I'm going to say it's probably a better idea to get a weapons/propmaster on set just because then you're not as responsible for that stuff (passing the buck for the win).
That said, I do understand as an independent/student filmmaker you're working with tight budgets and all that so maybe find someone who's willing to help out film students for a small gratuity.
As far as collecting goes. Technically I'm a collector/chairsofter at the moment because of school stuff and not being in Canada so I have to hire out gear when I want to play. There are other collectors, collector/players, or just players. Then there's re-enactors, LEO/Mil training (don't think that happens very often though since they have MILES and Simunition but I think some US Army/Marine companies/battalions have tried out airsoft for training). We're actually quite a varied bunch from white collar Engineers and Lawyers, to blue collar Carpenters and Machinists and all that.
PS: "DEWAT" ("DEactivated WAr Trophies") guns may sometimes be cheaper than their airsoft equivalents, so if you want a No.4 Lee Enfield or something it's probably more cost effective to buy a DEWAT than modding an airsoft gun to a No.4. But then again there are probably some guns that are cheaper airsoft wise than their deactivated equivalents.
ಠ_ಠLess QQ more Pew Pew
READY TO >> RACE