What Are Airsoft Shotguns?
Airsoft shotguns are full-size replicas of real shotguns, but instead of firing real shotgun shells, they fire small plastic pellets using springs or compressed air.
These pellets are called BBs, short for ball bearings or big ball. Airsoft weapons are often made to look very much like the real things, except that the firing mechanisms are different.
They can be made of metal or plastic, with metal often being more costly. Airsoft shotguns are different from other air soft guns in that they can fire more than one BB at one time.
The Airsoft Shotgun - Classes and Operation
Airsoft spring guns use the potential energy stored in a compressed spring to push a BB out through the barrel using a piston that compresses air. The spring must be reset after every round fired, meaning that the user has to pull back the slide, bolt, or pump, depending on the type of airsoft weapon.
Electric airsoft guns use an electric motor and internal power source to reposition the spring into a "cocked" position after every shot. While operating on the same basic principle as a spring shotgun, they are advantageous in that multiple shots can be taken without cocking the gun.
Gas airsoft guns use compressed air to fire the BBs. The air is usually supplied via small tanks attached to the weapon. In some models, the tanks may be small enough to hide within the weapon housing, while in others it may be attached externally.
Airsoft Shotgun Models
Airsoft shotguns can range from models that fire 1 BB to models that fire 5 BBs at a time. They are mostly spring powered, since anything else that would not require pulling the pump would not feel like a real shotgun!
The BBs are loaded into a holding chamber at the near end of the barrel before being forced out in a not-exactly-lethal spray.
Realism is key in airsoft, so in keeping with the reality of shotguns, pumping is kept a vital part of the experience.
Gas-powered airsoft shotguns are also available, though not as popular. Electric airsoft shotguns are rare, and not very popular, currently.
Airsoft Shotguns and Usage
Airsoft shotguns are used in target practice, yard play, and military simulations.
The newest models are accurate enough to simulate the real weapons, so they are suitable for target practice.
While yard play and military simulation with any airsoft weapon is possible, participants are encouraged to wear protective clothing, especially on sensitive areas like the face, neck, crotch, et cetera.
Eye protection is indispensable. These BBs are limited to velocities of 100 to 500 feet per second, but even then they can sting and leave bruises.
Shotgun Brands in Airsoft
The top 5 brands in the airsoft world are generally held to be Tokyo Marui, Classic Army, I Chin Shivan or ICS, Jing Gong, and CyberGun.
These companies are valued for different aspects like level of detail, strength of construction, and reliability in use, and pricing.
Shotgun Replica Pros and Cons
Pump action for realism
Wide bullet spread (for models firing more than one BB)
Sturdy due to solid construction
Inaccurate at medium and long range
Slow firing rate
Airsoft Shotguns - Pricing
This huge range in prices is due to the market saturation and customer demand for balances between quality, realism, and reliability.
Airsoft shotguns are great for display and target practice, but most enthusiasts prefer airsoft assault rifles, sniper rifles, and even pistols over these.
Airsoft shotguns are often relegated to a secondary weapon by military simulation enthusiasts. They are, on the other hand, relatively cheaper than other large airsoft guns.