Imagine yourself rushing on a team that some players of airsoft call “The Devil’s Brigade” with only a handgun. A team that’s known to have members who have aced the battlefield and are equipped with the best airsoft guns in the market.
Yes, I know that will be the worst nightmare for any Airsoft player out there!
But you are a forward-thinking individual and are discerning it through. You finally understand that your best chance of winning it besides your already mastered skills is a rifle. Factoring in your “newbie-ty” to airsoft, that rifle is your best bet.
I know you will be interested in more than a handgun to beat those fellas. That’s why I put together this list for you to understand the basics of the best airsoft rifles and how to know if they’re what you’ll be needing.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the current crown-holders of the best assault rifles of airsoft.
1. Colt Licensed Full Metal M4A1 Carbine Airsoft AEG Rifle – Best Overall
I use this rifle and it is as good as it gets. Weighing only 7 pounds (about 3 kilos), it is a relatively easier weapon to operate in the field. Especially when you’re sprinting and need to aim almost instantly, the weight factor makes M4A1 the best choice amongst all mentioned in this list.
The good things don’t stop there. This rifle can go up to 490 FPS (feet per second) and assuming you’re a beginner, that is enough firepower. The gun is fully upgradeable and for $100-$150, you can easily get parts to increase the firepower up to the 600 FPS mark. You can shoot as long as 120 feet without compromising on effectiveness as well.
Iron sights are great and accurate, silencers fit, the gearbox is top-of-the-line, and battery-timing is good. Keep a spare because if you’re the lead rusher in your squad, the battery leaks out sooner than it should. It can easily last a couple of games though.
I would have liked the three firing modes on this rifle but the M4A1 gives you only two; fully automatic and semi-automatic. You can find safety here as well. Speaking of which, you have a 300-round hi-cap magazine that can work with various models of the M4 rifle.
The overall construction is in metal which gives the gun a premium feel and all the logos are Colt Licensed.
- Good Range
- Premium Materials
- Perfect Body Weight for Assaults
- Variable Fire-power (useful for many fields that restrict FPS range)
- Full Upgradeability
- Metal Construction
- It gets very hot if continuously fired.
2. G&G CM16 Raider 2.0 AEG Airsoft Rifle – Best for Beginners
If you are the type of person looking for a compact rifle with great ergonomics, the new CM16 is the one to go for.
This rifle has many features that are best suited for a player with shorter hands and arm’s length. However, it is not a deal-breaker for regular players at all. You can expect a decent accuracy, mid-length range, but not the ideal weight to body ratio.
The rifle can shoot BBs up to 350 FPS at its maximum and can hold about 450 rounds at a time in its magazine. Following the trend of conventional M4s, this rifle also has a metal gear-box with 8mm bearings. Usually, this configuration is enough for outdoor skirmishes.
The barrel measures eight inches and is sufficient enough for a perfect and mid-length shot. The rear sights are flappable, just like little Legos. Stock is also adjustable.
Unlike the M4A1, CM16 is ranked among the good airsoft rifles for beginners in the “non-metal construction” category. In theory, this reduces the weight factor a lot, and the guns practically do not weigh much. The CM16 weighing only 4.5 pounds (2 kilos), is not heavy.
For me, being an experienced airsoft shooter, aiming is a little bit on the difficult side if your gun is not heavy enough. For a shorter gun such as the CM16, this means that you will need to train your muscles according to the gun’s physical characteristics. (only applies if you’re switching from another regularly used rifle that is heavier)
This rifle has safety, full-auto, and semi-automatic settings. I found the semi-automatic to be a little more accurate than the 353 FPS sustained full-auto because it gave me more accuracy. Automatic firing is also good here. No heating issues, and battery life is just great. You will need to purchase the battery and charger separately.
- Extremely Light Weight
- Good Accuracy
- Adjustable stock
- Great for Assaults
- Aiming is difficult but accurate.
- Not suited for long-range
- No Battery Included
Read our full review of the G&G CM16 Raider 2.0 rifle here!
3. EMG Black Rain Ordnance BRO SPEC15 – Best Performance
One of the best ARs on this list, the EMG Black Rain Spec 15, is the second most recommended rifle on our list. It would be first if it weren’t for a whopping $345.
With that out of the line, this rifle shoots BBs up to 400 FPS and can be upgraded to the brim of 500 FPS. There’s one problem at that FPS range; however, the gun heats up dramatically and damages the battery.
