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Airsoft action targets!

by B.B. Pelletier

Today’s post comes from my wife. We were discussing things that would be fun for our animals and she thought a bubble machine would thrill the cats. Then, because I was working on an airsoft article, she mentioned that bubbles might also be fun for airsoft.

The idea hit me like a ton of bricks. Soap bubbles would be the perfect target for airsoft BBs. They are delicate, cheap to produce and they fly in random patterns, so even from 12 feet away they will be hard to hit. Then, I got an even better idea.

Fast-paced fun!
A bunch of floating bubbles would be a wonderful target for those semiautomatic pistols and full-auto automatic electric guns Pyramyd sells. As it turns out, I have a Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa 5.1 gas pistol on hand, so the only thing I lacked was the bubble machine.

Tokyo Marui’s Hi-Capa 5.1 green gas pistol pumps out the shots as fast as you pull the trigger.

They’re everywhere!
You don’t have to look far for a bubble machine. We started with an eBay search and turned up pages of them, then we wondered if nearby stores might also carry some. It turns out all toy stores and many stores with toy departments have them. You can also find them in the party supplies section, the toddler section and the bath toys section. I found them at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Toys-R-Us and several other places in my local area. Prices ranged from $7.95 to $15. I settled on the more expensive model, but that may not be the best for you. Here’s why.

Too many targets
It seems the machine makers think you will want a constant stream of bubbles, so they build their boxes to pump out high numbers of bubbles per minute. Mine probably does over a thousand every 60 seconds. A small fan blows them away from the machine, where air currents take over I would prefer 20-30 bubbles at a time, because tracking on several hundred targets is confusing. However, the rapid-fire characteristics of a Marui racegun do help out. And cutting into a cloud of bubbles with an electric M4 is just too much fun to miss!

The little machine just keeps on cranking them out.

Do this outdoors!
This sport is not an indoor activity. Not only will you get a pile of plastic BBs everywhere, the bubbles will wet your floors until they need to be cleaned. We first tried the machine in out kitchen to test it on our cats. The cats were unimpressed, but the tile floor became so slippery after just a few minutes that we had to stop and mop up. After that, the machine was relegated to the outside.

The machine I bought runs on both AA batteries and 110-volt house current. A converter is supplied to plug into the wall, but I found batteries to be more convenient. I also bought a gallon of bubble-blowing liquid, which seems to be a lifetime supply. Though the machine spits out lots of bubbles, it doesn’t seem to use much liquid.

Weather is a factor
Wind will whisk the bubbles away before you draw down on them, and rain will shoot them faster than you can. So, this is a sunny day sport at best. Because it is so completely random, it will keep a shooter engaged for hours on end. In fact, you will start noticing other things like how slow those magazines load and how fast the green gas runs out! It may even change your shooting habits altogether. In fact, you might want to buy lots of spare mags and pre-load them before going bubble hunting.

I think this is a great way to blow the cobwebs out of those rapid-firing airsoft guns you have lying around. Put them to good use and find out how you rank against the sinister soap bubble!

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

15 thoughts on “Airsoft action targets!”

  1. I live in Japan and I want to get an air rifle to cull some pigeons roosting in the rafters of one of my family’s buildings. My shots will be about 10 meters or so at the most. They are high up in the overhead of a very large warehouse. Here is my question. I want to humanely and efficiently terminate the pigeons; I am an experienced rifleman (usmc); Marui airsoft rifles are everywhere here. I am sure that a real hunting air rifle and pellets would be better, but I have never seen them offered anywhere here. Can a Marui airsoft rifle with 300 fps and plastic 6mm BBs do the job humanely? I have never fired a Marui airsoft rifle, and I have no idea how hard they hit. I have no experience with plastic BBs. If they are not suitable, I will just try to put up with the pigeons.

  2. gamera,

    Your question is well-stated and obviously you have give this matter a great amount of thought.

    No, I cannot recommend an airsoft gun shooting 300 f.p.s. for pigeons. Birds of all kinds are covered in feathers which act as armor and will turn projectiles. To get through them you need at least six foot-pounds of energy and eight would be better. That’s energy on target, not at the muzzle.

    If a pellet rifle is clearly out of the question (I have heard that Japanese law is very strict on such things, even though they manufacture many airguns in Japan), you might consider a slingshot. With practice you should be able to drop a pigeon at 10 meters, and a 1/4-inch steel balls will do the trick.

    I’m as concerned as you about a humane kill, so if you can’t hit a target smaller than your quarry, don’t attempt it.

    I hope this helps,

  3. Thank you very much for the advice. Yes that was what I thought. I read in one of your articles that you recommended 8 ftlbs on target for rats; and since I made the first post, I looked at the airgun calculations and realized that I wouldn’t get anywhere near that with plastic BBs and a VRS-10 marui rifle.
    Well maybe I will have to get a slingshot after all; they are available here.
    Thanks again for your advice.

