Last update: 07.04.2017. Added images and recommended resource links.
- 1 Outdoor Empire Recommendations
- 2 Factors that Affect the Gun’s Function
- 3 It’s About You
- 4 Things to Avoid
- 5 Basic Terms
- 6 Game On!
Airsoft is meant to be a fun game, a dynamic sport, and an enjoyable experience. When it comes to buying a good first airsoft gun and some getting-started-gear, do not be afraid to ask around, read reviews, and really get deep into research.
The main rule is to NOT settle for less.
Outdoor Empire Recommendations
|Product:|| || || || || ||
|Muzzle Velocity||260 - 280 FPS||400 FPS||370 - 400 FPS||~394 FPS||350 - 390 FPS||~400 FPS|
|Operating System||Gas Blowblack||Spring||Automatic Electric||Automatic Electric||Automatic Electric||Gas Powered|
|Fire Modes||Semi-Auto, Safety||Single Shot, Safety||Full/Semi Auto, Safety||Semi/3rd Burst/Full-Auto, Safety||Full-Auto, Safety||Single-shot, Safety|
Best Automatic Handgun
Tokyo Marui M92F
The Tokyo Marui M92F is modeled after the popular Beretta M9. It comes in blue or stainless model and is blowback operated, gas powered pistol.
The magazine holds an impressive 26 BBs, which are widely available from Tokyo Marui. Like most of their guns, the M92F is well-made and mimics the Beretta M9 really well.
Since the United States Military uses the M9, compatible holsters are widely available which is an advantage. This includes platforms that can weave into MOLLE, thigh rigs, shoulder holsters, and your standard waist mounted holster.
The magazines also effectively mimic the M9’s so magazine pouches created for it will also work for the airsoft variant.
The Tokyo Marui M92F has an adjustable hop-up that allows the user to get more distance from the handgun with a little adjustment. Like the M9, you get a few of its real weaknesses.
The TM M92F is a big gun with a very wide grip. The safety is ambidextrous but is mounted to the slide. This makes it difficult to activate without changing your grip. There are a few weaknesses, but it’s still a well-made gun.
● Muzzle velocity: 260-280 FPS
● High strength polymer slide and frame
● Textured grip panels
● Rear slide serrations
● Realistic blowback action
Classic Army CA870
The Classic Army CA870 is modeled after the tactical Remington 870, a legendary shotgun used by police forces and military units worldwide. Like the Remington 870, it also uses a pump action.
It uses a spring based system that actuates the spring and loads a BB into the chamber. It allows the users to rapidly manipulate the pump and fire the weapon. This makes it one of the more effective spring powered weapons in the airsoft community.
The Classic Army CA870 has an all metal body, with a polymer pump and stock, just like the tactical Remington 870. It has a full stock that makes shooting at extended differences possible. Like an actual shotgun, you get a limited magazine capacity of 10 rounds.
Shotguns are an interesting weapon in the airsoft loadout. It’s designed for close quarters and is one of the few spring powered airsoft guns that can keep up with AEG (Automatic Electric Gun) or gas guns.
● Muzzle velocity: 400 FPS
● Durable metal receiver
● Synthetic stock and forearm
● Textured grip and pump
● 10-round magazine capacity
Best Assault Rifle
G&G Combat Machine 16 Raider – Full Review
The G&G Combat Machine 16 Raider is not only an excellent all around assault rifle but also one of the recommended beginner’s rifles. It offers users a realistic M4 Platform with a quad rail for mounting accessories, a nice set of sights and a collapsible stock.
It is versatile and can be used in a wide variety of game and play types.
The G&G Combat Machine 16 Raider has a metal gearbox that is easy to upgrade but is perfectly fine as is. It is an electric gun that uses a butterfly type battery. The hop-up is easily adjustable for distance.
It is compatible with all G&G and Tokyo Marui series AEGs, as well as M4/M16 magazines. It comes ready for an optic, and the sights are adjustable.
