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Old May 5th, 2013, 16:44   #1
e-luder's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Centre Mass
Buying your First Pistol: A Short Guide

Threads are popping up all over the place asking “what should I get? This or this?” or “which is best for me?” There are scores of them scattered on this forum alone. Each one weighing the pro’s and con’s of the selected sidearm.

While the majority of the community chimes in on their experiences and knowledge of said sidearm, ultimately it is up to Mister OP to make the decision FOR HIM/HER.

WE, as in the Airsoft Canada Community, cannot make the decision for you. All we can offer you is our experiences and/or expertise- however negative and however positive they may be. Take it for what’s worth.

Choosing the RIGHT sidearm can be daunting. We were all there before. We all asked the same question that Mister OP is asking now. What’s the best brand to look for? How durable is such and such? How much support does this sidearm have in terms of replacement parts? The list of questions can go on.

I still remember my first purchase. I first heard about the term “airsoft gun” when I was living in the southwestern tip of Manitoba (Reppin’ Melita and Virden, yo!) quite a while ago. I was covering some story of some robbery that had gone down near our local grocery store. Upon further investigation, the gun used in the robbery was in fact an airsoft gun by some bored teen agers.

In order for me to cover the story from all angles, I went into research mode and found out everything I can about the term “airsoft” and what it means “to airsoft”. That’s how it all began for me.

The first airsoft gun I ever bought was a springer Glock (surprise, surprise) to learn and operate. Once I was ready to “upgrade”, questions began to pop up. And let me tell you, there were A LOT of questions.

So for the newbie in you that is looking for your first gun, here are something’s to consider.

“This is my first pistol. What should I expect?”

First of all, if this is your first gun, expect airsoft “to be like the real thing”. Airsoft guns resemble their real steel counterparts and provide you with a close parallelism in terms of operation. They will give you a basic crash course in firearm safety handling and operation. So treat them with respect.

When you ask a question on the forums and you get answers that you didn’t expect, take it openly and consider what is being said. Some members on this forum have vast amount of knowledge. It’s worth taking into account what they have to say…

Anyways, here is a general overview of a few well known airsoft pistol manufacturers.

Tokyo Marui:

The Tokyo Marui is one of the most venerable creators of ANY airsoft guns in the current market. Most aftermarket companies cater their parts to Tokyo Marui’s specifications. As a result, Mister OP can look forward to many replacement parts.

The Tokyo Marui platforms are so great that some companies have begun duplicating their technology/design. So if you can’t find a part, it’s possible for one to invest in a “fixer” of a gun and steal parts from that gun to install to the new gun.

Though Tokyo Marui has been heralded as the be all and end all of airsoft guns, in many cases, their “clones” have surpassed them. Some clones out there do very well in terms of performance than their Marui counterpart.

One of the things that Mister OP should consider when looking at Marui pistols are their plastickiness. They are made of plastic. This makes the gun lightweight. The tradeoff is that because the gun is made of plastic, the gun is lightweight. This means that the pistol has a natural pointability. As well, plastic guns have a higher rate of fire, a nice and crisp slide stroke, very good gas efficiency and hard kick.


I find that the opinions WE’s line of pistols are 50/50. People like it and people hate it.

In the past, WE have been to known whore out products that have a short lifespan. Mainly, their magazines were known to leak and guns known to have terrible gas efficiency. Plus, parts break after a couple of rounds down the barrel.

One can’t help but to expect these kinds of issues when considering a WEI-Tech pistol. However, today’s WEI-Tech’s pistol products have been performing quite well. In fact, some people would even say that WE have redeemed themselves with their current line of products and are worth the big bucks.

KU-Juan Works (KJ Works, KJW):

I highly recommend the KJW. I run a KJW HiCapa 5.1, full metal (upper/lower), model KP-05, using CO2 magazines. To date, I've fired about 30 magazines through it. There is no signs of wear/tear, cracks, parts shaking loose, or what-have-you. The pistol has run consistently with no jams, double-feeds, or incomplete slide cycles (except in those instances when the CO2 powerlette is giving out).

