· What are spring guns?
Spring guns are guns that are operated by a spring, which is manually cocked by the person operating the gun. The think you pull back, would be the same thing that releases the dust cover on the real version of the gun. For example, the M16's are charged by the "T" charging handle, in the middle, on the top. On pistols, you pull back the top slide. If you aren't familiar with the termanology above then just make sure you understand that you pull back a lever, release it, then fire, then repeat the process for each shot.
Some may ask why all the work and the time? Well its very economically sound, you do not need any extra power source, such as a battery, gas, or CO2. It is also easy for manufacturers to develop, making it cheaper for you to buy. Another thing making them cheap is you use a lot less ammo since it takes awhile to shoot. With the cheaper spring guns, they use .12 gram BB's which are also cheaper.
There are however very nice, and expensive spring guns, that demonstrate excellent, range, and accuracy. Examples are Tokyo Marui spring guns, as well as some spring sniper rifles. So when someone says spring gun, don't assume they are refering to a "cheap" gun. For the most part though spring guns, are of less quality then the more expensive guns.
Why are they called spring guns? Well when you pull back you are cocking a spring. Pulling the trigger, releases the spring into a chamber, which pushes air out a little hole. At the end of that little hole is the BB, and the BB is forced out the barrel. This is a very basic spring gun construction.
· How do they operate?
Well if you read above you already know. I'll detail fully below:
1. You cock the gun using the charging lever, handle, or slide. This cocks the spring inside the gun back.
2. Pull the trigger. This releases that spring.
3. The spring goes into a chamber, and forces the air in the chamber out a small hole.
4. At the end of the hole is the BB, and it is forced down the barrel.
5. You must repeat this process for every shot.
If you want to know how the magazines work, its rather simple. There is a think single file line on the end of the magazines, there is a spring inside. You pull down the spring, and pour BB's in side. Release the spring, and the spring will provide the pressure to push the BB's up into the gun. There are exceptions, but they are all pretty simple...
· How much fun are they to play with?
This does depend on a couple of factors, but overall, yes. You will have a great time having springer battles, they are simple, cheap, and long. The exceptions to this are people who have spring guns that is not a sniper rifle, and are facing AEGs. That will not be fun, you will have minimal success and a lot of welts. If you are used to rapid fire, in either airsoft or paintball, you may be a bit disappointed, but you can still have a good time.
I remember the good old springer days, you just load up your magazines, put them in the gun, and you go out in the woods, and have battles that could last for hours. Partly because you can't really pin someone down, and because they aren't the most accurate of guns. Battles are still a blast... The only problem is if where you play is spread out, you can not shoot too far, so its no fun to play at long distances. My favorite time to play was night, it opened up the hiding places to an extreme, and made everything more exciting.
If this will be your first military simulation game, and you are playing against other spring guns, you will have a blast. They will be fun, and they will be exciting.
· Can you upgrade them?
In short, the answer is no, you can not use any traditional upgrades on a springer. When saying springer I mean the cheaper side spring operated airsoft guns. This does not include sniper rifles, since they can be upgraded quite a bit to improve their performances for sniping.
There are however, unconventional methods of upgrading guns, but you are not likely to find any guides, or parts speciffically for your gun. The only upgrades that you could do, would be upgrades that you yourself make yourself on the gun, or something that you find from another member in a message board system, such as Airsoft Core's Forums. Overall, these unconventional upgrading jobs usually end up in disaster, if you don't know what you are doing. But if you feel confident that you can handle the spring guns internals, then it is quite possible that you could make modifications to the gun in order to imrpove performance. But your looking at a hard job, with very little technical support out there from others in the airsoft community.
If you plan to attempt in upgrading your weapon, then good luck! Your going to need it! =)