“One shot, one kill,” is the unofficial motto of military snipers in popular culture; there’s something glamorous about these warriors with patience, skill, and an uncanny ability to place a shot accurately on target from hundreds of yards away. In airsoft, sniping is almost entirely different from its real-world counterpart, but it still requires a good deal of skill and experience! And, what’s more, it can be an incredibly fun way play airsoft, especially in long, outdoors games. While the most important key to being a successful airsoft sniper is experience, the second most important are selecting a rifle that fits your playstyle, and I’ve taken the time to list several excellent platforms in this article that may just work for you.
Short On Time? Here Is The Bullet List:
- Scout: Classic Army M24 LTR
- Long-Range: WELL L96 (MB440)
- Stealth: JG BAR10 GSPEC
- CQB: ARES Striker Amoeba
- Tactical: WELL MB06 ASR
- Gas: KJW M700
- Unique: A&K/ASG SVD
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How to Become an Airsoft Sniper
Sniping in airsoft is, as I mentioned earlier, a whole different beast than real-world sniping. While you’ll obviously need to spend some time learning how your rifle works and how it performs on the field, and it’s important that you get out for regular target practice, there are also three major factors that you need to take into account when planning your tactics.
The longest confirmed sniper kill, as of the writing of this article, was made by a Canadian soldier in Iraq at 11,319 feet. In airsoft, if you’re able to successfully hit an enemy at 400 feet with one shot, you’ll be one of the best marksmen in the US. Airsoft is an inherently short-ranged game due to BBs’ low max speed and lightweight, both of which are necessary to prevent injuries on the field. If your expectations were that you’d be able to pick off enemies at any distance, you may need to lower them a little bit. That said, although being limited to a shorter range is a challenge, it doesn’t make the game any less fun! In fact, it adds a new dimension to the game, which is…
Sniping in airsoft is less about hitting people from a long range than it is about staying successfully hidden. In the real world, even the best suppressor on the market couldn’t make a real rifle as silent as a well-built airsoft sniper rifle- I had a stock Snow Wolf M24 that was inaudible from more than thirty feet away. Even compared to AEGs, airsoft sniper rifles are incredibly quiet. If you can learn to use this to your advantage, you can eliminate a whole squad if you’re well-hidden and time your shots right to keep your enemies confused as to where the BBs are coming from. If you get spotted, though, it’s a good idea to have…
It’s good to have friends, right? Especially when you’re a sniper. In real military units, snipers are often trained in teams, one as the shooter, the other as a spotter (keeps track of windage, enemy movements, atmospheric conditions, and provides feedback on where rounds are striking), and one of the most important duties of the team is not just eliminating enemies, but also providing information on where they are and what they’re planning. In airsoft, it’s not vital to pair two people together, but often times, if a sniper gets discovered by the enemy team, their bolt action rifle won’t be much good against enemy machine guns. Pairing them with a team member armed with an assault rifle can improve their chances of survival once the real shooting starts. What’s more, having that second person makes it easy to observe enemy movements and report back to their team.
How to Choose an Airsoft Sniper Rifle
Pick a Platform
The single most important choice you can make when picking an airsoft sniper rifle is in choosing what basic platform/system you want to use. In airsoft, early on (circa 1990s) there were few choices for bolt action rifles, like the TM VSR10, the Maruzen APS2 (Not to be mistaken with the brand APS), and the Maruzen APS96, so the ones that did exist got an enormous amount of attention, and many companies manufactured upgrade components for them. Cut forward to modern times: there is an enormous number of rifles now available, but most of them borrow the same basic internal dimensions as these early systems so common upgrade parts can easily be installed. For example, the Classic Army M24 uses the TM VSR10 system so any VSR10 compatible parts, like hop-ups, barrels, or pistons, can be installed in the M24. Any reputable seller should state which platform a rifle uses, but make sure to double-check with other sources to be sure the seller has their information right.