  4. you can always upgrade the marui VSR-10, I’ve seen first hand several VSR-10s and a few Maruzen L96s pushing the 800fps barrier.

    not onyl can you upgrade their sniper rifles but I currently own a Marui G-3SG1 with various aftermarket upgrades and I can manage to hit a quarter out to 220 feet on a goodday ( if you need to know whats in mine I have the following upgrades installed: TN 6.002mm tightbore barrel, Systema Airnozzel, Systema metal bushings, PDI 200% spring, Classic Army Renforced mechbox, Classic Army Silicone wiring set, Systema FET box, Phoenix Infinite torque gears, Systema high torque motor, metal spring guide, deepfire cylender head, alum piston, polycarb piston head, G&P G-3 metal reciver, Classic Army G-3 Metal cocking tube, Marui Mp-5/G3 Scope mount, STAR MSG-90 stock, Promethous hard Hopup bucking, Classic army metal hop chamber,G&P 12v 3000 MAH custom battery, TGS renforced selector switch, Marui 500 round G-3 Hi-cap magazine ) I’ve never shot at any living thing with this gun since oviously its well past the 550 FPS limit in place at the local feild for sniper rifles (yes airsoft is a sport similliar to paintball in japan) but I’m pretty sure it is capable of killing a bird quickly and with the least ammount of suffering involved if you get close enough (theres a 100ft engagement rule at all the feilds for 550+ rifles you should try to get in around 10-15 feet away before drawing a bead on it)

    as for bbs once you get your gun up this high you’ll have to start using something other than the marui or KSC .20s since they will overhop and put your shots all over the place, I run .39g 6mm steel rounds in my G-3 atm.

    also I would like to point out that BB says he uses green gas in his hi-cappa. just giving him a heads up that your spossed to use HFC-134A “Duster” gas (commonly known as automotive freon its weaker and dosen’t produce as much stress on the internals as green does, you can buy various adapters to save money if you dont like paying 14 bucks a can for the packaged stuff. If you want to run greengas in any gun you’ll need atleast a metal slide or else its lifespan will be very very short, if you do have a green gas capable pistol you should pick up the propane adapter and use the small propane bottles you find in dicks and walmart to power your guns)

  5. “I can manage to hit a quarter out to 220 feet on a goodday”

    I’ve never posted a reply to something like this on the web, ever, but that statement has to be the most blatant bullsh!t I’ve ever heard. You know what? I have $10K in the bank right now. I’ll give you 20 shots to hit that quarter at 220 feet. I’ll even wait for the wind to die down.

  6. An idea for the pigeon problem:

    The airsoft won’t actually hurt the pidgeons, but I’m pretty sure they would quite disturbed if hit by a plastic bb. Perhaps if you shoot them with the airsoft whenever they’re around the rafters, they’ll eventually decide that it’s not a good place to roost and won’t come back. That way, you don’t even kill them, and you have some fun targets until they go away.

    I don’t really know if that would really work, or if you have the time to do that enough for it to have any effect, but if there were pigeons hanging our in a bad place at my house, I would try that before actually killing them.

  7. OMG! I own over a dozen airsoft guns, & NEVER thought of that!

    That is AWESOME!

    You wont find a cheaper moving target anywhere else!

    GREAT idea B.B. !!!

    Now I have to go by a bubble machine!

    Well at least they’re cheap.


    Hey BB…

    Has my credit card company sent you a personal thank you letter yet?


    – The Big Bore Addict –

  8. I found this thread searching on whether airsoft pistols would do the trick on pigeons. I have a similar issue except I can get as close as 20-25 ft (less than 10m). Ideally, i want to hit them without really maiming the flying rats. Is a airsoft pistol with 150-200 fps with plastic pellets good enough to hurt but not maim pigeons? Btw, are these pellets capable of piercing stucco or shattering windows should i be way off? (As you can tell, I am quite clueless on this topic). Thanks for any responses.

  9. I happen to own & have owned quite a few airsoft guns over the years. Everything form springers both weak pistols & strong sniper rifles, to AEGs & gas guns, so I'd like to add to this if I may.

    If you REALLY don't want to hurt small birds, make sure your gun isn't shooting over 200fps & use the light .12g BBs & NOT .2 or heavier, & try & stay at least 25 – 30 feet away.

    FYI… I have killed pigeons with my UTG324 sniper rifle with one shot from 20 yards using just a .2g BB. (I was out of .25s which I usually use in that gun.) And this is the older first model, which isn't nearly as powerful as the current ones they have.

    Also, if I didn't see it with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe it, but my friend has a P-90 AEG that he modded, & I personally saw him completely pierce an aerosol can with it!
    That's right… a plastic BB went through a metal aerosol can of spray paint!
    I don't know what weight BB it was, & while I'd bet it was probably a .25 .28 or maybe even a .3 the thing to keep in mind, is that it MIGHT have been a .12g!

    While lighter BBs WILL lower the chance of penetration…
    Velocity is the most important factor!
    The next is distance.

    I have also killed a sparrow with my UTG MK23 Navy SEAL Spring Pistol at 20 feet with a .2g BB!
    (It shoots 230fps with .2g BBs.)

    From my experience, if you just want to scare them…
    Anything 200fps or less shooting .12g BBs from no closer than 25- 30 feet, you should be OK.
    Anything faster, heavier, or closer, & you might hurt or even kill them.

    Remember…Birds are pretty fragile.

    The best thing to do, is to try your gun out on a piece of cardboard or styrofoam from different distances & see how it deep penetrates.

    Hope that helps.

    – TheBBA –

  10. Or, for killing pigeons, you could always try to get a preban or post ban for that matter tanaka m700. Those you can dial in to shoot 650fps with a .28g bb.

    I have my KJW M700 pushing 600fps with a .2g and plan on getting the CO2 conversion to make it shoot a little more.

  11. Anonymous,

    Thanks for your reply to the question on killing magpies. However, you left your post in a blog written in 05. Not many of us check back that far. We have a current one written daily at /blog/. Please come and join us there.

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