Each step will be a different class of guns, with a listing and a description/suggestion.
Also, there will be only a general description. If you want more information about a certain gun, such as where to by it, please either reply or send a private message to oniman7 or jakee117.
Step 1: What Are Your Uses?
what style of gaming do you like best? CQB(close quarters battle)?, Field?
Certain guns are suited to certain environments.
for example, an m16 would not be the best for cqb, considering it could prove very unwieldly around corners, whereas the mp5k, measuring about a foot long, is considered by some to be the ultimate cqb machine.
do you enjoy laying down a fearful rain of plastic on you enemies, or instilling fear and uncertainty with, few, well placed shots?
some things to consider are
*styles you like
*playing area (NEVER play on public land, this gives all airsofters a bad name, only used licensed fields)
*how much ammo you use
weight you want to carry
so, for field games, you would more than likely want a gun with a medium to long barrel length, good shoulder support, ect.
for CQB games you would want a small gun, one that could maneuver corners easily, and generally, with an fps of less than 350, (or be ready to pay to have a spring cut) so you can play at a local field (check your local field's rules of play and follow them, no one likes a dishonest airsofter)
If you play a good mixture of both, but don't have the budget for multiple guns, a carbine is a great option. These are considered the "midway" between long and short guns, essentially, they are the best of both worlds, I believe the most popular carbine is probably the m4, with the ability (with modifications) to play a cqb gun, a D esignated Marksman Rifle (DMR) support gunner, Grenadier (see the accessories page for more on grenade launchers) and countless other possibilities.
as far as budget, an airsoft gun can run anywhere from 10-5000+ dollars
for ammo, the only ammunition I would recommend using in any high end AEG (automatic electric gun) is highly polished, .20 gram bbs or heavier, which can run up to .40 grams and heavier.
Thanks to Jakee117 for this entire section.
Step 2: Assault Rifles
AR-15: The real steel version is the civilian of the M-16. They are generally the same thing, with just a few small variances. Will fit most body types except those who are extremely small. Recommended gun: the ICS C-15. 35 inches long, silencer adds 5 inches. Shoots about 340 FPS out of the box, 800 RPM, accurate to about 150 feet. Goodies included: mock silencer, two 450 round high-capacity magazines, a ready mag system ( holds one magazine in the gun, and one about 2 inches away for quick reloads ), and an RIS rail on top for mounting some kind of optic. About $300-$350
M-16: Very popular gun, the real steel version is the standard issue assault rifle for the US Army. About the same size as the AR-15. Will fit most body types, including very small. However, the full metal versions may be heavy for weaker people. Recommended gun: KWA Full metal KM16-BR (M-16 Battle Rifle ). Shoots about 430 FPS with .2g BB's accurate to about 200 Feet if you use .25 or .28 gram BB's. Also has a rate of fire of 1,000 Rounds Per Minute (RPM). That's almost 17 rounds a second! Full metal. Runs for about $300
M-4: A shortened variant of the M-16. Standard Issue assault rifle for the US Marines, most probably due to the small size, accuracy and high power. This is probably the most popular airsoft gun, no matter where you play. It is often chosen for the same reason the Marines use it. However, M-4's are highly upgradeable with just the inclusion of an RIS rail where you would normally put your hand. High quality variants often have 6 position retractable Law enforcement stocks (cheaper variants may only have 2-3. All in or all out, sometimes a middle position) Suggested gun: UTG M-4 Full metal commando. Shoots about 360 FPS. 800 RPM, accurate to about 150 feet. One huge plus is that is made out of full metal, weapons grade parts. Has the exact same metal content as a real rifle. Also, the RAS is larger, so you can fit an 8.4v 4200 mah battery without any modification. Extra goodies: Heavy duty vertical foregrip, deluxe tri-rail sling mount. Runs at about $280. It is cheaper than some of the more known brands, simply because it isn't as well known. Don't let this fool you, UTG ( also known as Leapers ) is a great company.
