Airsoft – A Buyers Guide 2022

Written By Phil Bucknall of Clearwater Airsoft.

Airsoft – A Buyers Guide 2022

Okay, you’ve decided to get into airsoft. No doubt by now you will have pored over various Internet sites, YouTube videos, Facebook pages and groups and maybe even discussed it with people who already play.

One thing that may have become apparent is that there is a dizzying selection and variety of kit ranging from a few quid to thousands of pounds available to purchase.

To a new player, and even some experienced players, this can be a really really confusing place to find yourself with no idea which way to turn or what to actually buy that’s going to work for you.  The first question that is often asked is… Do I need a licence to buy an airsoft gun?  That is an article in itself and you can find out more by clicking the link below:

The essentials – eye pro, boots BB’s and batteries

I would say this the most important things you can buy when you begin your journey into airsoft is the best eye protection you can afford and the best boots you can afford. Don’t take chances with your eyesight as it can’t be replaced; and broken ankles or torn ligaments/tendons are no fun.

BOLLE, ESS and revision all make great eyepro that also have the advantage of being used in real world applications so you know you can trust your sight to them. Please please do not think that repro pair off AliExpress will do so though. Chances are they won’t. If full face is needed say if you’re under eighteen then Dye i4/5 masks are very well regarded but there are cheaper options too like Valken paintball masks.

Boot wise I use Lowas but they are about £200 a pair. Saying that I don’t expect to have to replace them for at least ten years. These provide excellent ankle support and are goretex so they are comfortable all year round and waterproof too. A massive bonus in the UK! When I started out though I had a pair of magnum boots and they were perfectly adequate at a good price too.

Choosing an Airsoft Gun

Okay, Let’s assume for now you have these items sorted though and you’re looking for your first airsoft gun to purchase and some ancillaries to go with it to improve your experience. In the 25 plus years I’ve been playing airsoft I have always given the same advice two new players and that is start off with an AEG – an Airsoft Electric Gun!

Choosing an Airsoft Gun

You may find later on you want a support weapon or even a sniper rifle but I guarantee the best way to start is with a decent electrically powered automatic gun. It will give you the most enjoyment with the least amount of upgrading and tinkering compared to any of the other types of gun available.

Of course that’s not to say you shouldn’t necessarily start with something different but nine times out of ten when I’ve seen players do that they have either regretted their choice or sold said sniper rifle/support weapon and reverted to an individual assault rifle type AEG really quickly!

If you’re going to go down this road then make really sure you know what you’re getting into speak to people who use those sorts of guns; see if it’s possible to have either a play with the gun you’re interested in or at the very least get to hold a shoulder manipulate and otherwise interact with it to see if it fits you and what your intended style of play is if for example you want to charge head on at the opposing team at every opportunity a sniper rifle probably isn’t the best selection you would be much more suited to something like an M4 or an AK or other type of assault rifle.

 

The same advice actually applies to if you are buying an AEG I would urge you to try as many as you can and while airsoft is quite often all about aesthetics it is important that your primary works for you as well.

By this I mean you can shoot it comfortably carry it comfortably (along with spare magazines for the gun) and that you are happy using that platform as it can have a huge impact on your enjoyment levels if you are using something that’s not comfortable or you simply don’t like using; a mistake I have made many times and I hope you don’t have to.

I’m not going to go into the myriad of types of a AEG’s in this article as it would take far too long Needless to say there are certain families or types and very broadly they can be broken down into but AR15 platform types; the AK platform types; bullpup designs; submachine gun and pistol calibre carbine types and finally others.

Whilst this list isn’t definitive it will at least give you a good starting point for your search. Things to look out for are how comfortable the gun is in the hand and how easy it is to manipulate the controls of the gun such as the safety, the fire selector and magazine catch.

Whether or not the design is ambidextrous if you are a left handed shooter as most guns favour right handed shooters. How well you can actually shoot the gun, an example for you from my own experience was I really wanted a L1A1 but when I got it I found the length of pull, essentially the distance from the end of the stock in the shoulder to the pistol grip, was way too long to be comfortable for me and as a result I barely used it instead I went back to my favourite M4 types with adjustable stocks.

Also make sure you have a good gun bag or hard case to keep your guns in. Both for safely transporting them as well as storing them. You don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds on kit and leave it’s protection to carrier bags!

Power to the People – Airsoft Gun Batteries

Batteries and chargers are essential too for your AEG. You’ll be hard pressed to enjoy your first outing with a shiny new AEG without them.

Generally Li-po’s are the go to and for most guns a decent 7.4v Li-po will do the job. Anything above 1000mah will give you plenty of go but make sure you have at least 2-3 if they are lower capacity like this.

