With its iconic rotating barrels, massive size and capacity for destruction, the minigun has long been a staple in popular culture, especially in video games, movies, and TV shows.
From Predator and Terminator 2 to Call of Duty, Serious Sam and beyond, the minigun has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on pop culture and has long piqued the interest of airsoft players looking for something a bit more collectable and heavier-duty than an LMG.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of the minigun, discuss how airsoft models work, their role in an airsoft game, their advantages and disadvantages, and even suggest a couple models that might be worth your time and money.
What Is A Minigun?
A minigun is a type of machine gun that was developed to send off volleys of bullets at an extremely high rate of fire.
Although larger and more intimidating than most typical machine guns, the “mini” in minigun comes from the fact that it is relatively small compared to the huge, six barreled 20mm M61 Vulcan cannon that, while similar in overall function, was normally attached to fighter jets.
Originally developed by General Electric during the Vietnam War, the minigun was intended to be attached to light aircraft (like helicopters) and vehicles, providing them with the kind of hardcore firepower that a typical M60 just couldn’t provide.
A minigun is essentially an air-cooled rotary-barrel machine gun, much like a modern day chain gun or gatling gun.
It has six barrels that are rotated automatically using an electric motor, is typically fed using a belt or drum magazine and is capable of firing up to about 6,000 rounds per minute.
On the modern battlefield, miniguns are usually mounted to vehicles that could stand to benefit from their huge rate of fire (and are capable of carrying spare batteries, ammo and so on), such as helicopters, navy boats, light armored vehicles and more.
They can also be mounted to remote weapons systems, such as the Typhoon and others, and in some cases may even be used as a crew-served weapon mounted to a tripod.
While in theory people can carry and even fire miniguns for short periods, due to their heavy weight, battery power, need for huge stores of ammunition and relative complexity they aren’t really all that viable as a man-portable individual weapon.
Airsoft Miniguns: How They Work
An Airsoft minigun is arguably one of the most complex and unusual airsoft guns around, something that is perhaps not wholly unexpected from a gun that needs to contend with multiple spinning barrels and an extremely high rate of fire.
Generally speaking, due to their cost, difficulty of manufacturing and somewhat limited appeal, there aren’t too many airsoft miniguns around, but those that are sold generally come in two flavors – as a ready-to-go, stock gas/HPA rig (you can learn more about HPA in our guide) and as an AEG.
Generally speaking, gas/HPA rigs work much like their regular airsoft gun counterparts.
Larger guns, like M134 replicas, are powered by an HPA engine that feeds compressed air from an external tank and regulator set up into the gun through an attached hose.
With each pull of the minigun’s trigger, pressurized air enters the gun, activates the internals and ultimately propels BBs forward.
Medium miniguns, like the M132, also feature an HPA system but also tend to include a built-in gas-feed mechanism.
This means that users can attach the gun to an HPA rig or simply open an attached canister-like compartment on the side of the gun, insert a green gas or CO2 and connect the gun’s hose to an integrated adapter.
This then allows the gun to run off a gas tank, rather than use a heavier external compressed air rig, saving some weight and allowing players to feasibly use their gun in places that don’t allow HPA systems, which is kind of cool.
It is important to note that, unlike other airsoft guns, both these types of miniguns have a core electric component to them, as they require the use of a powered mechanism to rotate their barrels.
Recently, Classic Army has come out with a much smaller, AEG-style microgun – its Vulcan M133.
Rather than using gas or compressed air, the gun runs off of twin (!) batteries that power a proprietary gearbox.
Rather than a typical V2 or V3 (or V4-7 for that matter) This looks like a giant rotating metal cylinder that contains four cylinders (with ported but toothless pistons), four springs, four hop ups – all to serve, you guessed it, four barrels.
This gearbox is itself powered by a pretty high speed motor, which looks like something more at home in a car than an airsoft gun and generally has enough power to spin the minigun’s barrels at an extremely high speed (we’re talking a couple thousand rounds per minute or nearly 40 RPS).
With each pull of the tripper, the gearbox rolls into place as a BB is fed into the system, the relevant cylinder compresses the air, releasing it through a nozzle, pushing the BB through a hop up chamber and through one of the gun’s barrels.
