Airsoft guns have rapidly grown in popularity over the last few years. It is now a 1.5 billion dollar industry of retailers who sell airsoft guns and gear and outlets for airsoft gun battles.
The proliferation of outlets for airgun play and national events speaks to how quickly this sport is growing. Airsoft guns are great for MilSim scenarios and target practice.
If you have joined the legions of enthusiasts for this sport, you want to be the best player you can be. If you’re wondering, “Does the length of barrel matter in airsoft?” then keep reading.
Standard Barrel Lengths for Airsoft Rifles
The makers of airsoft pistols and rifles want to replicate real firearms as closely as possible. Beginners to airsoft play will typically carry an M4A1 platform rifle which has a 14.5-inch barrel. The M4A1 is made to mimic the M4 used in the military.
A standard 14.5-inch barrel has several design advantages. As a military standard, it strikes a balance between accuracy, weight, and maneuverability. When engaged in airsoft play, you’ll have the same considerations.
How Long Should My Barrel Be?
Your choice of barrel length will depend on your type of play and your role in the game. Most players will use a standard 14.5 barrel that is excellent for general use. The M4A1 mentioned above weighs a mere 6.25 lbs. Most players have no problem carrying and maneuvering with it.
Your team sharp-shooter is more likely to choose a rifle like the G28 with a 16-inch barrel. While you can have increased accuracy with a longer barrel, there are a few trade-offs to consider.
Does Barrel Length Help With Accuracy?
Yes, barrel length helps accuracy because the gun has more time to stabilize the flight of the BB before it exits the muzzle. The increased speed also helps accuracy because the BB will spend less time in the air. Since it gets to its target quicker, there is less time for gravity to pull it off course.
There are a few caveats to carrying a long rifle. It is going to be heavier and less maneuverable than a shorter, standard infantry-type gun. For example, the G28 sniper rifle mentioned above weighs about 11.5 lbs. Compared to the M4A1, that is a beast.
If your role is to be a sniper, then the trade-off might be worth it so you can outrange your opponents. Perhaps you won’t maneuver around the playing field as much, so the extra weight won’t trouble you.
What is the Best Barrel Length for Accuracy?
Does barrel length matter in airsoft? Well, a good shooter can work well with any barrel length. Which rifle you choose will depend more on your role on the team. If you intend to be a sniper, then a longer-barreled rifle that is accurate at a further range might be a good choice.
If you are general infantry, then the standard 14.5-inch barrel will serve you better for weight and maneuverability.
Barrel length is not the only factor for accuracy. Boring and hop-up will affect your accuracy too.
The quality of the boring in the barrel affects accuracy as well. A well-made 14.5-inch barrel can be more accurate than a shoddy sniper rifle.
A tight bore barrel increases accuracy because it constricts the BB in its flight path up the barrel. Matching your caliber of BB to the bore on your airsoft gun is a key component in accuracy.
Hop-up means creating a backspin on the BB as it leaves the muzzle to counteract the force of gravity. There is a small rubber tab on the inside of the barrel called the bucking. When the BB contacts the bucking as it leaves the muzzle, it puts the spin on it.
Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to increase your accuracy is to practice shooting. A player can have the most expensive sniper rifle money can buy, but if they don’t practice, they will still miss most shots.
Does Barrel Length Affect Speed?
Yes, a longer barrel indeed helps to propel the BB faster. This is true for regular firearms, air guns, and airsoft guns. However, there is a point of diminishing returns.
The BB will slow down before exiting the muzzle when the barrel is too long. So, the longer barrel does not equal the most accurate gun. A 16-inch barrel is standard for a sniper rifle.
There are no strict regulations on the speed of airsoft guns. The speed refers to how fast the BB travels when it leaves the muzzle. Most airsoft guns shoot at 250-350 FPS (feet per second).
Many airgun play facilities have house rules about what FPS speeds are allowed. Most do not allow over 400 FPS as a safety precaution.
Airgun play is generally safe, although not pain-free. Plastic BBs traveling at 300 FPS will leave welts on you. Most facilities will limit players to airsoft guns that fire at 400 FPS because higher speeds can damage safety equipment.
They may require you to do a test shoot to assure that everyone is playing within the safety limits.
BBs that exceed 500 FPS can certainly break safety goggles and other protective equipment. Over 500 FPS is generally used when hunting small game with air guns.
Does a Good Airsoft Sniper Rifle Have a Longer Barrel?
Let’s go back to comparing two basic models, the M4A1 and the G28. When you are considering buying a rifle for sniper purposes, you want to hit your target at long range. Two considerations are barrel length and power.
The length of the barrel helps increase accuracy because it guides the BB for a longer time. The power of the gun is what propels the BB forward. A short-barreled powerful gun can get similar results as a long-barreled lower power gun.
The G28, with a 16-inch barrel, is generally considered an airsoft sniper rifle. It can shoot between 366-500 FPS. This sniper rifle gives you both barrel length and power.
The M4A1 platform rifle has a 14.5-inch barrel and shoots at 380-420 FPS. You get similar power but a shorter barrel.