In addition to the aforementioned questions in my rants about upgrades, a topic that has come up rather repeatedly from customers at work is: which part to upgrade first?
Simply put, an upgraded airsoft gun is a sum of its parts to achieve a specific result.
No single part will give you amazing performance, but rather it is tuning of every part that will result in awesome performance. While specific results can be addressed by tuning different part groups of said BB blaster, generally speaking installation of a single part in most platforms out of the box won’t give you laser straight performance as is. Having an idea of the exact results you want helps, though for most new players they haven’t yet realized the marginal improvements that can be made, nor the limitations imposed by field rules (generally around muzzle energy for minimizing injuries). In this case, I find that finding a specific performance aspect that could use improvement to be the easiest way to evaluate what to upgrade next.
Moving on from the topic of teching individual parts, there are other factors that come into play for consistency, accuracy & range. I myself am happy with imperfect ammo, as acquiring the “perfect” heavy weight BB has proven to be a long drawn out process, and at a premium price. Finding a BB that is “good enough” and feeds in all my guns without drastic changes in performance due to BB size has proven to be my own personal solution to the ammunition factor.
My preferred muzzle velocity also has become a factor when considering BB weight – I find that constant air volume guns such as AEG and PTW give the most stable flight path when muzzle velocity with said BB remains below a given muzzle velocity, while being able to travel fast enough to still be able to hit a moving target. On the other hand, I have avoided remaining at “original power” due to slight increase in range (up to a point) by increased energy alone… and sufficient impact for my targets to realize they’ve been hit. As such, this generally translates to most of my AEG muzzle velocities being tuned up to match the BB weight that I have selected to match range of hop up adjustment, so on so forth. An important thing to keep in mind here, as best worded by a variety of tech minded local guys – maximum FPS at a field is a limit, not a goal.
Budget – while spending thousands on a PTW and high end parts that sucker is an easier way towards achieving high performance with high reliability and fewer hassles, this path is not always feasible for all airsoft players, including myself. Hence why having an idea of what exactly you want improved in performance & then determining what parts will need to be improved is the way that I usually tackle my personal projects. If I had an unlimited budget and time, perhaps all my guns would be fully tuned up with high end Japanese quality parts and done by infinitely more professional, knowledgeable and precise gun docs than my own ability affords, but the harsh reality that I face more often than I care to admit is that I’m not that rich and that I have to spend time working towards every purchase… if only, right?
Finally, sure, I’ve done this enough by now that I have preset formulas in my mind of the “basic” upgrades I do to my V2/V3 AEG & TM pattern GBB pistols – but fine tuning from there is what gives each of my guns its own unique personality that defines the role I use each one for. High ROF AEG with big battery packs to compensate for higher drain for run and gun lazy days with high caps in pockets, GBB rifles and bags of mags for those days when I want extreme realism, guns tuned for a balance of long range/tighter groups for days when I want to really reach out and touch someone, and AEG with simpler internal work because they will just run when I’ve got nothing else left that is in working condition in my arsenal. Each is built for a specific result in mind, even though my personal expectations of what a tuned airsoft gun can achieve have resulted in some similarities between my AEG tuning jobs… not to mention the accessories, related kit, and overall look that each is built for – but that’s a topic for another time.
In conclusion, there’s a reason why an upgraded airsoft gun is said to be “tuned” by the tech for the end user. Unfortunately, there is not one PERFECT build that offers high end, high performance, low budget, high ROF, high FPS, high reliability, hard kick, long range, and tight grouping AND that will fit the wants (and needs) of every single airsofter out there – not everyone wants everything out of their airsoft gun.
In my opinion, the best place to start is? Upgrade the player first, then upgrade the gun.
For reference, my chosen BB weight for outdoor play is 0.30g. This translates to most of my AEG and my PTW being tuned for 360-380 FPS on 0.20g for approx 330 FPS muzzle velocity with 0.30g if shooting red dot sight, lower if shooting through scope, but higher fps or lighter BB is acceptable if shooting iron sights which I have trouble finding to be as precise (can’t see target and BB flight path as clearly). I want my BB to appear as if they are flying straight out to as far as I can see clearly – usually between 170-220 ft effective range. Consistency and stability of flight path hence takes priority over range (max) and pain (FPS). Trigger response needs to be fast enough that I can’t lock my gearbox on semi auto when I’m running my gun, whereas full auto rate of fire is a byproduct of conventional builds that achieve this. These are what my personal expectations out of the completion of tuning my AEGs, GBBRs and PTW.