Airsoft is an active outdoor sport, played on private property or official insured airsoft fields. The sport features engagements between players using replica firearms that shoot small 6mm plastic pellets (BBs. The energy of a projectile is small, and special face protection is worn to prevent injury. These are not “soft air” rifles used to hunt small game!
Airsoft replicas come in many shapes and sizes, modeled after the real firearms. This article is about airsoft electric pistols, which are a 1:1 scale replicas of real pistols. The term “electric” comes from an electric motor which compresses a spring using a series of 4 gears. The spring, once released, propels a piston to create a burst of compressed air which propels the airsoft projectile.
This complicated assembly is referred to as the “gearbox”, because it holds 4 gears. This gearbox was originally developed by Tokyo Marui for use in its Glock 18c automatic pistol replica. Since then, numerous manufacturers, such as Cyma, TSD, Well and Double Eagle produced their own versions of the mini airsoft gearbox for use with electric pistols.
There’s a lot of confusion around what is and what is not an Airsoft Electric Pistol. Here’s a summary:
Originally designed by Tokyo Marui, the electric airsoft pistol (AEP):
- uses a subcompact version of the regular airsoft gearbox
- The gearbox is made of metal and offers excellent durability
- It is practically a mini automatic electric gun (AEG) and shoots BBs at about 200 feet per second.
- All airsoft electric pistols feature adjustable hop-up, set around 0.20 gram BB
- The gun also comes with a metal 30 round magazine
- The gun comes with a rechargeable 7.2 Volt battery and a charger.
- The slide of the gun does not move when firing
- Generally has 2 price ranges: 40-60$ for low end models and 100-160$ for quality models
Often mistaken for an airsoft electric pistol, the Electric Blowback Pistol (EBB) uses a totally different gearbox design and also features a recoiling slide (hence the term “blowback”)
- Uses various proprietary plastic gearboxes
- Shoots at about 160-200 feet per second with 0.2 gram BBs
- May feature a fixed hop up set for 0.12 gram BB
- Comes with a banana shaped stick magazine
- Is usually powered by 4 Triple-A alcaline batteries at 6.0Volts
- The slide moves back when firing
- Generally priced in the 7-25$ range
The major difference between the two is durability. Many people are attracted to the lower cost electric blowbacks as their first purchase because of the affordable price. However, the plastic nature of these guns and the fact that they are most often used by teenagers, results in these guns breaking quite fast. This often means that people think of airsoft as a cheap and silly hobby.
An airsoft community in the United States is still quite young, so I would encourage you to explore some of the more durable airsoft weapons as your first purchase, and I hope to see you on the field!