Airsoft items, especially airsoft guns, go though a tremendous amount of wear and tear. Take the time to spot damaged or abused equipment. Whenever possible, ask to test the item before purchasing.
Be wary of classifieds and auctions.
Many classified/auctions sell used equipment as well as new - be sure to know which you will be getting. Keep an eye out for counterfeits - it is not uncommon for players to purchase an airsoft gun over $300 only to realize later on that they received a poor quality clone (sometimes, even the sellers do not realize they have a clone).
Find a reputable airsoft retailer/distributor.
Avoid the large sport stores and “big box” stores - they rarely offer and wide selection of quality airsoft equipment.
You will want to find a retailer or distributor with staff that is knowledgeable of the wide variety of airsoft products and related combat gear. Online retailers are, of course, another great way to find your next purchase.
Find a reputable airsoft manufacturer
You will want to find a tried and true manufacturer that produces a high-quality airsoft gun.
General purchasing tips
Do your gun research on an individual basis, as all guns are not created equal. There are a wide variety of weapons to select from, each having as many pros and cons as their real-life variants.
Do purchase an airsoft gun with metal components whenever possible, avoiding low-grade plastic bodies/receivers and ALWAYS avoid gun with plastic internal components (especially gearboxes). This is not to be confused with durable plastic composites.
Do NOT purchase a 'clearsoft' gun (not to be confused with Canada-legal guns) - though they may be labeled as an airsoft gun, they typically fail to compare in quality and performance.
Purchasing An Airsoft GunWhen deciding on your airsoft gun, you must consider many different factors. The gun you choose should reflect your environment, playstyle, and role on the battlefield. Playing 'rush' games while providing cover fire in an indoor CQB (Close Quarters Battle) arena is very different than sniping a 'survival' game in a wide-acre forest.
For your first purchase, the United Task Force would suggest choosing an AEG (Automatic Electric Gun) in an assault rifle or sub-machine gun variant that performs between 350-400 FPS (feet per second) using .20g rounds. You should also consider a gun that has a upgrade and customization options.
One of the primary factors in an airsoft weapon is it's effective range (or shooting distance). Weapon ranges are determined by the combination of energy output (in feet per second), hop-up unit, pellet weight, and fire angle.
Airsoft guns are typically powered by an electric motor, manual spring loading, or compressed gas to launch a pellet. Here are some pros and cons of each type:
Weapon types usually emulate their real-life counterparts, here are the pros and cons for each type:
Purchasing Airsoft NecessitiesAside from your airsoft gun, you will require some additional equipment before you start participating on the battlefield.
A 6mm pellet moving at typical velocities can easily damage eyes and/or cause blindness - it is important that you have the proper eye protection when shooting an airsoft gun. You will want some sort of eye protection that meets or exceeds an ANSI Z87.1 impact rating.
For your first purchase, the United Task Force would suggest choosing sealed goggles (with an anti-fog solution). There are a wide variety available, including those that allow you to wear prescription glasses underneath. If, however, you participate with those who shoot ‘hot’ guns, you may want to wear a paintball mask or a goggle and mesh mask combination.
Drinking plenty of water during participation helps reduce the risks of heat exhaustion, increases your performance, and provides a refreshing kick after an intense firefight or quick sprint to cover. It is also vital that you start hydrating before you head out to the game.
Battery packs come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, capacities, and chemistry compositions. You will want to find the right type that not only fits inside your airsoft gun, but also matches its voltage rating.
For your first purchase, the United Task Force would suggest choosing NiMH batteries.
If at all possible, buy several batteries in case you run out of power in the middle of a game.
Most new airsoft guns come with an included trickle charger - be very careful that you do not overcharge your batteries. A “smart charger” is recommended for a quick and reliable recharge while preventing overcharging.
Like batteries, the gas used to power airsoft guns come in a variety of chemical compositions that can determine overall performance.
Even though nearly all airsoft guns use 6mm pellets, something as simple as a little plastic ball can be a deciding factor for success and overall performance on the battlefield. You can expect to pay from $15 to $25 for a 5,000 round bag of ammo of average grade.