Thursday, September 30, 2010

What is Airsoft 'MilSim' and How Do I Play?

Historically military branches and law enforcement agencies worldwide have attempted to offer training to their personnel which mimics as realistically-as-possible the real-life situations they’ll encounter in their respective lines of work, whether that be close quarter combat, hostage/civilian scenarios, full-scale assaults, or otherwise. Referred to as ‘MilSim’, which stands for ‘military simulation’, their focus has always been two-fold: one, in replicating the challenges as humanly possible which their personnel will actually face, and two, to do so in as safe an environment as allowable, which is why airsoft has become the preferred weapon training platform for military and law enforcement alike.

While paintball and the military equivalent of laser-tag have both been used in the past for these purposes, neither was able to lend the authenticity to this training as airsoft. Simply put, airsoft guns mimic their real-life counterparts like no other weapon platform, not only in size and weight ratio, but also in their operation (the difference of course is that airsoft guns fire non-lethal airsoft BBs instead of live ammunition). Additionally, airsoft manufacturers market guns which so closely resemble actual weaponry employed by the military world-over, that in doing so trainers are able to easily and authentically re-create the various theaters of urban warfare and equipment which their trainees will most likely engage in and encounter, whether they be MOUT (military operations on urban terrain), FIBUA (fighting in built-up areas) or OBUA (Operations in Built Up Areas) in the West.

How does all of this benefit the civilian airsoft enthusiast? Quite simply, it renders the airsoft ‘weekend warrior’ the ability to engage in realistic military simulations without having to actually enlist and at a relatively affordable expense. With impressively-sized and carefully-planned MilSims taking place across the globe (Operation Irene in the U.S. employs actual tanks and APCs, Sweden’s annual Berget event runs nearly a week – with no rest periods), the only thing an airsoft player needs to engage in the sport (aside from locating a MilSim near them) is a dedication to the level of play required. This does of course mean accordingly realistic equipment. Airsoft MilSim players are a stickler for authenticity, and therefore ‘fantasy’ airsoft guns and high-capacity airsoft magazines are frowned upon (low-cap airsoft mags more closely recreate the operations of their real-life firearm brethren), MilSim basic supply load-outs of ammunition are adhered to strictly, and player uniform authenticity and a penchant for team-tactics are a must. MilSim airsoft players are often required to remain in the field for the duration of a MilSim operation as well, and are allowed only to return to a ‘safe zone’ for medical emergencies and for other unique circumstances. As such, this also means stamina for the player, although these components also allow for the closest approximation to real-world combat one will find.

Whether you are interested in modern airsoft urban warfare MilSims or military reenactments (there is also a sub-set of airsoft players worldwide who prefer to painstakingly and impressively recreate historical battles to the best of their ability), the benefits reaped and the lessons learned by military and law enforcement trainers alike, via their use of airsoft as a training tool, can be enjoyed by the civilian as well.

Just make sure to wind your gears. Nothing will break the suspension of disbelief required for a MilSim like the rattling around of airsoft pellets in one’s magazine.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, the #1 fastest growing Airsoft retailer in the nation. Airsoft Megastore offers the latest airsoft guns and gear as well as a 125% low price guarantee on all new Airsoft guns and gear.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Do I Need to Start Playing Airsoft?

If you are reading this, you’re interested in playing airsoft. As with most sports, a certain amount of equipment is required in order to play. For the airsoft novice, the diversity and sheer amount of products available may be a bit overwhelming. To make things a little clearer... here’s a ‘quick-start equipment guide’ I’ve compiled, based on my own experience in the sport.

Whether you intend to play simulated close-quarter combat (‘CQC’) in an enclosed complex or engage in extended field operations outdoors, there are a few items of equipment which are mandatory. The first of which, and undeniably the most important, is the use of proper face protection.

You’ve probably seen YouTube clips of airsoft players wearing little more than sunglasses while engaging in airsoft combat. If you care about your teeth or ability to see, this is a big ‘no–no.’ Full-face protection is a must, and that means fully-sealed airsoft goggles with lenses constructed of either impact-resistant plastic or steel mesh, coupled with either a mouth guard or full-face protection (there are several companies which manufacture affordable airsoft ‘all-in-one’ masks which allow for self-contained head and neck protection). Airsoft BBs typically travel at speeds anywhere from 300 to 500 feet per second (and up!), which is certainly enough velocity to cause irreparable damage to one’s vision and teeth. Proper face-gear is a must, not only to protect the player, but also to heighten one’s performance and enjoyment of the game. Bottom-line, face protection, as well as gloves and impact-absorbing clothing (BDU’s and tactical gear provide adequate protection, although a thick sweat-shirt too will suffice), should be an aspiring airsoft player’s first priority and initial investment.

