How to Calibrate the Hop Up on your Airsoft Guns (and what it actually is)
The hop up is an important mechanism in modern airsoft guns and is used to dial in more accurate trajectories for your BB’s.
This guide will help you to properly calibrate your hop up in order to keep landing precise shots but, first of all, let’s quickly go over what a hop up actually is and how it works.
How does a Hop Up work?
Put simply, hop ups apply varying levels of backspin to your BB’s which, in turn, helps compensate for changes in your gun’s performance and the environment you’re playing in.
Fluctuating temperatures, poor weapon maintenance and changing the gas or BB’s you use are all factors which can affect the trajectory of your BB’s, however, calibrating the hop up is a simple solution which can help to alleviate the problems these cause.
The system works by inducing something called the ‘Magnus Effect’, a phenomenon which you’ve probably seen before in sports such as tennis and football.
This causes objects to adopt a curved trajectory rather than simply moving in a straight line.
The benefit this provides to airsoft players is that your ammunition can be used over a longer distance by manipulating the Magnus Effect.
You can learn more about the Magnus Effect in the video below:
The hop up itself can be found situated between the gearbox and at the start of the barrel and is comprised of various parts including the hop up arm and nubbing.
The main component in this mechanism is what we call the ‘hop up bucking’, or simply ‘bucking’.
As this is placed deeper into the guns barrel, a greater amount of backspin is applied to the ammunition inside which results in varying levels of lift. The image below shows a cross section of what the hop up looks like.
Calibrating the Hop Up
One fundamental aspect of the hop up’s design is its reliance on friction.
Because of this, it’s important to ensure the entire mechanism is kept as dry as possible so make sure to avoid letting any lubricants enter the barrel as well as the hop up itself.
If you haven’t used a hop up previously, it can be interesting to see just how much it affects the path of your shots.
However, the trick to optimising your gun’s set up is to tune your hop up just enough so it can perfectly compensate for the earth’s gravitational pull, rather than simply applying the maximum amount of backspin.
This will help you to achieve the flattest possible trajectories and prevent your shots from suddenly lifting off just before they hit the target.
Fine-Tuning the Hop Up
Before testing your weapon in any way, make sure you’re in a safe, private place which has enough open space between you and your target. And, of course, wear eye-pro!
Although the location and exact systems used to fine tune a hop up mechanism can vary from gun to gun, typically, this procedure is completed by turning a small cog. This can often be found hidden underneath your dust cover.
To reset (or ‘zero’) the hop up, simply turn the cog all the way to the left. We advise doing this prior to calibrating your gun as it will provide you with an excellent starting point from which you can begin testing.
From here, fire a few shots, turn the hop up cog slightly and repeat.
You should be carefully observing your shots at each point during this test as this will allow you to identify how accurate each setting is and, therefore, which is best for you and your equipment.
When it comes to finding the optimal setting for your hop up, the sheer number of variables means there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so get out there and start testing!
Do you need to do this?
The short answer: yes.
It’s necessary to use a hop up mechanism as, unlike many real steel weapons which feature a rifled barrel and bullet shaped ammunition, airsoft guns are tied into using spherical ammunition and very smooth interior for their barrel.
This would make it hard to achieve the same trajectories consistently; however, this is why the hop up has now been implemented.
If your BB’s are still firing poorly, it may be time to invest in either more advanced hop up components or, alternatively, more powerful gas.