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DumboRAT’s Newbie FAQ, v.1.2, June 2001
Written by ORCA   

I will be editing the broken links from this original document, since alot of sites referenced are long gone. Even though this info is a bit dated, it's still a solid reference for the new airsofter.

DumboRAT’s Newbie FAQ, v.1.2, June 2001

All,

So, I’ve been involved in airsoft for about two and a half years now, and have placed some 4000 posts on the http://www.airsoftzone.com/ Forums, well over 400 on the http://www.airsoftplayers.com/ Forums, and 270 or-so on the old, now defunct www.airsoftguns.com d-board – yet, guess what, the SAME questions still pop up. You know: “Is the AK better than the AUG?” “Which AEG should I get?” “Which AEG is best?” “Which GBB should I get?” The list goes on….

And with this set of newbie questions, comes the same remarks from most of the “veterans” on the various Forums and d-boards – “Do a search, the answer is already there.” Then, inevitably, the newbie will complain that they either already did the search, or are just in need of a simple, quick reply – whereby the veterans will then call the newbie lazy and ignorant…. Thereafter, predictably, a flame war ensues.

This is exactly what I wish to avoid.

I hope that this post will serve as a decent starting point for newbies seeking basic information regarding AEG’s and GBB’s, and even BB’s and batteries. While I most definitely DO NOT know everything, and make NO such claims of being all-knowing, I am writing this “mini-FAQ” with the best intentions in mind – in that my very limited experience may help answer the questions of a newbie player. What I have posted here is all from my own personal experience as an active skirmish player and collector, as well as knowledge passed on to me in a direct, first-person manner from TRUSTED, well-respected members of the local, regional, and on-line national/international airsoft community.

The information contained here, are, as far as I know, completely true. If anyone feels that I may have been mistaken or have posted false information, please feel free to post replies in this thread and also to contact me privately at:

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Again, I sincerely hope that this reading will help you, the newbie player, transition in a smooth manner into the wonderful sport of airsoft.

Allen

aka DumboRAT

==========NEWBIE MINI FAQ, AEG’S, GBB’S, BB’s and gear===========

Section One, AEG’s:

Typically, you’ll want to know about Tokyo Marui, or TM, Automatic Electric Guns – AEG’s. This “mini FAQ” is limited in scope with regards to the AEG’s exclusively to the “factory stock, OEM” TM models, and does NOT cover their new (as of June, 2001, the submission date of this article) “standard metal-bodied” models.

Also note that I do NOT know anything about the Korean-made models (i.e. Academy), and as such, I am unable to comment on them. Furthermore, my knowledge is also greatly limited with respect to the popular, and quite highly-regarded Taiwanese AEG’s – namely, those made by Classic Army (CA) and Airsoft Elite (AE). For information regarding these pieces, I would highly recommend that you take the time to read the past posts about these pieces that are floating around on the various Forums/d-boards (keep in mind that there have been several iterations of these models that have been introduced, as of June, 2001, I believe that the CA’s have gone through 3 revisions, while AE’s have undergone 2).

So, back to the topic, TM AEG’s --

Basically, ALL, that’s right, all Tokyo Marui AEG’s share the same durability/reliability characteristics as one another – and furthermore, they all share the same typical performance characteristics based on a very few set of variables.

The first is motor type.

Motor type is one of the major factors that will affect rate-of-fire (ROF). Honestly, while there are some differences in ROF performance based on motor type, unless you are doing a back-to-back or side-to-side comparison between two differently equipped AEG’s, or are testing specifically for this variable (i.e. holding all other factors constant and “bench” testing the AEG in a lab-type situation/setup), you’re NOT likely going to notice a difference. Let’s put it this way. ANY of these AEG’s are capable of spitting out a near constant stream of BB’s at upwards of 800 rounds per minute. And if that’s not enough for you to hose/suppress your target and keep their heads down, then you’d best spend the $3000 to get a replica minigun….. Of course, there are advantages to be had for having a higher ROF, but really, in field use during skirmishes, you more than likely will NOT notice this factor as based on application to the three motor types. And sure, when upgrading, this particular factor may be of some concern, but as a newbie, really, you shouldn’t be worried about upgrading, anyway (more on this later).

The second variable is battery type, size, and capacity.

Aside from how long your AEG will get juice to power its internals, this is also one of the determinants of ROF. Very, very basically speaking, the larger the battery, the longer it will last, and the higher the ROF provided. And what I mean by large here isn’t necessarily a measure of the physical size of the battery, but rather, both its voltage (V) and capacity (mAh) (details about this set of factors and its impact on durability and ROF can be found in the various d-board and forums on-line, just search around).

While an AEG will function on 7.2V, the nominal voltage for operation of TM AEG’s is 8.4V. At 1.2V per cell, you’ll see that this means you’ll need, nominally, a 7-cell pack. With 8.4V, you can rest assured that you’ll have more than sufficient juice to run your AEG at its utmost potential. So, what about increasing voltage? You do see a lot of up-voltage battery packs out there – 9.6V, 10.8V, or even the tremendous 12V battery packs. These will increase your ROF, but without proper precautions, especially with the latter two, you’re like to do some damage to your internals. So, in a word, just stay with the 8.4V packs – there’s really no need to increase your power until you start upgrading the internals of your AEG, which, as a newbie, you shouldn’t be upgrading your AEG anyway…..

Now, what about how long your battery lasts? Well, this is a function of the mAh value. The larger the mAh value, the longer the battery will last. Typically, your 600 mAh batteries will last anywhere from 400 to 900 rounds. Why such a big range? Batteries are very sensitive to temperature, and the lower the ambient temperature, the shorter your battery will last. For example, the worst I’ve seen is a 8.4V 600 mAh “mini” pack that only managed to last 200 rounds before needing a recharge – but that’s at a temperature of near 40 deg. F. Pretty darned cold! With a 1700 or higher mAh capacity battery, you can pretty much assume that you’re going to be able to crank out over 1200 BB’s.

