Your airsoft battery is the heart of your AEG.
A battery’s power and capacity directly influence the Rate of Fire (ROF), performance, and durability of an Airsoft Electric Gun (AEG). Therefore, if you want your automatic electric gun to deliver an unparalleled gaming experience, you will need to use the best battery and accompanying charger.
Even the best airsoft rifles will perform terribly if you use a weak battery.
AEG Airsoft Gun Battery types
When selecting a battery for your AEG, you have a couple of battery types to choose from. Each cell type has its own perks and downsides, so you will have to pick carefully.
Nickel cadmium (NiCad)
Invented in the late 19th century, these are the earliest version of rechargeable batteries. They utilize metallic cadmium and nickel oxide hydroxide as electrodes and have the following advantages over other types of rechargeable cells;
- With a fair capacity, they deliver decent performance and cycle life at low temperatures
- The batteries are able to deliver their full rated capacity at high discharge rates.
- With a higher voltage, they deliver a strong current, giving an airsoft AEG a higher ROF.
- They also have a higher MAh, indicating a high enough energy capacity that allows users to play much longer
- NiCAD Batteries charge very fast
On the flip side, NiCAD batteries have a couple of pretty significant disadvantages. These are;
- NiCAD batteries create heat while charging. If charged faster than recommended, they pose a high risk of overheating and getting damaged.
- Their cells have high self-discharge rates. When not in use, they discharge at a rate of 10 to 20% a month.
- The technology behind NiCAD batteries is pretty old, making them highly susceptible to the “Memory Effect.” This essentially means that their cells tend to memorize the point you discharge them to repeatedly, causing the battery capacity to reduce. Therefore, you have to discharge them completely before attempting to recharge completely.
Despite being very robust and safe for airsoft electric guns, these disadvantages have rendered the performance of NiCAD batteries almost obsolete when compared to other batteries in the list. That and the negative environmental impact of the disposal of cadmium (it’s a toxic metal) have significantly reduced the use of NiCAD batteries in the AEG community.
Nickel metal hydride (NiMH)
Like NiCAD cells, NiMH batteries have nickel oxide hydroxide as the positive electrode but use a hydrogen-absorbing alloy in place of cadmium at the negative electrodes. However, they have a significantly higher energy density than NiCAD batteries, meaning a well-designed NiMH battery can have up to three times the capacity of its standard NiCAD counterpart of the same size.
Here are other advantages of nickel-metal hydride cells;
- Current NiMH batteries have an unnoticeable memory effect. Therefore, you can top them off without ruining the battery capacity
- When not in use, they discharge at a much slower rate than NiCAD batteries
- They have fewer toxic metals and have been labeled environmentally friendly
- The downside of opting for a NiMH battery is that
- It will cost more than a NiCAD one.
- They generate a lot more heat during charging and thus, do not accept fast charging like the NiCad. The trickle charge in NiMH batteries should be carefully controlled, meaning the charge time can take twice as long as in a nickel-cadmium cell.
- Their rated charge/discharge cycles are significantly lower than those in NiCAD batteries.
Tip; If you want your NiMH batteries to have a longer life span, don’t fully deplete them every time you game. Another way to extend the battery life is to unplug when it gets hot during charging.
Today, NiMH batteries are also falling out of favor in the airsoft community. LiPo batteries, similar to those in other consumer electronics like phones, are becoming more and more popular.
The rechargeable batteries of lithium-ion technology use a polymer electrolyte in place of a liquid electrolyte. This property gives it lots of advantages over other battery types, making it the ideal battery for an AEG.
First, they are the current generation of rechargeable batteries, and therefore the latest AEG models run LiPo batteries straight out of the box. Keep that in mind if you’re looking to buy a new AEG either as a replacement or if it’s your first time in the community.
They are also the most compact of AEG batteries thanks to their much higher energy density when compared to NiMH and NiCAD batteries. Therefore, you can easily fit them inside your gun without sacrificing anything in terms of performance. The batteries also don’t usually self-discharged when left unused for a while.
