Hey guys! This is Tang with Fox Airsoft here and today I want to talk about maximizing your range and accuracy. This blog will cover the basics first for you newbies out there and then we will go into the basic modifications you should have done to enhance your range and accuracy. The first couple of sections will be refreshers for you experienced players.
I’ve been playing airsoft since 2002 and have been building my own guns for myself and others for years. I’ve worked for manufacturers before and moonlighted for the Fox Airsoft tech department from time to time in addition to my other responsibilities. So I can honestly tell you I’ve been around for quite a while and have been inside thousands of guns to date. The information I’m going to present to you today will be from my experiences but I will try to simplify everything so that it’s easy for a new player to follow. In the interest of keeping this article a reasonable length I have compressed some information. If you are very much into the little details I invite you to do further research outside of this article or drop us a line via e-mail.
So let's get into it! For you newbies, we have to learn to crawl before we walk so let’s go into hopup first.
Hopup: What it does and how to adjust it
The first thing we should talk about if you don’t understand it already is hopup. When you shoot a BB out of an airsoft gun, with no hopup you will have your shot drop off at some point due to gravity and it's pretty dramatic. The hopup effect is introduced inside the chamber and it consists of a rubber patch protruding inside your barrel and making contact with the BB as it is fired and exiting out the barrel. This piece of rubber is called the bucking. This produces backspin which utilizes the magnus effect to counteract that drop and thus give you longer range. A gun with hopup will usually shoot 120ft to 175ft to effectively hit a torso sized targets with some deviation. Upgraded guns can comfortably stretch out that maximum effective range further.
Most airsoft guns built for performance will have adjustable hopup though some may have a simple fixed (non-adjustable hopup). Adjustable hopup allows you to increase or decrease the hopup effect, which will allow you to compensate for the different BB weights you might want to use. Adjustment involves turning a dial or moving a lever, shooting and observing, and then adjusting accordingly. Adjusting it manipulates how much contact the bucking makes with the BB and how much backspin it will produce. Since you can adjust it, keep in mind that excess hopup will cause the BB to curve upward when you shoot, and too little and your BB will fall quite short. You will be able to spot what your BB is doing immediately after breaking a shot.
What BBs should I use
Some common questions we get at our store from beginners is what are the different types of BBs and what do they do. First, all the BBs we are using are plastic 6mm BBs for clarification. The common weights you will see are .20, .25, and .28 grams though there are others available.
To make it simple, if your gun has an adjustable hopup you have choices on how you want your gun to perform. If you have a fixed hopup, you should use the recommended BB weight otherwise your gun will shoot short or overhop the BB.
For those with adjustable hopup, ask yourself if you value cost or accuracy. Lighter BBs like .20s are less expensive to run but you will see less consistent shot grouping and the BB is susceptible to wind more so than a heavy BB. If you are playing indoor CQB, it will all be short distances and there’s no wind to worry about, so lighter weights are perfectly fine. Your AEG is not adjustable for “power” so we should consider how hard it shoots as being fixed (unless you modify the gun). Regardless, your gun shoots the same way whether it is shooting a .20 or a heavier BB like a .28. Your recorded FPS on a chronograph will be lower on the heavier BBs since the same amount of energy is now being used to propel something that is a fair bit heavier.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have your .28s. These cost more but overall provide better accuracy, especially outdoors. A lot of players with upgraded guns or guns pushing the limits of performance allowed at a certain field will run .28s or even heavier. Your shot consistency will also be better as a result. The heavier BB will travel slower to the target so keep that in mind.
Now a common misconception is, “My field allows ____ fps, so I will use a heavier BB so I can use it there”. Again, BB weight changes FPS readings because heavier BBs move slower with the same amount of energy. The weight of the BB generally speaking won't change hard the gun shoots. Your gun’s power is the same regardless of what weight BB it shoots, but that same energy is pushing something heavier and thus slower. An accurate measurement of how hard a gun actually shoots is using Joules. Using Joules as the standard makes sure that regardless of the BB weight or FPS, the guns shoot with around the same amount of force so that no one is getting hurt or able to manipulate the readings on a chronograph. Some guns out of the box come shooting beyond the limits of what most fields allow. This usually requires some use to break in or needs to be addressed before taking it out to the field. Again, changing BBs to a heavier weight is NOT a solution to this problem.
