- 1 History of Airsoft
- 2 Airsoft Safety
- 3 Topics of Airsoft
- 4 The Tech – Spring, Gas, Electric and HPA
- 5 The Guns – Rifles, SMG’s, Pistols, Snipers, Shotguns
- 6 The Juice – Batteries & Gases
- 7 The Ammo – BBs
- 8 The Addons & Attachments
- 9 The Accessories & Gadgets
- 10 The Tactical Clothing & Gear
- 11 Why I wrote this guide
Welcome to the biggest and most comprehensive airsoft guide in the world! New to airsoft or just want to brush up on your existing knowledge? Get your answers right here.
If you’re here, I’m guessing it’s because you want to find out more about airsoft. You have probably watched a dozen YouTube videos, maybe you have spent hours on airsoft forums or you have been nagging your airsoft friends for the past weeks. Either way, you’re ready to pull the trigger (pun intended) and jump into this exciting new hobby that you can’t stop obsessing about. You are finally ready to buy your first airsoft gun & gear up!
Does this sound anything like you? It’s exactly how I felt when I first discovered the wonderful and exciting world of airsoft. I can actually play COD and CSGO in real life? Are you joking? Where do I sign up?!
Unless you want to repeat the same mistakes I made and spend way too much money on bad airsoft gear, you better read every word on this website.
Well, maybe not every word. The About Me section is very boring…
In an effort to save you a lot of time and money I have compiled everything you need to know about airsoft, in this article. If you’re reading this, chances are that there are many crucial things you don’t know about this awesome sport. I’m here to fix that. I will make your life easier and show you every golden nugget and share every piece of advice I have been given over many years of airsoft play.
I will try to be exhaustive where I need to be and efficient where I should. Airsoft is after all a technical game, some complexities can’t be avoided – but I will always try to explain them with very basic language and in terms that anyone will understand.
In this comprehensive airsoft guide we will be taking a detailed look at the fundamental topics of airsoft.
Want to know why your gun isn’t Li-PO ready? Read this article. Want to learn about HPA systems? Read this article. Want to find a date on Tinder? Take cheesy pictures on rooftops!
Armed with my expert knowledge and utilizing my recommendations, you will be ready to make the best, educated, decision on what gear you need, what gun you are interested in and how you want to approach this awesome game. Don’t rely on a whim or what advertisers are trying to push you. Read this article and you’ll know exactly what to buy and why.
Before we dive in, let me just say one thing – this is a huge guide on airsoft. In fact – it’s over 18,657 word long! It’s not made to be read in one go. But more of a reference and an awesome resource you can come back to anytime you’re wondering about a topic in airsoft. As you can see above, I’ve included a wikipedia style table of contents for your convenience. Use it to jump to different section of the guide!
I’m constantly expanding the guide and covering more complicated topics. You should absolutely bookmark or otherwise save this guide and check up on it often.
And lastly, if you appreciate the hundred hours it took me to write it, please share it with your friends and let others know about it so all my effort wasn’t in vain. Thank you very much!
Without further ado, I present to you – The Ultimate Airsoft Guide!
History of Airsoft
General consensus is that the sport came about sometime during the 1980s in Japan. Fueled by the desire to imitate their favorite action heroes and limited by their strict gun ownership laws, Japanese gun enthusiasts set out to create the first replica guns – DIY airsoft handguns.
The Japanese hobbyists were limited in expertise and material. These first prototypes have very little in common with modern airsoft guns.
Nevertheless, the craze about airsoft quickly spread throughout Japan as well as the whole of Asia. As demand for better airsoft replicas grew, so did production.
Big players such as Tokyo Marui, KWC and Classic Army were born and started manufacturing high-quality airsoft guns and rifles. Although the center of the airsoft world still remains in Asia, soon airsoft guns were being made and sold in Europe and North America as well.
Over the past 40 years, airsoft guns have evolved tremendously, bearing little resemblance to those of the early 1980s. With the introduction of commercially available gas and electric powered guns also came snipers, rifles, SMGs and even grenades as well as a wide array of different accessories, gun addons & upgrades.
Today airsoft has become an extremely popular sport played all around the globe. We have our own leagues, associations and thousands of teams in all countries of the world! If you’re living in the US, I’d recommend checking out our airsoft fields guide for information on where to play near you.
I am excited to see what the future holds for airsoft, if past performance is any indication – it will be a blast!
If you’re a complete beginner to Airsoft, then I strongly recommend checking out our compilation of airsoft war videos to get motivated and passionate – It truly is incredible fun.
In an effort to give credit where credit is due, I’ve decided against writing out a complete safety section. I may revisit this section in the future, as I constantly keep this guide up to date and expand on it. For now, there are just so many good resources on this topic by experts just as qualified as me.
One of my favorites and the one I quote most often is the comprehensive airsoft safety guide by Elite Force.
With that said, you’ll find many safety instructions, reminders and remarks throughout this guide. Protecting yourself, other players and bystanders is of paramount importance.
Topics of Airsoft
Here are the main fundamentals which I’ll be covering in this airsoft guide.
You can use the table of contents at the beginning of this guide to navigate it more efficiently.
- The Tech – Spring, Gas, Electric & HPA
- The Guns – Rifles, SMG’s, Pistols, Snipers & Shotguns
- The Juice – Batteries & Gases
- The Ammo – BBs
- The Addons & Attachments – Grenade Launchers, Scopes, Silencers…
- The Accessories & Gadgets – Magazines, Speedloaders, Grenades…
- The Tactical Clothing & Gear – Masks, Gloves, Vests…
After covering these subjects, we will have a strong foundation upon which we can build our buying decisions.
You wouldn’t go to a car dealership and buy a car without first knowing how an engine works, would you?
The Tech – Spring, Gas, Electric and HPA
When we talk airsoft, we specify guns according to their firing mechanism. In that respect, we can classify airsoft guns in a several main categories – spring powered, gas powered, electric powered as well as HPA, a new-ish technology which is quickly gaining the attention of the airsoft world.
We also categorize guns by their specific purpose on the battlefield; rifles, smg’s, pistols, snipers, shotguns. We will be covering gun classes later.
For now, let’s get a firm understanding of the basics.
Spring Powered Airsoft Guns
Ah, the springer. Most of us seasoned vets have owned at least one spring gun during our airsoft lifetime.
Spring powered airsoft guns use powerful springs to propel their ammunition at speeds of 150 FeetsPerSecond (pistols) to 800 FPS (snipers).
Let me take this opportunity to digress into a short rant about FPS. Beginners often obsess about the FPS output on a gun and think of it as the horsepower of a car. It’s true that the higher the FPS of a gun, the faster the velocity of your BBs, but FPS can be increased easily and will not give you an enormous advantage on the battlefield.
What truly matters is the quality of the gun and all of its internal mechanisms and parts. Please don’t make the mistake of buying or upgrading high FPS weapons in the hopes of gaining advantage over your opponent.
It just doesn’t work like that.
Best case scenario is you will have shelled out hundreds of dollars for a meager or non-existent strategic advantage. Worst case scenario; your gun will give out quickly and will have to be repaired regularly because it isn’t designed to handle high FPS performance.
End of rant 🙂 Back to the good ol’ springer…
As show on the picture above spring airsoft guns use a very simple mechanism.
To shoot, you cock your gun, pulling the piston into the spring guide and against the spring, and squeeze the trigger which releases the compressed spring and sends your BB flying.
Their design make spring powered airsoft guns incapable of being fired semi-automatically or automatically. You have to cock your gun for every single shot. Every. Single. Shot.
Because of this, 90% of spring guns are either pistols, snipers rifles or shotguns. Manually powering an “assault rifle” simply isn’t efficient.
In comparison with gas powered pistols, spring powered pistols aren’t as powerful. They do hold themselves up well against most electric airsoft pistols, as they have similar inner workings.
Spring powered pistols are almost always the cheapest airsoft pistols as they are usually of lower quality. which in turn makes them prone to wear and tear.
Because of their straightforward mechanics, springers are also extremely light-weight. So light, in fact, that some manufacturers install weights to give a more appropriate feel to the gun.
Most cheap spring guns are difficult to repair due to a lack of standard manufacturing practices among airsoft gun manufacturers. You’ll be hard pressed to find spare plastic parts for your springer.
Weather conditions is where spring powered airsoft guns really shine. While gas models are adversely affected by harsh weather conditions, spring powered guns are not affected at all. You won’t have to worry about a gas-leaking magazine or underperforming electricals.
You will never have to worry about rain or snow, something that can’t be said about electric or gas powered airsoft guns.
Spring powered guns also don’t rely on any external source of power (not counting your hands). Except for a new spring from time to time, you will never have to shell out money for expensive gas or finicky batteries.
Their low prices and reliability make spring powered pistols useful for beginners and general target practice. I could never recommend spring rifles or pistols for combat purposes as their clumsiness, low rate of fire (ROF), weak performance and short range make them about as useful as throwing sesame seeds at your opponents.
When it comes to snipers, the only reason (next to shotguns) you would use a springer, things look very different.
There are a few disadvantages of spring powered airsoft snipers. For one, it becomes taxing to manually operate the bolt for every shot. This may become a problem with upgraded sniper rifles that achieve 500+ FPS as you’ll be pulling back very powerful, tense springs.
Another problem with highly customized, powerful airsoft snipers are the vibrations that ensue as the piston hits the front of the cylinder, when the gun is shot. Vibrations are the enemy of accuracy. As a sniper, who’s main advantage is range, this can prove detrimental to your effectiveness and gameplay.
With that said…
Springers are a very strong contender if your main role is a sniper. Their low costs, light weight, versatility in different weather condition, customizability (is that even a word? It is now!) and low noise make spring powered bolt-action snipers a solid choice for anyone keen on spotting their opponents through a scope!
Gas Powered Airsoft Guns
Admittedly, I wasn’t feeling too hot the first time I was told about gas powered airsoft guns. Something about highly pressurized gas made me feel uneasy.
Fortunately, I quickly realized that gas powered guns, when handled with care (as with any airsoft gun!), are the coolest friggin thing in airsoft. If you’re like me and like loud noises, do read everything I’ve written below.
Gas powered airsoft guns use compressed gas to fire out BBs out of your gun. In contrast to springers, gas powered guns are capable of firing semi-automatically through a blowback feature. No more cocking your gun for every shot. This makes gas powered guns scarily similar to regular firearms. Blowback guns sound amazing!
Gas powered guns most commonly use “Green Gas” , a mixture of propane and silicon oil, or some other type of gas, such as 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane (try saying that 3 times in a row) or rarely Difluoromonochloromethane, also known as “Red Gas”.
Keep in mind that Red Gas is illegal, banned since January 1994, in the United States because of the compound’s adverse effects on our planet’s ozone layer.
Plain old CO2 is probably the second most popular propellant for airsoft gas weapons. We’ll get more into this on our gas section of this airsoft guide.
Gas powered airsoft guns are fun. A lot of fun. My first ever airsoft gun was a gas powered pistol. I love that little bugger! Unfortunately, I quickly realized how expensive “fun” was. Gas powered guns can become problematic and finicky if you don’t take care of them. And sometimes even then.
Gas guns are heavily affected by weather conditions, with power loss directly correlated with the outside temperature. Because your green gas is stored in it’s liquid form, in order for it to be converted to gas it requires heat. The colder it is, the more difficult the conversion. The colder it is, the less power and function you’ll get out of your gun. Don’t even think about using it below 10 °F. You might get a shot or two off but that’s it.
