Starting Airsoft on the Cheap
The aim of this series of articles is to help out the ‘new starter’ given entering the Airsoft world can be a little daunting and expensive. There are a good few things you need to buy and a few more extras you most likely won’t be able to live without – I’m going to show you it can be done on a budget without looking like you have. If we rewind to around four to five years ago; this is when I actually first heard about Airsoft. Naturally it sounded awesome and I wanted in straight away. At that point in my life I was quite irresponsible with money and certainly didn’t have much to spare each month. I looked at the price of some of these guns and the gear that I wanted with it and after coming to the realisation that it was out of my financial league – the idea faded quite quickly.
My biggest struggle in recent life has been financial stability because I have mostly worked for myself but I won’t divulge into the woes of being a freelance web and graphic designer – all you need to know is that one month would be like ‘I’ve made it…’ and others would be like ‘I can’t even pay my bills.’
In the last 12 months things had improved in terms of stability so I decided to shop around for some Airsoft goodies. I wasn’t interested in renting on site; I wanted my own gear and especially wanted to be ‘in theme’ with my team mates. I was lucky enough to be gifted a RIF (non-raver paint) – a G&G CM16 Raider to be exact.
What made it especially lucky is that my neighbour, an ex-marine brought his son home an Aimpoint CompM4 red dot sight – as nice as he thought it was, he had no use for it. My neighbour proposed a trade for an Air Rifle I had laying around plus a little cash so I think it cost be around £100 factoring in depreciation of the rifle. This red dot sight is a perfect example of what Airsofters refer to as ‘Gucci’ – meaning very expensive, possibly real steel equipment.
Now I know I said I was going to show you how to do it on a budget and so far I have had two lucky breaks but the G&G cost around £130 and I then bought a £20 LiPo battery and charger to go with it which would total around the £160-£170 range. Effectively this was two months’ worth of saving for me at the time and I had a little left over for gear.
I needed some sort of Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) to carry extra [borrowed] magazines in. I should really be attending some sort of support group for this addiction but I cannot stay away from Amazon. Naturally I just typed in “airsoft” – would you look at all that cheap gear!? I bought an ‘assault vest’ for around £30 delivered and it was perfect for my needs at the time. The only other item I bought for my first skirmish was some military style cargos in a nice Olive Drab colour to match the vest. I picked these up from a Military Surplus store in the centre of Manchester. I found use for a black jumper and an old pair of Caterpillar Boots that I would never have otherwise used, my friend graciously lent me a spare set of ESS protective eyewear and that was me done.
I had probably spent around £250 including my booking fee and BBs for my first go. Next month came the boots and I was going to go for the cheap and cheerful Viper boots but I managed to find another brand that sold the exact same boots with another label on for around £15 cheaper, again on Amazon.
You’ll hear a lot of people slating the cheaper stuff till no end. I work in an industry that’s plagued by self-confessed experts and unfortunately Airsoft is one of those so I took on the opinions of everyone else but made my own judgement – turns out my judgement was well placed! Now I wouldn’t go as far to say that my gear will last through the torture that it might receive in real combat but we’re not in real combat and our life doesn’t depend on it so we’re all good. I have recently upgraded to a slightly more expensive CIRAS style Plate Carrier which is a really nice piece of kit but I still got it on the cheap. It’s made in China, in fact 80% of the world’s textiles are made in Asia now – Lancashire lost that title a good few hundred years ago.
If I had to prioritise the purchase of my gear it would start with boots. Ankle support is crucial not just for ensuring that you don’t waste a day’s green fee but to ensure you don’t do any permanent damage. Boots, jeans and a hoodie fits in perfectly with what todays PMC’s would wear. Get some 1000 Mile socks to go with it too – it’s a dual layered sock that prevents that dreaded blister development that makes tough men cry. Next priority would be some Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) such as a tactical vest, plate carrier or belt rig, ideally a MOLLE system, that would allow you to customise the layout to your needs – there are lots of high and low profile options to consider but when someone uses the term ‘rig’ it generally refers to all of the aforementioned.
Upgrades, additions and specific gear can all come in time as it really isn’t required. Airsoft needs more players period, so if you want to turn up in your pyjamas with your hair curlers still intact then feel free!
In my next article I will be discussing about my discoveries, successes and failures when it comes to weapon choice and upgrades and you can head on over there right now – Weapon of Choice.