Airguns vs. Airsoft Guns: What You Need to Know

Airguns vs. Airsoft Guns: What You Need to Know

At the Yorkshire Outdoor Activity Park, we offer Air Rifle Shooting and Airsoft. But what’s the difference? There are many types of guns available, including airguns and airsoft guns, each with its own unique features and benefits. In this article, we will compare airguns and airsoft guns to help you understand the difference between the two platforms.

What are Airguns?

Airguns are guns that use compressed air to fire a projectile. They come in different types, including spring piston, gas piston, and PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) guns.
Spring Piston air rifles are like those that we use at the park. As you break the barrel, this compresses a spring which has a plunger on the end. As you fire the gun, the piston is pushed by the spring, this increases the air pressure in front of the piston and shoots out the pellet at a high velocity.

Gas Pistons work slightly differently, instead of a compressed spring, the piston compresses air behind itself. When you shoot the gun, the air pressure behind the piston forces the piston forward. The mechanism is then as the spring-powered gun.

PCP or Pre Charged Pneumatics work in a completely different way they work more like a paintball gun. A chamber is filled with high-pressure air, usually via a dive cylinder of stirrup pump. There is a small spring that is used to fire a bolt into what is known as a poppet valve. As the hammer hits the valve, a metered amount of compressed air is let past the valve which shoots the pellet.

PCP airguns are usually the most accurate as there are no real moving parts, other than a small hammer. Remember Newton’s third law, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Airguns usually shoot lead or copper pellets and in the UK, these are usually either .177 or .22 calibre.

One of the main advantages of airguns is their accuracy. They are precise and can be used for target shooting, hunting, or pest control. They are also very quiet, which makes them ideal for backyard shooting.

What are Airsoft Guns?

Airsoft guns have much less power than an air rifle. The power is so low (Around 1.2 Joules) that you can safely shoot an airsoft BB at someone else without harm. A whole outdoor combat game has grown up on this premise.

An airsoft gun usually uses an electric motor to turn a half cog. The half cog moves a piston back against the compression of a spring. Then the half cog gets to the point where there is no cog, the spring forces the piston forward and the bb is fired. Inside an airsoft gun, there is a hop-up unit. BBs don’t travel very far due to the weight of the bb, so they need some help. The hop-up unit puts back spin on the bb, creating lift. This lift counters the force of gravity and the bb effectively fires flat and for a much longer distance than it would without the backspin.

Airguns vs. Airsoft Guns: Key Differences

When it comes to airguns vs. airsoft guns, there are several key differences to consider.

Power and Velocity

Airguns are absolutely more powerful than airsoft guns. They are used to hit targets and are capable of killing vermin. You could not kill anything with an airsoft gun, other than time.

Accuracy and Range

Airguns are much more accurate due to the weight of the pellet and the rifled barrel causes spin which in turn creates stability. An air rifle can be very accurate up to 100m or more. An airsoft gun will not even shoot to 100m no matter what an airsofter will try and tell you.


Airsoft guns are usually modelled on real guns and so are very very realistic looking. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between a real gun and an airsoft gun. The giveaway is the diameter of the barrel though. Airsoft guns have a 6mm bore, no matter what the style. Airsoft guns come under the Real Imitation Firearms laws due to their realistic nature. So a legal defence is needed to buy them. Airguns, on the other hand, look like….airguns. They are easy to differentiate from real guns.


In conclusion, both airguns and airsoft guns have their own unique features and benefits. If you are looking for a gun for hunting or pest control, then an airgun will be the best choice. If you are looking for a gun to shoot your mates when playing in an airsoft event, then it’s an airsoft gun every time.

We hope this article has been informative and helpful in understanding the differences between airguns and airsoft guns. As a general rule though, don’t shoot anyone with an air rifle. But if you have an airsoft gun and are in an airsoft event, then fill your boots, it’s party time!!

More posts and pages you may find interesting

Air Rifle Shooting at the Yorkshire Outdoor Activity Park
How to set the Hop Up on an Airsoft Gun
“Target Air Rifle Shooting: The Basics”
Air Rifle Shooting York
How Paintball Equipment Has Changed Over Time!
Air Rifle Shooting in Yorkshire – Exploring the Rich History

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