2021’s Best Airsoft Rifle: 7 of the Top Budget AEG’s Reviewed. AK / M4 / G36 Options
You’ll always remember the first airsoft rifle you buy.
We’ve played hundreds of airsoft games, shot a thousand airsoft products (this is no exaggeration – one of the writers used to work in the industry in one of the biggest airsoft retailers in the USA), and talked to hundreds of new airsoft players. We learned it is very easy to end up with an airsoft rifle that wasn’t worth the money.
Let us save you the headache and hassle (not to mention a couple hundred bucks in broken airsoft dreams).
So what we’ve done is compiled a list of 7 of the best airsoft rifles for beginners to consider. These rifles were selected in terms of pricing and quality. Potential buyers can think of these airsoft guns as a starting point for their journey.
We didn’t include very expensive brands like Tokyo Marui, VFC, or Krytac because a new player will not have the cash to shell out for those options. Nor did we even think about adding a spring rifle to this, since they suck. You be doing a new player a disservice by recommending an LPEG as well.
Before we start, we’re going to talk a little about the most common platforms of airsoft assault rifles there are, after this we will go into specific reviews for each of the options for airsoft guns.
Different types of Airsoft Rifles
The airsoft G36 is built to model the 5.56mm battle rifle that was designed and made early in the 1990s by Heckler & Koch, who were German manufacturers. The gun comes in a multitude of different variations to full sized rifles, to CQB length carbines, to a long barrel sniper rifle. The G36 airsoft rifles comes with most of the features on the real deal such as a foldable stock, top picatinny rail, and an ambidextrous fire selector switch.
The most common version of the G36 for airsoft guns is the G36C – which is the smaller compact version of the larger battle rifle. The main difference you’ll see is that the barrel is much shorter and there are no integrated sights.
A high quality G36 airsoft rifle will do a good job of modeling the real version and will serve a user well for CQB and assault skirmishing. These airsoft guns do include a rail system on top of the gun, which can be used to attach optics such as reflex sights.
The M4 airsoft gun is modeled after the version that’s commonly used by different branches of the United States Armed Forces and U.S Military. It is a shortened version of the M16 battle rifle (in itself a militarized AR15) – maintaining most of the ergonomic features while having a shorter barrel & telescopic stock for easier handling & CQB.
M4 styles airsoft rifles, which include AEG (airsoft electric gun) and GBBR (gas blow back rifles) are amongst the most commonly used in the game. This is due to their capabilities being modular and the fact that upgrade parts / aftermarket accessories that are incredibly easy to come by.
The M4’s most famous component is the rail accessory system which allows a user to add components to their airsoft guns like flashlights, lasers, optics, and forward grips to their M4. This creates a strong sense of player personalization.
The AK is a gun that was created by a man named Mikhail Kalashnikov who lived in the Soviet Union during the period of 1947.
As far as production it is one of the most mass produced guns with there being over 75 million created as of this day. The rifle was created with two different formals of stock, one being a fixed wood stock and the second being a stock that’s foldable metal. The AK is an airsoft gun that’s very versatile and is widely used around the world even to this day.
There are different versions of the AK airsoft rifle available (AKS, AK-74, RPK etc.) and some of the most well known manufacturers in the game produce them. The AK version of airsoft rifles are a pretty solid option overall for all players, providing a no nonsense ergonomic platform that the Kalashnikovs were famous for.
Let’s find you the Best Airsoft Rifle on a Budget:
Now let’s get into reviewing 7 AEG’s on the market. We will eventually do green gas guns down the line, but for now check out our AEG selection below.
1. Lancer Tactical LT-24 Full-Metal CQB M4 AEG Airsoft Rifle
The Lancer Tactical LT-24 Full-Metal CQB M4 AEG Airsoft Rifle is a solid choice for anyone looking for a reliable M4 platform. Some of the standout features include full metal upper & lower receivers along with a RIS system built in.
This gun is fully upgradable utilizing the standard V2 gearbox. The performance out of the box is great and it leaves you room to add your own upgrade as needed. This AEG also features a MOSFET – which helps ensure the electronic components of the airsoft carbine don’t wear out too quickly.
|Fire Selector:||Full Auto / Semi Auto|
|Material:||Full Metal Receivers|
|Range:||Medium / Long|
The stock FPS is nothing to sneeze at 350 – 370 with 0.20g 6mm BB’s. This does mean that it may not be appropriate for some indoor fields. But, they thought ahead. There’s a quick spring change system included, so if you also purchase an M100 spring it’ll downgrade your FPS to acceptable levels at an indoor field.
