What types of Airsoft Gun are there?

Beginners Guide: Types of Airsoft Guns

When it comes to Airsoft Guns, you’re probably going to be looking at either types of guns or types of power sources - hell! You might even be looking for both. Well, in this article you can find a breakdown of the main types of Airsoft Guns, but if you’re looking for a better understanding of the difference between power sources, check out our article on What Is An Airsoft Gun?

Much like their real-world counterparts, Airsoft Guns are available in a number of well-known styles such as Assault Rifles, Shotguns and Pistols. Here we’ll go into more detail about the main types of Airsoft Guns you might be looking to purchase.

Assault Rifles

Tokyo Marui No. 09 CQB-R FDE Model.

An adaptation of typical rifles, Assault Rifles are typically set to fire in bursts; semi automatically or fully automatically. Real Assault Rifles by definition have detachable magazines and must have a range of at least 300m. When it comes to Airsoft Assault Rifles, they are typically powered by electric, but can be gas powered too if you’re looking for that genuine recoil.

Real Assault Rifles really became known during the Second World War for their use by all countries. You can find some stunning classic Airsoft Assault/Battle Rifles in mid-century style such as the G&G M1 Garand - a great choice for reenactors.

You’ve probably heard of some of the most popular Assault Rifles that have made their way into cinema and video games: M4, M16 and AK47 ring any bells? In fact, it was a Colt AR-15 Assault Rifle that Tony Montana named his “little friend” in that all-too-famous Scarface scene.

Pros:

  • A lot of brilliant Replicas to choose from
  • Great rate of fire
  • Easy to use
  • Good range

Look Out For:

  • If you need something compact and lightweight, consider a Submachine Gun
  • As a beginner, you should always consider using electric guns first

Shotguns

Golden Eagle Type 870 M8875 Tactical Railed Gas Shotgun

If Terminator II taught us anything, it’s that Shotguns promise two things: power and style.

Offering force over distance, Shotguns are typically single or tri-burst with each fire. Tri-burst Shotguns give you a similar feel to the real-world counterparts that spray their fire. They work best in close-quarter conditions as your range is typically limited, meaning if you’re playing across a large ground, you’re probably best choosing a shotgun as a secondary, rather than your primary Airsoft Gun.

You can find some great Airsoft Shotguns that come close to the real thing, the M870 being one of them. Based on the famed Remington Model 870, you can’t go wrong with this tri-burst replica.

Pros:

  • Make great secondaries to a rapid fire primary
  • Tri-bursts are a strong choice for those working on their aim
  • Incredibly immersive and fun to use
  • Very easy to carry lots of shells
  • Can take out multiple targets at once

Look Out For:

  • You've got to be up close and personal
  • Young players may find some Shotguns difficult to pump
  • Be certain whether you're buying tri-barrel or single barrel

Sniper Rifles

Specna Arms SV-98 Core Sniper Rifle w/ Scope and Bipod

For the long-distance marksman, the Sniper Rifle is for when you’ve honed your skill, mastered your craft, and you’re ready to defend your team from your post with that straight shot.

Airsoft Sniper Rifles work excellently with a spring-powered mechanism. Much like standard bolt-action snipers, the use of spring power allows the gun to use a significant amount of power in a single shot which is exactly how snipers are designed to be used. You’ll also find electric and gas powered snipers depending on what you're looking for.

Some of our personal favourites are the compact ARES AS-02 STRIKER and the emblematic CYMA CM.707.

Pros:

  • A team with a sniper is already going in strong
  • Useful when playing on large sites
  • Great upgrades available
  • Higher power limit than automatic rifles

Look Out For:

  • Not ideal for beginners
  • Airsoft sites have a minimum range to engage targets with a Sniper Rifle (so you can't shoot too close)
  • Keep a secondary on you to avoid being caught out in short range

Pistols

Vorsk Dragon 7 Gas Blowback Pistol w/ BDS

Designed for single-handed fire, Pistols - synonymous with Handguns - are smaller Airsoft Guns designed for close combat, but still offer decent range. Any committed skirmisher wants one of these in their belt for when the CQB conditions get tight and tense.

They’re a diverse option, with the choice of single fire, burst fire, semi-automatic and fully-automatic Airsoft Pistols to cover all bases. Not only are they great for skirmishes, Pistols are also a good choice if you’re looking for something to do some realistic target shooting.

The Airsoft community contains replicas of some of the archetypes of modern Pistols, including Magnum Revolvers and Desert Eagles (to name a few).

Pros:

  • Excellent CQB secondary
  • Some seriously iconic Replicas
  • Highly realistic operation

Look Out For:

  • Lubrication is extremely important - always have a Silicon-based lubricant to hand
  • Use larger magazines for more gas, and therefore longer use
  • Gas Pistols perform worse in cold weather - ensure Magazines are room temperature for best performance (DO NOT heat from a radiator etc.)

Submachine Guns

G&G Armament SMC-9 Submachine Gun

Submachine guns, or SMGs, are either fully or semi-automatic carbines (which means a light, handheld machine gun). These are not the same as light and heavy machine guns which fall under the category of ‘support guns’ (more on that later).

SMGs are essentially souped-up pistols - made to be used in as little as one hand, but with serious fire power and damage. Machine guns are souped-up rifles and are bigger than SMGs. Take the Tokyo Marui Scorpion for example - a replica of the Czechoslovak original - which can easily be held in one hand. Compare that to a sizable M249 Machine Gun and you start to see the difference.

Submachine guns can deliver the power of a primary with the agility of a secondary, so you really can’t go wrong with one of these on the field.

Pros:

  • Way more effective than Rifles in CQB
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Magazines are smaller so you can carry more

Look Out For:

  • Smaller gun means smaller battery space
  • Usually proprietary (non standard) magazines
  • Ensure you are able to source compatible mag pouches before deciding on an SMG

Support Guns

LCT PKP Airsoft Replica LMG

Now that we’ve covered submachine guns, we can move onto light and heavy machine guns. As mentioned, both light and heavy machine guns are forms of support guns. That’s because they do exactly what it says on the tin: they support the rest of the team by laying down serious fire, and preventing the enemy from doing anything but hiding in fear.

Support guns are one of the finest examples of defence as a form of offence. If you’re manning this tactical piece of machinery, it’s your job to keep consistent fire on your enemy so your team can reach their targets as smoothly as possible.

If you want to get comfy in the bushes with one of these beasts, you’re going to want something with a stand to keep it up. The beautiful, real wood Jing Gong RK-74, a replica of the renowned RPK, comes complete with a bipod so you can sit back, relax and lay siege to your opponents.

Pros:

  • Able to hold a huge number of rounds
  • Prevent enemy team from moving
  • Designed for sustained periods of fire

Look Out For:

  • Can't get mobile with these; make sure you have a secondary
  • Will eat up your BBs
  • Ideally used by experienced players

Now that we’ve covered your main types of Airsoft Guns, we bet you’re eager to start looking for your new piece. Well lucky for you, you’re in the right place. Check out our full collection of Airsoft Guns online now. We also have a great selection of Two Tone Airsoft Guns for anyone still waiting for their UKARA or Airsoft Defence.