrel?
5. What barrel length should I use to gain maximum range and accuracy?
6. How do I stop gas mags leaking?
7. Do airsoft suppressors actually work?
Have someone clap next to your ear.
Now cover your ear with a towel and have them clap again.
Notice the difference in sound.
This is exactly how airsoft suppressors work, they slow down and absorb the sound waves that are created by the compressed air quickly escaping from behind the BB once it leaves the barrel.
Matching the volume of air to the exact weight of ammo and barrel length used can also negate this sound but that’s much harder.
An airsoft suppressor does nothing to mask the sound of the gearbox, good tuning and component choice are your friends there.
8. What is a MOSFET, why do I need one and what are the different types?
9. What are all the parts in a gearbox called and what do they all do?
Trigger & Spring
Spring Guide & Bearing
Tappet Plate & Spring
Cutoff Lever & Spring
Anti Reversal Latch
Motor & Pinion Gear
10. What is AoE?
AoE stands for Angle of Engagement.
It refers to the angle at which the first tooth of sector gear meets with the first tooth of the piston.
The first teeth of the gear and piston are generally referred to as the ‘Pickup’ teeth.
The AoE is usually adjusted to prolong the life of both components.
This is because the position of the meeting of teeth, or ‘Pickup position’ is generally not optimal.
In most stock gearboxes, the pickup teeth meet at an angle where the edge of the sector pickup tooth meets the edge of the piston pickup tooth.
This concentrates all of the stress to a single point, multiplying the stress and therefore the chance of failure.
In a stock gearbox, for example a Tokyo Marui, running on an average battery (9.6v NiMH 1400mAh) this is not much of an issue as the stresses are fairly low.
Once you start upgrading the gearbox to extract higher levels of performance, the chances of component failure increase so every effort should be made to ensure optimal operation and therefore reliability.
The object of adjusting the AoE is to make the pickup teeth engage each other flat-face to flat-face. This distributes the pressure over a larger area which reduces the force acting on any given point of the surface, which in turn reduces the chance of premature component failure.
The way this is achieved is by forcing the piston to sit further back in the gearbox using spacers.
The most popular way to space the piston back is to use a Sorbothane buffer pad to space the piston back almost all of the way and fine tune it with thin plastic shims (if required) between the piston and piston head.
11. What is Short Stroking and what is it used for?
Short Stroking is the practice of removing teeth from the grea that pulls back the piston: the Sector Gear, and usually the same teeth from the piston.
It is done to shorten the stroke of the piston in order to allow it to return to the ‘rest’ or neutral position at the front of the gearbox in less time.
By shortening the stroke however, the power output is also lowered so Short Stroking is usually done in tandem with fitting a higher power spring to compensate.
This also helps increase the speed of the forward motion of the piston.
The reason a faster return rate is desirable is to ensure the sector gear engages with the piston in the correct position.
Failure to do so usually leads to premature wear of the gear and piston teeth or in extreme cases, complete failure of one or both. This problem is called Premature Engagement.
Premature Engagement becomes more of a problem in High Speed builds so this is a common countermeasure.
This common pairing has lead to the propagation of the myth that Short Stroking by itself significantly increases the Rate of Fire; which is does but imperceptibly so, as the gears can spin up for slightly longer before hitting any resistance.
What it does do, is give a much snappier trigger response.
12. What is Sorbothane?
Sorbothane is a brand of rubber compound with some useful properties.
It is impact resistant and retains it’s shape very well but can absorb a large percentage of shock from an impact.
This makes it uniquely suited to absorbing the shock of a piston hitting the front of the gearbox while still consistently spacing the piston into the optimal position for perfect engagement (AoE).
13. What lubes should I use and where?
14. Battery chemistry and explanations?
15. What is the difference between hop rubber types (soft/hard)?
Softer rubbers can apply more backspin to the BB because but are more likely to deform under high pressure levels.
Harder rubbers retain their shape and so give better consistency but cannot apply as much backspin as they are more ‘slippery’.
Balancing the hardness of the rubber can be tricky but for UK power levels I have found the Prometheus Purple rubber to give the best all-round results.
16. What are some common Airsoft myths?
17. What sort of performance is actually achievable?
18. How do you lock a gun to semi-auto (mechanically and electronically)?
19. Advantages and disadvantages of Gas and Electric including weather efficiency etc?
20. Could we have a beginner's guide to choosing an Imitation Firearm. Sniper/assault/gas/electric/aep/hpa/shotguns/grenades etc etc
21. Bearings vs Bushings?
22. What is the best wire gauge and brand?
23. Do you need a fuse?
In reality, not really.
What do I recommend? Always run a fuse.
A fuse is a safeguard. Setting the discussion on the different types and efficiencies of fuses aside for a minute, it is designed to trip in the event of something going wrong and prevent damage to more expensive components.
There are many designs of fuses.
The standard Glass fuse, Blade fuses, Thermal self-resetting fuses and intrinsically self-protecting circuits.
The first two are very similar, in that they are both designed with a small piece of metal that heats up and burns out when a sustained current of a given amount passes through it.
It is generally easier to replace blade fuses as they are designed to be gripped firmly without breaking and are more readily available in suitable current ratings.
Glass and blade fuses are fine in low powered airsoft guns but are limited by a high internal resistance which can lower the Rate of Fire by allowing less current through.
Self resetting fuses generally have a much lower internal resistance and do not require replacement once tripped.
The downside is that they do allow the aeg to be used once they have cooled down so if the problem has not been addressed, further damage may be caused.
Intrinsically self-protecting circuits are a specific circuit layouts found in high end computerised MOSFETs that monitors the power going to the motor and cuts it off in the event of failure. They can be thought of as ‘smart’ fuses and are the best possible solution to protecting expensive gearboxes.
Many folks will jump at the opportunity to tell you how long they’ve been running their aeg without a fuse and, unfortunately, so will many techs.
To them I say, cool. I’m glad your aeg hasn’t run into any problems.
But what happens if something does happen?
A fuse is there to prevent the worst happening, much like a seatbelt in a car.
You could drive a car for decades without a single accident and you would be fine.
But if something were to happen, you’d be much worse off.
25. Recommended upgrades on a budget
26. What is shimming and how do you do it
27. What are the different Gear ratios and types
28. Air seal enhancements
30. Flash mags, hi-caps and mid/lo-caps
31. The different types of gas and their advantages/disadvantages. Also an explanation of the naming nomenclature (green, black, red gas etc)
32. Recommended upgrades for gas pistols
33. Barrel length and Cylinder size
34. How do I build a DMR
35. How do I build a RoF beast
36. How do ported piston heads work and why are they necessary
37. Why use different weights of ammo
38. Deans vs Tamiya
39. Part quality list and recommended upgrades for a given budget