Okay you’ve got all the important safety kit sorted now comes the best part, it’s time to choose your first rifle. I would start with a rifle too, you can pick up pistols, shotguns and more specialised stuff later but to begin with you need something that is a jack of all trades so no matter what site you go to you’ve got something to shoot with. This way you can start to get familiar with your own gun and not constantly having to use a different gun every game. Although that tends to happen when you’ve been playing a while and amassed your own personal arsenal. Gas or AEG? AEG (short for automatic electric gun), for the majority of beginners. Cheaper, more consistent, reliable and they tend to need little to no work to optimise out of the box. You can always come back to a gas rifle later in your Airsoft career but I think as a beginner it’s best to stick to an AEG. Buy new if you can, then if there’s any issues you can get your money back or swap for a working model. If budget compels you to buy used make sure you test the thing to make sure it works first!
The first job is to decide what type of rifle you would like. Sub-machine gun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, designated marksman rifle (DMR) or light machine gun (LMG)? Okay, straight off the bat I would not recommend getting an LMG as your first rifle. They are big, heavy, expensive, have limited parts support and you can do everything a LMG can do with a much smaller and lighter package, often more. Snipers and DMRs are for those who want to engage foes at a distance but be warned it’s not as glamourous as the films depict. There is a lot of lying in the dirt and waiting, it’s a game of patience. If that’s your thing then go right ahead but again unless you are absolutely certain you want to play the sniper role AND have had experience to prove that to yourself, I would not recommend this as a starting point.
So, we have sub-machine guns and assault rifles left and this is a good place to start. I’ll start with the most common type and that’s assault rifles, more specifically those of the AR15 (M4s, M16s and all that), AK (47, 74 and so forth) and G36 persuasion. All of which come in a variety of styles and models that you can pick to suit your liking and needs. As for manufactures it will come as no surprise to some that my top recommendation is the G&G combat machine series. These guns are made for beginners and as such come at entry level price of around the £130 mark. For that you get a rifle and a magazine so all you’ll need is a battery and charger (I’ll go more into depth about these in another article) then you’ll be good to go. These rifles are decently accurate, reliable and will last if you treat them well. You won’t get any frills like metal receivers, high torque motors, or tight-bore barrels but what you do get is a solid rifle that is good to go straight out of the box so you can focus on the most important thing, having fun. As for sub-machine guns, check out G&G’s combat machine MP5 or if you’re a Battlestar Galactica or Stargate fan you should look at Tokyo Marui’s P90 although you’ll have to fork out the extra cash… Sub-machine guns are very similar to assault rifles in function in Airsoft terms, the only major difference is magazines, as they are often thinner and longer than their shorter and fatter assault rifle counter parts (stop sniggering back there). Be aware that there might not be as many options when it comes to carrying your magazines about your person, not a major issue but something to bear in mind.
My personal recommendation is some sort of AR15, the ergonomics are good, controls simple and there is a mountain of aftermarket parts and accessories that are compatible with the platform. So all you Gucci gunners can pimp your weapon to your hearts content. All this is of course just my opinion but it has come from my many years of experience and I’m more than happy to pass on anything I can to help the new players get the most out of the game. Don’t let me stop you getting your dream gun and building your loadout around it though, that’s half the fun of Airsoft and trust me, you never stop at just one gun.