Most people would assume that the magazines used in airsoft depend solely on the gun that you choose to use, however, this could not be further from the truth.
Whilst there are different types of magazines designed to fit in a pistol, sniper or assault rifle to name a few, even those have variations to choose from depending on your price range and needs.
We have discussed pistols in previous blogs when talking about the gas used to power them. The most commonly used is a green gas magazine, these have a valve on the bottom to allow for easy refilling and a slot at the top end to manually load BBs. A spring will force the BBs into the gun and pulling the trigger will release gas to propel the BB. These are generally considered the best all-round magazine type for a pistol.
We produce our own range of green gas which all have their own specialities, you can read about them on our website…
The second most common is a CO2 magazine. Whilst most pistols will hold the CO2 canister in the handle of the gun there are some which have them in the bottom of the magazine. The advantage of this is that when you run out of ammunition and change your magazine it will also refresh your CO2, meaning you are always at full power. However, this will result in canisters being wasted and not using all the gas in them. Also, it will still require you to carry spare CO2 canisters if you do not wish to carry loads of magazines.
When it comes to magazines there are a couple of differences if you’re talking HPA guns. Typically they look to be far more bulky and cumbersome than other mags and that is because they are. They handle insane amounts of pressure going from your storage to the pistol and all that, needs to safely come past your hand and out the gun. On the bottom of the magazines is a box allowing for the gas to enter the gun.
The advantage of using an HPA pistol however is that no space saving is needed in the magazine to allow for green gas or CO2 canisters. This means that they have the potential to be some of the higher capacity magazines available.
ARs & SMGs
A manual airsoft magazine refers to one without an internal or external power source which it can use to push BBs from the magazine into the gun.
In a pistol or a spring powered airsoft gun you can store as many BBs as can fit down the length of the spring before it is completely compressed. However, when you are using a full automatic weapon, you can run out of ammunition very quickly. Therefore the magazines were designed to hold loose BBs in the bottom and, by simply spinning a plastic cog (usually located on the bottom of the magazine) you can force a large number of the BBs through a mechanism on the inside and into the gun. These styles of magazines are very reliable and used by the majority of airsofters despite being more work than other methods.
An automatic airsoft magazine does exactly what one might expect it to do. As opposed to having to manually wind the BBs back into the mechanism after a while, an automatic magazine will be able to do this when it is needed. Usually taking the form of a larger drum magazine (to allow space for the motors/batteries). These will wind BBs towards the gun as they are used meaning you can have an uninterrupted experience. However, there are a few reasons that everyone has not flocked to the ‘future’ of airsoft. A lot of motorised magazines are notoriously unreliable and will often get jammed mid-game which can be extremely frustrating. The large size of these magazines also means that you will be limited to carrying just 1 or 2 of them as opposed to 4-5 Mid ranged manual magazines. On top of this, they are flat-out noisy, if you are trying to sneak up on an opponent and your magazine starts reloading itself the enemy will very quickly notice the high pitch wiring sound.
Unlike pistols, CO2 magazines are not common at all in Assault rifles and Submachine guns which was one of the advantages you got when changing to HPA guns. They can either have the gas coming into the body of the gun or via the magazine. This has no effect on the way the BBs are entering the gun and purely affects how they are leaving. Because of this, you will still have to make a choice between manual and automatic magazines.
Spring-powered airsoft guns are almost not worth talking about. They are low-powered and low-capacity guns that rely purely on the tension in the compressed magazine spring to load the BBs into the gun. With a bigger gun (especially an automatic) you will run out of ammo quickly.
High Capacity, Mid & Low capacity
Whilst there are many different styles and mechanisms used when making magazines there are 3 terms used across them all. This is High, mid and low capacity.
Low capacity typically holds 30-80 BBs and is used mainly by people interested in a more true-to-life experience when playing airsoft. The BBs are forced into the gun by a spring, like pistol magazines.
Mid-capacity magazines typically hold between 130-250 BBs and can also use a combination of a spring mechanism and a spinning wheel. They are very much the middle of the range choice with the benefits and disadvantages which come along with that.
Finally, there are the high-capacity magazines which hold between 300-650 BBs and are by far the most popular among airsofters. The manual versions of High cap (high capacity) magazines are inexpensive, reliable and hold an incredible number of BBs meaning you only need to carry 2-3 when you are playing, depending on how trigger-happy you are. These magazines always have either a manual winder or an automatic system to help ensure the large number of BBs keeps entering the gun.
There are so many different types of magazines that you could use for your gun that it could drive you mad trying to choose. Therefore you should base your decision on a few factors.
Where do you play? Is it a slow-paced game with not many people and stealth needed or are there hundreds of you running around, requiring you to be firing constantly? The first would be possible with any magazine whereas the latter would be improved by having high-capacity magazines to prevent carrying too much weight. At the end of the day, you can play airsoft with whatever equipment you can get your hands on but if you want to have a more enjoyable time and get the most out of your experience then having the right magazines plays a huge part.