Being an Airsoft player means spending money on a large variety of gear. However, the main rifle rightly gets all the attention. Your main rifle defines your role in the team. It shapes how you play within that role and is the piece of kit you get to know the most intimately. When you find the right rifle for you, it will start to feel like an extension of yourself. If possible, you really should try renting a few rifles to get a feel for what you like; especially given what the better rifles cost!
Here I’ve picked out some promising-looking rifles from various price points and designs. It should give you a good idea of what’s out there and the sort of budget commitment you need to make.
Heckler & Koch is one of my favorite weapons companies and just one look this HK416 replica will show you why. Aggressive, yet without any wasted metal, the real HK416 shares most of its parts with the AR-15 weapons, but with some custom changes by H&K. Most famously, this is the firearm that was used to take out none other than Osama Bin Laden. If it’s good enough for SEAL team six, who are we to argue?
This is a fully-licensed replica made by Umarex. Right off the bat you should know that this is a budget-oriented rifle. It’s clearly made of plastic, but the mold is excellent. The finish they’ve achieved isn’t half bad either. In the heat of the game no one is going to care and you’ll be carrying a lighter weapon anyway. The AEG gearbox is also polymer rather than metal. Overall, the whole product is balanced to give you pretty good value for your money. It fires 0.12g BBs at 340 feet per second from a magazine with a 250-round capacity.
So, is this a good starter gun? Overall I’d say it is. It’s got everything you need to start playing as a rifleman right away. Yes, for a bit more money you can get something faster and more accurate, but if you aren’t that serious yet and don’t know if you will be, this is not a bad place to start.
Lancer Tactical M4 Gen 2 AEG
This is another polymer rifle replica for a fair price. In this case it’s a replica of the M4 carbine, a shortened M16 which has largely replaced it. This rifle is widely used by the US army, which would make anyone who wants to simulate modern combat pay attention.
This specific version made by Lancer Tactical has a metal gearbox and very respectable 370-390 feet per second using 0.2g BBs. The magazine will take 300 BB rounds and, of course, fire them in either semi- or full-auto modes. The M4 has rails for all sorts of tactical attachments, which means you can customize it for different situations.
In short, this is a light and fairly powerful rifle that won’t break the bank – great for people starting out in Airsoft or those who are on a tight budget. Or just right for some fun solo shooting on weekends. Either way, this looks like a great choice.
BBTac Airsoft Sniper Rifle VSR-10
Best Budget Sniper Rifle
The sniper role in Airsoft is fun and challenging. It provides a very different experience to being a rifleman or any of the other more action-oriented Airsoft squad roles.
One thing that dissuades a lot of people from adding a sniper role to their repertoire is the cost of Airsoft sniper rifles. That’s why I’m glad rifles like this VSR-10 exist – it’s a respectable bolt-action Airsoft sniper rifle that costs about as much as a mid-range regular rifle.
The VSR-10 shoots 0.2g BBs at 400 feet per second. That’s not much faster than the stronger class of assault rifles, but accuracy is much better with the longer barrel. The VSR-10 comes with a scope and bipod included, which means you can start using it immediately in a sniper role. Reloads are done using a bolt-action mechanism, and rounds are fed from a magazine that holds 30 rounds.
This is not a full-metal design, but the barrel itself is metal, with the body made of polymer materials – still good value at this price point. There are some issues, however. For one, the bipod isn’t to everyone’s liking, with the main issue being its noticeable looseness. The same goes for the clip that feeds rounds into the chamber – it’s a little too loose for some. Overall, however, this seems like an excellent introduction to the role of sniper for anyone who is thinking about dabbling.
Evike FN Herstal Scar Licensed Gas Blowback Airsoft Rifle
The FN Herstal SCAR is a special-forces rifle with some stunning looks. It’s been the star of many a military FPS video game. A good replica is sure to turn more than a few heads on the Airsoft battlefield and will make you feel like a badass to boot.
