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  • Writer's pictureKelly Hardwick


Hey friends!

Welcome back to the blog! Today we're carrying on with our 'Airsoft 101' series. If you are a new or a seasoned airsoft player, I think we can all agree that during a game it can sometimes be difficult to see the BBs flight path and where it lands especially in low-light environments and night games. To help with this, a lot of players choose to use airsoft tracer units and BBs. In this blog post, we’re going to discuss what they are, and how they work! 

So, an airsoft tracer unit is a device that utilises specific airsoft tracer BBs (BBs that glow in the dark) so players can see the BBs' flight path by making the BBs easier to see by making them glow in the dark. These units usually come in two forms - the most common, which is attached to the end of the barrel like a suppressor (which you'll have seen a few times on the blog), or a hop-up tracer unit which is installed in the hop-up unit of the airsoft gun which is very much a rarity. 

So, how exactly do airsoft tracers work? 

Inside an airsoft tracer unit, there is a sensor that detects when a BB passes through - when a BB is detected, it triggers a flash of light that illuminates tracer BBs as they pass through the unit. They don't  Special tracer BBs are required. Tracer BBs differ from regular BBs because they are coated in Phosphor. The flash from the rows of lights in the tracer unit “excites/charges” the Phosphor making the BBs glow meaning we can see where the BBs travel. Phosphors are a material that emits light when exposed to ‘radiation’ such as Ultraviolet light of Electron beam.

Tracer BBs come in either red or green and it is worth noting that some tracer units ONLY work with one colour. 

Now that we know what they are and how they work, let’s discuss when to use them! Tracer units and tracer BBs are most effective in low-light environments and during night games, which is why you’ll see them regularly at CQB sites where the light varies. Although it varies depending on the BBs and tracer unit that you are using, they don’t work in bright sunlight so aren’t recommended for well-lit environments or outdoors. 

What kind of airsoft tracers are available? 

There are three types of tracer units: the flash hider, a built-in tracer (which is installed in the hop-up unit), and a magazine tracer (although this type is a rarity). 

Flash hider/ threaded tracers – These are by far the most typical tracer units you will see at an airsoft game as they’re easy to install and relatively affordable - they replace the flash hider and simply screw on so even beginners can use them. Many of them look like a mock suppressor so add a little something extra to the look of your rifle too! 

Tracer hop-ups – This type of tracer unit isn’t as popular as flash hider tracers, but they work in the same way. This type of unit has to be installed into your airsoft rifle, which is the reason that this isn’t the most popular type, because it can be complicated to install. 

Magazine tracers – This type of tracer unit may look like a regular magazine but it has a built-in light. It works by lighting up every BB whilst it is still in the mag, making sure it absorbs enough light before exiting the barrel. 

Advantages of tracers 

  • They illuminate the flight path so you can see where the BB is travelling 

  • Makes it easy to see if you have hit an enemy player (or a friend if you’re unlucky!) 

  • Can help with team identification if teams are using different colour tracer BBs. 

  • They look awesome at night! Ever wanted to be in Star Wars? Now you can! 

  • Improves accuracy as you can see in the BB flight path 

Disadvantages of Tracers 

  • Using a tracer unit gives away your position - players on both teams will be able to see where the BBs are coming from. 

  • Tracer BBs aren’t available in heavyweights. 

  • As you can see from the flight path of the BB, enemy players can see them and dodge them.

Originally posted Friday 27 May 2022


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