There are many battery pack sizes, too. There’s the flat “mini” along with its other “2/3 A” cell type sisters, the “stick” or “AK”-type, as well as the many custom-shaped packs designed for increased capacity that fit into stock locations. On the other hand, there’s the “large” or “standard” sized “Sub-C” type cell packs. With the latter “Sub-C’s” physically being much larger than the “mini’s,” many newbies are lead to ask if the physically larger battery packs will provide better performance. Again, as with motor types, unless you are specifically controlling to test for this “size” variable, you’ll likely NOT notice a difference either in overall capacity or ROF when comparing a “large” battery with a “mini” that BOTH HAVE THE SAME VOLTAGE AND MAH values.

What does all this technical mumbo-jumbo mean? Basically, if you’re considering a solid-stock AEG variant over its retractable or folding-stock variant solely based on the type of battery -- “large” vs. “mini” – you actually don’t have to worry that much. A-sized cells are now available with up to 1700 mAh capacity, and there are “custom’ shaped “mini” 2/3 A-sized packs for use in many applications. With such a pack, even the retractable-stock AEG’s (which forces the battery to reside up front in the forend grip of the SMG/carbine) can have as much electrical power as their full-stock counterparts that use “large” packs. As such, unless you are seeking the ultimate in capacity (i.e. 2000 or 3000 mAh, which are, so far, only available with the Sub-C’s), you can rest assured that your performance, overall, between your “mini” and a similarly rated “Sub-C” will be equal. You no longer have to decide on your choice of AEG’s based on their battery capacities.

For more information, I highly recommend that you take the time to read through these linked articles:

http://www.blackrain7.com/faqs/battfaq.html (An excellent beginner’s intro, courtesy of BlackRain7.com – a highly respected west-coast hobbyist site.)

http://www.technick.net/guide_bpw2_00_toc.htm (Thanks to Wallace for pointing this one out to me! This is an EXCELLENT reference, written in “English” for players of all levels to understand. )

http://www.panasonic.com/industrial_oem/battery/battery_oem/chem/niccad/niccad.htm

http://www.panasonic.com/industrial_oem/battery/battery_oem/chem/nicmet/nicmet.htm

(Both of these are commercial links from Panasonic, but still offers considerable and easy to digest information for “The Everyday Joe.” It covers both NiCd’s and the NiMH types.)

http://www.repairfaq.org/ELE/F_Battery.html (Directly off of the RepairFAQ guides -- written by NASA scientists and MIT profs and grads – a most excellent technical discussion, if you’ve got the patience to sort through it. I guaranty that once you’ve read through this document, you’ll be a total expert!)

and

http://www.redwolfairsoft.com/images/bite/BiteMar00/bitemar00.htm

(Note that this last one, from RedWolf Airsoft Specialists, has a few small mistakes, but is, overall, good – use it as a secondary source, again, focus your study efforts on the Technick “Batteries in a Portable World” document and the info. contained in the BlackRain7.com “Battery FAQ,” approach the RepairFAQ.org Battery FAQ’s if you’re technically inclined.)

The third and final variable to consider in your AEG purchase is inner barrel length. This is the ONLY variable you’ll need to consider with respect to accuracy and range.

The AEG’s can be sub-divided in many forms based on their overall body structure as much can their real-steel counterparts. However, a more accurate organization would be according to each AEG’s inner barrel length. Pretty much, the inner barrel length of the AEG’s also fall, conveniently, into those very same categories as their real-steel counterparts. As such, they can be grouped into the following:

Compact sub-machine guns: HK MP5K and PDW

SMG’s: the rest of the HK MP5 Series, IMI Uzi

Carbines: HK G3 MC51, Colt M4A1

Full-sized rifles (with or without folding stocks)/Bullpups/Semi-auto only sniper rifle

If you are interested in a particular model, check the inner barrel length on the page of vital statistics provided on the AirsoftZone.com “Gun Database.” ( http://www.airsoftzone.com/gun_database.cfm ) As such, what are their respective accuracy and ranges?

At 30-40 feet, in an windless indoor range, all of these AEG’s are capable of hitting a 1 inch tall by ½ inch wide target, repeatedly, with the help of an auxiliary sighting device (i.e. scope, laser, etc – as it is really very, very hard to “see” the target at that range, much less align it with ironsights). This is pretty impressive, isn’t it?

Now, what about range? Well, rather then absolute range, I like to speak of this in terms of “effective range.” I consider “effective range” to be the ability of an AEG, loaded with 0.20 gram BB’s and with the HopUp properly adjusted, to hit a moving, man-sized target, center-mass. As I’ve said before, the best determinant of range on stock AEG’s is internal barrel length. Therefore, the following generalization can be made:

Compact SMG’s: 60-70 ft.

SMG’s: 70-80 ft.

Carbines 80-100 ft.

Full-sized rifles/Bullpups/SA sniper rifle (PSG-1): 100-120 ft.

So, as you can see, there’s not one AEG here that’s not suitable for CQB-type play, in terms of effective range (although to tote a full-sized assault rifle in CQB will surely be a feat simply due to the physical length of the rifle) Furthermore, even though there’s quite a bit of difference in the effective range spanning between the SMG’s and the full-sized rifles, you’ll note that such differences are not so tremendous as to make the SMG use too greatly disadvantaged in even open outdoor skirmishes – if a player’s aggressive enough and can move smartly, a distance of 20 to 40 ft isn’t all that much of a tactical advantage.