AK-47: Another widely used airsoft gun. It is known world wide as a terrorist weapon, but was originally used by the Russian military ( developed in 1947). It is widely known as one of the most durable assault rifles in the world. While this is hard to carry over to an airsoft gun, the design is still loved by many. One of the only major flaws that carries over is that the iron sights are so close together. This means that any mistake in lining up the sights is magnified. This doesn't have as ingmuch of an affect, since VERY few airsoft guns can shoot farther than 200 feet. Recommended gun: Echo 1 Vector Arms Ak-47. Shoots 430 FPS at 800 RPM, and can hit a target about 190 feet away. Comes with a 600 round high capacity clip and a folding vertical foregrip. Actually has the same metal content as the real rifle. For $200, it is an incredible deal ( Echo 1 has recently been known to make middle level guns, but has recently been making incredible guns at incredible prices. If you are going to get an airsoft gun, I would get Echo 1 before the price goes up. Or KWA)
FN-SCAR: Not a very well known gun. The U.S. Military is looking at replacing the M-16, and this is a major candidate. The real SCAR has the ability to change the caliber and barrel length to go from Submachine Gun all the way up to Sniper rifle. While you can't really carry this over to airsoft, many companies give you a barrel lengthener. Uses standard M-16/M-4 clips. Recommended Gun: ECHO 1 A.S.C. SCAR. This gun is absolutely amazing and I would recommend it to anybody. It shoots 850 RPM at 435 FPS. Although the barrel is only slightly longer than that of your average G-36, it has incredible accuracy. With the barrel extender attached, the website that reviewed the gun was able to hit a target at incredible range. They hit a torso sized target 10/10 times on full auto from 231 feet away! absolutely incredible! To top it all off, there is an RIS rail that runs the entire top of the barrel and a few inches on the bottom. You could put on an optic and a grenade launcher ( yes they have those, basically giant shotguns that shoot 120 BB's at a time and run off of green gas. Those run for about $130 and $50 for each extra shell). Runs for about $230 on its own, but it is a great deal.
M-14: Developed from the M1 Garand, and eventually turned into the M-16. This is an incredibly accurate gun ( airsoft versions too). Both the real steel and airsoft versions have been and often are adapted into sniper rifles. The airsoft version could also be transformed into an LMG. VERY long though. Not good for anybody who is small ( I am about 5 foot 2. When I hold my friend's M14, I can't rest the stock against my shoulder and reach the trigger at the same time.). Also, we play in a woodland environment and my friend is always getting caught on vines and he has a very hard time maneuvering. Recommended gun: to be honest with you, I don't really know of a good M-14 variant. My friend's was UTG. However, the decorative part of the barrel fell off and there is now a layer of tape holding it up. Also, it doesn't shoot on semi automatic anymore. Also, the safety is a lever very much like a magazine release that is located about 4 inches from the actual magazine release. Because of this, my friend drops his magazine half the time when he is trying to turn the safety off ( well, until he got used to the positioning). Until/unless I find a better M-14 variant, I would not recommend one.
G36C: very small, about the size of an Mp5. good for most people for CQB ( or maybe even backup ). Most good variants have a side folding stock that make it a little bit bigger than an Mp5-K. Recommended gun: KWA KG36C. Shoots 400 FPS with .2g BB's at about 900 RPM. Accurate to almost 200 feet. My friend got this with two high cap mags and a mag clamp and I used it as a SAW while he moved up. Stupid me, I forgot to account for the wind, but at 100 feet ( with variable wind ) it was about a 1 foot spread beside my friends makeshift foxhole.A little bit pricey at $300, but definitely worth it if you are planning on playing hardcore airsoft.
G36K: Not too much different from the G36C, just a longer barrel and different rail on top. This really looks like the battle rifle out of Halo. It could easily be used as a sniper rifle. Recommended gun: Echo 1 X36K. 380 FPS with .2g BB's, at about 850 RPM. A little bit more affordable at $190.
Steyr-AUG: My first thought when I saw this thing; it looks like a paintball gun. All first impression put aside, these are great guns. The bullpup design means that the clip is housed in the back of the gun. This is good because it gives a longer barrel in the same sized gun. A longer barrel means more power and accuracy. It is kind of small, but longer variants are made. Also, if you get one of the really long silencers, this gun looks ( and can be used as ) a sniper rifle. I have not used one of these, but many people say having the trigger farther up makes it feel unbelievably balanced, like an extension of your arm. Suggested gun: Echo 1 Phantom II . A little pricey at $220, but you get a good deal. 340 FPS, 800 RPM with the ability to hit a target at 150 or more feet. It comes with a free X3 scope and olive drab paint job for camouflage. For $170, there is the Phantom I. Same gun, only it is black and doesn't come with the scope.