Another thing to note is that when a gas gun is fired on full auto mode, the temperature inside the gun will rapidly drop by 10-15 °F after a short burst, as the gas is depressurized and sends the BBs flying. This becomes a problem in a heated, no pun intended, battle. The more you shoot, the colder your gun becomes, the more you’re lowering your power output.
Buying gas can be expensive. Sooner or later magazines start to leak and you’ll be going through O-rings like crazy, always buy extra.
Gas powered airsoft guns are considered best for intermediate shooters. They are also some of the most powerful guns out there. Their semi-automatic and (sometimes) automatic rate of fire make them as useful as they are fun.
If you’re goal is to have to squeeze the most amount of fun out of this hobby, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you buy at least one GBB (Gas BlowBack).
I rarely use my first ever GBB (pictured above) on the fields nowadays, but it remains my favorite gun to shoot around with. I just realized I haven’t even named it yet. Damn! You should always name your first gun! If you have any ideas for a cool name, contact me ASAP!
Electric Airsoft Guns
The Holy Grail. Your daily driver.
The first time I was told about electric guns, I was skeptical. At the time I already owned my Sig Sauer GBB and couldn’t imagine ever using anything else. The noise. The feel. The blowback? How could anything ever match that? Boy was I naive…
Like most things in Airsoft, the principles behind electric airsoft guns are rather simple.
Your regular electric gun has a setup of gears, which are powered by the motor inside your gun. Those gears then “pull” the piston assembly against the spring and when the trigger is squeezed, said assembly is released which in turn propels your bb out of your gun muzzle.
Electric guns are nothing more than a springer with an electric motor that cocks the gun for you.
In other words, what you do with your hands on a springer, the electric gun does on its own using the motor. Simple, right?
Electric powered airsoft guns are by far the most common on the airsoft field. Their advantages are hard to compete against. Due to the use of an electric motor, which operates the spring, both automatic and semi-automatic fire can be achieved. This is also the reason why people commonly call this type of gun AEG’s – Automatic Electric Guns.
As I already mentioned above, AEGs aren’t the most powerful guns. Still, they come in at a respectable muzzle velocity of up to 650 ft/s (185 m/s).
All electric powered airsoft guns are powered by batteries, rechargeable batteries in most cases. I have written a whole section on batteries, which you can find below. In contrast to gas guns, where their power output may deteriorate as the gas in the magazine is used up, battery powered guns do not suffer from this issue. As the charge in the battery goes down, your rate of fire may take a hit – but your gun will shoot just as well.
When compared to gas airsoft guns, AEG’s are much more weather resistant. In colder conditions where GBBs simply stop working, your AEG will be just fine. Apart from the hop-up bucking stiffening up, a shortcoming that all airsoft guns share, AEG’s will be just fine in high and low temperatures.
For most of us, AEG’s are our favorite class of guns, and with good reason. Some of the biggest names in Airsoft manufacturing produce AEG’s, they are reliable, fast and pack as much power as you would ever need in competitive combat. I would still chose a GBB to shoot some cans in my backyard and annoy my neighbors – but AEG’s will forever be my best friend on the battlefield.
High Pressure Air Airsoft Guns
For the longest time AEG’s have had a firm grasp on the airsoft market. HPA manufacturers are dead-set on changing that trend. They seem to be very successful at this endeavor as well, seeing how HPA systems have been rapidly growing in popularity during the past several years.
Instead of using green gas or an electrically powered spring, HPA systems rely on the mechanism of pneumatics; High Pressure Air, to propel BBs.
HPA guns are connected via a hose, through a regulator, to a tank of compressed air, which you’ll be carrying around at all times.
Yes, you physically carry a tank of compressed air with you.
The compressed air travels through the regulator and the hose into the gun’s “engine”, usually powered by LiPo batteries.
Some newer models, such as the Valken AR1, sport a self-contained system. This means no cord, as the air tank is hidden within your rifle stock. Useful for sure, but the gun’s aesthetics take a hit. Hiding a bulky air tank without compromising the original look of an airsoft firearm is not very easy.
Then again, a hose sticking from your magazine isn’t exactly MILitarySIMulation, eh?
Conventional HPA air tanks are pressurized at 300-800 psi. Some tanks are designed to handle less pressure, which increases the longevity of the regulator and all the internals of your HPA system. Regulators downgrade the air tank’s psi to 200 psi and less.
You control your regulator and how much it…regulates your air pressure. More pressure means more ouch and less pressure means less ouch. Pretty straight-forward. A lot of airsoft regulators can only be adjusted with an allen key, which makes it a bit of a pain in the neck to change psi’s.
Maybe it’s time to mention that, because HPA is such a new technology for airsoft, the mechanisms are usually sold as a standalone product. You’ll have to buy the gun separately and go through an installation manual to install your HPA engine. Most manufacturers will gladly install your HPA mechanism for you. For a fee of course…
There are some pre-built rifles available, though I highly recommend you install the HPA system on your own gun, by yourself. It’s a fun thing to experience and you’ll truly understand how your gun works.
You won’t have to buy special HPA magazines for your gun, but you will have to “tap” them (if they are gas guns). Tapping is the act of customizing your GBB magazine for an HPA setup, mainly – to connect the airflow between the air tank and engine.
If this seems daunting, don’t worry. Dobey, an awesome custom gun builder and airsoft hobbyist, has got you covered.
Why HPA then? What makes this new tech so sexy that people are willing to schlep an air tank around at all times, go through a lengthy installation and mag tapping process?
Cost is yet another obstacle. Currently Valken and Wolverine HPA systems start at $350 while Polarstar, the father of modern airsoft HPA starts at a whopping $800 per set-up. Remember, this does not include your gun.
Additionally, when you have used up your air tank you will have to have it filled up by a professional. You won’t be able to just refill a magazine, like you would if you were to use a GBB setup. If you like wasting bullets on the airsoft fields, a full tank might last you as little as one day’s worth of airsoft games.
More specifically – (Tank Capacity) x (Tank Pressure/100) = Shots
So. Why would someone put up with all this hassle? Well…
Many people enjoy the process of buying a $150 gun and customizing it to fit their needs for the field. Others would prefer to spend their time shooting people and thus enjoy the instant optimizations that airsoft HPA kits can provide. You install it once, tap one or two mags and you’re good to go.
HPA systems performs much better in cold climates in comparison to AEG’s and GBB’s. They are also much quieter, a huge advantage in competitive play.
Except for your generic O-ring maintenance, HPA guns don’t need much attention. Once set up, it’s a simple system, you won’t be spending hours maintaining its performance.
Adjustability is another humongous plus. I cannot understate this. The ability to change your gun’s power and rate of fire is considered so overpowered, that some cynics have labeled HPA users as “cheaters”.
Usually airsoft fields will have strict rules about this. Your settings will have to be approved before play, so as to avoid unnecessary damage to your opponents.
Additionally, the trigger feedback mimics that of a real life firearm, recovering some MILSIM points.
The reliability and consistency of a well programmed HPA engines, such as the Polarstar fusion engine, has no equal. Your gun can go years without the slightest change in power output. Having every bb shot at the same exact velocity and rate of fire is a luxury no AEG or GBB owners can relate to.
At the end of the day HPA performance is better across the board. Whether it’s good enough to warrant the costs, is up to you to decide. As most things in life, your mileage may vary. Many people swear by HPA and would never go back to AEG’s. Others prefer to fully optimize their AEG for about half the cost of a P* engines (P* = Polarstar).
The Guns – Rifles, SMG’s, Pistols, Snipers, Shotguns
Different gun classes have different, unique purposes on the battlefield. In this section, we’ll take a detailed look at each of the five major airsoft gun classes, their unique traits, advantages, disadvantages and specific roles.
I’d like to preface this with a disclaimer about general airsoft gun performance.
Contrary to real firearms, in airsoft, gun performance between gun classes can be surprisingly similar.
Real life SMG’s are fundamentally different to real life assault rifles. In airsoft – they are almost the same in terms of specs. A battery is a battery and while the inner mechanics of airsoft guns do have slight differences, the overall power systems, and thus output, are the same.
Unmodified snipers have longer barrels, but their range and accuracy are only marginally superior to a run-off-the-mill airsoft rifle. Sniper shine once customized (also one of the reasons they are NOT recommended for beginners).
Keeping that in mind, let’s get into it.
Modeled after their real life counterpart, such as the M4s/M16s, AKs, AUGs, Famas’ and others, these beauties are semi and/or fully automatic airsoft guns with medium range and accuracy. They can be springers, gas, electric or HPA, with AEG’s being the most common (for now).
Most airsoft beginners should start out with a simple assault rifle and make it their primary, it should be their first and most important purchase.
Snipers are reserved for more experienced players, pistols are pure sidearms and shotguns…well, let’s just be polite and say they are situational.
Because of this, and with good reason, rifles are the most common gun class on the fields.
Airsoft rifles are versatile and useful in most every combat situation you will face. Their high rate of fire and accuracy make them extremely effective in both medium and close ranges.
Airsoft rifles are your bread and butter.
Nothing beats a well customized, sturdy AEG or HPA airsoft rifle.
Although higher-end rifles and customization can quickly inflate the price tag, as a beginner, you can find a good match for around $200.
- High ROF
Your store bought AEG might shoot only 12-17 rounds per second, but you can modify your rifle to shoot at up to 50 RPS. I can’t recommend a ROF over 30, as the high stress that your gun will have to absorb simply isn’t worth it.
- High Magazine Capacity
High-cap AEG magazines can carry up to 500 BBs. Buy two or three backup mags and you’re Rambo incarnate.
Although accuracy drops off severely at over 100 feet, rifles are extremely adaptable to most ranges below 100 feet.
Everybody and their brother wants a rad M4 or a gritty Ak47. All the big boys in airsoft manufacture airsoft rifles and modification parts. You’ll never have to worry about hunting down a specific part for your rifle.
As this con isn’t unique to rifles, it really doesn’t belong here…
If there is ONE truth in airsoft, it’s this: You Get What You Pay For. Again, this “con” isn’t unique to rifles and some will say it’s not a con at all. As a beginner, who didn’t have a huge budget, this was definitely a source of frustration for me.
Buy. Buy now.
An airsoft SMG is any airsoft gun that is inspired by firearms such as M5’s, MP7’s, P90’s, Uzi’s, PP-19’s, UMP45’s. They are usually smaller, more compact versions of a regular airsoft rifle as they share almost all characteristics with their big brothers.
The best way to make it clear why airsoft SMG’s are mostly the same with airsoft assault rifles, is to compare their real life counterparts and check if the same applies to airsoft.
Real SMG’s use pistol caliber ammunition, assault rifles fire bigger, rifle cartridges. Airsoft SMG’s and rifles fire the same ammo – BBs.
Real SMG’s effective range is up to 200 yds, an assault rifle’s range is up to 400 yds. Airsoft rifles and SMG’s mostly share the same range.
Real SMG’s have shorter barrels, assault rifles have longer barrels. This makes a huge difference accuracy at long range. Their airsoft counterparts have the same accuracy drop off points.
Real SMG’s are much lighter, more compact while assault rifles are heavier and are not as maneuverable. In airsoft, there is no weight correlation. Airsoft SMG’s remain more compact.
Airsoft SMG’s and assault rifles share the exact same inner workings. Your parts is what make your gun, not how it looks from the outside.
Size and barrel length are the biggest differences between the two.
In airsoft, barrel length has no impact on accuracy and range. An SMG with a 225mm barrel can be the same as an AK47 with a 420mm barrel. The only thing that matters is the quality of the built. Hence YGWYPF.
We already established that barrel length is has zero impact on performance. Size is the other variable.