Where does all this lead to in terms of your decision? Simple, just about every one of these AEG’s perform similarly, especially when matched in their own sub-categories. Does that put you into even more of a delimma? It really shouldn’t.

Basically, focus on what your needs are first. Do you want a small, maneuverable piece for the close-in CQB work? Simple, get one of the smaller AEG’s. Are you only 5’2” tall and are blessed with short arms? Fine, one of the smaller AEG’s will do you well, too – and you’d not only look ridicoulous with a meter-long SG-1, you’ll find that it would be akward for you to handle! What if you’re a tall, lanky guy who’s looking only to play outdoor games? The full-sized rifles will do you just fine, then. Not only will you be able to handle them just fine, thanks to those lanky arms, you’ll also be able to use the additional range to good effect outdoors.

With that decision made, move on to the particular replica that, cosmetically, pleases you the most. Are you looking for a long-gun with a long inner barrel, but are tired of the classic looks of most assault rifles? Fine, go for one of the bullpups. Do you dislike the M4A1 as it seems that everyone and their brother has one? That’s OK, too – just take the MC51 instead.

Of course, the possible upgrade paths should be of some concerns as well, but again, as a newbie, this should be the LAST thing on your mind – see below for why…….

Here’s what Kenny, aka 888 (or previously, aka Spasman), wrote:

========== begin ====

I'm sure you notice that almost every *newbie* that gets into this sport want to start off with a fully upgraded AEG. Hard not to since this seems to be the big *trend* nowadays. I must admit I too after field playing with guys with maxed out guns, I wanted to have something that would hold up as well. Unfortunately, I went at it the wrong way and tore apart my gun with upgraded parts not knowing exactly what I was doing. Lucky for me, INFERNO helped me out NOT by cleaning up my mess for me, but by walking me through the correct process. So now, I have a better idea of how my internals work, and can troubleshoot minor problems. I have also learned that from the moment you take apart your mechbox, your durability of the gun goes WAY DOWN, even if you don't change anything. The higher the upgrade, the more often you'll end up taking apart your gun to fix whatever.

So, back to the original topic, ANY AEG with ANY upgrade will be prone to failure in a very accelerated time span. So whats a newbie going to do when his first AEG thats been upgraded fails? Most likely panic and asked every Tom, **** and Harry what to do, how to do it, and even more likely post all kinds of troubleshooting questions on the board without even reading first. I have seen firsthand many of my friends who are new to airsoft go through this situation. Many have actually been so "bummed out" that they haven't even given the sport a chance and have given up. Of course you know that even a stock AEG will fail after a given amount of time. However, I think that time span is long enough to give the player more than enough time to really feel out the sport, and will give the player enough experience and information to strip down the gun when it is really needed. I personally think this is the best way in getting every pennys worth out of your small investment in a really big hobby.

=========== end ===

This reminded me to put in a word about "upgrading."

First, I am definitely NOT the man to talk to regarding upgrading your airsoft replicas. I have performed very, very few internal upgrades on AEG’s and GBB’s. This is definitely NOT my area!

However, I am familiar with simple mechanical systems -- and one of the concepts that everyone should remember is that the more you increase a system's performance, the more you will decrease its overall durability. It's much the same way as with using higher-powered gasses on GBB's. The more you run your machine on the ragged edge, the more likely it is that it will experience failure from being pushed so hard. Inevitably, when you upgrade for performance, you will likely stand to lose a bit of durability.

As a newbie with likely only one AEG, the failure of such an upgraded piece will effectively put you out of the game, with no chance for a quick return. And if you're at a multi-day event for which you've traveled hundreds of miles for, this could indeed spell disaster. As such, having a stock AEG that has a known average durability and liability for failure, rather than having that factor being an "unknown" with an upgraded piece, will surely serve to somewhat settle your heart, not to mention improve your odds of not suffering such breakdowns. Additonally, once you have accumulated other, possibly upgraded AEG's to your growing aresenal, this first-purchase, internally stock AEG will undoubtedly become a trusty "backup" piece, which is always nice to have at hand.

Furthermore, as a newbie, you should really take the time to first allow you to get your heading in the sport prior to plunking down the dough for an expensive upgrade. Unless you play through several game-days with your new stock AEG, you're not going to really have a feel for how well it really performs or have a good idea of *exactly* and *realistically* what an upgraded AEG is capable, or not capable, of doing (here, it's simply best to ask players with upgraded pieces to kindly let you "test" their replica at the range -- this way, you'll get first-hand experience).

Finally, what many newbies do not realize when they first start out is that many clubs, fields, and events impose strict limits with regards to velocity/hit-energy due to safety concerns. If you outright purchase an upgraded AEG that shoots a blistering 450 fps. with 0.25 gram BB's, but all the events that you are interested in attending only allow 350 fps. with 0.20 fps, then you've just wasted a lot of money; as well as caused yourself undue trouble.

For example, at a recent multi-day skirmish, limits of 300 fps. were placed on SMG's and carbine replicas, with 350 being allowed for assault-rifles, and a top end of 385 for single-shot "sniper rifles." All this with 0.25 gram BB's. Imagine showing up for one of these events, after having driven hundreds of miles, with a brand-spanking-new MP5 that cranked out 400 fps. with 0.25 gram BB's, and therefore not being allowed to play -- talk about disappointment!

As such, if you MUST have initial upgrades, check with your local club, field, or look on the various d-board/Forums mentioned above at posts regarding velocity/hit-energy limits that have been set for PAST games/events.

Honestly, I implore you, I *beg* of you to purchase your first AEG in factory-stock form with regards to internals for the above mentioned factors.