Early models of airsoft miniguns didn’t actually come with hop ups due to their rather challenging multi-barreled design and the cost of installing several units that won’t lose their adjustment as they rotate around.
Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t exactly met with great fanfare as most airsoft users willing to pay several hundred to several thousand dollars for a replica would probably enjoy using it to hit targets beyond 40 feet.
Thankfully, the admittedly few models available today do actually come with hop ups, making the guns actually somewhat useful on the field.
Generally speaking, airsoft miniguns come with as many hop up units as there are barrels (four on four barreled models, six on six barreled models).
These rotate along with the gun’s barrels and, interestingly enough, tend to be adjustable.
Some, like the M133 microgun, use a sort of sliding AK-style hop ups.
M132/134 models, meanwhile, tend to use a harder-to-adjust but more firmly fixed screw-type.
As a result of these hop up units, airsoft miniguns can hit targets to a normal airsoft rifle range (about 150 or so feet) although, not being the most precise guns ever made, you’ll still probably still need to walk your BBs home.
On the downside, of course, this means that users have to adjust each hop up individually to get consistent performance (which usually involves manually rotating the barrels into place one by one).
It also means that replacing or upgrading them can be quite costly.
Most real steel miniguns are belt-fed, with the long belt of ammunition being stored in an oversized and freestanding box magazine.
In the airsoft world, with the exception of the Echo 1 (which uses a giant, horizontally mounted detachable box mag), most airsoft miniguns use an internal BB reservoir, with BBs being loaded through the front or back of the gun (depending on make and model).
These guns use an internal spring-powered hopper or feed mechanism to reliably bring BBs from the reservoir.
Role of An Airsoft Minigun
The moment you lay eyes on an airsoft minigun it should become quite apparent that this is not exactly what you might call a practical, day-to-day option.
These guns are huge, complex, unwieldy, heavy and tend to chew through a lot of BBs (and batteries) very quickly.
They’re also enormously fun.
But beyond satisfying one’s child-like wonder and enjoyment, what is an airsoft minigun’s purpose in an airsoft game?
Aside from letting everyone know you have enough spare cash to pick one of these pretty expensive beasts up, the name of the game here is volume of fire.
As we’ve mentioned, airsoft miniguns have an extremely high stock rate of fire (~40-50 RPS) that, combined with their rather large capacity for storing BBs (thousands at a time), means they can lay down an unmatched quantity of little plastic balls in a very short period of time.
In other words, these guns are almost uniquely designed for pure suppressing fire and intimidation more than they are accuracy, power, range or anything else.
If you have the strength and stamina to carry one of these around while your teammates run and gun, then they can feasibly be considered as a support weapon, although we feel that an M249 or other other airsoft light machine gun would probably be a better idea.
That said, if you want to support your teammates, terrify your opponents and just feel that the typical airsoft LMGs or SAWs out there really aren’t doing it for you, then you might want to consider an airsoft minigun.
Interestingly enough, they can also make for a great stationary defense for games like capture the flag, storm the fort, certain milsim scenarios or really any game where you want opponents to keep their distance.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Airsoft Miniguns
Why You Should Consider Buying An Airsoft Minigun
They are cool to look at
With their multiple barrels, electromechanical parts, modern industrial exterior and joystick controls, regardless of their practicality airsoft miniguns are just awesome to look at and can make a great collectible piece.
They are unique and a lot of fun to use
With multiple rotating barrels, multiple hop ups and (in some cases) a gas and electric mechanism, there aren’t many…well, any…airsoft guns that look or function like airsoft miniguns.
And when these things get started they can be a heck of a lot of fun to use, with each extended pull of the trigger filling the air with BBs in a way that no other stock airsoft build can really match.
They’re big and intimidating AF
There really is no substitute for the sheer shock and sudden terror written on opponents faces the moment they see four or six spinning barrels pointed right at them.
Airsoft miniguns are big, beefy and highly intimidating weapons whose profile even the least firearms-savvy airsoft player will immediately recognize and instinctively run from.
They can lay down a huge volume of fire
Many airsoft machine guns can be fitted with high capacity drums or boxes that allow them to carry and fire off large quantities of BBs.