Players will like how easily adaptable these airsoft guns are because of the tactical rail that’s located at the top and quad rail hand guard.
This does come with a 120 round mid cap magazine – meaning that it requires no winding. The capacity for mid cap magazines is less than a high cap, but it also means it is quiet and doesn’t rattle. If you’re a new player, consider picking up speed loader as well. It will help you load a midcap much more quickly.
Overall, these airsoft guns from Lancer Tactical are a solid choice for a starter player considering the price.
- Built-in Lancer Fast Trigger with MOSFET to regulate electric flow and protect trigger contacts
- Full metal upper/lower receivers and CNC machined buffer tube
- Quick-change spring system for rapidly adjusting muzzle velocity
- Full Metal Receivers for Max Durability &
- Replacements components are easy to get.
- Quick-change spring system allows you to make this AEG indoor or field ready in a matter of minutes.
- Gun has lots of rails space, which makes it easier for a user to mount aftermarket accessories
- Gun isn’t hard to get accustomed to at all and there’s an adjustable stock that makes for superior comfort.
- Contoured pistol grip maximizes comfort while shooting.
- We would have preferred it came with a high-cap magazine.
- Battery is connected to the stock in such a way that it’s impacted by either collapsing or extending it.
2. Lancer Tactical Airsoft Full Metal AK-47 AEG Rifle
The Lancer Tactical Airsoft Full Metal AK-47 AEG Rifle is a replica of one of the more well known weapons of the 20th century. This AK style airsoft rule features a handguard tactical rail system for the placement of optics such as red dots or reflex sights.
The nylon fiber telescopic stock makes this great for utilizing in close quarters or at longer ranges. This airsoft rifle’s black color, RIS system, and forward grip make it look like a special operations Russian weapon. It is capable of semi automatic or completely automatic fire and when used has the ability to fire as much as 12 BB’s per second while reaching velocities as high as 380 FPS.
|Action:||Semi Auto / Fulll Automatic|
|Range:||Medium – Long|
Shooting off a high amount of rounds each one after the next with great range and accuracy is possible with this AK replica. The upper and lower receiver are made fully of metal and the version 3 gearbox. In fact – we’ve found that they’re actually similar to the airsoft AK’s manufactured by CYMA (a company famous for quality airsoft AKs). Hop up feature can be easily adjusted and is capable of slinging BB’s to nearly 200 feet while hitting a man-sized target. The tactical design of the gun makes it aesthetically more pleasing than the conventional Kalashnikov.
- High quality durable metal construction. Integrated Version 3 performance gear box. Same internals and externals as CYMA AK47...
- Rifle output capable of 380 FPS for full range. 550 round high capacity AK waffle magazine.
- 12 slot top mounting rail for optical attachments. Tuck away front foregrip included for comfort.
- The integrated tactical rail system allows you to add on accessories with ease.
- The stock FPS is perfect for the longer ranges of field play.
- Contoured pistol grip maximizes comfort.
- Hope up system is easy to make adjustments to as well as dial in.
- The included high capacity magazine holds 550 rounds - outstanding!.
- Internal and external build quality is similar to CYMA - famous for their quality airsoft AK line.
- Magazine can be a little loose at times, but users won’t have to be worried about it falling out during play or practice.
- The battery installation can be a bit of a hassle.
3. HK Heckler & Koch HK416 AEG Rifle Airsoft Gun
|Action:||Semi / Full-Auto|
|FPS:||335 AVG / 350 Max|
|Gun Type:||416 (M4)|
It has as one of its features a quad weaver/picatinny rail system as well as a top rail for putting on scopes and red dot sights. It has a magazine capacity of 250 rounds and shot velocity of about 330-350 fps. The stock is telescopic allowing a player to adjust it to for CQB or field play. Has 4 tactical rails that make for plenty of customization – allowing you to add on accessories like flashlights, forward grips, and lasers.
- AEG powered airsoft rifle
- Semi-auto and full-auto shooting
- High capacity 250-round mag capacity
- This gun has all the features of a higher cost gun at a lower price.