Well, that's it for the assault rifles. If anybody has another one that they want me to add, I would be happy to do it.
Step 3: Submachine Guns
MP-5: So many different variants, it is often used by special forces. I will try to cover all the variants here.
MP5-A4: has a full stock and a standard rifle grip. This is the standard MP5 variant, and probably has the best accuracy out of any of them. Recommended gun: Echo 1 Vector Arms MP5-A4. Same stats as the AK-47 ( look on the first page )
MP5-J: Has a collapsible stock. If anybody has played Call of Duty 4, it has the MP-5 J with the stock fully collapsed. With the stock fully collapsed, It is so compact it can easily be fired with one hand. I personally own the Echo 1 MP5-J. It is a medium qualtiy gun, Although I have not seen many high quality MP5-J's. The low-medium quality guns ( mine included ) usually have 2-3 stock positions, all in, all out, sometimes half out. Higher quality versions sometimes. Recommended gun; Vector Arms VP5-J. Same as the Vectors Mp5-A4, but with a retractable stock.
Mp5-K: Imagine an Mp5 with no stock and a shortened barrel. You now have an Mp5K, It is so small, anybody can easily fire it with one hand. Trade offs are power and accuracy. Not really sure of a good Mp5K model yet.
UMP-45: I believe this is the largest gun that is actually classified as an SMG ( please correct me if I am wrong ). This thing is a beast. It is basically a G36 without the top rail structure, and a little bit bigger. It recently appeared in the James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace". It is kind of hard to find these, as they are not incredibly popular as of yet ( I think they will become popular ). Not much to be said, it's a standard SMG. Recommended gun: The only real gun I can think of for this is the G&G; UMG. It is $270, but shoots at under 300 FPS. Unless you want to drop a couple hundred more to upgrade it, it isn't great. For around $100, Double Eagle has one that shoots around 300 FPS. Also, the rate of fire isn't great. More of a beginner's gun.
P-90: A tiny little gun that can only be described as a "cute little toy". That's definitely only a first impression, as these things are amazing. They are INCREDIBLY small, about 8 inches smaller than a G36C, but it has a bullpup design that allows the barrel to be longer than that of the G36C. It can be loaded in the top or under the gun on the bottom, depending on the model. Recommended gun; Echo 1 E-90. 370 FPS, 850 RPM, accurate to 180 feet, and a full metal receiver! what more could you ask for? The only drawback is that it comes with 2 68-round magazines, but you can buy highcaps. Runs for $170. Great for CQB, as a back-up gun, or for almost any other situation you can think of.
Mac 11: Designed in the mid 1970's, this thing is a CQB beast. Shooting between 1000-1200 RPM, depending on ammo type, it is widely considered one of the best CQB weapons. It is widely recognizable among gun aficionados, and even people who regularly watch action movies, because of it's similar appearance to the Uzi. It actually shoots about 50% faster than a normal uzi, however, and most airsoft Mac 11's hold more ammo than Uzi's (50 vs 30 rounds). Not a lot of companies make uzis under $200, but KWA is a notable exception. They're uzi shoots 1100 RPM with 50 round clips, making it widely chosen for CQB, or even a backup weapon for snipers. They recently discontinued their series one M11, but look for a new one coming this June. All in all, as a as a more powerful back up weapon, a CQB weapon, or even just fun "klinkers", Gas Blow Back M11's reign supreme. Now, I know a lot of you are going to point out the electric powered M11's, but I've never tried any of these. If anybody wanted to give some info about those, it would be great.
Uzi: Probably one of the most recognizable weapons to anybody who's played video games, or seen an action movie. Like the Mac 11, this is a CQB weapon, or sometimes used as a backup weapon for people such as snipers or grenadiers (depending on how realistic your games are). Now, again, there are electric versions of this, but I've never used any. However, I do know of a CO2 version by KWC. It's about $200, but a lot of people say it's totally worth the price. It's not much of a skirmish gun, having a FPS of 295, and an RPM of 800. However, where this gun comes in is the realism. Being made mainly of metal, with a heavy duty ABS plastic body, it feels and looks very close to a real uzi. This is a Gas Blow Back weapon, and apparently has a very hard kick. Shorty USA says "Squeeze off a round and this little gun recoils with a kick that surpasses a .22 and rivals the real 9mm UZI!". Still not a bad choice for MilSim, LawSim, or even a nice plinker.