Airsoft is inherently close quarters combat only. Most bb hits happen at 150 feet and less. Due to this, the CQC advantage of having a more maneuverable airsoft gun is negligible. It could be argued that SMG’s are more mobile indoors, but I’m not sure how a few dozen centimeters will have a big enough impact to be a definitive choice over an assault rifle.
Thus, SMG’s share the same purpose as a regular airsoft rifle.
Deja vu anybody? It’s true, SMG’s are smaller, shorter. It allows for a more flexible playstyle.
If you’re into SMG’s, go right ahead. A P90 primary is just as effective as an AK47.
If you are budget constricted, pistols are not a strictly necessary purchase. Though they will often save you in tricky situations, pistols will (for the most) remain a secondary.
In conventional outdoor battlefields, airsoft pistols are secondary handguns used only when your primary is out of ammo. While their muzzle velocity is similar to rifles and SMG’s, their rate of fire is their real drawback.
Some of the most popular pistol replicas include Colt 1911’s, USP’s, Sig Sauer’s, Desert Eagle’s as well as the praised Tokyo Marui’s Original 5.1.
You’d think that with those awesome 450 High Capacity assault rifle mags, you are never going to run out of ammo. Hi capa’s are definitely worth the buy, yet the fact remains that pulling out your trusted sidearm will always be faster than a reload. My trusty TM 5.1 has saved me more than once in intense indoor battles.
There is nothing quite as fast, reliable and compact as a pistol sidearm. Additionally, sidearms are heavily used in close quarter combat where long rifle barrels can prove both cumbersome and revealing your position. A pistol’s small size and maneuverability make it very advantageous in tight spaces.
In fact, some specific situations and the right circumstances may offer the opportunity to turn a pistol into a stand-alone primary. These set-ups are usually reserved for close quarter battles only and require heavy upgrades to turn them into effective airsoft weaponry.
- Very Affordable
You can easily pick up a Tokyo Marui 5.1 for less than $130 and be confident that you’re purchasing one of the best airsoft pistols on the market today.
Yes, shotguns make for awesome secondaries, but they don’t come close to the ease of use of an airsoft handgun.
I’m sorry, but there is nothing more badass than a pistol hanging from your thigh holster. This is totally my own opinion, don’t talk back to me sniper and shotgun mains!
- Low rate of fire
With the exception rare-ish/unnecessary-ish Automatic Electric Pistols , most airsoft pistols are semi-automatic and fire only as fast as you can pull the trigger.
- Low magazine capacity
Even Hi-Capa pistols can only hold around 30 rounds before they run out. No bueno compared to Hi-Capa rifles.
- High repair costs
Unfortunately pistols (especially springers) are not a prudent economical choice. Very often their magazine or upgrade parts cost disproportionately more than the guns themselves. If you plan on building a pistol primary, be prepared to drop just as much on upgrades (if not more) as you did on the gun itself.
You can’t really go wrong with acquiring an airsoft pistol as a your secondary. You’ll somehow survive without one, but if you want to be a “real playa”; pick up one asap!
Beginners: PLEASE stay away from snipers.
Not only are snipers expensive, they are a completely different playstyle. Unless you’re very patient (I’m not) and able to sneak around (I really can’t), you’re most likely better off with an M16 in your hands.
Additionally, in order to be effective as a sniper, you’ll have to do some heavy customizing to your stock sniper. I’m talking in-depth knowledge about your gun, a huge budget, love & time for tinkering.
Bolt Action Sniper Rifles are mostly spring and gas powered, but electric snipers are sold as well. Popular stock purchases, for example: L96’s, VSR10’s,
If you want to outclass your AEG opponents, you’ll have to spend A LOT on your BASR. There really isn’t a compromise. You either have to go all in, or be stuck with shitty, underperforming parts. If you want your sniper to be accurate at 300 feet, expect to shell out a lot of money.
The only purpose a sniper should have is accuracy at long range. Too often I see people modifying their snipers by prioritizing their muzzle velocity output. First comes accuracy, then stability, then FPS.
Good snipers are rare. People are rarely willing to shell out $500+ and invest all this time and effort into customizing and perfecting their rig.
There is nothing that comes close to the range of a well built, well customized BASR. Hits of up to 300 feet are possible, although built-out sniper will be most accurate at 200-250 feet.
- You’re a friggin’ sniper
Hunting down your prey beneath your immaculately crafted ghillie watching every leaf through your scope, just waiting for the right moment to pull the trigger as the apex predator you are. You are a god among men.
As I already mentioned, sniping in airsoft is expensive. Next to the price tag for a good sniper, you also have to buy ghillie, keep spare parts etc.
- Complicated set-up
Building a well functioning sniper is no joke.
- You’re a boring sniper
While your friends are running around and having fun, you’re laying on the ground in your sweaty ghillie waiting for an opponent to walk into your crosshair, trying not to get distracted by ants crawling up your pant leg.
Please make sure you’re 100% confident in your choice to play a sniper role.
If you’re convinced that sniping is what you want to do, if you have the time, willingness and money – go straight ahead and dive into the world of airsoft snipers.
They are something special, aren’t they…
First, forget everything you know about shotguns (except that you’ll look BALLER if you own one), airsoft shotguns have little to do with their real life cousins.
Where real shotguns shoot shells are filled with dozens of pellets, ordinary airsoft shotguns shoot good ol’ BBs. Fortunately, manufacturers have found a way to mimic real shotguns, at least to some extent.
Two forms of airsoft shotguns exist. Single and tri-burst. Single shot shotguns shoot one bb a time, while tri-shot shotguns shoot a burst of 3 BBs, in a triangle formation.
Shotguns are inherently single-shot guns. You have to pump or cock your shotgun before every shot. That’s just their nature. Due to this, there are both spring and gas powered shotguns available for sale.
A spring module, though completely useless in an assault rifle, is very much appreciated in shotguns. It keeps the price of the gun down and provides enough firepower.
Shotguns are used both as primaries and secondaries. I’m not sure I agree with the notion that shotguns should be used as primaries, especially in action packed spots where you want your teammates to be quick and reliable, but that’s just my opinion.
Unfortunately, any standard loadout which includes a shotgun has its drawbacks as I’ve shown below.
Don’t take the above as gospel. I’m only trying to illustrate a point.
If you’re in an intense battle and don’t have the time to reload your primary or you’re out of ammo, the last thing you want is the slow rate of fire from a single action shotgun.
I should mention that gas shotguns can hold their own on the battlefields, especially if HPA tapped. Having said that, their low rate of fire, high cost (if HPA tapped) and lack of versatility makes them more suited for advanced players and not something a beginner should spend his money.
- Very Affordable
You can pick up an awesome M1014 Tri-shot spring powered shotgun for less than $50 and immediately start clearing buildings with it.
Storming rooms like a maniac is quite a breather from regular, strategic and sometimes slow-paced airsoft gameplay.
It’s a friggin’ shotgun, do I need to say more?
Both gas and spring powered airsoft weapons fire immediately after you pull the trigger.
If you opt for a spring shotgun, you’ll never have to worry about batteries, gas or any other AEG and GBB related problems that might arise. No battery, no gas, no headaches.
Unless you can surprise your opponent and shoot first, you stand no chance. In outdoor play especially, shotguns just fade in comparison to AEG’s.
Springers are prone to wear and tear, better stock up on replacement parts. Don’t expect your shotgun to last for years.
Fun? – Definitely!
Effective? – Meh…
If you are an airsoft nut like me, you won’t listen to reason anyway and just buy as many guns as you can. Bless you, brother!
The Juice – Batteries & Gases
Back in the real world, guns are powered by explosions which send bullets flying for more than 2000 yards at speeds of up to 2500 miles/hour. That’s 4 times as fast as a the top speed of a Boeing 747!
In airsoft, we have to be a bit more careful about our propellant. In order to ensure the safety for those involved most airsoft guns shoot at around 350-400 FPS (around 1/11th of real firearms). Since gunpowder is out of the question, manufacturers opt for one of the three main propulsion strategies we talked about earlier.
As already discussed, electric and gas airsoft guns are widely favored over simple springers. In this section, we’ll take a more detailed look at what airsoft batteries and airsoft gas are and how they work inside our guns.
All electric airsoft gun motors are powered by batteries. If you want to be a responsible AEG owner, you have to know exactly what an airsoft battery is, how it works, how it should be charged, stored and used. Every airsoft player should get acquainted with batteries, if they want to be effective on and off the airsoft fields.
Airsoft batteries are a vast and fairly technical subject. Below, I provided a general overview on the topic. I made sure to include only the most important specifics, without going too deep into technicalities.
With that said, let’s get right into the technicalities and terminology, so we get those out of the way.
Electromotive force, measured in Volts. The higher the voltage, the faster your gun will shoot. I think of volts as the speed of my car. It’s potential energy. Be advised, just like with cars, you can’t simply install a Porsche engine in a Toyota Corolla and expect it to run smoothly. If your gun isn’t built to handle the force of a powerful battery, you’ll destroy your internals. Fortunately, you can always upgrade those internals by purchasing better parts.
Batteries consist of one or more electrochemical cells. Here is the cell & voltage for batteries used in airsoft.
Volts is expressed with the lowercase letter “v”.
|Battery||Per cell||Per battery (Min-Max)|
|Ni-Cad||1.2v||7.2v / 8.4v / 9.6v / 10.8v / 12.0v|
|Ni-Mh||1.2v||7.2v / 8.4v / 9.6v / 10.8v / 12.0v|
|Li-Po||3.7v||7.2v / 11.1v / 14.8v|
The milliampere-hour is a unit with which we define the electric charge over time. In simpler terms – mAH is the gas in my car’s tank. More mAH means you can operate your gun for longer periods of time. More mAH also means a bigger, more expensive battery and longer charging times.
On an average stock AEG, you can expect to lose around 1 mAh per trigger pull (semi-auto). If your battery is rated 1100 mAH, you’ll go through two or three Hi-Capa magazines before having to change out your battery.
Depending on your discharge rate, your wiring, your connectors, gun fuses, battery age, weather conditions and about a million other factors, this rate can fluctuate dramatically. For example: Li-Po’s, a type of battery explained below, have a higher discharge rate and use about half the mAH per trigger pull.
The charge and discharge rates of a your battery are measured in C-rates. The capacity of a battery is commonly rated at 1C (ie 1 Charge). If your battery is fully charged (1C) and is rated at 1100 mAH, it should provide 1100mA per hour (mA per hour= milliampere-hour). If you’re discharging that same full battery as “0.5C” it should provide 550mAh for two hours. Discharge it at 0.2C, it will deliver 220mAh for 5 hours.
A C-rate of 1C is also known as a one-hour discharge; 0.5C or C/2 is a two-hour discharge and 0.2C or C/5 is a 5-hour discharge. Some high-performance batteries can be charged and discharged above 1C with moderate stress.
|0.5C or C/2||2h|
|0.2C or C/5||5h|
|0.1C or C/10||10h|
|0.05C or C/20||20h|
I think of discharge rate as the acceleration of my car. The higher your C-rate, the faster you’ll use up your mAH. Cool thing about C rate is that even if you have a lower voltage battery, if your C rate is high enough – you’re still faster out of the gate.
Now that we have the most important terminology out of the way, let’s take a look at the three main types of batteries used in today’s airsoft world.
Ni-Cad (NyeCad) – Nickel Cadmium
Ni-Cad’s are an older technology, batteries which used to be popular a decade ago. Ni-Cad batteries have “memories”, you have to exhaust their charge completely before recharging, otherwise you cut their life by however much gas was left in the tank. Say you take a 100% charged Ni-Cad and discharge it down to 25%. If you plug it into your charger and charge it back up to full, the battery will lose the 25% that weren’t discharged before charging, forever.
