Airsoft Sniper Tips
Going in, you may have the impression that Airsoft snipers rack up the most kills and get all the praise, but the reality is a bit different.
Yes, on a good day you will rack up a respectable number of kills but on most occasions, you will come away with the least kills in the group.
And that’s because your role goes beyond taking out enemies; you will be doing a lot of reconnaissance and coordinating your teammates’ movements because you will often have a better view of the field and, therefore, be more aware of enemy positions and movement.
To fill the role, you need a ton of patience because it involves more careful observation and planning than pulling the trigger and taking people down. It also takes a lot of time and effort to polish up on tactics.
That being said, it is one of the most important positions in an Airsoft team and probably the coolest.
The Gear You’ll Need
To be an efficient sniper, you need to have the appropriate equipment. Working with substandard equipment or without the right gear will suck the fun out this beautiful sport.
To help you find the tools you need, I have tackled the most common equipment you will need to be an effective airsoft sniper:
(Oh btw! Buy gloves to protect your hands from those annoying knuckle shots and eye protection for your delicate and priceless eyes.)
Airsoft Sniper Rifles
Your airsoft sniper rifle is the most piece of equipment in your repertoire. Your success on the field has everything to do with having the best airsoft sniper rifle possible. Rather than go for the flashiest, most expensive rifle in the market, you may want to consider the following:
- Durability: It should serve you for a reasonable amount of time
- Upgradability: It should allow you to add upgrades if you choose to.
- Reliability: Performs as per the required standards in all weather conditions
There are different kinds of sniper rifles and each has its strengths and weaknesses (I will flesh these out as I cover the topic).
For an Airsoft sniper, a rifle that does at least 300 FPS will serve the purpose; higher is even better (Feet Per Second is the velocity at which the BB moves)
First, let’s go through the most common classes of rifles you will encounter. There are two categories that snipers love:
Bolt action rifles – They are the most popular choice amongst Airsoft snipers. People like them because they are relatively quiet and they have a high FPS rating. Their main disadvantage is that they have a lower firing rate (it’s not really a disadvantage because being a sniper is not about spraying a bunch of BBs and hoping you hit something).
Semi-auto – They are sometimes referred to as Designated Marksman Rifles (DMRs). These guns can fire more rounds per minute than bolt action rifles but at the expense of accuracy and range. They have a lower FPS than the bolt action guns (but higher than fully automatic ones) and this factor alone gives bolt action rifles the edge over them because of the improved accuracy.
The common types of Sniper rifles are:
Automatic Electric Gun (AEG) – It uses a rechargeable battery to power a motor that operates the mechanism that launches the pellets. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons use AEG technology.
Spring gun – It is the most common type of bolt action gun that snipers use. It is easy to upgrade, it is reliable and consistent, and generally easy to work with under all kinds of conditions.
One disadvantage is that it is relatively noisy because the piston thrusts forward when you fire. Another disadvantage is that it is not meant for heavy BBs due to its limited cylinder volume.
Gas powered – They use compressed gas (green gas or CO2) to propel the ammo. The gas is packed in the magazine so that when you load a new BB into the chamber and pull the trigger, some gas will be released to propel the pellet. It is very quiet and accurate.
On the flipside, it is affected by external conditions such as temperature and air pressure and lacks FPS consistency (deteriorates with every shot). To get over this challenge, gas guns are usually upgraded with an HPA system.
When buying a rifle, there are mainstream brands and clones. Clones are cheap and likely to last a shorter period before breaking than their high-end counterparts. However, clones are a viable option if you are low on cash and are ready to upgrade the parts over time.
The most common mainstream platforms are Tokyo Mazrui VSR-10, Tokyo Mazrui L96 AWS, and Maruzen Type 96 for spring guns and Tanaka M700 for gas guns. There are hybrids but those ones are generally harder to upgrade.
Many people make the mistake of investing in a gun before they know what suits their style. Therefore, before you invest in an expensive rifle, try your hand at firing an AEG (at semi-auto) to see how comfortable you are with it. If it feels great, you can invest in one but if it doesn’t (feel good), try a bolt action rifle. Doing that will save you a lot of frustration and money.
To improve your rifle’s performance on the field, you have to upgrade it. If you bought a clone, upgrading is a necessity.
There are three elements you need to upgrade:
• Power (FPS rating): You will do better with a 400 FPS rifle than with a 300 FPS one.
• Durability: The material used to make the actual guns is usually prone to failure.
