How To Be An Airsoft Sniper (Tips & Tricks For Beginners)
One of the most common requests I receive from people is advise on getting started in airsoft sniping. Having played airsoft for a decade and attended 100s of events over the years with the vast majority of that time being spent as a sniper, I am going to warn you now, that it is without a doubt the hardest role to play in airsoft. So to help get you started i am going to go over what are the best guns you can buy for the role, how to shoot and hit your target, movement, concealment & equipment to bring with you onto the field.
The big question everyone wants to know is, what is the best airsoft sniper rifle? Unfortunately there is no easy answer here and it will depend on your needs & your technical ability. If you are just starting out, are unsure if it is the role for you and have limited technical knowledge, there is thankfully now an answer, Novritsch’s new SSG10a1. It is not the best, but it is the best value and is good to go out of the box and will have you hitting targets at 80–90 perhaps even 100 meters on a good day. If you have a bit more of a budget and some technical knowledge then the choices are not so straight forward… Novritsch’s SSG24 is always popular but will not perform as well as a fully upgraded and tuned VSR build. Without a doubt the best built rifle on the market today is the Silverback SRS, expensive and heavy and with an open bolt design that requires special attention during difficult weather conditions, but it’ s reliability, super quiet stealth performance and with the right upgrades has the potential to reach out past 100m make it the first choice for many experienced snipers who are able to overlook it’s awkward bullpup design that can be unstable and difficult to use compared to traditional rifles. But what is my personal choice? For regular play I use a highly tuned VSR but for specialist events I bring out a relic from the past, a Tanaka M40 PCS bolt gas sniper rifle. Silent, accurate, insane range but with only 10 shots per mag it’s not a gun I would recommend to beginners, if you could even find one for sale.
Ultimately the choice is yours, but here is my Maple Leaf VSR…
Maple Leaf VSR
It is set up to my personal tastes, I am not looking for the longest range but I am looking for silent accuracy out to around 80–85 meters and a great platform for mounting cameras to be able to capture gameplay. Externally it has Maple Leaf stock and upper receiver with a spirit level rail mount to ensure my first shots are as straight as possible. Internally I use a Springer Custom Works trigger & piston with an AAC teflon cylinder, nozzle and hop chamber. To ensure maximum accuracy I have a Sniper Mechanics Flamingo bucking and a Stalker nub on a Stalker Morpheus barrel. Installed on the front of the gun I have a custom suppressor which is important to stay quiet and not reveal your position when you fire at opponents. On the front of my scope I have a honeycomb lens cover to reduce scope glint. My scope camera is a custom camera not available to buy which is mounted in a housing designed by Dutch airsoft sniper Cleanshot. I use 128 gig cards and external battery packs ensuring I am able to switch my cameras on and leave them running for the entire day so I can keep my mind on the hunt. Cameras are of course optional and are not an item I recommend to anybody starting out as they can be very distracting and add a lot of weight to your rifle.
And of course, I wear my KMCS, Kicking Mustang Concealment System, Ghillie Suit. The modifications I make to this and the exact configuration I use depend on the environment I will be playing in and there is no hard and fast rule about which ghillie suit is best for you as it will depend on the field you will be playing on and the style of play you will be using on the day.
Tokyo Marui HK45
Your sniper rifle will need to be paired with a pistol and your decision will be between choosing a silent none blow back like the Tokyo Marui MK23 that I favour for silent accurate takedowns or a faster firing, more compact blow black pistol like my Tokyo Marui HK45 that you will see me select when I am playing in urban environments. The choice is ultimately down to your style, but my decision is usually based on the chances of me being surprised by the enemy stumbling on my position. This is usually more likely in urban environments in which case I will select my fast firing gbb pistol, or if I believe I am more likely to have the upper hand and have the time and space to use it I will be able utilise the abilities of the silent, but somewhat cumbersome and slow firing, MK23 hand cannon. Either way, all of my pistols are upgraded with Maple Leaf crazy jet barrels and hop rubbers, ensuring I am able to take on enemies at any ranges and I rarely feel I am ever at a disadvantage, at least for the first few seconds of an engagement.
