Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Guide to Becoming an Airsoft Sniper

I get a lot of questions about what is the best "Sniper rifle" and how to become an airsoft "Sniper" and I thought I would post some of my answers here so that others could benefit.

First off, I'm not going to get into the semantical definitions of what real "Sniping" is.

I define airsoft sniping as utilizing camoflauge , stealth and precision airguns to hit targets selectively.


My definition hinges on my belief that most aisoft guns operate within roughly the same parameters.

I have ranted about this lots of times, but here is the gist of my point.

Most people use .2g bbs in their AEGs and shoot them at not more than 350 fps. This means that most AEGs will have similar max effective engagement ranges and accuracies.

Now, the world of spring/gas power can take players closer to the world of "Sniping", by offering higher speeds. However, even utilizing .28g bbs (the heaviest that I have tested to date) the max effective range does not top more than 200 ft effetively. At ranges greater than that wind, and hop up start to play havoc on the trajectory of the bb.

For me this means that while the bb CAN land past 200', it is difficult to do so accurately.

Before the flame descends, bear in mind that I have seen the youtube videos of people using ultra exotics firing at ranges in excess of of 200'. HOWEVER, I do not consider this to be the norm given the costs. I am choosing to use the middle of the bell curve of airsoft players when I write this.

OK... So thats out of the way now here is the advice I have given to many.


Looks:

As I just said, most Airsoft guns are very similar or identical internally. This fact negates the performance differences that occur in real life. (I.e. Sniper rifle vs. Sub machine gun). When you accept this it will change the way you look at the buying decision and you can basically get whatever gun you think is prettiest! (Assuming you pick a reasonably reputable brand)

Brand:

Don't let this be too much of a consideration. There used to be a lot more products to watch out for. But now, for the most part the brands that have survived all have decent reputations (And each one will produce its share of lemons). Thus on the higher end you have G&G, ICS, TM and possibly CA. Mid ranged you have A&K, CA, CYMA, DBoys, Echo 1, ICS, JG, TSD and Well. (There are more than this). On the low end, youll find all sorts of names. Price is the deciding factor and I consider anything $80.00 or below to be low end.

My best advice is to do keyword searches for problems relating to the brand(s) you are interested in. Then, tally the number of positive and negative comments and you will get a pretty good esitmation of whether the brand is right for you.

Total Cost:

Remember that an airsoft rig is more than just the gun. Sort of like a video game console requires more than just the console.

Be prepared to purchase accessories like extra magazines, batteries, charger, scope, bi-pod, and the recommended upgrades. The upgrades include a tightbore barrel, battery, a stiffer spring, a set of high torque gears to accommodate the increased resistance and the camo.

Finally, remember to get GOOD, HEAVY ammo! While the Wally World bargain container will get you by, I find high gloss, precision ammo to provide the most consistent accuracy and velocity.

Once you tally all this stuff up you can easily double your expenses. (Sometime triple!)

Prioritize:

If you're on a budget here are some things you can skimp on.


Battery: An upgraded battery will help your ROF and can keep your gun firing longer. BUT, if you are looking to save, the truth is, all you need is a battery that can power your gear box. You won't be laying down oodles of fire, so having a huge amped up power source doesn't really matter to you as much.(Note, if you upgrade your gear box and spring, you may HAVE to upgrade your battery if the gearbox requires the extra oomph to cycle the mech box).

Bi-pod: This add on is a nice thing to have, but if you don't have the coin, you can do with out. The bi-pod will add extra weight and bulk to your rig and many times you won't even use it. I can personally tell you that when crawling through the brush, the last thing you want to have is one more thing to snag on vines.

Magazines: If you're sniping then your skill is in the quality of your shots, not the volume. This means that you can get by with inexpensive low or mid cap magazines. In fact, low/mid caps will probably be better than the high caps because you will have more reliable, constant feeding.

Scope: Remember what you need. You're not going to be shooting wings off a fly at 1,000 yards. You want to have a scope but you don't need a $700.00 UBER optical.


