I would like to start by thanking SIX4 who made this all possible by providing me with the pictures and such.
This article is for people both who are starting out and who have been playing for a while. It contains how to choose a gun, gear, and many other equipment you will need on the field. These are tried and true guideline from years of experience in paintball, Airsoft, cadets, and working with the reserves. It may not be a short read, but it will definitely get you ready for what’s to come. So let’s make effort here, 20~30min of reading and you can have the most fun for years to come.
It may not be a short read, but it will be worth it. So let’s get started.
Table of Contents:
Step 1: Age Verification
Step 2: Your Body Size
Step 3: The Gun
Step 4: The BDU/Camouflage/T-Shirt
Step 5: Chest Rig/Vest
Step 6: Miscellaneous wear
Step 7: Goggles and Safety Eyewear
Step 8: Other Accessories
Step 1: Get Age Verified(Canada Only)
If this is the first FAQ thread you are reading, then you should probably read up on the situation of the Airsoft in Canada here: http://www.airsoftcanada.com/showthread.php?t=23034
After reading that, it should be clear to you why you should be age-verified. Follow the directions in this thread. Getting age-verified will let you access all the retailers in Canada!
After you have gotten Age-verified, you are ready to start shopping worry free! Now let’s get this show on the road.
Step 2: Your body size
Most of you maybe surprised to hear that your body size is actually the most significant factor in choosing the right equipment. Not only will it help you choose your gun, but also your gears. Correctly chosen equipments will provide you with maximum manoeuvrability on the field. If you have a smaller body structure(5’7” or shorter), you aren’t going to be able to swing around an M16 with full stock very easily. On the other hand, if you are a giant hulk who literally eats an entire cow for lunch(I’m talking 6’1 or taller), then don’t be expecting to be very satisfied by holding a puny MP7 in those manly hands. The question here is whether a gun/gear is suited for you or not, and size plays the most important role here.
As you can see, M16 stocks are pretty big.
You should know your body size to the centimetres; they will come in handy when choosing your sizing for your gears. These things include, but not limited to: BDU, T-Shirt, Hat, Gloves, and Boots. The only thing worse than a broken gun is you being uncomfortable in your clothing. Tight pants will disable you from running, tight shirt/BDU could give you hard time breathing and will lower your arm flexibility. Tight hat gives you a headache after a certain time, too loose and it will bother you to death. However, loose clothing will often get caught on tree branches and making it very hard to move around in a bushy area. Choosing the right sizing of clothing for you is the first and foremost thing you should look for when shopping for gears. The more flexibility you have, the more agile you are. And when you are on the field, you want all the agility you can get, trust me on this one.
Start by measuring the following in inches: Height, Chest circumference, Waist circumference, Hip circumference, Inseam(legs), Head circumference(Hat), and Finger length(gloves). After you are done measuring yourself, keep the record, you will need it in the later section.
Section Summary: -Measure your body, and know your sizing well-
Step 3: The Gun
Choosing the right gun is probably the hardest part of the process of starting Airsoft. The decision will be influenced by many factors, and getting the perfect gun is not an easy task to do. But if you do some research, you will be sure to have made the right choice in the end.
These are the factors that will influence you in purchasing your first gun.
1: Your play style
2: Your body size
3: The general looks of the gun
4: Gun’s manoeuvrability itself
5: Upgrade potential
6: Gun’s solidness(Externals)
7: Gun’s Reliability(Internals)
8: The field(CQB or Woodland?)
9: Battery Source
The preceding nine factors will determine what type of gun you should purchase.
1: Your play style
This is an important one. If you are a fat ass bastard that hates walking, then you might want a machine gun(a.k.a SAW) type AEG. On the other hand, if you like to move tactically throughout, then you might want an assault rifle. Now, if you are one of those rare idiots that runs across the field screaming gibberish, then smaller compact sub machine guns would be much more suited for you than any other type of AEGs. But you don’t have to be an idiot to use an SMG, if you like sneaking around like Sam Fisher, then an SMG will do just the right job. The main differences here with all of these types of AEGs are the sizes and weight. An SMG has shorter barrel length, and most of them have a retractable or foldable stock for higher manoeuvrability, and since it’s much smaller in size, it will also be lower in weight. Assault rifles tend to have a solid stock and longer barrel, as well as larger magazine capacity than an SMG. A SAW will give you good amount of firepower, mainly because they hold unbelievable amount of ammunition. This type of role is best for players who have huge manly arms because they weigh much more than any other type of guns.
Speaking of rare idiots... but he actually does it in a awesome way.
Now, most people who start out probably want a sniper rifle to begin with, and I will strongly DISAGREE with the choice. The reason being that the stock sniper rifles are not any more accurate than a regular AEG. It would require you to spend hundreds of dollars to upgrade to make it even half descent on the field. Beginners will be very lost while looking for upgrade parts, and will also have trouble upgrading the rifle.