- Gun is very lightweight, but at the same time sturdy.
- It’s very authentic looking and is properly licensed by HK.
- There are lots of functional mock pieces such as the forward assist as well as the charging handle.
- This is a replica of the gun most famously used by Navy SEALs
- The stock fps is perfect for CQB play.
- Iron sights are quite good.
- The upper and lower receivers are made of ABS plastic - which isn't the best on the market.
- In the beginning the batteries can be a little tough to put in.
- This is definitely a starter gun - you can feel it when compared to more expensive models.
4. Double Eagle AK-47S Metal Electric Airsoft Assault Rifle
|Action:||Semi / Full- Auto|
|Gun Type:||AK 47S|
It weighs about 6 pounds and the length of the gun is about 36 inches. It has a black and wood color that replicate the look of the classic cold war era AK seen in action movies.
It’s a very well detailed gun and sports things such as a functional fire selector, a charging handle that can be pulled back on as well as a realistic magazine release paddle similar to the real thing. The upper and lower receivers are made entirely of metal – but the wood furnishings are actually made of ABS plastic.
- Beautifully finished and extremely reliable! - Best Assualt Rifle of its class!
- 300-330 FPS for 0.2G BB, 410 FPS for 0.12G BB
- High Capacity Magazine - 400 rounds
- Starting FPS allows you to play at indoor fields.
- Huge 400 capacity magazine, perfect for Close Quarter Games.
- This airsoft AK replicas the cold war era classic AK look.
- The stock is fully foldable for some draco style shooting.
- The battery quality is good, but you should look to buy a smart charger to maintain battery life.
- The furnishing that look like wood are actually just plastic.
5. Elite Force HK Heckler & Koch G36 C AEG Automatic 6mm BB Rifle
|Action:||Semi-Automatic / Full Auto|
|Gun Type||G36 C|
The nice thing about the G36 line is that the externals usually replicate the real deal because the actual G36 has a high quality polymer frame as well. The internals, however, are completely made of metal. The included high-capacity magazine will hold 400 rounds and comes with the great feature of being able to clip onto other magazines.
Licensed by Elite Force – it sports the realistic Heckler and Koch stamping on the receiver.
- Full metal internal parts and gearbox; ABS polymer stock
- Semi-auto and full-auto shooting
- Integrated front and adjustable rear iron sights; Rubber butt pad for added comfort
- Officially licensed H&
- K stampings for max realism
- Compact design makes this a CQB beast for players looking to rush
- Polymer externals replicate the real deal accurately.
- High quality full metal internals make this a rugged choice.
- Folding stock has only two positions: folded or not. This means if your length of pull is inbetween, the gun might be a little uncomfortable
- Battery compartment is limiting.
6. G&G Airsoft Combat Machine M4 Raider w/ Integrated RAS & Crane Stock
The G&G Airsoft Combat Machine M4 Raider w/ Integrated RAS & Crane Stock was famous for being one of the top beginner airsoft rifles to hit the market. The integrated polymer quad rail hand guard allows you to attach tactical accessories like flashlights, lasers, optics, and forward grip. Any airsofter looking to fulfill a flexible rifleman role should make this airsoft rifle a high consideration.
The fiber polymer body keeps the gun lightweight while maintaining a solid level of durability. Firing in fully automatic & semi automatic at 370-390 fps with .20g 6mm BBs.
|Action:||Semi / Full Automatic|
|FPS:||370 – 390|
|Range:||Medium – Long|
This airsoft assault rifle comes with most of the fixings you’d expect on a more expensive model. The interior is quite solid as G&G has done a great job maximizing value on their high quality V2 metal gearbox. The tactical stock houses your batteries (buy nunchuck style ones) and is fully telescopic allowing you to keep it compact or extended for stability.
I can easily recommend this to any player looking for a solid starting airsoft rifle platform that has great out-of-the-box performance while also having maximum capacity to upgrade.
- Great budget entry level AEG Assault Rifle
- Fiber nylon upper and lower receivers keep the gun light for younger players.
- Stock FPS is perfect for field play.
- Includes a rail accessory system to ensure you can add as many tactical toys as you want.
- Rate of fire on 9.6v batteries is solid.
- Tango down style pistol grip is comfortable for hands of all sizes.
- Fully Tokyo Marui upgradeable V2 gearbox and compression components.
