AEG or GBBR? It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie in the Airsoft community, a three year Airsofter or multi year veteran Airsofter, this is one of the most frequently pondered questions that most Airsofters face these days.
Personal preferences aside, there are benefits and drawbacks for choosing either one. And so it is not a choice to be made lightly, and will require some research before making a final decision.
Let’s see the pros and cons shall we?
AEG: Automatic Electric Gun
The pros of AEGs:
1. Easy to use: players can just pick up a brand new unit, plug in a battery plus a loaded magazine and start playing immediately…no familiarization required.
2. Easy to maintain: always dry fire once in order to ensure that the spring is released fully and disconnect all batteries before returning to storage.
3. Magazine capacity: even the low capacity magazine can load up to 75 BBs, so even a single M4 can turn into a squad of Light Machine Gunners with one of those 5000 round Beta mags.
4. Magazine durability: their simplistic design makes them hard to break even when used roughly.
5. Winter friendly: can be used even in the very low temperatures.
6. Lighter weight: their light material, usually high density aluminum or high strength polymers make them lighter.
7. Easy access to parts: since this sport started with the inception of AEGs approximately 7 years ago, a player can visit an airsoft shop or airsoft website and have their pick of any spare parts to replace or upgrade their AEGs.
8. Price: since there are literally dozens of brands to choose from. These brands are competing in making cheaper and more affordable AEGs to entice players to pick their brand.
9. Accessories: easy access to cheaper brands of accessories because an AEG can use most kinds of replica, like chinese made optics, laser mounts, grips, stocks, etc)
The cons of AEGs:
1. Zero recoil: except for those new Electric Blowback Rifles, but even those have very minimal recoil.
2. Too many moving parts: pistons, gears, pinion gears, etc. with limited durability
3. The units are bulkier than the original version: in order to house the gearbox and dynamo.
4. Electrical wiring durability: they either short or melt when paired with the wrong or faulty battery.
5. Material durability: their lightweight material may make them easier to carry and handle, but it also means that they are easy to break from rough handling.
6. Zeroing: because their hop up system is set up so that players can easily set them on the fly, some AEG’s hop up also go out of sync easily and will require another adjustment fairly often.
So overall the AEG would be a perfect choice for people who are either just beginning to dive into our world or seasoned players who just want to enjoy the game without the hassle of upgrades or routine maintenance, and then there are the speed players who rely on these AEGs for their lightweight and large magazine capacities. Because if these AEGs are handled properly and carefully it will also mean that they would last very long with minimal maintenance.
GBBR: Gas Blow Back Rifle
Now let’s look at the GBBRs, starting with the pros:
1. Realistic recoil: using gas or sometimes CO2, some gas blowback rifles with heavy duty bolt carriers can closely mimic a .22 or even 9mm Rifle in the recoil department, making them the better choice for those looking for some realistic feel to the game.
2. Zeroing: since the inception of gas blowback hop ups, they are fairly durable and not require so many adjustments to zero them in, even with the recoil from their shots rocking the entire system.
3. Durability: most GBBRs are made using superior materials to be able to sustain their recoil, this also gives them extra durability should they get dropped or gets trampled on.
4. Realistic-ish magazine capacity: their limited round capacity makes them ideal for mil-simers who loves realism in their game, right down to the need for multiple magazine changes in mid-contact.
5. Realistic mechanism: for mil-simers and those who love some sense of realism in their airsoft replicas, the mechanism of most GBBR trigger and hammer assembly are almost exact copies of the real thing, with a slight difference in materials and how the hammer interacts with a gas valve on the magazine instead of a firing pin to a primer.
6. Realistic weight: real steel rifles such as the M4 weigh about 7-8 pounds, whereas most GBBRs weigh about 6 pounds loaded.
7. Realistic burst: unlike the AEG’s whining motor sound, the GBBRs firing sound are more profound and loud. Like the whine of a kitten to a roar of a lion, this difference has been known at times to put fear in the heart of some of the more timid players when facing someone with a GBBR.
Now the cons of GBBRs:
1. Maintenance: the realistic mechanism also means a routine maintenance is required to keep the parts functioning properly as intended.
2. Magazine durability: with their heavy weight and solid construction, you would think that those magazines are superior to that of the AEGs, but some magazines are constructed so poorly that they are quite prone to malfunctions.
3. Cold weather: the cold nature of the green gas HFC134a or the CO2 means that they won’t be able to function when the magazine mechanism is frozen, and in the cold weather most brands of magazines will most likely freeze and will probably work better as accessories on the wall or paper weights.
4. Limited access to parts: since the modern GBBRs were only invented a little over 5 years ago, a broken part cannot be easily fixed by walking into just any airsoft shop and pick up replacement parts. Luckily we now have CNC shops for some and the internet for the rest though.
5. Price: since there is quite a limited choice of GBBR brands out there, some brands focus on economic packages while other brands focus on quality. So if you want to get a good GBBR you either go for the more expensive ones or get the cheaper ones and upgrade them extensively. In the end you will probably shell out similar amount of money.
6. Accessories: a GBBR cannot use cheap accessories such as optics or mounts for lasers, PEQs, front grips, etc because of the recoil… cheap optics and mounts will most likely break in the short to mid-term use, but real steel accessories fit right in with zero to minimal adjustments.
So in short, these GBBRs are somewhat costly and require experienced routine maintenance from veteran players or mil-simers (who are most likely are veterans of the airsoft world). While some newbie would pick a GBBR over an AEG, they need easy access to a mechanic or familiarization to the system in order to properly maintain in for long term use.
Many thanks to Ross Mackerracher for the photo