I was thinking about it, and realized that maybe I should start out with a few basics before I get into the more technical areas.  After all, what good is knowing how to set your hop-up properly if you don't have a gun to do so?  So let's talk about some good starting points for beginners.

First off, if you plan on attending local games with other players that have been playing awhile, you're going to want an assault rifle, more specifically referred to as an Automatic Electric Gun (AEG) that allows you to switch between semi-auto and full-auto firing modes to maintain some level of competitiveness with the other players.  There are also bolt-action spring & gas rifles and gas blow-back (GBB) rifles available but I wouldn't recommend either for the player just starting out.    

What I WOULD recommend is the following if you're just starting out:

For an AEG:
- Entry Level (Pricing & Quality of Parts):
Classic Army "Sportline" Series

I am a Classic Army fanatic.  They just so happen to make an entry-level line of AEGs called the "Sportline" series.  They are based off of their "Proline" series but are not made with full-metal bodies.  This helps cut the cost down quite a bit, which is passed along to the end-user (you).  The stock internals are pretty good and are compatible with most after-market upgrade & replacement parts.

The added bonus to the Sportlines is they come as a packaged deal with all of the following: 500rds of Classic Army Precision Grade 0.20g BBs, Eye Protection, Sling, 8.4v 800 mah NI-MH battery pack, 500 mAh trickle charger and cleaning rod. This probably makes them arguably the best value on the market in terms of starter kits.  I'd still recommend stocking up on BBs though.  500 rounds won't cut it for a full day of Airsoft.  You'll burn that in the first game, easily, especially if you're firing on full-auto. 

Upper-Mid Level:

Now we're approaching the neighborhood of pretty high quality.  There are a few things that companies like Classic Army & Tokyo Marui, for example, do a bit better, but overall, Echo1 makes a pretty nice AEG.  Plus, they offer a wide variety of models, so whether you like the M14, AK47, the M249 SAW or just about anything in between, they probably make it.   

Again, those recommendations would be for someone who's just starting out and does not own any sort of Airsoft gun yet.  They're pretty easy on the budget and are built pretty well for the price.  The smart and practical thing to do, since you really don't know if you're going to enjoy playing Airsoft yet, is to minimize your initial cost in the event you decide it is not for you.  This is unlikely to happen, but always possible.  Once you're in, it's extremely difficult to get out, if not impossible.  Airsoft is THAT good. 

Now, if you're a baller and you don't care who knows it, there are plenty of high end options out there for you to choose from.  However, that intelligence will be saved for a later date.  So stick around.

The fun doesn't end yet.  Don't be thinking you'll just grab one of those guns and head straight to the nearest Airsoft venue.  You'll need a few other items before you're ready for some skirmish time.

- You're going to need a Battery to power your new BB slinger. I recommend using a 9.6-Volt NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) battery to start with. The size of the battery-storage space available in your AEG will need to be taken into consideration when choosing a mAh rating (the number that indicates how long the battery will last before needing a recharge). The higher the mAh rating, the larger the physical size of the battery.

- Do NOT forget the Battery Charger.  Most batteries don't come fully charged, if at all.  Even if they did, you wouldn't get to enjoy your new AEG for too long if you don't snag a charger as well. 

BBs - While they come in all different weights, don't run anything lighter than a .20g BB.  For AEGs shooting under 400FPS, .25g to .28g BBs are the ideal weight.

General rule: You can never have enough BBs. 

- It's not entirely necessary if you have a high-capacity magazine, but it definitely wouldn't hurt to grab an extra magazine while you're at it. 

Last, but most definitely not least:

-  EYE-PROTECTION You'll shoot your eye out (Extra points and a mention in my next blog to whoever can name the movie that's from).  Don't be an idiot.  All sanctioned fields require them, but even if you're just going to shoot around in your backyard, grab some glasses or a pair of goggles.  Oh, and by the way, your everyday prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses will not cut it.  Your eye-protection needs to be made from high-impact resistant material.

I also play with a mouth guard when I play in a CQB (Close-Quarter Battle) and I'm not the only one.  That's a clue.  

I think that about does it.  Yes, there is a ton of other stuff out there you COULD get, but none of it is really necessary to go out and play.  We'll get into the other elements soon.  But for now, grab a gun (and the other stuff I mentioned) and get in the game.


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