Choosing your first Airsoft gun can be exciting. Your imagination may run wild with thoughts of being Sgt. Mac Eliot from the movie Predator, mowing down an entire jungle with a mini-gun. Not every replica weapon is practical for every application. Each replica has its own features, pros, and cons. For some, this can make them uncertain of which Airsoft weapon is the best. If this is your first Airsoft replica, it will be your most important purchase when getting into the sport. Choosing the wrong replica can be costly as well as vastly affect gameplay. In the end, the choice is yours and yours alone. Here are the ultimate ten things to help you choose your first Airsoft gun.
10 – What role should I play in Airsoft?
When you’re out in the bush with a squad, your role can make the difference between triumph or defeat. Establishing a role before pushing through the battle area will help you with deciding what equipment you will need for gameplay. Mechanics and Repairmen often advise to “use the right tool for the job”. This advice holds true when choosing the right Airsoft replica for your role. More than this, you will want to choose a role that you can see yourself in.
Here are some typical Airsoft roles:
Rifleman: The role of Rifleman is a good starter role for the Airsoft beginner. Over 75% of the squad will be this role. Riflemen are objective-driven “grunts” that see their fair share of combat. They engage the opposition in ranges from close-quarter combat out to 200 feet. Beginners in this role will want an Assault Rifle replica M4/M16 platform rifle.
Marksman: Marksmen (aka Snipers) serve as support by executing their role from a distance. Falling back and keeping distance limits the amount of close quarter combat Snipers engage in. Marksmen support their squad by picking off key players of the opposition. This role requires an accurate, long-barreled rifle like the L6 or VSR-10. Upgrades can be costly and for this reason, would be something to consider when choosing this role.
Support Gunner: Support Gunners suppress the opposition by laying down a large amount of firepower. A fully automatic replica with a large clip suits this role very well. Support Gunners choose replicas like the M249 or FAMAS. Beginning Airsoft players need to consider that Airsoft replicas used by Support Gunners are heavier and priced much higher. Beginners should consider other Airsoft replica weapons other than those used by Support Gunner roles.
Squad Leader: Experienced Airsoft players often take on the role of Squad Leader. A Squad Leader must be capable of leading the squad and is responsible for tactical planning. Squad leaders benefit from a versatile replica that offers both semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. Most tactical platform Assault rifles will work for this role.
9 – Which power system should I choose?
There are many Airsoft replica models and brands on the market to choose from. Each weapon will have its functions and specifications. Airsoft replicas do not actually “fire” like traditional weapons. Airsoft weapons can be powered by spring, electric, or by gas. How you power your Airsoft replica can help you further refine your choice 0f weapon.
Here are three ways Airsoft guns are powered:
Spring Powered Airsoft Replicas: This type of weapon replica is powered by an internal spring. By far one of the most basic types of Airsoft replica to operate. Can also be one of the least expensive options available as well. Operating is as simple as load, cock, and shoot. Easy to operate, nothing to recharge, but not very practical in an all-out gun battle as shooting requires cocking between each shot. The TSD M100 Sniper Spring Airsoft rifle was my very first spring-powered Airsoft rifle. It was a rather weighty gun, but solid and fun. (click here to see the TSD M100 on Amazon).
Electric Powered Airsoft Replicas (Also Known As AEG): This is one of the most popular types of Airsoft replica systems available. AEG’s consist of a battery pack and an electrical mechanism that can send Airsoft BB’s onto the battle zone one at a time, in bursts, or full auto! Widely recommended for its ease of use, affordability, and variety of replica models. A charged battery pack is used to power AEG’s. So, if you are going to be out in the bush all day, have a spare pack or two in your pack. Magazines can hold a larger volume of BB’s. Our recommendation for beginner Airsofter’s is the G&G CM16 Raider L 2.0E (click here for current pricing).
Gas/Gas Blowback Airsoft Replicas: When realism counts, this is as real as it gets. Pressurized gases such as carbon dioxide or green gas give an instant discharge comparable to the real thing. Gas powered Airsoft replicas are typically used by more experienced players. One thing to consider is that this type operates on pressurized gas that has to be refilled. In cooler climates, Gas Blowback replicas may not function normally.
8 – How much should I spend on my first Airsoft replica gun?
