Airsofting has become an incredibly popular activity in recent years, offering fans the chance to fully customize everything from their uniform, armor, equipment, and weapons to make sure they are ready for combat.
As such, creating the right ‘build’ for a weapon is one of the most important things, and there are many different components that are seen as both vital and game changing when it comes to this high velocity undertaking.
One of the most important components in most AEGs (automatic electric guns) is the piston. But what exactly does this component do, and how do you attach it to your weapon?
AEG Pistons: What Are They Used For?
Modern airsoft AEGs fire small, spherical plastic projectiles, which can be loaded using a magazine on the underside of the weapon.
For these projectiles to fire, they require a spring, as well as various mechanisms inside the body of the weapon to make it happen.
One of these mechanisms is a piston, and these are composed of two parts: the piston head, and the piston body.
The Piston Body
The piston body is long, and composed of ridges along one edge.
These ridges, or ‘teeth’, are interacted with by a sector gear (a toothed gear), which draws the piston back into the gearbox near the rear of the weapon.
This moves back, compressing a spring located behind the piston, which becomes charged with kinetic energy whilst under pressure.
Once the sector gear is extended the length of the pistons teeth, the piston is released, flying forward thanks to the springs stored energy, and creating a compression cycle.
The Piston Head
The piston head is composed of an O-ring, which forms a seal with the cylinder walls where the piston slides.
The piston head has a series of small circular holes in a circle formation on the face, and these are designed to allow air to be pushed through as the piston cycles back and forth.
The head ultimately acts as a stopper and a pressure release, keeping the piston body on the cylinder rails where it sits, and releasing air generated by the movement of the piston, so as not to cause pressure build up.
The Full Process
When the piston body is wound back on the sector gear, kinetic energy is stored in the rear spring, shoving the piston body forward once it has reached the end of the teeth, and transferring this energy into compressed air, which is then used to launch the plastic projectiles during use.
Choosing The Right Equipment
When choosing the right pistons for your weapon, there are certain things to consider.
Firstly, due to the excess strain on the teeth, these should be made from a hard wearing material, such as aluminum.
This will ensure that they are strong enough to withstand the constant pressure and wear of moving parts going back and forth, and should increase the general longevity of the component.
One of the best manufacturers of airsofting pistons is Big Dragon, often referred to as ‘Dragon’ for short.
A prime example of their craftsmanship can be seen in the aluminum pistol with metal teeth, a high quality component that has fifteen reinforced metal teeth running along the top edge, and is capable of supporting high powered springs used in more powerful AEGs.
Securing Your Dragon Aluminum Piston
When it comes to securing your Dragon aluminum piston within the weapon, there are some steps that need to be followed to make sure the process goes to plan.
Before you can insert the piston into the gearbox – that is, the internal, protective housing of the weapon components – you need to unscrew the gearbox itself.
There are usually several metal screws located all around the housing, and these need to be unscrewed carefully to get at the internal mechanisms.
When you are releasing the final few screws along the barrel of the gearbox, use a thin screwdriver to hold the spring in place, as it might shoot out once the housing has been removed.
Once you have dismantled the gearbox housing, use your thin screwdriver to hold onto the spring while you release it from the weapon.
Then remove the spring guide, spring , piston, cylinder, cylinder head, air nozzle, and tappet plate from inside the gearbox.
When assembling your new piston, you need to make sure it is arranged in the right order.
The correct order from front to back is: air seal nozzle, cylinder head, cylinder, piston head, and the piston.
The next part involves reintroducing the spring into the piston, which should be done carefully, using the spring guide and a thin screwdriver to hold it steady while you ease it in.
Apply lubricant to the O-ring, as well as on the guides inside the cylinder, as this will encourage easy movement and minimize resistance when firing.
Now comes time to reseal the gearbox, using your screwdriver to hold the spring in place via the spring guide.
Once you have tightened the screws once more, release your screwdriver and admire your finished product.
Once you have reassembled your gearbox, a good tip is to test it before you reassemble the outer facade of the weapon.
You can do this using an Allen key, taking the piston through one whole cycle to see that everything works as it should.
If you are satisfied with how it functions, then you can proceed to reattach the outer facade ready for use.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about how to attach an airsoft piston securely.
Remember, always follow safety guidelines when using and operating your AEG, and be sure to always consult with a professional before making any radical changes to the workings of your weapon.