The Ghillie Suit:

To me this is the #1 tool of the mil sim "Sniper". Heck it may be the same in real life, but most people focus on the gun first. The ghillie gives you a HUGE edge in the conealability department! I have literally had people step on me and even then didn't realize what they were stepping on.
( You could be using a springer pistol and wear the suit and you will be called "Sniper" all day long;)

Plus, the intimidation factor is HUGE and this can make your games more enjoyable. I have found that a burlap suit made out of BDUs with a boonie hat (Also outfitted with burlap) added easily 6 inches to my total perceived height and the entire thing makes you look huge. Definitely a plus in a testosterone charged environment!

When you make the suit for yourself, be sure to make one for your gun. A disembodied rifle will be confusing at first, but your opponent will quickly realize that there is a person attached to it and start shooting.

Don't go nuts, but don't skimp on the camo. Be prepared to spend $100.00-$150.00 either by buying a pre-made one or making it yourself. (Yeah, even the home made ones can get to be that expensive!)

If you go ghillie, also be ready to make sure you are properly hydrated. Again, it may seem like common sense until you've had to go without. Take it from me that being in anything but freezing weather, you will be close to passing out from the heat if you don't have LOTS of hydration. I found that a back pack water bladder worked the best. (Another $40-$60).

A final safety concern involves the flammable nature of the suits. All that burlap (coated in bug spray) can be like wearing a huge mobile tinder box. If you smoke, or around fire in any capacity, be VERY CAREFUL! I have not had any accidents with mine, but then, I don't smoke and I wasn't around any open flame during my ghillie games.

AEG or Spring/Gas

Most people automatically think bolt action, spring or gas powered airsoft sniper rifle. I don't know why people think this, but I'm guessing its because bolt action dominates this field in the real world.

In airsoft, you will have to realize that the engagement ranges are MUCH closer than in the real world. Thus, you will need to be prepared to fight up close and personal. For some, using a bolt action sniper rifle is fine in ALL circumstances. For others, simply relying on the camouflage to keep them out of sight is sufficient.

In my experience, the best option is to be able to lay down suppressing fire en masse when the situation calls for it. In airsoft this is relatively easy, because you can make an AEG just about as effective as a Spring or Gas powered sniping system.

You will sacrifice some trigger response and of course stealth, but when it hits the fan, you can switch to full auto and bring the rain.

That said, some people LOVE the ability to pick off targets and not give away their position at all. (It is fun, just plain fun!)

There is something about having to cycle the bolt and find the target in your crosshairs. Taking the shot and having the other targets completely oblivious as to where the fire is coming from. ;)

If this is your game then go spring/gas. (Gas can be slightly louder however and I have seen some pricey high end gas gun malfunction).

Spring is by far the simplest and most reliable approach but Gas makes the whole process easier by easing the cocking effort required.

If you do go bolt action, I would definitely consider getting a back up gun thats small and capable of a higher ROF. (Think Glock 18c, MP5K or MP7 or even a Mac 10/11). If you can't spend the $ on one of these, try a good hi-cap non-blowback pistol. YOu can easily find them new for as little as $40.

Tactics:

Once you've decided on your set up, the only other thing you can do to hone your skills is tactics.
Anyone can have the gear, but what will set you apart is your strategy. Its no good wearing the ghillie and carriying the 15 pound shooting system if you are going to charge bunkers and bust through doorways.

You need to train yourself to become invisible. This means, altering your ghillie (and gun camo) to suit the terrain, moving slowly and deliberately, and using the light to your advantage. (Try to keep your targets back lit, OR use shadows so that you disappear.

You will need to be VERY VERY patient and learn to scan the surroundings carefully and efficiently.

Frankly, its hard work but there is a level of satisfaction that is unmatched by any other style. Its like hunting, actually it IS hunting, but this time the prey can shoot back. So when you get that "kill" it feels just that much better.

Good luck and safe shooting!

5 comments:

OvermedicateD said...

Good guide, my only complaint is that you seem to favor AEGs as a fine SWS choice. I must disagree.

AEGs are not good sniper weapons for about 3 general reasons.

