Okay, so when I got into airsoft, the first thing i wanted to know was, "where can i get one of these"? then "which one do i want?" Well, this will help you choose.
Step 1: Cheap Vs Expensive & Types of Guns
Well, it all depends on what you will be using your gun for.
LPEG (Low Power Electric Gun)If you want to do backyard skirmishes and never any real battles, when you would be fine with a LPEG
AEG (Automatic Electric Gun)If you want to do battle, then you will want a more expensive AEG. These AEGs range from $80-2000.
Springer: Most people's first gun.Good for backyard skirmishes, but unless you have a high end spring sniper, avoid these on the battlefield.
GBB (Gas Blow Back) a few rare assault weapons are powered by gas Pistols often are.
GNB:Gas Non Blowback. Generally reserved for cheaper pistols, but expensive ones can be this, also.
Full auto is a clear advantage. Also, don't buy cheap guns for a war. Pictured above, Top: good ECHO 1 G36. Below: Crappy Crosman Mosberg Spring gun
Step 2: Choosing Your Role
There are three main airsoft roles. They are: Gunner, Assault, and Sniper. A gunner (also called support) will use an AEG with lots of ammo. His job will be to keep enemies suppressed so assault can move around and shoot the enemies. You will want an accurate gun with a high RoF (rate of fire). You will want at minimum an AK or an M16 with a bipod, and at max a SAW or a Minigun. Assault is the primary killer. They will continually move around to the best position to be behind cover, yet still have a clear view of the enemy. You will want a medium length gun for this, and it should be fairly accurate. There are two kinds of sniper. There is a designated marksman and a true sniper. For true sniper you will want a long gun with a high accuracy and a scope. For designated marksman you can use an assualt weapon with good accuracy and a scope. If you don't want to worry about role, then get a hybrid gun with good accuracy but a high rate of fire. For all these, i use my M16 as a hybrid. (pic above)
Step 3: Price Range
The determining factor. For going out to the field a couple of times a year, you can get a good AEG for about $100. These brands include JG, ECHO 1, A&K, Lancer Tactical, and many more. I have a JG M16. It is good and accurate, but not competition worthy. For A weekend player or one that goes to the field often, you may want something higher quality and better made, such as KWA, G&G, and others. If you want something for backyard use, you can get a cheap LPEG for about $50. (Pic above is my friends and i. I am third person from right)
Step 4: Style/look of Gun
This boils down to personal preference. Some people like futuristic, unrealistic guns, like the alien pulse rifle, others like modern guns like M16s or AK47s, and others like old guns like the Thompson or M40 (pictured above). Some people like conventional mag in front of trigger, others like bullpup rifles with the mag and assembly in the stock.
Step 5: Brand
One thing in airsoft, do not stay loyal to one brand. Get the best deal. Some brands are cheaper than others, but that does not necessarily guarantee higher quality.
Step 6: Mags & Batteries
The three types of mags are Low, Medium, and High capacity mags. Low cap mags are real life size, for most about 10-20 rounds. Medium hold about 60, and hi caps generaly hold 300-500 rounds. Drum and box mags hold up to 4000. For most roles, high caps are good. For support gunner you will want either a few high caps or a drum or box mag. For sniper, you will only need a low or mid cap. For assault, you will want a mid or high cap mag. For my gun, i carry two 300 round high caps. For batteres, the higher the voltage, the higher rate of fire. The higher milliamp rating, the longer the battery lasts.
Step 7: Side Arm
In airsoft, one thing that offers a good advantage is a sidearm. Wether it is a 300$ gas Blowback pistol or a $2 dollar springer. It is good in case your main gun goes out or you run out of ammo. WE is a good,cheap gas pistol brand. KWA and TSD are more expensive, higher quality guns. I have a WE m1911 Pistol (above). It is relitivley cheap ($70), comes with two mags, and shoots about 300 fps. It is a good gun, full metal, and shoots hard for a pistol.
Step 8: Accessories
You will probably want a gun with RIS/Picitanny rails to mount accessories. Optics are one of the big accessories in use. A scope magnifies and give you crosshairs. Good for long range engagements A red dot sight projects a reticle on to a pane of glass and is good for close range and quick aiming. I have a hybrid, a scope with a red dot sight mounted on top. If you email me, i will tell you how to make one. Email is on the last step. Lasers also help find a target without looking down the gun. Flashlights are a must if you are playing at night.
