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Definitive Guide to Barra 400E

So you want to shoot your semi-automatic or fully-automatic BB rifle. But unfortunately, it runs on CO2, and it's too cold outside. What do you do? Well, you take a look at the BARRA 400E electric BB gun. No, this is not an airsoft airgun shooting plastic BBs; this is a high-end AEG air rifle chambered for .177 steel BBs. In this definitive guide, we'll get into all the very cool specs and features of this new adaptation of AEG airguns. Let's get started.
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Detailed Review

The BARRA 400E full auto bb gun looks and feels like a full metal, high-end, airsoft AEG. And for all intents and purposes, that's exactly what it is. But there's a big distinction. Where Airsoft Airguns shoot 6mm plastic BBs, the 400E shoots .177 steel BBs. More importantly, it does so with velocities pushing over 400 FPS. In fact, on paper, the 400E is stated to push up to 410 FPS. That velocity is right in line with all the other semi and full-auto BB rifles on the market. There may be some that shoot faster, and there are a lot that shoot slower, putting the 400E right in the middle on the performance side of things. Before we get into the merits of electric vs. co2, let's talk about the platform as a whole.

As mentioned above, the BARRA 400E is an all-metal bb gun with the weight and feel of a typical AR15, coming in at 7.5 pounds. It's a serious piece of equipment, and the build quality reflects it. For example, the receiver and hand guard are made from CNC machined aluminum vs. cast aluminum or other lesser materials found in other airguns. This type of build quality is only found on really high-end AEGs.

There are M-LOK slots on each side and bottom of the forearm. The top rail comes equipped with a set of flip-up AR-style sights. The rear sight is adjustable for windage.

The factory six-position adjustable stock is better than expected, with a solid, comfortable feel. The same goes for the factory AR grip. The whole package feels great and shoulders well. Next, there's your standard AR fire selector that is accessible from either side. Your options are Safe, Semi-automatic, and what we like to call the "more fun" fully-automatic setting. Finally, there's a faux suppressor that covers the extended barrel, which helps with accuracy and velocity.

Setup & Operation

The BARRA 400E automatic bb gun comes in two configurations. The standard 400E comes without a battery or charger. The bundle comes with a battery and charger. Given that this is essentially a souped-up AEG, you may be all set if you already have batteries and chargers that run your Airsoft airguns.

However, for those starting from scratch, BARRA offers a beefy LIPO 2200mah battery and smart charger for only a $50 upcharge. It's well worth the money for quality, matching components.

Before you can go out and shoot, you'll need to charge the battery. It's very straightforward. Simply plug the 4-wire connector into the correct port on the charger and wait until things are fully charged. It may take a couple of hours, but the charger is designed to charge your LIPO batteries safely, which is far more important than charging them quickly.

Once your battery is fully charged, you can install it in the rear of the buttstock as you would in any typical AEG Airgun. Again, we know we keep referencing AEG Airsoft guns, but there's a lot of crossover here, which makes the transition to this platform almost seamless.

With the battery installed, it's time to load the magazine. BARRA includes a speed loader that can be a bit challenging. One of the best ways to reduce the loading frustration is to only use top-tier BBs. We recommend using ZINC-coated or black anodized BBs. BBs like the Daisy Precision BBs, Umarex Precision BBs, or the Hornady Black Diamond BBs are all good options. Adding just a very light, spritz of lubricant into the BB loader can help coat the BBs and help them feed more easily into the mag. Connect the speed loader to the top of the 50-round magazine and push the plunger. Repeat the process until the magazine is fully loaded. It will get hard to press the BBs into the mag as it gets closer to the max capacity, but keep going until you cannot get any more BBs to feed.

Once you have the mag loaded and ready, load it into the receiver. At this point, you are about ready to roll. You'll need to charge the rifle with the T-handle at the rear, select your fire mode, and then get to work.

Performance & Accuracy

The shooting experience is exactly what you would expect from an AEG airgun. We'll try to explain. When you are running a PCP or CO2-powered airgun, even semi-and fully automatic models, the seer is held back by the trigger. When you squeeze the trigger, the seer drops, hitting the valve, and the gun fires. The sensation is nearly instantaneous. The BARRA 400E electric bb gun is different. The AEG part of the system runs on a motor that cycles when you pull the trigger. There's no seer to drop. Rather, there's a switch that tells the motor to cycle, which runs a plunger in a compression chamber, creating the energy to drive the BB down the barrel. It's sort of like a micro spring gun where instead of cocking the barrel to set the piston, there's an internal motor that does the work for you.

The effect of the motor running creates a short delay from the time you pull the trigger to the time the BB goes out of the barrel. It's a fraction of a second, but it's a noticeable delay and may take some time to get used to it.

One point of note before we get into the performance numbers, our testing range elevation is 4500 feet. Any airgun that utilizes ambient air in a compression chamber is going to shoot slower here than at sea level. Spring or gas-ram airguns will shoot slower, and because the 400E uses a compression chamber that's driven by a piston hooked to a motor, it will also shoot slower.

Our test rifle put out a consistent 360 FPS with minimal variation at our elevation. One of the benefits of the AEG power plant over CO2 is that it's not impacted by heat or cold. It's also not impacted by the rate of fire. Where CO2 will often freeze and quickly drop velocity when driving full-auto, the AEG system in the 400E just keeps cranking at the same velocity. With regards to the rate of fire, the 400E claims between 500 and 550 rounds per minute. It's not the fastest rate of fire, but it's still a lot of fun.

When it comes to shot count, shooters can expect to get over 1000 rounds per charge on the factory 2200mah LIPO battery. If you convert that to CO2, say 60 rounds per dual set of CO2 on a typical full-auto CO2 rifle, with an average cost of $0.62 per cartridge, you are looking at about $21 worth of CO2 per charge. So if you shoot a few times per month, you are looking at racking up some serious savings. The savings can go up or down a bit based on CO2 cost and shot count, but you get the idea. If you like to shoot, this will save you a lot of money.

Let's talk accuracy. Like all smooth-bore BB machine guns, we look at accuracy somewhat loosely. We want the BBs to go down range reliably and hit a reasonably sized target at a reasonable distance. We are pleased to report that the 400E does this with flying colors. And, because there's no CO2 to freeze and drop pressure, the accuracy stays the same mag after mag.

Above are our results from shooting a whole mag at both semi-auto and full-auto. Can you tell which is which? The semi-auto results are on the left, and the full-auto results are on the right. We were shooting from a rest at 11 yards using a Hawke Endurance Red Dot sight. This is a crazy accurate, smooth-bore airgun. Super fun to shoot too.

The question of durability has certainly come up in our discussions. In talking with BARRA Airguns directly, they have put over 500,000 BBs through their 400E without any issues. Just in case you wanted to do the math on CO2 costs, you are looking at an equivalent of over $10,000 in CO2 cartridges.

We've certainly not shot anywhere near that number of rounds through our test rifle, but we have shot over 1000 rounds without a single hitch. Velocity and accuracy have remained consistent, and the system continues to run smoothly, shot after shot, mag after mag.

Summing Up

So what are our final thoughts? First and foremost, it's past time that someone created an AEG that shoots steel BBs. It just makes sense from a cost perspective. CO2 can be expensive and hard to find, while there's usually a power plug only a few feet away. While the price tag of the 400E (combo with battery and charger) puts it slightly above nearly every other replica full-auto BB rifle, there's good reason for the higher price. The build quality and engineering that's gone into making this a reliable product are quite noticeable. Time will tell if the average airgunner will accept the concept of AEG BB airguns. We like the product and think that if you give it a chance, you may like it too.