A. More moving parts vs. a spring rifle, can lead to complication, which is generally avoided by using a spring rifle.

B. Lack of stealth, AEGs are loud, and will give your position away if you shoot multiple shots within a time frame of a couple seconds to a minute.

C. Total and Absolute lack of skill. Snipers should have pride in their excellent marksmanship and fields craft, real steel and airsoft. Why bother even trying to be remotely stealthy, or waste all the money on doing such, when once the enemy comes by you are going to spray? Or use rapid semi auto? But hey, if someone wants to do such a thing, by all means do it, it just makes me mad when people call themselves snipers when they are little more than an assault player with a longer rifle and a ghillie suit, which they probably didn't even make themselves.

Now don't get me wrong, AEGs are excellent for the DM role, their ability to have rapid follow up shots fits perfectly with the DM's job. Hell, I even use one as a DM.


-Overmedicated

Konrad said...

OMD,

firstly, your presence on this blog is probationary at best and should not be interpreted to mean that you have permission to be on the ASR forum from which you were banned.

Secondly and on point with your assertion that "AEG"S are not good airsoft sniper tools.

This is of course your opinion but it is not necessarily based in practicality.

You have failed to acknowledge the close quarters nature of airsoft. Because engagement is not practical at extended ranges, the average "Airsoft sniper" will have to deal with skirmishes that take place at ranges of less than 100 yards.

Given the ballistics of airsoft, the "Sniper" will not have as significant a range advantage enjoyed by his real world counterpart, thus, the benefits of the bolt action sniper rifle in airsoft form are diminished greatly.

As for more "complication" due to moving parts, that is true technically, but so minute an issue that it is irrelevant. The same logic would keep all AEG owners from using electric guns because of "Complications". As an AEG owner yourself, you know a qualitative AEG can and does operate well within the acceptable reliability parameters for the average player.

Stealth is a major trade off in the use of AEGs and while some measures can be taken to insulate the gear box, I agree in general with this point.

As for your complaints about AEG "Snipers" and their collective pride in using skill to win. I don't disagree. However, I would add that whatever pride such players have is shared in equal or greater part by the AEG users as well.

More importantly, if you play airsoft, chances are you want to win. If you want to win, you will take whatever measures will put you at an advantage over your opponent.

At range, the scope and ghillie suit you are wearing give you this advantage. In CQB, assuming your target has seen you, you must alter and adapt to maintain your advantage. This CAN mean utilizing a high ROF to dispatch a group of nearby foes.

If you win and your opponent loses, thats the end of the discussion. Whining about pride is for those who have little else.

In conclusion, to those of you who are interested in the principle of the "Airsoft Sniper", please take heart. You can use a spring powered bolt action gun and be immensely successful. As in many areas of life and sports, what equipment you chose is really a judgment call on which compromise you are willing to make. In airsoft you must choose what rig suits your style and the terrain.

AEGs work just as well as bolt action sniper rifles (Gas or spring powered)

Your choice should be made on your personal feelings not the "Pride" of others.

Regards

OvermedicateD said...

"You have failed to acknowledge the close quarters nature of airsoft. Because engagement is not practical at extended ranges, the average "Airsoft sniper" will have to deal with skirmishes that take place at ranges of less than 100 yards."(Konrad)


Yes, maximum engagements in airsoft are generally 60-65 yards. At this range AEGs are generally useless, I have not seen any AEG in the skirmishes I have went to that has been able to break the 50 yard threshold. I think you would generally agree with this, that the general max effective range for AEGs is around 150ft. With that being said, I have seen a stock Well/UTG L96 hit a man sized tree trunk consistently at around 55 yards, and a finely tuned VSR10 at 60 yards. If you find these claims doubtful, contact TCF, he will tell you the same thing.

I never allow the sniper on my team to go absolutely solo unless every available AEG is needed. I always try assign another AEG to be our snipers spotter/guard. This is because of what you said pertaining to the CQC aspects of battles. While you can say a sniper with an AEG(oxymoron?) can take the spotter/guard out of the equation, I find that to be not the case. I say this from experience. Before we got a sniper on our team I always had to play spotter/sniper/DM with an AEG. It would be hard to count how many times I got rear ended and flanked. It is way to difficult to effectively spot and shoot opfors and watch your back at the same time. This is why I find the sniper + guard setup to be much more successful on the battlefield.

