Seeing as how I work in a retail store where aftermarket upgrades and services to install those upgrades is a thing, I’ve been thinking about how each individual player’s definition of an “upgraded” gun may actually differ.
At work, I’ve had a few customers come in over the past few weeks asking for their gun to be upgraded – often on a budget. If given a budget, we have been working up to this budget to get things done and out of the way starting with the most effective upgrades to that customer’s gun (not nearly as many as I myself would have liked to do)… however, this doesn’t always pan out as expected with the occasional customers who get back their gun and who feel that the work done to their gun greatly exceeds their expectations, or are totally let down by how their gun doesn’t shoot as far/fast/hurt as much as they had expected.
This lead me to do some reflecting about what it means to tune an Airsoft AEG, in my books, and what that definition of “upgraded” really means to me.
One such example that I would like to go over today: I’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars on various inner barrels over the years – usually nothing super high end, though I’ve had my fair share of barrels that didn’t quite cut it for what I was looking for. Tight bores, at least up until recently, were usually the way to go when it comes to upgrading for AEG’s. But lately, I’ve been doing some testing with a couple of Orga 6.13 wide bore barrels in my PTW, after doing some research into the whole concept of wide bore barrels and seeing the more established aftermarket upgrade companies from Japan (PDI, Prometheus, KM) starting to start to offer similar wide bore options.
As it turns out, the promises of further range do seem to hold true… but from what I can tell, I’m not getting the same tight groups I’ve come to love out of my current PTW set up at the same range as before. (On that note, I’m not done testing the Orga 6.13 barrels in my PTW, but this is what I’ve noticed as of now.) As it turns out, this increase in maximum range, at the cost of a decreased “effective” range is not the result that I’m looking for.
And as I was thinking about this, I began thinking about how one would even define effective range in Airsoft. I’m sure there is a proper definition for this in the “real steel” firearm world, but in Airsoft, we are greatly limited by the ballistics of a lightweight, plastic sphere that may or may not be all that consistent in size, shape and weight flying through the air – all while having back spin imparted on said BB to keep it floating out there to our target. There are just so many different variables that are difficult to control, in order to even hope to achieve that laser-beam straight flight path. And so, at what range does this laser-beam straight BB flight path even be defined as “effective” in most player’s books?
What comes to mind here are reports I’ve read online of people getting stupid far kills with moderate FPS and relatively light weight BB’s – I mean, how does one even confirm that kill was your shot in the first place? How many rounds were required to reach out and touch someone at that range? How high did you need to aim in order to arc that BB out there? I’m not doubting some of the reports I’ve read that have left me mesmerized by the apparent effectiveness of some of the highly tuned guns out there, but what I am doing is doubting the credit to which the vast majority of these reporters give to their guns, and whether or not these reports are given a bit of creative flair in adding a little bit of extra estimated range.
I don’t doubt some of these reports I’ve read from people who definitely know what they’re talking about, but a BB can only fly so far before it loses it’s energy. I’ve seen some guns myself that I had to take into my hands myself and shoot downrange to really believe that they shoot as far as the owner claims they do, but I’ve also seen some that go completely the other way. That being said, I’ve seen players who don’t really care how far their guns shoot, but still make the most of what their gun is realistically capable of and absolutely wreck it out there on the field (that’s a topic for another day, though).
In the end, after all my testing with various parts, it turns out that I value tighter groups over a longer maximum range. I’m not saying I don’t like range – hell, if I have that long range capability to get effective hits on target from a further distance away, why not use it. But I did find this to be surprising, as I was sort of expecting that I might somehow be magically more satisfied if I could get my BB’s flying to targets a little further than before. That increase in maximum range just doesn’t seem to cut it for me as it turns out; I much prefer to get those much more precise shots, even if I’m playing with an overall maximum range disadvantage.