This guide is for new players who wish to get as much information about airsoft as possible in a small pack.
Airsoft is a sport in which participants eliminate opponents by hitting each other with spherical non-metallic pellets launched via replica firearms called Airsoft guns or compete in range shooting.
Gameplay varies in style and composition, but often range from short-term skirmishes, organized scenarios, military simulations (MilSim), woodland field, CQB (Close Quarter Battle), or historical re-enactments and indoor airsoft fields. Combat situations on the battlefield may involve the use of military tactics to achieve objectives set in each game. Participants may attempt to emulate the tactical equipment and accessories used by modern military, police organizations, mercenaries and other operators.
Airsoft originated in Japan and describes pistols and rifles that look, feel, and operate exactly like real firearms. Their shape, form and trademarks are true to form and almost all airsoft models are actual or close replicas of real world firearms. Civilian gun ownership in Japan is illegal and airsoft naturally found a large market of gun enthusiasts that wanted to own and collect their favourite weapons but did not want to break the law for their hobby. As such, authenticity and realism is a top priority for airsoft guns and most manufacturers have licensed agreements with the real gun manufacturers to copy the real gun styles and use their trademarks. In fact, in many cases you can install real gun accessories onto airsoft guns due to their similar dimensions and design. At close range it is extremely difficult to discern an airsoft gun from a real gun. That is why some countries, such as the United States, requires all imported airsoft guns to possess orange painted barrel tips. In fact, airsoft guns are so authentic that many police and military training programs across the world use airsoft products for training purposes.
How dangerous are Airsoft replicas?
Airsoft products are not designed to deliver serious harm and are powered by various methods to propel a 6mm plastic BB (some 8mm) at distances sometimes exceeding 80m at between 300fps to 500fps (UK). Most airsoft guns are designed to shoot plastic BBs weighing 0.20g – 0.25g. and modified weapons are capable of shooting over 0.30g BBs.
Airsoft guns can be modified to deliver serious power, though not life-threatening. Highly modified and powered-up airsoft guns can break skin and cause bleeding, but will never penetrate flesh or lodge itself under the skin. That is why airsoft is perfect for recreational skirmishing since they are non-deadly, unlike air guns.
How to choose equipment and basic info
Often new people ask us what to choose first. It all comes to your start-up budget, but the most important, except the weapon alone, is a face protection (under age of 18 you have to wear full face protection) and firm boots that fix your ankle. The rest is really up to you; what is your preferred style of game, where will you play most of the time (woodland, CQB, competitive shooting, etc.) Sometimes it is even good to consider the light conditions during the game.
To purchase a realistic imitation firearm in the UK you need to prove that you are 18+ of age and that your are an active member of an airsoft revenue. The easiest way is to be registered in UKARA database which you can get after 3 games and in not less than 2 month period (ask your local field about UKARA registration).
There are few things to consider: Are you going to obtain your gun before or after ”you get” UKARA? If before, your weapon needs to be two-toned in bright colours on 51% of the body which will decrease its value and make it easier to spot you. If you get your weapon after registering with UKARA, you will need to borrow a weapon for at least 3 games before you will be able to get your own which can cost extra money. Conclusion – sometimes it is better to buy a two-tone gun and re-sell it after 3 games, or even later when you find out what you really want and prefer.
There are 3 basic types of airsoft weapons by propellent:
The gun must be cocked before every shot. When you pull back the cocking bolt or slide, the air is pulled into a plunger. When you pull the trigger, the air is released. With the exception of sniper rifles and some multi-shot shotguns, spring guns are usually classified as beginner weapons. Usually referred to simply as “springers”.
These work very similar to spring ones. The only exception is that, instead of having manually pull back the spring, it uses an electric motor to pull back the spring at hundreds of times per minute. When you see an assault rifle, SAW or PDW out on the field, it’s probably electric. These are the most common and range from £150 for basic to £1,000 and more for training weapons. An Electric gun is usually referred to as an Automatic Electric Gun (AEG). Compared to Gas weapons, the maintenance of Electric guns is very easy therefore, they are recommended for beginners.
The most common use is for a pistol but also for shotguns, assault rifles and some sniper rifles. They are divided into two types: Non-Blow Back (NBB), where the slide is fixed and there is no recoil, and Gas Blow Back (GBB). In GBB pistols and some rifles, a part of the gas is used to push back the slide/bolt in order to create a realistic recoil.
Note: other weapons, such as grenade launchers and land mines also use gas as a propellant.
The power of all firearms is measured in FPS (Feet Per Second). All FPS is tested by a chronograph with 0.2g BBs.
Most of the airsoft sites have got 350 fps limit for pistols and rifles (full-auto and close engagement allowed). 400 fps for DMR (Dedicated Marksman Rifle, semi-auto only and 20m min. engagement) and 500 fps for sniper rifles (single shot – some sites allows only 400 fps, 20m min. engagement).
Note: 20m minimal engagement means you can use a weapon only if a distance of your target from your position is more than 20m, otherwise you have to use your secondary weapon (pistol, PDW, etc.)
CAMOraids personal advice
If you are planning on playing in woodland only, stick to DMR or sniper rifle, with pistol or PDW (Personal Defence Weapon) as a sidearm. For CQB, go with an assault rifle (AR) or PDW (it is shorter but has less range or accuracy by default as AR), if you need to be more agile.
As for clothing for woodland, any cheap 2nd hand camo is fine until you decide what do you really want. For CQB, it doesn’t really matter, as most of the time you are in movement and in a close range not to be spotted, so even black equipment is fine.
Play Hard, Play Fair… Take your Hits.