The size of SPEC15 is the most practical one and is adjustable. It weighs the same as the M4A1 I mentioned earlier and is one of the well-suited rifles for beginners. SPEC15 also includes a V2 Full Metal Gearbox that is fully upgradeable.
The high-capacity magazine for SPEC15 holds 300 rounds and is compatible with similar mags from Matrix, G&G, Tokyo Marui, and other compatible M4 / M16 Series.
Unlike other AR’s SPEC15 focuses on being adaptable for a wide variety of shooters. For example, it is very ergonomic with its alloy-cast body and does not wiggle at all. The handguard, barrel length, trigger, safety, and fire-mode switch placement are just great as well.
Not to mention that the iron-sights are very well placed and are exceedingly accurate for both close-range and long-range.
The 7.4V battery should last you about 4-5 hours but highly depends on how often you shoot with the long motor. So definitely pack some other battery packs if you’re going for a full-day skirmish. No battery will be included in the package, so you’ll need to buy one yourself.
I don’t understand why these stores do it, but they could have easily included a battery within that $345 budget.
- Perfectly Balanced
- Metal Construction
- Good Ergonomics
- Great Length
- Excellent Accuracy
- No Battery Included
- Requires Prompt Cleaning
- Shorter Battery Life
Read our full review of the BRO SPEC15 rifle here!
4. ICS M4A1 Sportline – Best Alternative
At a relatively lower price of $189 is the ICS M4A1 which might be the cheap airsoft M4 you are looking for. But here’s the whole deal,
When I know that I can opt for a better option with a stronger material than ABS plastic, I will switch for that kind of money.
Yes, you have read that right. This rifle’s body is made from ABS plastic, unlike other ICS guns that feature a metal housing. Even though it still has all the same parts. The gearbox is full metal V2 and supports shooting BBs at 360 FPS instead of the 330 FPS advertised on the seller’s store.
The magazine can hold up to 450 rounds, and like all of the other guns listed here, you can find a fire-mode switch and the safety on this rifle.
The optics are the standard iron sights (front sides) and a removable/adjustable rear sight with 99% accuracy as far as I tested.
Primarily, the weight of this rifle is well-balanced even though it is a lighter variant. I like the six-step collapsible stock, which adds more to the versatility of this M4 rifle. Thus, making it more combative.
Battery life is good, but mine ran out just under the 3-hour mark.
- Easy to Maintain
- Cheap Plastic Body
- Low Battery Life
Read our full review of the ICS M4A1 Sportline rifle here!
5. FN Herstal Licensed SCAR-L – Most Accurate
If accuracy is what you’re after, then this premium version of FN Herstal Licensed SCAR-L is what you should be getting.
Remember that many variants of this gun on the market are from $65 to $199. However, they are made of plastic. This review is for the one with a metal receiver and the price of $220.
SCAR is an iconic weapon, and every armoury is incomplete without it. Mainly because of its great accuracy and near-premium firepower.
While in real life, SCAR shoots the devastating round of 7.62mm. Our model will shoot a 6-8mm BB weighing in at 0.2g. The rifle can shoot up to 330-360 FPS but won’t go past 327 FPS as per our observations.
FN Herstal Licensed SCAR-L has an all-metal receiver and gearbox assembly, which gives it some heft. Speaking of which, the aim of this rifle is excellent. Out of the 45 shots I took, 44 hit the target at a 50ft marker.
The plastic high-capacity magazine carries about 300 rounds and works with many other airsoft rifles. The other thing worth mentioning here is the perfect fitting of the mag, no wobbles at all. Batteries come included in the box, which is always a welcome thing.
Even though I am a fan of its ability to shoot highly accurately even when on full-auto, I still think the overall quality could be improved. I’ll rate the infamous Scar-L at 4.2/5 stars. It could have been a 3.8-ish if the rifle couldn’t score so well in the accuracy test.
- Excellent Accuracy
- Premium Build
- Perfect Fitting
- Good Fire-power
- Good Weight-balance
- Plastic Stock and Hand-grips
- Cheap Sights
Read our full review of the SCAR-L rifle here!
Buying the Perfect Airsoft Gun: Airsoft Beginners Edition!
I might have you thinking about how I rated all these rifles and how do I know what’s best and when you should switch. When I think about it, it is too easy, but it may be a little more out of perspective for you. Let’s not keep you too far off! Here’s how you can select your best first airsoft gun like a pro.
