Airsofters throw around the term “trigger response” all the time, but if you’re new to the sport, you might not know what it actually means. So, here’s everything you need to know about trigger response in airsoft.
What is trigger response?
Trigger response, in the simplest terms, is the time between pulling the trigger and a BB leaving the barrel. As you might expect, for the best performing airsoft gun, the shortest or fastest trigger response is preferred.
Spring and Gas guns have the fastest trigger response of all airsoft guns. This is because they’re mechanically operated. When you pull the trigger on a spring gun, the piston is immediately released, and it begins to fall and shoot a BB. Similarly, with a gas airsoft gun the sear is released and gas immediately pressurises the barrel to propel the BB (providing you're using the right gas).
This is part of the reason why these kinds of guns have a much more pleasing and realistic gun play to them.
So, trigger response is primarily used when talking about AEGs (electric airsoft guns), not gas or “springer” guns.
The trigger response of an AEG is determined by the speed at which the internal gearbox can pull back a spring and piston, and let it fall to propel a BB. This can take a long time in airsoft guns that aren’t optimised properly, or are underpowered.
Because of the way gearboxes are built, the trigger response of an airsoft gearbox is tied to the rate of fire of the gearbox (unless the rate of fire is artificially reduced through a computer unit).
What affects trigger response?
In an AEG, trigger response is dictated by the resistance within the gearbox and the speed that the motor and gears can turn.
Here are just a few things that can impact on a gearbox’s trigger response:
Lower = Better
Main Spring Rate
Wiring and Trigger Contacts Resistance
Higher = Better
Battery Condition and Peak Voltage
Motor Torque and Speed
On top of this are the standard aspects of AEG maintenance that improve an airsoft gun’s trigger response, such as: gearbox cleanliness, lubrication, and gear shimming.
Naturally all of this is in a balance. Yes, the lower the FPS the faster the rate of fire (as it requires less energy to pull the spring back), but you can’t play airsoft effectively with an 80fps AEG. Yes, a higher voltage battery will improve your rate of fire and trigger response, but a 24v LiPo will probably burn out your rifle in 3 shots.
Take a slow methodical approach to your upgrades, test before and after and measure the results. The first and easiest method is to tune your airsoft gearbox with cleaning and shimming.