The G&G Combat Machine 16 Raider is an excellent all around rifle.
It is well designed, which makes it a great beginner’s gun that surely lasts. It is also modular like the standard M4 and allows the user to customize it. The magazines fit in normal AR 15 magazine pouches and are compatible with standard AR slings as well.
● Muzzle velocity: 370-400 FPS
● Adjustable hop-up
● 6-position retractable crane stock
● Removable rear sight with weaver rail base for scope mounting
● 14mm negative threaded barrel
● High torque long type G&G motor
Best Sub-Machine Gun
CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 – Full Review
ASG made a great move when they grabbed the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1. The Scorpion is continuously gaining popularity in the civilian and police shooting world.
It is a modular sub-machine gun and it has been carefully recreated by ASG. It faithfully recreates the platform and offers users a compact, ergonomic weapon that would excel in a variety of different roles.
It is made from a fiber reinforced polymer that is lightweight and durable. The stock collapses and folds, and can be easily removed. The stock itself is strong enough to use on real Scorpions. It has 4 different firing modes, including safe, single, 3 shot burst and fully automatic.
The CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 does not fire when it’s empty, allowing the user to know exactly when to reload. This also lends a degree of realism to the airsoft gun.
The interior parts are reinforced to accept high-end, high powered upgrades. The internals are all CNC machined parts, which built their reputation for reliability.
● Muzzle velocity: ~394 FPS
● 4-position fire selector
● Battery monitor
● Folding / removable stock
● Functional bolt lock
Best Machine Gun
A&K M249 Paratrooper
The A&K M249 Paratrooper is a really good option for the Machine Gunner. It has a shorter barrel and a collapsible stock, which lightens the airsoft gun and makes it handier in close quarters.
It uses a butterfly battery and has an adjustable hop-up. It also comes with a bipod that serves as a stable platform for engaging targets with suppressive fire.
The box magazine contains 2,400 BBs, which guarantees you a high volume of fire. 2,400 BBs is no laughing matter, and will certainly keep heads down.
The A&K M249 Paratrooper is compatible with Matrix, G&G, and Tokyo Marui M4/M16 box magazines. This allows the user to share ammo with M4/M16 users if needed in a pinch.
The receiver, barrel assembly, feed cover, and bipod are all made of metal, while the stock and hand guard are nylon fiber reinforced.
Machine guns are a finicky class in airsoft. They are much larger than assault rifles, and can often be much heavier. However, in large open games, the massive amount of BBs they can put out is impressive.
● Muzzle velocity: 350-390 FPS
● Retractable metal stock
● Railed feed cover perfect for optics
● 8mm full metal gearbox
● Adjustable front and rear sights
A&K M249 Paratrooper
The ARES MSR-009 is based on a traditional bolt action rifle with a free floating and a built-in bipod. The rifle is made to resemble a modern bolt action sniper rifle, and is powered by gas.
It comes ready with a mount for a scope and has an adjustable stock and cheek riser. This allows the user to mount different optics to the weapon. The cheek riser makes it possible to use high or low scopes. The mount is a 30mm variety, so it fits most firearm scopes.
The ARES MSR-009 holds a total of 18 rounds and has an adjustable hop-up, which is an absolute must for sniper rifle users. The folding bipod is an excellent addition that allows the sniper to build and maintain a stable platform.
Sniper rifles and snipers are an expert class that requires users to be accurate, patient, and be armed with a proper airsoft sniper rifle. It is suggested for you to purchase a high-quality model to get the best performance possible.
● Muzzle velocity: ~400
● High strength polymer rifle chassis
● 6063 aluminum receiver, barrel, and trigger assembly
● Clip in bipod makes shooting from a supported position easy
Factors that Affect the Gun’s Function
Airsoft guns come in a variety of models, with different externals, internals and even different magazines. When purchasing one, there are distinct factors that affect function, reliability, and of course price.