My next pistol will be a KJW 1911A1 (classic), solely based on this pistol's performance. It's reliable, kicks hard, and build is fantastic. Wait for your AV to go through - you'll find some good full-metal pistols in the AV'ed retailer and used equipment section, including the model you're looking for. I think you won't regret it.
By Kullwarrior:

KSC System 7/ KWA NS2
are best summarized as great training tool for firearm community.
-1:1 dimension & nearly same weight
-Realistic function
-fast and crisp blowback
-highly reliable (if you follow the instruction, ie JPN version use 134a, KWA/KSC Taiwan 134a/green gas)
-Really good durability for the price
-Replacement part are easy to source w/ KWAUSA and (where as TM is more along the lines of non existent)

The biggest flaw as people point out before,
-It not like TM where the pistol can be use to hit people out 150ft
-System 7/NS2 have tight grouping within 100ft, but the accuracy between 100-125 is not spectacular. 125ft+ is a train wreck, grouping is horrible, hop up doesn't work well past it.
-Bucking, I hate to say it the bucking swell is a PITA, there's a reason I keep 3 backup bucking

If you want to use it for outdoor skirmish consider TM system,
If you want to use it as a CQB role or Airsoft IPSC get KSC System 7

btw despite KWA got umarex trademark, it has the famous white laser etch "you are umarex's *****" KSC Taiwan simply don't have those ugly words
There are more out there. Stark Arms, VFC... all those guys.
As an aside, here is a general characteristic chart of each model sidearm.

***Note: Once again, some of these characteristics listed may differ depending on the brand. In some of these cases, they may not hold true. I tried to be as general as possible but my subjectivity is showing. lol.****

here is a few revisions from ILLusion, a very respected gun builder:
-Extremely robust
-A bajillion parts available
-Durable design
-Dual safety levers <-- Not necessarily true. Depends on the model. Many are single-sided only (Detonics, Colt M1911A1, Series 70, etc)
-Highly customizable
-Slim profile
-Short, crisp and very predictable trigger <-- Not necessarily true. Depends on the brand.
-Gas reservoir can be an issue
-/+Single stack

2011s (Hi-Capa):
-Highly customizable
-A bajillion parts available
-Extremely robust
-Hi-cap magazine
-Extremely robust <-- The 5.1 slide is more likely to break on propane, than the 4.3 is.
-Durable Design This would be a redundant item to "Extremely robust", no?
-Accurate <-- This item should probably apply to the 1911 series as well, as there are very few differences between the two platforms.
-Strong kick <-- This item should probably apply to the 1911 series as well.

-Low Bore axis
-Accuracy is not good but it’s not bad either
-Good kick
-Good grip angle <-- This is subjective. Different people have different preferences for grip angle
-Good aftermarket support
-Highly customizable
-Not as durable as 1911/2011

-Good weight
-Excellent magazines
-Crisp Blowback
-Poor gas efficiency
-Poor seals
-Not much aftermarket support <-- I would beg to differ. There is decent aftermarket support for this. You can change out *most* components of this platform. Granted, there is not much variety, and there are only one brand or two (Guarder) that offers a full upgrade package for all components of the gun.
-Bulky grips
-Safety is located on the slide
SIG P226
-Decent amount of aftermarket products
-Working decocker
-DA/SA action
-Excellent ergonomics
-Good weight
-Great grip angle
-Grip is similar to an M9


-Great gas efficiency (KWA line anyways)
-Has occasional lemons
-Trigger is prone to breakage
-Working decocker
-Good ergonomics
-Good weight
-Decocker is prone to breakage
-Good Kick
-Kick is on the low side

“Why Do people keep telling me to research before making a purchase?”

Knowing and being knowledgeable is always a good thing.

When Airsoft Canada (…err Airsoft Canadians? lol) tell Mister OP to read, they are saying “Get some product information” for Mister OP’s benefit. They are saying “know some ins and outs of the product you are interested in”. They are saying to have a general overview of how the gun works and functions.

It is this expectation of Mister OP that helps the community give much richer answers than say…”KWA is best”. When Mister OP asks “What do you think I should get”, while it’s not futile to ask this, Mister OP will receive an answer like “Well, try the gun out” or the response will be some obscure link to a product review.

The community does this to inform Mister OP so that Mister OP will ask a very specific question like “I heard that KWA is gas efficient. How many magazines can I shoot after each charge?” To which he’ll get the answer “2-3 mags worth” or “It does very well. I can get x-amount before mine runs out”.

Not only did Mister OP get a much more beneficial answer but also he can ask follow up questions therein.

One of the best ways of researching is through the… wait for it… uhh…Internet?

Most of the pro’s and con’s of a particular airsoft pistol can be found online through reviews. In fact, there is a review section of this forum that seem to go unnoticed at times and it’s a great source of information for people looking for opinions.

Most reviews will also outline the basic features of the pistol Mister OP is after. The only thing to be wary about is duration of ownership. Most reviews operate on the first impression basis. Mister OP will have not have a report on the durability of said pistol because the information will be not present.