They have a 10%/month self-discharge rate, meaning they lose 10% of their charge if you let them sit on a shelf, without touching them.
If charged too quickly or overcharged, Ni-Cad batteries can explode. Not very fun.
Unsurprisingly, Ni-Cad batteries are the cheapest of the bunch. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of cheaper and low quality guns come with Ni-Cad’s. Make sure you keep this in mind when making your purchase.
If someone recommends Ni-Cad’s to you, safely proceed to disregard all of their past, present and future advice. They don’t have your best interest in mind.
Ni-Mh (Nyme) – Nickel Metal Hydride
Ni-Mh batteries are the staple of AEG’s. They are considered superior to Ni-Cad’s in most aspects. Ni-Mh’s hold more charge, have no “memory” and can be overcharged without worry, which comes in handy as they also need longer to recharge.
Their cells are smaller, meaning your battery will take up less room. One of the drawbacks is that the energy discharge rate is lower than Ni-Cad’s which results in a lower ROF. They are a also marginally more expensive than Ni-Cad’s and have a self-discharge twice as fast as Ni-Cad’s.
The majority of today’s automatic electric guns come with Ni-Mh batteries stock.
Li-Po (Lypo) – Lithium Polymer
Li-po’s are the new kid on the block. Maybe “new diva” is a bit more accurate. This battery hold its charge for much longer, it recharges much faster, has no “memory” to speak of and is lighter in comparison.
Li-Po’s have much faster discharge rates, an average of 20C (ie. higher ROF). Li-po’s are are also more demanding when charging, but then have lower self-discharge rates (around twice as low as Nickel based batteries). Li-po’s perform much better in colder climates, in comparison to other batteries.
Faster discharge rates also means faster trigger response, very very useful if you’re up against a spring powered tri-shot for example. Input lag is super annoying and I hate it with a passion.
Li-Po cells hold 3 times the voltage, (3.7 per vs 1.2 per) which constrict configuration options. With Ni-Mh’s you can use 7.4v, 8.6v,9,8v on your stock AEG, while with Li-Po’s you can only use 7.2v. Theoretically you can install a 11.1v battery, but here comes another drawback of Li-Po’s – too much juice.
Off-the-shelf AEG’s are simply not designed to take 11.1v batteries with Li-Po level discharge rates. There is no such thing as a “Li-Po ready gun”. Unless you upgrade your parts, your electrical systems will not be able to handle the discharge rate without damaging your gun internals.
Understand this – the wear and tear on a gun using an 7.2v Li-Po is the same as on a gun that uses a 7.2 Ni-Mh, but due to the enormous discharge rate of a Li-Po you wear down your internals faster. Li-Po’s don’t do more damage, they do the same damage in less time.
These little dudes facilitate the connection between your battery wiring and your gun motor wiring. Think of them as the fuel nozzle that enables the flow of gas from the pump into your car.
Connectors are an often overlooked topic and considered trivial. In my opinion however, a basic understanding of battery connectors will make troubleshooting your battery much less of a headache should that need ever arise.
Tamiya connectors are mostly used in RC cars but also commonly found in generic airsoft gun batteries. The problem with Tamiyas is their cheap design. The prongs inside the housing might bend and hinder a stable connection, the plastic housing can fall of your wiring and disconnect, the clamp holding the two connectors might snap. Tamiya connectors are fragile. If you’re really into airsoft, it’s a matter of time before you break these connectors.
Also called T Plug Connectors, Deans connectors are preferred by most hobbyist and advanced airsoft players due to a more efficient connection which directly correlates to your gun performance . Deans are a very durable and stable connector and their compact size is always appreciated over a more bulky Tamiya.
Due to popular demand from the airsoft community I’ve decided to add a short paragraph on XT-60 connectors. Be aware that we’re getting into hobbyist territory. XT-60 connectors are superior to Tamiyas but virtually the same as Deans when it comes to performance. Their bulkiness is a double edged sword. While they may be more durable, they are also much bulkier and difficult to fit. XT-60s score big points with their usability. Easy to solder and disengage. A big drawback is that very few people use XT-60s in airsoft. This means if your battery fails, you won’t be able to connect a borrowed one to your XT-60 fitted gun.
JST’s are functionally very similar to Deans connectors in both their stability and compact size. JST connectors are more often used in HPA setups, for reasons which are entirely irrelevant to beginners.
Different battery types unsurprisingly require different chargers. Seeing as how you’ll be recharging your ordinary Ni-Mh battery quite often and because Li-Po charging is slightly more finicky, airsoft battery chargers are a fairy important topic.
For now, all you need to know is that chargers must always be battery specific. If you purchase a standalone battery, you MUST make sure that you also have a charger that is designed to charge that specific battery type.
Having said that, for those hobbyists with deep pockets, acquiring a multi-functional battery charger is definitely a viable option. Since most of you are beginners, just stick to the much cheaper and safer battery specific chargers.
Due to the large variety of airsoft gun models as well as the ability to rearrange battery cells, manufacturers have adopted several different staple cell configurations.
It’s important to have an understanding of battery configurations. Your typical AEG is likely to be able to accommodate only one specific configuration into its stock or fore grip.
In this battery, the cells are arranged in long line, forming a stick. These batteries are used in AEG’s which lack a sizable stock such as AK’s as they can easily fit into the dustcover.
This term usually specifies a battery configuration in which the battery cells connected in series but are placed in parallel groups of two forming a shorter andwider stick. Large batteries can be placed into the handguard of your typical AEG.
Also called nunchuk’s, crane batteries are configured into two separate, shorter sticks, connected by a wire. These are placed either into the handguard of the AEG or into a crane specific stock; a crane stock.
As with anything airsoft, custom configuration do exist but you shouldn’t worry about them if you’re new to airsoft and are just looking for a standard beginner AEG.
In comparison to batteries, gases are a much simpler and straightforward airsoft topic. GBB guns can be powered by one of two different gases: Green Gas and CO2. We’ll also take a look at Red Gas and Duster Gas as potential propellants. Yes, other gases do exist but again, as a beginner I would stick to the tried and tested.
Vapor Pressure is the pressure exerted by a vapor in its pressurized phase of a solid or a liquid, at any given temperature in a closed system (can/magazine). The vapor pressure indicated the liquid’s rate of evaporation once pressure is released. All airsoft gases are in a semi-liquid, semi-solid state in the cans and in the magazines.
Pound-force per square inch. A simple way to measure pressure and what I will use to express the different levels of vapor pressure of different gases.
Called “green” because of its friendliness to the environment, green gas is nothing more than a mixture of propane and silicon oil. As you may know, propane has a very strong, foul smell to it resembling rotten eggs. This is because manufacturers add Ethanethiol (commonly knows as ethyl mercaptan) to the naturally scentless propane in an effort to give it a distinct odor to alert people of dangerous leaks.
Green gas, to be used specifically for airsoft, doesn’t have such additives and is therefore odorless.
Green gas is the most popular gas in airsoft and most GBB guns are powered by it. You can, however, substitute the relatively more expensive Green Gas for pure propane. All you need to do is buy a propane adapter. Since you’ll be using regular propane tanks meant for a wide variety of uses, yo can expect that Ethanethiol has been added.
If you can stand the smell of rotten eggs (I couldn’t), you should expect to pay around 40%-50% less for the same amount of propellant. Keep in mind that propane is obviously highly flammable and should never be used near an open flame or while smoking.
For me, it wasn’t worth saving $4 per can of gas. I’m going to stick to Green gas, thank you very much Mr Rotten Eggs.
How long does a can of green gas last? Depends a lot on your gun, but 2000-4000 fired rounds is a good range.
CO2 is the second most popular choice in gas blowback guns. What makes CO2 unique is the significantly greater pressure its under. CO2 is 7 times more pressurized than green gas. This means that, unless your gun is specifically made to withstand CO2 pressures, it will literally blow up in your hands. Let me say that again. Your gun and magazine need to be specifically designed for C02. DO NOT insert a C02 magazine into your regular GBB gun.
Because of this immense pressure, CO2 doesn’t come in a can, it comes in small prefilled 12 gram cartridges. As CO2 is widely used outside of airsoft, those cartridges are available everywhere, including your local Walmart.
Usually you’ll get around 80-100 shots out of a CO2 cartridge. This figure varies and can get down to 40 shots in really cold climates.
First and foremost, Red gas is banned in the United States. There is this notion that Red Gas is an improved, more powerful version of Green Gas. Sometimes beginners ask me where they can get their hand on this stuff.
For all intents and purposes, Red gas has NO advantages over Green gas. It is NOT designed specifically for airsoft. It’s NOT more powerful than Green Gas.
Red gas has been a very popular refrigerant and propellant in the past and is still very heavily used in developing countries. Due to its high ozone depletion potential and global warming potential, developed countries such as the US and the whole of Europe have been phasing out this gas over the past 10 years. Beginning in 2004, the Montreal Protocol (ozone layer protection) required the US to reduce its use of Red Gas by 35%, then 90% by 2015 and 99.5% by 2020.
As you’ll see in my comparison below, there truly is no reason to ever use Red Gas.
Ever needed to clean your PC? This is probably what you would have used. Duster Gas, also mistakenly called compressed air or canned air, is often used to clean electronics or other sensitive appliances that can’t be cleaned with water. It’s available at any office depot, staples etc.
Duster gas is usually mixed with HFC-134a, a popular refrigerant and propellant with negligible ozone depletion potential. HFC-134a is the main reason why airsoft players sometimes use Duster Gas for their gas guns, as HFC-134a does not come as a standalone airsoft gas.
I’d like to point out that inhaling this gas is very dangerous and may lead to nerve damage, paralysis, serious injury, or death. Please stay safe.
Most gas duster cans do not come with a nozzle suitable to fill an airsoft magazine, so you either have to purchase an adapter or put in a suitable nozzle yourself.
Bottom line is, gas dusters are neither more powerful nor cheaper, nor more convenient than Green Gas or CO2. Combine that with the potential dangerous of inhaling it and it’s a clear zero in my book.
An easy way to compare the different gases is to take a look at their pressure at different temperatures. The vapor pressure in the table below, expressed in PSI, give an accurate idea of how powerful the different gases are and how they should behave in comparison to each other.
|Temp °F||Green Gas|
Right away we can infer several things.
First, there is a direct correlation between weather conditions and vapor pressure and ultimately your gun’s power output. This is nothing new, but probably the most important fact you need to remember.
Second, CO2 is under immense pressures. When it’s a nice 80 °F outside, CO2 is approximately 6.6 times more pressurized than Green gas. This pressure translates into higher muzzle velocity. In my personal tests, I’ve concluded that CO2 powered guns are approximately 80-120 FPS faster than Green Gas/Propane powered guns.
Third, Green gas performs better in the cold than Red gas and equals out at warmer temperatures. In theory Red Gas will surpass Green Gas in terms of PSI, at temperatures over 95 °F. In practice, it’s no ground to break the law and hurt our ozone layer. Besides, I’m guessing you’re not playing on the sun’s surface…
Fourth, duster gas packs around half the punch of Green gas at lower temperatures. You can expect your gun to shoot around 90-140 FPS less than Green Gas/Propane. Yet another reason to stay away from using “canned air” as a propellant for airsoft.
The Ammo – BBs
Finally a topic that does not include physics! I have a secret to share, I love talking about BBs (ball bearings), also called pellets. It’s a very simple yet vital topic in airsoft, as a good understanding of the different BB types will give you a noticeable advantage over your opponents. For example:
When good teams play each other at night, tracer BBs can sometimes be the deciding factor between a game-winning hit or a pissed of tree branch. Low-quality BBs will both hurt your game as well as wreak havoc on your gun internals. The difference in range between a .30g and .40g BB is imperative for any sniper to know.