This is a licensed replica by Evike, although the orange details make it clear that this is an Airsoft rifle. Some people may not like this coloring choice, but I think it looks pretty cool. This is not an all-metal design. However, the receiver, which is the most important part in terms of wear and tear, is made of aluminum.
The rails on the top, left, right, and bottom can accommodate all the tactical attachments you could want. Fire controls are good for both lefties and righties as well. There’s also a set of front and rear flip-up sites integrated into the rifle.
The real kicker is how hard this gas blowback rifle can hit. It fires 0.2g BBs at between 415 and 430 feet per second. Ouch! Apart from that, I like how versatile this rifle is. Thanks to a folding stock, it can easily be converted for use in confined spaces. A great all-round choice at a reasonable price.
FN Soft Air Scar
Best Budget Beginner Rifle
So here’s a different take on the SCAR compared to the Evike rifle we just took a look at. Available in both black and tan, the only indication that this is an Airsoft weapon is the orange tip. That being said, this is a polymer gun and not a metal model. Hence the relatively low price.
There are two styles you can buy this in. The electric version will fire BBs at 260 feet per second, which is below average but not bad. The spring version will fire them at a painful 400 feet per second. However, that means you have to load each shot, so it’s not really appropriate for anything other than shooting in your backyard. The magazine is rated to hold 200 BBs, which is a fair amount. There is a common complaint that 2 or 3 BBs spill out whenever the magazine is removed, but I think that’s pretty minor.
Overall, this is an entry-level Airsoft rifle that looks the business and works pretty well for what it is. At this price you can’t really complain too much. Just have fun.
P-force M4 Full Metal
Best Premium Rifle
The M4 is an evolution of the stalwart M16A. Shorter and less heavy, it’s become the primary rifle in both the US Army and Marine Corps. As such, it’s an essential replica to have for anyone who wants a realistic feel to their Airsoft conflicts.
This replica from P-Force carries a pretty hefty price tag, mainly because this is a full metal, full size AEG rifle. That means in terms of weight and finish it should feel pretty realistic. The gearbox itself is metal, so this should be a durable gun. Another nice touch is that the carry handle can be removed.
The magazine will hold a respectable 350 rounds, which the M4 will fling at 400 feet per second. There’s a selection of rails for tactical attachments and plenty of attention to detail as well. With that realistic weight, the only thing that could have made it feel a little more realistic is a gas-blowback system, but for this sort of money AEG is just fine. Personally, I’d love to own this one myself!
Double Eagle Full Auto Electric Metal AEG AK-47
Few rifles are as iconic as the AK-47. It’s even on the flag of Mozambique! The Kalashnikov of 1947 has proven to be simple, cheap, and effective. To this day it is the favored weapon of revolutionary forces, terrorists, and every shade of militia in between. If you want to play any sort of simulated conflict against insurgents, terrorists, or the like, good AK-47 replicas will go a long way to ensuring immersion.
So the question is whether this AEG, metal AK-47 made by Double Eagle is a good replica or not. It certainly looks pretty real in photos, and that orange tip is very conservative. It’s not fully metal, but that wouldn’t make sense given that the real weapon isn’t fully metal either. Instead, the receiver is metal but the rest of the body is made from composite material. Muzzle velocity is quite respectable. You’ll get up to 330 feet per second with 0.2g BBs. If you use 0.12g BBs, it will go all the way to 415 feet per second.
This is apparently an exact copy of the Tokyo Marui AK-47, to the point where the spare parts are fully interchangeable. At least, that’s what the retailer claims. If true, this would be a good bargain at the price. For a main assault rifle such as this, with a metal upper receiver and body, the asking price is very reasonable. This is affordable enough to put together a ragtag terrorist team to challenge the local do-gooder teams.
Classic Army Airsoft GI M132
The “I Am the Terminator” Gun
Oh boy, oh boy. Will you look at this thing. I first fell in love with the idea of a man-portable M134 minigun while watching movies like Predator and Terminator 2. The Classic Army M132 Microgun is not a replica of a real firearm, but a tribute to those fictional stories where somehow a superhuman hero manages to hip-fire a weapon designed to be strapped to attack helicopters.
