Airsoft Player Guide: What Playstyle is right for me?
If you are new to Airsoft skirmishing one of the first decisions you must make before building a skirmish loadout is what playstyle fits you best. In this article, we outline the main types of Airsofter you will find in the wild (or, on a skirmish site), a rough outline of the most useful gear for their role, and what type of person each role suits best. Not sure if you are a Sniper or a Breacher? Read on to figure out the answer!
Assault - Tactical
Assault Rifle - Pistol - Hand Grenades - Radio
Assault - Tactical is a role which requires a fine balance of aggression and discipline, requiring a cool head under pressure to take advantage of a suddenly appearing weak spot in the enemy's defences and keep the team working together coherently as the enemy's BBs rain down around them.
An Assault role involves working with a team, whether they arrived with you that day or not, and the Tactical Assault role specifically means you have to be ready to do anything, whether it is flanking the enemy's advance to sneak past and capture their flag, or helping to defend a fixed position and fighting to the death.
Flexibility should be the focus of the Assault -Tactical players kit. We recommend a basic loadout of an AEG assault rifle, and GBB pistol as a sidearm, though grenades are always useful to get yourself out of a sticky situation. Communication is the bread and butter of the Assault -Tactical skirmisher, whether it is through radio or just using the MK1 human lung and voice box combination.
Equipment-wise, the Assault - Tactical role allows for practically whatever you choose to use, whether you prefer a more geared up look with a plate carrier or assault vest, or a high speed and low drag kit with a simple belt or chest rig. The Assault - Tactical playstyle is a good way to start your skirmishing adventure, and is the most common playstyle on skirmish sites across the country.
If you are a team player who is packed full of energy and able to think on your feet and adapt to a constantly changing environment, you would make a fantastic Assault - Tactical Airsoft player!
Assault - Breacher
Short Assault Rifle - Breaching Shotgun - Hand Grenades - Radio
Assault - Breacher is a close quarters optimised Assault kit for the type of player who wants to lead the pack. The Breacher will take point when entering buildings and take advantage of the shorter overall length of their primary weapon to clear corners quickly and remove the enemy from any buildings/bunkers they are hunkering down inside.
The Breacher role, like the Tactical, is a team-oriented role, with a Breacher often working best with other Assault players, backed up by supporting roles such as a Designated Marksman or Support Gunner. Having a Breacher in your squad adds a useful specialisation to your fire team, and means if your local site has trenches, buildings or other indoor spaces you don't all have to run shorter primary weapons, which may see you outranged when exchanging fire outdoors.
Breachers generally use a short assault rifle or submachine gun as their primary weapon, backed up by either a GBB pistol or a breaching shotgun as a sidearm. Carrying a shorter primary weapon allows a larger secondary to be used without issue, and a breaching shotgun would be an absolute asset when it comes to getting the first shot off when entering a building.
A Breacher will also find hand grenades very useful, as there is not much better for clearing bunkers than a well-placed frag, provided you have the throwing arm for the job! Comms are also an option, and can be especially useful for larger skirmish sites, though in most cases as a Breacher you will be supporting your squad, so a loud shout should suffice!
The Breacher often uses a heavier loadout than other assault roles, particularly the Aggressive, which emphasises speed of movement over carrying capacity. The Breacher needs to have plenty of mags, frags and shotgun shells on hand, and as the first through the door on entry, they can often be the one that takes the most hits, so a tactical vest with decent coverage and space for pouches is recommended.
If you like working at the tip of the spear and want to put your reflexes and weapons proficiency to the test, the Assault - Breacher role would be a good fit. Either that or the following...
Assault - Aggressive
SMG/Short Assault Rifle - Hand grenades - Pistol - Radio
Assault - Aggressive is the lightweight equivalent of the Breacher role, for the Airsoft skirmisher who just cannot stop moving. The Aggressive playstyle involves putting constant pressure on the enemy team and keeping them occupied whilst objectives are achieved, or full-on bum-rushing the enemy as soon as "game on" is called to seize disputed ground and deny the enemy the same advantage.
As an Aggressive skirmisher you will likely find yourself at the vanguard, duking it out with the enemy's most aggressive, and your agility and quick thinking will be the key to survival and taking the initiative at the key opening moments of the skirmish.
Aggressive players are almost always the ones that capture the flag, secure the crash site and achieve the game-winning objectives that make all the difference, though this comes at a price that an Aggressive player must be willing to pay. Aggressive players get the objectives and plenty of kills, but due to their continuous and unrelenting advance through any resistance, they are often the ones that take the most hits.
