Just Getting into Airsoft?
Getting involved in Airsoft, especially when first trying to navigate the thousands of options of guns and gear, is no easy feat. Which type of gun do I get? Do I go with spring, electric or gas? What mods do I need? What BBs do I use? What are some of the top airsoft companies to follow?
As enthusiastic airsoft players ourselves, we’re here to give you the information to make these decisions easier. We’ll give you the pros and cons of each type of gun, and some of our top and favorite airsoft guns and gear we recommend. We’ll also go over the different types of airsoft matches and settings so you can make an informed decision on which airsoft gear if best for you.
About Airsoft Gun Guy
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Airsoft guns work on 3 (well, technically 4) different power sources: spring guns (mechanical), electric airsoft guns (AEGs), and gas guns (CO2 or propane, also called “green gas”). Each one has their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll find that some types of airsoft guns (ex: pistols) work better on some power sources than others in different settings.
Spring airsoft guns use springs to fire BBs with good old-fashioned mechanical force. They’re the airsoft equivalent to bolt-action rifles or pump shotguns. The player must cock or pump their gun before firing each round, which pulls back the spring and loads the BB. With the exception of sniper rifles, spring-powered guns are usually the budget-friendly or entry-level airsoft guns to purchase.
The pros about spring guns: as we’ve mentioned, they’re the least-expensive option. But just as we said that each type of gun has their strengths, so does the spring airsoft gun. Spring guns don’t need to be charged. They don’t have any batteries that will crap out at the worst possible moment. They don’t need to be wired, and they don’t need you to change out gas cartridges or tanks in the middle of a match. They can be used in any weather conditions. They also don’t have any recoil or inconsistency because of gas, which makes them the “old reliable” for close-quarters combat (CQB). They also have less reload time, and they waste less ammunition, as the gun isn’t semi-automatic or automatic: spring guns force you to actually pick your shots and aim. There is something super satisfying about hitting an opponent who is firing 100 rounds per second with one well-placed shot to the dome. Speaking of aiming: a spring-powered sniper rifle can be extremely powerful, consistent and accurate, firing at up to 700 feet per second. Due to these strengths, spring guns make them very reliable for three types of weapons: sniper rifles, backup guns and sidearms.
Now the cons of a spring airsoft gun. Obviously, when shooting against players with fully automatic rifles, being able to pump a few shots is not always ideal. You won’t ever want to be the guy laying down cover fire or being the first one into the firefight. Spring-powered guns can also be noisy, revealing your position, and attracting enemy flankers to the slow-shooting spring gun carrier. Spring guns can also reveal your position if you’re sniping as well.
You’ll also find that the guns themselves (with the exception of sniper rifles), being budget-friendly, often come with a plastic body and internal pieces and pins, meaning that they won’t last as long and feel less realistic. The lack of recoil, which can be strength, also doesn’t feel as real as firing a gas-powered M4.
AEGs are the most common airsoft gun on the market. Electric guns are often seen as the compromise between realism and performance, as well as low-budget and higher-budget gas guns.
AEGs have a lot of strengths. They have more shots per battery than a CO2 gun does per cartridge, meaning that, with the exception of green gas guns (we’ll get into that later), they fire the most shots per power source. They are very powerful and are the most powerful and accurate semi-auto or automatic guns available. The guns themselves are highly modifiable and customizable. There are infinite combinations of rifles, mounts, scopes, and customizations to an AEG airsoft rifle. When your entire loadout is electric, it makes it easier to just charge and forget all your firepower.
But like everything in airsoft, AEGs have their weaknesses too. Electric guns have a delayed trigger response, as the motor must pull back the spring to fire the shot, making you a fraction of a second slower than a spring- or gas-gun player. The delayed response, and tandem with the lack of recoil, also feels less realistic than a gas gun.
AEGs tend to lose power toward the end of the battery, meaning less consistency, accuracy, and distance on your shots around the last third of the battery. Many players switch to semi-auto once their batteries are low. Once a battery is dead, that gun is done for the match. Unless you have replacement batteries, that gun is also done for the day.
Lastly, you have your gas airsoft gun. Gas guns come in three types: CO2 (sometimes referred to as “red gas”, propane or “green gas” (propane mixed with silicone lubricant), and HPA (high pressure air). HPA guns are effective but more rare and controversial, so we won’t be covering them just yet.
Propane or “green gas” guns are the most commonly used gas type. They come in the green 16 ounce mini-propane tanks that you use when camping.
CO2 gas usually comes in a 12-gram cartridge (think of the paintball guns or BB guns you used as a kid). They are the lower tier of gas airsoft guns. CO2 is more powerful, but less consistent.
Gas guns are the most realistic-feeling (and looking) airsoft guns available. They use gas blowback, which gives your gun recoil, and their instant trigger response feels like you are holding a real gun in your hands. They tend to have a larger magazine capacity, and also make great sidearms or backup guns. Gas guns have less shots per gas cylinder than an AEG does per battery, but gas cylinders can be switched out in the middle of a match or sim.
Gas guns have their cons. If you play outdoor in an area where the winters or cold, or are going to a match/mil-sim/tournament in cold weather, gas guns will fail; the gas loses its pressure in the cold, and be weak, unpredictable and inaccurate with your shots. Gas rifles also hold much fewer magazines, and so are limited in the number of shots that can be fired, as airsoft guns go through gas quicker than they go through batteries. CO2 cartridges often last only for the duration of the clip.
As the gas pressurizes the inside of the gun, gas guns also tend to wear down the fastest, yet are the most expensive rifles on the market. Gas guns have a “cooldown” when firing too rapidly. Shots can be inconsistent (remember paintball guns, especially running on CO2?) and less accurate. In addition, the recoil is the highest of the guns on the market, as the gas blowback will make your gun kick. While a lot of players like the recoil because of the added realism, an automatic gas gun will recoil just like in real life.
Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: The Airsoft Gun Guy’s favorite airsoft guns of 2018.
For this list, we’ve picked our favorite pistols of every type (spring, electric and gas), and our top 5 favorite rifles we’ve had the luxury of getting our hands on this year.