In addition to reading, researching can also involve watching videos. It’s fun! Plus Mister OP can see how the gun operates.

Researching also provides you with general information when you are at a shop and ready to buy. Knowing information gives you power. It will give you the power the wade through the bullshit sales pitches that reps will try to feed you. With the knowledge you gain from researching, you will be able to ask specific questions that pertain to your gun. This gives you the power to tell whether or not the sales associate is:

1). Competent or not in terms of his product knowledge
2). If he is being honest with you
3). IF he just wants to make a sale

Let’s be honest, we wouldn’t buy a car from a lousy salesman that knows absolutely nothing about the car in question would we? And if we were going to, we’d already have made up our minds anyways through our online reading…

“What should I be asking the shopkeep before I make a purchase?”

The main thing you should always ask when you’re dealing with professional airsoft businesses is warranty. How long is your gun covered for and what is covered. What is the return policy? Is there even a warranty on THAT gun? Basically, the business end of a transaction. Some shops may or may not have a warranty plan but it helps to know what service you’ll be entitled to once you make a pick up a gun.

If you have a specific gun in mind and the shop carries this model, politely ask if you may handle said gun. Airsoft shops are among one of the friendliest people on the sales industry. It’s most likely that the guns on display are fondled on a daily basis anyways.

If you’re there to solidify a choice between different models, fondle all of them. Ask the shop owner what customers are saying about the guns you are considering buying. What does the shop think of it? What kind performance does it have? Have they tested the guns for quality control? How does the gun operate? How is the consumption of gas on THIS thing and THAT thing?

If they give you an answer that matches up to what you’ve read, you’ll know, at the very least, that this person KNOWS what he/she is talking about.

When you are at the counter, ask the attendant to dry fire the gun for you so can observe how it functions.

Some shops will even chrony the gun right in front of you. I think that’s great. Not only does it show that the gun is functioning at the time of purchase but it also shows you how the gun operates. Things like the kick of the gun, the velocity reading , RPMS(?), how he handles the gun are all shown with this short but very important and informative test.

“What about buying online? How do I wade through the bullshit?”

The best practice to buying online is always to read information about your desired platform.

Buying online opens the market a little bit but limits the buying experience greatly as you’ll only have pictures and product descriptions to look at.

However, there are things that you can do in order to get a full product description from the retailer or individual:

1). Call the store/person directly

If you are miles or province(s) away from the physical location of the shop you are trying to buy, call them directly. Ask to speak to someone about the product in question and ask as many questions as possible. Get the salesperson’s name. Take notes to what he says to you. Write everything down.

Hang up the phone. Sit on it for a couple of days and call back. Ask for the same person you were speaking to. Don’t remind them who you are. The point is to get as much of the same answers as you got on your first phone call.

2). Ask for A LOT of pictures

If you’re dealing with a private sale (not through a retail store), ask the person you’re dealing with to send as many pictures as she/he can. Make sure that you tell that person to make clear pictures so that you are not mislead.

Always take down the name and address. Even ask for their phone number and email address. This is just for your protection should the gun you receive has been horribly mis-represented during the transaction or if he/she decides to run off with your hard earned cash.

It doesn’t hurt to ask for a video as well. Think of it as a quality control measure.

"I don't have an airsoft shop near me. How can I try out the gun that want to buy?"

This is where you'd have to do the most amount of researching. Because you can't physically hold the gun you want, you should be reading and watching videos as much as possible. At the very least, you can make observations.

How is the gun being handled? How is the gun performing?

What you're looking for when you're reading things is not only the positives but more importantly, the negatives. Are these negatives something you can get past?

If you're serious about your airsoft career, you should show up to game event. In some cases, most events will have the gun you want. At the very least, going to an event will give you some options. Maybe you'll find and a gun that surpasses the one you want.

“What should characteristics should I be looking for when I’m handling the gun that I want to buy?”

When you are handling a gun, there are keynotes that you should be making mentally. These are but not limited to:

1). Ergonomics

How does the gun “feel”? How are the controls? Can you reach them with your fingers? Do you like the trigger stroke? How do you like the grip on this gun vs. that gun? Are the controls getting caught on things when you’re moving around on the gun? Do you like how heavy it is?

These are all things that will impact your experience with your chosen platform. Ergonomically, make sure that your gripping the pistol grip comfortably. Make sure that you can access each control. If it helps you, bring a glove with you and try gripping the gun with it on.