Now on to the fun stuff, and this means one’s choice of airsoft weaponry. With so many airsoft guns available to the global airsoft community, which one will best suit you? After taking into account the feet per second cap at your local airsoft facility (most indoor places will allow players only to use airsoft guns shooting at 350 FPS or less, while their outdoor companions allow generally for 100 FPS above that), one’s choice of weapon still remains open. Your first purchase however will most likely though be your ‘main’ gun: that is the gun with which you’ll engage in the majority of airsoft play, and one which given the world-wide airsoft communities’ current leaning will most likely be an electric air gun (that’s ‘AEG’ to those of you who’ve now substituted your sunglasses with proper airsoft eye protection - just making sure that you’re paying attention).

Electric air guns tend to possess an intimidating rate of fire as well as substantial and effective range, both of which will allow the beginner to compete effectively. Additionally, AEGs are easy to power, and with the amount of airsoft pellets you’ll most likely be initially sending down-range (since beginning players are historically seldom economic when it comes to their trigger-finger), airsoft electric guns are also cost-efficient.

As in real-life combat, you’ll probably need a sidearm. An airsoft C02 or gas blow-back pistol is generally the preferred choice, as they easily put several rounds on target in swift succession. These sidearms are perfect replicas of their real-life counterparts and provide a nice degree of ‘realism'.

A good sidearm will also increase the types of airsoft games you can participate in, whether the event be a ‘pistol night’ or the ever-growing-in-popularity ‘zombie shoot’. AEGs generally are banned from the latter events, because, well, it seems rather unfair to hose down the good-natured players who’ve chosen to be unarmed zombies with hundreds of rounds from a hard-hitting AEG. You’ll want an airsoft pistol in order to participate in either activity, as well as to extend your ‘life-expectancy’ in CQC.

Just make sure to wear your goggles.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, the #1 fastest growing Airsoft retailer in the nation. Airsoft Megastore offers the latest airsoft guns and gear as well as a 125% low price guarantee on all new Airsoft guns and gear.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

To Maximize your Airsoft Gun’s Performance, Pick the Right Ammo

Airsoft enthusiasts spend hours debating the weaponry and accessories currently available, all in an effort to not only improve their game, but more importantly their ‘life-expectancy’ in a skirmish. From feet per second to rate of fire, from metal gearboxes to upgraded springs, from red dot versus optical zoom scopes and red versus green lasers and more, it’s all about speeding target acquisition and ‘time on target.’ All understandable, but what about the one component inherent to the entire process: the airsoft pellet itself?

As anyone who’s ever operated an actual semi-automatic firearm can tell you, all the bells and whistles simply won't matter if low-grade ammunition is used. An enjoyable afternoon of target practice can become an exercise in frustration, with stove-pipe jams and misfires galore. This writer used to own an old Charter Arms AR-7, and I can attest to this. Low-grade ammunition did not make for a happy fire-arm, or a happy shooter.

The same can be said for the sport of airsoft, and for those new to the game, let me clarify: these aren’t your grandfather’s BB guns. Firstly, airsoft electric air guns, as well as most airsoft guns (whether they be spring or gas-operated), are not built to fire those old copper BBs you are most likely familiar with. In fact, they’ll cause irreparable damage to your airsoft gun. Also will low-grade plastic BBs. What are low-grade BBs? Here’s a bit of a primer on quality:

Unfortunately most BBs marketed by most sporting goods and ‘big box’ stores are of an inferior grade and should not be used with high performance Airsoft guns, although the packaging won’t tell you that. They may even list them as ‘Seamless Airsoft Gun BBs’ but in most cases, they simply aren’t. They lack the high density and spherical consistency needed for dependable operation of an airsoft gun, and will most often have a tendency to shatter during use, which will only serve to yield the costly repair of your airsoft weapon. I know this from personal experience. Upon my initial purchase of an AEG, I fed my gun low-grade airsoft pellets and came away with a not only a missed skirmish, but also with a cracked piston and a gearbox full of plastic shrapnel. Needless to say, I learned my lesson.