You may also need to consider carrying some grenades. Depending on your budget and the environment you play in there are three choices. A BFG, or blank firing grenade, which are heavy and are loaded with blank firing ammo that make a loud bang on impact. These are expensive to initially buy, but are cheap to use each time. Inside buildings they are ideal for throwing into rooms or around corners as they explode on impact and are almost impossible to avoid. The problems with them are that they are heavy and easily lost in the field after you throw them. Another option is a gas powered solid grenade, such as the Airsoft Innovations Tornado 2, which is loaded with 100s of BBs which spray out in 360 degrees, stinging anyone within their kill radius making them a terrifying prospect to face. Personally I prefer disposable grenades and my favourites are the Taggin grenades from Russia. They are light, solid, very realistic, perfect for throwing, are incredibly loud and throw out BBs in all direction when they detonate. Unfortunately they are expensive, costing around £10 per throw.
So we have looked at our loud out, now let’s talk about my general rules of sniping, more specifically ghillie sniping. My first piece of advice for anybody wanting to get into sniping is to not run around actively like you may have seen on youtube. Now I’m not knocking these guys, the likes of Silo or Novritsch or Cleanshot, they are very good at what they do but I can promise you that you will not be making the most of your bolt action rifle if you play this way.
Active Sniper — Novritsch.
You only have a little bit of extra range compared to assault rifles on the field. You only have a little bit more accuracy, but you do have a much much slower rate of fire and you will be outgunned and it will be rare that you come out on top of a 1 v 1 shootout with any player who has a fully automatic weapon. As good as the active snipers are on youtube, they have the advantage of being able to edit their footage and cut out their deaths and missed shots. I dont recommend trying to emulate their play style if you want to be effective as an airsoft sniper. So with that out of the way my most important tip for you is to always try to use you sniper from a concealed position making the most of it’s accuracy and quiet shots to eliminate confused and unprepared opponents. The only time I would suggest using your sniper out in the open is when you are working with a squad, in a designated marksman role within a formation, where you will be in a good position to provide long range accurate fire while your teammates push the enemy’s position.
The next tip I have for you is to work on shot selection. Your rifle will only have a limited capacity so you will need to make your shots count. If you are able to practice at home or at a range, learn the flight of the BBs, most guns have a unique flight path, practice taking difficult shots through vegetation or trees. Learn about how tilting the rifle changes how the BBs curve through the air and use that to your advantage. Learn about how your breathing effects your aim, slow it down and either exhale completely or hold your breath as you take your shots to help steady the gun. But also think about when to take the shots, bear in mind that if the enemy is looking towards you they will likely be able to see the white BB flying towards them and pinpoint your position if you miss. Learn to value your concealed position more than the number of kills. Taking a 100% kill shot on one person in a squad that has 100% chance of giving your position away to the rest of the enemy may not be a good shot to take. But taking a 20% kill shot with 1% chance of giving your position away may be better odds and allow you to take several shots to get the one hit while remaining undetected.
Take the shot and risk giving your position away?
If you are in a close encounter with enemies and you are in a concealed position, learn to master slow and smooth movements. If you do not feel like you are moving like a sloth you are moving too fast. Don’t snatch at your pistol in it’s holster, slowly and smoothly draw it, when you turn your head do it a slow smooth motion, and try to look around with your eyes before you move your head and body. No matter how good your ghillie suit is movement will give you away. If you do not master slow and smooth movement you will not be able to utilise your ghillie suit to it’s maximum effect. If you are in a hide position and you suspect enemies may stumble on your position have you pistol ready drawn and next to your rifle so you can easily reach for it with very little movement. When you’re scanning for enemies do not wave your gun around, keep as much of your body and weapon as still as possible, scan with your eyes, slowly turn your head if you need to while maintaining the rest of your body motionless.