More recently Li-ion batteries are making an appearance and Titan make very good ones with extremely high capacity – the largest is 7000mah which will keep you going for weeks between charges.

Li-ion batteries are also a little more forgiving if you run them down and they hold their charge longer too.

Now to the Ammo… airsoft 6mm BB’s

Another essential is BB’s. You’re not gonna get far without them. I suggest trying a few different brands of Airsoft BB’s out in your guns as they don’t all perform the same in all guns and also use the heaviest weight your gun can shoot well.

I tend to use 0.28’s in everything as they have good range and accuracy and that’s even in stock Marui guns, which aren’t known for their high FPS!

The heavier BB’s are less affected by wind and foliage too so beneficial in woodland games.

My go to is ASG open blasters which are also bio BB’s. Nuprol RZR’s are another good choice and also have bios if your site requires that.

Airsoft BBs Guide

Load Bearing Equipment Choices

Now on to the other airsoft accessories and gear… Load bearing equipment (LBE) is what we use to carry all the spare mags, batteries, tactical snacks radios etc etc during a game. It can get very complex and VERY expensive especially if you’re looking to do a specific loadout and replicate a certain unit or period in time. ‘Cough’ seal team six ‘cough’.

Whilst good quality kit or even real steel kit is pricey it will last for eons even if you play like you stole it. It’s designed for use by the toughest of users in the harshest of conditions and as such it’s not gonna have a problem with a woodland game twice a month.

Repro kit has come a long way in the last few years and is an excellent choice for beginners. I still have a few repro chest rigs and plate carriers as well as a selection of more expensive real ones from manufacturers such as warrior, blue force gear, spiritus systems and C2R fast. When I started though I had a very simple SAAV vest that was about £30 abs it lasted for years! Viper have got the mid range market well catered for and replicate some of the more modern designs but at a fraction of the price so give them a look if budget is a concern.

Then you need to decide do you want a plate carrier or chest rig? Obviously those aren’t the only options but they are the most common. I’m also going to limit this to western kit as it’s the area I am most familiar with. The names really do say it all. A chest rig is generally a smaller lightweight piece worn, oddly enough, on the chest with straps securing it. Great if you don’t want to carry a lot of kit and or weight is an issue.

They do limit what you can have on you but a lot of systems these days have extension pouches that can be attached for water bottles or radios for example.

A plate carrier is an armour system with two bags. One front one back into which plates are inserted. These plates give it form and make it useable whilst in real life they provide the wearer with ballistic protection. In airsoft they look cool and are probably the single most popular way to carry kit. Most are modular so you can select the pouches you want and then spend hours working out where you want them! And you will!

I suggest trying it out before a game and practice your mag changes; transitions and any other action you’d carry out whilst wearing it so you can be sure you’re happy with its set up. Again viper do a great mid range option but if you want gucci then Crye and C2R fast are excellent but expensive options. Warrior assault systems also do a great and well priced range of plate carriers and a comprehensive range of pouches. All of which have been battle tested and won’t break the bank.

Airsoft Optics – Get a Clear View of the Field

Some people would say optics are a waste and replica airsoft ones even more so.

Realistically you don’t need one for most scenarios unless you need a scope for a sniper rifle. You really don’t. I would personally save my money for other things like extra magazines or batteries until you know what sort of play style is for you.

If then you decide to go down the airsoft optics road a decent reddot is probably all you’ll need. That or a low powered 4x optic at most. Anything else is just dressing – but there’s no denying it looks cool.

If you want to buy real optics then Vortex Optics are a great choice and offer a pretty much no quibble 100% lifetime cast iron repair or replace warranty regardless of how the scope is damaged.

Lasers and Torches

Basically don’t bother with lasers. A lot of sites won’t allow them and if they do they pretty much universally won’t allow green ones so don’t buy that high powered, cuts through sheet metal at 100m laser from Amazon. You won’t make many friends and could even find yourself banned.

Undoubtedly at some point a laser box of come description or six will make their way into your kit but I guarantee you will barely use them. I have at least a dozen and can’t remember the last time I actually turned one on in a game.

Of much more use is a weapons mounted light. Even in woodland I’ve found it to be useful in dense undergrowth and in CQB where you could be in daylight one moment and then darkened corridors they are a godsend! The repro ones on the market are usually more than enough but if you want a real one then the gold standard has long been Surefire. O-light are another well known and respect manufacturer as are streamlight.

There’s so much more to cover but I think for now this is enough. In another article I’ll cover some of the other options out there like headwear, radios, NVG’s and tactical accessories such as holsters. Stay tuned and stay safe.

Airsoft – A Dummies Guide

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