Airsoft guns originated in Japan in the 1970s to bypass laws that prohibited private ownership of firearms. Originally airsoft guns were sold in a variety of calibers; however, the standard eventually became 8mm or 6mm rubber or plastic BBs. By the mid 1990s airsoft guns began to gain popularity in the UK and its well worthwhile joining the British Airsoft Club.
Airsoft guns are powered by springs, gas, or electricity. Spring airsoft guns are single shot, powered by a spring that must be manually compressed by cocking the gun. The spring then propels a single BB, the shooter then must re-cock the gun before being able to fire again. These guns are often not as powerful as gas or electric guns.
Gas powered airsoft guns are often considered classic airsoft guns. These guns are powered by internal gas tanks using green gas or by an external CO2 tank similar to paintball guns. These guns can potentially be the most powerful, however, their power is usually lowered to the same level as most other airsoft guns. Gas powered guns are considered more realistic airsoft guns.
Electric airsoft guns use a rechargeable battery or, on cheaper models AA or AAA batteries, to power an electric motor. Semi or fully automatic is the standard for electric guns and they are often called AEGs (Automatic Electric Guns). There are many varieties of electric airsoft guns, with a wide price range. Lower powered electronic guns are often considered inferior to spring powered guns. Medium powered electronic guns are considered a good buy; offering the same quality as standard AEGs at half the price.