The sport of airsoft is extremely competitive, with many enthusiasts spending thousands of pounds on the right equipment and and gear. Some go further than others. I have seen videos on YouTube of attack helicopters fitted with miniguns that fire airsoft bbs, and if you think you are going to be able combat that with a £30 spring rifle I have some news for you : you won’t. No, to go from so-so to soldier you are going to need the best rifle you can get your hands on.
AEG Guns (Automatic Electric Gun)
The first and most common form of gun that you will find on the battlefield is basically powered by an electric motor or AEG. This stands for Automatic Electric Gun and pretty well describes what these airsoft guns are all about. Inside the gun there is a battery which has to be charged which powers a motor that can continually engage the firing mechanism. Often either single shot, burst fire or fully automatic, AEG guns gives you great flexibility on the battlefield, allowing you to pick out individual targets at long range or flip the switch to full auto and soak an area with continuous fire.
AEG guns also have the ability to be easily upgraded with bigger batteries, better gearboxes and more durable internals all readily available. Just be aware that airsoft sites will have a specific power limit, usually around 1.3J and under for full auto guns and 2.5J for single shot only guns, and going over these limits will prevent you from playing. AEG airsoft rifles also tend to be cheaper than other types, so if you are new to the world or airsoft or you are planning to go to war or are looking for something that is able to be customised completely, inside and out, then an AEG rifle might be for you.
One thing of note when buying an AEG airsoft gun, get one with a metal gearbox. Plastic gearboxes are OK for a while, and if you are just going to be shooting tin cans in your back garden, they will probably will hold up, but they are just not resilient enough to stand up to the test of the battlefield on a regular basis. Metal is the way to go.
GBB Guns (Gas Blowback)
The second type of airsoft gun is what’s called a gas blowback or GBB. These guns are powered by gas canisters which fill a reservoir and propel the pellet out at great speed. Of course this ties you to buying canisters of gas every time you need a refill, but all but the very cheapest of guns are quite efficient with their gas so refills shouldn’t need to be too frequent.
The main reason people plump for gas rifles is the added realism that comes with the blowback mechanism. This is where a portion of gas moves part of the gun, such as the slide or the cocking handle to give the gun a better sense of recoil and more closely imitate what it would be like to fire a real gun. This will obviously effect the guns accuracy as there is a large kick, so that is something to bare in mind if you are intent on shooting competitively.
Another advantage the gas powered guns have over AEG rifles is that they are able to be refilled almost instantly. If you are at a skirmish site and your battery runs flat, you either need to change the battery or wait a couple of hours for yours to charge but with a GBB gun just top it up with some gas and you are good to go again, often in less than a minute.
Gas guns are for shooters that prefer their guns easy to use and refill, are ready at a moments notice, and able to be shot at anytime. From my experience people tend to use gas guns for their sidearms ie pistols or small SMGs and AEG guns for their main weapon of choice but, as often, there is some debate in the airsoft community about what is best.
Below I’m going to take you through some of my person favourites in detail to give you an idea of what to expect.
Airsoft Guns : Four Of The Best
E&L MK18 Mod1 AEG : An AEG that is customisable to suit any situation
Made by E&L, this airsoft rifle is equipped with 4 extended weaver rails that allow you to fit a large variety of attachments to the gun. The gun is also capable of semi automatic fire as well as full auto meaning that whatever battlefield role you wish to perform, the MK18 is right there with you.
For example the gun can be quipped with a foregrip, laser sight, red dot reflex and switch to fully automatic with the stock retracted and you have the ultimate assault rifle that can clear trenches and buildings with ease and is light and responsive with a great trigger.
Alternatively, switch to semi automatic fire, extend the butt stock, trade in the laser sight for a rangefinder and swap the reflex sight for a rifle scope or night vision and you have a great sniper rifle that can easily pick off individual targets in the distance.
WE Big Bird Full Auto GBB : A sidearm that can compete with the best of them
From WE Europe comes the Big Bird. It’s both gas blowback and fully automatic making it great fun to shoot. Its shape means it fits into most hip, leg or shoulder holsters and the gun when fully loaded weighs less than half a kilogram, which makes it ideal for carrying as a sidearm.
The pistol is fully automatic and therefore capable of emptying its magazine very quickly so it is good news to hear that there are a variety of spares available including a 50 round version that can take the gun from side arm to primary weapon, especially if you have a couple of them stocked with you.
The Big Bird is also capable of carrying a torch or laser thanks to its weaver rail which is located under the barrel, to add a little customisation. The gun is well made, durable and will serve any skirmisher well.
LCT TX-5 AEG : A modern take on a classic
The LCT brand is perhaps one of the most well known in all of airsoft thanks to their uncanny ability to provide high grade airsoft guns at competitive prices, and the TX-5 is no different.
Based on the ever popular AK74 design, the gun has instant recognisability, although instead of using a folding stock or a static wood design, the TX-5 is fitted with a retractable M4 style stock that adds flexibility and sheds weight.
The LCT is also capable of both semi and fully automatic fire as well as being fitted with multiple rails that allow for a variety of attachments. The adjustable hop up unit allows for perfect accuracy while the gun’s metal body makes it almost as indestructible as the real thing.
ICS CXP HOG Tubular SDSR AEG : The ultimate professional
Looking similar to the famous honey badger, the CXP HOG is an AEG rifle for those who prefer stealthy play. The inbuilt silencer provides excellent muzzle noise reduction and capable of both semi and fully automatic fire, this rifle is great at any range.
The gun itself has a multitude of great features, including a modular stock design that features an adjustable cheekpiece and butt pad to ensure a comfortable shooting position for skirmishers of any size. The gun itself is able to perform at any range and its barrel is exceptionally well made, ensuring great accuracy.
Although fitted with flip up iron sights, the CXP HOG has a top mounted rail that can carry either scopes, lasers or red dot sights to ensure you always have a clear shot on your target.