Again, that's it for the Submachine Guns. Jakee117 and I will be happy to cover any more guns you want, but know that we have several more instructables coming up with more specific set ups. Just for a taste, we plan to do WWII and Vietnam, along with quite a few others within the next couple of months.
Step 4: Sniper Rifles.
There's not too much to differentiate from here, because a lot of sniper rifles are basically the same. Long, heavy, usually bolt action or semi automatic. However, there are a couple of choices you have to make. There are sniper rifles available in spring and gas, and even some mods for electric guns.
These are generally cheaper, and the magazines are easier to find. The drawback is that they aren't quite as powerful, and if they are, it's generally because you have to pull the bolt back harder in order to pull that much air into the chamber. That said, two guns stand out as the best to me. Keep in mind that I don't own either.
The UTG MK96 and the UTG M324. Personally, I would go to shortyusa.com (always my choice place for shopping) and buy the UTG M324 package. It comes with the gun, two mags, clamp on bi-pod, and a scope with 4 times magnification and a 30mm objective lens.
If you want a good gas sniper, you're definitely going to have to spend a little bit of money. There are several guns that I looked at getting that were made as carbines, basically just pistols with a stock and a really long barrel. Because the clip feeds in the back, they can have a longer barrel in a really small gun. I've heard both good and bad things about these, but they were $100. I think they're discontinued or something. If anybody cares to look, it's the ruger MK1 carbine and HFC C96 carbine. Other than that, it's gotta be the KJW m700. For under $300, it's one of the highest end sniper rifles I've seen. It shoots 500 FPS with propane and .2g BB's. At 20 inches, it's one of the longest barrels on any gun you can find. 5 inches longer than an M14 barrel. And trust me, that five inches makes a difference. There's two models: the regular and the takedown. The takedown model goes by its name, and has the ability to break down into the upper and lower receiver. For more realism or easier storage, it's worth the extra $30. If money is no object, I'd go with a classic. They're very rugged, some of them taking real steel after parts, and they can use pretty much any power source you choose to include.
These sniper rifles belong in a class of their own, because of their uniquity. A lot of people will buy electric guns and do custom upgrades. This is a very wise choice for many snipers if money is no object. There are a couple of reasons for this.
1) Electric guns have a much higher magazine capacity, even if you use low capacity magazines.
2) The fully automatic mode helps the gun double as a SAW for your team, or even fight your way out if enemies get too close. NOTE: Many professional airsoft fields will not let you with a gun that shoots over 350-400 FPS, unless it is semi automatic or bolt action. You can get fuses for airsoft guns that only allow semi automatic, or three round burst, but they're quite expensive.
3) accessories are more plentiful
There are a couple of guns I've seen converted this way. As a lot of people know, the M14 is a popular choice for snipers or even people in the field. This is a very common sniper kit, and you can even buy them "pre made" from several retailers online. Another common one is the G3. With a long barrel, and often a built in bi-pod, this is a classic choice for a sniper rifle/assault rifle combo. However, a lot of people will use any gun as a sniper rifle. A common trick is to add a silencer to the end, and then put an extended barrel underneath of that for better range, accuracy, and power. If you can find a long enough silencer, you can do this for a lot of guns. Common ones are M16's, AUG's, G36 C or K, etc. People take creative license with this.
That's it for now. - Oniman7, with special thanks to Jakee117 for all the pictures you see in this instructable. You really saved me here when my computer wouldn't upload pictures right.