The FPS of your airsoft gun is the most important factor when considering your BB choice. In fact, it’s all that matters. The more powerful your airsoft weaponry, the heavier BBs it can shoot. If your gun isn’t powerful enough, the BBs will plop out of your barrel and land short of their target. If your gun is powerful but you’re using BBs which are too light, you’re doing yourself a major disservice and sacrificing both accuracy and range.
Pellet Weight to FPS
|Up to 250||0.12g|
When you go into the different BB weights below, reference this table. Please keep in mind it’s only a general guide. Each airsoft gun is unique and while FPS is the main factor when it comes to BBs – I urge you to test and experiment yourself!
As you might have already noticed, airsoft can get fairly technical and complex at times. I always do my best to illustrate concepts in easy to understand terms; I realize I sometimes do fail.
However! You have my promise that, on the subject of BBs, there will be no terminology, no physics and no car analogies!
Sit back and let me teach you a thing or two about our ammo!
There are several types of BBs you can use with your gun. For the most part standard or biodegradable (my preference and recommendation) BBs should do just fine. For the sake of being informative and exhaustive, I’ve listed some other, more unique BBs available for sale.
Personally, I would classify the standard BB as one that lacks any features.
Also called “Precision” or “High-Grade” (just buzzwords), they have a petroleum-based center surrounded by a non-degradable plastic layer. Standard BBs come in all weights and are the most common airsoft pellet used indoors. Due to their plastic and petroleum make up, these BBs pose are harmful to the environment, as they may take hundreds of years to decompose on their own.
Due to their lack of features, standard BBs are the cheapest of the bunch.
I promised no physics, I never mentioned Biology!
Jokes aside, biodegradability is concept which is very dear to my heart and one which I’ll always push as hard as I can. In short, biodegradable BBs are designed to compost with time, leaving no trace or plastic which may harm animals and pollute our environment.
In comparison to the Standard BBs,Bio BBs are produced with a homogeneous resin, which composts into the soil without posing any harm to the environment.
A lot of outdoor airsoft fields nowadays only allow Biodegradable airsoft pellets to be used.
Lower quality bio BBs are sometimes more brittle and biodegrade much slower than their high quality counterparts. Always make sure you know exactly what BB you’re buying before you hit that buy button.
Biodegradable airsoft BBs are slightly more expensive, but it’s a very very minuscule price to pay to ensure that future generations can enjoy nature as we do. Please always opt for high quality biodegradable BBs. Thank you!
Also called “glow-in-the-dark”, Tracer pellets are used together with an airsoft tracer unit, which disguised as a suppressor, that “charges” the photoluminescent BBs as they exit your barrel. As they fly through the air they emit an awesome looking bright green light.
Tracer BBs are used predominantly during night skirmishes to better see where you’re shooting. Unfortunately, tracer BBs are a double edged sword, as your opponent will immediately spot your position.
Tracer BBs are more expensive than both standard and Bio BBs, but the real cost is the tracer unit which can run from $40 all the way up to $130.
Non-traceable BBs are a fancy way to call black standard BBs. There is a good reason why 90% of all BBs are white – they are easy to spot. Black BBs on the other hand are very difficult to see which helps you disguise your position as you’re raining hell on your opponents.
Because of this, black BBs are often preferred by snipers, for which positioning is imperative. Keep in mind that if the enemy can’t spot your BBs, you can’t either. Once the pellet leaves your gun, it’s going to be very difficult for you to determine whether you hit your opponent. This may cause issues if you’re up against unknown player who like to cheat and not call their hits. Something to keep in mind.
Me personally, I think black BBs are useless. The concept of stealthy BBs is unnecessary, by the time your opponent sees your BBs flying at him – it’s most likely to late for him to react anyway. Not to mention, in the heat of battle, the color of the BBs is of little importance.
An argument can be made for snipers, but for most of you who play with rifles or smgs – invest your money in better parts instead of non-traceable BBs.
Marking BBs are coated in a colored powder that leaves a residue when they hit their target. Marking BBs can be used both for testing gun accuracy as well as during actual games, as a way to deter cheaters from not calling their shots. Then again, not everybody is ok with having powder all over them and even if so – a quick pat down will remove most of the powder from clothes, defeating the purpose.
The real problem with marking BBs stems from the fact that, as you shoot, some of the powder will scrape off the BB and remain in your gun. As you continue shooting you will experience jamming as the powder builds up. This will inevitably lead to massive damage to your gun internals.
Better to use standard targets or a recording to do a quick accuracy check.
Metal BBs do exist, but there is no reason to use them. At many ranges and many guns, metal BBs will pierce skin and seriously injure people. Airsoft guns are not designed to shoot metal BBs. Your hop up will quickly give out, your air nozzle (part that hits the BB) and barrel will sooner or later break as well.
And even if we neglected the fact that metal BBs are extremely expensive and are banned virtually everywhere – they really isn’t a reason to use them.
In airsoft, we classify different BBs by weight. This weight is expressed in fractions of grams. The different weights drastically change the performance and purpose of BBs. They range from 0.12g all the way up to 0.66g, although the primary weights are only few. Below I’ve listed both exact BB weights as well as ranges of weights which share very similar performance profiles and given you a short explanation as to what function they perform.
In general, heavier BBs are both more accurate and achieve higher ranges
Do you have a pesky little brother? Or maybe a neighbor kid that’s half your age and loves to annoy you? That’s how I feel about 0.12g BBs.
0.12g BBs are the lightest BBs used in airsoft. Their lightweight is also the cause of their low accuracy and poor flight trajectory as they are very easily affected by wind and general weather conditions. They are very common and considered standard (a notion I vehemently disagree with, no gun deserves 0.12g) for low-grade AEG’s and cheap spring guns. In that sense, they do have their place. 0.12g BBs should never be used in more expensive or advanced airsoft weaponry.
Because they are mostly used in throw-away guns, quality control for this weight-class is very poor which translates into a lot of imperfections; seems, dimples, bubbles etc. These imperfections will damage your gun without mercy. Moreover, due to their imperfect structure, they are prone to break apart inside high-powered guns which in turn causes irreparable damage to your expensive internals.
Something you should know -New gun purchases often come with a few dozen BBs included. These are usually low-quality 0.12g BBs. Do your gun a favor and toss them into the recycling bin. When buying new guns, always stock up on high-quality BBs.
These BBs are among the most popular on the airsoft fields. They are used on AEG’s, Gas, Spring and HPA airsoft guns. Due to this popularity, and resulting high demand, these BBs are usually much higher quality yet still affordable due to their relative light weight. Competition between manufacturers is much fiercer thus producing a more well rounded (pun intended) product with less imperfections and better shine.
Due to the 67% increase in weight, compared to a 0.12g BB, 0.20g BBs withstand the forces of nature much better. Furthermore, the weight increase directly translates into better degrees of accuracy and better range.
Most AEGs are powerful enough to use 0.20g BBs without issue, though experienced players may opt for heavier BBs to even further increase accuracy and range. Same for gas guns and most springers.
0.20g BBs are suited for close quarter battles up to mid-range combat. If you mostly play outdoors you might want to check if your gun can be effective with heavier BBs.
Continuing the trend, heavier weights come hand in hand with better range and accuracy. If you’re playing mostly outdoors and your airsoft rifle exceeds 400 FPS this range of BBs should prove a wiser choice. In general, this range of BBs is suited for more expensive or upgraded AEGs and Gas guns.
0.23g basically attempt to blend the speed of 0.20g’s with the resistance of 0.25g’s. Nowadays people usually opt to go for straight for 0.25g BBs.
The 0.25g is also one of the common staples of BBs for higher powered AEGs. This weight also represents the very upper ceiling for most lower powered AEGs, gas and spring guns. As such I’d venture to say that 0.25g BBs are the heaviest staple BB option. Snipers also sometimes use 0.25g BBs.
The increase in weight also means a slight increase in costs.
At the bottom of this weight range we have 0.28g BBs, which are some of the heaviest BBs you would shoot with an AEG. Typically these AEGs tend to be higher priced and pack a punch. A powerful AEG armed with 0.28g BBs is the the best combination as rifler in terms of effectiveness. The power of your AEG will perfectly enable the 0.28g BBs to efficiently unleash their potential in both range in accuracy.
0.28g BBs also represent the entry BB for sniper rifles.
0.28g BBs are basically a way to compromise between performance and price as they perform very similarly to a 0.30g BB but are cheaper.
Moving up to another “standard”, the 0.30g BBs. As already mentioned they are practically the same with 0.28g BBs. These are often used by snipers but are also very much appreciated by more experienced airsoft players sporting heavily upgraded AEGs.
0.32g BBs are another sniper favorite. At this point I’m guessing I can stop repeating myself. Increased range and stability for sniper rifles.
0.36g BBs – more of the same. At this weight and higher, BB speed starts to drop and body hits start to hurt more noticeably. I would venture to say that at this weight the degree of accuracy has reached its highest point. From this point on, increase in weight largely translates into increased range.
These heavy BBs pack a punch and have excellent range. Used exclusively by snipers and HPA rifles who can support the weight with their immense FPS potential.
0.40g and 0.36g BBs are the two most popular weights among advanced snipers.
For the most part BBs above 0.43g are specialty BBs with a precise purpose that has little to do with actual PVP airsoft.
These are some general, but important, tips and things you should keep in mind when it comes to BBs.
High Quality BBs
Over its lifetime, an actively used airsoft rifle will shoot up to 500,000 BBs. That’s half a million opportunities for your gun to jam, half a million opportunities for your BBs to damage your gun. That is a lot of risk. Fortunately, some of proactivness and foresight will mitigate those risks.
The biggest problem with cheap BBs is the sloppy and careless manufacturing process they’ve gone through. Due to poor craftsmanship and in effort to produce more BBs for as cheap as possible, low quality BBs are often manufactured with an uneven and imperfect structure.
Seems, dimples and bubbles will both adversely affect the flight trajectory of the BB as well as damage your gun. Your gun will jam, the BBs will break down your metal gears, they will shatter into dozens of small pieces, they will destroy your hop-up, they will lock up your motor. It’s quite fascinating just how much damage bad BBs will cause to your gun.
The more a BB differs from a perfect spherical form, the less accurate it will be. As it’s moving through the air at hundreds of feets per second, a slight weight imbalance or seem that affects the airflow, will completely change the planned flight trajectory.
Another reason why low quality BBs are dangerous and using them is irresponsible is because they might shatter on impact with hard targets just as easily as inside your gun.
These pictures were kindly provided by Mike from FuzzyDicePimp. Head over to the full video and watch the BB shattering in slow-motion. Imagine you’re using low quality BBs and your opponent is wearing mesh goggles. If your low quality BBs shatter as they hit the goggles, these small fragments will easily pass through the mesh and into the person’s eye.
The “1200 FPS” in the video title refers to frames per second (the camera) – not the Tokyo Marui Desert Eagle’s output which is around 300 FPS – a regular airsoft pistol. This is not some freakishly upgraded beast – it’s what you can expect from low quality Bio BBs.
Beware of fake or counterfeit BBs. These are complete garbage often easily recognized by their horrible presentation. The packaging is cheap, the label design looks poor, the wording is often very bad with lots of grammatical and spelling mistakes.
High quality BBs on the other hand will prove worth your money by providing a very consistent experience in accuracy, safety and overall performance. These, often more expensive, BBs are perfectly spherical. They are very true to the advertised weight and diameter. Your gun is very unlikely to jam, they will very rarely break apart inside your gun. Good BBs never shatter, even if you take a hammer to them they should only flatten with one clean break.
