Today we will go over the basic controls and the Do’s and Don’ts for AEGs. Typically over the holidays, we see a lot of new airsoft gun owners joining us and it is important we revisit some of the simpler topics and fundamentals.
As with any firearm or projectile shooting device like an airsoft gun, the following rules MUST be observed:
- Treat all firearms as if they were loaded - TREAT THE GUN WITH RESPECT.
- Finger off the trigger unless you are intending to fire.
- Do not point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to shoot at.
- Be aware of your target’s foreground and background. In this context, it means using an airsoft gun where it is deemed appropriate.
Let’s go over the parts of the gun from front to back. Take note of the terminology that I use, we will use it throughout.
- Muzzle - this is where the BB exits. This is where you want to be most mindful about where and how you point your airsoft gun.
- Handguard, forend, rail system - This is where you place your non-firing hand to steady the rifle. Some of these forends possess special mounting points for accessories.
- Magazine - this is a removable part of the weapon and is what feeds ammunition into the gun. There are two types, mid capacity and high capacity magazines. Mid capactiy magazines require a tool to load but require no special preparation to use. Once it is filled with BBs, you can insert the magazine and use it. For a high capacity magazine, you need to fill the magazine to the top and wind a wheel. You will be winding for a bit until you feel the spring tension tighten up and the wheel makes a different clicking noise. If you do not wind it at all or only a little bit, the magazine will not work.
- BBs - these are 6mm plastic pellets. They will always be the same size but be offered in different weights. You can choose the weight based on your preference for accuracy or lower cost. Do not use low quality BBs or you will break your gun.
- Receiver - this is the body of the gun and the controls will be on here.
- Selector - this is your fire selector. You can put the gun on safe, semi-auto, or full auto. Semi auto is one shot per trigger pull, full auto will be repeated firing as long as you hold the trigger. The controls may appear different on different models of guns.
- Sights - many guns will come with folding or integrated sights. We commonly refer to them as iron sights, though it is not made of iron in a literal sense. Many models will allow you to adjust the sights to fine tune for accuracy.
- Hop up - this is the system that puts backspin on the BB which gives you better range due to the magnus effect. On guns with an adjustable hopup, you can tune for whatever weight BB you are using that day. There is typically a dial or a lever. Hop-up on = more curve up effect. Hop-up off or insufficient will see you drop BBs prematurely. You can often see the BB out to 150 feet or more. Adjust til it shoots straight for as far as you can see it with your naked eye.
- Chamber - this is where a round from a magazine loads into and where your next BB will be fired from.
- Stock - this is the back of the gun. Some stocks will be adjustable to conform to different sized players. Batteries will often be stored here but it is not always the case. A stock that can store batteries is often referred to by airsofters as a Crane stock. I won’t go into the history or real meaning of that term, but understand that when we say crane stock we are talking about a stock that can hold the battery that powers your gun.
- Plug - This is where you plug in a battery. Typically you will see a Tamiya-style connector, though another type is Deans/T-plug.
- Charging handle - on some guns, this is for show. On some, it exposes the hop up chamber. Do not pull hard on this excessively or you risk damaging it. The same for cocking handles.
- Dust cover - this is on M4/AR15 style guns. This can function different ways depending on the manufacturer of the gun. For the most part, they replicate how a real one works. Keep it closed when not shooting or not in use.
Before operating an airsoft gun, be sure to wear protective eyewear. BBs, fly at a very high speed and can injure you permanently. Even ricochets.
An automatic electric gun needs power to operate. You will do so with these rechargeable battery packs here. The benefit to an AEG is it is less costly to run for the amount you will be using it. It is the mainstay of airsoft technology for rifles, though there are other systems each with their own pros and cons.
To get the gun ready to use, plug your charged batteries into the Tamiya-style plug. Batteries will never come sufficiently charged out of the box, so expect to charge this first before using your AEG. The location of the plug varies by model of the gun. The plug goes only one way so make sure you get that right. Avoid crushing or pinching wires, this could lead to shorting out the battery.
Insert a loaded magazine into the gun. Be mindful of your trigger finger (rule #2) as this is how accidents could happen. If you use a high capacity magazine, remember it requires preparation to use.
Once this is done and the magazine is inserted, you are ready to go. Take the gun off safe and shoot. You will want to adjust your hop up by turning the wheel or moving the lever and observing the path of the BB as you shoot it. Most of these guns can get a good effective range of 150 to 200 feet. Once you achieve a straight flight you are ready to go. You can adjust the sights to match where you are hitting.
Adjusting your sights or scope to match where your rounds are hitting is a process called zeroing your gun. Once your gun is zero, your gun should hit what you are aiming with if conditions are ideal.
When you are finished, you will need to clear your gun. This is the act of removing all ammunition from the weapon. What you must do is remove the magazine, and fire the gun on semi-auto a couple of times to remove the last possible round that may reside in your chamber. Do note that when you remove the magazine, it is entirely normal for a few BBs to fall out. The shape of the hopup chamber.
Some guns may come with a charger and battery, some may not. We offer packages for our most popular guns to start out with so you will have what you need to get started.
Charging a battery such as the standard nimh battery means simply plugging a pack in for a few hours. Knowing exactly how long to charge is crucial to not damaging your battery or worse. Some included chargers just continue to charge unless you unplug it. A simple smart charging setup will do all that for you so you don’t have to guess and you will know exactly when it is done. Always monitor your battery while it's charging, do not leave it unattended to go do something else.
If you have a problem with your airsoft gun that you buy from us, contact us immediately so that we may help and troubleshoot for you. Do not attempt to disassemble anything as it will void your warranty, unless you are instructed by us to do so. An airsoft gun is NOT like a real gun so do not accept help from a buddy who is inclined to take it apart to help figure things out, this tends to cause more harm than good. The consequences of that would be a denial of warranty claims and makes it more difficult to be returned or repaired. If you bought a gun new from somewhere else, take advantage of their service and warranty when you have problems.
I do want to note one more thing that we encounter on the customer service side of things. If you have a problem or did something wrong, please be honest and upfront about it. When you do things you are not advised to do and give us incorrect information to act on, it makes the process of helping you more difficult and potentially more expensive. This is life advice too as you are more likely to get help even if you screwed up if you own up to it, than to be misleading from the get go. The sport of airsoft runs on the honor system and we certainly hope that resonates as people ask us for help. If that help or warranty is abused, it means the bottom line is that the services an airsoft shop offers will go up in price.
This covers the basics of AEG ownership. Please check in our video library on Youtube for specifics about the many important aspects of the sport and the equipment for more details. We will continually refine and update our content as needed so that we can better serve our customers!