For the Aggressive play style the best kit is that which allows you to do the job most effectively. The best tools for this task are a compact and lightweight primary weapon and a pistol sidearm for when reloads take too long, though if you have the muscularity to keep up the energy needed for this role using a heavier weapon, all the more credit to you.
Smoke and hand grenades will also be a useful asset to an Aggressive player, particularly smokes which can help conceal a rapid advance and allow a group of Aggressive players to close ground without becoming cannon fodder.
An Aggressive assaulter generally makes use of a high-speed, low-drag loadout, granting them the ability to close ground quickly to take advantage of supporting fire provided by Support Gunners, Snipers and Designated Marksmen.
A chest rig or belt kit is all an Aggressive player will need to keep their loadout light and fulfil their niche on the skirmish field, though a helmet is advised for the clumsy! Comms can also be of use to an Aggressive player as they may be needed at a new location double-time should the battlefield situation or scenario change.
Light Machine Gun - Pistol - Extra Ammo - Radio
The Support Gunner is a role for the experienced Airsofter with the knowledge, skills and kit to get this important battlefield role done properly. The Support Gunner is tasked with managing a large, heavy and cumbersome support weapon and keeping pace with a fast-moving squad to provide immediate fire support when needed. The Support Gunner role requires a large amount of ammo on hand, and is more focused on area denial than actually getting kills, though you will certainly get your fair share if you play the role right!
A Support Gunner will be working closely with their squad to provide additional volume of fire to cover an advance made by Assaulters and will need to be mobile enough to stay close behind, whilst also possessing an adept eye for spotting the perfect firing position. The Support Gunner will be the one that flings the most BBs, and should be carrying plenty to be ready to repel even the most aggressive enemy charge. A well-setup support weapon should have a high rate of fire and a large magazine capacity to allow for suppressive fire to be performed to cover teammates and help improve hit probability.
While a Support Gunner needs to be mobile and keep up with the squad to carry out the role effectively the majority of their work is done from a fixed firing position, and as such, they can generally get away with a heavier loadout with the additional carrying capacity to bring the extra ammo they will need. When skirmishing on a site with a mixed indoor and outdoor environment a sidearm is essential for a Support Gunner as the cramped confines of corridors are far from the natural environment of the support weapon, and a sidearm will keep the gunner competitive when things get tight.
The Support Gunner role is not an ideal one for new players, as it requires expensive and highly specialised equipment, but if you fancy a go at the role you can sample the Support Gunner playstyle by simply carrying extra ammo (high-cap magazines recommended) and taking a supporting role. A standard AEG with a lot of ammo is sufficient to master the Support Gunner playstyle, and if you find it suits you, a bigger and meaner primary can be purchased down the line.
Like a real Support Gunner, the Airsoft gunner must focus on suppressing the enemy and deny them the use of advantageous cover by creating a "beaten zone" into which the enemy dare not tread, lest their next move be in the direction of respawn.
Sniper Rifle - SMG/Pistol - Smoke Grenades - Radio
The Sniper - The role we all dreamed of when we first discovered Airsoft. Who wouldn't want to lurk in the distance in a ghillie suit and watch through an optical sight as their BBs sail elegantly through the air and take the enemy out with impunity? The truth is that being an effective Sniper requires a lot of Airsofting experience, a highly upgraded rifle, the patience of a saint and the willingness to get far fewer kills than other roles might. A role for the experience, rather than the kill count, but even with an unupgraded sniper rifle the level of satisfaction from each kill, rare though they may be, is hard to beat.
Snipers generally work separately from the main force, and when the Assaulters go one way, the Snipers seek the opposite to take advantage of their extensive camouflage and attack from an unexpected position. Airsoft Snipers often operate alone or in a pair, though they can also operate with a team using communications equipment; providing helpful intel on the location of enemies and the status of in-game objectives.
Equipment-wise, a Sniper will gain more advantages than other roles from wearing some form of 3D camouflage, such as a ghillie suit or 3D sniper suit. Some Snipers choose to go the whole hog and run a full ghillie suit, others stick with a head a shoulder ghillie to maintain mobility. Whether you choose to use a ghillie or not is your call, it can offer some serious advantages and make you almost impossible to spot, but can also be prone to snagging and can restrict access to essentials such as spare magazines.
Contrary to popular belief, an Airsoft Sniper needs to be mobile, and when working in a dense woodland environment having additional mobility can be more important than camouflage, and as such, many snipers choose to go into the skirmish with a minimalist loadout consisting of a simple belt rig, and many don't bother with a ghillie. A Sniper's belt rig generally consists of a sidearm, a couple of spare magazines for both the sidearm and the primary, and maybe a speed loader.
