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What is the Hop Up on an Airsoft Gun?

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Do you ever wonder what gives an airsoft gun its range? If you have used different brands of airsoft guns, you may have noticed that the effective range can vary as well as the accuracy. 

Various combinations of the bucking, nub, barrel, and hop chamber will impact the ability to hit a target consistently and further away. We will have to discuss each part of this to provide a good understanding of what a hop up is. 

In short, the hop up (sometimes written as hopup) is the part that applies contact to the BB, allowing it to achieve greater range and accuracy.  

Many factors come into play when wanting to increase the range of your airsoft gun. The hop up may be simple, but it is arguably the most important part of an airsoft gun. 

No matter if your weapon is shooting 250fps or 450fps, if it does not have the hop adequately set, you are going to have a hard time hitting anyone. In this article, we will go over the parts of the hop up and its effect on airsoft BBs.  

Purpose and Effects of the Hop up

The hop up's purpose is to apply pressure to the top of the BB as it passes into the barrel. This friction applies backspin to the BB, which allows it to take advantage of the Magnus effect. 

The Magnus effect states that backspin produces an upward force that extends the path of the moving sphere. Applying more pressure on the BB will apply more backspin as it is sent through the barrel. 

Too much, and you will notice the BB is eventually sent straight up into the air. Too little hop being applied will result in no backspin, and the BB will have a much shorter range. 

The hop allows adjustments to be made so you can find the "sweet spot" where enough pressure is applied to give you the range you need but not too much to be inaccurate. This fine-tuning is why it is common for players to "lock" their hop up after adjusting it for their gun. 

Parts of the Hop up

To properly work, the hop up consists of a few separate parts to give consistent results. It is helpful to understand these parts in order to understand why your gun performs the way it does. 

Additionally, if you want to fine-tune your weapon to get extra range, you're going to need to become familiar with all the components. 

Chamber

The chamber is the entire housing for the hop up unit. This chamber is where the BBs are loaded into via the magazine. The chamber is also what houses the barrel, bucking, and nub. 

The chamber is also where the nozzle enters to expel the air that propels the BB. There are different types of chambers, varying based on the kind of gun they are inside. 

The chamber also houses the adjustment lever to change the hop level. The method of adjustment may be done in a couple of different ways, depending on the model. The chamber's material, made out of either plastic or metal, is not terribly important. 

Although some may think metal is better due to it being more robust, plastic is more than adequate because strength is unnecessary for the hop up. Regardless of the material, the important thing is that the hop up chamber has a correct fit. 

This fact is vital to know as some want to put aftermarket hop up chambers in, and not all brands are entirely compatible. As long as you have a hop up that fits and is not broken, you will be ready for any other adjustments!

Hop up arm

The hop up arm is what moves when adjusting the level of hop up. This arm pushes down on the nub, which in turn applies more downward force on the BB. 

Depending on the type of hop up chamber, the hop up arm may be plastic or metal. The two most common ways for this arm to be adjusted are by the arm tilting on a hinge or directly connected to the adjustment wheel.

Bucking

The bucking is the rubber that goes around the barrel and into the chamber. The bucking serves two purposes; to create an air-seal around the barrel and to provide a surface for the nub to apply friction to the BB. 

The fact that this comes into contact with the BB is why getting a good bucking that fits and has the appropriate hardness is critical. The different hardness of the bucking can be beneficial for players who have different needs. 

Usually, those who use guns operating at a higher FPS will see a much better lifespan out of their bucking if it is a harder material. 

The type of rubber also varies by brand, which is why Lonex, Prometheus/Laylax, and G&G are extremely common brands in the airsoft community. 

Do not be afraid to experiment with different brands as your mileage may vary! The slight differences between barrel diameter, hop up chamber, and bucking thickness all mean it’s not always a straight answer of what will fit. 

Nub

The nub is what the hop up arm pushes down on. This nub can be of various shapes.

Generally, stock nubs are in the shape of a cylinder, which applies pressure to a smaller surface area of the BB through the bucking. 

The form of the M-nub, especially combined with modifications to the bucking, makes it an extremely popular choice for creating more consistent backspin. 

Barrel

Although the barrel is not conventionally considered part of the hop up, its interaction with the hop up is vital for excellent performance. 

The hop up chamber has a clip that holds onto the barrel, preventing it from rotating. The reason for this is so that the barrel window is always at the top. 

That barrel window is where the bucking is pushed through by the hop nub. If the barrel is turned, the force would be applied to the BB's top corner, causing it to veer to the side. 

The barrel's window is also important because its shape will affect how easy it is when wanting to drop in aftermarket hop patches, such as R-hop.

Another vital point to make about barrels is barrel quality. Although the quality is not directly related to the hop up, it can be a factor if you are trying to achieve greater accuracy and range. Any imperfection on the inside of the barrel can have small impacts on the BB that make getting accurate shots at an extended range very difficult. 

Different Types of Hop and Adjustments

To obtain better hop and achieve further range, there are different modifications players can install. One of the most popular changes to the hop up is flat-hop. 

Since buckings have a ridge that goes into the barrel window, it is common to shave the hill to allow the use of a different nub. With the peak gone, the flat part of the bucking can better take the nub's shape. 

Additionally, the vertical ridge that lines up with the barrel is shaved off so that the bucking can be rotated, allowing the smooth parts to make contact with the BB while also making sure no protrusions disrupt the air seal.

Another popular hop set up is the R-hop. The R-hop follows the same setup as the flat-hop; however, it takes one additional step. After shaving the inside of the bucking, a particular type of rubber tubing with the same inner diameter is cut to fit the barrel window. 

This patch is then adhered to the barrel to make a proper seal. The result of this is that the rubber patch's curvature matches the BB, applying the most contact possible. The curved patch applies backspin symmetrically and consistently but can be especially helpful for heavier BBs. 

With the use of heavier BBs, this hop can help players wanting the best range possible. 

Premade Setups

Since hop-up is vital for achieving range and accuracy, some companies sell packages already set up. Evike, Umbrella Armory, and Elvish Tac are a few that offer varying levels of custom hops. 

From just patches to fitted aftermarket barrels, and even full packages containing barrel, chamber, and bucking can be purchased. There are also people in the community who offer their services, setting up barrels and hop up units. 

Various forums and people active on the airsoft subreddit offer services such as barrel lapping, patch installation, and fine-tuning. They also may have insight as to which hop up chambers may be compatible with your particular brand and model of weapon. 

Now that you know the parts of the hop up, how it functions, and its influence on range and accuracy, you should be more equipped to set yours up how you want it! There are options for everyone, from adjusting their hop properly, modifying it for increased performance, and aftermarket packages for those who wish to have a drop-in unit.

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