The Benchmark of a Well Made Rifle

As I’ve been building myself an AEG over the last few weeks, I’ve had debates with various people concerning Aeg’s vs Polarstars vs daytonaguns/classic airsoft vs PTW’s… and while there is a lot of firmly held believes about brand names, and what mechanism ultimately makes the BB leave the barrel, there is very little proof to support that the firing mechanism itself is chiefly responsible for high precision.

The big problem, as I see it, is that “best” has yet to be fully quantified. We all have witnessed a given person do amazing things with their X, Y, or Z gun, and often times (wrongly) start to attribute the amazing capabilities of the rifle solely with the firing mechanism, without thought to the rifle as a whole.
I propose that polarstars, aegs, ptws, and others’ precision is largely a function of parts other than the firing mechanism itself. It is often the case that someone who was willing to spend money on a polarstar, or a PTW, etc, was also willing to spend money on improving the other aspects of their rifle, which incorrectly leads the perception that one rifle style is better than another.

So what makes one airsoft rifle better than any other given rifle? There are many variables that play into it, but in my opinion a good rifle will have (at least) these three characteristics:

1. It will be mechanically reliable.
It will fire every time the trigger is pulled without fail.

2. It will be precise.
It will hit the same spot over and over again as long as you don’t move the rifle

3. It will be accurate.
It will hit where you are aiming at, all else being equal.
There are other factors: cost, fit and finish, presence of accurate trade marks, availability of replacement parts, and more to be sure.

However, I consider the first three to be paramount when deciding what rifle I will field personally. In order to achieve these top three items, I do the following when I am building a rifle.

1. Mechanical reliability; I choose parts that have proven to be reliable over time from many users. Ultimately money spent at this stage will be the best spent, as it will make sure that you can go out to the game every weekend and not worry about whether or not your gun will be down or not.
This list is for parts individually that I use and have had good success with. I don’t recommend any particular pre-built gearbox options as they all require something in order to be 100% reliable.

Caveat: Manufacturers in airsoft have their ups and downs in terms of quality control, and while this list is accurate as of this writing for my experiences, the next batch from a given company could be utter garbage, so always do up-to-date homework before you buy. With that in mind…

Lonex: makes exceptionally good pistons, bushings, gearbox shells, gears, motors.. in fact, they’re my favorite brand on the market at the moment for most parts.
Core: makes good gears, I’d stay away from their pistons
SHS: hit or miss quality, however for the most part their gears and metal rack pistons are good
Seigetek: Best gears on the market, period. They are expensive, but I defy you to break a set on anything under 4J.
G&P: Good motors. The rest of their stuff is good, if average for the price.
JG: Their neo motors are great, good quality gears.

There are many other brands that are ok, good, or even great, but many of them are simply re-brands of the above manufacturers.

2. Precision:
In order to gain precision, you need repeatability. That is, every time you pull the trigger, the bb will follow the same rough path every time.
This is a more complicated area, but chiefly you need the following:

a: A good air seal. Check to ensure that you have properly assembled everything that there is no air leaks anywhere in your system. Properly stretched piston o-rings, a good o-ring air nozzle, and good hop up unit are key to this. There are other techniques involving anything from silicone glue to teflon tape to improve air seals throughout the system.

b: A high quality barrel. This does not mean a tight bore by any means. In fact tighter is worse. You generally want at LEAST .05mm of barrel diameter difference between the ammo you plan on running, and the bore of your barrel. Keep it clean, and keep it DRY. Also, ensure that it is supported for its full length. Barrel harmonics play hell on precision on guns that have un-supported inner barrels hiding inside mock-suppressors. They may look tacti-cool, but they hurt precision.
Also, as a general rule avoid coated barrels. Stainless steel is the best, followed by brass, followed by aluminum, followed by everything else, in my opinion.

c:A high quality hop up bucking/packing. There are various styles out there that are good, but generally flat-hop, bridge-hop, and r-hops are the best that are out there. Choosing the appropriate sleeve that matches your FPS output is also important.

d:High quality ammo. Its like having a $100,000 sports car, and being too cheap to buy premium fuel. It might run, but it won’t run to its potential. Cheaping out on ammo is probably the worse thing you can do. Whats the point of investing all the time and money into a gun and time traveling to games only to miss your target because you saved a dollar the day before on a bag of cheaper ammo?

3. Accuracy: Buy optics that make sense for your intended role, and zero them in. Airsoft does not have enough recoil to seriously jostle optics around like real-steel but never-the-less make sure that your chosen optics/sights can take a couple bangs without losing zero. Once you have precision nailed down, properly zeroed optics is the only mechanical aspect of accuracy that comes into play. The rest of it, is up to you, the shooter.

This may be changed and updated from time to time, but as it is now it reflects my 15 years of experience with building and tuning airsoft rifles of all breeds.