• Accuracy: upgradable internals have a part to play in this.
The most common upgrades are those that improve on these three elements first. You can work on aesthetics after nailing down the performance aspect.
Here are the things to focus on:
1. Airseal: When you fire the weapon, some energy is lost through air leaks. To improve efficiency and ensure that more energy is dedicated to propelling the pellets, upgrade the nozzle and hop up chamber. You can add Teflon tape to the threads of the cylinder head or to the area between the inner barrel and bucking.
2. HPA system: If you are using a gas gun, an HPA system is a no-brainer because it rectifies the falling pressure problem that plagues gas guns and ensures that you fire at a consistent FPS.
3. Cylinder-Barrel Volume ratio: You can change different things for an improved ratio (depending on the weight of BBs) but the easiest route is to change barrel length. A shorter barrel for heavier BBs and vice versa.
4. Cylinder: You won’t go wrong swapping out that plastic or thin metal cylinder for a strong steel one.
5. Always use high-quality BBs
You can change anything else ranging from scope to spring to improve the efficiency of your weapon. Just know what you should prioritize and I hope my guide has given you some brilliant ideas.
Even when you are careful with your preparation, sometimes everything that can go wrong goes wrong. A sidearm comes to your aid if your position is compromised and enemies start closing in. It can also come in handy if your rifle runs out of ammo, runs out of charge (AEG), or simply jams.
The best options for a secondary weapon are pistols or something that’s at least semiautomatic. Usually, you can just find something that will do at least 275 FPS.
If you decide to go with a revolver, it will have a capacity of around 5 to 8 rounds. Meanwhile, automatic pistols can do approximately 15 to 30 rounds.
If your tactics are solid, you may not need to use your sidearm, but that’s not an endorsement to not have one.
They say “it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
Among other things, the weight of the pellets is one of the most important considerations because it usually has a direct effect on your accuracy. As a sniper, accuracy is paramount regardless of range and weather conditions
You should go for at least 0.25 grams (go for 0.3 or heavier). Heavy BBs have more kinetic energy and are less susceptible to being blown off-course in windy conditions. The heavier the ammo, the more accurate it will be.
Your rifle should be equipped to handle the heavier pellets but you don’t have to worry about this because most sniper rifles are made for heavy BBs.
I should mention that the heavier the pellets are, the lower the FPS and the more likely they are to injure an opponent if you take your shot too close.
I would recommend that you go with high-polish pellets to preserve the internals of your sniper rifle. You may have to go with biodegradable ammo if the field has a policy against non-biodegradable BBs (for environmental concerns).
Camouflage, aka the art of hiding in plain sight, is super-important to a sniper.
When you visualize a sniper, they are always wearing a ghillie suit. The two most important considerations with regards to it are:
• Blending in with the surroundings: Adapting your suit to the terrain. If the surroundings are green in color, go with a green suit and so on. Most suits come with strips for adding things like twigs or leaves to your suit to blend in.
• Comfort: You will be in the suit for a long time so you better get used to it. If the weather is too hot to wear a full-blown suit, you can buy a mesh leaf suit or a viper hood that just covers your head, shoulders, and arms. If you go with a viper hood, you will need some vegetative cover to hide the rest of your body.
To cover your face, you can paint it or wear a ski mask. You can also paint your gun to match the environment.
Best Airsoft Sniper tactics you should use on the field
To become a ruthless Airsoft sniper who takes out opponents undetected, you must master the skills first. If you have the right equipment and know how to use it, it’s time to brush up on your tactics.
There’s no shortcut to mastery; you have to get real-life experience and practice religiously. Once you nail your tactics down to a T, you will be untouchable.
Being part of a team, communication is paramount. As an Airsoft sniper, you will have the best view of the field and your insights can make or break your team’s chances.
Remember, you will spend a considerable amount of time coordinating with your team and talking enemy tactics and movements.
You can use signs or sounds like a code to be discreet. As for the equipment, a walkie-talkie will do.
The whole essence of being a sniper is doing everything in stealth mode. You can learn to slither around undetected by paying attention to the following:
• First, you must know the terrain well. Study the maps of the area before the event and visit if it is allowed. If you cannot visit, you have to think on your feet and take mental notes of the best positions to hide, observe, and retreat during the event.
• It goes without saying that you will be in a prone position most of the time. Crouching is for the denser areas and standing is for when you are fleeing after you have been spotted and your opponents are closing in.