But if you’re still INTENT on making upgrades, well, here’s something to chew on…it’s from my friend Wallace, a fellow Airsoft Ohio member:

========== begin ====

I can understand your thinking, and maybe I didn't word my third point precisely. I agree that upgraded internal puts more load on the gearbox, and then with higher capacity battery the increased speed would further stress the gearbox. What I want to convey is that stock internal, contrary to popular believe, is even more likely to sustain damage then upgraded internal.

To further clarify, lets classify gearbox failures in two categories – anticipated and unanticipated. Anticipated failure is normally stress/wear induced, such as worn out teeth, weakened springs, aged motors, etc. These can cause additional damages such as stripped gears if worn parts are not timely replaced. Unanticipated failures refer to unexpected, catastrophic damages, which can be caused by poor workmanship, misalignment, excessive force or out-of-spec impact, etc. The later part can damage a brand-new gearbox, and is generally the most feared.

That being said, upgraded gearbox will increase the chance of anticipated failure (i.e. shorter interval of each failure). As you’ve already mentioned, stiffer spring and higher speed puts more load and stress on each component of the gearbox, which causes them to worn faster. However, when professionally installed and properly maintained, upgrading the gearbox should NOT increase the possibility of unanticipated failures. All the upgrade components are designed to work together in such high-stressed environment, that although they require more frequent maintenance or replacement, they shouldn’t “quit” all-of-a-sudden during skirmish. That’s why I think upgraded gearboxes can provide the same durability (or dependability) as stock gearboxes.

A good analogy would be turbo charging your car’s engine. We all know that a turbo charger generally shorten the life of your engine as it induces more stress (anticipated failure). However, if not installed properly you could over-boost your engine hence toasting it (unanticipated failure). On the other hand, turbo charging your engine also requires certain prerequisite, such as upgraded exhaust and intake to allow sufficient airflow, and revised engine management or even additional fuel pumps / injectors to maintain proper air/fuel ratio. However, if you simply bolt on a turbo charger to a fully stock engine, without lowering the compression ratio and additional fuel delivery the engine will run too lean and likely overheat, causing catastrophic failure. This is exactly what a higher capacity battery can do to a stock AEG.

When gears are turning too fast, the gearbox can fail not because of rapid worn out, but something far more violent. When the force exerted on piston/gear teeth exceeds their specification, you could actually snap the teeth off the gears by running it too fast. Wear and tear can also cause the same to happen, but they usually appear gradually. Hence upgraded gearbox with stiffer spring can prevent these unanticipated failures by slowing down the gears, or even by replacing stock gear set with hi-torque gears (they are both stronger and cause the piston to draw back slower).

In short, stock internals are more “durable” because of their lesser stress, but not necessary more “forgiving” when excessive force (in this case hi-voltage hi-capacity battery) is applied. I hope it make better sense this time

=========== end ===

Now, Wallace makes a very good point here, but remember – he speaks of proper upgrading versus improper or otherwise sub-optimal upgrading. And unfortunately, as a newbie, your knowledge about the complex inner workings of AEG’s, as well as your ability to decipher the varying truths of the many conflicting posts out there on the Forums/d-boards, will enhance your chances of NOT performing acceptably installed upgrades. I am not saying this to belittle newbies, to degrade newbies in any way – I’m simply stating the fact that the relative inexperience of newbies with regard to general knowledge in this area will more than likely cause them harm, and that such problems can indeed be avoided easily by just being content with their new AEG in stock, unmodified, out-of-the-box, OEM format, and giving themselves a bit more time to learn the intricacies of the such replicas before making the jump into tackling the ultra-technical areas.

With that said, you’re now probably back to worrying about the durability/reliability of these models again. Once more, I’ll remind you that as TM AEG’s, they all share approximately the same track records when it comes to these two factors.

Even though they share much in common, you should keep in mind that each model will differ slightly in certain mechanical, performance, and aesthetic areas. As such, you should either perform thorough searches on the Forums at http://www.airsoftzone.com/, the Forums on http://www.airsoftplayers.com/ and X-ring ( http://www.best.com/~vxl/airsoft ) to familarize yourself with these special, model-dependent variables. And again, I stress that you should DO YOUR OWN SEARCHES. Why? Simple – depending on the players who post information as a response to your question for your sole source of information is plain lazy, not to mention dumb. Who’s to say that these people have actual experience with your chosen AEG? And even if they say they do, how do you know they’re not lying? Better yet, how can you possibly even be sure that they know what they’re talking about? And really, do the posts you receive truly reflect the status of the AEG, or are you just seeing a bunch of posts that, when totaled together, barely amount to enough cases for you to even begin to draw a conclusion? By DOING YOUR OWN SEARCHES, you will be able to see the complete picture – you’ll read about items that you haven’t even thought about, and problems that perhaps no one else has even mentioned. Furthermore, you’ll get a “historical” perspective; you’ll get a feel for how many players are or have been satisfied with this AEG, and how many have had problems, as well as the extent of these problems, and if there have been any documented “cures.” To let go of such information is to chose to be ignorant, and to be so stupid will surely land you with an AEG that you’re not happy of once you receive it. Please, I beg of you, do your OWN searches before you spend your hard earned money to buy a replica.

One last item that you should keep in mind is that often, there’s a tremendous amount of production variability in even just one model liine. For example, the “infamous” chassis-flex that plagues the HK G3 SG/1 and the “barrel wobble” that similarly affects the Colt M16 Series, while it has been extensively documented by several players, has also been decidedly denied by others. Are these other players lying? No, they simply lucked out, and, for whatever reason, just received a better “put together” item off of the Tokyo Marui production line. It’s much the same as buying a car, or any other major piece of high-tech equipment. Sometimes, you luck out, and you get a piece that is drop-dead reliable; other times, your luck isn’t so great, and you wind up with a “lemon” that’s broken as soon as you take it out of the box. As with anything else that’s mass-produced, there’s a bit of production-line variability in quality of build to be expected with these AEG’s.

