You probably heard this phrase before “You need to adjust your hop-up” or something similar, either on the field or in a store, after you just bought your first gun. You might have even heard it online or seen it in the user’s manual for your gun. So what is a Hop-Up and why is it so important?
This topic can get very technical but we will discuss it in layman’s terms. We will only be talking about the basics, if you want a more detailed explanation or tech tips on hop-ups, that will be in another future post.
What is a Hop-Up
Airsoft guns use smooth barrels, there is no “rifling” inside unlike real firearms. Without rifling it is hard to get a gun to shoot accurately, this is because the projectile is unable to stabilize in flight.
This is where the "Hop-Up" comes in, it is usually referred to as the "Hop-Up Chamber" if you are talking about the component. A hop-up chamber is a component in the gun that secures the inner barrel and helps in stabilizing the BB projectile when it leaves the barrel during the firing process. It utilizes a rubber bucking to give the BB backspin, this spinning effect is what helps the BB stabilize in flight. Depending on how high the hop-up system is adjusted, it can affect how much spin you put on the BB.
Most hop ups are made of plastic but metal ones can be installed as an aftermarket option. Most AEG hop-ups are adjustable with many different levels of tension.
How do I adjust my Hop-Up
The basics of adjusting the hop up is to get the BB to shoot as straight as possible.
The amount of hop-up tension that you need, will be depended on the weight of the BB, the FPS, and the desired range that you will be shooting at. There are other factors to account for, but that will be covered in a more detailed guide. Remember that when you are adjusting the hop-up, try to to keep your expectations realistic. For example, a BB will not fly straight at 100 meters so don't try to adjust to that distance. Do not use this guide as a step-by-step manual, consult your user manual for specific instructions on adjusting the hop-up to your respective platform.
All AEGs are made with a port to access your hop up. For this example, we will be using the AR platform as this is the most common gun on the field.
1. Access the hop up - Usually the hop up is located near the ejection port area of the gun, for ARs they are under the dust cover or mock bolt.
2. Adjust the Hop-Up according to the "Arrow" (Increasing) - You will see a dial to adjust the hop up. Some hop up chambers have numbers to indicate the level of hop.
3. Close the chamber/bolt once the adjustment is complete - Some platforms might have a bolt hold open button that you will need to depress to close the bolt (consult your user manual if you have difficulties).
Depending on the platform, the hop-up chamber design can vary, but the adjustment method is the same. Some guns such as ARs can have the same body design but different hop up styles.
A few examples of different Hop-Up designs.
*Note the "dial" hop-up design.
*Note the "slider" hop-up design.