What is Hop-Up?
What is the hop-up chamber in the airsoft gun for?
Many airsoft players are probably aware of what a Hop-Up chamber is. After all, it is an element that we often have to regulate to ensure correct operation and accurate shots of our airsoft gun. Even most of the instructions attached to our toys tell you how to properly set the operation of the discussed element. The hop-up chamber is usually located between the gearbox of our replica and the beginning of its inner barrel. And here the fun begins, because depending on what replica we have, we will find it in a different place. Most often, however, the knob for adjusting the clamping force of the hop-up chamber can be found somewhere near the dummy case ejection window of our replica. This is because usually this place is relatively easily accessible and at the same time opening it with some kind of handle can be somehow realistic.
The adjustment of the hop-up chamber is most often performed with a knob or some kind of a lever. But what exactly happens then? By changing the regulation of our chamber, we really influence how much force is pressed on the hop-up rubber. The element that comes into direct contact with that rubber is the spacer, which in turn is pressed by some kind of arm connected to the adjustment system. The discussed principle of operation does not take into account the so-called TDC mode and systems based on this concept. After all, this is what seems to be the most common adjustment method known from the majority of replicas available on the market. So, we'll focus on it.
There are a lot of modifications to the hop-up system, the task of which is to improve the operation of this system. However, this is a topic for another article. For now, it is worth remembering that through the operation of the replica in question, we give the BB a rotary motion when it leaves the barrel of our replica. This, in turn, to put it simply, gives it a more stable flight, improving the distance it can fly and the overall repeatability of our shots. Hop-up chambers can be made of plastics or various metal alloys. The most expensive ones will most often be made of aluminium, but there are many supporters of plastic chambers. These are often found factory-fitted in replicas, although this has been changing for some time in favour of metal systems.
How to recognize a good hop-up?
Contrary to appearances, the question posed in the title of this paragraph is not easy at all. A lot depends on what replica we have and what our expectations are. These are common assumptions that we must define in general tuning and it is no different when selecting the hop-up chamber. As I mentioned earlier, it is most often located between the replica's gearbox and the inner barrel. Together with the rubber, they form a system that largely affects the tightness of the pneumatic system of our toy. This is one of the factors. What the chamber is made of and with what tolerances depends whether it turns out to be air permeable. We can improve a lot here with a properly selected rubber, but if we do not find a good chamber, our efforts may turn out to be fruitless.
There are several features that show us good quality hop-up chambers. The first is build quality. If we are dealing with an element made by the casting technique, it is important that it does not have excess material or other imperfections in the places where the mould halves meet. This most often applies to chambers made of plastic. If we decide to buy a metal element, it is a good idea to invest in one that was made using the CNC machining technique. The chambers of top manufacturers, such as those offered by the Maxx Model, also have elements that help to precisely adjust the seat of the chamber in the replica's body.
Hop-up chambers can also have several functions that are not necessarily related to their main task, which is to make the BB rotate. The most effective of them is certainly the possibility of exposing tracer BBs. Thanks to the installation of backlighting elements in the chamber, we do not need to use silencers equipped with this system. This may convince players interested in keeping their replicas compact. Another interesting feature is a special window in the side of the chamber that allows us to see how the BBs are arranged after leaving the magazine. This can be useful not only as a party trick, but also to see if the magazines are serving correctly. The last of this type of functions that are worth mentioning is a special hook at the bottom of the hop-up chamber in the place where it touches the magazine. The task of this element is to keep the BBs in the chamber and prevent them from falling out after removing the magazine. Many people know this pain when the last few 0.36g BB's fall out of the replica when changing the magazine.
Hop-Up system in airsoft - summary
I have the impression that sometimes we don't pay much attention to how our hop-up system works. Fortunately, browsing the web, I can see that this is changing and more and more often the elements of the discussed system are the first steps in the tuning of the replica focused on accuracy and range. Personally, I think that it is not always necessary to replace the factory hop-up chamber. It is worth starting with a good rubber or getting interested in the flat-hop modification, which I described some time ago on the Gunfire blog. On the other hand, a good-quality chamber as well as a well-chosen rubber and a spacer can bring a new life to our replica and make it surprise us with its performance.
The hop-up system is important no matter what replica we have. In sniper rifles, it is even crucial to ensure repeatability of shots and their precision. In electric replicas, it will allow us to achieve a good range, which will allow us to effectively fire even when the opponents have stronger replicas. After all, in the case of gas structures, especially pistols, it will allow us to effectively defend ourselves when storming tight spaces in buildings.
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