Match the Rifle with the Field
It’s important to think about where you’re playing when you get a rifle. If you imagine you’ll be staying in one space a lot and plan on trying to hit people from long ways away, it’s fine to get a relatively heavy, long-barreled rifle like an L96. If you need to move more quickly, though, get something shorter, lighter, and easy to shoot on the run- something like a VSR-10 GSPEC would be a better choice for you. Picking a good color can be important (go for tans if you play in fall woods, sandy areas, or plains, while greens can be good for most brush and dense vegetation) but it’s cheap and easy to add a good paint job to your rifle with a little masking tape and spray paint (I like Krylon, personally, but that’s a different article altogether).
Think About What You Like
No matter how effective, efficient, or deadly your rifle is, it’s useless if you don’t enjoy using it in a game. So, for a moment, ignore all my previous advice, and think about the sort of rifle that you would really, really like to take to a game! If you really want a Barrett M99 replica for your next CQB match, even though it weighs 18 pounds and is four and a half feet long, go for it! If you want to do a blazing neon pink 80s Miami paint job on your sniper rifle, don’t let me stop you. And if you want to buy yourself a KTW lever-action rifle and play as the local cowboy sniper, you’re totally welcome to do that! As long as you abide by field or scenario rules, anything is fair game, and it’s more important to have fun than anything else.
Who Makes Airsoft Sniper Rifles?
- WELL: Cheap but decent value; makes the widest variety of rifles.
- JG: Their TM VSR10 and VSR10 GSPEC clones were legendary in the 2000s and are still a pretty excellent value for money.
- APS: Generally a pretty crummy manufacturer, makes an okay M40 replica.
- UTG: Makes L96s and only L96s, all based on the APS96 system.
- Snow Wolf: Makes a nice M24 with strong sears; also makes a Barrett M99 (APS2 system) that’s enormous, but pretty cool regardless.
- S&T: Partnered with the parts manufacturer PDI; makes a couple excellent rifles.
- ARES: Makes a large number of unique rifles like the WA2000; unfortunately, they’re not usually compatible with off-the-shelf upgrades.
- A&K: Notable for making bolt-action SVD rifles. They also produce an M24 comparable to the Snow Wolf version, and a couple lever-action gas rifles.
- Classic Army: New to the bolt-action game, but starting strong with their M24 replica with all VSR10 parts.
- Double Eagle: Stay away from all Double Eagle products. Occasionally you might get lucky, but there are almost always better options for the money.
- KJW: Makes two gas-powered, magazine-fed Remington 700 replicas, one of which can be disassembled into two halves for easier transport.
- AGM: Similar to Double Eagle. Stick with brands like WELL or JG.
- HFC: Makes a gas-powered rifle, but it’s known for breaking easily and firing inconsistently.
- “Lancer Tactical”: Makes a Barrett M82 lookalike, but where the real rifle’s semiautomatic, heavy, and metal, this one’s light, plastic, bolt-action, and is prone to crack in half. Only get one if you need a costume prop.
Best Airsoft Sniper Rifles on the Market
Best Airsoft Scout Sniper Rifle:
Oftentimes in an airsoft game, a sniper will have to get up and move, fast. Whether this is to evade oncoming enemies, dodge fire, or take a tactically advantageous position, it can be nice to have a lightweight, effective weapon that won’t slow them down. The Classic Army M24, at 6.2 lbs, is a good choice for that sort of gameplay. One of its best features is that it’s fully VSR10 compatible, but it also offers some nice quality-of-life benefits such as an adjustable length of pull in the buttstock, as well as a pre-mounted receiver rail and a pair of reasonably sturdy sling mounts.