When I play outdoors I tend to run .28g BBs. The .32s are nice but they travel to the target a bit too slow for my personal taste and I tend to run AEGs at the ~400fps/1.5 Joule mark. For indoor play I tend to use .25g, and occasionally I use .20g when I want to keep it super cheap. If you hate keeping different types of BBs around or mixing them up all the time, stick to a single weight if possible.
Now for the last bit of basic knowledge: cleaning your barrel. It is important to keep your barrel clean. This prevents jams which can lead to your gun breaking and maintains your performance and accuracy. Clean using your cleaning rod and small patches of paper towel or similar material, spritzed with 100% pure silicone oil. Run the patch into the barrel until it stops. Do not force it past that because you will be jamming it into the chamber. Pull the patch out, repeat the steps with a new patch until it looks clean. Then run a final dry patch to remove the excess oil out of the bore to prevent more dirt from sticking. If you need a refresher on AEG maintenance, check the vid below!
Modifications for Improving Your Accuracy
This is a very broad topic with a lot of fine details to cover. For the sake of not making a half hour video, I’ll keep all this information compressed and simple. If the topic interests you, I invite you to go do further research on the topic as this is something you could write a book on! The most common question we get from players that have been out a few times is how do you improve accuracy. Well, it starts from you but for your gun there’s some stuff you can do. You can have your inner barrel changed to what is called a tight bore barrel. Normal barrels have a larger bore, usually 6.06mm and up which will allow your gun to shoot BBs without much issue if the barrel is a little dirty. A tight bore barrel can improve accuracy. Through tighter tolerances, the BB travels down a more constricted barrel and this leads to more accuracy and shot consistency, however the tolerances also mean you will have to clean the barrel more often because now you have less room for error. Tight bore barrels usually have an inner diameter of 6.03mm or smaller. The smaller you go, you will see better accuracy but much less tolerance for imperfect BBs and dirt. If you know the type of environment you are playing in will create problems for you, you might want to use a 6.03mm. Some manufacturers have started including a 6.03mm barrel pre-installed.
Stock barrels will either be made of brass or aluminum
Aftermarket barrels can come in different materials
The bucking as I mentioned earlier is part of the hopup system and is what makes contact with the BB as it is leaving your gun. When you are adjusting the hopup, you are controlling how much engagement the bucking makes with the BB. The bucking compliments the barrel. The quality of the rubber used as well as the shape of the bucking inside can enhance accuracy. The fitment of the bucking in relation to the barrel and hopup unit also can enhance air seal. The bucking should be considered a wear item however.Keeping it lubricated with silicone oil will extend its life but eventually it will have to be replaced as quality deteriorates with age which is the case with all rubber components. Changing your barrel and bucking is not the most difficult thing to learn and do, though we recommend you have it done by someone experienced if you are not confident.
Improved buckings and barrels can increase FPS as a byproduct so be aware of your local rules or have your gun tuned accordingly to match what you are trying to do.
Being that airsoft barrels are smooth bore and fire round projectiles, there’s still certain limitations from physics that we can’t achieve mechanical accuracy with out of an airsoft gun the same way we would in real firearms. And with that I like to equate consistency more with accuracy.
One word of warning is that you should ALWAYS be using high quality BBs to begin with. Experiencing a jam in an AEG can come from low quality BBs or having a dirty bore and trying to shoot out a jam means you could end up stripping the piston or gears inside your gearbox. These are labor intensive fixes that will cost you more money than if you had just taken care of your gun better and fed it good ammo. This potential for jams is increased significantly with the addition of a tight bore barrel. If you're going to be going for performance you can't skimp out on ammo. Poor quality BBs have inconsistencies and imperfections that can damage your gun and actually reduce accuracy.
To wrap things up: use heavier BBs to start with and you can enhance your gun's accuracy with the installation of a better bucking and barrel combo.We have just barely scratched the surface on the topic but I hope I have provided you with a good knowledge base so that you can make good informed decisions on how to improve your accuracy. If you have any additional questions or have other topics you are interested in seeing us cover, be sure to follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram) or shoot us an e-mail at email@example.com and shoot us some feedback!
Next time we'll revisit this topic with a comparison between a stock AEG and a tight bore barrel upgraded one.