Effective Range and Max Range, what’s the difference?


If you’re on social media, you’ll have no doubt come across many pictures/videos/posts about peoples ranges that they are achieving, whether that’s 80m or 140m.

Range is a very subjective thing and there are many different ways to look at it, this post isn’t about discrediting anything or calling anything out, purely my thoughts on what effective and max range are to me.

Firstly lets start by pointing out that there are many countries where airsoft is present and each of those have their own limits, which is something to be mindful of.

Some common things that I’ve seen are claims of range where the results given are 500 fps on 2’s, or 2.3J on 2’s. This issue with this, is almost all sniper rifles joule creep on heavy ammo, a good example of this is the Tanaka Preban rifles, they shoot very very well, perhaps one of the best rifles in existence in my personal opinion.

However…..a common Tanaka shooting at 500fps/2.3J on 2’s is going to be about 3J on anything over a 4. So while they get their insane range, it’s not far to compare them to other rifles which may be setup and measure properly on joules, so they are 2.3J on the ammo used.

HPA guns such as Mancraft, P*, Wolverine etc also joule creep a lot. A P* jack on a 300mm barrel set to 350 fps on .2’s can end up being near on 1.8J on a 36. Those things all get great range and accuracy, but sometimes the claims are based on the rifle being measured on 2’s instead of joules.

The Silverback SRS is another rifle which creeps, a 16″ covert set to 500fps on 2’s is roughly 2.8J depending on set up etc, so these rifles get a lot of claims to long range and while they do get that, in some instances it’s because they are shooting hotter than other comparable rifles.

When this happens, you end up with rifles which get great range, but only do so because they are well over the limits compared to other rifles.

Effective Range:

In my opinion, effective range can be looked at a few different ways, none of which are wrong, however it is all subjective.

A lot of people, myself included consider your effective range to be that at which you can put your crosshair centre on a target, pull the trigger and know with a high degree of confidence that the round will hit that sport consistently. (albeit we are talking about firing round balls, down hollow tubes, essentially muskets lol)

At the UK limit of 2.3/2.5J, effective range for most well tuned rifles is  say, 80-85M in good conditions. Some people will have less, others more.

With that being said, if you can aim at a target with slight hold over such as a few mildots and still lob rounds in with a good degree of consistency, to some degree you could also consider this be effective.

My view is that it comes down to your ability and the confidence you have in your rifle. If you’re used to your particular rifle and scope etc, being able to consistently lob shots in at 95-100m due to knowing how your rifle acts, then for you personally, you could argue that this is YOUR effective range.

However someone else might not be able to land the same degree of shots using your rifle, as they won’t know how it behaves as well as you do.

Max Range:

Max range is generally considered to be the absolute max distance that your rifle can fire, even if you’re essentially shooting at 45 degrees like a mortar or having huge overhop to essentially lob them in.

This range lets say is 100m +, while it’s possible to get shots at 100m+, depending on your limits etc, a lot of these aren’t effective shots, as in they couldn’t be done consistently and rely much more on other factors such as elevation, angle of the shooter, wind, lobbing, overhop etc

Again with this, it still comes down to people’s personal view, some will argue if they can hit someone 5/10 at 105M, then they would consider that to still be effective, others would might be happy with 2/10 shots and then some might considering anything less than 8/10 to not be effective.

It really is open to peoples subjective views, a really good example of this is the MK23 pistols once they have been upgraded. Even at sub 1.1J, they can hit targets out to 90m with holdover and good conditions, but you certainly won’t be landing 8/10 at that range, more like 3/10.

The difference with the MK23 is the visual difference of what it looks like to lob, as they are just pointed and fired, you don’t get a true indication of how much holder over is applied, as opposed to when you’re having to look at a target through a scope and practically have the target at the bottom of the scope.

Final Thoughts:

With all the advances in barrels, buckings and the increased weights that are now readily available, the ranges people can achieve and the consistency that people can hit that range has drastically improved over the years.

When I started airsoft at a site in Worthing, I was once hit out by a sniper from about 95m, with a laylax upgraded VSR 10 using Madbull .4g in tan. After the shot we used a laser range finder to work out the distance and I was genuinely impressed (we’re talking 8 or so years ago now).

I shot the rifle and at the time would have said it was “effective” to about 75/80m, but the guy took the rifle back and was comfortable lobbing rounds down to the 90m, with a reasonable degree of predictability as he knew his rifle inside and out, he knew how far to aim, he knew how to judge distance, he knew how long it took rounds to land etc. So in his hands, his rifle we essentially effective for him at 90m.

So while one gun in one persons hands might be 80m effective, the same gun in someone elses hands could be less or it could be more.

Again, this is just my thoughts and observations, I’ve built my own rifles which have had exceptional range and in turn, been on the receiving end of other rifles which have impressive range too.

In summary, there are 101 factors that come into play when shooting at range, such as the ammo being used, weather, location, elevation, joules, skill and luck.

If you’re looking for a decent rangefinder, you can grab one here

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