However, their ability to store large amounts of energy in a smaller footprint means that they tend to get very hot. Although instances are rare, there have been several horror incidents involving LiPo batteries in mobile phones and AEGs. As a precaution, we advise you to buy heat-resistant pouches to use while charging your batteries.
Another downside to LiPo batteries is that they are not as durable as NiMH and NiCAD batteries. They are rated for much lower charging cycles, and thus, their capacity decreases with age. Although there isn’t much you can do to increase your LiPo battery’s life, making sure they don’t fully discharge has been known to help.
The good news is, the wider airsoft community seems to agree that the perks of using a LiPo battery in your AEG far outweigh the downsides.
You need a different charger for LiPo Batteries
NiCAD and NiMH batteries charge best using the pulse charging method, so you can use the same charger for both. However, LiPo batteries are significantly different and thus, must be charged using a LiPo compatible charger.
They charge using a CC/CV (Constant Current/ Constant Voltage) charging system. The principle behind this is that the charger keeps the charge rate or current constant until the battery reaches its peak voltage, usually 4.2v per cell in a battery pack. It then maintains that voltage while gradually reducing the current.
If you charge a LiPo battery using the pulse charging method, it will have some pretty devastating effects on your cell. Therefore, make sure to use a Li Po-compatible charger
Another reason is balancing, which is basically equalizing the voltage of each cell in a battery pack. Balancing ensures that each cell discharges the same amount, helping the performance and crucial safety aspects of your LiPo battery. Many Li-Po compatible chargers come with built-in balancing capabilities, although there are also stand-alone balancers on sale.
When you charge a Li-Po pack, make sure that there is a balancer in the equation every time.
Airsoft Battery Configurations
The configuration of an airsoft battery means the shape at which it fits into the weapon. Your AEF may only support one shape, so you need to know which one your gun uses. The most common configurations are the stick, crane stock, brick, and Nunchuck.
The cells are arranged in one long stick and usually have specific gun models that they fit in, like in top receiver of AK47s with folding stocks.
In this configuration, the batteries sit in the Crane stock of the AEG.
This shape resembles the nunchuck martial arts weapon. The batteries come in two separate columns connected by a wire and are usually stuffed inside the forearm on either side of the AEG barrel—often used on an M4 carbine or AEG of similar size.
Individual cells are arranged in two columns, with one battery at the bottom of a single pack. This configuration usually takes a lot of real estate and is often used in butts of large rifles where there is enough room.
Types of Airsoft Connectors for Batteries
AEGs batteries use a special connector. It is wired directly to the batteries, connecting them to your gun during action and their charger when recharging.
Generally, you will be dealing with either one of the following connector types; Tamiya, mini-Tamiya, and Deans.
Designed by the Tamiya Corporation, these are the most common connectors in the airsoft world. In Tamiya connectors, the red (positive) wire runs to the terminal with a square profile, while the black (negative) runs to the terminal with a half-circle, half-square terminal. Both genders of the connector follow this profile, and the male pins are in a female housing with the female sockets in a male housing.
Tamiya connectors are 14mm wide. The connector’s design physically isolates the negative and positive wires, helping the connector remain safe even in damp conditions. This also means that Tamiya connectors can only handle relatively low current applications of up to 15 amps of continuous flow. Therefore, they are only suitable for low rate/power of fire guns.
Since they are very common and, thus, relatively cheap, they tend to lose voltage between the battery and gearbox. They then get warm, affecting the performance of your gun.
Another problem that may arise with Tamiya connectors is in their build material. They are usually made from plastic, making them less reliable as they can break quite easily. Yous’ll find that they’re typically more durable, however, than the mini tamiyas.
These connectors are similar to the Tamiya but have a smaller footprint. They usually measure 10mm across and handle up to 9 amps of flow.
In general, these connectors are much smaller than the standard tamiya connectors, and so the maximum voltage you can gain from them is limited.