This is an easy way to test the quality of your BB when in doubt. Place some between two towels and hit them with a hammer. The more resistance before they break, the better. Once they give out, you want to see one or two clean breaks without much debris. If they shatter into dozens of pieces, it’s bad news.
High quality BBs are exclusively sold by airsoft retailers, on their websites or through third parties. Forget Walmart, forget Dick’s – they often carry garbage BBs for higher prices. With that said, just because a retailer is airsoft specific – doesn’t mean they won’t carry cheap BBs. Just means they are more likely to also carry high quality airsoft brands.
Remember, retailers will always push the product that makes them the most profit. Stay informed and make the right decisions!
One thing you should know is that outliers do exist in batches of high quality BBs. If you purchase a standard 5000 BB batch, you’re likely to come across a very deformed pellet, barely resembling a BB. Unfortunately, it’s something you’ll have to get used to. Keep this in mind when loading your magazines, you definitely don’t want to fire a Frankenstein BB.
Please, never let $5 BBs destroy a $250 gun.
Never Reuse BBs
You just bought a high quality, 5000 count bag of Biodegradable BBs from a well respected brand – awesome. However, just because you spent $25 on good BBs, doesn’t mean you can reuse them.
No matter the quality of the BBs, they are never to be reused.
The moment your BBs leave your gun barrel, your involvement with them ends. No, you can’t collect and wash them. No, you can’t only reuse those which “seem fine”. Leave them to degrade. You’ve done your job, let them do theirs.
To put things into perspective; the lowest grade unsued BB is better than the highest quality used BB. We already established just how bad low quality BBs are, right?
There are two stages that will ensure that even the best BBs become worthless once fired.
First – at their impact with their target. Remember the small seems and dimples that often come with cheap BBs? Well, when a BB hits its target they suffer much worse damage. Many of them are deformed, and those who aren’t, have suffered structural damages and are no longer perfectly spherical. They are weakened and won’t fly as anticipated.
They are cheap BBs on steroids. Worse in every way.
Second – at their impact with the ground. Remember my concerns with marking BBs and how their powder dirties your gun? Well, that’s nothing in comparison to real dirt. The worst thing you can do to your gun is to fire dirty BBs. We spend so much time and money making sure our gun functions perfectly and is treated with care only to destroy it with dirt? I don’t think so.
This also means that if your unused BBs fall on the ground they are unusable before washing and drying. Load your airsoft mags on a clean table.
Moreover, reusing BBs will almost always void and and all warranties you have on your gun and gun parts.
The Addons & Attachments
Below I’ve listed the most popular airsoft gun addons. Addons are externally installed pieces of hardware which aim to provide you with additional features and give you another leg up on your opponent. A lot of these puppies are as functional as they are aesthetic. If you want your gun to be both highly functional as well as looking sick – read below.
Many airsoft addons are actually real life addons used on real guns. When buying external addons, make sure they can be used on an airsoft gun.
The addons are listen in no particular order, all of them have their uses and applications for different playstyles and personal preferences.
Rail Interface System
Or RIS for short, these are gun mounted rails that enable you to install the different kinds of gun addons onto your gun. This includes bipods, silencers, grenade launchers, flashlights and others.
Most M4s for example come with a plastic handguard with several wholes in the bottom where you can install some mounts and addons. Rail systems are a huge improvement on the same concept, with more mountable real estate and more secure mounting options.
Stock AEG’s sometimes come with a cheap plastic RIS, though you shouldn’t expect to find those on low end AEGs. Standalone rail systems vary tremendously in shape, size and price. You can buy a cheap $15 rail segment for one or two attachments to a $200, 12 inch aluminum fully fledged freefloat systems.
RIS that are very gun specific and can be mounted only on designated gun models.
Scopes, also called optics, are mini telescope units that help you with your aim. Ranging from small reflex sight for CQB all the way up to high power scopes useful for long range targets.
There are many different types of scopes and applications for them. Pistol scopes differ from AEG scopes by amount of zoom, whether it’s fixed or adjustable, eye relief points.
The majority of scopes are designed for real guns and as such may zoom in further than you can shoot, but it also means you’ll enjoy the higher quality of professional optics.
Red/Green Dot Sights
Sights are among the most popular, useful and affordable addons you can install on your gun. Green dot sights, also called reflex or holographic sights, project the reticle onto a lense, which reflects it back at your eye. This produces a green or red dot with which to aim. Reflex sights are battery powered.
By using a reflex sight to acquire your target, you save an immense amount of time aiming. For the low price of $20-$40, they are a must buy for any serious airsoft player. They are incredibly useful in CQB where time is of the essence.
To be clear, reflex and holographic sites are two different technologies in real life. In airsoft however, the difference is solely aesthetic as real holographic sights are incredibly expensive and unnecessary in airsoft.
You can also buy standalone iron sights, to modify the look of your gun, though I would recommend to just go with a reflex lense that accomplishes the same and a ton more.
Suppressor & Silencers
Any and all airsoft suppressors and silencers are largely meant to enhance the aesthetics of your gun, they have NO suppression or silencing abilities.
One case in which they do prove useful is when you decide to install a tight bore barrel to improve your gun’s accuracy. Upgraded inner barrels stick out which is both incredibly ugly as well as dangerous for the barrel itself. It can get easily damaged and bent. A suppressor will both protect the inner barrel as well as disguise it completely.
This is the reason why suppressors and silencers are often referred to as “barrel extensions”.
Sporting virtually the same exact look as mock suppressors, battery powered tracer units are a much more complex and expensive piece of technology. Always to be used in conjunction with tracer/glow-in-the-dark BBs, tracer units flash the BBs with a beam of light as they exit your barrel, illuminating them.
Illuminated tracer BBs remain bright for a short amount of time and thus create a visible flight trajectory on their way to their target. This is especially useful during night games where white BBs become invisible. Tracer units can dramatically increase your accuracy during night and low-light games as well as aid your team in spotting where your enemies are.
Bipods are a stability addon considered a must for any airsoft sniper, but also useful for some milsim AEGers. Usually attached towards the end of a RIS or mounted with their own attachment, most bipods can be collapsed when not in use.
Higher quality bipods, constructed from steel or aluminum, are adjustable in length and may also feature spring loaded quick release feet for fast and efficient deployment.
When used, bipods will have a noticeable effect on your accuracy. Especially in highly upgraded snipers which may double or triple in weight, the stability provided by a bipod is very much appreciated.
For AEGs, bipods are largely a cosmetic add and may prove more cumbersome than advantageous due to adding otherwise unnecessary weight to the front of your gun. Still, in some situations, they have their pros.
Mounted flashlights offer multitude of applications. Most useful in close quarter battles, flashlights both illuminate your BBs as well as blind your opponents. You’ll be sacrificing stealthiness for the benefit of adversely affecting your opponents accuracy.
In indoor close quarter battles, where there may be no light sources, flashlights make for a good substitute for reflex sights and eliminate the need for tracer units.
No matter what people say, tracer BBs will never be as good as standard or biodegradable BBs. Flashlights offer the best of both worlds, often for a fraction of a tracer unit’s price. The illumination of tracer BBs, without having to settle for them.
Another unit meant to improve your accuracy, lasers are a popular aiming aid and cosmetic enhancement. Either red or green, adjustable lasers offer a different method to aim at your targets. Lasers are very common on pistols that lack the room for rail interface systems. For optimum accuracy, however, they should always be installed on the upper side of the barrel near the iron or reflex sights.
Lasers come with a short wiring and pressure switch that you stick to your gun and use to activate and deactivate your unit, very appreciated in situation where stealth is required.
Lasers can be very powerful and should never be aimed into the eyes of your opponent. Due to the on/off feature, lasers can be used to designate targets. This can be extremely dangerous if used to mark opponents as you might accidentally shine into your opponent’s scope, causing damages to his eyesight. Due to this, some places have banned lasers.
In general, lasers operating above 5mW are prohibited in airsoft. You should also know that green lasers are about 50x visible (per mW) than red ones. As reddit user /u/yamar35 put it eloquently:
“The main downside to green is excessive Rayleigh scattering which leaves a visible line in the air from dot to pointer (aka, the “shoot me!” line) at powers 5mw and greater. Red is far harder to spot, and much less glowy on the target.”
Vertical Hand Grip
Vertical fore/foreward grips are a simple and affordable stability addon for your airsoft rifle. Most commonly used on AEGs, a vertical hand grip offers a solution to fatigue and discomfort problems caused by the conventional handguard grip.
Grips come in many different shapes and sizes. Angled, ergonomic, short and long and even foldable – for different grip configurations and heavily upgraded guns.
There are several different grip variations that combine addons with the grip. For example, grips that have an extendable bipod at the bottom end or grips that feature mountable rails, placed at the top of the grip, where you can mount a flashlight or laser.
Rifle slings are meant to provide you with quick accessibility to your gun while freeing up one or two of your hands, without having to put your weapon down. Slings are wrapped around your body and attach to your gun.
There are 3 different choices when it comes to rifle slings. One, two or three point slings. One point slings attach to your gun once, two and three point slings attach to your gun twice. Three point slings have two loops within the sling for increased weapon carry configurations.
Despite their usefulness, slings are often a confusing ordeal. I recommend sticking with a one point or at most two points sling. Three pointers are often intrusive and the increase of material can get in your way during combat. Which you should use is entirely personal preference.
Tactical cameras are an awesome addon for those of you who love to capture awesome shots, make killer montages and create lasting memories of your favorite days on the battlefields.
Action cameras are small, lightweight and compact. The most well known action camera is the GoPro, which is a viable option and is mountable on your gun. For those of us who are budget conscious, you can also buy much cheaper cams to capture the sickest and funniest airsoft moments.
Grenade Launcher & Shells
Grenade launchers are the biggest gun mounted addon in airsoft. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Grenade launchers use custom airsoft “grenades” or shells that hold as little as 5 round to as much as 120 rounds.
The shells never eject from the launcher and only used to hold airsoft gas inside their housing which is released once you pull your launcher’s trigger. Once released, the gas acts very much as in any gas blowback gun and sends your BBs flying. Shells also come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. One thing they share is the immense noise they make. It takes a lot of power to send dozens of BBs 40-60 feet downrange.
The huge downside with grenade launchers and shells is their price. One shell will set you back around $60 and a launcher is twice as much. Keeping in mind that, for an effective setup, you’d like to have several shells on hand – it will get very expensive, very fast.
The Accessories & Gadgets
Accessories are any and all airsoft thingamajigs that will enhance your airsoft experience both in and outside of combat. There are a wide variety of aids and gadgets that will make playing airsoft more convenient, fun and make you a more well rounded player.
Except for magazines, none of the items below are necessary for you to have a full and awesome time playing airsoft. Hence the name “accessories”!
I wasn’t sure whether to make this a standalone section, but decided to include it here. I believe their simplicity and straightforwardness make them easy to operate and understand.
There are many different types of magazines that accommodate the wide variety of guns available for sale. Magazines are usually gun-specific and rarely fit more than a few different models. You would best be advised to only buy magazines for your specific model AND manufacturer. This may become a problem with more exotic and rare guns, where availability isn’t always guaranteed.
Take a look at some popular aftermarket and stock magazines.
All AEGs come with one or two included magazines, usually a Hi Cap. In this section I’ll be talking more about them, other aftermarket magazines and their features.
There are four main types of airsoft magazines. Standard, Mid and Hi Cap(acity), Drum and the honorary Flash magazines.