Start with looking at what you can afford. Consider how much you plan to play. You do not have to buy a cheaper option nor do you need to buy the Elite option. This is especially true if you are the occasional player. This brings me to another point, don’t buy the cheapest weapons available! It is also wise to steer clear of the replicas below $100 USD. Airsoft weapons priced under $100 are more likely to be cheaply made, have bad internal components and will be weak in terms of power. Replicas in the $175-$275 price range, will provide you with a variety well built, reliable option. It is worth mentioning to avoid buying cheap plastic BB’s. Cheaper Airsoft BB’s can also cause damage to your weapons internal components due to imperfections and seaming.
7 – How accurate are Airsoft weapons?
The accuracy of an Airsoft replica weapon will depend on a few factors. The length and quality of the barrel will determine how accurate your weapon will be. Upgrade kits are available and will provide an increase in accuracy. Also, features like Hop-Up will also increase accuracy. Look for Hop-Up that is capable of adjustment. Hop-Up puts a spin on the plastic BB allowing it to stay in the air longer which increases accuracy. Plastic Airsoft BB’s come in a variety of weighs and your Airsoft’s Hop-Up feature will need to be adjusted based upon the weight of the BB’s used. Consider using heavier BB’s if there is a lot of wind. Lighter BB’s will be carried off trajectory by strong winds and are better suited for indoor engagement.
6 – How durable are Airsoft weapons?
Things in life get damaged and Airsoft weapons are no exception. An Airsoft replica can be damaged during gameplay regardless of the type of material it is made from. You can enhance your Airsoft weapons durability with practising some basic care. I am not saying you should baby it (although if you want to, then go for it). You will drop it, you will bump it and you will scrape it during gameplay. Expect some wear and tear, but do some basic things like store it properly in a gun case when not in use. Use quality BB’s to avoid any damage to the internal parts. Buying a quality weapon will serve you well right out of the box.
5 – What specifications should I look for in a first Airsoft gun?
Airsoft weapons have varying specifications. Beginners unfamiliar with the different acronyms associated with their respective specifications should take note of the following. FPS (Feet Per Second) is a measure of how fast the plastic Airsoft pellet leaves from the barrel of the weapon. MPS (Meters Per Second) is also the same as FPS, just using different units of measure. ROF (Rate Of Fire) is the quantity or amount of plastic pellets expelled from the weapon over a specific period of time. The more pellets per second, the more likely you can hit a target without accuracy. The caveat to this is that you will also use more pellets.
4 – How easy will it be to fix if damaged?
When damaged, Airsoft weapons may or may not be easily fixed. Confirm if inexpensive replacement parts are available and if repairing is possible. If parts are not available, check to see if the weapon upgradeable? If the weapon is upgradeable, the performing an upgrade may prove to be a better option. It is two-fold, you will be able to fix and make your weapon better all at the same time. So, if the cost to repair your weapon is more than the cost to replace it, then the better option would be to replace the Airsoft weapon as opposed to repairing it.
3 – How much power do I need for gameplay?
Leave powerful replicas to Marksman (snipers) as Marksmen shoot from a distance. Field, as well as indoor players, would not need as much power for CQB. A velocity in the range of 200-250 FPS is more than sufficient indoor/outdoor play in engagement areas of 25-30 feet. Outdoor engagement areas of 150+ feet should use a velocity in the range of 400+ FPS.
2 – What accessories or upgrades are available?
Airsoft beginners should avoid getting caught up in buying cool add-ons, upgrades, and accessories for their first weapon. Noobs should only purchase necessary items when starting the sport (your first weapon and safety gear). Waiting until you have gained some battle time before purchasing the extras, will allow you time to get to learn the weapon you have chosen. After all, you may find that you really could do without some of the gadgets. It would be wise to purchase an inexpensive gun case to store your weapon in. If your gun uses a magazine you would definitely benefit from having a couple of magazines ready to go. Do not skimp on your personal safety! Protective equipment such as a headgear, goggles and gloves can help you avoid some unpleasant injuries.
1 – What is your personal preference?
One of the most important considerations would be how you feel and think about your chosen Airsoft replica. If you like a specific weapon that fits your chosen role and is in your budget, then congratulations! You may have found your first Airsoft replica.
Your first Airsoft replica weapon will be the most important purchase you will make breaking into the sport. Hence, my best advice would be to pick your role, then considering what you have learned, pick your weapon. Start off with an AEG, in the $175-$275 price range. Steer clear of the cheap “toys” under $100. Buy the necessary safety equipment to protect yourself. Stay practical with the type of gun and model based on how much you will use the weapon. Don’t go overboard with modifications and accessories. Most importantly, have fun!
See you out on the battlefield!