Where airsoft miniguns differ from light and medium airsoft machine gun alternatives is in their blazingly fast stock rate of fire.
With miniguns easily firing at over 35 rounds per second (and in some cases 50 or more), airsoft miniguns can deliver thousands of BB downrange in under a minute, almost twice as fast (and ultimately as much) as its more traditional stock airsoft LMG rivals.
This can make them absolutely devastating when used for their intended purposes – suppressing and eliminating opponents with extreme prejudice.
They are actually man-portable
Unlike real steel miniguns, airsoft miniguns are considerably lighter, fire off small plastic BBs and have no recoil to speak of.
Consequently, although they are undoubtedly a lot heavier than most airsoft M4s or even M249s out there, they can actually be lugged around and used on the field pretty effectively by a single player.
You will never own a real steel version
Even in the US, legitimate real steel miniguns are exceedingly rare in the civilian market and can be subject to state regulations (being fully automatic).
And if you think an airsoft minigun’s price is high, real steel miniguns tend to retail for well over $100, 000 (not including tax stamps, shopping or the hundreds of dollars in ammunition costs a few seconds of fun will run you).
So the likelihood of you being able to casually pick one up for your home collection is pretty low.
Airsoft miniguns, being carefully built and highly realistic, can be a great way for enthusiasts to own their own pretty functional replica, as well as a pretty awesome centerpiece to just about any collection.
Why You Probably Shouldn’t
They are expensive AF
Generally speaking, the least expensive airsoft miniguns come in at well over $500 and the higher end models a few times that.
Their running costs, too, can get up there in price.
If a player has a heavy trigger finger these guns can and blow through BBs, batteries, gas or compressed air pretty quickly.
They are heavy and bulky
Like most airsoft machine guns, airsoft miniguns are heavy and bukly items, weighing in at between 11-22 lbs or more fully loaded (and not including any external HPA rigs users will have to lug around with them).
While they aren’t always longer than other airsoft options they tend to be quite bulky weapons, which can make them very unwieldy to carry around inside enclosures, around obstacles and in CQB situations.
They have a complex build
Generally speaking, in airsoft as with anything else, the more parts a device has the more that can ultimately go wrong.
Airsoft miniguns have a few parts that make them more complex than the average gun out there, notably multiple rotating barrels, multiple rotating hop ups, several nozzles and cylinders, a motor to drive this action (regardless of whether it is an AEG or gas gun), some kind of hopper or BB feeder, and various rather unique external switches and controls.
Although most airsoft miniguns do function quite reliably for an impressive amount of time, having an airsoft gun with such an unusual design can always be a risk.
Key parts are often proprietary, multiplied out and/or hard to find
If things do go wrong, it can sometimes be fairly hard or expensive to replace parts.
An airsoft minigun’s rotating action is not all that usual in the airsoft world (or in the real steel world for that matter), and this pretty much necessitates the use of proprietary parts to get the job done.
And since airsoft miniguns are not really the bread and butter of any manufacturer, replacement parts and upgrades aren’t always available.
Not only that, with multiple barrels comes multiple hop ups and other internal parts, which means that upgrading them can become a little more expensive, even if they can be swapped out for more common aftermarkets.
You will become the priority target for opponents on the field
Carrying a giant airsoft gun that gives you the power to deliver a lot of fire at opponents comes with a fairly significant downside – your enemies will notice you pretty quickly and taking you down will become their priority.
And they won’t really have much of a choice as, left unattended to, you probably will take out the vast majority of them given enough time and BBs.
As a result, if you do carry an airsoft minigun onto a field you had better be ready and willing to use it to aggressively defend your position because the BBs will come flying.
Airsoft Miniguns That We Recommend
Being an extremely niche airsoft gun and being pretty complicated and expensive for manufacturers to build (and for retailers to stock), there aren’t a ton of airsoft minigun options around these days.
On occasion, some companies do produce limited editions or short runs, but in general if you are interested in picking up a minigun your best (and only real) bet these days is on Classic Army.