- Price is excellent, especially for the internal and external build quality
- Shoots about 450 FPS with .2s, pretty decent for a sniper rifle
- Includes two magazines
- External hop-up adjustment
- Adjustable stock
- Easy to upgrade to the VSR10 system
- Uses a flush-fit magazine forward of the receiver instead of a more realistic placement
- Barrel not threaded
Best Long-Range Airsoft Sniper Rifle:
The L96, made by Accuracy International, is one of the most well-respected rifle series in the world for professional marksmen. The WELL replica may not be made with the same care and precision as the real thing, but it’s a very nice airsoft rifle for the price, and in this particular bundle, even includes a cheap scope and bipod, both good enough to last you until you find something more to your liking. The MB440 offers a few nice perks over most other airsoft sniper rifles, too- the fluted barrel improves barrel rigidity and cuts down on resonance, while the folding stock allows you to transport the rifle in a more compact form (which is especially nice given the incredibly long barrel). The realistic magazine is nice too, and adds to the realism, although some users have raised concerns that the feeding fin may be damaged over time. To top it off, fortunately, the rifle takes TM L96 upgrades, which are fairly common and fairly cheap.
- Durable body and externals; a good platform for future upgrades
- Takes L96 upgrades
- Hop-up adjusts with an easy-to-access dial adjustment on the bottom of the frame
- Realistic magazine
- Folding stock
- Fluted barrel and clamp-on flash hider
- Included scope is fairly hit-or-miss
Best Airsoft Sniper Rifle for Stealth:
The JG BAR10 is the predecessor of nearly every affordable sniper rifle on the market today; modeled after the $350 Tokyo Marui VSR-10, the BAR10 was more around $120 and allowed budget-conscious airsofters to delve into the world of sniping for a cheap price. Even today, the BAR10 is a fairly good value, and this particular version, the GSPEC, provides users with a shorter 360mm barrel and a screw-on suppressor for close-range, quiet work.
- Reasonably budget-friendly
- The rifle benefits from twenty years of experience; if you need information, it’s available on the internet
- Removable suppressor; dampens sound when on, decreases length when off
- Sturdy sling mounting points
- Far from a unique rifle
- Some buyers report the stock feeling “toy-like” and creaky
- Scope/bipod not included
Best Airsoft CQB Sniper Rifle:
Ever since it released, the ARES Striker Amoeba rifle (weird name, I know,) has generated a fairly polarized response. Some, especially newer snipers, love the advantages it provides- it’s compact, stylish, extremely durable and cheap, and it provides superb accuracy at short to medium range. It even has a top-down-center style hop-up unit, which is somewhat time-consuming to adjust but extremely consistent once dialed in. What’s more, ARES is releasing upgrades for it on a regular basis and they’re usually pretty reasonably priced as part of the ARES Amoeba budget line. However, some more experienced players have experienced frustration with the rifle; due to its unique, realistic spring bolt system, the rifle doesn’t have as much cylinder volume as a more traditional rifle like the VSR-10. This limits the length of the barrel and the resultant power that the rifle’s capable of, making it a poor choice for extra-long-range engagements. In my opinion, though, I see it as a really excellent rifle that would be a good choice for a run-and-gun sniper playstyle. The ARES Striker Amoeba is a critically flawed rifle in some areas, but in others, it’s an incredible product, and shouldn’t be discounted as a budget option, especially if you like bolt-action rifles in CQB settings.
- Highly durable
- Extremely modular design
- Replacement parts are readily available from the manufacturer
- Includes tools for disassembly
- Realistic magazine placement and feeding mechanism
- 40 round magazine capacity
- Not well-suited to ranges over 260 feet
- Low cylinder volume
- Proprietary components in most areas
Best “Tactical” Airsoft Sniper Rifle:
The Well MB06 is a time-honored clone of the original Maruzen APS SR2 rifle; while it’s not based on any particular rifle, it would look right at home in any weapons locker or action movie, if not attractive, then at least brutally utilitarian. The chief selling points of the MB06 are its weight and modularity- it can accept any real-steel M4 pistol grip or stock, giving you an easy path to a comfortable, custom rifle, particularly as it weighs only around 5 pounds on its own. Since it’s based on the APS2 system, there should be plenty of upgrades available for it, albeit not as many as for the perennial favorite VSR-10 system. Something of note- this particular seller includes both bipod and scope with the rifle for a fairly low package price, making it an excellent option for those just getting into airsoft sniper hood.