While most people like the weight of a heavy pistol, keep in mind that depending on what type of game you’re playing, you may have to keep the weapon drawn at all times. Having a heavy gun is not necessarily a good thing. If you have to lug it around all day, it can become cumbersome and you’ll tire easily.

As you tire more and more during the duration of the event, you’ll tend to want to drop your arms. It’s like how some UFC fighters drop their hands after round 3 or 4. They can no longer defend themselves.

2). The Sight plane

Do you like the sight plane? Do you like the stock sights installed on THAT gun?

Testing how you see the target using the iron sights is important. It will determine how easily you can pick up your target at any given moment. Try sighting in and pointing the gun if you are able.

3). Operation/Functionality

Do you like how the gun kicks? Is the slide stroke fluent? Do you like the trigger stroke?

Consider how you would operate the gun and how you intend to use it. It should line up with how the gun is demo’d in front of you.

4). Power Source

Consider what power source is recommended for the gun. Some guns, like Tokyo Maruis or Maruzens, have a recommendation that an operator should use duster gas as a power source. While KSC/KWA, WEI-Tech use propane/green gas to power their guns. KWJ can use both CO2 and propane.

Consider also how readily available each power supply is in your area. For example, are you able to get CO2 canisters fairly easily? Also consider how costly each power source is..

5). Craftsmanship/Quality

Is the craftsmanship relatively decent? That is, does it feel like a toy or does it feel like a “gun”?

Consider what material the gun is made out of. Mister OP should be asking what parts of the gun is made of plastic and what parts are made of metal (in general). Ask the person if you can take a look at the internals of the gun and make a note of which part looks brittle and how if such a part is attainable if it breaks. If you’re buying online, ask for detailed photos during your transaction. Even ask for a video tour if need be.

“How come these guns are so expensive compared to those guns?”

Pricing in Canada has never been this good. I can remember buying my KSC USP Compact (with and SD Kit installed) from an ASC retailer two years ago that cost me $520. These days, the same basic set up cost $200 at a certain airsoft shop. Crazy!

But even at these prices, there are still retailers advertising their guns at the $300+ range. It’s hard to answer this question from my perspective, as I’m not a retailer. However, I sometimes get asked to build guns for other people. And usually the final prices are marked up quite a bit.

The reasons why I’ve done this are:

1). To cover the cost of importation/shipping fees for parts
2). To cover the cost of acquiring the base gun
3). To cover the cost of parts themselves

So, why are guns more expensive than others? Simply put, it’s because of the importation and shipping least for me.

Some retailers may want to chime in. I’m sure there are other factors that determine their price point for a part or product.

“Where can I get this gun?”

Being age verified in this forum gives you the best access to the best selection of guns in Canada. Some of the stuff that I see on there are so good and rare that I can’t pass it up. The prices in the Classifieds section are also below current retail prices. MOST guns also come pre-kitted with extra little things like a metal slide and barrel set or some cool sights. The seller will often at times give you some spare parts as an added bonus. The downside? None if you can get past the fact that they’ve been used.

Most sellers are honest with their product. But I find that if a buyer doesn’t ask all the right questions, he/she will be misled and the product they had hoped to receive is not what it seemed. So ask questions if you’re buying from the Classifieds.

Outside of the forums, it’s no secret that airsoft guns are being sold in Canada. While the forum restricts me from listing websites, I can only suggest that Mister OP take into consideration what we’ve spoken about so far.

The best practice for buying online is to always read a hefty amount of information pertaining to your desired sidearm. Then, if possible, query the online webshop about any concerns you have. Remember; be very specific with your questions. Most online shops are very busy and they will not want a dilly-dally generic question to answer.

“Should I buy used or new?”

You don’t always need to buy a new a gun. Though a brand new gun operates better than a completely decked out gun, it does have distinct advantages:

1). A new gun will have a better fitment in its stock form

Rolling out of the factory, the gun’s part is mated to each component better than Mister OP’s attempt at upgrading. When Mister OP tries to upgrade a gun, he ruins the tolerances these parts. This is because, not all aftermarket parts hold the same specifications as the stock ones. As a result, Mister OP has to do whatever he feels he needs to do in order for the part to function.

This could mean over sanding the part and having a loose fitting, for example. A slide can have the worst wobble in the world but as long as it works, it’s deemed “perfectly OK” by the seller.