A spring provides the force to project the BB, which must be reset for every shot. This essentially gives you a single shot weapon because spring powered guns requires a manual action for every shot. They are often under gunned when facing electric or gas guns.
For shotguns, the pump makes a spring gun comparable to faster firing weapons, and snipers really don’t need a faster rate of fire. These guns are very reliable and extremely simple. They are also often the cheapest route to take.
Automatic electric guns, aka AEGs, are battery powered airsoft weapons. They use an electric motor to propel the BBs.
It is the most common type of airsoft guns and usually the most reliable. Internals like motors can be upgraded to be more capable and powerful. AEGs are the perfect weapon for a beginner and will last as experience grows.
This provides a more realistic airsoft replica by having a bolt or slide operate when the weapon is fired. This is all about appearance and does not affect function. This feature makes the guns more expensive, and more likely to break.
Gas blowback airsoft guns are very realistic, and they mimic the real operation of a firearm, especially with handguns. They utilize different gas sources to propel the BB forward and cause recoil, and the bolt of a slide to move rearward.
The gasses include pressurized propane, green gas, or duster gas. The main issue is its failure to function in cold weather. Plus, the guns and their parts tend to be more expensive than AEGs.
High-pressure airsoft guns can be adjusted for different ROF (Rate of Fire) and FPS (Feet Per Second) ratings. They provide consistent function, are quite accurate, and very reliable. They require an external air tank which takes away from the realistic function.
Internals and Externals
One important factor if you work with a dedicated team is the ability to share magazines. Some models can swap magazines between platforms, and some platforms can use a variety of magazines.
It is essential when purchasing an airsoft gun, you know how to repair and upgrade its internals. The downside of not being familiar with it? You may be forced to buy an entirely new platform to get the performance you desire.
A flat top rail on the top of the airsoft gun will allow you to utilize a scope. On handguns, a forward Picatinny rail will allow you to mount a flashlight or laser sighting system. However, you’ll need a proper holster to accommodate the flashlight mounted on a weapon.
Slings are a necessity, in my opinion, for a long gun. It will allow you to retain your airsoft rifle, shotgun, SMG, machine gun, sniper rifle, or everything else you carry while your hands are occupied. In a pinch, when you run out of rifle ammo you can just let it go and draw your pistol.
Bipods often attach to different types of sling swivels as well. If you have sling swivels, there are different methods for slings to mount, including wrapping around the stock and forend.
If running a stock AK 47 is fine with you, then you may never have to consider upgrades. However, most players will soon want to at least add a scope or red dot, especially after a few night time games.
There are two types of upgrades, internal and external. Internal upgrades are more common with AEGs. You can upgrade motors, or completely replace them when they wear out.
You may decide to do external customization on the body of your gun as well. For example, I always want a beard friendly stock, not one that pulls my facial hair. So I swap stocks occasionally.
You may also want to add accessories like optics, flashlights, bipods or vertical grips. If you like to customize you need to consider your ability to upgrade.
Most of these upgrades can be done if your weapon is fitted with a Picatinny rail system. These rails are often on the forend of a firearm and allow the mounting of accessories.
High Operation Power Up, or simply put as Hop-up, is the back spinning of the BB as you fire it. It is one of the ways to increase the overall range of your rifle. Adjustable hop-up allows the user to tailor their airsoft gun for the BB to maximize its range.
It is an ideal feature to have in an airsoft weapon. It definitely allows you to maximize your gun’s effectiveness. In general, you want to adjust the hop-up until the projectile is flying straight, not at an up or down angle.
Feet Per Second
Feet per second, or FPS, is a common way of identifying the velocity of an airsoft gun. It is dependent on the BB’s weight, plus the weapon’s power. In addition, the hop-up is an important factor in the total range that the gun can fire.
Going too fast means you’ll run into two problems:
1. First and foremost, some ranges restrict the FPS your weapon can fire at. This is a safety concern. Most closed quarter’s ranges are going to restrict you to 350 FPS. Most long range outdoors fields are restricted around 400 FPS.
