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The Sad Truth About Airsoft Sniper Rifles

Updated on November 3, 2016

Short and Sweet

Many new Airsofters are very excited about Airsoft sniper rifles. What's the sad truth? In short, Airsoft sniping is difficult and not as glorious as the sniping you see in movies and video games.

Find out about more about what to expect from Airsoft sniping and the training required to get the most out of it. What makes me qualified to talk on the subject? I read books on sniping and applied those techniques to Airsoft. I own a sniper rifle and play very sneakily. In the end, I just have a scope on my primary AEG and love it.

Real Snipers

Who wouldn't want to experience the thrill of sniping without all the training and stuff?
Who wouldn't want to experience the thrill of sniping without all the training and stuff?

Real Life Sniping

A real life sniper would only engage his targets when he has a ballistic advantage (over 400 meters of open terrain in between him and the target). The sniper would take his shot from a well-concealed and fortified FFP (final firing position).

This approach accomplishes two things:

  1. The enemy cannot effectively return fire,
  2. The enemy cannot charge the sniper's position due to the risk of heavy casualties.

Real life snipers also operate with a spotter and get in position long before the enemy passes along the potential line of drift.

10 Reasons Airsoft Sniping is tougher than it seems

When you bring an Airsoft sniper rifle to an Airsoft field, you are facing many challenges:

  1. You are not exempt from the game's rules and usually cannot insert before the game to find a good position. This causes you to rush in with the rest of your team. Ever tried running in Ghille? Not fun!
  2. Airsoft fields have large amounts of full cover that you cannot shoot through. This makes airsoft a lot harder than the real life sniping.
  3. Even the thinnest cover can deflect Airsoft BBs - leaves, small twigs, and dense forest undergrowth cause your shots to miss. This is true regardless of BB weight, and is especially insidious in the fall when a "clear" shot hits an invisible wall of twigs in mid-flight.
  4. Stock Airsoft sniper rifles do not have the accuracy required for sniping. Unless you spend $300-$700 on professional upgrades, you will not achieve good accuracy
  5. You rarely have the ballistic advantage that a real sniper seeks - you barely have 60 feet of range on your opponents. A lot of fields limit sniper rifles to 450-500 FPS with 0.2 gram BB. I've never seen a field that allowed hotter rifles.
  6. Hop-up ballistics mean that your shot's trajectory is not a simple flat line. Instead, the backspin on the BB causes it to go up at the end of the trajectory before sharply dropping. This means you are frequently overshooting your target at the extreme end of your range.
  7. Typically you don't have a clear line of sight on potential enemy lines of drift. Most Airsoft fields have too much cover to allow for clear 250 feet shots. Believe me, I've been there.
  8. People have difficulty calling single hits, as they are accustomed to being pelted with multiple shots from AEGs. They might mistake a single shot that hit their gear from 250 feet for a pine cone falling on them or some such. There's simply not enough impact at range to convince them they have been hit.
  9. Other players can easily suppress you. A typical spring Airsoft Sniper rifle is around 15 pounds and is not designed for taking snap shots.
  10. Finally, most would be "snipers" don't have the patience to play as a sniper. Missing hours of gameplay as you wait for that one shot that may miss turns a lot of people off the Airsoft sniper role.

An Airsoft Sniper Rifle

The sad truth is, Airsoft sniping is not all it's hyped up to be. It requires training. This L96 Sniper rifle by UTG is heavy—12 pounds. I own one of these.
The sad truth is, Airsoft sniping is not all it's hyped up to be. It requires training. This L96 Sniper rifle by UTG is heavy—12 pounds. I own one of these.