Our Top Recommendation – Classic Army M133 Mini Vulcan AEG
|Pretty compact for a minigun – only 25.8 inches||Requires 2 batteries to run (22.2V)|
|The only AEG minigun out there||Quite a few proprietary internals|
|Standard AEG barrels, hop ups and buckings make it somewhat upgradable|
|Easy to adjust, sliding hop ups|
|Four actually quick quick change springs, no need to open gearbox|
|2200 BB capacity|
|Selectable ROF – up to 3000 RPS|
|Cool LED battery and charge indicator|
|Not terribly heavy at around 12.5 lbs|
If you’re looking for an airsoft minigun that looks good and is at least somewhat practical to take to the field, Classic Army’s M133 Mini Vulcan is probably the right pick for you.
The gun is pretty solidly built, with its frame being made of sturdy nylon-reinforced polymer and its four barrels made of a durable aluminum alloy.
Although we wouldn’t make a habit of dropping this gun, it should stand up to most of what a typical airsoft game can throw at it.
At just over 25 inches and around 12.5 lbs, it’s also pretty easy to maneuver around with (being about the length of a compact airsoft carbine) and shouldn’t break your back carrying it around.
Classic Army has also done a good job with its quality control.
When we handled it, there was no wobble between the barrel and gearbox, the barrels rotated pretty smoothly, its components seemed nice and tightly screwed together and all the gun’s switches clicked nicely and firmly into place.
The gun even comes with an oversized power switch that has a cool row of LEDs that act as a charge indicator, letting you know if its batteries are running low.
Interestingly, and perhaps unusually for a minigun, the M133 comes with a few options for accessories.
There is a short rail on either side of the gun, which we suppose would be ideal for a laser or even a flashlight if the mood so strikes you, and the outer barrels feature 14mm CCW threading, should you wish to add a tracer unit or other barrel accessory.
In terms of performance, with fresh batteries and filled with 0.20g BBs, we saw the Classic Army M133 minigun get around 300 or so FPS out of the box (per shot per barrel), so it shouldn’t be too hot for most fields.
Should users want a bit more power, the gun actually comes with a quick change spring system behind each barrel, which makes popping in a stiffer spring pretty easy.
In terms of its rate of fire, we saw it get around 38 RPS on a full charge, meaning it could unload its entire 2200 round BB capacity in about a minute if really pushed, which is pretty awesome.
Range and accuracy-wise, the gun is pretty typical of the other airsoft miniguns in the Classic Army range, hitting targets past 150 feet or so with little issue.
More than its external build and performance, however, The CA M133 Mini Vulcan stands out from other airsoft miniguns due to the fact that it is an AEG.
As an AEG, the gun offers far more consistent performance than its gas-powered rivals, particularly in cold weather.
It also doesn’t suffer from any cool-down effect, regardless of how long you keep your finger on the trigger, and doesn’t require users to purchase and strap on an HPA rig, saving valuable time and loadout weight.
Further, the fact that the gun uses rechargeable batteries, and doesn’t require new gas bottles or compressed air refills, means that its long term running costs are a bit lower, as well.
We also liked the fact that, while the gearbox and internals use a variety of proprietary parts to get the gun’s barrels moving and firing (which can make upgrades and repairs a bit of a pain, as discussed in the article above), the gun’s four 307mm long inner barrels, hop ups and buckings are all AEG spec and can therefore be upgraded pretty easily to increase the gun’s accuracy and range even further, which is always nice.
Users should be aware, however, that the gun does require two 11.1V batteries (for a total of 22.2V), which do need to be pretty beefy and similar in spec for the gun to work properly.
Further, due to the need to move the barrels and operate the gearbox, the gun can run these batteries down a little more quickly than the typical airsoft carbine user might be used to.
In terms of price, at around $1000 the M133 is pretty middle of the road as far as airsoft miniguns are concerned, falling somewhere between its very expensive big brother the M134 A2 and the more budget-oriented M132.
That said, for the price, the Classic Army M133 is an extremely well-built, reliable and very capable airsoft minigun whose AEG functionality can make it quite a bit more practical and useful than most – two words you don’t often hear together when it comes to airsoft miniguns.