2. The second issue you run into with AEGs when you jack the FPS to 500 or so is constantly fixing your worn out internals. This is rough on an electric gun and will tend to beat the internals to pieces. It can be rough on gas guns, but not as bad. Either way, even in a woodland game you are probably not going to be allowed to use anything higher than 400 anyway.
As a newbie, leaving your gun stock until you gain a bit more knowledge on how games are played is suggested. After that, I see no reason to go higher than 350 FPS. With a quality gun, the hop-up adjustment gets the range you desire more so than the FPS.
Always remember that a higher FPS does not mean a better gun. A 500 FPS gun may not even get you the same range as one with 350 FPS.
It’s About You
Outside of the more technical aspects of airsoft weapons are other factors that lean more towards user-friendliness, user preference, and the actual tactical aspect behind airsoft firearms.
Role You Play
There are some roles that you can choose from in airsoft. These are also termed as classes and often represent what the player does in the game. It also affects their loadout.
Aside from having a good weapon, you should also know every rule and effective tactic that go with your chosen role.
Rifleman – Grunt – Soldier
This is the basic player in the game. It is an excellent role to start out in as a new player because it is the most versatile. The game is won and lost by the Rifleman in a team. Being a Rifleman allows a new player to learn basic but important strategies.
This includes flanking, fire and movement, and complete objectives. Every role in the airsoft teams exist to support the Rifleman and the jobs they have to accomplish.
- G&G Combat Machine 16 Raider
- Cyma AK
- JG AUG A3
The Grenadier may be a Rifleman with an attached grenade launcher or a standalone unit. They often serve the same role as a Rifleman, exercise the same strategy, but are capable of laying down some extra fire with either a large rubber plug or a mass of BBs.
- Matrix Speed M203
- 6mm Proshop Pocket Cannon
Assaulter – Breacher – CQB Specialist
The close quarter’s combat personnel that are involved in close quarters games. They can be interchanged or even be a Rifleman. What’s important is that their weapons are smaller, lighter and more movable in closed quarters.
The Assaulter is often the first in the building or room and leads the charge. They are typically more experienced Rifleman who have a solid grasp of CQB. Their smaller weapons make it easier to do tasks like capture the flag, or maneuver through tight areas.
- Tokyo Marui Scorpion VZ61
- Classic Army CA870
- JG AUG CIV
Recon – Scout
Recon men, or Scouts, tend to avoid combat. Their goal is to slip through the field unnoticed. They are to provide reconnaissance and information back to the rifleman. They also give intelligence back to the main units and allow planning to occur.
This also lets certain support roles like Machine Gunners and Snipers to take advantageous positions. They tend to move light and in small teams. These teams often combine long range weapons with medium to short range weapons.
- VFC SCAR-L
- ASG CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1
The Sniper is a role that a lot of people want to dive into. What they fail to realize is the Sniper often has a low kill count and can have a rather boring job. They are often in the same place for an extended period, wearing a ghillie suit and sweating their butts off.
Their goal is to take accurate shots and pick off valuable members of the opposite team. This is not a good role for beginners looking for that ultimate rush. I always suggest a beginner to shadow a Sniper before they make up their mind to take that role.
- G&G Top Tech GR25
- Tokyo Marui PSG-1
- ARES MSR-009
Machine Gunner – Support Gunner
The Machine Gunner is another role rarely suited for beginners. It requires a heavy weapon that most will hate carrying after a few long games. They provide support for the Rifleman by laying down cover fire.
It’s important that they act as Support Gunners and not as Rifleman with big guns. They should learn what avenues of approach are, as well as how to cover large open areas and support the Rifleman as necessary.
- Classic Army M249
- A&K M249 Para Trooper
A Note on Sidearms
There is a wide range of sidearms, as opposed to the misconception that it’s only limited to pistols. There is always a discussion whether or not you really need one, considering that you have to master your sidearm’s capabilities plus your main airsoft gun.
