Today we're going to make an attempt at answering (or sidestepping) the eternally asked, and impossible to answer question; "What is the best Airsoft Gun?". There is, unfortunately, no real answer to this besides personal preference and purely comes down to the Airsoft replica that ticks the most amount of boxes for the price you're willing to pay. For some, it's all about cost. Cheap is good in some people's eyes, and there's nothing wrong with having just the right amount of kit to scrape by. Other Airsofters look for 'quality of life' features like Quick Change Springs, MOSFETs, Electronic Triggers and High Speed (Rate of Fire) in their purchases, whereas some want their RIF to be built as solidly as possible. Of course in an ideal world, you'd like to have the best of all that, but the world is far from perfect and we will sometimes have to make compromises.
The first question you need to ask yourself is 'what am I going to be doing with your Airsoft replica', as you're going to find that some guns are better in different situations. A Gas Blowback Pistol may be a fine choice in your local CQB Arena, but is going to be massively outgunned as soon as you want to take it to an outdoor/woodland Skirmish Site. The most useful style of replica for being effective in the field is an Airsoft Electric Gun (or AEG for short), especially if you're a beginner and this is your first RIF. These styles of gun just need a Battery and BBs to get working, and can happily churn through thousands of BBs in a day without skipping a beat. It would be easy to talk all day about this stuff so in the spirit of getting on with it, here's a breakdown of key features to look out for, and recommendations for each of these categories. Remember that these are my opinions, and may differ vastly from yours. The best way to make your mind up is to come and visit us to get your hands on some Airsoft Guns and get some impartial (commission-free) advice.
The absolute bread and butter of the Airsoft world, this style of replica is the most commonly seen type on the skirmish field, for the simple reason that they're easy to use, readily available and perform the most consistently out of the bunch. Because they're so popular there's a massive variety in price point, cheap/expensive, features they're supplied with, build quality and so on. The best thing to do is to go with a brand that you can trust, and thankfully we've done most of the hard work for you. We only stock brands/lines that we truly believe in such as CYMA, Specna Arms, G&G Armament, NUPROL, Tokyo Marui, ARES, Krytac, Bolt and ASG to name a select few. Let's break down what makes an AEG great:
The main thing on most peoples' mind, especially new players, is going to be how much is this hobby going to cost? There is a temptation to try and spend as little as possible, and I honestly can't fault that, especially if you're just dipping your toe into the Airsoft world. CYMA should be first on your list if you're looking to spend as little as possible, as they have a fantastic range of AEGs starting from £79.99. CYMA have been in the game of cloning popular designs since the dawn of Airsoft and are exceptionally good at it by now. Performance-wise you will hardly see any difference next to an AEG that costs £150+, however the externals are made to a cheaper standard which explains the low cost.
As you start to spend more on your AEG then you will see more features and quality of life improvements start to appear. By quality of life, we mean features that make your life easier as an Airsofter, or a feature that helps you to be as effective as possible in the field. A quick change spring is a great example of a quality of life improvement. Each system is slightly different, but the rough idea is that it allows you to change your Main Spring without having to disassemble the gearbox; sometimes taking less than 45 seconds to complete! This is an amazing feature for those who want to play at lots of fields with different power limits, or those who want to quickly switch between a ~350FPS standard role, or ~400FPS DMR/Sniper role. The Specna Arms series (especially those with the ESA™ quick-change system) are great for making quick spring changes, as you simply need to use a screwdriver in the buffer tube.
Electronic Triggers are starting to become more and more common on new releases, as they are a very pleasant feature to have and make for a quick/snappy trigger response. G&G Armament and ARES are well known for installing Electronic Trigger Units in their Airsoft replicas, and you will start to see them appear in the £164.95+ price point. Their replicas with the ETUs installed allow you to use 11.1v LiPos which makes for crazy high rates of fire, as well as incredibly fast trigger response to make sure that your BB leaves the barrel before your opponents' does, and to allow for rapid follow up shots to make sure that you hit. Their triggers also allow you to reprogram your Automatic function to give you 'Burst Fire' capabilities by simply holding the trigger down on Single Shot for ten seconds.
Build quality is yet again a matter of personal taste, and whether or not you think you need it. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a collector, you may well want an authentic 'Stamped Sheet Steel Receiver' (such as you might find on the E&L or Bolt series). You may also deem yourself as a hazard on the field who is prone to accidental damage, if so, you probably want a replica that is built to be tough and rigid in case you do go head over toe on the battlefield. Yet again Specna Arms will be appearing on this list as their replicas (with the exception of the CORE range) are all built from a mix of Aluminium/Zinc Alloy & Steel, weighing in at the 3kg area. The new range of BOLT replicas are all made to a tough standard with a mix of Aluminium & Steel (they need to be to handle the intense recoil).
