Last updated: 12.07.2017. Added images and improved readability.
To learn more about choosing an airsoft gun in general and to see our picks for other roles, check out our “Find The Best Airsoft Gun In 2017” guide.
The position of a sniper on an airsoft team is a hard one. It’s not for beginners and for the faint heart.
It requires stealth, excellent observational skills, patience and the ability to keep calm under pressure. A sniper has a dynamic job and it’s a challenging one. Shooting is a very small part of the overall job but it’s one of the most important.
One of the key features of a sniper is the ability to hit a target when necessary. The last thing he needs to be worried about is if his rifle functions. That’s why gun choice is one of the most critical decisions a sniper should make.
Important Choosing Factors
Two main powerplants, gas and spring, are generally considered to be “real” sniper rifles in the airsoft world.
There are AEG sniper rifles but these aren’t necessarily “real” airsoft snipers, but they are designed after real steel sniper rifles.
For example, M21’s and Dragunov’s are often used as sniper rifles in the real world and there are AEG variants of these guns. They are efficient enough to act as a sniper rifle in airsoft though.
Gas powered guns are quite powerful and offer a semi-automatic option for sniper rifles. They can be substantially stronger than AEGs. This means you need to ensure the gas gun fires at an acceptable velocity.
Many fields do not allow high velocity guns, so that 500 feet per second gas sniper rifle may not be a good choice. Gas gives you more speed and an overall longer range. They also require less tuning for more accurate and powerful shooting.
They tend to have much better triggers. Trigger control and pull are essential for accurate shooting.
- They don’t function well in cold weather, which can be a factor for some folks.
- As the gas source empties, the rifle becomes less consistent. Consistency is critical for accurate shooting especially in longer games.
- You have to reload both gas and BBs
- More expensive than spring guns
Spring guns are an excellent choice for a sniper rifle. Sniper rifles are one of the few solid contenders for spring guns in action airsoft. They are more authentic for the sniper role. A sniper rifle in real life is a weapon designed to be fired slowly and accurately.
Spring guns often require upgrades to be properly tuned for long range accuracy. This means you need to invest a little money in your system and tune it. The maintenance required is minimal and simpler than a gas gun.
They are usually the ideal choice for new players and new snipers in general. They tend to be more popular and there is also a lot more options for spring based sniper rifles.
- Most are bolt action, and spring guns replicate this manual action firearm.
- Much cheaper and overall simpler
- Works in both warm and cold weather, and remains consistent shot after shot.
- Very accurate but also have stiffer triggers when tuned for extra range and power
Semi-automatic or Single Shot?
Another significant difference between gas and spring guns is the ability to fire semi-automatically or as a single shot weapon.
Semi-automatic means it has the be a gas (or an AEG) gun.
- This allows you to fire one shot per pull of the trigger without manual action.
- It has a much higher rate of fire and lets you rapidly engage multiple targets in a short period.
- It allows shooters to put down a lot more fire than a single shot rifle.
Single shot, bolt action guns tend to be more reliable and simpler overall.
- They are easier to upgrade.
- The lower rate of fire can be considered a downside but for a sniper, this isn’t a total loss. A sniper’s role is to place accurate rounds on target, not to engage targets rapidly.
The decision between these choices is mostly based on play style and the ranges one frequents. Close quarter battlefields are friendly to semi-auto options, whereas single shot rifles are ideal for open fields.
In CQB, speed is more important due to how close the game is played. In open field games, the single-shot rifle is more consistent and accurate for long ranges.
Sniper rifles out of the box are great but most shooters and skilled snipers agree that upgradeability is the key.
Upgrading a sniper rifle allows you to be more accurate, more consistent, and grants you a longer range overall. Spring guns are easier to refurbish and there are a lot of upgrades available for them.
You want to purchase a rifle that is easily upgradeable like the Tanaka, JG, TSD, or UTG. The parts you should look into for upgrading include:
1. The bore is a major factor in your rifle’s accuracy. A tight bore provides steady velocity and is a significant accuracy contributor. An excellent tight bore from companies like PDI ensures greater accuracy and more consistent precision.
2. An improved hop-up chamber to better adjust the system and get a nice straight line of fire from your BB.
3. Sears and trigger are important to ensure you can handle more powerful piston, spring, and spring guide. These parts need to be upgraded together.
A more powerful piston, spring, and spring guide can break weaker sears and trigger mechanisms.
Sniper rifles tend to be heavy and long. This makes them somewhat difficult to carry and move quietly. This is why so many new snipers quit so soon.
If possible, you want to minimize the weight of your rifle and maybe not choose the biggest one out there. A few companies make replicas of real steel 50 BMG and 416 CheyTac rifles. These look cool but are unnecessarily large without much advantage.
Unlike in real life, you can’t chamber a bigger projectile in a larger gun. Regardless of the size of the rifle, the BB you are firing is the same size. I’d go with the highest quality, lightest sniper rifle available.
You have to consider how a sniper moves. He usually crawls on dirt — moving slowly and quietly in position. Once in position, a sniper has to maintain a low profile to remain hidden.
As you can imagine, the larger and heavier the rifle is, the harder it is to move especially when crawling.