Note; It is not uncommon to find replicas of airsoft Mini-Tamiya connectors wired in reversed polarity. In such cases, the rounded terminal is positive while the square profile is the negative terminal. This can actually damage your battery.
Deans connectors hit the market much later and cost more than the Tamiya connectors. They also have a much smaller and improved design, making them a popular choice for those looking for a higher performance level.
Deans connectors use sprung flat tabs, a change from most connectors that use “bullet” style pins. Therefore, they have a much consistent connectivity pressure and don’t easily lose their contact pressure over time.
However, the main advantage of Deans connectors is their significantly reduced resistance compared to Tamiya connectors. They provide a much larger area of contact, allowing more voltage to make it from the battery to the motor, giving you much better battery and motor performance.
Despite their smaller size, Deans connectors are approved for a higher current rating. On average, they can handle up to 40 amps of continuous flow. While this is great for performance, it also puts your motor under more strain. Therefore, the motor may require more frequent maintenance and even upgrades.
In general, we almost always rewire our AEG’s to utilize deans connectors.
Types of Airsoft Battery Chargers
As stated earlier, the type of your airsoft battery will influence the type of charger you use. There are three common types; the standard wall charger, smart charger, and LiPo charger.
Standard wall charger
Standard AEG chargers are the most common of all. Sometimes they come with a built-in timer to prevent overheating, but many of them don’t. All batteries placed in a standard wall charger usually charge for the same length of time (for as long as it is plugged in usually), after which the device shuts off and stops delivering charge. This is quite risky as it often leads to overcharging or undercharging in some batteries, ruining the cells.
These are the most advanced types of AEG chargers and are quite intelligent. A smart charger can custom charge each battery to the required degree; if a cell is ½ full, the charger will only replenish the empty half, and if another is ¼ full, the charger will only receive the missing ¾ of power. This means that when using an intelligent charger, the risk of ruining the battery due to overcharging or undercharging is minimal. Also, you won’t have to worry much about the charge status of your AEG battery.
However, this technology comes with a much higher price tag than that in other airsoft battery chargers.
This is the special charger for LiPo batteries, which charge using a CC/CV (Constant Current/ Constant Voltage) charging system. As a result, a LiPo charger keeps the charge rate or current constant until the battery reaches its peak voltage, which it maintains while reducing the current.
Many Li-Po chargers also have a built-in ability to balance. Balancing is essential as it equalizes each cell’s voltage in a battery pack, ensuring that each cell discharges the same amount. This is crucial to the performance and safety of a LiPo battery.
Finding the right smart charger for your airsoft gun battery
Along with all of this users need to make sure they have a good smart charger. A good charger will be able to keep an airsoft gun battery in peak condition and ensure that a battery has a maximum charge. A peak charger is a good option in this case, because they can charge a battery the right way and make it so that you don’t have to worry about the batteries temperature.
Best Battery for Airsoft FAQ
Important Airsoft Battery terms to know
There are two different terms users need to be aware of when it comes to batteries for these guns. These would be MAH rating and voltage. The MAH rating lets a user know how much energy a battery contains. Seeing as how AEG makes use of electricity at a steady rate, then this means if the MAH rating is higher you should be able to use the gun for a long time without the need to recharge.
The issue with this is the higher the MAH rating is, then the bigger the battery tends to be. A gun is going to have limits based on size in this regard. A higher MAH battery rating also means a more expensive gun.
The voltage a battery has is going to decide the rate power flows from the battery. For example a battery that’s 8.4-volt will operate a specific motor at a specific speed. If the battery is higher in voltage it can operate a motor much faster and so on. If the motor of the gun comes across a load that slows it down, then the higher voltage battery should slow down at a lesser rate than the lower voltage option operating the same motor.
If you want to get higher voltage batteries, then understand that these are meant for upgraded guns with tougher gears, gearboxes, and general internals that are more robust. If you try to use them with them a gun that hasn’t been modified, then you can cause irreparable damage to your airsoft rifle.