First of all, you need to know what you are looking to accomplish – are you looking to get into combat games such as skirmishing, military simulation or honor system? Are you interested in target shooting, fine-tuning your hand-eye coordination?
For combat-type games, automatic electric guns (AEGs) or gas guns would be your best choice as they are able to fire repeatedly, not having to re-cock the gun each time it is being fired. Gas guns are great though they are more costly than the AEGs. They also require a bit more maintenance and care.
If you are interested in target shooting, spring pistols and rifles are great choices and are quite affordable. There is a very wide selection of these on the market today.
The three main types of guns available are Electric, Gas and Spring.
The most popular of the Airsoft guns are the electric models. Electric powered mechanisms are encased in the gun with a high capacity magazine. They are comprised of a battery powered motor, transmission gearing, and circuit board onto the air piston assembly. The motor and gears perform the cocking action and release of the piston when the trigger is pulled, all in just a fraction of a second, providing an almost instantaneous firing response. A constant pull on the trigger will allow for continuous firing until the trigger is released.
Electric Rifles –
LPEGs (low powered electric guns): These are full sized versions of electric Airsoft rifles though have less power because of their plastic gearbox. Generally, you would be need batteries, a charger and would use .12 g 6mm BBs. These are an excellent choice for those just starting out in this sport.
MPEGs (middle level electric guns): These are also full sized versions of electric Airsoft rifles, a step above the LPEGs in that they have metal gearboxes. You would be need batteries, a charger and would use .2 g or heavier 6mm BBs.
AEG’s (automatic electric guns): These would be the choice of the more seasoned, serious hobbyist. Normally consisting of a full metal body and metal gearbox, these guns use a battery-operated motor providing a fully automatic machine gun, if desired. Again, you would use .2 g or heavier 6mm BBs.
Many manufacturers sell the guns in packages, which include the batteries and chargers as well as some other accessories.
Electric Pistols –
Many people prefer electric pistols to the other types of airsoft pistols. They offer power, versatility and accuracy to give players the edge when it really counts! They come in a variety of styles, many of which are quite realistic looking. There are a wide variety of electric pistols, each of which has something different to offer.
GAS RIFLES AND PISTOLS:
The most effective in performance are the gas guns. These guns come in Non-Blowback and Blowback categories. Blowback guns are more realistic, more powerful and also have more weight to them. On the other hand, the non-blowback guns tend to breakdown less simply because they have less moving parts. They are less realistic looking but more efficient in their use of the gas.
The gas guns use C02 or green gas, either injected into a reservoir chamber in the gun or magazine or it is attached to an exterior unit containing the gas canister and an expansion tank. When the trigger is pulled, the gas is released through a valve at the top the reservoir or the expansion tank. The gas expands instantly and is channeled through a nozzle directed at the BB. The pressure then launches the BB out toward the target. These guns are usually semi-automatic but some have fully automatic features. These guns can suffer in performance drops in cold weather unless you are using a more powerful gas.
SPRING RIFLES AND PISTOLS:
These guns are made to resemble some of the worlds most famous guns such as automatics, competition guns, submachine pistols, carbines, and sniper rifles. They are generally a 1:1 scale and some are true to weight. These are great guns for the collector as well as for recreational use. These are a common choice for the beginner as they are very simple to operate, are very durable, virtually maintenance-free and have a very low rate of failure.
They fire only in single shots and can vary a great deal in performance. Most spring pistols are inexpensive and are great to have around because they can be loaded and shot without having to use gas or charge a battery.
The operation of a spring gun is simple. You just pull back the slide for each shot! A piston head in a cylinder moves backwards to draw air into the cylinder and compresses the spring behind the piston. Then, a hook engages the piston, holding it in place with the spring fully compressed. When you pull the trigger, the hook releases the piston, the air pressure generated inside the cylinder by the compressed spring creates a jet of air that propels the BB. The size and materials used varies depending upon the guns configuration.
Airsoft shotguns operate differently than real shotguns. Most of them fire only one BB at a time.
FPS (Feet Per Second) , Velocity or Muzzle Velocity is what tells you at what speed the pellets leave the barrel. The higher the FPS, the faster and further the pellet will go. This is what most players look at first on a gun but it is not the most important factor. A higher FPS causes more strain on a gun, causing it to break sooner if the other parts of the gun are not built and put together well. It will not necessarily give more range if the gun has accuracy problems, as those problems will only increase with higher FPS. It increases the amount of force that the target takes when hit.
ROF (Rate of Fire) is the amount of rounds can be fired from the gun in a certain amount of time. Automatic guns have the highest rate of fire. This puts more rounds on the target making your chance of a hit higher, however, you will be using more ammunition.
Hop-Up is the “spin” of the pellet, which is common in many sports. When the BB is shot, there is a friction put on the topside of the pellet, resulting in a backspin. The backspin lifts the BB upwards, offsetting the affects of gravity and air friction allowing the BB to travel greater distances.