We get a lot of questions from people interested in sniper rifles for airsoft.
The videos are usually kill montages and it makes people believe that being an airsoft sniper gives you an unfair advantage on the battlefield taking out targets with one shot. When it comes to the rifle reviews, most of these videos, including ours, will be out-of-the-box impressions which are good for the initial purchase, but if you are seriously looking to be an airsoft sniper, you have to look beyond that initial impression to get the most out of it.
When it comes down to the individual, I think your experience will vary especially as you start out and you have to ask yourself if you are doing it for fun or if you want to do it to a higher level. And of course people want to know how accurate sniper rifles can be.
What Do Experienced Airsoft Players Think?
Experienced players will tell you that it’s mostly the skills and stalking that make a sniper rifle worth it. Not the accuracy out the box.
Airsoft is by no means a cheap sport but it is certainly enjoyable at any level so don’t believe there is a paywall you have to get through to have a good time. Buying good equipment will save you a lot of aggravation but it is not the only thing to consider for your experience to be good. Just the same, people who are overly confident about their equipment thinking it is a bandaid for skill will often have a bad time regardless of whether you have a $100 or $1000 airsoft sniper rifle, particularly if they don’t maintain the equipment or have unrealistic expectations.
In fact, I’ve encountered players who end up being overly confident thanks to the equipment. If you really want an accurate conversation about airsoft sniping, talk to the more humble players out there and don’t take a random person’s word on it by itself.
By the end, if you think playing airsoft sniper is not what you want, playing a DMR/designated marksman is a good in-between. You get added range over standard AEG users. Be sure to check out our previous video on playing a designated marksman if you wish to learn more.
Okay, now that I have hopefully grounded your expectations about airsoft sniping, I want to have an honest conversation about the equipment: the rifle itself.
Bolt Action Sniper Rifles
So if you are getting a bolt action airsoft sniper rifle, there are going to be two types of rifles I want to talk about: Sportline rifles and proline rifles. Sportline rifles are fun for first-time players out of the box. The people often buying them are younger players too which I have to warn is not always suitable if you don’t have the arm strength to operate these spring-powered rifles. Others might want to dabble in the experience and it is not a terribly expensive way to do it.
If you are seriously getting into the gun-building aspect of this, these rifles are limited in what you can do. There are too many generic rifles out there that look similar that take proprietary or hard-to-source parts and ultimately they might take a lot of work or money to make durable to push higher power. Also, if you like a good-feeling rifle, these will feel more toylike no matter how you cut it.
Once they break, if you are not a DIY type, they will cost a lot in shop fees to get going or would not be feasible compared to replacing it outright. Inexpensive sniper rifles by nature will wear out because they are built to cost. If you ever research upgrade parts for more popular airsoft systems such as the VSR-10, there is a reason a high quality trigger for example can cost $200 alone. So, buy these things with having fun in mind and expect it to break one day.
Okay, now to the real stars of the show, the premium or proline sniper rifles. What you want in a sniper rifle is high quality parts inside designed to withstand the rigors of use. Airsoft sniper rifles by nature are high stress so low grade parts will often fail quickly.
If you start with a higher quality rifle, you will have less parts you need to address over time. One common system or type of rifle people like to start with is the Tokyo Marui VSR-10 or its clone rifles due to parts availability. Out of the box it shoots okay but it feels toy-like so that might bother some people. To realize its true potential you’ll basically be replacing everything from the trigger system to piston and so on. If you are a DIY builder then this is a great system to look into.
And this leads me into the VSR-10 system: this is a common system so a lot of these rifles I will talk about might share parts commonality with that design, making it possible for upgrade choices.
A sniper rifle that is to withstand higher-powered springs needs a good trigger system. A lesser rifle will have a 45 degree sear with a matching piston. These work for most applications but wear out and then you run into slam fires. A 90 degree sear and piston setup is often what is used in more durable and high powered setups. If you want your rifle to last at all, you’ll make sure you have this already or get a conversion to it for that VSR-10 or JG BAR-10 of yours.
Accuracy Depends Partially On The Spring
The next thing you want to look for is the availability of springs that you can upgrade to in order to reach your FPS goals for whatever field you play at. If the gun shoots right where it needs to, skip this part. If you need to tune it to shoot harder or softer, you’ll need to swap the spring. Some rifles use AEG springs. Some will use a dedicated spring type of its own or a VSR-10 compatible spring. Understand the differences before buying a spring or you’ll be wasting money.
Make sure the piston is metal and high quality. Very few come with plastic pistons for the more expensive rifles. This is going to help it last longer. Worn out pistons, especially 45 degree pistons, will result in slam fires. This in conjunction with the sear are the most failed part on cheaper or high mileage sniper rifles.
A Great Sniper Rifle Needs a Great Barrel
The inner barrel will usually be cut differently from AEG barrels and require its own type if you should want to upgrade (some rifles do use AEG barrels but it is rare). Most will follow a VSR10 pattern or an APS2 pattern. APS2 is often seen on lower-priced rifle these days though it was originally developed in more expensive rifles in Japan. If you should require a VSR10 barrel for upgrades, you have a ton of options. This is also the same cut of barrel that is used in many pistols so that means the same types of bucking will work.
If your stock bucking works well, don’t mess with it. Otherwise get one that you like that will work well with your intended BB weight. Sniping is going to require a lot of work to get a good zero, zeroing your scope, and playing with BB weights to get your best results. If you are lazy, your rifle won’t be effective. Also have access to a chronograph to verify your rifle’s performance otherwise you are wasting your time.
When it comes to installing the upgrades or opening up the gun, this video will not cover that. The building or modifying your rifle is best left to experienced techs. If you are a DIY type you will save money in doing this, but you do this ALL at your own risk.
If you should pay someone else to do it, be sure they know what they are doing and be sure to budget for it. If you don’t know what you are doing, do not start taking it apart. You will possibly damage your rifle, and likely make reassembly even more expensive.