2: Your body size
We’ve talked about this one in Step 2, and by now you should have a basic understanding of why your body size matters. Person with a small body will have trouble fielding larger guns, often the stock will hit your chin, and shooting around cover will also be difficult due to their arm not being long enough to use the stock. A larger person shouldn’t have as much trouble with smaller guns as smaller person would with a larger gun. But sometimes it does happen more so when you can’t get a good grip with a gun because your hands are too large for it. These cases are rare, but it does happen some times. AEGs with foldable stock or a retractable stock are the best ones you could get, because they fit basically everyone.
3: General Looks
This is your own taste. If you don’t think the gun looks good enough for you, then you may not want it. But in a combat situation, how good your rifle looks is about the last thing you care about…
Looks... does it really matter? .. Ya it does
4: Gun's manoeuvrability itself
This basically has to correspond to your body size. Again, Retractable/Foldable stocks are the best. You can change the stock length on the fly as the situation calls for whichever. Keep in mind that even if you get a full stock, it’s not very useful as much as it would be in real steel. Reason behind this is that Airsoft guns are simply not accurate enough to require that much precision and marksmanship. A lot of people spray, and from my own experience, I rarely ever saw anyone using semi auto. Moreover, Airsoft guns does not have recoil, therefore it does not require the shooter to tightly control the gun.
5: Upgrade potential
Sooner or later you will want to upgrade your AEG to better function on the field. Whether it is internal or external, the right parts have to be available to do the job. If there aren’t any, then you won’t be able to upgrade in the future. Most people would first want a red dot sight(a.k.a RDS). They are the best aiming device for Airsoft, as the range and accuracy is just perfect to utilize it to maximum ability. RDS will also give you much more field of view than iron sights. One thing that everyone has to note is that riflescope will not work well with an AEG. They simply do not have the accuracy nor the range. They will help in sighting enemies at farther ranges, but other than that there really is no use of it. Get it only if you have a sniper rifle.
Internally, most new stock guns have the FPS of about 280~330 FPS. Higher velocity will increase your range, but will also destroy your gearbox faster. So far Gearbox Version 6 mainly used in P90 AEGs are thought to be impossible to break even if you tried. But mainstream AEGs such as M4s and AKs use ver.2 and ver.3. Usually the higher the version the better, and ver.3 are far easier to upgrade than a ver.2.
So far the most upgrades available for an AEG is hands down the M4 series. But most people pimp out their M4 to the point where there’s just so much useless junk on it, and it just becomes a dead brick of weight. Remember, a little bit is good, but too much is bad, just like alcohol, most people should know this!
6: Gun’s Solidness(Externals)
The overall solidness of the AEG also comes into question during purchasing. The reason being that if the AEG were to fall apart during a game, you would have a hell of a time trying to fix it your self. On the field, the gun is your life, without a gun, you are pretty much dead, unless you want to throw BBs…
You can find out an AEG’s solidness by reading reviews. But the general conception is that AEGs with metal bodies has less wobble/creaks than AEGs with plastic bodies. It is true for most cases, but not all cases. There are many AEGs with plastic bodies that are just as solid as metal-bodied AEGs. SMGs tend to be more solid than Assault rifles, this is mainly due to the fact that the foregrip is almost one piece with the body. The barrels on SMGs are also shorter, thus effectively reduces the chance of the barrel hitting unwanted trees and such.
It should be announced that M4 series are notorious for having horrible wobble problems. If you have read my “TM M4A1 Review”, then it should be evident where, why and how they are causing so many wobbles. This does not only apply to TM brands. I’ve handled a Systema PTW first hand, mainly to test how solid the gun is compared to the falling apart – TM M4. I was thinking that since the AEG costs upwards of $1800, and is full metal, the quality should be out of this world. The first thing I had done when I held the Systema was turning my left hand(Holding the foregrip) both ways. This was a huge problem with the TM M4, as the foregrip had moved along with my hand, and so did the front Iron Sight! I was hoping that the Systema would not have this problem, but to my dismay, it was still there. Thus proving that first timers should avoid the M4 series AEGs.
7: Gun’s Reliability(Internals)
Internal reliability of the AEG is just as important as the external reliability. You can buy an AEG that has full metal body, but it won’t be any more useful than blowing BBs out of a straw if it can’t shoot any better. A reliable internals would mean something that shoots at a nice FPS, and still fires it consistently throughout for a long period of time. TM guns are very reliable, and should not give you any problems internally for quite a time. Though for first time buyers, 280~310FPS is not very impressive. Especially when the rules are mostly maxed around 400FPS for outdoor games. Newer G&G guns have really nice internals that shoots around 390FPS out of the box, as well as excellent externals. Their gearboxes are also reinforced(Meaning almost never breaks) with metal bushings. Newer Chinese clones can also match the G&G quality. I have recently purchased a Kalash(Dboys) AK74MN(Full metal), and I was more than satisfied with the 400FPS reinforced gearbox. The accuracy was very nice as well. Other china brands such as Jing Gong and CYMA make great starter guns with excellent internals and quality externals.