When sniping in support of a squad, adding in some comms equipment would be a wise choice and allows a distant Sniper to gel more effectively with their assault rifle-toting teammates. Smoke grenades would also be a useful asset to a Sniper, and while not essential, can be used to buy precious time when the need to relocate double time arises.
Squad Designated Marksman
Sniper Rifle/DMR Rifle - Pistol - Hand Grenades - Radio
The Squad Designated Marksman, as the name would suggest, works closely with the team and provides accurate ranged fire support similar to a Support Gunner, but with a greater emphasis on taking out high priority targets such as enemy Snipers and Support Gunners. The Marksman is all about getting those kills and is less focused on objective taking, but must remain mobile and stay close to the squad to engage any long range threats that may appear.
Squad Designated Marksmen arm themselves either with a DMR rifle locked to semi-auto and shooting at a higher FPS, a bolt action sniper rifle or an accurised assault rifle with a magnified optical sight. The Marksman is tasked with counter-sniping duties assisting the squad in identifying friend from foe at range, and must also be willing to close ground and support the squad directly using their sidearm, or primary if outside of minimum engagement distance.
SDMs can often be seen running a standard sub-350FPS AEG with an upgraded inner barrel and HOP-up bucking for better range and accuracy, and while a fully-fledged DMR rifle is an option, many choose to retain fully automatic function to support the squad on the advance or carry an SMG sidearm for the same task. Like many Airsoft playstyles, the more specialised equipment is an option, though you can fulfil the role effectively using standard equipment with some choice accessories.
A magnified optical sight is essential for a Squad Designated Marksman, both for engagements at longer distances and IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) duties. IFF is one of the ways an SDM can really help their squad; guiding the faster moving Aggressive and Breacher players onto targets, and helping to coordinate ambushes.
The SDM generally uses a heavier loadout than a Sniper, requiring more ammo due to their higher rate of fire, and their squad-based role which necessitates being closer to the action than the lone wolf playstyle of the Sniper. Grenades are a great force multiplier for any squad-based role, including the Marksman, and a radio can be very useful if the SDM ever needs to split from the squad to take out an enemy Sniper or another high-value target.
Assault Rifle w/launcher - Pistol - Hand Grenades - Radio
Assault Rifle/SMG - Stand-alone Grenade Launcher - Hand Grenades - Radio
The Grenadier has the biggest barrel on the battlefield, but it's not the size that counts, it's how you use it! Airsoft Grenadiers generally take an up front position and work with a squad of assaulters to provide a bit of extra punch when a bunker needs clearing or a mass of enemy players thinks taking cover in the same spot is a good idea. Watch your spacing or a Grenadier will make short work of your squad!
A Grenadier is equipped with an assault rifle and either a rifle-mounted grenade launcher or an assault rifle with a stand-alone grenade launcher as a secondary weapon, and generally, a shorter assault rifle is ideal for this role to make managing the additional complexity of adding a launcher easier under fire. The Grenadier's task is to add a volume of fire advantage to the squad but can also fulfil various specialist tasks using the plethora of projectiles launchable through a 40mm MOSCART grenade launcher. These include anti-vehicle work, bunker-busting and suppressing enemy hoards at close range.
The jury is out on whether running a rifle with an underslung launcher or a rifle with a separate stand-alone launcher is preferable, but this often comes down to your individual needs and preferences. The advantage of having your launcher mounted to your primary weapon is that it is right there when you need it and you can fire both the launcher and the host rifle in rapid succession. This, of course, makes the rifle considerably heavier and may inhibit your ability to quickly transition between targets. The other option keeps both weapons light but does require a transition between the two which is complex and difficult to achieve under pressure.
The Grenadier role is generally advised for more experienced players who fancy a change of pace from the standard Assault roles and can be made to work in practically any skirmish environment. In CQB, a MOSCART grenade can send a shower of BBs down a corridor and eliminate multiple enemy players with a single trigger pull, and for outdoors work these grenades can be used to launch other projectiles including Nerf Mini Howlers to deal with bunkers and vehicles, with the skirmish site staffs' permission of course.
A Grenadier's kit can vary from a full heavy assault-style loadout to a simple belt rig with grenade bandolier, and setting up a Grenadier loadout is often best informed by experience. Some decide to go all in and become a mobile artillery piece, showering the enemy with BBs at every opportunity, others settle for a single 40mm shell which lives in their launcher until it is needed. The former will need a heavy setup to carry all those grenade shells and the prerequisite physical strength to run this loadout all day, and the latter can choose from either a lightweight Aggressive style loadout or a heavier Tactical loadout. They may be known as "n00b tubes" in the gaming world, but in Airsoft, launchers ain't for n00bs!