Airsoft Sniper Rifle Varieties

There are three types of sniper rifles on the market today, not just the UTG L96 AWP, which people might recognize from Counter Strike (this is why I got mine. : )

  • Airsoft Spring Sniper Rifles. These are souped-up versions of spring rifles and usually feature a top rail mount for a scope. The above mentioned UTG L96 comes with about 450 FPS with 0.2s out of the box with medium accuracy. Putting in a tighter spring may make it really hard to pull on the bolt and will reduce your rate of fire. Younger players may struggle to pull the heavier bolt
  • Airsoft Gas Sniper Rifles. These use compressed gas, stored in a magazine or a detachable tank to propel BBs (similar to paintball guns). Sniper rifles with an external gas tank are more accurate, as it is easier to adjust hop-up and get a consistent muzzle velocity. Sniper rifles with gas magazines feature varying velocity. In most cases, you still have to pull on the bolt in between each shot.
  • Airsoft Electric Sniper Rifles. There are a lot of "electric sniper rifles" sold out there, but they are pretty much just single-shot AEGs with smaller magazines. Getting an AEG to fire at 450-500 FPS requires a lot of mechanical wizardry and constant maintenance. It is tough and very expensive ($500-$600).

Scoped Rifle— Designated Marksman

A hunting scope on top of this M16 does not look too bad and allows this person to identify his targets at long ranges, resulting in tremendous Airsoft advantage,
A hunting scope on top of this M16 does not look too bad and allows this person to identify his targets at long ranges, resulting in tremendous Airsoft advantage,

Ways you can try Airsoft Sniping for free

  1. Check out an airsoft sniper rifle for free! Get out to an Airsoft skirmish or scenario game and walk around. Someone at such games always has a sniper rifle (just look for a Ghille suit). Talk to that person and ask to check out the airsoft sniper rifle and shoot it. This is easy - people love to showcase their Airsoft weaponry.
  2. If someone shows you a spring sniper rifle, try pulling the bolt while prone. You should feel comfortable that you can pull this bolt many times during a game from all kinds of positions.

Scoped AEGs offer tremendous advantages
Scoped AEGs offer tremendous advantages | Source

The middle ground - Airsoft designated marksman rifles and scoped AEGs

If you have the pleasure of playing an airsoft woodland game, and your vision is not perfect, you would have experienced the uncertainty caused by enemy camouflage. Are you shooting at a log or at someone's foot? What is that behind a bush - is it a boonie hat or a branch?

These questions will cause you to hesitate to fire, as you don't want to give up your position by shooting at inanimate objects. as

Mounting a scope gives you a tremendous advantage over players who do not use scopes, as it eliminates guesswork and helps you:

  1. Distinguish players from inanimate objects at over 150 feet
  2. Enhance the tracer-like effect of white BBs, because you see where you land. With a scope, you can see if your shots are falling short or overshooting due to hopup ballistics. (Normally, you would have trouble seeing where your shots land at over 150 feet. )


Mounting a scope gives you a tremendous advantage over players who do not use scopes

Picking the right Airsoft scope

Unlike a real gun which experiences violent recoil during shooting, airsoft guns experience weak vibration due to gearbox operation. This means that even cheap knockoff scopes can provide decent performance when properly secured. Here are the things to look for when picking a scope.

Eye Relief - at least 2 inches

Beware! There are thousands of types of cheap hunting scopes designed for rifles and crossbows which are not suitable for airsoft! Why? Because with airsoft you always use eye protection, putting extra distance between you and the scope's eye piece. This distance is called "eye relief" and is extremely important.

You won't be able to see comfortably through a scope that has short eye relief. If the eye relief is too small (less than 2 inches as in cheap scopes) you will see a penny sized viewing hole hovering in front of your goggles.

You need at least 2 inches of eye relief for comfortable, immersive picture while wearing goggles. Most likely cheap spring bolt action sniper rifles come with a very cheap scope which works fine without goggles, but has to be replaced if you want to use the gun in a real game where eye protection is required.

Magnification and Lens Diameter

I recommend a 3x-4x magnification scopes for airsoft, as they offer great target acquisition advantage and are easy to use. I find that lens diameter greater than 32mm (4x32 scope) starts to look weird. Higher magnification scopes, like 12x50, are too powerful for airsoft and are typically too tall to mount using standard mounting rings.

