Hello readers! Today's topic is the age old question: is it better to buy something outright or build it? This question can be asked in many hobbies, particularly one that allows for vast customization of equipment or hardware. Airsoft is no different, and you can easily go down the rabbit hole and spend a lot of money without realizing it.
First of all, if you were to come into our store today we'd get to talking and we'd probably ask you more about your player background and then start going into what you are looking for. If you've never played before, whether you have a ton of money to spend or not, do you have any experience with airsoft guns at all? Some players might not, and it can be very hard to justify spending $300 or $3000 if you don't know what meaningful difference it will make. Imagine trying pizza for the first time and you got lucky and your first one was good, but your friends are telling you there are better brands. Sure, there will be a difference but if you have never tried it you won't know. Our philosophy at Fox is not to simply sell you something just to get a sale but get you what works for your needs. If you have a bad experience you won't want to come back to us or you will develop a negative feeling for the sport and we don't ever want that. To get to that we must find out what your needs are and give you a realistic idea of what you are getting.
And that's another thing that is important. If your expectations are unrealistic because your experience is only second hand (watching Youtube), you may be in for disappointment. Performance between airsoft guns can be anywhere from marginal to big but you have to know what to look for. And this is where I would recommend new players to rent a few times before taking a big plunge. Once you get an idea of what a stock-level gun performs like, you can begin to decide on your own gun purchase the route you want to tackle. If you have a healthy understanding of this, your upgrades will only feel more satisfying and worth the money.
Now comes gun selection. Do you get a sportline gun or proline gun? Are you going to modify it? Though proline guns tend to have better parts in them, usually the higher cost comes from the higher quality external components in the way of metal bodies, rail systems, and higher overall fit and finish. The performance as far as raw fps may be the same if not better than comparable sportlines, but most guns are built for outdoor or indoor standards of FPS and you do not need a ton of upgrades to make it shoot hard. The "nicer" parts in a proline will equate to better efficiency, faster trigger response, smoothness in function, and better quality control.
So if Sportline guns shoot nearly the same, can we just upgrade that? You sure can! For some players, the metal body is not a deal breaker. In fact, some players who prefer to keep weight down might tend to throw money at upgrades for a sportline gun better. That could be a great route to explore.
My main questions to ask when someone wants to talk upgrades is: what is your gun doing/or not doing and what do you want to improve? Then we go from there. Then we can delve into budgets and what you want to achieve. For some people, if it's about maximizing their dollars, I would recommend modifications that increase efficiency and do little to sacrifice durability. If you are upgrading your gun to shoot harder, remember, overall longevity is going to come into question because you are putting more stress on the internal parts. Some people want to maximize performance as much as possible regardless if the extra expense is worth the marginal gain. My advice would change based on your needs and then I would begin recommending everything you could do to gain that edge from your gun.
Now there are some guns and brands that are touting to be the ultimate in built up guns out of the box that do not come from a traditional brand. Some people have asked us if those are that much better than a high end rifle that a traditional retailer might sell. I think Jonathan from Airsoftology echoes my sentiments pretty well and does well to deliver realistic expectations to potential buyers. Guns like that push the edge of what you can do but are not going to be any more durable than a regular gun. High performance custom built guns go down all the time and for people to maintain that high level of performance there is a short window of service life before you have to get the thing rebuilt again. This is essentially what owning a hot-rodded gun is like. If you get frustrated by that or want a simple turn key solution, you might not be satisfied.
Used guns are also an option, though it has many pitfalls. If you pick up a gently used gun it could work out great for you. If you pick up a gun that has been jerry rigged together or is full of gremlins, you are in for some headaches. Buying something with the idea that hiring someone will fix it for you will make that deal not so good. If you are an expert tech you will know exactly what is a good deal and fixing those guns up will be absolutely worth it!
I think the safest route for your wallet if you yourself are not tech savvy is to get something great to start with and have fun with it a while and upgrade or replace it when your needs are not being met. But if you are itching to spend the cash and you've already been running your gear for a quite a bit, treating yourself to a well-tuned machine is going to bring you great satisfaction. Whatever route you pick, we offer it all so keep us in mind for your next project!