A big rifle will catch on every stick, branch, and vine out there. It’ll make moving loud and difficult. Once in position, you have to factor in the rifle’s size to your ability to be hidden. The larger the rifle, the larger the profile you’ll have.
The ability to mount an optic goes without saying. However, the real question is: how much room is there to mount one? Does the rifle come with an optic? If not, what optics are compatible with it?
Airsoft rifles don’t have the same range as real steel guns so it’s easy to discount the need for a scope. With the limited range of an airsoft gun, what is the point of getting anything besides a red dot scope?
A sniper’s role is more than simply shooting an opponent. A sniper acts as a scout and forward observer for his team. He should be able to see further than his teammates and opponents.
A quality magnified optic allows you to hit your target as well as scout and observe the playing field. With a scope, you are capable of spotting other players and more importantly, other snipers.
A sniper rifle doesn’t need much more than a quality optic to be a good sniper gun. However, it can be beneficial to toss on a few extra accessories to make you a more efficient player.
A good Picatinny mounted bipod can help you stabilize the weapon. Of course, that means you need to have a Picatinny rail system on your rifle. Some models have it included or you have to purchase it as an add-on.
A bipod easily places the gun in a stable position than trying to muscle the weapon for the entire game.
One of the most important accessories ( among others ) to have is a high-quality sling. It allows you to drape the weapon over your back when crawling into position. The sling holds it in place and keeps it from hitting the dirt.
This can be invaluable when moving since your hands are free to aid in crawling. It also reduces your overall profile to have the rifle slung. In CQB games, it lets you climb ladders and obstacles with both hands easily.
A sling is one of my necessary long gun accessories.
There is a common misconception among new snipers that velocity is the most critical factor in choosing a sniper rifle. Contrary to proper belief, it’s not a significant aspect.
Sure you need a solid base for velocity but a 500 feet per second gun isn’t going to have a longer range than a 350 feet per second gun.
You want to avoid those super powerful sniper rifles since they are often banned from most fields. Muzzle velocity is near the end of the list when it comes to factors to consider in a sniper rifle.
Outdoor Empire Recommendations
Here are a few options we found to fit most players needs. One model we left off was the Tanaka M700, it is a great rifle but it’s discontinued for some time. The rifles below are all widely available and easy to find.
|Product|| || ||
|Muzzle Velocity||400 FPS||400~450 FPS||500 ~ 550 FPS|
|Length||44 in||33.9 in||46 in|
|Weight||8.5 lbs||11 lbs||7.9 lbs|
|Magazine Capacity||15 rounds||30 rounds||11 rounds|
Best Under $200
A&K U.S. Army M24
The A&K U.S. Army M24 is a replica of the current Army sniper rifle.
- Bolt action spring rifle
- Utilizes the powerful VSR 10 high power spring to get about 400 feet per second with .20g BBs.
- Solid Bar 10 hop-up that’s upgradeable and adjustable. You can adjust the length of pull with an adjustable shoulder pad.
- Mounting both a scope and bipod is simple
- Equipped with standard sling points that make mounting various bipods possible. With the right accessory, you can convert the sling points into a small section of the Picatinny rail.
- Scope comes with a 20 mm scope mount that’s compatible with the most airgun and airsoft scopes.
The rifle does what it can to reduce the overall size and profile of the weapon. It is equipped with a fluted barrel and light but durable stock. It is a little over 8 pounds with a total length of 44 inches.
Best For Beginner
The JG VSR-10 is a brand new rifle releasing only earlier this year. JG is known for making high-quality sniper rifles and this model is not an exception. It’s best for beginner snipers because of how simple it is to upgrade it.
- Internals make it a breeze to upgrade with Tokyo Marui parts and offers an unparalleled amount of upgradeable options.
- Equipped with a steel trigger box and metal cylinder assembly
- Easy to use with its metal cocking bolt and lever
- Spring system is stiff but strong
- 400 FPS muzzle velocity can be upgraded
- Equipped with a detachable suppressor that’s entirely optional. If you want it shorter, feel free to discard it.
The biggest downside is its 11-pound weight. You can easily toss a magnified optic and a bipod to make shooting and scouting much easier overall however, it only makes the weight more a major issue.
Best for the Money
If you want to go big, then the KJW M700 is for you. When I say big, I don’t mean its size but high in quality and price. While it’s not cheap, this full metal airsoft sniper rifle is one of the top dogs in the airsoft world.
- Comes with a 4-way adjustable front and rear sights, a functional safety switch, and light trigger pull.
- Bolt pull is incredibly light and comfortable in all positions
- Built-in scope mount and bipod stud for easy use
It is a gas gun and houses the gas cartridge in the magazine of the weapon. This is a great feature because as the shooter notices a loss of range, velocity and accuracy, they can swap mags and keep playing.
What sets it apart is it takes procedure. You can split the rifle primarily in two pieces. This makes transportation and even movement a breeze.
The KJW M700 is a well-made sniper rifle that weighs less than 8 pounds though made of metal. It is a perfect gun if you are looking to spend a little more money.
Snipers play an interesting, dynamic, and challenging role on the battlefield.
As a sniper, you need a quality rifle — one that is designed for your play style and environment. Remember what you learned here and you shall succeed.