And as for maintenance, simply follow what the Tokyo Marui manual that arrives with your AEG dictate. There’s enough English directions in there that you should EASILY be able to figure out what to do and when to do it. Get yourself a bottle of pure silicone spray or oil lubricant (AVOID any and all petroleum distillates [yes, some petroleum distillates are indeed safe for natural and artificial rubbers, but such products are very, very hard to find and/or, MORE importantly, make sure are indeed safe for use, as their claims may suggest), as it will harm your rubber seals/Hop bucking – Team Associated Shock Oil, between 5 to 15 “grade” weight,” is an ideal lube/general purpose cleaner; you can easily obtain this item from any large Hobby Shop [it is used as the fill for scale-model remote-controlled car “RC-car” shock absorbers), and you’re set to go. There’s a bunch of information about maintenance and lubricants available on the various d-boards and Forums, and I again recommend that you turn to them for more complete information. In the mean time, this should prove sufficient as a starter:

http://www.redwolfairsoft.com/images/bite/BiteJune00/Bite-jun00.htm#AEG Care

(Again, a link from the RedWolf Airsoft Specialists commercial website.)

Finally, having done all of your homework, you’re ready to make the purchase. Now, then, who has the best prices? Again, here, a simple-minded “can anyone tell me who has the best prices” post will only land you in more trouble. Prices change, and retailers are now in the practice of running “specials” all throughout the year. As such, you can never be guaranteed of getting the best price if you simply trust someone’s word for it (it may have been the cheapest place for him a month ago, but the prices may have changed in the interim). Use the “Soft Links” on the http://www.airsoftzone.com/ and http://www.airsoftplayers.com/ websites, as well as Rich’s personal compilation of links:

http://members.home.net/richardtheiv/Low/Nopics.htm, to take you to the various retailes’ commercial websites. Spend a moment and look through their pages and note down their prices on a piece of paper (don’t forget cost of shipping!), and then, e-mail a few for a complete price quote, including shipping – and to check for item availability. Only by doing your own leg-work can you be guaranteed to get the best prices.

Section Two, GBB’s:

Hate to break it to all of you like this, but there are NO 100% reliable GBB’s. That’s right, NONE – not even the fabled Western Arms marque. Trust me, even the best of this genre, the true thoroughbreds, are tempermental bitches.

Empirically, GBB’s are simply more prone to operational failures than their respective AEG counterparts. Their action is inherently harmful to their parts, and, moreover, the necessary containment of pressurized gas makes them constantly vulnerable to leaks. Additionally, they are arguably more maintenance intensive, requiring a much more regular diet of lubricant oils as well as attention to other types of mechanical cleaning. The argument, however, can be reversed.

Since I wrote the first draft of this FAQ half a year ago, I've come to have a different opinion about the GBB vs. AEG durability/reliability issue.

The way I see it now, it's actually what the *player* himself feels most comfortable maintaining and repairing that makes the most difference in this matter -- as it is often a *_PERCEIVED_* lack of durability/reliability when comparing one genre to the other that is at the root of this debate.

For example, those who have messed around with electrical components all their lives may think that an AEG is easy to repair, while someone who may have started off with paintball feels more comfortable working with the straightforward pneumatics of the GBB's.

Nevertheless, it still remains that NO GBB is 100% reliable…..

As there are many, many more brands of GBB’s then AEG’s, one is led to the inevitable question, first off, of: “Which brand do I choose?” This is absolutely impossible to say. Within just about ANY of the GBB makers, from Taiwan, Japan, or otherwise, both good and bad can be found. Basing your decision on any one “brand name” is liable to land you in a world of trouble.

What does this mean for you, the buyer? Again, you simply MUST do your own homework. With the abundance of different models out there from different makes, unless you are well educated in the specifics of the particular make/model you are interested in, you can pretty much be assured that you will not make the best decision. Grab a cup of coffee or a bottle of soda and a snack, and get ready to just READ. Use the same resources as I’ve cited above for the AEG’s – the http://www.airsoftzone.com/ Forums, http://www.airsoftplayers.com/ Forums, and the old X-Ring posts.

The only other advice that I have for you newbies is to also become familiarized with the various technical aspects behind the entire GBB genre. A good place to start would be to become conversant about the various types of propellant gasses available – please read my “Gas Primer” post in the “Gas” Forum of either the http://www.airsoftzone.com/ or http://www.airsoftplayers.com/ Forums (and I PLEAD with you, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE carefully and thoroughly read through the entire contents of these two reference posts, as they will both help you tremendously in your basic understanding of the world of GBB’s). And once you have a good basis in that, move to the “How to fill your GBB magazines” post that’s also in those Forums to familiarize yourself with the proper way to charge up your magazines once your GBB arrives. While you’re at it, you should also check out these links:

http://www.executiveairsoft.com/gas.htm (An excellent step-by-step fill guide, for use with “real” airsoft gas canisters – good for the first-time GBB owner to read before he gasses-up for the very first time.)

http://qphreak.iwarp.com/airsoft/butane.htm (Adaptors for “duster gas” canisters, fashioned out of butane lighter refill canister adaptors, from the respected Kevlarman.)

http://www.virginiarangers.com/pictures/GBB-dustermod/dustermod.html (Yet another adaptor idea, this time from the guys at the Virginia Rangers – a highly respected team/club on the east-coast.)

http://www.dentrinity.com/Topics/magna.htm (From the DEN Trinity commerical website.)