So we've discussed some features that make an Airsoft gun 'good', but don't have an answer to what is the 'best'. I'm going to settle on a boring and non-committal answer that is unfortunately: you need to decide! Everyone has different tastes and what makes something great for me, might not be for you. Personally, I'm a man of balance, and like to get the best of all possible outcomes. In an attempt to keep the peace I will (begrudgingly) pick out what I consider to be a perfect balance of all the options.
The Specna Arms SA-H03 is, as far as I'm concerned, my ideal blend of quality and price. The externals are made to a delicious standard with Aluminium/Zinc Alloy and Steel, and high-density Nylon Fiber Polymers where appropriate. It is rock-solid in the shoulder and feels like a real quality piece of kit the minute that you lay hands on it. The quality continues inside the replica as it has a world of parts which would be considered an 'upgrade' in any other RIF. It does have a Quick Change Spring, however is a system that requires the gearbox to be pulled out of the body, so it isn't the fastest. As I don't need to quickly switch between power
For the second installment of our £250 beginners Airsoft challenge we speak to Dave D, long time Airsofter and avid "real-steel" shooter (a term I know he'll absolutely loathe!) You will see his real world shooting experience show in the package he has put together, as his priorities differ vastly from the previous entry, which was focused on getting as much as we could to play with the budget.
Instead of reeling off the top ten guns for beginners in 2019, we've decided to do something a little different. We talked to all our staff members and gave them a £250 limit to put together a loadout they would be comfortable starting Airsoft with if they were suddenly a new player again. Hopefully, this will give new players ideas on what they can get for their money.
Each staff member has picked what they would use for their beginner loadout, including all the things they need to start playing. Of course, with a £250 limit, there is always room for improvement, but these load-outs give a great solid base to start expanding on at a later date.
As we had hoped, each loadout turned out slightly different, as all of us have different ideas of what we want from our kit; knowledge which we will now try to pass on to yourselves.
Over the next month, we'll release a series of blog posts describing each staff members choices, and why they picked them.
The priority for his loadout is future proofing himself and retaining as much value on items as possible.
Dave has chosen the CM.513 because he wanted to leave room in his budget for a higher tier optic – as a “real-steel” shooter he understands the importance of a decent red dot sight and cannot compromise on quality, with good reason! He’s made the choice to go for a cheaper RIF, however when stacked side by side I bet you wouldn’t be able to see a performance difference between this and a replica that costs twice as much. The only sacrifice he is really making here are on ‘extras’ such as an electronic trigger, metal receiver etc. At the end of the day, you pull the trigger and a BB comes out the end of the RIF. Replicas can be upgraded whereas a cheap sight will forever be a cheap sight.
Find out more about the CYMA CM.513 M4 RIS Suppressed >
The Crossfire is an entry level Vortex sight; I’m sure Dave would have liked a more expensive one as he understands the benefits of first focal plane reticules etc, however the budget is key here! For his £145, Dave has now got a real-world optic which has been designed to sit on a proper firearm, will hold zero (the dot won’t move around) miles better than a cheap sight, has a LIFETIME WARRANTY meaning he doesn’t have to run a lens protector if he doesn’t want to, and at any point he can change his mind and sell it on easy as cake without losing much money because the warranty goes with the product, not the receipt, making them hold their value. Parallax is another important reason for this optic choice; on a cheaper sight your dot will float around as your head moves, whereas a higher tier optic will be able to correct for this and could end up being the difference between a hit or a miss – a margin of error that is unacceptable for a seasoned shooter.
Find out more about the Vortex Crossfire Red Dot Sight >
These BBs were an easy choice for Dave as they are his favourite weight along with probably every other member of staff. They’re just a bit heavier than a 0.25g which lets you get a lot of HOP on for increased range, they travel straighter in the air due to the extra weight and they’re reasonably priced to be feasible to run in an automatic Airsoft Gun. Bulk buy options are available on the RZR series, however that would have pushed our budget for today!
Find out more about the Nuprol RZR 0.28g Precision BB x 3300 >
Because power!!!! The CYMA guns come out of the box generally at the 280FPS mark which is absolutely fine for Airsoft skirmishing, however Dave has never been one to leave something alone. If there’s a gain to be had he will get his way! As the CYMA guns typically have very good air seal out of the box, the only necessary upgrade to boost the power to a point where 0.28g are not slow is a bigger spring, and to run the gun right on the limit. (It’s worth noting here that installing this spring yourself would void your warranty. If you want a similar job completing, please contact our workshop.)
