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.


Step 1: 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


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 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


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.


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

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.


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

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

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

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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162 Discussions


Question 1 year ago on Step 5

Is a KWA airsoft m4 a good beginner gun (Ik about the mag compatability but im was thinking of buying the kwa mags if i was to purchase one)
as well as which model( vm4? or other?)


2 years ago

The best airsoft brands are definatelty Tokyo Marui, G&G and Classic Army. I also feel Umarex is worth noting and they are super realistic because of their licensed products with H&K.


2 years ago

I have a Umarex USP and it still runs and the fact it has no blowback allows me to get 7 mags out of one CO2 cartridge.


2 years ago

I live in Australia do you know if it's legal

1 reply
Dark ScorpionBuck10

Reply 2 years ago

Hey Buck10 How are ya mate I live in AU as well. Airsoft guns are pretty much illegal and impossible to acquire here in AU. Google it there's plenty of info out there that's easy to access about the subject. Importing an Airsoft gun of any kind to a state or territory were it is illegal is considered as serious an offense as importing a real firearm. It differs for each state/territory. Here is an insert from Wikipedia about Airsoft in AU.

"As a general rule, the following types of Airsoft guns are illegal in all states:

  1. Guns capable of fully automatic fire.
  2. Guns that outwardly resemble a sub-machine gun or machine pistol.

In addition, each state has its own legislation regarding possession and use of airsoft guns"

In NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and TAS Airsoft of any kind is prohibited and would most probably be considered a serious criminal offense if you tried to get one there.

Paintball guns are illegal in NT but airsoft is legal although you would have to acquire a special firearm license. Not sure about WA but it might be illegal as well.

I think its BS that we can't have these awesome guns here in AU but hey if the Liberals win this election that all might change in the future. The Liberals are supposedly thinking about deregulating and legalizing airsoft and real firearms in our not to distant future. So you never know in a couple of years we might actually be able to freely purchase and own airsoft and real firearms in Australia. Now that would be interesting!!! Cheers mate.


3 years ago

Hi! I'm new to the airsoft community and I was thinking about buying a CO2 (12g) H&K USP medium size (It goes at 350 FPS so I can use it at most arenas). Should I buy?

3 replies

It's been years since I last played airsoft but if you're just starting off, you ca't go wrong with almost any airsoft gun that you pick.

If you're anything like me, you'll have another one in no time.

Glenn LylaH

4 years 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

2 replies
HoldenB1Glenn LylaH

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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.


5 years ago on Step 8

i s aftermath airsoft any good? thanks


6 years ago on Introduction

quick question is aftermath a good brand if so i want to get the m4 can you help me thanks

Not necessarily bad (it just depends on what you end up buying). or will likely have a better selection.


6 years ago on Introduction

ah nice to see you have the guns insted of geting pics of the internet!!


8 years ago on Step 7

I have an electric one and its mag is the battery and the scope is the loader.