The first three should reinforce what you have learned through my “How to fill your GBB magazines” post, while the last should give you a nice understanding of the actual functional cycle of GBB pistols, with the Western Arms proprietary “Magna” system as reference.

As a secondary reference, you can read:

http://www.redwolfairsoft.com/images/bite/bitenov99/bitenov99.htm#Gas-it-up (Again, from the RedWolf Airsoft Specialists commercial website.)

Like the other RedWolf article I reference earlier, this one also has a few mistakes. Use it again as a secondary reference, but focus your study efforts on my “Gas Primer” post, as it contains more factual information with correct use of terminology.

Again, I must emphasize that each of the GBB’s, regardless of brand of make, is an individual onto itself. Each individual GBB will share specific performance, durability, reliability, and gas-efficiency characteristics that are unique to that pistol itself, and not generalizable to any other replica pistol. So instead of asking about comparisons in various posts and such, simply sit down, search, and read as much as you can about the replicas that you’re interested in – it’s the only sure way to go.

One important item to note about GBB’s is that regardless of what many retailers may say about their supposed durability – i.e. “x or y model can take a or b gas, straight out of the box” – NO GBB IS IMMUNE TO THE GENERAL LAWS OF MECHANICAL OBJECTS. This means that the more you “stress” the system, in this case, the GBB, with “higher-powered” gasses, the more likely it is that you will experience some kind of catastrophic mechanical breakdown or breakage of a critical component, and, for sure, you will experience increased wear and tear as compared to a counterpart GBB that’s been treated only to exclusive use of the “lower-powered” gasses. If you are having a hard time believing me, just think of it this way: race cars. These things are tuned to provide the most performance with commensurately the most stress placed on their parts – and while they are durable for the duration of the race, they routinely get full engine and other critical items replaced, many, many times per season due to excessive wear on critical components. Furthermore, they are also much more prone to having a breakdown than our everyday commuter cars. Another example? Think of the “higher-powered” gasses as “nitrous” for your GBB. Sure, you can run your car on nitrous all the time, but I’d be willing to bet that sooner rather than later, you’re going to blow your engine. So please, unless you are a “power hog” and are willing to deal with the consequences of having a broken GBB due to use of the “more powerful” gasses, just stick with HFC134a or the other lower-powered alternatives. Don’t come crying to me later – ‘cause I’ll just say “I told you so!”

For general maintenance on GBB’s, reference the silicone oil cited in the above AEG section. Typically, while most “true” airsoft gasses (again, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, please reference my “Gas Primer” post) such as those marketed by various Japanese and Taiwanese airsoft manufacturers (i.e. Tokyo Marui, Western Arms, HFC, UHC, “Top Gas/Toy Jack”) contains a very small percentage of silicone lubricant, the content is NOT sufficient to effect lubrication and cleaning of the GBB – it’s only there to serve as an extra dose of “protection” during normal use/cycling of the pistol’s mechanical components. You MUST perform routine oil lubrication as well as cleaning with supplemental silicone oil to effect complete and proper protection of your replica.

Apply anything from 5 to 15 grade silicone oil to any area specified in the GBB’s manual. Again, I know that it’s most likely in Chinese or Japanese, but still, there should be enough figurer and illustrations to point you in the right direction, should you read carefully. Additionally, make sure you apply the lubricant to any area of the GBB’s internals that may make frictional contact with each other – such as the contact points between the slide and the frame, etc – also, a thin layer should be applied to any and all rubber components. Furthermore, the lubricant, especially of lower viscosity, such as 5 to 10 weight, can easily be used as a cleaning solvent for the barrel.

One item of note is that the lower weight oils, should you use them in warmer weather, may “run” excessively. Also, a heavier grade weight, such as between 20 and 30 weight, or even a silicone “grease,” may confer more protection to the slide/frame frictional interfaces. However, keep in mind that such high-viscosity oils or grease may cause “binding” should it start to solidify under extreme cold conditions. So, as you can see, you must use your own best judgement to select the proper lubricant grade. A IMPORTANT side note is that furthermore, under NO circumstances should you use such viscous oils/grease as a barrel cleaning solvent – you’ll have a very hard time getting your barrel cleared of residual excess oil/grease!!!!

The final item to note is that should you desire to use “substitute” airsoft gasses, such as “computer duster gasses,” you will need to supplement the “dry” gas with a bit of the low weight grade silicone oil to effect lubrication of the magazine and its various seals. The process is well documented in the “Gas Primer” and “How to Fill Your GBB Magazines” posts.

A good reference article is the Airsoft Atlanta.com “Gas Gun FAQ”:

http://www.airsoftatlanta.com/faq2.htm

As for shopping for the best deal on your GBB, my advice remains the same as that above -- please refer to that part of the AEG’s section above……

Section Three, BB’s:

Which are best, and which are worse. If you’ve done any searching at all, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that there several heatedly debated threads about just this topic that already exist on the various Forums and d-boards. And if you’ve actually read these threads, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that while some players will vehemently denounce one make and/or grade as being totally unacceptable (for whatever reasons, from lack of BB consistency [such as roundness, or lack thereof] to breakage in the barrel), others will, at the same time, praise the very same BB’s and swear by their use.

Why this inconsistency? Possibly the same as with the varying reports of performance and durability with the AEG’s and GBB’s – some players just have had better luck with one make than the other. Similarly, you may notice claims of BB superiority from a specific retailer that markets their own “brand” of BB’s – the problem is that they neither provide raw data for analysis by the skeptical, nor, do they, per se, provide quantitative data for review by the shopper. Instead, they just make qualitative claims with minimal cited backing data, which are often “pseudo-scientific” in nature, and often designed to make you “think” that their item is better, for no better reason…...

