Charter Member of the Sub-Media

August 31, 2004

Answering Mr. Kaus « Gun Issues »

Re: Airsoft Guns

On 28 August, (scroll down), Mickey Kaus asks about airsoft guns.

Trend I most need explained to me: Airsoft guns. They shoot plastic pellets, not BBs, right? Who buys them? Adults? Children? What damage can they do? Are they somehow an artifact of gun control laws? Don't the people who use them risk getting shot by cops who think they are regular guns? Instapundit will know ...

As a recent convert to Airsoft, I believe I can explain what I understand.

Airsoft guns were developed in Asia, where people wanted to own guns but where prohibited by national gun-control laws. Apparently, there is something about the look and heft of guns that speaks to the spirit of a person. But CO2 guns are dangerous; they can break windows, injure people and pets, etc. Airsoft weapons shoot the softer plastic pellet at velocities that allow useful target practice at distances up to 100 feet (sometimes more), but won't result in damaged property or injured people.

There are three types of airsoft: Spring-powered (must cock each time, shortest range), Green-gas powered (you refill from a canister rather than using cartridges), and electronic propulsion. The last method uses batteries and a mechanism that is weighty and balanced enough to feel like a real weapon. They are also the most expensive, usually more than $300 each. But they also have the longest range and best accuracy. These are also usually constructed out metal rather than the plastic of the cheaper models, which further adds to the verisimilitude.

Who buys them? Well, kids and adults. The accuracy/range of the pellets rivals paintball but the lack of velocity allows one to dispense with much of the protective gear, so both teens and adults use Airsoft in tactical war games. The problem of knowing for sure whether you hit is more than made up for by the realistic appearance of the guns, adding to the fun of the fantasy. Moreover, the industry is currently developing paint pellets that can be fired without breaking that will burst reliably when it hits a person without breaking the skin. Once that happens, I think you will see paintball be completely superseded.

Personally, I purchased a few handguns and a few rifles so I could work on basic marksmanship skills in my basement rather than having to go to the gun range, expend ammo at the rate of a dime a round, and then having to spend a few hours cleaning. The recoil is not realistic at all, obviously, but I do have the opportunity to work on steady aim, good sight-picture, breath control, and not changing the orientation of the weapon with my trigger squeeze (my biggest problem). It's a nice bonus that I now have realistic-looking weapons that I can use to teach my children safe gun-handling techniques without the possibility of a drastic mistake.

Posted by Nathan at 08:39 AM | Comments (2)

I recently purchased a Western ArmsBeretta Elite, a gas blowback Airsoft pistol. All the literature is in Japanese, and a query to the WA company is not being answered. Do you know if and where I can get an English language version of an Owner's Manual? I can't even read the cautions in the Japanese version.

Posted by: Gene Badeau at March 7, 2005 08:09 PM

Try here.

Posted by: Nathan at March 7, 2005 09:02 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?