The majority of airsoft guns fire 6mm, seamless, polished BBs, and most sporting goods stores simply don’t carry the quality brands rated for use in airsoft guns. Most airsoft specialty retailers and airsoft websites do, however. It's easiest to make it a habit to purchase a few of these bags in addition to your latest acquisition of weaponry or accessory. What brands you may ask? I personally use ‘GoldenBall ProSlicks” for regular skirmishing, and GoldenBall MaxSlicks for competition and bigger OPs where I need every advantage I can get. I choose these after years of trial and error, and so far like them for their accuracy, as due to their construction there seems to be little to zero flight deviance when fired. Simply put, if my sighting is dead-on, so is the BB. Purchasing the right airsoft ammo will serve to keep you in the game, instead of sitting one out while waiting for your order of a replacement gearbox or gun to arrive.

The bottom line is this: the use of high-grade, seamless, polished and spherically dense airsoft BBs will not only ensure the life of your airsoft gun, but will also increase your ‘time on target.’ Your choice of airsoft pellets is as important as the gun itself.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, the #1 fastest growing Airsoft retailer in the U.S. Airsoft Megastore offers a full selection of gas and electric Airsoft guns including airsoft sniper rifles and spring airsoft shotguns.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Differences Between Airsoft Electric and Gas Blow-back Guns

One of the many things which make the sport of airsoft so enjoyable is the wide array of gun platforms currently available. Airsoft manufacturers now market myriad airsoft weaponry, which allows for players to pick just the right weapon for their unique style of play or the op they’ll be participating in. Most modern airsoft weaponry – not unlike its real-life tactical counterparts – also allow for endless accessorizing and customization. Most likely you’ve spent time between games listening to fellow players effuse about the new reinforced gear-box they’ve installed, or debate the difference various propellant make in the functionality of a ‘hard-kick,’ although before I lose myself in tech minutia, let’s examine two of the main sub-sets of airsoft guns as they pertain to their sources of power.

In this case, that means electricity and gas.

Electric airsoft guns, also called AEGs (automatic electric guns) and affectionately referred to as ‘gear-boxes’ by savvy airsoft players because of their automatic or semi-automatic capabilities, are most definitively the guns favored by the majority of the world-wide airsoft community. The reasons most likely stem from two rather alluring traits (aside from airsoft products long-standing, detail-specific recreation of military hardware).

First, electric-powered airsoft guns typically use a rechargeable battery to drive the electric motor which powers them making them easy to operate. One must simply charge an AEGs battery, attach it to the gun and depress the trigger, and 'voila,' their electric gun’s internal piston and spring assembly will instantaneously be driven to spit a barrage of 6mm plastic bb’s from its barrel. This happens not only at an intimidating speed (up to 600 feet per second and beyond) but also at a healthy rate of fire. Secondly, due to the mechanical nature of electric airsoft guns and players inherent interest in upgrading them, replacement parts are readily available on the market, and it is because of these reasons (and their previously mentioned realism) that AEGs have become the most common and widely available gun in the sport of airsoft.

Airsoft manufacturers have also developed ways to increase the realistic nature of airsoft gas guns, which in lieu of electricity use CO2 or pressurized gas to propel airsoft pellets. Capable of both semi-automatic and automatic firing modes, airsoft blowback guns are generally powered by what is known as "green gas" (a mixture of propane and a polysiloxane lubricant). Readily available at most American hardware stores, the propellant can also be created at home via the pairing of a standard propane bottle, silicone oil and an adapter (most airsoft retailers carry the latter), which makes powering gas blowback guns nearly as simple as their electric counterparts.

Why gas and not electricity, and what are the advantages of a gas blowback gun, you ask? The size constraints inherent to electric motors and gearboxes often render them impractical for use in airsoft pistols, so the usage of gas in conjunction with airsoft blowback pistol as a propellant is an obvious design choice (“blowback” refers to an airsoft gun mechanism which mimics the cycling of a real-life firearm’s slide). It’s inexpensive, easy to procure and allows airsoft blowback pistols the ability to not only adjust their gun’s FPS, but also to provide the player the satisfaction of feeling a recoil while firing.