Having taller scope increases your overall profile (AEG + Scope + magazine), causing you to be easier to hit while prone. It also decreases your ergonomics. I recommend using "short" mags on scoped AEGs - these reduce your profile when shooting from prone positions.

Unobstructed vision

Real steel rifles experience recoil and do not have tracers - in this case reticle designs can help you line up your shots and estimate target's size / speed. Airsoft BBs fly sufficiently slow, as a result, you can see where your white or even brown BBs land. This reduces the need for intricate reticle design. The simplest, thinnest cross would do, as your eyes follow the BB in flight, turning it into a tracer.

Rail Type

The ideal place to mount a magnified scope is on top of a picatinny rail on the gun's handguard. This allows you to comfortably look through the scope. Some of the more custom guns suitable as DMR do not have a top rail, but instead have a rail on top of handguard. These are more suitable for mounting red dot sights. It might be hard to look through a scope mounted on a handguard, as your goggles would get in the way.

Illuminated Reticle

I find that illuminated red dot scopes without magnification are fun for CQB and indoor games, but the dot is too bright and big for using outdoors. You want a magnified scope with a illuminated reticle or even a night vision scope for low light conditions and woodland games.

Sniper rifle type?

Your favorite sniper rifle type?

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Scoped Machine Gun Weapons

The person in the middle of this image is using a scoped RPK machine gun at 400 FPS, with a 3000-round drum magazine. Going against this with a sniper rifle is simply ridiculous.
The person in the middle of this image is using a scoped RPK machine gun at 400 FPS, with a 3000-round drum magazine. Going against this with a sniper rifle is simply ridiculous.

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    • profile image

      Kyle Jones 97 minutes ago

      Been an airsoft sniper for a few months now and honestly its easy when you know how, dont worry about hitting targets at 90+ meters because honestly you dont need to! An effective sniper uses cam and concealment as his/her greatest weapon. I usually get within 30-40 meters before engaging, i hit 95 percent of my targets as my rifles effective range is 60+ meters, yes i could lay down and fore from that range but i can make it easier by moving closer and taking a much more accurate shot! And trust me at 40 meters you can feel a .30+ bb. Just work on moving closer, precise follow up shots, quick target acuisiton and please get a sidearm!!! Within 20 meters on my field i have to switch! So dont spend ALL your budget on a 500fps sniper, save a little for a decent Glock 17 with minor upgrades and learn to change from rifle to pistol quickly and effectivly! And put in plenty of range time with both :) My vsr has a right hook at range and i can easily aim off and still get hits! Dont listen to haters just practice and learn, hope this re lights your passion! Good airsoft snipers are a dieing breed!

    • profile image

      Hop 2 weeks ago

      If you correctly tune a decent hopup it should be a lazer until it reaches the end of the flight path where it drops ------------------_

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      eye relief? 5 months ago

      "There are thousands of types of cheap hunting scopes designed for rifles and crossbows which are not suitable for airsoft! Why? Because with airsoft you always use eye protection, putting extra distance between you and the scope's eye piece."

      What?? Are you saying that when using a real rifle, are you putting your eye up against the scope? I'd pay to see you shoot a .308 with your face pressed against the back of the scope! ALL scopes should have atleast 2 inches of eye relief- at least any that I've ever used. Scopes of any quality PERIOD have around 3 1/2 inches.

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      Jeff 6 months ago

      I know a field that allows 600 fps... and I'm in england.

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      andrew 7 months ago

      i have sniper rife bought it for 90 bucks off amazon. i prefer it above auto, not perfectly accurate, but ussualy hit within 2 shots, also, if everyone else is using autos, you are out of their range, and they are in your range, so you don't have to be sooooo far away.

