Air Guns

Written by Johnny Kitchens
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Quite often, when people think of air guns they think of little toy guns. While this is not wholly incorrect, the air gun family is quite large and varied. Some high-power air guns are even capable of propelling their bullets to speeds faster than the speed of sound. To be completely technical about it, the majority of all guns could be considered air guns, because bullets are propelled not by an explosion of gun powder but by the rapid expansion of gases released when the gun powder is ignited.

For this discussion, however, the category of air guns will refer to those for recreational use--and specifically those guns in the Airsoft family. Airsoft guns of all types use spring-mounted pistons to compress columns of air behind their BBs and propel them down the length of their barrels. Airsoft gas guns replace regular air with a gas (there are several commonly in use) that is injected into the chamber and propels the BB out through the muzzle.

The simplest Airsoft guns are hand-cocked, single-shot guns. A gun of this type uses only a single spring as the operating mechanism. The power of such a gun is directly related to the power of its spring. Upgrades for guns like these are almost wholly limited to changing springs. Automatic electric guns, AEGs, use motors and gears to compress cylinders that compress the air behind their BBs. These guns can be highly modified and are the most popular.

Air Gun Fun and Responsibility

Airsoft guns look highly realistic and, at a glance, can easily be mistaken for the real thing, even with their bright orange muzzles. Airsoft guns should not be waved around in public places or, for obvious reasons, brandished in front of law enforcement officers. Participants in Airsoft games should all wear protective eye-wear or full masks to prevent injury. Precautions should even be taken during target practice, such as using a proper backstop to stop the BBs after they pass through the target.

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