It’s all about the Game
First and foremost, you would want to decide where you’ll be playing most of the time and the type of game. Is it Close Quarters or Open Field? Because the gun requirements will vary drastically on these factors.
If you’re going to go with Assault Rifles, you can rest assured that they are the best option for either of these conditions. M4A1 is surely the best, followed closely by the M16, FN-SCAR, and G36C.
You can also choose SMGs, but they become obsolete if you’re playing in an open field, just like sniper rifles are too over-powered in CQ (close quarters).
Know Your Requirements
The second step towards choosing your first airsoft rifle is to know how it should be based on your requirements. Like the gun style, your budget, how much ammo you would want it to hold, and the firepower of the weapon, etc.
Gravity-fed and magazine-fed rifles can also be a great roadblock in your choice. In this scenario, remember that a magazine-fed rifle is always more effective than a gravity-fed rifle because the latter misses and shoots BB’s inconsistently. You will struggle with certain angles with gravity-fed rifles. That makes them a big no, no!
The firepower usually translates to the FPS of the gun, so if you ask the keeper about the gun’s power and he doesn’t understand, just ask for how much FPS does the gun have the ability to shoot.
Once you know what you need, you will evaluate every option in a better way without clouding your mind.
Always Understand the Gearbox
The gearbox for any airsoft rifle is its heart. The mechanics and materials of this single machinery rule your weapon, and you should not settle for anything less than perfection when it comes to the gearbox.
A gearbox that is made of metal is always a necessity. The body can be plastic or rubber or even glass, but the gearbox… well, you guessed it.
So, a metal gearbox will always ensure that the rifle doesn’t break any components while firing. It happened a lot back when plastic gears were used, and they just couldn’t stand the stress of the gun’s very own motor. Ceramic gearboxes also exist, but they are experimental and ineffective as they break upon impact and vibrations.
Therefore, metal gearbox is not something to be compromised.
Upgrades and Repairs
Additionally, know that updating the piston chamber, spring, and gearbox is the ultimate goal for having a better rifle in the future. Accordingly, it is recommended to choose a rifle that can easily be upgraded with parts over time.
This strategy saves you both money and time. You can then upgrade your rifle over time as you start getting a grip of Airsoft and win all those bets.
Moving towards repairs, it is equally important to have spare parts readily available. So before choosing that limited edition, check if its parts are gamely available in the market.
BBs and Firepower
Firepower and BBs are the second last item on your checklist. This is highly dependent on the type of gun you have chosen.
Normally, FPS (feet per second) restrictions are different on every field, so you’ll have to take the responsibility of clearing that out. However, BBs should measure in at about 6-8mm in size and weigh 0.2-0.4 grams ideally. These are standards that must be met to ensure a safe and fair playing environment.
Barrels and Body
Now, this is the last thing to have on your checklist. You can skip it out if you’re just beginning but if you’re going long-term, read it out.
Many manufacturers always neglect a rifle’s barrel and body to cut costs. There are good ones out there, like the Colt Licensed M4A1 Carbine, which is all metal.
The thing with metals is that they are robust and cannot be broken easily. For a sport like airsoft which involves all sorts of strafing, grunting, meeling, bending, sprinting, jumping, a broken plastic barrel isn’t much of a thing. Now assuming you don’t want to be running around with a gun that has a broken barrel, know that barrels and bodies are ideal if they are made of metal.
This is a good thing to have, but it is not a must. (If you don’t have the budget as all-metal rifles can be a bit expensive than ABS-plastic ones.)
The Basics of Using an Airsoft Rifle: for the First-Timers!
Great job on selecting that M… Airsoft Rifle. Now that you have your favourite weapon in your hands, it’s time to master it.
Assuming you are holding it for the first time in your hand, I’m pretty sure you’re wondering what to do next. I will show you how you can lock and load in just a second, but first, here’s a simple breakdown of how the general airsoft rifle works,
How does an Airsoft Rifle Work?
The airsoft rifle has six main parts:
- The Battery
- The Spring
- Piston Chamber
First, the battery powers the motor, which then rotates the gearbox when the gun is cocked. This will pull the piston back, compressing the main-spring pushing the spring system outwards. Once the main-spring is compressed, another spring attached to the piston is stretched, pulling it inwards, the gun is loaded. As soon as the trigger is pressed, the piston shoots in its chamber, blowing a very strong jet of air out the nozzle that shoots the nozzle.