From fully automatic electric airsoft rifles to their organic and satisfying gas cousins, the variety of airsoft weapons available today to players is limitless, and whether your preferences lay in western-influenced hardware, exotic European guns or the tried and true AK variety, one has limitless options available, both in electric and gas variants.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, a leading online provider of airsoft guns, gear and accessories. Airsoft Megastore offers guaranteed lowest prices on airsoft guns including electric airsoft guns and airsoft shotguns.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Airsoft Gun Pricing Guide

5 years ago a run-of-the-mill airsoft rifle could easily set you back $350 or more. Often, that was simply the rifle itself... no accessories or add-ons whatsoever. Thankfully, in the past few years airsoft’s popularity has boomed and more high-volume manufacturers have entered the playing field, making the gear more affordable than ever. Today people of all ages and economic means can participate in this exhilarating sport without traumatizing their wallet.

If you are just starting out in airsoft, you will want to invest in a primary weapon, a side arm, eye protection and relevant accessories. Your primary weapon will likely be you biggest, most significant investment. First you will need to determine how you will be using your weapon as that will dictate what type of gun you will need. Next, determine your price range. Below is a quick pricing guide for selecting your primary weapon. Once you have identified the type of weapon you want, do your research. Read product reviews and talk to airsoft experts.

High Performance AEG - $150 to $500+
Probably the most popular weapon of choice in airsoft is the high-powered airsoft electric gun (AEG). These guns are very realistic and powerful, shooting between 300 and 450 feet per second.

High Powered Sniper Rifles - $75 to $2,000+
High powered airsoft sniper rifles are the most realistic sniper rifles available. They typically fire 6mm 0.20 gram or 0.25 gram airsoft pellets (link) and fire between 400 and 550 feet per second. You can typically find an excellent high powered sniper rifle for between $100 and $300.

Spring Rifles - $20 to $150
Airsoft spring rifles require cocking before each shot, typically require 6mm 0.12gram bbs and shoot approximately 250-330 feet per second.

High Powered Airsoft Shotguns - $30 - $200
These shotguns are pump action (much more strong that spring action). They shoot up to 450 feet per second and shoot 6mm 0.20 gram or 0.25 gram bbs.

The pricing ranges featured in this article are purely for reference and reflect the market conditions of August 2010. Pricing is determined by a number of independent variables that may shift at any given time.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, a leading online provider of airsoft guns, gear and accessories. Airsoft Megastore offers guaranteed lowest prices on airsoft guns including electric airsoft guns and airsoft sniper rifles.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tips for Protecting Your Airsoft Gun & Preserving Your Gun’s Warranty

As an airsoft player, it can be extremely frustrating to have your airsoft gun break prematurely, only to discover that your warranty is void because of some obscure rule. It’s important to keep in mind you’re your airsoft gun is very much like a real weapon. It has sophisticated mechanics that should be treated with care. Even high quality gear can break if mishandled. So, in an attempt to reduce your future frustration, here is a quick and easy checklist of ways to care for your airsoft guns and avoid compromising its warranty.

  • Use quality airsoft BBs. Always use high quality BB’s in the size specified in your owners manual. Most airsoft guns are configured for 6mm BBs, but its best to check with your owner’s manual to be sure. Use the wrong type, not only will you jam and damage your gun, but you will very likely void your warranty. If you want to err on the side of safety, polished, high-grade, seamless BBs are the best for your gun, and they will improve your shot.

  • While we are on the topic of BB’s, be sure you are loading your ammo correctly. If you load your airsoft pellets incorrectly, you may damage your gun and void your warranty. When you buy a new gun, be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

  • If you are using a spring gun, only cock it once per shot. Repeted cocking may damage the internal mechanisms of your gun and void your warranty.

  • If you are using a standard airsoft battery charger, check your owner’s manual and ensure you are charging you battery for the appropriate period of time. Airsoft batteries are sensitive and may be damaged if left charging for excessive periods. If you are concerned about your battery, I recommend investing in a smart charger, which will shut off when the battery is full.

  • As tempting as may be, do not disassemble your gun unless you are an expert / professional. Doing so will likely void your warranty. The disassemble/reassemble process may seem like a harmless challenge, but more often than not, it leads to irreversible damage. Alternatively, if you are a hands-on learner and don’t mind the risk, it’s a safer bet to disassemble and play around with the internals after the warranty period has ended.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, the fastest growing of all airsoft stores in the nation. Airsoft Megastore offers deep discounts on sale items for players interested in cheap AEG airsoft guns and looking to find airsoft sniper rifles cheap.

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