What can you do? Here, there’s simply no substitute for your own experience. Until someone can step in to do a truly quantitative study with statistical power, there’s simply no way for you to be sure that any claims are true until you’ve taken the initiative to try the BB’s in question for yourself.

As for the various gram-weight of BB’s and such, here’s a post on the http://www.airsoftplayers.com/ Forums from a player named “Mirage”:

.12gm - best used in shotguns or for weak handguns - they have very low accuracy at ranges beyond 30ft and will deviate wildy outside

.20gm - the standard round used for bench-testing and normal indoor skirmishing - they are decent rounds for use outdoors but they are not too accurate beyond 30yds - best used in indoor guns/handguns or high volume of fire type guns

.23gm - new round recntly released - designed to be a compromise between the velocity lose from using .25gm rounds and the low accuracy of .2gm rounds. I have tested some and they performed very well- better than .2's for sure. Best used in anygun.

.25gm - Standard round for outdoor skirmishing - They maintain flight path accuracy better than .2's especially in the presense of a cross-wind. Best used in any gun to gain accuracy.

.30gm - Good round weight to use in upgraded gun for an excellent level of accuracy on the field. They have a much better ability to punch through vegitation than lighter rounds.

.36gm - Round typically used in sniper applications. They carry a good part of their momentum for a better downrange impact force and they maintain stability even in the presence of a good wind. The Straight series of teflon bbs are very good and help preserve the life of you sniper barrel. Typical guns this round will be used in: PSG-1, APS, M40, M24... typically shooting over 450fps with .2gm bbs.

.39gm - Again another round that would be used almost exclusively in sniper rifles. A further step up in accuracy and stability but the higher weight requires a strong setup and good hopup to get good results. Expect to get consistent shots and wind should only play a part when engaging targets beyond 80 yards. I would not recommend this round for a gun shooting slower than 450fps. Again the round will be teflon coated for better barrel life.

.43gm - The highest weight round currently avalible and only made by Straight. It is an extremely heavy round in comparison to normal skirmishing rounds. Expect the .43 round to maintain flight stability well beyond 100yards. I would only be concerned with wind if you are engagin targets at 100yards+ because in all honesty this round flys exceptionally true. Again this is a teflon coated round. Only use in rifles with a base velocity over 500fps.

Hope this helps a bit. I have tried all these rounds in guns with velocities ranging from 180fps to 600fps so I know what I am talking about - I'm not feeding you second hand info.

Section Four, a general word about gear:

As a new player, unless you are entering into a VERY well-established team/club (i.e. the Cimmerians), there’s really no absolute and necessary and required load-out you will need to bring to your first game. Even if you join one of those established teams/clubs, chances are that should you make contact with the players/organizers, they will either exempt you from having to have such complete gear, or, alternatively, give you a complete list of exactly what’s required and where to go to find them – to make life easier for you.

While this means that you likely won’t have to go all-out and spend the big bucks on tactical gear when you first join these teams/clubs (pieces which you may or may not need later), or, should you be joining a club that has more relaxed dress-codes or perhaps even one without a guideline as to what your load out should be, you shoule still be prepared to spend about $20 to $50 to equip yourself with the “bare essentials” of skirmish play.

For those who are on a tight budget, you’ll likely have purchased only one or two extra high-capacity magazines to supplement your AEG purchase. You can either stash these extra magazines in your pocket, or, alternatively, you can purchase a single 2-3 magazine capacity magazine pouch from a used/surplus military supplies retailer for around $5 to $10.

Should your budget be higher, and you’ve decided to obtain a cache of standard-capacity magazines, you’ll need both a number of these pouches, as well as a “spent-magazine dump pouch” (most players use either GI “Butt Packs” or some kind of large-capacity [i.e. 6-magazine or SAW Gunner’s Ammo Bags] magazine pouches for this purpose) – set your budget for at least 2 of the previous magazine pouches to store your loaded mags, with about $15 to $25 set aside for the “dump pouch.” Total here for the more extravagant spenders would be between $25 to $65, depending mostly on the number of “full” magazine pouches you need. Whatever you do, should you desire to use standard-capacity magazines, DON’T decide to skimp and not get a “spent magazine dump pouch.” Trying to shove spent mags back into their orignal spots during an engagement is slow and frustrating (especially in the dark) – and the same can be said for your BDU pockets, too.

With that out of the way, remember that you’ll need a pistol belt to take the load – go to a surplus store to purchase a genuine military pistol belt, or alternatively, hit a tactical supply shop to purchase a 2 inch or wider police duty belt. You’ll need the width and rigidity of this type of belt to truly support your tactical load. Look to spend between $5 to $15 on this item. If you have a slightly bigger budget ($5 to $15 more), you should think about a set of suspender harnesses for your belt – which will take the weight of your load off your hips and evenly distribute it over your shoulders. Should your budget be even bigger than that, again by about $10, and you are a serious multi-day scenario player, you should seriously think about obtaining a pad set for your pistol belt, which will GREATLY enhance your overall comfort.

Speaking of pistol belts, what should you purchase to hold your sidearm? While it is tempting to purchase one of those el-cheapo, $5 belt holsters or an el-cheapo $15 thigh rig, trust me, DO NOT do it. I’ve seen more than enough players having their day totoally ruined by losing their expensive GBB’s in the field, after it falls out of their cheap holsters. Why would you trust your $200 GBB to a $15 holster? I could never figure that one out.

When purchasing holsters, look for its retentive capabilities. Police “duty holsters” are especially good for this, as many offer double or even triple retention protection. Should you be a very active, highly mobile player who likes to jump and run a lot, this, along with holsters that offer an additional outer “flap” (i.e. “airborne” or “assault” holsters) that can close down over the entire pistol to further secure it (in ADDITION to also having a traditional thumb-break) will provide you with the best protection.