Step 5: Pistols
First off, a cult classic, the Glock 18C:
The Glock 18C is chambered in the 9X19mm parabellum round. Fully automatic pistols aren't really in use by the military, but it's a fully automatic version of the Glcok 17, which is currently in use by certain military organizations such as the British Defence Forces. Law enforcement also uses Glocks chambered in .40. What's amazing about the Glock 18C is its incredibly high rate of fire. Most models shoot at 1200 Rounds Per Minute. That means that, in just one second, it can empty 20 rounds. Most airsoft models come with a 17 round mag, some of them with a 30 round mag. You can also buy extended mags, which is how you often see it in movies. http://tbn2.google.com/images?q=tbn:68hmQDWFEPSp-M:http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v200/iceman718/Guns/Other/Sold/Glock/glocks1.jpg
Now, this would definitely be my pistol of choice, or any Glock really, due to the small size. However, KWA, who produces the most reliable gas blow back pistols for around $150, recently got sued by Glock over trademark infringement. Because of this, it is incredibly hard to find any Glocks that aren't AEPS (Automatic Electric Pistols). Retailers are still allowed to sell what they have on shelves, but very few have any left in stock.
At just a little bit bigger, and with a ROF of 900 RPM, it's a good replacement choice for Glocks. KWA recently released a new one, which in my opinion looks much better than the old model, and I believe it's made of full metal and wood. Now, what sets this apart from other pistols is the three round burst mode. It's a great room clearing pistol, because you can pull the trigger once and take down an enemy (I play 3 hit kill) without wasting ammo. Like the G18C, there are also extended magazines available, although they don't look as large because they're a bit smaller and the pistol is a bit larger. Both the KWA GBB and the Tokyo Marui AEP run at about $170.
M9/ Beretta 92FS/M92
The M9 is the standard service pistol for soldiers and marines currently in Iraq. I personally can't figure out why they switched from a .45 to a 9mm. Maybe because they have a higher mag capacity and less recoil. Either way, the Beretta 92FS is usually a bit bigger, and is in use by special forces. It's got the classic pistol look: http://tbn3.google.com/images?q=tbn:6b2LgtwEU2PsWM:http://www.historical-firearms.co.uk/acatalog/DX1254Close.jpg
Now, there's not too much that's special about this pistol. It's generally got a 15 round magazine, and shoots around 300 FPS. It is a bit smaller than the M93, but bigger than the Glock 18C. The only notable exception is HFC M92 special forces. It shoots fully automatic, and also has an extended mag (love those).
I'm kind of breaking my own rule here. Actually two: most of them aren't Gas Blow back, and as far as magazine capacity, they're very inefficient. However, there's just something chilling about a revolver with a 6 inch barrel. My favorite is the WGC M701 and M702, the only difference being that one of them has a longer barrel. They hold six shells, which hold one BB each. This adds some great realism, and it's really fun to reload. They run off of C02.
For now, that's the end of my pictures. My computer can't upload the pictures. I'll be contacting my collaborator about it and see what I can do. Until then, there's always google- Oniman7, with special thanks to Jakee117 (as always.)
Step 6: Acsessories
If you ask me, the single most important accessory is a sling. I have a UTG three point tactical sling, and I love it. A lot of people think I don't need it since I use an MP5, but it really helps. I play in deep woods, with thick foliage. With a sling, I can hold the gun with my right hand ready to shoot, and use my left hand to sweep brush out of the way. Even carrying 5 pounds in one hand gets tiring. But there's a lot of reasons to get a sling. For instance, when switching to your pistol, you don't want to drop your main weapon on the ground. If you have your pistol holstered, but the holster not strapped close, or a quick retention holster, you can drop you main weapon and pull out your pistol in a matter of 2 seconds. When crouching, you can also flip your gun upside down. Using the sling to hold it up, you can change mags with one hand while you hold your pistol in the other and watch for enemies. There's a lot of things you can do with it, but a lot of people underestimate the use of a sling. Don't be one of them. You can easily buy a three point sling with rubber non-slip grips for $10.