A perfect shot can be ruined by gun malfunctioning
If you wish to upgrade the internals in the future, consult the following guide first, written by skruface.
It's a really good outline with very detailed information.
8: The field(CQB or Woodland/Outdoors?)
This is an important one. Most CQB facilities allow a maximum velocity of 350FPS, and most outdoors field will allow up to 400FPS. This means that if you have an AEG that shoots 400FPS, then you can’t use it for CQB games. So if you play mainly CQB games, then that would mean that you would either have to downgrade or buy another gun. On the other hand, if you play outdoor games with a CQB gun firing at 300FPS, you will be outranged to no end.
It should also be noted that in CQB facilities, you would not have as much room to swing your AEG as you would in a outdoor field, thus the size of the AEG would have to be much smaller than ones you would use in Outdoor games, and vice versa.
9: The Battery source
This one really doesn’t matter too much. The power of the battery does not affect the power of the AEG, but a higher “mah” rating will provide you more electricity. On the other hand, a higher voltage will give you better trigger response and higher firing rate. Most AEGs uses 8.4volt mini batteries(Usually anywhere from 600~1600mah). They are the worst ones you could get, but a good quality 8.4v mini can generally give you 13rounds per second(give or take +-3), which is exactly what an average real steel Assault Rifle would fire at.
Though if you crave for fast trigger response and higher rate of fire, you can get a higher voltage battery. For example, a 9.6v battery will shoot more rounds per second than an 8.4v. Before, I have used a Kalash AK74MN, which uses the AK Stick type battery(similar to Mini). Mine is rated at 8.4v 1100mah, and it lasted me an entire day without running out on me. I should also note that I don’t try to save ammo at all.
Nowadays I use a type of battery called Lipo, which provides outrageous 11.1v with the battery size of an 8.4v mini. This combined with my new KWA M4A1 gives me 25 rounds per second.... But I'm mainly just in it for the trigger response. Lipo batteries generally last longer than a Nimh or Nicd battery with the same Mah rating.
If you would like to read more about different types of batteries, follow the link below.
So after all the stuff that I’ve just talked about, all is up to you to decide which AEG is right for you, but it would be unfair if I didn’t give a personal opinion on the best AEG available to mankind, so here we go.
My Recommended AEG(Cost/Value/Root of Use wise) of all time:
JG MP5SD6/MP5A5/MP5A5-RAS(Full Metal)
Some people might be shocked to hear that I would recommend the JG MP5SD6(A5 and A5-RAS as well) as the most recommended AEG of all time, but it is absolutely THE ultimate beginner’s gun. There are many reasons for this.
Externally, the JG MP5SD6 has a retractable stock, so it fits smaller or larger person with no problem. The stock also makes it a worthy CQB AND outdoors AEG at the same time. The front end of the gun is not so long like assault rifles, but still has a reasonable barrel length(247mm I believe). The shorter front end also effectively reduces the amount the chance of the gun hitting trees and such(Which noobs does a lot). The gun is made up of mainly ABS plastic, but it has absolutely no wobbles of any kind anywhere. It also takes 8.4v mini batteries.
Internally, the AEG fires at around 350FPS, so it should be just right for CQB games AND Outdoors games. Although the gearbox(ver.2) is not reinforced, it does have metal bushings. Thus it is guaranteed to last to last you a long time without having to open it up(although reshimming is still recommended like for any other AEGs).
The JG MP5SD6 also features many potential upgrades such as claw mount for scopes, and metal bodies. Its ver.2 gearbox is also flourished with compatible parts, but is harder to upgrade.
The JG MP5SD6 is usually sold for around $300~ish price range
Section Summary: Not all AEGs are perfect for you; you have to find the one that suits you the best.
You should expect to spend: $300+
Step 4: The BDU/Camouflage/T-Shirt
Your BDU(Battle Dress Uniform) is what you will always be wearing on the field, so it’s important that you make the right choice before you buy. You should first choose the camouflage you are going to use. If you are going to play CQB games, ACU, Urban, or even flat black would work. For outdoor games, there’s going to be unlimited choice for you. Most players in Canada likes to use CADPAT(duh), but CADPAT does not always work for every environment. The pattern CADPAT itself features more green than most other woodland patterns, and that is a huge problem if the area you play in features many trees. Why is it a problem? You may ask, it’s because trees are brown! This is a mistake that many people make when choosing a camouflage. CADPAT will work well in bushy/grassy areas, but not in areas where trees are dominant.