"Given the ballistics of airsoft, the "Sniper" will not have as significant a range advantage enjoyed by his real world counterpart, thus, the benefits of the bolt action sniper rifle in airsoft form are diminished greatly." (konrad)

See my first paragraph for reply.

"As for more "complication" due to moving parts, that is true technically, [but so minute an issue that it is irrelevant. The same logic would keep all AEG owners from using electric guns because of "Complications".] As an AEG owner yourself, you know a qualitative AEG can and does operate well within the acceptable reliability parameters for the average player."

I don't follow the sentence in brackets. AEG users will take the risk in moving parts because the firepower given by the AEGs is a necessity. Assault players are not going to buy bolt action rifles because they do not have the rate of fire that said players desire. Having full auto with a ROF of 18+ rounds per second is a must for an assault player, not for a sniper. A sniper does not need such a weapon, they need a consistent, accurate, quiet, bolt action rifle.

"More importantly, if you play airsoft, chances are you want to win. If you want to win, you will take whatever measures will put you at an advantage over your opponent."(konrad)

While I of course don't disagree with this statement, I believe our disagreement is over which means are best used to acheive the end goal(winning). AEGs will not always give you the advantage, excellent field craft, and tactics will. A bolt action SWS can build up these skills, while an AEG will generally make the player more reliant upon their weapon to achieve their success than their tactics.

"firstly, your presence on this blog is probationary at best and should not be interpreted to mean that you have permission to be on the ASR forum from which you were banned."(konrad)

I understand, though I believe we can work out a mutually beneficial deal, check your ASR Inbox.

Konrad said...

OMD,

you are over thinking this equation.

FYI I have seen a "Tricked out" SG-1 using .25g-.28g bbs ranging out to 300 + feet at a FA game in Florida. Just take a look at the Florida Airsoft forums and ask around. You'll find it.

Re: the ballistics of airsoft.

Whether a bb is shot out of a "Bolt action" airsoft gun or an AEG has no bearing on the ballistics. The thing you and perhaps others are suffering from, is the mis perception associated with real steel versions.

In the real steel, the bolt action allows fighters to utilize large calibers that are superior to many lesser calibers used in semi auto or full auto rigs. (FYI I am aware of the fact that there are semi auto, large caliber sniper rifles).

In a nut shell, if you are a sniper in the real world you want the Barret .50 over the Browning Buckmark, because the Barret uses a larger caliber, the longer barrel will improve long range accuracy and the caliber of the .50 is much more potent than the .22 LR.

IN airsoft, calibers are identical, barrel length is much less important given the lack of rifling and the energy that each bb transmits is identical (assuming both guns are firing equally weighted ammo).

Thus, when all is said and done, the only advantage that the "Airsoft sniper" is left with is the stealth of the action given the lack of mechbox noise.

This is definitely a valuable advantage, however, when it is relatively small and can be almost matched with a well insulated AEG (See AUG Phantom Insulation).

Think of it this way:

If the real steel sniper could have the power of a bolt action Barret .50cal with the recoil, range, accuracy, ROF and maneuverability of an MP5 you can darn well bet that he would take it.

That is basically how it works in airsoft.

Asserting that AEG reliability is so poor that it could not be used in a situation where the gun would actually be fired less than an infantryman (BC snipers lay down less fire)is simply contradicted by the facts.

Finally, because you CAN slap a longer barrel and improved springs (With the proper gears etc) into just about any AEG, I see no reason other than the sound factor to try to argue that the bolt action sniper is THE BEST/Only way to go for the Airsoft Sniper.

The bolt action is fun, no doubt and it looks great, but from an airsoft perspective it is not superior to an AEG.

Chaseman113 said...

At least you guys make good solid arguments not just a **** you and stuff like that. Also I like your Guide.

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