RIS rails: A lot of guns come with these pre-installed, but others, like my MP5, don't. There are also weaver/picattiny rails, and RIS rails, which I think are all slightly different, but serve the same purpose. They basically hold your accessories. In the picture here, the middle gun has RIS rails. http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:G2N4twDLhA_mEM:http://www.arniesairsoft.co.uk/reviews/mp5_ras/photos/img_2207.jpg
Optics: Some optics are highly under rated, and some are over rated. For example, laser sights really aren't useful unless you're indoors or playing at night. The only other time where you would be in low light is in a forest, and the laser would get blocked by trees. In order for a laser sight to be accurate, it needs to be adjusted. The laser is here------------------------------*
And the gun is here-------------------------------------------------------------------------*
So you see, if the laser is not adjusted, it will be pointing to the wrong place. It needs to be slanted to hit the target. Kind of like this
The same goes for scopes and red dot sights. Now, for those who are a bit more advanced, something to consider; if the scope is closer to the barrel, it will be easier to adjust. However, it will need to be adjusted more often. As a sniper who plans to stay hidden, or in a place with little to no cover, you need to put the scope farther back so you can use the scope for a wider range of... well, ranges. If you plan to be in a fight where there's a lot of cover, put the scope/sight/ laser closer to the end of the barrel so you can easily adjust it as something happens.
I definitely suggest an OPEN red dot sight. A lot of people don't understand how important this is. If it's open, your peripheral vision is not limited. Also, a more advanced tactic is to close one eye and put your other eye right where the dot is, so it's in the middle of your vision. Open the other eye. Now, as long as you don't move your head or your gun too much, the red dot should be in the center of your vision, just like in a video game. This is your crosshair. As long as you've adjusted the sight right, if you put that dot on somebody and pull the trigger, it will hit them. It's used for situations where the enemy will be close in and/or may suddenly pop out from somewhere.
If you are middle ranged, I suggest a CQB scope, which is basically an ACOG scope without magnification. Or, if you really have some money, get something like a real ACOG scope, which has a 2-4 times magnification. If you want to spend the $1,500 to get a real one, it automatically adjusts faster than the human mind can.
Long range scopes should be self explanatory.
Foregrips: Unlike in Call Of Duty, where they just increase your accuracy from the hip, these are really useful. As long as your gun has an RIS on the bottom, you can put a foregrip on it. I actually have a $40 CO2 pistol from Crossman that has an accessory rail fro a laser on the bottom. I put a foregrip on it once, and you'd be surprised how comfortable it was. They're about $10-$30 depending on a couple of things, First of all, you want rubber or metal. Some people like plastic because it's light and sometimes more comfortable than metal, but often times metal is higher quality. At some point, it just comes to personal preference. Believe it or not, you do have a decent range of options available to you. You can get foregrips in different colors. Some foregrips fold up under the barrel of the gun. Some of them even hold the battery for electric guns. If you don't have an electric gun and you wind up with one of these, you can use the compartment to carry a small bag of BB's. It should keep it from rattling too much.
These have a very small niche, usually only filled by veteran airsoft players who work in the field a lot. You'll probably find these on M16's, M4's, AK 47's, and G36's. I know it sounds like I took that from Call of Duty, but there's not a lot else I could see a serious airsoft player put one on. Possibly an AUG. These grenade launchers aren't what a lot of people think. It's basically a HUGE shotgun on the bottom of your gun. You fill the grenade shell up with BB's ( I think it comes in increments such as 18, 48, 60, and my personal favorite, 120.). You then screw the bottom off and fill it with green gas. When you pull the trigger, there's an unmistakable crack and a puff of smoke. My friend has one on his M16. He shot it at a bush about 250 feet away, and the whole thing shook with the force of the BB's hitting it.
There are two types of magazine clamps: External mag clamps, and ready mag systems. Guns such as the real steel HK 416 feature a read mag system. http://tbn1.google.com/images?q=tbn:7D_pjP0VaCaRgM:http://www.dentrinity.com/shop/special/magsyscs.jpg It holds one clip in the gun, which feeds the BB's, and another one a few inches away. When you're empty, you drop the one in the gun and put the one in the mag system in the gun. Now, with airsoft, you're most likely not going to drop your mag, so you'll switch them out. There are also external mag clamps. They hold the magazines together. For airsoft, it's a lot easier because you don't have to switch them out. Just pull the entire assembly out, move it over an inch, and slide the new mag in. I will caution you about this, though; I know that, for MP5's, there are some imitation mag clamps that have two "mags" in them. It's really one combined magazine that holds more. Now, this is really nice, but a lot of places won't take high caps, and with a mag clap you can stick two low or mid caps together.
That's it. If you have anything else you want me to cover, let me know.