How Do Airsoft Guns Work: The Definitive Guide to Their Internal Mechanism

Whether you’ve only heard about it or you’ve actually played airsoft, you might be wondering how do airsoft guns work. While you can use airsoft guns even without knowing how they work internally, getting to know the way things work is often a good idea if you’re planning on using them. In this article, we’ll dive deep into how airsoft guns work.

As you’ll see, the way airsoft guns work varies between different types of guns. We’ll go through each of the main types of airsoft guns. Let’s dive in.

What Are Airsoft Guns and What’s Their Usage?

But before we discuss how they work, it’s probably a good idea to quickly go over what airsoft guns are and why we use them.

Airsoft guns are nothing more than toy guns. They’re designed to look very similar to real-life guns, which makes them great for combat enthusiasts and military scenarios. Despite their look, they’re very safe as long as players are being responsible.

Their safety is due to the fact that they shoot out tiny and round pellets (BBs) made of plastic. These BBs weigh only a fraction of a gram and are only a few millimeters in diameter. Still, they’re propelled by the gun at speeds of 250-400 feet per second, and even higher, so they can still cause some injuries if the players are not wearing the necessary protective gear.

How Do Airsoft Guns Work: Different Types of Airsoft Guns

As we said, airsoft guns shoot out tiny plastic BBs at fast speeds. However, the mechanism through which they do that varies. Another thing that varies between different guns is the way that they’re powered. Given these differences, there are three main types of airsoft guns: electric, gas, and spring airsoft guns. We’ll discuss each of them.

How Do Electric Airsoft Guns Work?

Electric airsoft guns are among the most popular guns in airsoft and one of the most common choices for a beginner. If you’re just starting out and still don’t own an airsoft gun, these might be your best option. Since they’re so common and popular, knowing how they work can often come in handy. Electric airsoft guns have parts such as the battery, motor, gearbox, piston, and spring.

As the name suggests, electric airsoft guns are powered by electricity, which comes from a battery. The battery is rechargeable, so once it drains off, you can simply recharge and you’re good to go again.

The battery powers the internal motor of the gun, which then transmits to a gearbox with 3 gears inside it to pull back a piston which compresses air and propels the BB out of the gun.

Electric airsoft guns can shoot both automatically and semi-automatically. They may even have the option for a 3-round burst.

Most airsoft rifles are automatic electric guns (AEGs), and these are among the most used weapons in airsoft. There are AEG replicas of M4, M16, AK-47, which are some of the most popular airsoft guns. Apart from AEGs, there are also electric pistols (AEPs). These are, however, not as common as other types of pistols, such as gas pistols.

The fact that they are rechargeable makes electric airsoft guns very cost-effective. That’s because once you buy the gun, your only recurring cost will be the BBs (technically, the electricity too, but that’s minimal). If you choose so, you can buy a second (reserve) battery so that you won’t find yourself with an empty battery on the field.

Apart from being cost-effective, other advantages of electric airsoft guns is that they’re easy to maintain (you only need to care about charging the battery), consistent in different external conditions, offer a lot of options for modifying and upgrading, popular, accurate, powerful, as well as durable.

How Do Gas Airsoft Guns Work?

As their name suggests, gas airsoft guns use gas to propel the BB out of the barrel. Inside gas airsoft guns, there’s a gas cartridge containing compressed gas. Anytime a trigger is pulled, a small amount of gas is released from the cartridge. The released gas enters the barrel and provides momentum to the BB to shoot it out of the gun.

Gas-powered airsoft guns can be semi-automatic, but also fully automatic. They’re a common choice for a secondary weapon (pistol). Gas airsoft guns are very realistic, allowing you to immerse yourself in the game.

However, they’re not as cost-effective as other airsoft gun types are. The main reason for this is that you need to keep buying gas to power gas guns. This is not the case with electric airsoft guns, which only require you to recharge the battery. Depending on how often you play, the costs of buying gas can pile up. You’ll also need to carry gas canisters or bottles with you on the airsoft field, since the gas in the airsoft gun will exhaust.

In order to increase their realism, some gas airsoft guns have a gas blowback feature. This means that there’s a recoil upon firing, similar to what real firearms have. However, this will use more gas since gas will be used both to shoot out the BB from the barrel and to create the recoil effect.

You can find the best gas blowback pistols on our ultimate list of best GBB pistols. Or you can check out the best non blowback airsoft pistols, if that’s what you want.

When it comes to the type of gas used, there are actually many types of gases that can be used. Airsoft guns will work similarly, with the only difference being the gas that powers them. The most common gases used are green gas and CO2, but some other gases that can be used are propane, red gas, as well as high-pressure air.

How Do Green Gas Airsoft Guns Work?

Green gas airsoft guns work similarly to gas guns using other types of gases, with the difference that there is green gas inside of them. Upon pulling the trigger, a certain amount of the green gas is released from the gas cartridge, which then enters the barrel and provides the necessary momentum to shoot the BB out of the gun.

How Do CO2 Airsoft Guns Work?

Contrary to green gas guns, CO2 airsoft guns have a CO2 canister filled with CO2 gas inside of them. And just like green gas guns, pulling the trigger will result in some of the CO2 gas being released from the canister into the barrel. The CO2 gas will create the necessary momentum to shoot out the BB from the barrel.

How Do Spring Airsoft Guns Work?

Spring airsoft guns work by using the spring inside them to propel the pellet out of the gun. They require you to manually cock the gun after every shot, so they can’t shoot automatically. This makes spring airsoft guns far less practical compared to electric and gas guns, with a much lower rate of shooting.

They’re the first airsoft guns invented, but due to them not being practical enough they’re not as popular on the airsoft field these days. Even so, spring airsoft guns are still a common choice when it comes to airsoft sniper rifles.


Knowing at least the basics of how airsoft guns work is very useful if you want to play airsoft. It will allow you to make a better choice when buying an airsoft gun, as well as to understand what’s going on with your airsoft replica.

In this article, we discussed how do airsoft guns work, as well as how different types of airsoft guns work.