There are some powerful airsoft rifles out there for very little cash. Particularly spring powered sniper rifles and shotguns with great internals, who's only draw back is that they just plain don't look real enough for a serious airsoft game.
Here's how I turned my $160 UTG L96 into a nice piece of eye candy.
It's not terribly hard to do if you have any kind of DIY attitude, but I'll lay it all out there and hopefully it will make you think twice about passing up some of those plasticy looking guns.
Last time I played airsoft in my local, orange tips were not nessicery.
Check your local laws regarding replica firearms.
I make things look pretty, I'm not responsible for what you do with them after.
Step 1: What you'll need.
First you need a lousy looking airsoft gun.
My choice was the UTG K96 which is an imitation of the L96 commonly known as the AWP in counterstrike.
There's another brand that makes one almost just like this. Can't vouch for the internals though.
Pros of this weapon.
-Price point. $160 with a firearms grade scope.
-Powerful. 460 FPS, borderline too powerful for most fields.
-Primary weapon. All you need is a backup ready for close encounters.
-Spring powered. No batteries, no gas.
-Cheap mags. You don't need many for a game either.
-Realistic action. The real one works on the same concept. Cock and shoot for every shot.
-Looks and feels like cheap plastic.
-Does not load like the real-steel.
-No dummy mag. The spot where the real mag-well would be is just closed up.
Tools and materials.
-Jewellers saw. Not needed, but sure makes some of those little cuts a lot easier.
-Dremmel with heavy duty cutting disks and sanding wheel.
-Sandpaper. Prolly just 100, 220 and 400 grit.
-Precision hobby knife
-Files. Either one half-round or a small set of varying sizes.
-Matte Finish. Duracoat and an applicator or a nice brand of matte spray paint.
-Dummy mag, in the caliber of the weapon you are imitating.
-The saw on my leatherman came in handy too. Gerbers sometimes have grit saws for PVC that would be awesome.
The real L96 is available in multiple calibers. Most common is 7.62x51 which is the same as the M14.
I was able to pick up a real-steel 5rd M14 mag for $20.
For a sniper rifle you want the 5rd because the longer ones will get in the way when you're laying flat on the ground with the bi-pod. It's unlikely that you'd ever see a real sniper rifle with a long mag.
You could use one of the cheapo plastic airsoft mags you buy in boxes too, just cut it to size and maybe duracoat it as well. But other airsoft mags are usually more expensive and more complex than the real steel. Best not to cut them up for something like this.
For paint, I used Duracoat. It's a real firearms finish. It goes on thick, it's an epoxy coat with some elasticity so it doesn't chip, no primer needed.
For colors I used tactical OD and black for the barrel.
You either need an airbrush set up in which case you will also need to buy the Duracoat thinner to clean your equipment because this stuff ain't water soluble.
Or you need a disposable applicator. The place I bought my Duracoat from was selling something like a can of duster gas for your computer with a glass bottle on the bottom.
It was about $17cdn per 4oz duracoat, $11 for the degreaser and $18 per disposable applicator.
You could use a spraypaint but you'll have to primer and probably touch up before long.
If you are buying a gun with this project in mind, for the cost of the materials, duracoat and applicators needed to do one gun, it might be worth puting the extra money towards a better quality rifle from the start.
But if you have one of these already and/or you have more than one gun to paint, this is easily worth the money.
If you have an airbrush it will also cut the cost.
If not you will need one applicator for each color of Duracoat, and you can't re-use it.
There's supposed to be enough gas in one to apply an entire 4oz bottle of coat, so to get the most out of it, round up everything you might want to paint, prep them all, mix the entire bottle and use it up.
You only get one shot, the paint will cure in the applicator after a while.
Our mistake was that we mixed the enitre bottle thinking we'd barely have enough to do what we wanted.
In fact we had more than enough to paint the L96, my P90's frame, 1911's frame, my friend's glock's frame and my flashlight.
After that we still had half a bottle left, though the guns could have used a few more coats, I would have liked to have done some of my knives and other outdoors equipment, we could have even done my friend's P90.
Here are some before shots.