One of the most important things to an airsofter using a gas gun is gas efficiency. That is, ensuring that the gun uses the least possible gas to operate at the desired muzzle velocity. This then results in more shots per magazine, less time spent re-loading gas, less wasted money.
In this article, we’re going to show you a number of different techniques to improving the gas efficiency of your gas guns.
This is one of the simpler, easier to do ‘upgrades’ to your weapon to improve its gas efficiency and here’s why. The gas coming from the magazine of your gun has 2 jobs (in blow back gas guns) – to push the BB down the barrel and to operate the bolt.
The expanding gas has to physically move the slide backward, against the return spring and hammer, in order to re-chamber another BB and re-cock the hammer. A dirty or dry weapon will have a larger than necessary level of friction during this movement, requiring more force (and therefore more gas) to move the slide completely.
To improve the gas efficiency of your gas blow-back gun, ensure that it is clean and well lubricated. Some people even go as far as to polish parts of the weapon, to reduce the level of friction and resistance.
If you’re not sure how to lubricate your gun, take a look at our video on cleaning and lubricating your airsoft guns with abbey products.
As gas is released into your gun it will encounter resistance. It’s hard work for the gas to propel the BB and to operate the action on a gas gun.
Airsoft gas will follow the path of least resistance, if it’s easier for the gas to escape elsewhere, it will! There are a number of places where gas can ‘leak’ and reduce the gas efficiency of your weapon. It can be between the gas router and the air nozzle (the top of the magazine and where it connects to the gun), it could be due to a poor seal on the piston (inside the blow back unit), or it could be escaping around the hop-up rubber.
The first step here (as above), is to ensure that these areas are not dry – The rubber seals require gentle lubrication to effectively work. However, the hop-up should not be lubricated as it requires friction to work effectively.
If this doesn’t improve your gas efficiency, you may need to look at buying upgrade parts to get a better air seal. Improved gas routers, hop-up units (and buckings), and upgraded piston heads will improve your gas gun’s efficiency.
As mentioned above, the gas must move the slide / bolt to operate the gun. This movement is much easier to produce when its weight is less. Reducing the weight of the bolt or slide will mean that it requires much less energy to make it move, resulting in a great gas efficiency.
The reduced weight results in reduced recoil when firing also; it’s down to you whether this is a worthwhile compromise.
Reduced weight can be achieved by aftermarket lightweight parts. Many rifles use recoil weights to improve the feel when firing, these can be removed or replaced with lighter weights. Pistols can use lighter slides and blowback housings to achieve great results.
These upgrades will also have the added benefit of increasing the speed of each shot, as the slide / bolt takes less time to return to battery– allowing you to fire follow up shots faster. This is why AIPSC pistols are often customised to remove the most possible moving mass from the slide.
Check your magazine
Your gas magazine holds the gas for your gun to use when firing. There’s a chance that your magazine is slowly losing gas over time – giving you the illusion that your gun isn’t very gas efficient.
Hold your magazine underwater or spray it with soapy water and watch for bubbles that may be appearing. This is clear indicator that your magazine has a leak in it – reducing the amount of propellant available for shooting.
Alternatively, it could be too cold for you to be effectively using a gas gun for airsoft. The cold reduces the available pressure available for use when shooting and causes it the gun to use more gas for the same pressure, this is called the 'gas cooldown effect'.
These will not improve your gas efficiency
It’s important to remember that there are certain upgrades that can be done to your airsoft gun that will not improve your gas efficiency (but people still claim they do). Here are a few:
Stronger recoil springs
Stronger recoil springs do the same as a dirty, poorly lubricated, heavy slide or bolt – they make it harder for the gas to push the slide back. This means that more gas is required per shot and reduces the gas efficiency.
Technically, a bigger magazine is marginally less susceptible to cool down and therefore does fractionally improve gas efficiency. However, this is an expensive ‘fix’ – not actually a fix - for bigger (cheaper) problems in your rifle.
Whilst HPA (high pressure air) is much less susceptible to the cool down effect, you are not solving the route of the problem. If the petrol tank in your car is leaking, you don’t just fill it up with more and more petrol. The gas efficiency problem is still there.
Stronger Hammer Springs + High Flow Valves
These modifications simply allow more gas to escape from the magazine and operate the gun. The gun either uses the same amount of gas (more gas operates the gun faster), or more gas (more gas can leak through gaps and get wasted).