Baby, it’s cold outside…but I still want to spray my friends with BBs.
What is an Airsoft Electric Pistol (AEP) in airsoft?
Airsoft Automatic Electric Pistols (or AEP for short) are battery powered airsoft pistols that use an electric motor and pistol system, rather than gas, to fire off BBs.
In this way they are pretty much identical to the many airsoft Automatic Electric Guns (AEGs) on the market, with the notable difference of size.
Because of the more compact nature of the replicas, and their inherent space limitations. the gearboxes and other assorted internals of AEPs tend to be quite a bit smaller than AEGs.
This miniaturization can have some implications in terms of performance and customizability, but broadly speaking AEPs give players the convenience of an electric airsoft gun in a form suitable as a side-arm.
Is there any difference between an AEP and an AEG
Automatic Electric Pistols (AEP) and Automatic Electric Guns (AEG) broadly refer to the same thing – an airsoft gun that runs on batteries and uses an electric motor and piston assembly to shoot BBs.
In general, AEPs refer to very compact automatic electric airsoft replicas, such as pistols and compact SMGs, while the term AEG is usually reserved for larger airsoft guns, such as rifles, carbines and the like.
There are some physical differences, however.
As mentioned above AEP gearboxes (and other associated parts) are, by necessity, smaller. Much smaller, in fact.
An AEP gearbox can be about half the size of an AEG gearbox, which can have some distinct advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss below.
What is their performance like?
Generally speaking, Electric Airsoft Pistols feel and act much the same as a typical AEG:
- They are easy to operate and take care of
- They’re not affected by cold temperatures as are gas blowbacks, so they’ll reliably operate in cold weather
- There is a slight delay or lag in trigger response before the first BB is sent downrange (modifiable)
- There isn’t much in the way of blowback (some more premium models do add things like blowback and recoil shock for slightly greater realism)
There are a few key differences to note that can affect their performance in airsoft, however.
Most notably, because of their smaller gearboxes and internals they’ll struggle to get a high FPS compared to their larger AEG cousins, and especially compared to gas blowback airsoft pistols.
Usually, AEP users are looking at 150-200 FPS or so , with cheaper models coming in at sub-150 FPS.
As secondaries and in CQB games, this is usually fine, but this can be an issue if using heavier BB weights or if playing outdoors in windy conditions.
There are many backyard airsoft tinkerers who claim to be able to get these up to 300 or more FPS, but this typically requires a good deal of modification on their part.
How do they compare to gas blowback airsoft pistols?
Compared to GBB pistols, AEPs are generally a little more reliable on field – with no fluctuating gas pressure their shots tend to be more consistent in game over time.
They also tend to perform more consistently with more stable FPS in cold weather.
Also, because they use electric gearboxes and mechanicals, AEPs don’t really require as much maintenance or cleaning between games as gas blowbacks do, which can be a real boon to those who dislike doing routine work on their airsoft guns.
Further, because they don’t run on gas and don’t require refueling, the operating costs of an electric airsoft pistol can be significantly lower than with gas, as well.
Finally AEPs can also be gentler on the wallet than their gas blowback equivalents.
With less sophisticated internals they often cost quite a bit less to purchase, with models from respected brands often falling in the sub-$100 range.
In some cases, electric airsoft pistol can be picked up for half of a gas-powered equivalent, which might make them worth considering for those dipping their toes into airsoft, those on a very tight budget, casual plinkers and those who are just looking for a cheap secondary for their main airsoft gun.
On the downside, gas blowback airsoft pistols are usually more powerful, offering respectable (sometimes even excessive) FPS compared to electrics.
Additionally, as electrics are a little more of a recent development, there are more gas models available on the market than AEPs, meaning users are more likely to find the airsoft replica they want from the brand they want with gas compared to electric.
As with AEGs, gas airsoft pistols also tend to replicate the experience of a real gun far better than their electric counterparts, with more noticeable blowback, recoil (and the need to periodically do maintenance).
Finally, GBB airsoft pistols, being more common, tend to have a wider array of readily available magazines, batteries, and parts for replacement or customization compared to AEPs, which means these won’t go out of stock as frequently and will generally cost less.
What are the Advantages of using an AEP in airsoft?
✔ Work consistency in cold weather
✔ Little maintenance and clearing required
✔ No gas or other consumables
✔ Consistent performance over time since there’s no pressure to worry about
✔ Tend to be less expensive than gas blowback pistols to run
✔ Can be quite cheap to buy
What are some disadvantages of using an AEP in airsoft?
❌ Mechanicals and gearboxes tend to be smaller than an AEG = less power, less FPS
❌ Gearboxes are often proprietary and specific to the gun, meaning that parts are less interchangeable and upgradable
❌ Replacement parts can be harder to find
❌ They don’t feel very realistic – trigger lag, little to no blowback or recoil
❌ There aren’t as many models and manufacturers producing them, so there isn’t as much choice for users
Who should consider an Electric Airsoft Pistol?
- Airsofters looking for a cheap, easy to maintain secondary
- Those who just want to try airsofting with little financial risk
- Those whose preferred game style limits FPS
- Those who are planning to do a lot of room clearing CQB
- Those on a strict or tight budget
- Those who hate maintenance
- Those looking for a relatively realistic replica for not very much money
- Those who live in cold climates and who like to play in the cold
- Those who hate the idea of constantly buying gas cartridges and refills for their airsoft pistol
Who should not consider an Electric Airsoft Pistol?
- Those requiring or looking for a pistol with decent FPS
- Those who enjoy a more realistic airsoft experience
- Those who like to freely modify and customize their airsoft guns
- Those who want immediate trigger response
- Those who enjoy taking apart and maintaining their airsoft guns
- Those looking for an airsoft gun with cheap, widely available magazines, replacement parts and accessories
A relatively newer technology compared to GBB pistols and their bigger AEG cousins, electric airsoft pistols are slowly but surely finding their way into the airsoft community.
Although they can have their disadvantages, not being particularly powerful being one of them, for the right person they can be a great asset, providing an easier, reliably and more maintenance free airsoft experience.
Will Martin – Will has been into airsoft and paintball for well over 10 years, and has done it all – from upgrading and fixing gearboxes as a tech to building custom airsoft loadouts for his friends to supporting off those friends as a DM.