Jul 6, 2018 0 Comments Posted by Airsoft Knowledge Base

What the Heck is a Trigger Switch?

So you’re an airsoft player right? Clearing rooms with a click of the trigger, beating all odds as you dominate the other team with your tactical setup and AEG (Automatic Electric Gun) heavy loadout. The question is, how does it all work? I mean, is it a stroke of luck that when you squeeze that trigger, the airsoft BBs catapult towards unsuspecting targets (no pun)? Or is it something more, like say, a trigger switch system that saves you in your times of need?

A trigger what?

Yeah that’s right. A trigger switch. It’s all fun and games until you get down to the nitty gritty and realize you know nothing Jon Snow. Let’s say you’re deep in a game and about to get gotten, but your reflexes are nothing short of legendary and you squeeze the trigger first. Boom! Two things happen here: 1) Homie’s out and 2) That pull of your physical airsoft gun trigger actuates the trigger switch, which then engages the electronics of your AEG. Science amirite?

There are actually three types of AEG airsoft gun trigger systems including contact, microswitch and ETU.

Contact System

Whether you play with a KWA Ronin or a Tippmann Commando Carbine, you are most likely using a contact trigger system. The contact system consists of two, well, “contacts” (think baby infant Golden Gate Bridge) that connect to a wiring system which is mounted in housing and anchored to the gearbox. The switch mechanism is a metal contact that bridges the two contacts mounted in the housing when it is activated by pulling the physical trigger. From here, the trigger is disengaged by a physical cut off switch that pulls the trigger contact away from the housing contacts when it is actuated. Simple.

Alas, nothing is perfect and the contact trigger system is no exception. Since the contacts are constantly doing the heavy lifting, from engaging to disengaging, they are prone to physical wear and electrical arcing. By the way, electrical arcing is literally the creation of a cool electrical spark (not cool in this situation though!) This can lead to contact surfaces corroding and pitting, increasing electrical resistance and accelerating the failure of the contacts (meaning ya gun ain’t gonna work no more)! Contact trigger systems are also unable to handle higher voltages. For instance, if you use an 11.1V LiPo battery, arcing and contact wear are accelerated and it is not uncommon to see the trigger switch fail after a very short period of time unless you install a MOSFET system (different blog post altogether).

Microswitch System

If contacts are iPhone, the microswitch is the HTC. This is because microswitches are used far less than contact triggers of course! Right off the bat, when you click a microswitch styled AEG, you will be able to feel an actual “click” when actuating the trigger. Similar to paintball marker systems, AEG microswitches are tactile switches contained in a housing. However, unlike paintball marker systems, these switches are larger and more substantial (think the Hulk).

Most LMG’s (yeahhh light machine gun), AKseries and G3 series AEG’s use this style. It is important to note that unlike in a contact trigger system, pulling the physical trigger will not actuate the microswitch directly. Instead, there will be an intermediary actuator link which can be disengaged by the cut off lever as the trigger switch itself cannot be disengaged.

And although microswitches will not wear as quickly as a contact style, it is still weak against high voltages without a MOSFET installed.

ETU System

So switch trigger systems just can’t handle high voltages, got it. Enter the ETU. The ETU system comes paired with a MOSFET unit which means it IS able to handle 11.1V. In other words, Thanos is high voltages and the ETU system is our very own Captain Marvel!

And since the word MOSFET has been mentioned four times now, a quick explanation is definitely needed! MOSFET stands for metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (say that ten times fast). It is a type of field-effect transistor which eliminates arcing when using a high discharge battery. MOSFET’s do this by only allowing a bit of electricity through at a time while creating an alternate path for electricity so that there is no arcing. Moreover, unlike the other two systems, each of the functions performed by the ETU trigger switch assembly are done with microswitches instead of physical interactions and managed by the good ol’ MOSFET unit. ETU systems also have the ability to toggle between a full-auto and 3-round burst mode.

Unfortunately, you can actually damage an ETU system if excessive force is applied to the trigger. Keep it gentle peeps!

So the next time you're on a 60-man kill spree and you’re doing your victory speech, be sure to thank your trigger system for having your back and making it all possible! And while you’re at it, forget the victory speech- post that killing frenzy on YouTube asap!

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