Love it or hate it. Airsoft has become a quickly growing sport for youngsters looking for the next level of action outside of games like Call of Duty or Battlefield. While many are quick to hate on the sport and how it tends to breed knock off products, there is however a use for such technology. For many it is essentially the modern equivalent of the BB gun of American youth. You’ll shoot your eye out kid! When I first became exposed to the sport I was 16 or 17 and the War in the Middle East was in full swing. The first rifle I picked up was a Armalite Licensed Classic Army M15A4 CQB. Back then short guns had just become a thing and I went to Airsoft Extreme to pick one up with my Uncle. The quality of guns back then were pretty good in 2006 but ten years later they are light years ahead. I played casually for a few years before enlisting in the Army where I later went on to serve in the 82nd Airborne Division, 78th Signal Battalion, 112th Signal Battalion (SO) A.
Why choose Airsoft to train?
First off Airsoft is not a replacement for other training methods but it has its share of strengths that can add to an overall training experience. Nothing will replace live fire in the near future and that should be a staple in any training regiment. As effective as range time can be, paper and steel typically don’t run around and shoot back at you. Airsoft is also very clean and quite safe when compared to paintball or other projectile based training weapons. While many units still use UTM and SIM rounds to train they are quite expensive and from what I have seen lose range and accuracy very quickly. Airsoft is extremely affordable and has become quite an attractive offering for those wanting to use it for force on force or flat range shooting on the cheap. A bag or bottle of 5000 bbs can cost roughtly $10-$15. The projectile itself will typically fly straight and level for 150-250 feet out which is more than capable of hitting a man size target. The guns themselves range in type and variety but a nice quality training replica with recoil will set you back $279 before you start adding all your cool toys and accessories. You can get cheaper airsoft guns that will probably do the job but the one I recommend is the Electric Recoil Gun. Once you have the correct battery and charger all you need is some eyepro and face protection if you choose not to loose any teeth. If you are just running drills indoors (recommend someplace easy to clean like a garage or backyard) you can shoot at static targets just like you would at any range without fear of live bullets ricocheting and flying back at you. If you can’t make it to a range and don’t feel like spending money on gas/ammo/Range fees then Airsoft is perfect train at home option. With the wide array of Airsoft products that are officially licensed you can essentially create a 1:1 replica of your real rifle or handgun in Airsoft.
What kind of Airsoft Guns are available?
- AEG – Airsoft Electric Gun. The AEG is a battery powered 6mm airsoft gun. The bread and butter of the industry these are the most commonly found replicas on the market. AEGs are affordable but do not offer the level of realism like a GBB. Running of what are essentially RC Car batteries these are easy to pickup and play.
- HPA – High Pressure Air.These have unique systems that are tethered to an airtank to deliver the same ammount of air pressure every time. Very consistent but very expensive even for Airsoft to setup and for Training not very realistic.
- GBB – The most realistic but also expensive. Gas Blow Back guns operate exactly like the real thing with full bolt carriers cycling every time the guns are fired. Not very cheap and the magazine costs add up. A top choice for training but the gas system can fluctuate in performance with temperature (Cold means worse performance). These operate using Green Gas or C02.
- ERG – Electric Recoil Gun. Essentially an AEG with a recoil system and cut off feature built in. These offer recoil like a GBB but without the hassle of filling each magazine with gas or other propellant. They run of batteries like the AEG but will stop firing when the magazine is out of ammo. The user would have to reload and hit the bolt catch to make the rifle function again. This is the best and most reliable option that has the best features of the bunch.
I have included a few links to recommended products and some resources with more extensive beginner knowledge on how to use airsoft guns. All Airsoft guns also have what is known as a Hop Up. It is a dial inside the gun (normally where the star chamber is) that gives back spin to the projectile. More backspin and the BB will arc upwards. Not enough and it will ark down. Just right will keep the BB level when flying to the target.
ELECTRIC RECOIL GUN