Your Essential Guide to Airsoft Sniper Rifles
What is an airsoft sniper rifle?
Your long-range specialist, the sniper rifle is the ultimate tool for picking off enemies from afar. With a high-powered scope and often a bipod, a trusty rifle can be the equalizer during a fierce firefight. Sniper rifles are primary weapons. Furthermore, players often customize them to suit their playing environments – through clever use of camouflage. They’re lengthy, imposing, and often heavier than other types of guns. While bulkier, snipers do play a more stationary game than other players. Sniper rifles often emulate realistic rifle designs, much like pistols and other guns do.
The concept of a sniper rifle is also very fluid. While our minds immediately jump to single-shot, long-barrel sharpshooters, there’s more to the story. Sure, traditional platforms like the M700 and L96 are incredibly popular. Sniper rifles even come in carbine platforms. However, other powerful guns (even AEGs) can step in as semi-automatic sniper rifles when fitted with quality optics. Weapons that consistently outrange others in a given playing field, with enhanced accuracy, may be considered sniper rifles. The classification has some gray areas regarding subjectivity.
How are sniper rifles useful?
While most guns excel at close to mid-range combat, snipers dominate the long game. Most sniper rifles outrange AEGs, and certainly pistols, meaning snipers can pick off opponents while remaining relatively safe – even under fire. Furthermore, long-distance weapons allow you to get a little more creative with your cover. Although enemies will return fire, they might not necessarily know your exact position. This allows you to operate for longer periods of time. These rifles also accept silencers, making users harder to detect in any given situation.
Sniper rifles have an immense impact on the course of a battle, despite their low rate of fire. Nobody wants to get tagged and sent packing back to base. When enemies realize a sniper is operating in the vicinity, they’ll conduct themselves more cautiously. This is useful during offensives, since pinned-down enemies are easier to overwhelm. On the defensive end, a good sniper rifle can help you hinder enemy counteroffensives. Sniper rifles truly punch above their weight, offering more advantages than might be apparent on paper. Whether attacking or retreating, sniper rifles are worthy support tools.
Since sniper rifles are outfitted with scopes, they’re also capable observational tools. Having a clear view of enemy movements is useful, especially during realistic milsims. Teams approach these battles more strategically, making communication crucial. Overall, sniper rifles allow you to play a more patient, deliberate game – perfect for players who prefer precision over chaos.
Are there different types of sniper rifles available?
There are two main categories of sniper rifles currently available on the market:
Spring sniper rifles are far and away the most popular variety. Snipers are predominantly bolt action, which compliments the spring mechanism well. As with other guns, cocking a spring sniper rifle compresses and loads the spring. This energy is released when the trigger is pulled, sending your rounds at your target.
All airsoft guns have varying amounts of moving parts. Spring mechanisms are quite reliable, especially when paired with upgraded internals. Since sniper rifles shoot at high velocities, many of these internals are often reinforced. Reliability is important when dealing with ranged weapons. If your rifle stops working, you’ll be forced to hide or stalk enemies with your backup pistol. Sniping is a low-risk craft, and that alternative is high risk by comparison.
Successful sniping relies on concealment. A major part of this is noise reduction. Spring rifles are much quieter than other alternatives, especially when equipped with suppressors. Objectively speaking, a spring rifle will give you the best chance to remain hidden.
Not quite as stealthy, gas sniper rifles perform well for players who aren’t concerned with announcing their presence. Imagine you’re holding down a building with your teammates. Against advancing enemies, you break out your gas-powered rifle from a few steps within, picking them off one by one. In this instance your presence isn’t exactly a secret. If you’re looking to stay hidden, a silencer is a mandatory investment.
Gas options are less plentiful than spring options, but do tend to be more unique. Many modular, modern sniping platforms such as the M200, DSR-1, and carbines are gas powered. These variants are customizable and tend to be a little flashier. Gas-powered snipers tend to be quite powerful on the high end, some even reaching 600 FPS using green gas. These gas weapons have immense potential from long range. Their practicality will largely depend on your use case.
Gas weapons are more expensive, on average. You’ll also have to invest in replacement cartridges like you would for any gas airsoft gun. This certainly isn’t a deal breaker, but is a consideration. Gas guns require more maintenance, and thus are more prone to issues based on neglect. Based on this, we give the reliability advantage to spring rifles based on ease of use and ownership.
The gray area: AEGs
As previously mentioned, there is some crossover between the assault and sniper categories. This overlap often occurs with AEGs, which operators often use in semiautomatic mode. These can be adapted for the sniping role in mid-range fields with a scope. In traditional cases, players would flip the switch to full auto or shoot in bursts. That’s not to say AEGs are particularly-great snipers – they’re simply capable based on playing preferences.