The “Affordable” Choice – Classic Army M132 Hpa/Gas
|Pretty light for a minigun – only 9 lbs||Green gas tank is kind of slim|
|Actually somewhat affordable||Screw type hop ups are a little more annoying to adjust on the fly|
|Adjustable, screw-type hop ups||Be careful about cool down effect|
|Supports both HPA and green gas|
|2200 BB capacity, spring loaded feed|
|2200+ rounds per minute/ 38 RPS – pretty fast|
|Solid build quality|
|Standard AEG barrels, hop ups and buckings make it somewhat upgradable|
If you are interested in picking up your own airsoft minigun but just can’t justify spending a thousand dollars or more on a gun, then Classic Army’s M132 just might be what you’re looking for.
Referred to as a microgun, the Classic Army M132’s four barrel design is a fairly compact 28 inches long and, due to being made from reinforced polymer rather than metal, weighs a comparatively featherweight 9 lbs.
As a result, much like the M133 Mini Vulcan, the M132 is a little easier to carry and maneuver around obstacles with.
Also like the M133, the build quality on the M132 is superb.
When we handled it we found it to have a solid and tight overall construction, high quality controls that are properly and firmly installed and, most importantly, the gun showed no signs of looseness or wobble when running and gunning.
While the gun doesn’t come with any threading on its barrels, it does come with four screw-type adjustable hop ups attached to each of the barrels.
These provide pretty decent spin and hold their adjustment pretty well when the gun is being used, although they aren’t quite as easy to adjust as the M133’s sliding hop ups.
Where the gun really shines, however, is in its dual power system.
The gun contains an integrated hose that can readily fit to an HPA rig, allowing the gun to run off of more plentiful and cheap compressed gas.
Interestingly, it also contains a space to screw in a (slim) bottle of green gas along with an HPA adaptor.
Once a bottle is fitted, users can screw in the integrated hose and run the gun completely off of green gas.
In addition to being a handy and cool potential backup power source, this means that the gun can be run without an expensive HPA rig (and in places that don’t allow HPA), which can reduce its overall cost of ownership by a fair degree.
In terms of performance, it really depends on how you run this gun.
On green gas, we saw the gun chrono at around 360 FPS, which is right in the sweet spot for power and usability, while with HPA it really depends on the regulator and PSI used but we saw it perform pretty well at 420 or so FPS and users report getting up to about 500 without much of an issue (which is cool if you really like torturing your opponents, we suppose).
In terms of accuracy, the gun is pretty decent and can hit man-sized targets well past 150 feet or so without an issue.
Interestingly, the gun also uses AEG compatible inner barrels, hop up units and buckings, which means, like the M133, the gun can be upgraded fairly quickly and easily to improve its range and accuracy if needed.
Importantly for a minigun, the gun is quite speedy and is capable of getting around 38 RPS, meaning it can let loose a stream of over 2000 BBs in about a minute.
On the downside, however, the gun’s gas bottle container is pretty slim, which limits the amount and size of cans that can be fitted to it (and ultimately the number of BBs it can fire without a refill).
Further, as with other gas-powered guns, the gun can suffer from cooldown after extended firing on green gas, an effect that can’t really be mitigated by swapping mags due to the internal reservoir of BBs.
Consequently, if you really want to let rip with this gun on a regular basis, we’d recommend investing in a good HPA rig.
With all that said, where the M132 really shines is its price.
Coming in at under $700 or so, at around the same as a high quality AEG, the gun is probably the most affordable airsoft minigun around.
For this pretty reasonable price, users do get an exceptional airsoft experience with a reliable, capable and flexible airsoft minigun that performs as nicely as it looks.
Airsoft miniguns can offer probably the most unique and exciting experience for enthusiasts.
Their impressive rate of fire, unique mechanism of action and overall intimidation factor are certain to bring a smile to any collector’s face.
If you have the money, the upper body strength to lug one around and are looking for a way to up your airsoft game and make a very powerful statement on the field, an airsoft minigun may be for you.
Ted Clark– Hailing from Florida, Ted has been an avid airsoft enthusiast since he was in middle school. When he’s not checking out and reviewing airsoft guns, he enjoys picking off his enemies one by one on the field as a sniper.