• No sudden movements. Being comfortable in all situations will certainly help. Always stay in a relaxed stance to avoid straining your muscles and curb the urge to stretch your legs or arms.
• Use your environment to your advantage. For example, use trees and bushes for cover (but avoid climbing trees because you will not be able to move).
• Be patient and avoid making rushed calls that will tip your opponents off. Ensure that you have a clear shot before you take it and that the accuracy of your gun is spot on. There is nothing as bad as taking a shot only to have the wind blow your pellet off course alerting your enemy to the danger.
• Test your gun’s accuracy during the actual event rather than base your judgment on assumptions.
• Move slowly and deliberately.
• Use your fingers and toes to move rather than elbows and knees. You will move slower but you will be almost undetectable.
• Move constantly (but only when opponents are unlikely to notice you). Staying in one location for too long is suicide.
• Target your rivals when they are scurrying back to their base because this is when most people tend to be careless with their safety. Also, use the opportunity to gather intelligence. For instance, you can note what each of your opponents looks like or what weapons they are using.
Bait the Enemy
Use clever distractions to lure your enemies out of hiding and even expose an enemy sniper. You can throw something at a bunch of dry leaves and twigs to make a sound that will make them react and betray their positions.
You need at least two viable escape routes especially if you are deep inside enemy territory. Your two routes should have sufficient cover in case your opponents catch up with you.
If your cover has been blown, try to crawl to a different place. If you are in imminent danger and have to run, move in a zigzag and use corners and obstacles to slow them down.
Use your sidearm to counter enemy fire in close quarters.
As you exhale, catch your breath mid-breath, rather than at the beginning or at the end.
Study your opponents’ sniper
Learn about your opposite number’s (enemy sniper’s) redeeming qualities and signature moves. Then find out how you can counter them to give your team that strategic advantage.
Know the impact of the environment on your craft
The weather conditions will definitely have an impact on how well you do your job. An all-round sniper, which is what you should aim to be, should work under all conditions knowing how each (condition) affects their work:
• If it is windy, the trajectory of the pellets will be affected. To counter that, adjust your firing method or use heavier BBs.
• Wind can help with camouflage. For example, if you are hiding in a field of grass, move with the direction of the wind to mask your movement.
• Ambient temperature will have an impact on air guns.
Help out your team-mates
If you are in a position to bail out comrades that are in trouble without compromising your location, do not hesitate to help them.
Additional Stealth tips
1. Having taken mental notes of the terrain, if you see something that you don’t remember seeing before, pause and have a closer look. It could be an enemy sniper lurking and scouring the area for you or your comrades.
2. Economize your shots by prioritizing higher value targets like enemy commanders that can swing the outcome in your team’s favor. Leave your teammates to handle the other targets unless they (teammates) are in serious trouble.
How to improve your technique
To become a perfect marksman, you need to practice frequently and deliberately. By this, I mean that rather than merely putting in the hours for the sake of it, target your effort at very well-defined weaknesses such as breath control, follow through, etc.
Take stock of what you think your weak points, and if possible, ask your team-mates what they think about you as a player.
Study how professionals work around their weaknesses and try to copy them. Of course, you should try different approaches to find the one that you feel the most comfortable doing.
Here are some important takeaways regarding practice:
• Do not depend on video game knowledge and skill to judge your real-world abilities.
• Practice stealth tactics with your friends or team-mates.
• Practice in full gear and with all your weapons to get comfortable in them. Try to mimic real-life conditions as much as you can.
• Know your rifle intimately. Find out how it shoots under different conditions, experiment with different kinds of shots, and know its effective range in real life (rather than what the maker says).
Bonus Nuggets of Sniper Wisdom
1. Keep your weapons clean. Use a silicon spray and a cleaning rod with a cloth to clean the gun’s internals.
2. Know your team members to avoid the embarrassment of friendly fire.
3. Escape routes are more important than the field of vision when picking a stake-out spot.
4. Learn the art of staying still if bullets are flying past you if you are not the target.
5. It is probably overkill but you can work with a spotter to improve your efficiency.
6. Don’t take the manufacturer’s word as final and test everything yourself.
7. Use video game insights to supplement your real-life skills rather than as a substitute.
8. Pay attention to Minimum Engagement Distances (MEDs) to avoid injuring opponents.
9. Carry snacks and a drink to keep yourself hydrated and comfortable if you are going to stay out there for long.
10. You will probably spend more money than you have budgeted for.
11. Engage in forums and threads talking about Airsoft sniper-related topics. These are some of the richest sources of information you can find.