Is pre-upgraded stuff good for airsoft?

This was a question from one of the guys in the Sniperworks discord channel. I’ll keep the answer relative to the guns, because I think that’s what the question is about. Guns and upgrades. I’ve got more than enough time to be answering questions at the moment…

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Compared to where airsoft guns were around 15 years ago, the industry has made sizeable advances in not only the technology in the guns, but also the quality of the manufacturing, spurred on by the rapid growth of the sport thanks to the exposure across social media and Youtubers such as Novritsch and Cleanshot. However, for most of them there’s a balance between releasing a good gun, and keeping it at an affordable price. Cyma are a great example, producing really cheap guns that are actually pretty poor quality inside, but well enough assembled to be great performers. If all guns cost £800+, we’d have very few players and as a result, fewer sites and fewer manufacturers. If you do want to improve the performance of the gun, there’s now a huge market for upgrade parts both internal and external, and easily sourced for most common platforms. It’s fair to say that guns now are much better overall than they used to be, and we have access to a huge range of upgrades to push that performance further.

For those who don’t want to do the tech work, a few companies are offering pre-upgraded guns that are ready to go straight out of the box. It’s an easier option, but is it the right way to do it?

To bring the conversation back to snipers specifically, there are a few upgraded guns on the market now. To pick on one in particular, the Novritsch Ssg10 (€300) – I asked someone else to pick a gun to talk about so I didn’t look like I was too biased. It’s billed as the perfect solution for the new player. A rifle already upgraded and good to go. The promo was so slick, they sold rapidly within seconds of being launched.

Then it started to fall apart. Immediately, players started noticing the quality control was, to be blunt, absolutely shit. Parts weren’t fitting together properly, some were missing, it was an absolute horror show. But, knowing the value of the parts market, immediately bits were released to fix the problems by the manufacturer. And already, a few months in, upgrades to the original parts are starting to hit the market. It’s business, unfortunately, and the aim is purely to take as much money off you as possible.

The other solution to pre-upgraded is to buy from a tech who has the skills to put one together for you, although much depends on the ability of the tech, and typically this will add a lot more to the price than just having it chucked together to meet deadlines by some factory line worker. It’s a gamble, but with the right tech, it could pay off.

I was asked once if I would build a rifle for a friend and then post it to them ready to go. Probably some good money in doing it, but I declined. Instead, he got a cyma cm701 VSR clone (£65) delivered to his house many hundreds of miles from mine. Then each month, he would get one upgrade part and we’d do a video call to fit it. This repeated disassembly and reassembly gained him familiarity with his rifle. Every upgrade, he could see the effect of. With any mishaps in the field, he gained the understanding to assess it and fix it. This is absolutely key, especially if you’re away for a full weekend event. Not only on the repairs and maintenance, but also in learning how the rifle shoots.

It’s not particularly difficult or time consuming to fit a new barrel and hop unit; shouldn’t be mire than 30 minutes. These parts are the ones that make the biggest difference to the performance. Which brings me to the next point – how much of a difference does all this extra money get you in any case? Realistically, most cheap stock sniper rifles should be hitting around 60-70m no problem. It’s not all that often you’ll be hitting targets beyond that anyway. The further we go past that range, the more you’re taking a chance that the target doesn’t move for a few seconds, the weather doesn’t affect the shot, and the more margin for error. Get comfortable playing sniper in the 50-70m range – it’s the same job, but with a higher chance of hitting, which is obviously better. The most important thing you want to look for is consistency, grouping, and getting a flat, straight shot. A decent barrel (Maple Leaf Crazy Jet are extremely good for around £40 from skirmshop) and a good bucking (another £10 or so), as well as a good hop that sits straight should tick all those boxes. And that’s all you really need – knowing where that bb will hit.

(Also, good bb’s make a difference. I use Longbow or Hotshots).

You’ll see a lot of very experienced players who have rather old rifles. Things that have been built up over years of use. Rifles that are uniquely theirs. It will be a gun they know inside out, how it shoots, how it works in different environments. It can be the difference between hitting first time, and needing follow up shots, each of which gives your opponent time to work out where you are. Every time a new gun comes out, someone will ask me if I’m planning on getting it. No, because my rifle is my rifle. Its a personal thing. I might get new parts, or change the camouflage, but that’s it. Also, yet to see anything that would be a significant improvement.

The best example (thank you Skara) is probably in video games. To take an example, I play a lot of Battlefield. Now, you could get a new player on there and buy every unlock in the game. Give him all the weapons and vehicles. Every weapon attachment. And drop him into the game. Will that make him a better player? Will he be as good as the guy who has spent countless hours on that map, grinding up from the starter weapon, which probably just had iron sights, and learned to fight his way to the top by adapting his tactics to compensate for having a lesser weapon? Of course not. It will take time.

To answer the question then :

– Pre upgraded guns are as hit and miss as basic ones. Most of it is sales pitch to make you think it’s good. They’ll be a bit better, but not amazing. You can buy the parts to do it for less and get a better rifle. Does buying one mean you’re able to compete on a similar level to a good, experienced sniper? Of course not.

– Learn to upgrade yourself. There will be a video for everything on YouTube. It’ll save you money and give you a much better understanding of your gun. Confidence is key.

– It won’t make you a better player. The guy who worked up from the bottom will be miles ahead and a more expensive gun won’t close that gap. You can’t buy ability. Be prepared to learn and adapt.

– There is nothing more satisfying than beating a player with a hugely expensive weapon, using an old £50 spring powered rifle.

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