What is Hop-Up? How does It work? [Types & Adjustment Steps]

What is Hop-Up?

With hops-up systems becoming an integral part of any airsoft gun, the term is cropping up everywhere in airsoft websites and conversations. Many people are aware that it has something to do with kids playing in hills who use plastic bb guns but how much do you know about why it’s called a hop-up? Does your AEG have one? What does it do? Well, this article is aimed to answer just that.

Hops-up systems are actually based on real gun technology. They were originally used in air rifles and shotguns to increase accuracy by aiming with the rifle itself rather than through aiming with your eye which allows for greater control of where you want to hit-making it much easier to aim precisely. In airsoft, this is achieved by adjusting the angle at which the bb leaves the barrel which you can adjust on most AEGs and spring guns.

How does Hop-Up works?

To understand how a hop-up works, let’s start with a basic diagram of what a gun looks like internally to put things in perspective. An airsoft gun shoots 6mm plastic bb’s which are propelled out of the barrel using either air (springs or gas) or CO2. Most guns utilize a spring-piston system like the one pictured to the right where a spring covered in resistance is compressed by moving a handle attached to a gearbox that compresses it further pushing back any two objects in front of it. When the gearbox is released, this spring provides a lot of power that ejects whatever was in its way. This system can be used to fire bb’s for about three or four months until the spring loses its elasticity making it difficult to compress which requires you to either buy another one or fully upgrade your gun with an electric motor.

How does the bb get out?

You can’t just push a metal ball out of a tiny hole at high speeds. Well, inside the tip of your barrel is a hop-up nub which in turn presses against a small rubber patch that provides resistance and thus launches your bb upwards from the force that it came from. This is why your standard AEG or gas gun can’t be used to snipe, its range is limited because the bb only goes straight forward.
The hop-up system works by giving your bb an initial velocity boost to make it shoot further by propelling it upwards which causes it to travel in a parabolic path rather than a straight line. This is what the hop-up does, it’s basically a small nub that pushes against your bb to shoot it upwards instead of letting it go straight forward, and with the help of tracer bbs and adjustable tool-less adjusters, you can make even tracers curve in your opponent’s general direction causing headaches for the enemy not knowing where the shots are coming from.
The key in mastering a hop-up system

It relies on its nub and bucking, both of which go hand in hand in determining how high your bb will be propelled into the air. A hard bucking means that the nub will have a harder time pushing against it, thus giving you less range because the force generated by your spring won’t be enough to push through. A soft nub on the other hand will give you more range but if not set correctly, it may send your bb flying off in random directions which makes proper tuning crucial to gaining maximum range!

Once mastered, hop-up systems are a great way of increasing accuracy and range when installed properly in your airsoft guns. There are many types of hop-ups so you should always look at what kind of gun it goes into to be sure that the system fits your needs. Gas and electric guns usually use different kinds!

Airsoft Hop-Up Adjustment Steps:

1. Once you have your hop-up unit installed in your gun, start by moving the adjustment screw that sets the nub’s depth forward or backward depending on what direction your gun shoots before firing any rounds to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the inner barrel.

2. Next, adjust your hop-up lever which is near the cylinder/barrel by moving it either clockwise or counterclockwise. This setting is usually pretty consistent because if you try to move the lever too much, your gun may not shoot at all!

3. With both of these first two steps done, it’s time to adjust the nub itself. First, fire a few test shots and see where your BBs go. If they curve left, right, or up and down, move the nub in those directions. You can even use a pair of calipers to measure the distance between the bb holes on your target and try to adjust accordingly.

4. After all of this is done, it’s time for final testing before you holster your gun to make sure you didn’t mess anything up by adjusting the hop-up.

Types of Hop Ups (Flat Hop Up Vs R Hop)

Why does your Airsoft gun not have the range it should? The answer may lie in one of two common aftermarket accessories, flat Hop Up and R Hop. Hop-ups are fairly straightforward, they perform just as their name suggests by utilizing a nub that is attached to the gearbox to create backspin on the pellets. This creates a more stable and flat trajectory, which leads to greater accuracy and range.

Flat Hop-Up

For example: When a pellet is shot from an Airsoft gun, it is pushed down by the spring in the gearbox due to the force of the air behind it. This means that when it leaves the barrel there will be some spin on it. Some of this will be caused by the imperfections in the barrel, and some by flat Hop Up nub. The latter, however, can be adjusted to change how much effect it has on the pellet, thus creating more or less spin.

As is often seen with aftermarket parts for Airsoft guns, different brands offer different effects. For example, the Laylax nub will create a lot more spin than a stock TM nub. Because of this, it is important to match your Hop Up with the spring rating of your gun. Using a lower-rated spring with a higher-powered hop-up will cause you problems as there isn’t enough take-up for the spring, and too much tension for the Hop-Up nub. The gun will be very difficult to pull back, and even worse could damage your gearbox.

R Hop

Another popular yet more advanced type of hop-up is known as an R Hop. This is a modification that has been widely adopted by serious Airsoft snipers as it greatly increases accuracy and range, however requires a more in-depth explanation of how standard hop-ups work.

When a pellet is fired from an Airsoft gun, the inner barrel moves forward and causes some variance in shot placement due to the change in center of mass between when it is cocked and when its fired. The R Hop cures this by skipping one of the steps involved with setting up a standard hop-up. Instead of positioning the nub on the barrel (A), you position it on the arm that releases the BB into the barrel (B). This means that when you pull back on your bolt, instead of pulling forward on the arm and stretching out the rubber nub, it is already compressed.
This action causes enough take-up for the spring and provides enough tension for the nub to give a maximum spin.

Despite not needing any real explanation or disassembly of your gun, it is important that you still take precautions when performing this mod. A good rule of thumb is to only change one variable at a time (performance-wise). This means if you are taking the barrel out to put in an R Hop, test it with just that. If you change both at once there is no way of knowing which mod has caused the problem.

R hops are not miracle workers. The range will depend on your velocity and hop-up combination just as much as any other hop-up would be expected to do, although the point of impact will be more consistent.

All hop-ups are subject to wear and tear so it is worth checking them every few months. The arm on the side of the gearbox that you pull back can become loose, or even snap altogether. Replacing this is not hard but does require some disassembly, which may void your warranty.
If none of this hop-ups appeal to you there are dozens of others available that will work in a similar way or even ones that don’t affect how much spin is put on the pellet at all. This means your gun will fire as normal, but the range and accuracy will be greatly improved. Before going for an aftermarket upgrade check your gun to make sure it is compatible with the part.

Conclusion

The Hop-Up is an attachment that allows the BB to fly in a more stable trajectory. It does this by increasing the backspin on the BB, which gives it extra stability and range. A flat hop up will only have one adjustment setting, whereas an R-Hop has multiple adjustments available so you can tweak your weapon to match different ranges of play or even changes in air pressure. If you’re new to Airsoft, make sure to find out what type of hop-up suits your gun before investing time into learning how they work! Read our article about Airsoft Hop Ups for all sorts of interesting facts about this essential part of any good player’s arsenal.

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