When starting into airsoft as a new player, there are many things to learn. One of the key parts of having an airsoft replica perform on the field and allow you to have a fun time is the hop-up. So what exactly is the hop-up? If you are just starting out, and reading the manual that came with your replica, the pictures show that it makes the bb “hop up” in the air during its path to its target. But there is much more behind this than that. The hop-up, and what it does, along with what BB weight you are using can totally change how your replica performs, and how your day out on the field goes.
Hop-up mechanics. So how does a hop-up work exactly? Well, the hop-up works by using a mechanical function (twisting, turning, pushing) to press a 'nub' that pushes the bucking (a rubbery sleeve inside the hop-up, that sits on the inner barrel) into the hop-up window (a hole in the end of the inner barrel which the bb passes ) that provides backspin to the bb as it passes. This is what gives the BB its dip and rise and provides a further range. Google Magnus effect for more info as to why.
To start, let's discuss BBs. I typically run Elite Force BBs (who would have guessed that since this blog is on their page) because they offer good quality Bio BBs (for outside, because nature) and Non-Bio (Indoor/Cqb) options. Now, when first getting into airsoft, you may wonder, what BB weight do i need? Welp, here is how I figured that out. To sum the “science” of it all up, an airsoft replica has an amount of air volume it can send down the barrel, with an AEG replica, this is pretty much set. so based on the air volume and AEG replica produces, you will want to use a maximum BB weight of .32 grams. if you get into other types of replicas such as Gas Blowback, and HPA (High-Pressure Air) units, this can be increased. recommended BB weights then range from .2G to .32g with the standard weights being offered being - .20g, .25g, .28g, .3g and .32g. At this point you are probably asking, 'well how do i decide which is best for my replica'? Well, I'm glad you asked..... so, an airsoft replica is set at a specific Chrono limit. This Chrono limit can be reflected in either FPS ( Feet Per Second) or Joules (force). So, when deciding on the BB weight you would like to use, you'll want to decide on the following: Do you want it to get to a shorter distance faster, or a further distance slower?
Don’t Argue With The Science
Due to the science behind how the hop-up works, it is putting a backspin on the bb. This is why the BB will drop midway through its path, then rise up when the hop-up is adjusted. By adding a heavier BB to your replica, and by placing that 'hop' to the bb, it will go further (more science, inertia, Newton's law, etc) but move slower since you are propeling more weight. This ultimately translates for airsoft to, it goes further, flatter. Also, by adding a slightly heavier BB when playing outdoors it helps mitigate wind and sometimes helps penetrate brush and leaves better. So at this point you are thinking, “OK, I need to run the heaviest bb possible." Not necessarily. As you test and try things out, you will need to find the performance that best suits your replica. I often recommend .28g as the best all-around BB for outdoor, and .25-.28g for indoor as range is shorter, and wind is not an issue.
Trust The Science
So, now that we understand how BBs and the hop-up work hand in hand, let's discuss how we set the hop-up and adjust it. To start, we will load our magazine with our BB of choice, make sure we are wearing proper safety gear, and have a clear open area to do the testing. I recommend setting up something about the size of a pizza box, that is made of a material that will make a 'tink' noise when shooting at it so you can set your hop up for the range you want. Starting at about 100 feet From the target, take a few shots and see how the hop-up is working. then slowly turn it up until you are getting a nice gradual dip and rise in the bbs flight path. Now, here is the part that is going to vary by player drastically. Some people like to have their replicas set so it “over-hops” the BBs (dip, and large rise and fall) this can help increase the total distance the bb will travel, but can be difficult to set where it will hit from time to time. I often say just set it at a nice almost flat trajectory, then if you make changes, you can see what fits your play style and what you like. Once set at the happy place, and you are able to consistently hit the target at 100 feet, move back to about 150 feet, do some more testing and see how you like it. Do you feel adjusting the hop-up Up a little bit will get the BB to the target better, then turn it up a little. Keep doing this until you are at a range you cannot hit the target. Now, set the hop up to what you feel is going to be the best for your scenario and engagement distance, and go have some fun.
A Few Last Things
A few things to note with the hop-up adjustment. 1. Yes, in some cases you can turn it up too far and it blocks the bb path. I'll explain how and why in the next paragraph. 2. what you like may be different from another player, do what best suits your playstyle and feels right. This may change over time as well. 3. Watching a BB can sometimes seem like it's going further than it is and you should be hitting something, don't get frustrated, just move forward a little, as a Typical Airsoft replica has a max usage range of about 150-200 feet typically (yes, there are things that range more, yes, tweaking things can increase range and yes you can build a replica that will hit 300 feet, but this is an airsoft basics blog post so we are sticking with basics here) As I said above, do some testing to see how your replica works, this will help you drastically on game day.
If you accidentally adjust the hop-up so the BB cannot pass, it may cause a jam. Simply turn the hop-up all the way down, removing the upper (on an m4), and using the unjamming rod that came with your replica to free them from the bb path and try again.
I hope this has been helpful for everyone, have fun and get out there and play! –@callsign_dad
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