Everyone remembers their first airsoft gun. Much like your first car, being able to purchase and maintain that very first AEG (automatic electric gun) is a unique experience – that can be bad or good.
According to Timothy Hackett of www.airsoftcore.com, hundreds of players a year end up making poor first time purchases when shopping for their first airsoft equipment. Often, they’re influenced by the appearance and style of the airsoft gun. Oh, that particular gun looks exactly like the M4 from PUBG, or that AK looks just like the one from Call of Duty.
Having a lemon of purchase feels bad, and we want to help ensure that new buyers are well informed for their first purchase. Check out the tips below to ensure that your first airsoft gun will last you a while.
Review the Airsoft Brands
Much like anything else, there are a dizzying number of airsoft brands available. Some are reputable and known for making great products while others are known to cut corners and produce a much weaker product (typically at a more affordable price). You’ll need to get familiar with the brands to ensure you know what you’re getting into.
A basic breakdown of reputable, but affordable brands are below:
- Lancer Tactical
- Jing Gong
- A&K Airsoft
A basic breakdown of reputable intermediate level brands are:
- Classic Army
A basic breakdown of top level brands are:
- Tokyo Marui
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of the available brands, it should get you started. One other thing you should know is that there exists brands who don’t actually manufacture any of their own airsoft guns. You should always take the quality of these brands with a slight grain of salt due to this:
These “wild card” airsoft brands are:
- Elite Force
- UK Arms
- Echo 1
- Magpul PTS
When dealing with these particular brands be sure to do extra research to determine just who OEM (original equipment manufacturer) their product.
Get a good handle on your budget
You should know going in that airsoft will take some money. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but know that nearly all airsoft gun products below $100 are rarely worth it and are highly likely to break down at a faster rate than those above $100. In fact, we can break down your expect costs as it relates to quality here:
- Below $100 – Expect poor quality
- $100 – $200 – Expect beginner level quality
- $200 – $300 – Expect intermediate level quality
- $300+ – Expect high level quality
Keep in mind that some stores might overcharge on their products, and could be selling a beginner quality product at intermediate level prices. Additional research here should be done to ensure that your costs are reasonable.
Do not skimp on internals
The internals of your airsoft gun affect the overall performance on the field. You want to pay attention to 4 main factors:
- Muzzle Velocity – usually measured in FPS (feet per second)
- Rate of Fire – usually measured in RPS (rounds per second)
- Air Consistency – how big is the variance in muzzle velocity between shots
- Reliability – how long can you fire the airsoft gun before an internal part breaks down and it needs repairing.
All of these things are affected by the quality of the build and the quality of the parts used in the gun. Typically, as you can expect, higher quality brands will have top level construction with high end parts.
You don’t need full metal externals, but they’re nice
Many airsoft brands will market the full metal externals of their airsoft guns. While having metal externals is nice (it ensures maximum durability as well as just looks great) you’ll want to ensure that the full metal body isn’t at expense of poor quality internals.
When in doubt, talk to an airsoft expert about the product before making a purchase. Most of the reliable speciality shops (like Evike) have customer service representatives who are interested in ensuring you buy a good product, and are trustworthy.
Rails? Or no rails?
We almost always recommend picking up a RIS or rail system. A rail system allows you to attach tactical accessories like flashlights, lasers, and optics. The vast majority of airsoft players end up with a RIS system because it gives them options.
Most airsoft guns should be able to have a rail system pre-installed. Take it from us, you dont’ want to try to install a rail system yourself, as it is easy to install incorrectly.
Buy high quality BB’s
New players who buy low quality BB’s will quickly find that their shots are inaccurate and inconsistent. The reason is that low quality BB’s are not perfectly spherical and have inconsistencies in their build (sometimes they have bubbles or the density of the plastic is off by small amounts).
This heavily affects the magnus effect backspin placed on the BB as it exits the inner barrel, which is key to a consistent flight pattern.
Typically you do not want to buy BB’s under 0.20g (this is an indication of weight). Some reputable BB manufacturers are:
- Elite Force
- AMP Tac
- KSC / KWA
Have a budget set aside for your AEG Battery
Your airsoft battery is a key component in the rate of fire and trigger response of your AEG. Your battery powers the motor, which then turns the gears and makes the airsoft gun launch a BB. Typically, you’ll want to ensure you buy a 9.6v battery to maximize the RPS of your AEG. We find that 8.4v batteries are woefully underwhelming in performance.
Your airsoft battery might be something you’ll physically go to a store for. The reason being is that the battery needs to fit your compartment, and batteries come in all sorts of configurations and sizes. For example, a nunchuck style 9.6v NiMH battery works very well in the crane stock of a rear-wired M4 style AEG, but that same battery wouldn’t work in the receiver of an AK47 style airsoft gun.
Take good care of your AEG battery
Your battery might come with a standard wall charger, which is adequate for basic charging of the battery. However, you’ll want to spend just a little bit more to get a smart charger. Smart chargers are able to detect that the battery is full, and halt charging. Standard wall chargers are not capable of doing this and your battery is liable to be overcharged. Overcharged batteries are effectively dead.
Most retail stores will not provide any kind of warranty on overcharged batteries, so investing in a smart charger is… smart.
Following the above pieces of advice will help ensure that you do not buy an AEG that you’ll later regret. Considering that a decent starter AEG begins at around $125 dollars, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting the most for your money.
So, grab yourself an airsoft gun and head out to the field, we’ll see you there.