HPA Tapped Pistol - HPA Air Bottle and line - Hand Grenades - Radio
The Speedsofter plays similarly to the Aggressive assault role, pushing up at every opportunity and using their highly upgraded and lightening fast HPA-fueled primary to win the volume of fire battle. Being fast on your feet is as important as having a fast trigger finger for a Speedsofter, and as such, they tend to run a lightweight micro rig with a minimalist leaning, carrying a few magazines, grenades and their air bottle in a compact backpack.
Speedsofters are most commonly sighted in CQB sites wielding upgraded Hi-capa, AAP-01 or EU series pistols, usually with an M4 magazine adapter, and sometimes even with a drum magazine to reduce time spend reloading. Paintball-style equipment is commonplace, with many Speedsofters going for a certain look which is close to that of tournament Paintballers, wearing full-face Dye masks, minimal camo and forgoing realism in favour of pure performance.
Accessories-wise, a red dot sight and tracer unit are all that is needed to provide ultra-fast target acquisition, and some choose to just run a tracer and no sights, instead walking the BBs onto target with the help of the tracer and rapid follow-up shots. When kitting themselves out for woodland and outdoors skirmishes, Speedsofters often pull out their rifles which are often converted to HPA and depart from realism considerably in their looks but meet the requirements of the role, boasting extreme performance that often puts the usual AEG primary to shame, especially in the rate of fire department.
Comms equipment and grenades are useful kit for Speedsofters, if they can spare a second to take their finger off the trigger, that is! It is not often that we see Speedsofters using communications equipment but when coordinating with a team on a larger skirmish site it is practically essential. When choosing comms kit Speedsofters generally go for a stand-alone radio, or a radio and throat mic combination rather than a full-sized headset which won't fit with a paintball style full face mask.
In game, Speedsofters tend to move fast but avoid rushing objectives, seeking to maximise their kill-to-death ratio and bring their firepower to bear without putting themselves in a tricky spot. The usual style for Speedsofters is to move quickly to an advantageous firing position, similar to a Support Gunner, and hold the position for as long as the kills keep coming. If you care not for realism and you are competitive, energetic and put performance first this role would be a perfect fit!
Shotgun Action Hero
Pump-action Shotgun - Pistol - Hand grenades - Melee Weapon
The Shotgun Action Hero is a special type of skirmisher you will encounter one or two of at most skirmishes. This type of player values a challenge and equips themselves more closely to a movie action hero than a solider, and can usually be found at the vanguard with the Aggressive players or missing entirely, probably carrying out a solo flanking manoeuvre, ready to pop up where the enemy least expects it.
Shotgun Action Heroes don't always use shotguns, but shotguns are most often seen used as a primary weapon by this type of player, and the same is true for other unconventional but incredibly cool guns. Revolvers are a great example, and while this type of weapon is a challenge to use in the face of assault rifles and semi-auto handguns, the experience of reloading a wheelgun in a hurry with the enemy just around the corner is like no other.
Many experienced Airsofters opt for this playstyle to freshen up the game and give themselves a challenge and a new experience, and while challenging, the kill you worked extra hard to get feels far better for this type of skirmisher than an easily gotten kill when running the best kit around. This type of player is the antithesis of the Speedsofter, and while the speedy boi seeks performance at any cost, the Shotgun Action Hero seeks enjoyment, regardless of the number of kills or deaths.
Shotgun Action Heroes can often be seen contesting the objective with all their might, getting kills and taking hits with enthusiasm, returning to regen only to sprint directly back into the mayhem for more. As much as you will see them duking it out in the thick of it, expect to see a Shotgun Action Hero sprint through a cloud of smoke with the enemy flag in hand in any capture the flag like scenario, as playing the objective is a high priority for these titans of Airsofters.
Equipment-wise, Shotgun Action Heroes can be seen running everything from a simple belt rig with shoulder holster or shell loop equipped sling to full-on Sci-fi juggernaut suits which look great but aren't generally conducive to effectiveness in game. Shell-ejecting weapons are also common, and highly impractical to skirmish with, but the Shotgun Action Hero loves a challenge and an interesting primary weapon!
Hopefully, this article has helped you decide what type of Airsofter you are! Many skirmishers move between playstyles throughout their Airsoft careers, and it is important to remember that this is not the military, if you want to build your own kit which fits none of these stereotypes, go for it, the sport can only improve as a result!