Standard mags aim to provide a more genuine experience for those of you who appreciate realism and MILSIM airsoft play. These magazines will usually hold between 20 and 45 rounds. In standard magazines, the pellets are inserted in a single row and pushed towards the loading nozzle of your gun by a spring.
Standard magazines are awesome, but definitely not for budget conscious airsoft players. Due to their small capacity, you’ll need many of them. Believe me, there is no fun in having to make due with only 100 rounds of BBs while your opponents have 1000 available. Unless you’re ready to spend at least $150 on standards magazines, stick with Hi Cap or Mid caps.
BB conservation is an imperative skill with standard mags, one which comes only with experience and trigger control. Both of which take time to develop, but moreover, may not fit your playstyle.
Due to this, “standard” magazines are anything but the standard on the fields :).
My recommendation for beginner players, Hi cap magazines usually hold 200-600 pellets. In design, they differ from both standard and mid cap mags. Hi cap magazines’ internals are completely different. They require winding as their system uses a chamber to hold the ammunition and a winding wheel, at the bottom of the magazine, attached to a spring which feeds the BBs into the loading muzzle. Because of this holding chamber, your BBs will rattle inside the chamber as you’re running around.
To be clear, you will constantly have to wind your mag as your shooting. If you don’t wind, the spring will decompress as you’re shooting and stop feeding BBs. Neither realistic nor convenient – but a cheaper option than both Mid and standard mags.
Useful for beginners and CQB, their high capacity enables you to “spray and pray” more freely. You won’t have to swap out magazines every 30 seconds. You can get away with owning only two or three of them, enough for a day of airsoft. The equivalent 9 – 12 standard magazines for the same purposes – very expensive.
Due to popular demand, I’d like to mention a substitute for hi capas; flash mags.
Flash mags are virtually identical to Hi cap magazines, except for the vastly improved winding mechanism. Instead of winding a wheel, you do so by pulling on a string/cable (much like a boat motor). Winding the gun takes around 1/10th the time and is much easier on your fingers. No real drawbacks.
Usually holding more than standard mags, but less than 190 BBs, mid cap magazines are probably the most popular and my personal favorite. They offer the best of both worlds, an effective mag with enough capacity without the annoying rattling and wind-up process of Hi Caps. Usually reserved for a bit more experienced players as ammo conservation is more important and you’ll have to own several of them to be an effective adversary.
Similar to standard magazines, Mid cap’s are also spring loaded with a zig-zag pellet feeding system. More BBs, no rattling. Mid Caps do require a bit more maintenance than both Hi Cap and standard magazines.
Some ops require mid caps.
Drum magazines, or as I like to call them “overkill magazines” are the big brothers of Hi Cap magazines. These monsters hold up to 5000 pellets. That’s 4 pounds only in plastic BBs. Drum magazines are obviously going to be very bulky and heavy and will seriously impact your mobility.
Due to their huge size, they won’t fit most any magazine pouch which might not be a problem for you since swapping magazines will be a thing of the past.
Drum mags share the same basic internal system as Hi Cap magazines, which means rattling and winding. Lower priced magazines will require manual winding whereas higher end drum mags will feature a batter that does that job for you. Unfortunately this means charging as well as constantly holding down a wired button during combat, that triggers the winding process.
Though useful for upgraded AEG’s with huge rates of fire, drum magazines are reserved for more advanced airsoft players.
Spring Gun Magazines
Spring pistol magazines are virtually the same as standard magazines in their internal mechanism. They use a spring that pushes the BBs into the pistol. The springs are notorious for deteriorating quickly. Because of their very low price, this isn’t that big a deal, but it gets annoying quickly.
Spring pistol magazines are mil-sim and hold 12-15 BBs.
Spring sniper magazines are something else entirely, differing both in size and shape. Those usually hold several dozen BBs and are horizontal rather than vertical. Other than that, their internal mechanism is the same as both spring pistol mags and mid/real-cap AEG mags.
Gas Gun Magazines
Ah, the bane of my existence. Gas gun magazines look identical to both Hi-Cap AEG magazines, except that there is a gas valve in the place of the BB winding gear. As for pellet capacity, they hold similar amounts to real cap magazines for rifles and the same amount as spring pistol magazines for pistols.
The real issue with gas magazines is their incessant trend to leak gas. The gas valve is insulated with a rubber O ring which shrinks if it dries up. Your gasket will deteriorate and give out. It will leak if you drop it too many times. It will leak if you are not careful when filling the magazine with gas.
Gas magazines need a lot of maintenance and care. Now, magazine repair is usually very simple. Replacing an O ring, for example, takes a minute and costs less than a dollar. While it’s a relatively minor annoyance at home, it becomes extremely frustrating when it happens on the field. I can’t exactly bring a bag full of airsoft tools and airsoft repair kits on every trip to a battle.
Besides, the last thing I want to waste my airsoft budget on are rubber rings for my magazines, no matter how cheap.
Walkie talkie/two way radio
If you’re a video game junky like me, you know full well just how crucial communication is in team based games. Airsoft is no different in that respect. Effective communication of positioning and strategy calls are often the deciding factor in who comes out victorious.
There are both simple and cheap two way radios as well as much more expensive and advanced headset communication systems for the MILSIM players out there. With an array of headset mics, throat mics, handheld and chest mounted radio systems – you’re bound to find something that will fit your needs!
As I explained in the battery section above, it’s very important to charge your battery with the correct chargers. If you want to avoid explosions, always stick to chargers specified for your batteries.
Having said that, as you get more and more into airsoft and build an armory of different weapons, addons and accessories – your chargers will pile up quickly. Multi functional chargers are a perfect way to mitigate that problem by buying one single unit which supports.
Multi-chargers are often able to charge Li-Ion, Li-Po, LiFe battery packs, NiMh / NiCd battery packs and Pb battery packs. Some higher end products will easily discharge Ni-Mh batteries or balance LiPo batteries.You will also be able to control your amperage, adjusting the speed of recharge.
While high-end multi-chargers have advanced safety features and will cut off the charging process if irregularities are detected, charging the wrong batteries can be disastrous not only to the equipment but also to yourself and others around you. Malfunction in the safeties will cause wrongly charging batteries to explode. Only buy multi-chargers if you know exactly how your batteries work, how they should be handled and charged. Please stay safe, friends!
When beginners learn about targets, they are often surprised just how many variations there are. From paper and cardboard targets for general fun, target practice and accuracy tests all the way to metal targets for shooting competitions and BB durability tests.
Next to the standard ring and bullseye targets you can also purchase targets with BB catching nets. For those of you who are serious airsoft players or want to compete with your friends, you can buy targets connected to a timer that can measure your shooting speed (also useful for reloading or drawing speed tests).
Heck, you can even buy man-sized, hand-painted, biodegradable zombie targets that will bleed when shot.
One of the most overlooked battle aids. CO2 powered grenades contribute both to the realism of a game yet provide many applications in indoor games and CQBs. Clear a room by tossing in a BB grenade, spraying 800 BBs in all directions. Pressure your enemies into a dead-end with a smoke grenade while your teammates flank their rear. Distract and disorientate them with a 130db lound sound grenade for quick executions.
Grenades are an exceptionally useful piece of equipment and I wish more people would employ them in their airsoft kits. I can’t count how many times I have wished I had picked up some.
Continuing with the “detonation” trend…
Landmines are gas powered and will trigger when stepped upon. Generally you can just fill them with baby powder or something similar to mark your enemies and register a “hit”. This, as well as the very loud CO2 “detonation” sound will make sure you know exactly when someone has triggered it. Airsoft landmines never utilize BBs, as the upwards flight path can seriously hurt people.
Booby Traps are an awesome product. They fire out 200-300 BBs in a 20-30 feet, 30 degree bubble. Coolest part – they are remotely controlled. Alternatively you can set them to trigger once someone steps in front of them.
Chronographs are a fancy name for a stopwatch. Airsoft players use them to measure your gun’s FPS output and to estimate both range and ROF.
Here is how chronographs work. You shoot your gun through a tube which records the time between the entry and exit points. Manufacutrers program them to translate this time into an FPS value.
Chronos are small and portable devices. You can bring them everywhere and experiment with friends’ guns, different BBs and so on.
You’re likely to only see chronos in the hands of advanced players and devoted hobbyists. Their price isn’t that bad, but they are most useful when you have build up a bigger armory.
Speedloaders are cheap gadgets that assist in loading your real and mid cap magazines. They have a wide trap door opening where you pour your BBs into. You then place the gadget into your magazine loading nozzle. By operating a plunger, you push several BBs into the magazine at the same time.
Resembling Hi Cap magazines, Speedloaders can hold several hundred pellets. It takes less than a minute to load a standard M4 mid cap magazine using a speedloader. Much quicker than if you hand load it.
Speedloaders resemble magazines both in shape and size. They are usually transparent so you can see how many BBs you have left inside. A must buy for any AEG owner that operates with mid/real cap mags.
Meals Ready to Eat are the standard food ration for military forces around the world. They include a few basic foods, but always a main course, which comes with it’s own heating bag. They also include some type of carbohydrate, a desert, a cookie. Gatorade or energy drink powders are also included.
At this point, you may be asking yourself:
“Liam, what the hell are you talking about?”
Well, this is admittedly a bit out there when it comes to airsoft accessories. Still, MREs are useful for whole or multi-day events. Both for their MILSIM/realism aspect as well as the convenience of having a filling and good tasting meal prepared in minutes.
Concerned helicopter mothers, close your eyes.
Everyone else, hear me out.
Caffeine, the main ingredient in everyday coffee, tea and energy drinks, is the world’s most popular drug. Virtually everybody drinks coffee nowadays. It’s a brilliant thing. It boosts mental alertness. It provides you with hours of energy. When taken in moderate quantities, it has no negative effects on your health.
Caffeine pills hold 2-4 times the amount of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee. You can break them up and take in a cup’s worth of caffeine in 2 seconds. Anywhere, anytime.
Boys, I always try to be honest and real with you. I’m going to assume you’re a responsible person. In such case, nothing bad could possibly happen. However, if you are not a coffee drinker, you may want to stay away. If this sounds sketchy for you – move on.
It’s just regular old coffee caffeine in a pill. Nothing more and nothing less. It has the same exact effects, with a more convenient application. It also costs cents on the dollar. Let me rephrase. For the $3 coffee, you can buy 50 pills that will may last you from several months to several years.
For a coffee drinker like me, these are priceless and give me a noticeable advantage in tense and physical situations in airsoft. I have used them throughout my college days and probably wouldn’t have made it through 8 finals weeks without them. An awesome product that I highly recommend for long airsoft days and busy lifestyles.
Sometimes players add another elements like binoculars to make the event more realistic. If you want to give it a try you can check these best budget binoculars for hunting. However, in my opinion they don’t offer any practical advantage.
The Tactical Clothing & Gear
In this last section of my airsoft guide, we’re going to look at different kinds of tactical clothing & gear and their purpose.
Whether you’re a CQB speedsofter, a MILSIMer or a weekend skirmisher, tactical gear is a necessity.
Tactical gear serves a myriad of purposes. Good gear has to protect you from both BBs as well as harsh weather conditions. It has to provide you with flexibility. It has to aid you in carrying all your accessories, ammunition and secondary arms.
You don’t have to be a MILSIM elitist to appreciate the awesome authentic look of a well put together tactical kit. We all wanted to look like a NAVY SEAL when we were kids, now is your chance.
My favorite part about tactical gear is that some of it is 100% genuine – designed for real life situations. These are not poorly manufactured airsoft replicas. They are real gear for real heroes.
Before we get into the gear, let’s get acquainted with a very important concept in tactical gear.
