If you’re just starting out in Airsoft, choosing a gun to commit to can seem like quite a daunting task. With pistols, sniper rifles, SMGs, PDWs and more, it’s important to understand their differences before making that important purchase.
To make things easier, Abbey Supply have created a short blog explaining the main weapon types you’ll find during most weekend skirmishes.
Pistols are designed to be used as a side arm to compliment a player’s primary weapon. They are extremely portable and light compared to other guns and are particularly useful to players whose main weapon of choice is a sniper rifle.
Because of their size, pistols can be stored easily, allowing for quick access in a range of situations. Most pistols utilise a semi-automatic fire rate meaning, for every trigger pull, the gun will fire one BB; however, some rarer weapons feature burst and fully automatic modes as well.
Common situations where pistols can be beneficial include:
When your primary weapon’s magazine has depleted as switching to a pistol is a faster option than reloading
When using a Sniper Rifle, you may find yourself come into close proximity with an enemy player where a pistol will be far more effective
Pictured: Tokyo Marui Biohazard Albert. W. Model 01P
These rifles are utilised by players who operate further away from the enemy than other team members with different roles. They are often equipped with telescopic sights which apply greater magnification than shorter versions and allow for accurate shots on faraway targets.
Because of the increased distance involved, landing a successful shot tends to be more difficult than close quarters combat with SMGs and assault rifles. As a result, many sniper rifles make use of bipods to help stabilise the weapon in order to maximise accuracy, especially whilst lying prone.
Pictured: Ares MS 338 MSR-010 Sniper Rifle
SMGs and PDWs
Submachine Guns (SMGs) and Personal Defence Weapons (PDW) serve similar purposes in airsoft skirmishes. They are often used in close quarters scenarios where fast reactions are crucial to succeed and automatic rates of fire are commonplace in both categories.
Both gun types have higher performance than pistols at close proximities without the weight of larger weapons such as machine guns and sniper rifles. Their shorter barrels make them more portable than assault rifles and machine guns, but this also reduces their effective range.
The size of SMGs can vary considerably however, with the MP5 A4 and its smaller sibling, the MP5K, both being prime examples. Because of this, some players may choose to equip smaller models as an alternative secondary to pistols in order to maximise the overall firepower of their arsenal.
Pictured: ASG CZ SCORPION EVO 3 A1 2018 Revision SMG
Assault Rifles, while larger and heavier than SMGs and PDWs, provide more versatility to the player as they can be used in both short and medium range combat, as well as many including semi auto, burst and fully automatic firing modes.
Assault rifles are predominantly used by Riflemen which is the most commonly chosen role in the sport. The longer barrel of the weapon provides a higher velocity, allowing for targets to be engaged at longer distances whilst still remaining light enough to allow for easy movement in the field.
Pictured: GHK SIG SG 553 GBBR Assault Rifle
The primary role of machine guns is to support and covering fire to allow players in the game to advance on the enemy’s position.
They are designed to shoot a high quantity of BB’s quickly and continuously and in order to suppress and intimidate the opposition and they are usually fired from a longer distance than assault rifles and SMGs.
Machine Guns are considerably larger than assault rifles; however, more compact models are available to provide increased manoeuvrability. Much like sniper rifles, bipods are sometimes deployed to provide additional balance for the weapon given its applications and heavier weight.
You’re less likely to find shotgun-wielding players compared to those using other guns, but nonetheless, this weapon serves as a perfect close quarter’s tool and (depending on the models specification) can also be used for in longer encounters too.
Unlike other gun types, shotguns are available with single shot modes and a unique 3 shot mode which fires 3 BBs in unison, unlike a traditional burst mode which fires 3 BBs consecutively.
Another differentiating feature of airsoft shotguns is the use of a “pumping handle” on many models. This allows the player to both load the BB and compress the internal spring to be later used to power its shot.
As you can see there’s a wide array of different weapons to use in airsoft skirmishes. Couple this with the fact that players can carry two weapons at a time and these tools present a wealth of different tactics which you can tailor to your own strengths and preferences.