2). A brand new gun + a brand new (new to airsoft) operator = great learning experience

For the Mister Ops out there that are looking to learn about the principles behind how an airsoft pistol operates, a new gun will provide that platform. A new gun will give Mister OP the opportunity to take the time and learn how to upgrade an airsoft pistol. He gains the knowledge of how to maintain an airsoft pistol, learn about it’s components, learn how they should function and how to install newly acquired parts.

A brand new and untouched airsoft pistol should be the way to do this because Mister OP will get a fully functioning gun. He will be happier because he is less likely to encounter any hidden misfortune than when he buys a used gun. That is, he is less likely to get a gun with missing or broken parts.

This is just two of the reasons. I can go on but I just don’t want to type anymore.
However, buying a used gun isn’t a bad thing either. It also holds some very distinct advantages over buying a new gun. These are:

1). Buying a used gun has a great price point.

Again if Mister OP can get past the idea that the gun has already been used, he can get a steal of a deal on the gun he wants. Most times, in the Classifieds, people are willing to part with any extra parts they’ve accumulated throughout their duration of ownership of the pistol. Some parts may be brand new and never been used altogether.

2). Just because it’s used it doesn’t mean it’s a shit storm of a gun

There are used guns out there that are in pristine condition. Hardly any scratches or scuff marks at all. Though it may have seen heavy use, the gun can look like it’s in immaculate condition. Even it’s internals. This is why it’s important to ask for pictures during the transaction.

Case in point, I personally bought a used Marui 226. The previous operator took good care of it. He upgraded the system with a full metal unit and upgraded internals and hand controls. He gamed it hard. It was hard to believe that when I got the gun, there were only a few scuffmarks from his holster…and they weren’t even noticeable. Gave me four mags and the extra parts to boot. The total asking price was and insane $450. That, to me, was a steal considering the FMU Kit was almost the same price as the stock gun.

So, the deal is out there. Mister OP just has to look.
…and get age verified

Upgraded guns VS A Used Gun

Just to be clear, there is a fine line between an upgraded gun and a used gun. An upgraded gun may not necessarily be used in the same manner as a "used" gun would be. It could simply mean that the gun has gone through a testing phase to ensure that all parts are melded properly with each other. This could mean that the gun has not seen any action just yet.

When I say used gun, I mean a gun that has seen action. A gun that has been in out of holsters. A gun that has been dropped a few times. A gun that has that a some scratches on the body of the magazine from insertion. A gun that has some new sights installed because the stock ones fell out during operation. A gun that has been plinked extensively.

That's what I mean. So there is a difference.

“Why would I consider knowing if a gun is supported with aftermarket stuff if I don’t intend on souping my gun up? Why would I even bother upgrading the gun I’m thinking of getting?”

Upgrading guns is like an addiction for some people. I fall victim to this, as most of my guns don’t remain in stock form.

However, before purchasing a gun, you have to consider the support you will receive with your gun. That is, if a part breaks, is there a company out there that sells a replacement? Or will you be stuck with a broken gun forever?

For what it’s worth, Mister OP doesn’t NEED to upgrade his gun unless a part breaks.

Other things to consider:


Always keep a steady budget some extra cash. There are things that will need to purchased along with the gun. Here are a few:

-A few extra mags can’t hurt
-A gas adapter
-Some sort of transport bag
-BB loader?

…and whatever stupid crap you’d like to attach to your gun (lights, lasers, CMOREs, MRDS, Compensators, strike kits, etc, etc…)

2) Compatibility with other gun parts

While you’re doing your research for said pistol, it can’t hurt to know if some parts from an identical gun from a different manufacturer can be installed in your original choice. This will help in the long run should one part of the gun break and you cannot find a suitable replacement.

3) The initial FPS output of the gun you want to buy

Depending on how hot that sucker is, it may not be admissible in some games. Make sure that the pistol you want has the ability to simmer down if it shoots at a high velocity.

Looks for guides and products on how this can be done with your pistol in mind.

“So, which gun should I get?


Ultimately, it’s down to Mister OP’s preferences. No one can tell him what is right for him but him.

Final Remarks:

Hope that helps.
For added reading, please read the stickied posts on this forum. There are scores of relevant information that will assist you in your choice.

No You Can't Import Guns
Prices For the CLassifieds
New players - Navigating ASC - Surviving Your First Game and other essentials

Also don’t forget about the search function on this forum. If you are looking to compare guns, chances are, someone already asked THAT question. So Search for it.

So...go fourth Mister OP. Read as much as you can. THen post your concerns here on this forum.

Someone will be with you shortly.

"May you fight with the strength of ten full grown men."

Last edited by e-luder; May 7th, 2013 at 22:58..
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