- Extremely inexpensive, especially as a package
- Lightweight at about 5 pounds
- Highly customizable, both inside and out
- Has an integral scope rail
- Not based on a real rifle
- Only includes one magazine, and finding more for this model can be difficult
Best Airsoft Gas Sniper Rifle:
Gas sniper rifles are fairly rare in airsoft for a few reasons- they’re usually more expensive than comparable spring rifles, they require more maintenance, they’re harder to upgrade, and as the user gets near the end of the magazine, power begins to drop off. That said, they can also be a lot of fun, and they tend to be even quieter than most spring rifles. This one, in particular, is the KJW M700, and it’s a nice piece of kit, coming in both a regular version with iron sights and a scope rail or a takedown version (the front of the end can be detached for storage) with just the scope rail. Word of warning, the takedown version does suffer a little in the accuracy department as a sort of penalty for the ease of disassembly.
- One of the cheaper gas rifles out there
- Sturdy build
- Nice oiled-blue finish on the barrel and receiver
- Iron sights included; unusual for most airsoft sniper rifles
- 22 round magazine capacity; can probably shoot two magazines before gas refill
- Pricier than spring-powered alternatives
- Magazines are hard to find
- Accuracy drops off with each shot due to lower gas pressure remaining in magazine
A Unique Airsoft Sniper Rifle:
“Wait,” you might say, “The SVD? Isn’t that a semi-automatic rifle? Isn’t it unrealistic to have a bolt action replica of a semi-automatic rifle?” Well, normally you’d be right, but a little-known fact about the real-world SVD is that it has an adjustable gas block, allowing Russian marksmen to use the rifle as a bolt-action to maximize accuracy by allowing better seating of the round and minimizing gas bleed. In that sense, it’s realistic to use a bolt-action SVD on the airsoft field! The A&K SVD, (now distributed in the US by ASG), has been on the market for a while now, maybe ten years, and in that time it’s built up a cult following of users who’ve started to sell upgrade parts made especially for its proprietary system. The A&K SVD is a heavy, tough piece of kit with an extravagantly long barrel. If the length bothers you, though, you can always try to track down its little brother, the SVD-S, a shortened SVD with folding stock, also made by A&K and distributed by ASG.
- Extremely cheap for an all-metal SVD; Around $110 or less
- Despite the fact that it’s a proprietary system, there are a lot of upgrades available from various suppliers
- Uses AEG springs
- Rotary hop-up adjustment
- Removable cheek rest
- Extremely long barrel (might also be a con)
- Realistic steel magazines
- 60 round capacity
- Long and unwieldy in close quarters
- Barrel and sight have a tendency to get caught in the high brush
Best Airsoft Sniper Rifle Final Thoughts
With the number of options available and upgrades on the market, now is a fantastic time to be an airsoft sniper. From BAR-10s to SVDs, if you like the idea of being a team’s sniper or recon man, there’s sure to be a replica out there that catches your eye. Me personally? I’d love to snag the Ares Striker Amoeba for some close-quarters sniping, but most of the rifles I’ve mentioned here are excellent and could be perfect for your style of play. Keep in mind, one last thing… be sure to buy quality BBs! It’s not that expensive to invest in decent quality, and the BBs you choose will have more of an effect on your rifle’s performance than anything but the hop-up. Thank you for visiting iamairsoft.com! For great products and more information about the game, check out our Airsoft Buyers Guides and Airsoft U!
- USA Today: Canadian sniper shattered world record, killing ISIS fighter from 2 miles away, report says
Noah Mains is a writer, an airsofter, and most importantly, he’s stuck in the 80s. From Colt SMGs to David Bowie to brick phones, he has an acute appreciation for the greatest decade, and is more than happy to share his enthusiasm for the ALICE gear system (the superior loadout, of course) with anyone who’ll listen.