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Picture of The Airsoft AEG Buying Guide
With the growing popularity of airsoft it seems that every player is an "expert" on buying gear, guns, ammo, etc.

The problem is that many of these buying guides rely on poor research, lack of understanding on how airsoft guns operate (people that make the argument that airsoft barrel extensions muffle a considerable amount of sound... -_- ).

I've been playing airsoft for about three years spending most of my free time doing research on most everything in the airsoft world.

I'm hoping that this guide will strongly influence your decision on purchasing an AEG. This is my first instructable, so I'll do my best to effectively communicate my thoughts and ideas.


NOTE: This is in no way a guide for purchasing real guns, nor are any of my suggestions even viable for real weapon use. This guide is for airsoft only.
 
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Step 1: What is an AEG? / A Noteable Avoidance

Picture of What is an AEG? / A Noteable Avoidance
AEG's (Automatic Electric Guns)

These are the most common skirmish worthy airsoft guns. They use battery power (along with gears and a motor) to propel 6mm plastic bb's. Excellent for Infantry, Assault, Defense, and pretty much every other position (If you're a sniper, then Spring airsoft guns may also be a viable alternative).

Avoid Walmart and Sports Authority:

TRUST ME. I've spent well over $500 on cheap airsofts that break and become useless, since you can't Frankenstein them together. It's well worth it to save the $100+ required for a decent AEG.

Step 2: Key Words to Look For In An AEG

Picture of Key Words to Look For In An AEG
METAL GEARBOX:

Some AEG's are made with crappy plastic gearboxes. These WILL break very fast. ALSO magazines are somewhat difficult to come buy. Plastic gearboxes are very typical of Walmart and Sports Authority Airsoft guns. If the label/distributor doesn't tell you what kind of gearbox it has, IT IS PLASTIC. Metal gearboxes are the only kind that you should have in your AEG. The parts last MUCH longer and the internals can shoot faster and harder (though metal gearbox AEG's can be purposely modified to shoot slower and weaker) than those of their plastic counterparts.

TOKYO MARUI COMPATIBLE:

Tokyo Marui invented the AEG back in the 90's, thus most brands are compatible with them. Basically, if your airsoft gun is compatible with Tokyo Marui you can use the same magazines and parts (in case something breaks) as ANYONE else that has Tokyo Marui compatible parts (I can share my Tokyo Marui M4 magazines with my friend's M4 that uses Tokyo Marui magazines). By making sure your airsoft gun is Tokyo Marui compatible you are potentially saving yourself a ton of money.

Step 3: (Other) Things to Consider When Looking for an AEG

Picture of (Other) Things to Consider When Looking for an AEG
Compatibility:

Besides Tokyo Marui Compatibility, certain models take certain magazines. For example, I have an airsoft M4. My (Tokyo Marui compatible) M4 can share magazines with other M4's, the SCAR-L, the L85, the M249, and other guns. I cannot share magazines with the AK47 or the G36 without physically modifying the AK47 or the G36 (Some companies make a conversion kit that allows you to use M4 magazines) to accept only M4 magazines and no other. This is a huge deciding factor perhaps not initially, but as you continue to play the sport when it turns from 2 vs. 2 into 15 vs. 15.

Weight:

Everybody loves the durability of metal bodied airsoft guns (as opposed to plastic bodies), but metal is heavy. Let's say for example, 7 pounds. 7 punds gets very heavy after a long day of playing especially when it is hot outside. Many AEG's that use plastic bodies use high quality plastics/ABS/and possibly Polymer. If you ever decided to trade that plastic body for a metal one, it will typically run you $50-100 for a metal body.

CQB (Close Quarters Battle) vs. Field (Pretty much anything that isn't close quarters)

Shorter barrel and stock lengths are typical of CQB environments. Longer barrels and stocks are typical of field environments. If you're just starting out you probably don't know whether you want short or long. My best advice to you would be to buy a standard length Airsoft Gun. If you wish to modify it later on It's not horribly expensive, plus you can sell your unused parts for money.