Find out more about the ARES Tune-Up M-100 AEG Spring >
So, let's tally together everything in the basket to make sure we're on budget:
So this is what Dave D would purchase as a completely new player to the game, with all the knowledge he has now after many many years of Airsoft skirmishing. His priorities are vastly different to the previous blog, and his investments will retain a great amount of value, mainly due to the lifetime warranty on the Vortex optic, and the fact that the AEG has such a low price point to begin with. Neither loadouts are more "correct, we simply have different ideas of what Airsoft are, and this is the important question you need to ask yourself; what is Airsoft to you?
The next blog will be published shortly and will be a look into another member of staff's choices for their Airsoft beginner loadout.
In the meantime: What would your ideal loadout for under £250 be? Let us know in the comments below and you never know, we might just feature your loadout too!
Price Range: £9.99 - £149.99
In the run up to Christmas we will be breaking down the main types of accessories and attachments into a (hopefully) easy-to-digest buying guide, to help the clueless gift buyer this festive season. Today we’re talking torches and lasers; how much you need to spend, different attachment options and how to get the right one.
Torches and Lasers are a great way to easily add some flair to your Airsoft Gun. They not only look great but will give you distinct advantages when playing, such as making it easier to aim when using a laser, and having a momentary advantage when using a torch as the opponent is dazzled. There is a wide range of choices available with price tags anywhere from £9.49 up to £149.99 – it all depends on what you want from your accessories. As with all Airsoft gear, there will be some that fit your Replica and others that don’t – this blog is here to hopefully help you make an informed decision this year when buying for others.
To be sure that you are buying the correct Torch or Laser, you will need to know the ‘Rail System’ of the Airsoft Gun it is attaching to. You can easily find this out by either asking the person you are buying for, looking on our website for up-to-date specifications or by contacting us to enquire what will fit. When looking at a product on our website, the ‘Specification’ button will show you all the available information we have about a product, including everything from Rail Types to Thread Specification.
The ‘Rail System’ is the type of attachment points available on an Airsoft Gun. It determines what type of accessories can be fitted, and you will find that there are three main types. Most Rail Systems can be converted with a simple adaptor, so do not worry if your favourite Torch is not immediately compatible with your Rail System.
The three main Rail Systems are listed belong along with pictures to get a rough idea of what they look like. Bear in mind that many types of rail usually feature 20mm RIS along the top as it is a very common attachment method.
20mm RIS/RAS – This is the most common rail system around in both the real world and Airsoft, for the simple fact that it is easy to use and well established as the ‘standard’ in the market – meaning accessories are most likely to be made to fit this rail. It is identified by its ‘Ladder’ style slots, which is what accessories will grab on to for a solid hold.
KeyMod – This is quickly becoming one of the most popular rail systems in Airsoft, and is featuring more and more on new releases. The idea of this rail in the real world is that it saves on weight by having the slots cut from the rail, and has less unused space which would otherwise add unnecessary weight. Adaptors can be purchased to turn this rail back into 20mm RIS compatible should you want to use a RIS torch/laser.
M-LOK – Like the KeyMod rail, this one aims to reduce overall weight with a different attachment design that uses slots cut out from the rail rather than big and bulky rail slots. This attachment method is less common than others, but adaptors are available to convert small pieces of the rail back to 20mm RIS.
Typically Torches & Lasers either come as a standalone unit or with an included mount or base to attach it to your Airsoft Gun. When buying from our website it will be clear whether or not a mount is included and what Rail System it is for – it will be featured in the images and mentioned in the Package Includes or Specification section. Simply match the attachment method with the rail (20mm RIS rail will need a 20mm RIS mount) to be sure you’re buying the right thing. If you need any help identifying your gift-ee’s Rail System don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
If your torch does not come included with a mount, then you will need to know the outside diameter of the Torch’s tube and purchase an appropriate mount. Whilst there are plenty of Torch mounts available, we have found that Scope Rings make for an effective Torch mount as they are generally 30mm wide. Undo the screws on the Scope Mount to open it up, place the Torch inside and secure the mount closed again and mount it as you would any other accessory. If you find the torch moves inside the mount you could use tape/tissue paper or quite literally any soft/wrap-able material to close the gap between the Mount and Torch. If you’re looking to get a Torch mounted on your Airsoft Gun for as cheap as humanly possibly then we recommend this type of setup, or simply using tape. If you appreciate function over form then there is no issue in doing this.
If you really like the look of a Torch/Laser, but it isn’t designed for your Rail System then have no fear! There are plenty of Rail Adaptors available which will convert small sections of rail, giving you a wider range of connection options. Generally aimed at KeyMod/M-LOK rails, these adaptors slot into your existing rail slots and accessories can be attached to the new rail piece.
Whilst all this information may seem daunting, we are here to help and it’s never as complicated as you think! If you’re in doubt, we’d love to help you get the right gift this Christmas, so get in touch!
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