New Player Purchase Guide
So ya wanna play airsoft, huh? Well, you’re gonna have to buy some equipment. However, let me advise you: don’t just go out and buy the latest and greatest (even if you can afford it). As in anything else, you get what you pay for, but you also want to purchase what you need rather than what’s just most expensive. Not sure what that is exactly? Keep reading.
Before you pull out your card and start spending, take some time (days at a minimum) on local and national forums. Devour reviews (Real ones, not just the ones that say “I like this because the company sent it to me for free”) and consider things like your weight, your climate and how much you actually need that item. There are many things you’ll see that will push your “want” button, but resist the urge to get it just because it looks good. This is why taking days to purchase your gear rather than minutes is important. Strive to build a generic kit that can be adapted to carry different kinds of gear so that as you develop specific requirements you won’t have to purchase an entire new kit to fit them.
One of the most valuable things you can do in your research phase of purchasing is make friends with experienced players that play locally. Reality check #2: These guys (and the occasional gal) generally have a good handle on what specific items make the most sense in your area of play and what items to avoid- you don’t, at least not yet. Also, become familiar with local field rules, especially the rules surrounding the speed of the bb exiting your gun in feet per second (FPS) and those concerning eye protection (eyepro). Visiting a local shop is another way to gain valuable information, but be wary of sales associates who are out for a commission, not to help you get what you need.
Ok, so you have an idea of what you want your kit to look like and you’re ready to start purchasing. If you have a friend that plays airsoft and they offer to loan you gear to play a couple times TAKE THEM UP ON IT. There is no better teacher than personal experience and you need as much as you can get. Some fields and shops rent gear and I highly recommend that you take advantage of this before making any purchases. Find out what guns feel comfortable in your hands, what gear fits well or weird, what kind of eyepro doesn’t fog on your face and what colors of camouflage you need to buy.
Got a better picture of what you want? Ok let’s spend some of your hard earned dough. If you have friends that can lend you gear as you accumulate your own then you know what you need to buy (whatever it is that they don’t have to lend you). If you are starting from scratch and running solo, you will have to put more out to be able to attend a game.
In Oklahoma, you are generally required to have a full set of matching camo and boots in order to step on the field, so I would buy them first because I can borrow a vest and gun at any time. That said, depending on your situation and local rules you may need to buy other things first. Therefore, the list below is in no particular order but makes up what I would consider to be a basic airsoft kit. You will obviously tailor your kit to your needs and playing style, but this will give you a solid start:
Boots: Do not skimp on money here. If your feet or ankles go out your airsoft game is over, so get quality boots that fit well. If basic jungle or desert boots work for you, then get those as they can be had for about $40. Everyone’s feet are different so look until you find a pair that fit well- it’s worth the time and money invested!
Uniform: Purchase the two most widely accepted patterns of camo in your area. For Oklahoma and most of the U. S. this is the M-81 Woodland pattern and the 3 color Desert Combat Uniform. Both can be had for $5-$15 per piece at your surplus store (buy issued items only- if at all possible). This allows you to play both sides of a skirmish and lets you chose what team you want to run with at ops.
Cover: In Oklahoma, your head needs to match your uniform so buy a head cover (hat/helmet) for each uniform you have. If you don’t want to or can’t find a matching cover then use a generic earth tone. Light tan and black are no good. Personally, I steer clear of helmets in the summer months so if you can only afford one type of cover, I recommend you get a soft one, like a patrol cap or a boonie hat.
Belt: Buy a belt. Wear your belt. No one wants to see your crack. If you want to carry a holster on your belt get a duty belt or a riggers belt. If you want a bunch of pouches on your belt, get a MOLLE battle belt or an ALICE kit.
Eye Protection: Eyepro is required at every insured field. If your field doesn’t require it, you need a new field. I highly recommend you get high quality ANSI rated full sealing goggles. WileyX, ESS, Revision and Bobster are good examples. Some are expensive but eye surgery is much more so! If possible, borrow some before you buy so you can double check they won’t fog up in games.