With belt holsters, you really don’t have to worry so much about the gun flopping about as you run – however, this will be an issue with both shoulder holsters and thigh rig holsters. For the former, choose ones with tie-downs that latch on to the pistol belt for stability. For the latter, look for DUAL adjustable and (ideal) / or elastic thigh straps. Also, keep in mind that the bigger the rig (typically indicative of a bigger pistol, or one with a underslung sighting accessory), the more likely it will flop about, regardless of design.

Look to spend at least $15-$20 for a good belt-holster, and at least $40 to $80 for a good shoulder or thigh rig.

Do you need a cup and/or elbow/knee pads? That’s up to you to decide, we all prefer different levels of protection. Atheletic supporters and protective cups are usually of minimal cost, and cheap foam-filled “volleyball” elbow and knee pads can be had for less than $10 per set – hard-shelled “rollerblading” pads for around $20 per set. Should you decide to splurge on neoprene or even rivet-secured “tactical hard pads,” the cost is still unlikely to exceed $30 for the set.

One important item that you should not forget is that you’ll need some king of hydration equipment. Traditional military canteens work just fine, and there’s now even special cap adaptors and flexible drinking tubes that can attach onto these models to facilitate drinking on-the-go, without having to actually remove the canteen from its pouch. Of course, you’ll still get noisy liquid slosh, but at least it’s cheap, at only around $10 to $20 for either a canteen and pouch or with the drinking straw attachment. Alternatively, CamelBack or other such systems are very popular – they offer both excellent storage capacity as well as the ability to “collapse” as you drink, minimizing any liquid slosh sound. Cost is a bit higher, though – a bladder itself, with drinking straw attached, can run anywhere from $20 to $40, depending on size, and the holding pouch/pack, along with a bladder, can run from $40 to upwards of a hundred bucks.

Finally, but most importantly, goggles. DO NOT think that simple “safety glasses,” “lab goggles,” or “shop goggles” will suffice. These items may or may not offer sufficient impact resistance, and most do not provide enough of a “seal” around your facial bones to totally enclose your eye sockets. Several well-respected teams/clubs here in the US have already banned the use of such eye-wear at their skrimishes.

Instead, choose eye-wear that will actually “seal-in” your eyes. Paintball goggles from JT USA, Scott USA, and Brass Eagle are all highly impact resistant, and have withstood repeated testing by many clubs/teams – gaining wide acceptance for just about all skirmish events nationwide. Many would even debate that these are indeed the current “standard” eye-wear for airsoft. Alternatively, you can use actual “tactical goggles” that meet or exceed ANSI Z87.1 1989 impact resistance standards (this claim should be enclosed with the goggle, printed on the box, or described in the catalog you are ordering from). In any case, this is NOT necessarily an expensive proposition – paintball goggle-and-mask sets can be had at discounters such as “WalMart” for around $20, and many such impact resistant tactical goggles can be had for under $30.

If you have more money to spend, spend it first on getting either a set of goggles that have anti-fogging properties, or, alternatively, an anti-fog lens for your goggle set. Should you have even more dough in your wallet, get a set that offers a built-in fog-reducing vent fan (i.e. ESS Turbo), or, an aftermarket miniature fan (such as the JT USA CrossWinds fan, for JT USA goggles). These last two areas are critical for players who tend to sweat a lot (chemical anti-fogging, in the form of liquids or solid wipes, may also be necessary), and the fans are an excellent addition for those who wear prescription eyeglasses under their goggles (here, note that certain Bolle models offer a supplemental prescription lens frame within their outer goggle shell, and can be fitted for a supplemental prescription lens).

Whatever you do, DO NOT short-change yourself on proper eye-wear. You only have two eyes, and even the loss of one will leave you PERMANENTLY impared (loss of depth perception and a HUGE portion of your overall field-of-vision. DO NOT FUCK AROUND HERE, SPEND THE MONEY AND GET A GOOD SET OF GOGGLES – IF YOU CAN AFFORD THE MONEY TO GET A GBB OR AN AEG, YOU CAN AFFORD TO SAVE YOUR EYES.

General Notes:

First, other general FAQ’s that you should read include:

Pikachoad’s “Searchable FAQ” at: http://www.airsoftplayers.com/faq/listing.asp

and

Thinker’s “Airsoft for Rookies at Black Ops Medelpad: http://home.swipnet.se/blackops/rookies.html

Both of which are EXCELLENT resources for new players.

Second, for those who wish to use this post on their own personal or commercial website, I welcome their invitations, and am honored for their consideration. However, please abide by the following conditions:

Please use the ENTIRE post, including my beginning disclaimers/remarks.

Furthermore, please do NOT alter the contents without first letting me know exactly what you are going to change -- but feel free to add your own disclaimers and/or retorts *separately* (and clearly indicated) - AFTER - the body FAQ, if you are so inclined (as corrections or for an alternative point of view).

Also, I do not mean to be disrespectful, but if any commercial retailer (or any commercially-tied websites) wishes to use this post, I would ask that this post NOT be used for any possible commercial purposes.... This post was intended to be used by hobbyists.

And this goes for *anyone* who wishes to post this "FAQ" on their site. I always feel honored when others think highly enough of my posts to merit valuable space on their personal or commercial websites -- but I just want to make it clear that the purpose of this post was not to be to anyone's financial or personal gain; but instead for the good of all the newbies who are coming into our sport.

I hope that this general guide has been of assistance to you in your airsoft shopping process. Best wishes.

Allen

aka DumboRAT

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Last Updated on Sunday, 19 August 2007 06:49