Now imagine this happening 40 times in a second on average for an assault rifle. That’s how it works, in a very short paragraph.
Locking and Loading your Rifle
To start, fill the BBs in your rifle’s mag and load the clip in your rifle. Then insert the battery in its compartment. Cock the gun and turn off the safety. Choose your firing mode and aim. Hit that target by fully pressing the trigger.
Cleaning Your Rifle
You must have received a long steel rod with your gun. That is not something for the show, but it is called a cleaning rod and is used to clean your rifle’s barrel. The smoother the barrel of your rifle is, the better it will shoot. So, whenever you have the leisure of sitting around with your gun, not in use, take that rod and clean the barrel thoroughly.
Precautions before going in on Live-Action
If you are not careful enough, you can seriously injure a person. These are the precautions you must always take before going into a live airsoft field.
- Use Safety Equipment such as Helmets, Glass Shields, Eye Protection, and Body Armor.
- Always know the status of your safety.
- Never point or stand in front of a muzzle.
- Do not overpower your weapon.
- Always check the FPS regulations.
Things to Avoid when shooting
You should always be careful of how you shoot your weapon and where you shoot at. Hitting someone in the face is strictly prohibited, and it can often result in permanent impairments like blindness.
Additionally, do not shoot someone point-blank (from a very short distance).
Different Types of Airsoft Guns and Their Benefits
There are five different types of guns normally used in Airsoft battles.
Assault Rifles or ARs
Assault Rifles single-handedly outnumber all the other types combined. The main reason for them being so popular in the airsoft community are the applications of their versatile features. For example, they are very effective in short as well as long-range battles and have the ability to fire BBs automatically. These are a couple of reasons why ARs are so widely issued to soldiers.
ARs are also one of the most desired weapons in the real gun industry.
Sub-machine Guns or SMGs
SMGs are little brothers of ARs and have the fire rates rivalling ARs but not the fire powers. SMGs are lower powered and valuable only in Close Quarters.
Light-machine Guns or LMGs
Rifles like SAW are one of the rarest LMGs that the airsoft industry produces. People are usually the least interested in them because of their very expensive prices, but they are not extinct.
They are heavier than any other gun as well.
Perhaps the most powerful and the second most widely used rifle on the airsoft battlefield is a sniper rifle. Nearly everyone is a rusher with an AR, but all those people want to be a sniper. Sniper rifles usually have double or triple the FPS than that of an AR.
I have personally seen games where a single sniper takes out entire camps.
Handguns or Pistols
Underrated but effective handguns are your backup plan. They are low-powered but versatile enough to help you counter-attack and win a game when your main weapon is not available.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I wear to an Airsoft battle?
Wearing eye protection is a must, but you should always cover your body with proper equipment.
Am I responsible for any damage if the other person was not wearing eye-protection?
Assuming that you unknowingly shot the other person who was not wearing eye-protection immediately clears you of any blame as he was the one who broke the number one safety rule.
Can I paint my rifle’s tip black or camo it? OR Can I remove the orange tip?
Federal law requires all airsoft guns to carry an orange tip, and tampering with it in any way makes you a law-breaker immediately. In some cases, it voids the warranty of your product.
Can I break windows with Airsoft Rifles?
Yes, but it is highly dependent on the FPS of your gun.
Is there a way I can shoot metallic BBs from my Airsoft gun?
Yes and No. They are not specifically designed to shoot metal BBs as they are heavier and can result in serious injury. Some models, however, may shoot metal BBs by chance.
Are BB Rifles and Airsoft Guns the same thing?
BB rifles fire metal BBs and are used for hunting, target practice, and similar activities. Airsoft rifles shoot plastic BBs and are used for recreational sports and hobbies.
Is a Gas or CO2-powered gun worth it?
It entirely depends on your preference. AEGs or Electric Guns are more efficient than air or gas-powered guns, but they are comparatively expensive.
All-inclusive, I would conclude the all-metal M4A1 Carbine as the number one beginner airsoft rifle. The M4 excels in every category and satisfies its users with its power-driven, premium, and realistic finish.
Closely following the M4’s trend is the CM16 with a slightly targeted approach and a specific niche. And if you are trying to save some bucks, I would recommend getting the cheaper ICS M4A1 with a plastic body but a metal gearbox.
In the end, I would like you to add more to this article by dropping your suggestions and experiences down in the comments. We will feature your update in our article if it converts.
Until then, Hoo-Ah Airsoft Deadshots!