As you can see, green is not brown(Picture from actual airsoft game).
If you play in tree dominant areas, the best camouflage to get is the MARPAT or brown coloured camoflauges. MARPAT features mainly brown with a reasonable amount of green so even in grassy areas, it still works well. I personally use them and love them. However, you should find a camoflauge that best fits the field that YOU play at.
Moreover, Digital Patterns aren't the only things to choose from. There are many other excellent camos such as Flecktarn, US Woodland, DPM, ... etc. There are endless possiblities on what you can wear for your BDU.
There are many different materials in which BDUs could be made out of. Most of the time BDUs would be made from 50% Cotton and 50% Polyester. These ones are okay, but after heavy washing, the colour will start to fade away. Eventually their colour will look bland and white, somewhat closer to the ACU pattern. BDUs with faded colours are surprisingly easy to spot in the woods, so preventing them from losing colour is important. There are many tricks to avoid losing colour. The easiest way is to wash them inside out with ONLY cold water, and that means NO detergents. This should prevent them from losing colour at all. But it should be noted that a little bit of lost colour is good, as a BDU too bright will also be easy to spot in the woods.
Recently, many companies have started producing BDUs featuring DuPont Teflon Coating technology. These Teflon coated BDUs feels much like polyester and never loses colour. I find these to be somewhat stupid as bright BDUs are easy to be spotted, but some people like them because they don’t have to worry about losing colour.
This picture is great for comparing different materials of BDU.
The player on the far left and second from the right are wearing Teflon coated BDUs, the rest are wearing Cotton and Polyester typed BDUs.
Also note the third player from the left. Although he is wearing the same MARPAT pattern as the others, his has lost colour due to major washing.
Obviously you will be wearing something under your BDU as well. Maybe not during summer time but all other seasons you should be wearing a T-shirt inside because they will protect your skin in any case anything gets through your BDU. The most potent thing is a branch with needle like structures on them, such as roses.
There really aren’t too many stuff to choose from, but normal cotton T-Shirt would do just fine, as long as they’re not white and is painfully obvious. The only thing to look out for here is not to make it bright and not too tight. You will lose arm flexibility if it’s too tight, unless it’s purposely designed to be a tight fit.
UnderArmour brand makes great tight fitting T-shirts that expenditures heat and moisture away from your body. These are great stuff, especially for summer time, but you don’t really need it unless you run extensively.
Section Summary: Any camouflage that corresponds to the environment, materials of the BDU don’t matter very much.
You should expect to spend: $30 ~$80 on BDU, $5~$10 on T-Shirt, $40~60(UnderArmour)
Step 5: Chest Rig/Vest
Chest rigs and Vests can be important, it mainly depends on what type of games you play. They mainly function as a mode of carrying extra magazines and such. They become really useful if you need to carry many things with you on the field. These become an essential for Mil-Sim games where going back to the parking lot for a sip of water is not allowed. Chest rigs and vests are usually made out of 600D Codura Nylon Materials, which feels just like polyester, but does not rip under most circumstances. These materials are really nice, I’ve crawled, jumped, and got shot with them on and never got any damage. But always keep in mind that if you have only so many things that you can fit them all in your BDU pouches, then don’t use neither chest rig nor vest. The lighter you are, the more agile you become. Both Chest rigs and vests are adjustable to most body sizes ranging from 5’5” to 6’2” for most products.
Chest rigs are much lighter than a vest, and is much more flexible as well. Unlike a vest, chest rig does not cover your entire body, but hangs onto your shoulders and waist by means of straps. The rig usually consists of 3 or more magazine pouches along with 2 other miscellaneous pouches. Since they don’t cover your entire body, it’s much more comfortable than a vest. It also provides more arm flexibility compared to vests.
Example of a chest rig
Vests are similar to Chest rigs, but the main difference here is that it's more like a jacket that you wear over you're BDU. It covers mots of the upper body(Except for the arms) and is usually worn using zippers. One advantage that vests have over chest rigs is that MOST vests are MOLLE compatible. MOLLE is basically just a bunch of straps on the vest where you can attach anything that’s MOLLE compatible. This means that you can customize your own rig in any way you want. However, there are some chest rigs that support MOLLE on the market these days.
Example of a vest
Again, it’s important that the Chest rig/Vest you get has the right pouch for the type of the magazine your AEG uses. An AK47 7.62mm Magazine will not fit inside an M16/M4 type 5.56mm magazine pouch.
Section Summary: Chest rigs are usually better than vests
You should expect to spend: $15~$60 on Chest rigs, and $30 or over for vests. High end rigs can cost up to $1000
: Second half of the guide is on Page 3 of this thread.