DIY Airsoft trap

Remember that Airsoft M&P I purchased a few months ago?

If I’m going to have it, I need a place to shoot it. If I’m going to shoot it, I need a way to manage all the plastic BB’s.

It’s CO2-powered, and it has some oomph. I tried shooting it at simple cardboard and that proved to be no match for it. TXGunGeek told of a great solution, getting those big wardrobe boxes, because you can stick one at the end of the hallway and it makes for a great place to catch the plastic BB’s. I think that’s a great solution – if you have the room. Alas, I do not have the room for one of those huge boxes, nor would Wife tolerate it. 🙂

When I was a teenager, I had a pellet gun and had a trap for it. The trap was made mostly out of thick plastic, except for the back and front. The front was a simple cardboard cover, so you could afix a target and of course shoot through it (and easily replace it). The back was made out of a steel plate and angled downward so any lead pellets that hit it would be deflected down. Also, hanging within the box were some curtains, I think made of Kevlar or at least very thick canvas, to help trap the pellets. It worked quite well, and served as my inspiration. (I just found it, it was a Crosman Target Trap).

The rules? To make a BB trap that minimized the bouncing BB’s and cleanup, but also that didn’t cost me a whole lot. Plus if it got all beat up and shot out, wouldn’t be a big deal to replace. So I went digging around the house to scrounge what I could, and was fortunate to find everything I needed. So in the end, this project cost me nothing but a bit of my time.

A box

What was fortunate about this project was receiving a package from UPS, and the box it came in was a nice large cube. That was the perfect way to start this effort. After some work with a knife and duct tape, I had formed the basics of the trap:

 

The basic trap.

Key factors were to put duct tape along every seam and corner, taping down whatever was needed to minimize nooks and crevices where BB’s could become trapped. I also wanted to make the opening as large as possible to accommodate whatever my target was, but still have a lip at the bottom to of course prevent rollout. After having used this trap for a little bit, I could argue having the front being replaceable to be useful. That is, the BB’s still can and do bounce, and having this big wide opening covered up of course helps retain the BB’s. I didn’t want to put a cover in place because it would get shot out and I’m lazy and didn’t want to have to always be replacing it. The paper target works fine covering most of it but well… maybe I might want to just leave a 8.5″x11″ opening, so the paper target hangs just fine, easily replaced anyways, but otherwise there’s maximum retention.

We recently retired some bedsheets from a child’s bed. I also found some carpet tack strips in a corner of the garage. A little measure, a little cut:

Start of the curtain

I cut the strip to fit the width of the box. I cut the curtain to be the width of the box and twice the height. Put the tack strip in the middle, just poking the tacks through the cloth to hold it. Note this cloth is not very thick nor heavy. I actually shot a few things and found that the weight mattered. If it was too heavy, it didn’t absorb the energy of the BB as much as deflect it — the point is to stop ricochet. So this light bed sheet worked fine to catch and cradle the BB as it hit, stopping it.

I applied the tack strip to the inside of the roof:

Hanging the curtain.

Here was a time for experimentation. Where to put it? Should I put the curtain close to the front? closer to the back? I even tried two sets of curtains to see what effect that would have. In the end, I settled on one curtain placed about 3/4 of the way back. First, two curtains ended up acting like a heavier curtain, too much material, too much resistance, and BB’s bounced instead of being absorbed. But also, too close to the front could allow the BB to “shoot through” the curtain and just strike the back and bounce. Positioning the curtain close to the back but with some room ended up working out the best because the cloth would absorb the BB but then all strike the back wall and be enough to make everything stop. It’s just what worked best.

I did play around with a cardboard insert at the back wall, at an angle to angle the BB’s down. That didn’t work out, but I also didn’t experiment with this angle (pun intended) all that much.

Despite all of this, I still had two problems: 1. the tack strip fell down, 2. BB’s could still bounce.

Finished trap

I had used glue and the strip’s tacks to attach it to the roof of the trap — it’s just cardboard. And while that was OK, it wasn’t ideal. So I just cut another section of tack strip, put it on the outside of the box opposite the inner strip, and used the nails within the strip to nail the two strips together. Works like a charm.

I also took the cut cloth from my second curtain experiment and just laid it loose and bunched on the floor. That worked well to provide an absorbing and uneven surface for trapping the BB’s that fell down, and it doesn’t get in the way when you want to empty the trap.

To use the trap? I just print out targets on paper and attach them with a tack from the top of the box. Simple enough.

It works pretty well. A BB here and there still flies out, but overall it works well enough and I’m quite pleased. Didn’t cost me any money, just a bit of my time, and was fun to devise and assemble.

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