If you are here, you’ve probably dediced to get a sidearm. It will be used at close ranges and will save your airsoft live when things get FUBAR. While doing the research in shops, you can spot two main types of airsoft pistols: AEP and GBB/NBB. Which one is better, what’s the difference between them? After reading this entry you will know what suits your needs best.
As one can already conclude from the nomenclature – AEP and GBB use completely different source of power.
Gas pistols are powered by Green Gas or CO2. The Gas is inserted (as CO2) capsule or injected (with the GG bottle) into the magazine. On one load of gas, the common pistol will shoot about 2 to 3 magazines full of bb’s (in case of GBB pistol) and even more with the non blow-back constructions.
Talking about the AEP – it is much simpler. There is a minature gearbox inside that is powered by 7.2 V NiMh battery. Maybe it doesn’t suit the today’s 11.1 V AEG standars, but with the small mechanism it works like a charm. If you need a more powerful battery – try the LiPo mod in order to fit a 7.4 V.
Using the GBB is almost identical to the real firearm. Insert magazine, rack it and bang it. After the last round, slide will stay in the back position. there will be a lot of cling-clang sounds and smile on the face. There is also a great advantage in GBB – the trigger response is immediate, which can’t be said about the AEP.
However, the non blow-back models have their triggers in the DA (Double Action) mode – pulling the trigger also pulls the valve knocker back and releases it, which makes the trigger pull very hard and long. It is not really suitable for fast CQB shooting.
The magazines for airsoft pistols
Gas pistols use heavy, metal magazines that are filled with gas. Their construction is complicated, which makes them, obviously, expensive. I would also not suggest to drop them – it’s very easy to unseal the valves or break the magazine lips. In more exotic pistols that will mean the purchase of new magazine.
However, AEP pistols use simple AEG-like magazines, which are incredibly cheap in production, but also very thin and take a lot of practice to change them during stress of airsoft firefight.
Gas pistol vs AEP – mainteance costs
Gas pistols require
a) regular service – changing the lube of moving parts and seals
b) regular purchase of Green Gas or CO2 catridges
c) GBB replicas also require to every so often change of inside parts like nozzle, seals etc.
In addition – effective use of sidearm requires at least one or two spare magazines, which are incredibly expensive in comparision to the AEP magazines.
In the AEP scenario – you buy the pistol and few magazines. I think that we can skip the calculations of electricity usage.
Gas pistol vs AEP – cleaning
Gas pistol needs to be maintained properly or it will fail. Regular cleaning and lubricating the mechanism takes some time – fairly more than cleaning the AEP barrel.
Gas pistol vs AEP – the muzzle velocity
Gas pistols win here again – they shoot at about 280-350 fps, where AEPs can generate the maximum power of 200 fps, which often is not enough to penetrate the bushes or to feel the hit of plastic bb. Slow velocity of the projectile also provokes the “matrix effect” – whe all know what moves Neo was using in the trilogy.
AEPs win here – rain, mud, snow, dirt, how, cold – they will shoot.
Gas pistols are terrible, when it comes to the vulnerability to external factors. A little of dust can block the whole mechanism by causing too much friction for the power of gas. Things are a little better with the NBBs, but still not as great as in the AEPs.
Gas pistol vs AEP – availability
Gas pistols are pretty common on the market – there are lots of constructions available from very different producers at very mixed prices. This also applies to the spare parts for them. This cannot be said about the electric pistols – you can only choose between Tokyo Marui, CYMA, WELL and JG.
Gas pistol vs AEP – So what’s the conclusion?
It can’t be expressly said which construction is the best choice. It all depends of your needs and expectations. One may prefer a cool looking and shooting gas pistol, while other one would like to have a pistol that doesn’t require any mainteance and takes cheap magazines. Of course you can also consider a compromise of buying both electric and gas pistol. Let me know in the comments what is your choice!