For example, a Sniper may wish to have a machine pistol or small SMG if the game rules allow it. Or depending on the size of a Support Gunner’s weapon, they may wish to have a sidearm for close quarter’s encounters.
If you are on a tight budget, it is better to pour more money into a high-quality long gun than worrying about an average handgun and long gun. It is always a logical idea to buy a good weapon and invest in quality parts, than worry about a sidearm.
What kind of games are you going to be playing?
Game type affects the kind of weapon. We briefly mentioned woodland and CQB (Close Quarters Battle), and how FPS affects them. Your gun type also changes for either of these. If you are joining a group, consider looking into what type they most commonly play.
CQB is often mock urban areas or even inside buildings. In tight quarters, a smaller weapon is always better. Smaller, lighter weapons are more maneuverable and easier to use in doors.
The extreme CQB nature of an indoor game can reduce everyone to a Rifleman or a CQB Specialist. A CQB Sniper is more or less a designated marksman who provides over watch in an urban environment game.
A woodland or blended woodland/urban game makes the range a more important factor.
In these game types Snipers, Support Gunners, and Grenadiers can really stretch their legs here. A Rifleman can use full sized rifles and Grenadiers have an excellent advantage. Larger, heavier, and longer weapons are more welcomed here than in an urban environment.
High-end airsoft guns can be quite expensive, say $300 and up range.
They often feature nicely crafted bodies, all metal construction, and high-quality internals. These models are often upgradeable but can be more complicated to upgrade or work on. A high-end weapon should have an excellent body, look and feel realistic.
- Awesome externals, very realistic
- Extremely durable and reliable
- Ready to go out of the box with top notch performance
- Limited mostly to Soviet and Chinese style small arms
- Excellent quality
- Well-made internals
- Great warranty
- Very modern furniture for accessorizing
- Difficult to work on
- Constantly innovating
- Extremely well-made
- Wide variety of modern designs
- Easy to work on and upgrade
- Stock power can be low
- Well-made externals and internals
- Compatible with a variety of upgrades
- Modern platforms
- Large selection of guns
- Tends to have poor stock motors
Mid-tier guns are the perfect starting point for most new players. They often range from $150 to $400. These weapons are usually easier to upgrade, but cannot mimic the performance of high-end models.
You’ll also find more polymers in use, but the important parts are often metal.
- Affordable for entry level players
- Well-made internals
- Maintenance is easy
- Lacks bodywork
- Produces the best entry level guns
- Excellent out of the box performance
- Lots of models available
- Good external bodywork
- Weak gearboxes
- Upgrades can be difficult
- Sits firmly between mid-tier and high-end
- Wide range of modern guns
- Well-made internals
- Easy to upgrade
- Bodies can be weak
Things to Avoid
These are cheap, not affordable, literally cheap. They often fall apart and should be avoided at all costs. If it’s $50 or less and you can get it from Walmart or a Flea Market, it is not for serious use.
Airsoft weapons are often a get-what-you-pay-for kind of sport. The big box brand guns may be good for occasional target practice but will break with real use.
Here are some terms to help beginners understand the airsoft language better, and these are also used throughout the article.
- AEG – Automatic Electric Gun
- BBs / BB – Bearing Balls; round pellets that are available in different weights. (Know how to choose one for your gun.)
- CQB – Close Quarters Battle
- FPS – Feet Per Second
- Hop-up – High Operation Power Up; the back spinning of the BB as you fire it.
- ROF – Rate OF Fire; or how many BBs come out every second.
- SMG – Sub-Machine Gun
We already laid the best products for you. Just take some time to think of the factors above that will help you decide on what is the airsoft gun that perfectly fits your preference and personality.
What airsoft gun do you think suits you?
Other resources worth checking:
Airsoft C3 – look for fields, events, shops, and teams among others nearest your location.