Batteries are a pretty common occurrence in everyday life. They are used to power everything from flashlights to remote controls, and even cell phones nowadays. So where would airsoft guns be without batteries?
How long do they last precisely? Well, it depends on several factors such as the voltage, capacity, technology of the battery, electrical resistance, and even the size of the battery.
So in order to give you a better understanding of this topic, I have gone over several research papers and articles, talked with different experts in the field as well as put together some practical tests myself which I want to share with you.
What are airsoft batteries?
Airsoft batteries are the power source of airsoft guns. They come in both rechargeable and disposable forms, but we’ll be talking about rechargeable ones as these are by far the more popular of the two types.
Airsoft batteries are usually lithium polymer (LiPo) or nickel-metal hydride (NiMH). Lithium batteries are rechargeable and can only be used with certain airsoft guns. It is important to pay attention to the battery’s voltage rating as it plays a part in determining which kind of gun the player can use it on–for example, most airsoft guns are designed to work with a 7.2 V, or 1S battery.
The battery (which is often mislabeled in airsoft guns as a capacitor) provides electrical energy to operate a gun’s motor to shoot pellets. This electrical energy is stored in a battery cell that contains an electrode (a cathode) and an electrolyte (an anode). When the trigger of the airsoft gun is pulled, electricity flows from the battery to the motor, producing motion that pushes a pellet out of the gun.
How long do airsoft batteries last?
The useful life of airsoft batteries will differ depending on usage. If the gun is used regularly, expect it to last for about a year before requiring replacement. When the voltage provided by an airsoft lithium battery drops below 1V per cell or 3V per battery (in total), its performance and service life are affected, causing noticeable problems in airsoft guns.
1V cell refers to the voltage of each individual cell in a battery. For example, LiPo batteries that are rated at 7.2v are composed of four 3.7v cells wired together, which results in a total output voltage of 7.2 volts; hence the name 1S (where S stands for single cell).
A good practice is to only charge airsoft batteries when they are at least 90% discharged. This helps prolong their lifespan and also ensures that the battery’s optimal storage capacity is retained after it has been fully charged. When charging a battery, be sure to use only chargers designed for your specific type of airsoft battery.
This tip may not work well for some people who use higher performance airsoft guns that require a lot of energy (for example, AEGs), in which case you should charge your battery even if it’s only half discharged.
Here is a full guide on how to charge LiPo Batteries properly, and everything you need to know about maintaining them.
How do chargers affect the lifespan of airsoft batteries?
Using low-quality chargers will shorten the lifespan of airsoft batteries. Even with high-end models like Intellect, some players report that the batteries last for only a couple of months with regular usage.
The best way to prolong the airsoft battery life is to store it at normal room temperature (around 20 degrees) as excessive heat will cause its cells to degrade much faster. When not in use, remove the battery from your airsoft gun and store it in a dry, ventilated place away from metal objects like nails or hair clips.
This way you can prevent overheating which is very dangerous for airsoft batteries. It also slows down the natural discharge rate of a battery, so try to minimize its use if possible. If it is not practical to remove the battery from a gun while using it, a good solution is to buy a second one.
The main differences between rechargeable and disposable airsoft batteries
There are several different types of airsoft batteries that vary in voltage and duration. The most popular DIY airsoft gun, the Tokyo Marui M3A1, requires a 7.2V battery with at least 500mAh capacity to work properly (the higher the better).
The two main types of rechargeable airsoft batteries are nickel-cadmium (NiCd) and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH). NiMH batteries are the more modern type. A typical NiMH battery consists of a PCB board, a positive metal plate, and negative metal plates suspended in an electrolyte solution.
Disposable airsoft batteries usually come with one of three ratings: 7.2V, 9V, and 12V. The first airsoft batteries were the disposable ones that powered the guns manufactured by Tokyo Marui in Japan from 1985 to 1995. This original airsoft gun model was so popular with players and hobbyists that it soon became a real alternative for live-fire shooting sports. As other manufacturers began to enter the market, airsoft guns evolved into more powerful models using higher voltages (9V and 12V).
Which airsoft batteries last the longest?
The airsoft battery’s voltage is not what affects its lifespan; it’s the number of times it has been discharged and charged. As a result, nickel-metal hydride batteries are better suited for use in airsoft guns than NiCd batteries.
A good quality NiMH 7.2V 2000mAh airsoft battery can be used for approximately 1,200 to 1,500 cycles. Assuming that you discharge and charge the battery once a month (this is not recommended as it will reduce its lifespan), such a battery would last almost three years with regular use.
This estimation only applies to NiMH batteries manufactured by Intellect or other reputable airsoft brands. Some beginner-level NiMH batteries with low quality may only be able to power an airsoft gun 50-100 times, and some will even stop working after 30-40 cycles. On the other hand, a high-grade 9V Intellect battery should be able to survive 250-300 cycles.
A typical airsoft battery’s lifespan is about 1,000 to 2,000 cycles – it depends on the type of material and regular maintenance. It is also worth mentioning that some people are using their airsoft batteries for more than 10 years without any problems.
If you use your airsoft guns rarely, consider getting a spare 6-cell NiMH battery instead of two 3-cells. A 6-cell pack will last longer and help you get by with a single recharge. Always use high-quality airsoft chargers to prolong the life of the batteries.