Step 9: Reviews
Reviews are a must when choosing an airsoft gun or accessory. When looking at a gun, i recommend you look at the reviews on the website and on youtube. My favorite youtube reviewer is username: Jarek4 (pic above) Just search Jarek4 and you gun name and brand and he will probably have a review for your gun. Avoid unreviewed guns unless from a well known brand.
Step 10: Retailer
In a perfect world, you would have an airsoft retailer down the street from you. But you probably don't. If you do, buying from them is smart because they will usually be able to test out the guns and also be able to talk to experts. DO NOT BUY FROM WALMART OR A SPORTING GOOD STORE. They are crap. Crosman is a crappy brand except for sidearms. DO not use as a primary. Also, beware of liscensed brand such as Colt or Kalashnikov. These are made by a brand called Cybergun. It is crap. For online retailers, i reccommend AirsoftGI. Evike is also fine. I like airsoftGI because they have good reviews, videos about most of there guns, lots of info, and moderate prices. With coupons you can get 20% off. Also, free shipping above $75. Also, really good costumer service. Evike is good, but less informative and harder to navigate. DO NOT BUY FROM TRINITY AIRSOFT, PYRAMID AIR, AIRSOFT MEGASTORE, OR HOBBYTRON.COM.These will rip you off, and in some cases, have sent a used gun to people paying for a new one. Hobbytron sells cheap guns that break easily. My friend got a sniper rifle from them that had good reviews on other sites, but he bought from Hobbytron, and it had a bent barrel and broke after a few weeks.
Step 11: Game Enhancment Devices (GEDs)
GEDs are things such as claymores, grenades,and smoke grenades. They will throw BBs or release smoke. Smoke grenades are good to cover movements by blocking the enemy's view. Grenades are good for clearing rooms, and claymores are good for booby traps.
Step 12: BBs
DO NOT USE CHEAP AMMO. Cheap ammo can ruin your gun! It can break in the gun, jamming the barrel and stripping the piston. Buy ammo from your field or buy high quality ammo like King Arms. I use .2 or .25 gram BBs. .12 grams are not ment for use in AEGs, only in pistols. I use biodegradable ones. The heavier the ammo, the more accurate, but at the price of downgraded speed and range. For AEGs, .2 or.25 is the best in general. Heavier weight BBs are generally for snipers. If ammo breaks in your gun, DO NOT FIRE! Unjam it. Just Google "How to unjam your barrel airsoft".
Step 13: Now, Time for Stradegies
Okay, so in airsoft, one of the main things is being honest. By that i mean that i mean that airsoft is a game of honesty. Unlike paintball, if you get hit, others can't tell. So call your hits, even if you want to still stay in the game. Second, stay behind cover. By this, i dont mean hide like a noob and never take a shot or ever come out from behind cover. I mean that you want to expose as little part of your body as possible. Rule #3 is do not go on the defensive. Offense will kick you to kingdom come. You want to continually move forward and also move between cover. Rule #4, don't have more than two people hiding behind one cover. My friends decided to hide behind one wooden thing in a battle. It was not their fault, because there was grass behind them, giving them a false sense of security. But you are never safe on the battlefield. Them and only two others enemies were left, and they were watching everywhere but behind them. The two people snuck through the grass behind them and full autoed their butts. The pic of my three friends is above. Another thing is try to stay with a teammate. If you are being a gunner, you won't need one, or if you are hiding in wait, but if you are in a firefight, you want a teammate. He will be the one to save your butt from the flankers on the other team. A sniper will probably want a spotter with him to watch his back, because he will usually be focused on one target further away. Also, flanking is almost always the way to go. Going through the middle is the way to get shot from three sides at once. Go through the sides. Also, if you see an enemy coming towards you, do not get out of cover until they are in range. A good distance for most AEGs is about 100 feet.
Step 14: Full Auto Vs Semi Auto
Basically, i leave my gun on semi to conserve ammo, unless i see an enemy and he doesn't see me. Then i switch to full auto in order to make sure i don't miss. If you are using a high cap mag, i generally leave it on full auto, but shoot conservatively.
Step 15: Good Luck!
So, Good luck! as ASGI says, Get Out And Play!
For questions, please email me at email@example.com