MOLLE is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. To keep things simple, MOLLE is a system of modular pouch and vest accessory attachments.
Thin straps of webbing stitched into a fabric at one inch intervals facilitate those attachments. There are many MOLLE attachments you can make use of. You can be creative and secure any small item via MOLLE straps.
I don’t care who you are. How expensive your loadout is. How experienced you are; I’m not playing with you if you don’t utilize eye protection.
Adequate eyesight protection is my #1 priority when introducing airsoft to beginners. Imagine all the beauty in the world disappear because you decided you’re “just going to fool around with friends”.
“Dude, we’re just shooting some can. I’ll be fine”
You must wear eye protection anytime you or anybody else is shooting an airsoft gun in your vicinity.
Accidents happen, unforeseen circumstances arise. You must protect yourself.
ANSI/ISEA Z87+ compliant airsoft goggles fulfill this exact purpose. To protect one of your most important senses.
Z87.1+ compliant goggles adhere to strict regulations set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and are developed by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). They are designed to withstand high impacts.
If you’re prone to sweating a lot, take a look at anti-fog goggles. Extremely useful, but they come with a heafty price tag.
NEVER USE WIRE MESH GOGGLES.
Wire mesh goggles (not to be confused with steel mesh) are woven together wires which are easily displaced if hit multiple times. Accidental (or, God forbid, intentional) shots at point blank/short ranges can and will penetrate the weak wire mesh.
More than that, low quality and brittle biodegradable BBs can easily shatter into a hundred pieces and penetrate the mesh. What a disaster.
Avoid wire mesh goggles at all costs.
PS: Steel mesh goggles are fine and definitely an option if you sweat a lot and can’t afford anti fog glasses. Steel mesh is made out of one entire piece of metal with small holes punctered in, very durable and lasting. Just make sure it’s steel, not wire.
Both full face and half-face mesh masks are designed to provide you with a more comprehensive face protection.
Half face masks are adjustable and usually constructed from a lightweight steel or wire mesh. They cover your whole nose, cheeks and chin. You should of course combine these with ANSI-approved goggles to complete your mask setup.
If I’ve scared you with my wire mesh PSA above; don’t be. While inappropriate for eye protection, wire mesh is often a preferred option for lower face masks as such offer a more breathable option.
When going with half-facers, make sure the one you buy covers your jawline fully and has ample room to accommodate your goggles.
Full face masks are one step up. They will also protect both sides of your head, your back and your ears. A lot of well crafted full face masks enjoy a lot of use in paintball as well.
It can get really hot inside of high-qualiy full face masks in hotter climates. Some may also cause issues with your hearing or speaking comprehension.
Chest rigs, Tactical Vests & Plate Carriers
Vests are perhaps the most important piece of tactical equipment you would need. Their primary purpose is to provide you with magazine pouches and auxiliary storage for accessories. Vests can also protect you from the stingy BBs and harsh weather conditions. All three vest variations fulfill the same purposes, to different extents.
There are many many different configuration when it comes to vests. It’s up to you and your loadout, to decide which best fits you.
Chest rigs are the simplest and least expensive of the bunch. They are lightweight and do not inhibit your maneuverability on the battlefield. Most suitable for games where speed is of the essence. They are often preferred in hotter climates because of their breathability.
Due to the lack of coverage & material, they are also the least protective. This applies to you, but also to your magazines and gear. Often, chest rigs secure your magazines with elastic bands. While increasing accessibility, they also allow for dirt and debris to enter your chest rig and magazines.
Often part of a beginner loadout, chest rigs can usually carry 3-6 rifle magazines. They also have one/two supplemental pouches for BBs, grenades or other secondary equipment. Large, thin pockets are often included for paper items such as maps, game Intel and your IDs.
The big brothers of chest rigs. Due to their bigger size, they are more flexible with the amount of pouches they come with. Tactical vests are a more comprehensive vest that provide more protection.
Tactical vests hold the same amount of AEG magazines as chest rigs. They usually come with more supplementary pouches for a radio, compass, batteries and other utilities. Specialty pouches for pistol magazines, chest holsters and tactical belts are common as well.
Made from a thicker material, these type of vest provide excellent protection. They usually sport shoulder pads as well. With adjustable straps and lots of material to go around, you will always feel well protected.
Due to their dimension and fabric, tactical vests are much heavier. Not the best choice for hot summer games.
PCs are tactical vests on steroids. They feature rectangular front and back pouches where you can insert replica ballistic plates. These 1/2 pound plates are great protectors and make painful BB shots a thing of the past.
Plate carriers are the thickest and biggest vests in airsoft. They are made from super durable and heavy fabrics. With a lot more real estate than other vests, they also offer the most configuration options
Most, if not all, plate carriers come barebone and are ridden with MOLLE straps. You have complete authority over how your PC will look and function.
Due to their size and weight, especially with plates, plate carriers can get quite exhaustive and restricting. While I’m more of a tactical vest guy, I would never run a PC during the summer. I would also stay away from them if you’re slightly out of shape. Good cardiovascular health is important when you’re schlepping 10-15 pounds of gear.
Call me crazy, but thigh rigs are the most badass things in airsoft. There is nothing more sick-looking than drawing your secondary from a drop leg holster or falling to one knee and reloading your AEG in the heat of combat.
Thigh rigs are, get this, the same as chest rigs – but on your thigh.
Shocking, I know.
They are designed to provide you with the same convenience that chest rigs do. More storage, more pouches, a place for your secondary.
Thigh rigs, much like vests, come in one of two variations. Either with stitched in utility pouches/holsters, or with MOLLE strips for you to customize.
Most belts accomplish two goals. One, they hold your pants up.
Second, they act as the small brother of MOLLE vests. Belts often have some MOLLE webbing on either side of your hip. Just enough room to place several magazines.
If you own a vest, you’re unlikely to need a tactical belt for more pouches. There is a factor of diminishing return with on-body storage like this.
30 pounds of gear won’t make you play better, just slow.
If, however, you plan on buying a tactical belt because you want to avoid bulky vests and plan to only carry the necessities – more power to you.
A lot of “speedsofters” prefer to go with thigh and belt rigs to make them faster and more agile.
The benefits of having a secondary are clear. But where to put it?
Holsters come in several different styles and variations. They are designed to hold your sidearm in quick reach.
Holsters are either made from hard plastic or soft nylon. The former is usually both more expensive and more complex; it only fits a certain type of pistol. The latter is the airsoft holster preferred by most players.
Soft holsters can hold any conventional airsoft pistols.
The holsters are placed in one of four main places.
You would place a drop leg holster on the outside of your dominant sides’ thigh. A chest rig is placed in on your mid-chest, nuzzle pointing towards your non-dominant side. Belt holsters on your dominant’s side hip and shoulder holsters on your non-dominant shoulder, with the pistol pointing backwards.
Tactical gloves are a simple and useful piece of gear. The cool thing about them is that you will find using them on the fields as much as off them. Mountain biking, yard work, breaking into banks…
Ya know, just regular life stuff.
Jokes aside, Tactical gloves will serve you very well. Especially in outdoor skirmishes where you will sometimes have to get down and dirty. Gloves do an awesome job protect and keep your hands clean.
Splinters up your nails aren’t fun.
Airsoft gloves will also protect you from high-speed BBs that sting like hell on the thin layer of skin around your hand. Performance gloves will also aid with your grip.
You can also go with fingerless glove. While less protective, they do not inhibit your trigger control like thicker full gloves might.
Tactical apparel, also called Battle Dress Uniform are what you wear beneath all your gear. It’s your regular clothing so to speak.
BDUs usually consist of tactical pants, combat shirts and soft shell jackets. Airsoft BDUs fulfill a range of different purposes. They are definitely not reserved for cosmetic purposes and MILSIM players.
For one, there is the obvious benefit of the camouflage pattern. In thick foliage, cammo gear is an excellent aid in remaining hidden and gaining the element of surprise.
Second, manufacturers have designed combat apparel to be as breathable, flexible and lightweight as possible. Your everyday shirt and pants do not compare.
Third, have little resemblance to a regular old pair of jeans. Not only are they strong and light, the multitude of pockets are a convenient place to store empty magazines or backup batteries. High-quality combat pants often come with built-in knee pads.
BDUs, while not a necessity, are an excellent way to turn yourself into a more well rounded and awesome looking airsoft player.
I hope by now, the advantages of ample storage room has become obvious to you.
If you’re planning on being a casual player with a conservative loadout, you’re unlikely to need a special airsoft backpack.
But if you are starting to wonder whether you’ll need two car trips to bring all your airsoft gear, a backpack will prove a wise investment.
Both on and off the field, backpacks are a convenient way to store your airsoft belongings. Where they shine is the ability to also carry them with you.
Backpacks enable you to go further and take part in more taxing battles. They are multi-functional as well. Backpacks come with many large and small compartments, MOLLE webbings and sometimes even room for hydration bladders.
Airsoft helmet replicas are meant to give both the appearance and feel of their real deal counterparts.
Helmets are another one of those items that beginners often regard as “MILSIM only”. Yes, they do look awesome. With a lot of Velcro for patches and identifiers. They actually do a lot of other neat things.
Other than the obvious function – to protect your head, helmets also feature side rails for different attachments. Mainly lasers and flashlights or action cameras.
Most helmets also come with front mounts where you can attach night vision for some high-end MILSIM play.
Which brands are best?
Whilst there’s hundreds of reliable manufacturer’s and airsoft brands around, we put together a dedicated guide on the best airsofts brand, check it out here.
Why I wrote this guide
After weeks of planning and over two months of writing (UPDATE: NOW SIX MONTHS 🙂 !), this airsoft guide is finally complete.
Engulfed in an overwhelming feel of fulfillment and pride I’d like to take this moment and reflect. I’d like to explain why I wrote this and who I wrote it for. I’d like to explain more on why I spent so many of my free afternoons and late evenings on writing this resource.
You see, I got introduced to airsoft at a turbulent moment of my life. I had just finished high school and was about to ship out to college. I’ve always been a total recluse and introvert. I still remain a very private person to this day.
My first college months were filled with anxiety and fear of where I was going to end up in life. It was a difficult time for me.
And then, Viktor, the only friend I had made, introduced me to airsoft.
I had no idea this game would change my life so profoundly. I found friends, just as passionate as me. It felt incredible. I was apart of this awesome community of kind-hearted people who would shower me with help and take me in as one of their own.
It changed who I am and how I approach life in general. I’m still an introvert and a private guy, but the newfound confidence and friendships will last me a lifetime.
This guide is my way to give back and hopefully introduce people like myself to the the game and more importantly – the community of airsoft.
Take a look at the rest of my site. I have written many product reviews for beginner airsoft players. I try to cover as many products as possible and actively expand my review library.
To pay for hosting this website (and, let’s be honest, the occasional video game), I receive a commission if you buy a reviewed product through my links.
Please know that I receive NO money from manufacturers to recommend their specific product. I do NOT receive free products from manufacurers. I receive a small amount of cash on any product I review – I’m not bound by any brand.
If you want a gun reviewed, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. I have a big circle of airsoft friends and can get my hands on most of the popular airsoft guns.
No promises for rare or exotic guns, my apologies.
I think this covers it all. It’s been a blast writing this guide and I’m happy it’s finally complete.
Well, for now.
As time goes on I will come back to update it and expand it. Check back once in a while.
Lastly, please share this guide with others. It would mean a lot to me. If you have enjoyed it and learned something – don’t be a stranger. Leave a comment below so I know it wasn’t a complete waste of time 🙂
Shoot straight, call your hits and stay awesome guys!
I’ll talk to you soon.