Some manufacturers like CYMA even market certain AEGs as sniper rifles. It appears gun manufacturers themselves are redefining what sniper rifles are.
Which brands should you consider?
The sniping market is robust, and many brands offer quality options for different players. Though sniper rifles aren’t as abundant as pistols, choices aren’t limited. Accordingly, good sniping performance isn’t relegated to only the high-end market. This opens the door for many mid-range manufacturers that offer superb value:
Tokyo Marui, the preeminent premium brand of airsoft, has long been known for their VSR-10 platform. This is not a cheap brand, though quality control and components are top class. Sniping is a labor of accuracy, which has been Tokyo Marui’s calling card for years. The company’s rifles are incredibly upgradeable, letting you choose your preferred components to fine tune performance.
WELL is known for their high-performing MB family of rifles. Each variant has tweaked features built around modern, customizable platforms. These rifles take well to accessories, and perform admirably at their price points. Overall, the company offers over a dozen sniper rifles, making it easy to find a perfect fit.
More of a budget to mid-range brand with high-end outliers, JG brings some popular options to the table. JG makes the Bar-10, a popular alternative to the pricier Tokyo Marui VSR-10. Overall, JG rifles perform quite well. However, internal components are a step down in quality. Upgrades may be worthwhile.
A premium option through and through, well-known airsofter Novritsch sells the SSG24. The high-performing package is marketed to all players, though experienced players might appreciate it most. The rifle’s big draw is its out-of-the-box performance. All components are upgraded. However, the hefty price tag will be prohibitive for many.
CYMA targets the mid-range market, offering clones of popular models. These are popular and highly reviewed, at a cheaper cost. Many of CYMA’s sniper rifles are military inspired, thus featuring accurate components and construction. The company even offers an M14 EBR, a unique rifle with select-fire capability.
If you’re looking to purchase the very best platform in a bullpup design, choose Desert Tech. The SRS-A1 is a mean platform offering three barrel lengths, each excelling in different environments. As single-shot weapons, these are hard hitting and love accessories. The company even sells both right and left-handed models – a nice touch.
How do internals and externals differ between sniper rifles?
Similar to pistols and other airsoft guns, quality internals are crucial. Sniper rifles are high-performance guns which fire BBs at faster-than-average velocities. Such output warrants reinforcement of moving parts. This is especially true for gas rifles, which should feature metal components to withstand extra stressed. Many of these gas rifles are contained systems. Thankfully, you can easily upgrade both spring and gas rifles. Sniper rifles are growth platforms, and thus are smart investments for players who have the funds. If you choose a rifle based on the VSR-10 or L96 platform, it should be quite easy to find replacement parts.
Look for inner barrels, receiver assemblies, trigger assemblies, and cylinders predominantly made using metal components. These will last the longest and wear the least. If your rifle’s build quality isn’t as durable, even simple upgrades can go a long way.
Sniper rifles are put through a lot – you lay prone with them, crawl across the ground, lean them against objects, and bump them inadvertently. They’re long and vulnerable to getting knocked around. In addition, subpar weather conditions can make playing conditions even more trying. For these reasons, a solid external construction is important.
Metal outer barrels offer the best durability, though cheaper rifles often substitute plastic outer barrels instead. Stocks are less cut and dry, though materials differ. Polymer is extremely popular amongst rifles at all price points, though plastics and finishes aren’t made equally. Some stocks may be heavier, lighter, thinner or thicker. Rifles sometimes suffer from minor to severe stock wobble; make sure you do preliminary research. Polymer isn’t universal, however – many rifles are full metal, though these can weigh quite a bit.
Modular sniper rifles often have adjustable butt plates and cheek risers. Some are more solid than others. Most rifles include top-mounted rails for crucial attachments, though some traditional platforms can be more limited. If you often shoot prone, look for options with bipod mounts.
Lastly, bolt pulls vary widely in size. Make sure to choose something you can easily operate based on feel. This will make consecutive shots easier while keeping your eyes on target.
So, what makes an airsoft sniper rifle good?
Consider your field and playing styles the most when choosing a good rifle. Will you be lugging your rifle from position to position? Will you camp an area and hold it down instead? What are your engagement distances? Do you require stealth or do you want to make a statement?
As always, choose a sniper rifle that feels great and performs well under a variety of conditions. Sniping is a different animal than gunning, and should be fun. Finding a trustworthy rifle, above all else, is priority one. Don’t be afraid to do your research and invest in upgrades. As you tinker with your platform, you may even become a better player.
It’s not necessary to splurge, making sniping an accessible option for all players.