Their main purpose was to demoralise the opposing army and put them in a state of confusion and shock. They could be likened to a scythe in a wheat field. They would basically hit the enemy with arrows. When attacked in melee, they would retreat while still shooting backwards. They could easily outrun heavy cavalry because they were lightly armed and their horses were bred for speed as opposed to strength. Akıncı forces carried swords also, so that in a field war, they could face the enemy first and fight melee.
Because of their mobility Akıncı were also used for reconnaissance and as a vanguard force to terrorize the local population before the advance of the main Ottoman forces.
Akıncı forces were led by certain families. Best known Akıncı families were Malkoçoğlu, Turhanlı and Mihalli.