Unlike real firearms, different outer barrel lengths have a somewhat little effect on accuracy. Inner barrels (which are discussed later) do have an effect.

Step 4: Great Starting (Emphasis on "starting") Brands

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Tokyo Marui:

They're the Lexus of airsoft guns mainly because they're typically more expensive (brand new), BUT they are of excellent quality (there's a reason airsoft guns are "Tokyo Marui compatible"). You could possibly use a Tokyo Marui AEG for years without ever having to maintain it (do not try this).

Echo 1:

The Toyota of Airsoft guns. High quality airsoft guns, mostly rebrands of chinese AEG's but strict quality control makes them great. ALSO they are America based, so if there's ever a problem it should be easier to talk with them.

JG (Jing Gong) or Golden Bow:

The Scion of Airsoft Guns (FYI Scion is made by Toyota). Lower priced but typically just as good as Echo 1. Every once in a while you'll see someone with a factory defect issue, but I have only heard of one or two cases. GREAT affordability, though some of the metals in their guns are cheap metals (potentially rust can form). Also, you're pretty much screwed when it comes to manufacturer warranties.

Step 5: Brands to Avoid (as a beginner)


No name brands:

This one's a given. No warranty, bad idea to spend $100+ here.


NOTE: With the following brands these are only things that I have heard, I may be wrong, but throughout all the forums I've read, and watching all those Youtube airsoft reviews, this is what I've stumbled upon. Try to argue with me and I won't respond. ;)


ICS Also Known As TSD:

Their compatibility with other brands is questionable. I've heard that other brand magazines don't always feed into ICS airsoft guns properly. Also, ICS isn't 100% Tokyo Marui compatible, meaning that in order to install say, a new stock, you would have to buy an adapter piece to work with other brand stocks. The quality is supposedly excellent, but the downsides weigh a bit too heavy.

Softair USA/Umarex:

Infamous for crappy workmanship, magazine incompatibility (sometimes) and high prices. Found at Walmart and Sports Authority.

KWA:

They are a top of the line brand, but I BELIEVE I heard about magazine compatibility issues, that's the only "no no" that I have for them, if you don't mind buying strictly KWA mags, then it's no problem. Other than that they are a great quality top of the line brand.

Step 6: My Personal Advice and Choice

Picture of My Personal Advice and Choice

The M4. There are plenty of variations which you can buy that use all the same parts.

My best advice to you would be to buy a standard length M4 with a Crane stock (the battery will go in the crane stock in order to keep the electrical wiring in the rear). Basically, if you don't get an airsoft gun with wiring in the rear, you'll have to re-wire the gearbox if you wanted a fixed (not adjustable) rear stock (usually for a larger battery). M4's are quite abundant at airsoft meets, making magazines plentiful and spare parts viable (in case you can buy them from other players). You can also see various accessories that you may want to mount on your own personal M4.

If you don't go for M4's, then AK47's would be the second most common airsoft guns, followed by MP5's, G36's (no particular order).

Step 7: Upgrades, Accessories, and Extras

Picture of Upgrades, Accessories, and Extras


You've bought your airsoft gun and now you want to make it awesome before your first game, or you've been playing with it and have decided that you want to customize it.

Whatever airsoft gun you decide to get, the first things that you'll want to buy are:

1. Smart charger - You're batteries WILL get damaged (worse case scenario: catching on fire/exploding) if you accidentally overcharge them. This will help.

2. Extra Battery - No one likes losing a game because of technical foul ups. Battery changes midgame are common. Getting a more powerful battery i.e. a 9.6 volt battery compared to a standard 8.4 volt battery will up your rate of fire. Getting a larger battery i.e. moving from 1300maH to 3000maH will drastically change the life of the battery (the higher the maH, the longer it lasts= the more shots you can get out of your airsoft gun). This is the #1 upgrade you can do to your airsoft gun.