    • GreenTieCommando profile image
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      GreenTieCommando 8 months ago from USA

      I have not seen any field which would allow 550FPS with 0.43. They chrono you with field provided 0.2 gram BB. Typical limit is 500 FPS with 0.2g

    • profile image

      jacob 11 months ago

      incredibly inaccurate statement, you upgrade a airsoft sniper with laylax, action army and other high end parts especially the barrel hop up and compression parts , you can easily hit a human sized torso at 300 feet accurately (using a m170 spring shooting 550 fps and using .43 bbs, that are polished and have been washed)

    • profile image

      Colin Allman 15 months ago

      "Unless you spend 300-700$ on professional upgrades, you will not achieve good accuracy"

      Very true. My rifle has ~ 1200USD of parts, and I can only reach out to 400ft with ~10inch deviation in semi-perfect circumstance. (450fps, I found no hopup buckings/nubs capable of maintaining consistent firing over 460).

    • profile image

      asnipe 20 months ago

      $30 tightbore and an 89 cent roll of medical/teflon tape *cough cough*

    • profile image

      Emily Taylor 2 years ago

      Airsoft sniping is more like police sniping than military. Because you're usually close too, just hidden and you shoot the guy when he comes out of the bank.

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      Colby 2 years ago

      This isn't entirely true my dear fellow. If you play in a large, wooded arena, you could really love being a sniper. I am a 14 year old and own a stock AWP L96 that shoots 440 fps and I use .28g bbs and I outshot my friend who was older and had an aeg that had an equivalent fps, and a 9.6v stick battery... and I still killed him more. Yes... it is hard but if you got the fire in your belly, well then dont let that stop you. But also... this isn't a game as he says, you need skill, and not from cod or bf. You also need to paint your gun. (Guess that doesn't make mine stock externally does it?) And get creative with patterns and burlap if ya really want to. But other than that your dead right. Patience is a virtue, and you need to know airsoft. (Been doin airsoft for 6 years)

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      Goldmouth 2 years ago

      Hi there-Yes, there is a one off fee of $47 which is charged right away and gets you psasowrd access to the site. Once purchased, if I remember correctly, George has two upsell offers (which are common in IM) but are certainly skippable if you don't feel they offer you anything. After that you have full access to the site.As for your second and third questions, the ongoing monthly fee will allow you access to Sniper X-(which is the Webinar/new videos each month part) , but, yes, you will have access to the entire site with just your initial payment. You will have a full month to consider whether or not it is something you need. After that, if you do nothing then you will be charged the monthly recurring fee. Here's the thing: you have to consider for yourself whether or not you are getting value from something. Is Google Sniper worth $47 to have access to everything? To me it was. After that you can evaluate whether or not you'll need it on an ongoing basis.Thank you for your questions.

    • profile image

      Carlos 2 years ago

      The only problem if there are lots of srteet arts being drawn on buildings is, people would vandalize and they will not be caught by it. However, I just appreciate the artists who makes this kind graffiti artwork on the srteet.

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      Rather not 3 years ago

      Interesting post, I tried airsoft sniping aswell. Got an AWM, stiffer springs, precision barrel but I find that sniping people is very unsatisfactory because people often don't take their hits even though you see them twitch and react. It happened so often that I am now cured of the airsoft sniping virus.

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      Lucas 3 years ago

      I prefer electric sniper, purely for good folloupw up shots, because admit it, you don't always hit first shit every shot, I personally own the snow wolf m82 and yes it's pretty heavy but when you upgrade it to fire around 500fps, the gun is godly, especially with the barrel length. I found that the gun was very loud though, so I filled the inside shell with foam and it dulled the sound down.