Now, there was another gatling-type gun intended to be man-portable. It was called the XM214 Microgun and it never made it to production. You’ll notice that this Airsoft gun has a name that mixes both of these real-life weapons together. So you can think of it as being a riff on these two general designs.
So let’s get to this “little” monster itself. The obvious number you’ll want is the firing rate. While a real M134 can sling 6,000 rounds a minute and the prototype microgun maxed out at a theoretical 10,000 rounds, this gun will “only” fire roughly 2,200 rounds per minute, or about 38 per second. Still, a staggering amount of plastic to fling around! The included magazine will take 2,200 rounds, which means you have enough BBs in the tank to squeeze the trigger for a minute straight. It uses a spring-loaded feeder so that the magazine can deliver BB rounds fast enough for the M132 to fire them.
Out of the box, this gun works with either high-pressure air or green gas. You can, however, upgrade it with AEG parts, according to the manufacturer. If you are using an HPA system, you can adjust the muzzle velocity by changing the pressure.
Despite looking like it should weight a ton, the Microgun only clocks in at nine pounds – hefty for an Airsoft gun, sure, but hardly a challenge for the average player. This gun is for a very specialized suppression role and not cheap by any means! Still, I bet it’s a LOT of fun to shoot this baby.
Jing Gong Dragon
While the majority of Airsoft guns are either licensed replicas of real guns or are original designs meant to look realistic, there’s no rule that says this has to be so. The Dragon is a good example of this. This sci-fi style rifle looks awesome – like something that may be in military use twenty years from now.
Under the sci-fi skin, this is a 360 fps full-auto rifle that will hold 170 rounds in its magazine. The price is a little on the steep side for something that’s a bit of a novelty piece, but just think of the scenarios you could play. It’s definitely going to be a head-turner. I for one would like to see licensed Airsoft replicas of more sci-fi firearms like the pulse rifle from Aliens or a pistol from Robocop. I wouldn’t be surprised if a repainted Dragon ends up in a film of some sort.
Should you buy this? Certainly not for use in mainstream Airsoft games, but I think this is a fun rifle to own. The real sticking point is the price and whether you think what you get is worth the money. In this case I can’t help you make that very subjective call, but if the Dragon speaks to you I’m sure you’ll enjoy using it in niche games.
RPD Airsoft Light Machine Gun with Real Wood Furniture
Light machine guns have a pretty specific purpose on the battlefield and, perhaps surprisingly, it isn’t to shoot people. Instead, LMGs shoot AT people with the purpose of keeping them in cover so they’re not shooting at you. The LMG gunner provides an opportunity for your assaulters to move up.
This is a replica of the Russian RPD light machine gun. It was put into service in 1944 and is still in active service. It’s been used in at least 35 wars that I could tell. Thanks to the drum magazine, some people might mistake this for a Thompson submachine gun at first, but if you look a little closer you’ll see they have very different geometries.
The first mind-boggling fact about this Airsoft LMG is that the magazine takes a whopping 2800 rounds. The receiver and forward assembly are made of metal, with the rest being real stained wood. So I expect the weight and feel is very realistic indeed.
With the included bipod you can really lay down some covering fire. A really cool gun overall, but do note that no battery is included, which means that you need to buy a LiPo battery as well before you can shoot anything.
Rifling Through Our Files
These rifles that I’ve highlighted here represent a tiny sample of all the different Airsoft rifles that are out there; not only the variety of classes, but all the diversity within those classes. I do recommend that you think about the sorts of battles you want to experience and try to find a real-world rifle that speaks to you in this context. Then try and find an Airsoft rifle that is a replica of that special rifle. If that sounds too cheesy, just pick the one you think is the most badass or will do the job the best. You’re probably going to own a whole bunch of them eventually anyway!