NOTE: Li-Po batteries are becoming quite popular in the world of airsoft, but as a beginner it's unnecessary (there are extra precautions in addition to those of regular NiCd or NiMH batteries) LiPo's have a faster rate of fire, but in having a faster rate of fire your airsoft gun's internal parts will wear out sooner. Also you need a new charger and you have to be careful where you put them or they explode, they're expensive... Too many drawbacks and precautions for the new kid.


3. Tightbore barrel - 6.03-6.05 is a safe diameter. Any smaller and a speck of dirt will kill your airsoft; any bigger than 6.05 and the accuracy and FPS of your gun will suffer. This is the second best upgrade you can give your airsoft gun.

4. Extra magazines (at least 1) - You're just starting out so you don't know exactly how much ammo you will use per game. Better safe than sorry. One 85 round mid-capacity plastic magazine is about $10. Not bad for an extra mag. One 300 round high capacity magazine runs about $40.

Step 8: Go Out There and Have Fun

Picture of Go Out There and Have Fun
If you get deep into airsoft you'll probably end up endlessly thinking about how you're going to modify your airsoft gun and what position you like playing and how you beat that new kid when it was just down to the two of you. Just remember to have fun and don't let losing games get you down.

If you don't lose you can't possibly expect to get better.
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Glenn LylaH6 months ago
How do i know what brand an air soft gun is? We purchased a few used from someone who was really into it. I know it's all metal but i'm confused where the name or model number is. They never used it so i'm selling it....any help would be greatly appreciated. Im a 43 yr old clueless girl...lol...

Hi! I'm Holden and a frequent airsofter. You should try looking up specifications of the gun. Ex:

"Full metal h & k co2 pistol"

That might help.

DJNASHA2 years ago
i s aftermath airsoft any good? thanks
DJNASHA2 years ago
quick question is aftermath a good brand if so i want to get the m4 can you help me thanks
finn123453 years ago
im looking for a good website do you think airsplat is bad?
godfathertrevor (author)  finn123453 years ago
Not necessarily bad (it just depends on what you end up buying).

Evike.com or airsoftgi.com will likely have a better selection.
airrattle is boss!!! i ordered an AR-15 from them and it is great
jonv82 years ago
ah nice to see you have the guns insted of geting pics of the internet!!
cclime14 years ago
I have an electric one and its mag is the battery and the scope is the loader.
I used to have one of those, kinda cheapy, you can get a better shotgun than that.
I saw one by the name of Cyber Stryke *Cyber Strike
fragmaster43 years ago
What I meant by "I wouldn't know though" is that I wouldn't know about the airsoft wapons. I have ordered some gear from them and it looks to be good quality.
fragmaster43 years ago
Opsgear has some decent looking stuff. I wouldn't know though. But they are kind of expensive, $200 - 378.
finn123453 years ago
so basicly we just want to modify it if our airsoft is bad?
godfathertrevor (author)  finn123453 years ago
No. Basically you want to save up to something decent instead of buying rubbish.
gmuir3 years ago
thanks for the tips its about time an adult posts things like this for pepole who actualy want to make this as a profesanal sport
gmuir gmuir3 years ago
also bought this a while back was wondering if its a good gun or not so far it scares some of my frends but i never have shot them or pointed a fire arm at them......AGM Full Metal M4 TDW-RAS AEG Rifle w/ Enhanced Motor & Full Metal Gearbox
godfathertrevor (author)  gmuir3 years ago
People say that AGM/ACM airsoft guns aren't that great but I had an AGM M14 that I never had a problem with.
godfathertrevor (author)  gmuir3 years ago
Thanks!
ilpug3 years ago
You forgot to mention Classic Army guns, and Guns made by the actual weapons manufacturers, which are usually high quality and very compatible, but are a wild card due to rarity
godfathertrevor (author)  ilpug3 years ago
For the price of a Classic Army Sportline I can buy a JG and put some upgrades into it. Other than the Sportline series, Classic Army is way too expensive for the beginner.

