The most commonly asked question on airsoft sniper forums? Brings about a multitude of answers, from guns that may well be the best (although it’s probably the upgrades), to a player’s favourite looking gun, to simply some guy’s gun which he mistakenly believes is a world beater.
I don’t have the definitive answer. I don’t have a vast collection to choose from and compare to, but over the next week I’ll be building a new rifle up from scratch and go through what I’m doing and why, which may help a few people with their builds, or generate a few ideas.
*I’m not selling a gun with my name on it, and I don’t have any sponsors to worry about.*
This is my old/current rifle minus camouflage. It’s the Cybergun FN Herstal SPR A5M, which is fully vsr compatible. I bought it originally for £100 partly because it was vsr compatible, and partly because of the stock. Ultimately it broke loose from the stock and to be honest, wasn’t very well put together in the first place and suffered from terrible QC. So, following some strong recommendations from the guys of Sniper Ops, I’ve decided to pick up a Cyma Cm701b from taiwangun.com for around £70 as the base.
I’ve seen most people on sniper forums chasing the same two qualities in a rifle, RANGE and ACCURACY. Pouring cash into upgrades to get an extra 5-10 metres range, reaching out past 90 and trying to hit a tin can at least once with ten shots. Although we do utilise the extra range advantage over an AEG, I’m looking for something else in my new rifle. STEALTH and RELIABILITY. Reinforced by words from Sniper Ops Midlands chief Andrew Makin, who commented that “90m plus shots are few and far between”, it’s worth thinking about what you need during the game, rather than on the range afterwards. Snipers chase that extra range like it’s going to be a revolutionary game changer. It isn’t. There are more important areas to look at which will have a bigger impact on your game.
Obviously being quiet helps when you’re trying to pick off players without being found. I’m going to look at dampening as much noise as possible, scouring the Internet for every trick going, and improving them where I can.
Reliability counts for more. I’ve seen a couple of rather ambitious rifle builds at my local site that haven’t made it out onto the field because something is wrong somewhere, and it needs more work etc. So it needs to be simple and functional; you need to know that when you pull the trigger, you’ll get a shot off. In addition, my aim is to be able to “go out and stay out” as a sniper. No refills, no coming back to the safe zone every hour. This will allow me to reposition while the rest of the players are heading back to reload mags and paying very little attention. I recall reading about the British SAS continuing to use the M16 for a lot of years after other forces had moved to newer, more “advanced” weapons, purely because it was easier and simpler to strip and maintain in the field. It’s the same thinking. I wouldn’t want to have to come out of games because something has gone wrong. This build needs to just work.
I had a lot of guns to choose from, narrowed it down to a handful including the Ares Striker, Silverback SRS, Tanaka M700 or just getting another vsr platform and slapping an HPA kit in it, plus a couple of VSR variants.
I decided against gas guns for three reasons. Firstly, I’m absolutely rubbish at keeping gas mags in decent working order, let alone a full rifle. Secondly, not being fortunate enough to live in sunnier climes, I was worried about temperature changes affecting the gas power, particularly in winter. And thirdly, I didn’t want to have to carry spare gas on me or worry about filling mags up in the field.
HPA had similar problems. I know there are people out there with extremely good builds, but some seem hit and miss and I wouldn’t fancy my chances tbh. Also, filling up a 3000psi canister and carting it about is extra hassle.
The Striker and SRS are both interesting weapons, although new at the time of writing and I don’t know a lot about them. In time there will be plenty of options available for both, but at the moment the VSR is still probably the best performer when fully upgraded, and has plenty of parts available.
I know it’s probably quite boring now but a simple spring VSR means I have something very easy to maintain and upgrade, giving consistency and reliability. If I can hit a person at 70m without them hearing it, then I’m happy. The gun is light, doesn’t have any feeding ramps to worry about or protruding magazines that could catch on the undergrowth or that you’d have to rest on. And, I’m told, is pretty rock solid…