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      A sniper 3 years ago

      Yeah sniping in airsoft with a spring is a lot more difficult but with an age that has semi auto capability yur set if u miss yur first shot u just adjust and fire again with out takin yur eye off the scope to reload also i outrage most if not all ages on my feild and have pulled off some long ass shots for intance the other day i hit one of the employees in the head at 150 feet give or take

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      andrew w 4 years ago

      ROFL omg did u just say 300 to 700$ I dropped 182$ in my bravo mk 98 and I can outrange all aegs on my field I also hold the longest confirmed headshot at 386 ft with my sniper here's my parts list im going to type the parts list by item numbers www.evike.com......................AC-G2-650...AC-APS-08...HU-MTX-B80 WWW.PYRAMIDAIR.COM...PY-A-3391...PY-A-2974.all of it will cost u 182$ not counting S&H so this got me around 580 590 fps with .2bbs i run washed .36bbs and as for my head shot I got lucky but I can reach out a tag people at 250 275 consistently anything over 300 gets tricky as for camo my area is heavy vegetation in the dead of summer but it is possible to get a good shot at distances my camouflage is A-TACS FG and I did a custom spraypaint job and I mimicked the A-TACS FG oh ya also I made a home made threaded barrel adapter and mock suppresser for 18 dollars but that's for looks and to cover the 650mm barrel I made a 403 ft shot at this retired airfield that's abandoned took seven tries tho over all if u ever go hunting u learn to be patient if u cant go be a fag and buy a aeg sniper and spray at 250ft until u hit them btw I outrange 600fps built aeg snipers I have actually watched the bbs fall short its funny as hell

    • profile image

      Rancid Rambo of Finmere UK 5 years ago

      Good article, pretty much outlines why I've never gone for a Sniper rifle in 15 years of skirmishing.

      The number of people I've seen who play a few games, buy Sniper rifles and then lose heart as it isn't like computer games where anything you can see is pretty much a guaranteed hit.

      Having said that a good airsoft Sniper (who understands concealment etc.) as opposed to someone with a long range gun can be very effective.

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      icecube 5 years ago

      nice article man. i got an l96 last 2 years, but gave it 2 my friend. now, i got a g&p sr25 that's 510fps but i haven't used it yet on the game. i use my android m4 wth just 450fps or my m15a1 that has 650fps.. but i would like to know more sniping skils like you guys b4 i get an m16 and upgrade it to 700fps..

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      Tom 5 years ago

      Nice article bud. I would just like to say that, through scanning the internet, i have never found what I believe is the most important aspect to an airsoft sniper rife. Yes, I completely agree with you about the range and accuracy part, however I believe the most important part is how loud it is. Ive been doing airsoft sniping for about 5 years now, and ive only recently added some polyfiller and piston pads to my rifle, as well as a supressor. This has made such a huge difference to gameplay. after watching videos of games ive done, ive seen, unfortunatly without me knowing lol, that there have been enemy players literally 2-3 meters away (not exagerating)from me, and they havnt heard me firing at other players behind them lol the silence really give an airsoft sniper the edge over aeg players.

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      CaptainUber 6 years ago

      Nice article mate. I'm one of them people who went straight for sniping, but luckily I didn't mind it. I'm a big guy, I can handle the weight and the pulling the bolt back on my 450 fps L96 isn't a problem while holding the stock to my shoulder. Spring is best in my opinion, no extra expenses and no down side as far I know. I did however buy a TM M4 Sopmod yesterday and an ACOG for it. I'm not gonna lie, AEG's are more effective and will help the team out much more. But sniping is fun to do every now and then.

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      Shifty 6 years ago

      Hi there. You got quite a nice article. I enjoyed it. I myself am using a spring powered Dragunov (upgraded to a (for some people bone crushing) 188 m/s) and I gotta agree with most things you wrote. Snipig actually is the most difficult role in airsoft.

      God job mate.

      Greeting from Czech Republic.

      Shifty

      98 GV VDD Paratrooper Battallion

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      sniper killer 6 years ago

      im a marine sniper and i think airsoft guns are cool fun toys so i bought that same gun with a 3-9*50 scope and it is a heavy gun

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