As a person that’s aware of airsoft, you’re probably aware of how most airsofters measure the ‘power’ of their guns. If so, you can probably skip ahead a bit. However, if you’re not one of the initiated, here’s a quick catch up.
Airsoft is a sport that is, in the simplest of terms, played with high powered BB guns, in a similar manner to paintball. As you might expect, the speed at which we fling these BBs at each other is carefully regulated to ensure that no one is hurting anyone unnecessarily. Typically, the maximum limit for full-auto capable airsoft guns is 350fps (although it varies from site to site).
FPS stands for Feet per Second and denotes the number of feet that a BB travels in a second, similar to miles per hour. The FPS of an airsoft gun is measured before play begins by firing the weapon through a device that measures the speed that the BB is travelling.
Why is FPS bad?
Now, it’s not necessarily that FPS is bad; it’s just that it is open to exploitation the likes of which the world has never seen!
If you’re as passionate about airsoft as we are, you’ve probably invited a friend or two into the sport. You could be talking with a new airsofter after buying a new weapon, borrowing one or after recent upgrades but when discussion turns to FPS limits and the like, 9 times out of 10 the conversation will go a little like this.
Airsofter 1: “Just make sure that your gun is shooting below 350fps otherwise you won’t be able to use it”
Airsofter 2: “Can’t I just use heavier BBs to bring the fps down?”
NO… well, yes, technically but still NO.
Technically, this does bring the fps of the weapon down, but it doesn’t make it okay to use at an airsoft site. The problem here comes with disambiguation and lack of information surrounding airsoft site limits.
Airsoft sites will NEVER say that their limits are 350fps.
They will always say that their limits are 350fps using a 0.2g BB. This is where the problem lies. People leave off the “with a 0.20g BB” part either through laziness, assumption that the other person knows, or worst of all, malice.
It’s all about energy
A feather hitting you in the face at 10kph is a very different experience to a hammer hitting you in the face at 10kph.
Both are traveling at the same speed, but a have a difference in energy of over 3joules.
This is why sites, gun manufacturers and (hopefully) airsofters are beginning to make the move into classifying their weapons in a scale of Joules. A unit of measure that takes into account the speed and the mass of the BB.
Understanding that it’s the speed of the MASS that is being measured and not just the speed is the first hurdle towards understanding that their airsoft gun is safe, unsafe or even illegal.
The dangers to airsofters are now even more prevalent. With the introduction of the PCB 2017, airsoft weapons found to be firing over 1.3 joules are now classed as Section 5 firearms and a mandatory 5 years imprisonment for the person found in possession (without necessary documentation).
This can easily accidentally happen, as a misinformed airsofter could make their gun fire 350fps using 0.23g BBs (1.31j) and now be unintentionally in possession of a ‘fire arm’. However, if they’re informed to stay below 1.1 joules of energy, they would instantly know whether or not they are ‘firing hot’.
Yes, someone with ill intent could still theoretically skirt around chronograph measurement by lying about the weight of the BB they’re using. However, at least new airsofters will have a good understanding of the power of their airsoft weapons and not make the (now illegal) mistake that a lot of new players make.
Airsoft is a sport based on honestly and integrity. We have demonstrated numerous times to parties interested in shuttering our sport that the community is self-regulating, responsible and safe, this small change would be another step in assuring the continuation of our sport.