You must have been away for awhile.
While most guns are cheaper and more easily attainable now, exciting things have been done with technology. Open bolt systems, stainless steel parts, and the combination of real steel parts just to name an extreme few. So, some weapons do cost an arm and a leg, but are very much worth the money. Better engineering and sterner stuff always drives the cost up. Luckily for you, there are several decent versions of the "M14".
High Caps unfortunately haven't gone the way of the dodo. In many countries, high caps are actually a standard of the game, and will continue to be given out with new guns. However; many "elitist" teams such as ours, do not allow them, and use a low cap standard. Some teams do real caps, and others limit the amount of mid caps you can carry to a few. Which brings me to my next point. The elitism thing has grown, but it depends on where you stand. Some people claim groups are elitist because they aren't allowed to use high caps. The truth is, is that airsoft has evolved into many different games/sports. You have groups that want the competitive nature of all real steel modern military gear, night vision, and military style training, then there are reinactors, clearsofters (jeans, t-shirts, and walmart guns), and everything in between. There are still many places/games that are still open to everyone, but most of these groups are starting to stick with their own people and game styles. It's not at all a bad thing though.
My suggestion, is find a group who shares you ideals, and is your speed. I'm certain you will find Airsoft is better than ever. But if the existence of these little things bother you, Airsoft isn't for you.
Good for you for returning. More airsofters are always needed.
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