I'm not aware of any airsoft guns manufactured by the real steel manufacturers (unless you're just referring to those licensed to Umarex).
HK makes an MP5, and Beretta makes a variety of pistols. Those are the ones I know of, but others are probably out there.
mrfnk3 years ago
I have a crosman 1377, Shoots One bb at a time. but not those plastic ones. It shoots .177 bbs and .177 pellets as well, rifled steel, and shoots 600 ft/sec. It still shoots like it was new.
I grew up shooting my dad's but his only shoots .22 pellets. I'm not sure what he paid, but mine was 45 dollars in 1995, and 15 more for the shoulder stock. The rear sight it came with was junk. It got replaced the first time I sighted it in.

Yeah It shoot's one at a time, but if you miss your first shot, you lost your target at the same time. I don't know who told you to avoid crosman guns, but you shouldn't repeat their advice to anyone without checking for yourself first. Good luck finding a bb gun that shoots faster and hits its mark every time for less then 400 dollars.

godfathertrevor (author)  mrfnk3 years ago
That's dangerous. On top of that, if you wanted to play at an event you wouldn't be allowed to use it. And you might possibly get arrested for assault.
it's a bb gun not a toy.
I don't point or shoot guns at people. that's how you're supposed to handle, and teach others to handle guns if they're real or not.
ilpug mrfnk3 years ago
airsoft guns are made for that. what you are talking about is a pellet gun. those can be just as dangerous as real guns.
jrg3ni0us4 years ago
Here's my final question...

I have afully automatic AEG in K-mart for about $50. It is clearly labeled as a beginers gun and is made by palco.Should I buy it?
godfathertrevor (author)  jrg3ni0us4 years ago
No, save your money. You're already about halfway to an A&K.
Thanks. I didn't know I was actually close to being able to by a better quality gun :)
godfathertrevor (author)  jrg3ni0us4 years ago
My pleasure, when you make that $100 check Craigslist. There are always people selling really good brand name AEG's for cheap. Just make sure he or she can Tell you everything about the airsoft gun, make sure there are pics, inspect it to be sure he or she isn't lying, that kind of stuff.
nfk114 years ago
i see those at academy.aret they any good.and their $180.
godfathertrevor (author)  nfk114 years ago
Yes, well I've never heard of academy.aret so I'd say no go.
oh sorry i mest up on that.i meant academy sports and outdoors.and that was soposed to mean are they any good.
godfathertrevor (author)  nfk114 years ago
I see.

I checked them out (never heard of them before this) and I'd definitely have to say no.

Try Craigslist and ask a buddy that plays airsoft to help you find the right one.
ok.i have 2 ppl i can ask.1 has a p90(good one) and a shotgun and pistol. my other one bought the crappy p90 and has shotgun and pistol and two mini guns.not gatling guns like mini scars
nfk114 years ago
my friend bought a P90 at softair for $30.it got held back a little but i here it sucks :-(
godfathertrevor (author)  nfk114 years ago
Yes, well, for $30 it's more or less obligated to suck.
which gun do you think is better, i have 3 days to buy one before i am gone for a month so plz respond quickly (getting these off craigslist)

1) DPMS M4A1 SIR (assault rifle)-- full metal, 375 FPS, 15 rounds per min- $180

2) SIG SAUER 552 Commando (SMG) 360 FPS, 14 rps-- $150

3) CYMA WWII Thompson (SMG), wood trim, 390fps, 12rps, 170$

thanks!
Go back on Craigslist in a month.

1. DPMS guns are cheap (manufactured by Cybergun a.k.a. Sports Authority crap)

2. Chances are the SIG is also made by Cybergun

3. The CYMA Thompson MAY be crap.

You'll likely find a JG or Echo 1 airsoft by then.
Thanks for your help :) I will just buy a new gun somewhere else, you saved me a lot of money
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