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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: North Delta, BC (Greater Vancouver)
Wider bore are becoming popular again and seem to be having great success. Here's my issue with them and any other airsoft product. To me it's "all" about accuracy and distance, period. I want my gun to shoot as far and precise as possible, while still living within three parameters; the FPS limits of the fields I play, good quality 6mm BBs, and lastly the time it takes for my BB to arrive.
The best Airsoft barrels I have ever seen are the Prometheus 6.03mm for the Tokyo Marui VSR, and the Systema 6.04mm for their PTW, as well as variations of each. I have seen successful 6.00mm, 6.01mm, 6.02mm, but I've seen just as many or more that didn't work. The BB flight would become unstable and erratic. Theories here are that the bore is too tight and that the BB contacts the inside of the barrel too many times or it's disruptive to the hop-up spin, etc. But 6.04mm and 6.03mm are solid with great results. Most airsoft guns up until a few years back came stock with 6.08mm barrels, and even though some still do, many have gravitated towards the 6.04mm.
A gun is only as good as the sum of it's parts. Barrel, hop-up, nozzle, piston, gears, motor, etc. They all combine into what your gun is capable of. Precision pieces are not always enough, they must work with each other in harmony, as well as fit tighter properly. That is why certain systems have had great success. PTW is a good example. Every piece is machined perfectly and just clicks together. There's no play, no wiggle, and everything is high quality. We've all seen, or at least most of us, their superiority in action. If you were to lessen quality, lessen precision, etc, you will have negative effects on performance and longevity of the gun. So no matter how much you upgrade those parts, without all of those tolerances you won't have the same effect. Your gun has a maximum output level and although you can modify little things here and there, it'll never push past this performance.
Next and most forgotten is FPS limits. People conveniently forget this one when talking about distance and performance. "I one time saw a gun shoot this (--) far!" Is the equivalent of "my friend once caught a fish this (--) big". If you have the best, or one of the best guns that perform on a field, is there one out there performs significantly better? Sure there is, somewhere, but let's be frank. What were doing is projecting a 6mm BB down range, period. The physics here are what they are. I once saw a gun shoot a disgusting amount of distance, but its FPS was also ridiculously high for that time. Something like 750 FPS plus. It wasn't allowed to be fielded, and I can't recall it being especially accurate, but that BB sailed out of the barrel with zest, you bet you boots it did. Higher FPS only gives us one advantage, and that is you can use a heavier weight round, which are proven to have more stability for longer range. My 300 FPS pistol will not successfully launch a 0.30g round down range, just not enough power. I could try a more aggressive hop-up to help manage the weight, but really it needs a bigger push overall. Not to mention that too heavy of a BB travels excessively slow and if too slow can destabilize mid flight quite easily. There goes your accuracy, or your target just Matrix'd your BBs. So you want to use the heaviest weight BB your gun can shoot stable, that also doesn't arrive next week. So bumping up your FPS a bit can get you to that next weight, 0.28g, 0.30g, 0.32g, 0.36g, etc. You will likely "need" a very aggressive hop-up at this point though, and you're still stuck at your fields FPS limits, such as 400 FPS, etc. So if 400 FPS is the maximum, then you are stuck within that set of physical limitations, and that's that.
So onto wide-bore barrels. We've established the basic properties of quality parts, BB weights, Velocity, etc, and now your gun is already to go. So here's my three issues with going wide bore. Firstly you have to bump up your FPS to compensate. Due to the width of the inner bore either your air cushion doesn't have the same effect or it's able to escape forward past the BB at a greater rate. So you have to up your FPS to push the same BBs down the tube. This puts more stress over all on your gun because you'll need a bigger spring. What you can do with an M110 spring and a 6.04mm barrel, you'll need a M130 to do with a 6.10mm barrel. Secondly I'm not seeing difference in overall performance. I have seen some wide bores work wonderfully in some platforms, but not really out shooting or more accurately shooting than tighter bores with other combinations, necessarily. Third is that like most other barrel technology, we just don't know for sure.
Airsofters have been monkeying around with the physics of guns forever. Don't get me wrong, this is how things improve, but many times we change something with little to no effect, and then the fad dies out. My theory is this; if a barrel has the ability to hold a stable air cushion and is of high quality, it shouldn't matter which bore you use. Just like tighter bore increase your FPS, wider bore decreases it. So we've seen really tight bore barrels cause destabilization, not always, but it does happen. We're using 6mm BBs that actually, and usually will measure more closely to 5.70 - 5.90 if you want to get out the micrometer and measure thousands of them. This means if your barrel is too tight, then it's just too tight. Low quality BBs have actually been known to fluctuate in size more wildly and even be too big. You can see the issues with using 6.00mm BB in a 6.00mm barrel then. Also it may scrape, run, bounce, or contact the barrel all the way out causing destabilization in flight. There have been some successful cases of 6.01mm or other tight bore barrels being used, but usually in shorter barrels. Perhaps the short length helps stop the BB from bobbing around before it leaves the gun. Who knows? What I can tell you is that at a certain bore, it doesn't seem to matter. For instance at 6.04mm a short or long barrel can be used in any platform with success. Of course that's as long as the right parts, hop-up, and BBs are used. So realistically once you find a stable bore size such as 6.04mm, why go bigger? As long as the you have a stable air cushion, the right hop-up and rounds, what's the difference? I'll tell you again. The wider you go, the more FPS you need for compensation, meaning a bigger spring or more gas, just to get your gun to where it'll meet field limits and handle heavier rounds. At the end of the day a 6.04mm shooting a 0.25g round, with a M110 spring is about the same performance as 6.10mm shooting a 0.25g round, with an M130 spring. All we've done is increased pressure on our whole system to run that tighter bore.
Like I said, it all comes down to how far and straight your gun shoots, period. If you don't get an increase in overall range and accuracy, the. You've accomplished nothing. And in order for some technology to be considered legit it had to work better across the board. I have seen some airsoft guns beat up, broken, duct taped together, with low grade crappy parts in them shoot just fine. But for every one of those, there's a million that fail.
So what are the possible benefits of a wide bore? Well "in theory" you could run longer barrels more successfully because you lessened the chance of barrel fouling. More room could mean a smoother transition. Another is BB weight could make a difference. Having issues getting that 0.32g BB to fly nicely out of your gun? A wider bore, with a good hop-up, and the appropriate FPS increase could help to manage that heavier round better. It's not proven, but the idea is out there. The downside may be that the BB flies nicely, but your target may be able to catch them in mid air though.
As has been said, "snake oil". This is not to say that wide bores have no advantage, but nothing significant has been proven. Most guns that I have seen shoot successfully with a 6.10mm shot about the same with a 6.04mm. The 6.01mm needed a bigger spring to have the same or similar FPS as well as distance and accuracy.
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Last edited by Ricochet; August 5th, 2014 at 13:59..