And when reloading your sniper after a shot, do not snatch and hurry the reload. Remember movement will give you away. If you can, after you’ve made a shot do not reload straight away, wait a few seconds or longer before slowly and smoothly racking the bolt. One of the biggest mistakes I see snipers doing, including professional youtube snipers, is snatching at the bolt, as it is not only movement that will give you position away but it is noise that will alert opponents of your position. Slow, smooth & silent. Leave the fast loud and dramatic to the popular youtubers… Sure it looks great on camera but it surrenders your most powerful weapon; concealment and surprise. The only time to ever do fast reloads is when you are compromised and you feel you have an opportunity to take down multiple opponents before they can get within effective range to take you down. Otherwise I would prefer to use the time to bug out and reposition rather than gamble in a face to face gun fight.
Let’s talk a little bit about selecting hide positions. My biggest tip here is do not hide behind hard cover. This is because you will have to look around or over it to spot and shoot opponents. This will make it very easy to be spotted as your head and weapon will be silhouetted against the outline of the hard cover. If you can, try to use cover you can look through or hide in front of. You may feel vulnerable at first but it is the best way to remain undetected and will give you the best field of view and kill zone to engage your targets. Try to avoid obvious locations such as man made sniper towers which are death traps in airsoft. You will be easy to spot in them and there is no escape once you are pinned down.
A tip that may surprise you is to try to avoid a face down prone position whenever possible. As good as prone is for hiding and remaining undetected it reduces your visibility to a narrow range in front of you, it is very difficult to check around you, and often limits the range you can see especially in summer months, and when you shoot your airsoft rifle from that low down it increases the risk that your shots will skim blades of grass or fern and reduce accuracy. Also being so low down can reduce your ability to hear noises and any movement you make will cause rustling, maybe not audible to enemies but it will reduce your ability to pick up noises that the enemy may be making. It feels safe to be prone but there are many disadvantages to consider. I avoid being prone and only use it as a last resort. I am always looking for positions that give me multiple angles or very wide angles to attack from. Prone positions give just one narrow angle, usually not a good choice unless you have a very specific target.
This brings us onto what is one of the most dangerous times for a skilled ghillie sniper which is when they are leaving hide or a prone position. There is almost always a blind spot when you are in hide and it is often impossible to safely check it without taking a risk to move your entire body’s position and you will be potentially silhouetting yourself. There is no easy way of doing this, slow and smooth, but be aware that in hide you may feel at your most safe even though an enemy player may be over looking your position and you are unaware of them. Leaving hide is always a gamble, be prepared for anything and the slower and more carefully you can do it the better.
Lets talk a little bit about hills and high ground. High ground can give you an advantage but it can also leave you exposed against a skyline. As much as I enjoy shooting from high up I will always try to shoot from the hillside, not from the very top. The same rule I apply to movement through hills, Do not go straight over the hill, walk around it using the hill side to avoid exposing yourself to enemy spotters.
Hiding in plain sight.
Here you can see me against a rock face, the enemy are oblivious to my position, you do not need to be behind cover, learn about how your concealment blends into the environment and have confidence in it’s ability to keep you concealed in plain sight.
Dead ground, hard cover and how we can use it. Dead ground, is ground that can not be seen into by people outside of the area and which is formed from dense material that muffles a lot of noise being made behind it,, such as a pit or an embankment. It is useful to us because it allows us to peak take a shot and reposition quickly. Never take shots and stay in the same position on hard cover for too long. If you have the advantage of dead ground,, duck down, stay low and move quickly to a different position before popping back up forcing the opponents to re aim and perhaps think they are facing more than one of you.
I always try to avoid stand up gunfights but when I have to engage in them, being able to use dead ground is my preferred scenario.
With all the basics covered I hope this has answered some of the questions you have. Over the next few days I will be turning this blog post into a video so if you think I have missed any major tips for new players looking to get into sniping please let me know in the comments below.