Primary Weapon: I highly recommend an M4 or AK variant AEG as a first weapon. The reason for this is they are easy to find parts for- including mags- and they are reliable under most temperatures. You can modify either platform in an infinite number of ways, so don’t worry about looking mundane. I recommend G&G, Combat Machine, Classic Army, Dboy, A&K, Elite Force and Echo 1 as brands to look for when purchasing an M4. If you want an AK, buy a CYMA.
Mags: You will encounter 4 main types of mags in your airsoft career. Real caps or real capacity magazines contain the same number of rounds as their real steel counterparts. Mid capacity magazines known as mid caps generally hold about 100 rounds. High capacity magazines have a winding mechanism that you have to wind every 30 rounds or so. The up side is they can carry as many as 600 rounds, but they are also loud and can give your position away. Box magazines are the largest magazine and are generally reserved for support weapons. Most are motorized and have the same mechanism as a hi capacity mag. For the new player, I recommend you purchase 3-4 high cap or 8-10 mid cap mags to start. I find King Arms magazines work well with most brands of guns but get with players that own the same gun you do and ask them which brand feeds the best for that specific gun.
Battery: If your gun did not come with a battery, you’ll need to purchase one. Generally a 9.6v battery is the way to go. A second battery will enable you to play in longer games and is a smart investment in my opinion. Also, take the time to learn what the different battery nomenclatures mean- this will serve you well when you want to upgrade.
Battery Charger: If a gun battery charger came with your gun, you’ll want to invest in a better one, i promise. Look for a charger called the Universal Smart Charger. It looks like the box on your laptop charging cable and is purple. This is the best charger for your money, hands down! If you ever have the desire for an even better battery charger, look at professional balance chargers.
Load Bearing Gear: Again, think high value, simple and multipurpose. You have all the time in the world to look high speed if you so chose. ALICE is a great option– it’s easy to find and very cheap. If that doesn’t suit you, look into a basic MOLLE kit like this chest set or a Fighting Load Carrier. These have unlimited set up options and have more than enough space for a basic load. What do you need to take with you? Click here.
Secondary Weapon: I would not worry about getting a secondary weapon right out of the gate. That said, most fields require you to use a pistol or other Close Quarters Battle (CQB) only weapon inside buildings. When you have the cash, get a green gas pistol as your secondary weapon. I say green gas because it is cheaper to operate than a co2 pistol and will usually fall in with your field’s FPS regulations without modification – KWA is the brand to go with here.
Logistical Equipment: Ok, now: how are you going to haul all your stuff to the game? The most inexpensive solution is a cheap soft case for your gun and a toolbox. But if you’re looking for better protection, a quality soft or hard case gives much better protection to your gun and a tote/crate has more capacity than a toolbox. Bunkerboxes also offer exceptional solutions to this problem as well. Click here to see what I bring to every game.
Map and Compass: Get a military lensatic compass if at all possible and a topographical map of the field(s) you play at most often. Learn how to use them properly before going to any fields since there is always a chance you might lose your bearings.
Radio and Headset: I hesitate to put this on the list, but I know that if I don’t I will get numerous questions as to why. I personally do not consider a radio to be a necessary item because you should never be out of sight from the other members of your unit in the first place. However, if you are at a large field and have poor navigational skills, a radio will come to your rescue. Also, listening to experienced radio users is a great way to learn how to talk on the radio. For these two reasons I will say purchasing a radio should be the last thing on your list. Keep in mind that the primary use of the radio is to communicate with other units, not to other members of your unit. Let me reiterate: listen to experienced players using their radio to learn how to properly use it before fielding it. What you may not realize is your transmission could be holding up critical information.
In closing I cannot stress to you how much money you will save if you take the time to research what you need and buy quality gear the first time. Airsoft gear goes for 20-40% percent of its retail value on the used market providing it is in good condition. As always, if you have a question post it and I will do my best to answer it.