- Polymer RIS can bend if you overtoque your attachments.
- Tactical stock is servicable, but when the nunchuck battery is in the design can pull on the wires a bit.
- The dust cover doesn't actually open when pulling on the mock charging handle - so adjusting the hopup can be cumbersome.
7. JG M4A1 S-System AEG Electric Airsoft Gun
The JG M4A1 S-System AEG Electric Airsoft Gun will really turn heads among airsoft M4 users out there. The reason is because of the S-system rails – which is a replica of another modular rail system most famous for the one piece top rail. If you look closely this is the same M4A1 you’ll see in video games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare.
The S-System allows you to place rails in specific locations along the handguard – meaning you can have rails where you want them for placement of a tactical accessories like a flashlight or forward grip.
There are some other tactical options on this unique rail system too, like flip up front and rear iron sights. The reason you want flip up iron sights is so it doesn’t get in the way when you mount optics. Having a front or rear sight get in the way of your sight picture through a reflex sight can be distracting.
|Action:||Full / Semi-Automatic|
The JG brand (same makers of the famous JG bar 10 and the first affordable Tokyo Marui clone) of airsoft rifles is famous for rugged internals that can take quite a beating. They are also specced to a standard V2 gearbox – meaning it’ll take upgrades to your heart’s content. The stock performance is actually quite good – with the FPS hitting around 400 and the rate of fire on a 9.6v battery being quite solid.
One downside is that we weren’t too big a fan of the two piece hop up unit however, and we do think it can impact the range a bit more than we would like.
- 4 rail RIS S-System
- FPS: ~380-420 fps with .20g BB
- Adjustable Hop Up
- The one piece rail on the S-System rail system will turn heads. It is the same M4A1 you would find in COD.
- Flip up front and rear sights means unobstructed view down your optic.
- JG airsoft rifle internal parts are VERY rugged and fully compatible with Tokyo Marui type upgrades.
- This gun can shoot a bit hot, meaning the FPS might exceed 400 FPS - which is a limit in many fields.
- Battery compartment is small.
- Two piece hop up system isn't as solid as one piece hop up system - this can affect max effective range.
How do these airsoft guns stack up?
Airsoft Core’s Airsoft Rifle of Choice:
The G&G Raider Combat Machine continues to be one of the best airsoft guns for newer players.
- The Tokyo Marui clone version 2 gearbox has solid out of the box performance while being wild friendly to taking upgrades such as better compression parts, stronger motors, and better triggers.
- The external body can take quite a beating and and is pre configured to allow you to install metal RIS if you really wanted to. Although the lightweight polymer rail will do the job.
- It is an M4 type platform with a standardized front rail system means it is a great platform for external accessories.
G&G continues to lead in the department of great airsoft guns and we highly recommend it as your starter platform or for your first airsoft game. Pick up a combat machine, batteries, eye protection, and tactical gear and you’ll be all set to start.
Where to buy?
See the below link(s) to view current prices and up to date user reviews:
Frequently Asked Questions
Most of these Airsoft Guns are over $100. What’s the best airsoft gun for under $100?
To be quite honest, all the airsoft guns below $100 aren’t really worth your time if you’re at all interested in going to an airsoft game or even want to get some decent plinking in. Almost all products below $100 will be an LPEG, which means low power electric gun. It’s either that or a spring gun (which aren’t fun to play against other people with.)
There are a lot of corners that are cut in order to keep the price low on these airsoft guns, this includes proprietary gearboxes and designs. This means that if these airsoft guns break – that’s about all that can be done. Additionally, these guns are effectively unable to upgrade in any meaningful way.
Out of the box shooting performance is typically serviceable for firing at targets and nothing more. Rate of fire is often terrible and the FPS is usually far below average.
Even the best airsoft LPEG rates a 2/10 in our book.
We do implore airsofters to see if they can save an additional $10 to $50 dollars for even the more simple Umarex 416. The performance capabilities and quality of build is simply leagues ahead of all the LPEG’s and spring guns.
How do I increase my airsoft gun’s accuracy without spending much money?
The best airsoft rifles are fully capable of firing a BB out to 250+ feet. They are also quite expensive.
The easiest, and least expensive, way to increase the accuracy of any airsoft gun is to utilize better more perfectly spherical BB’s. If you’re already using high quality BBs from a reputable manufacturer then the next step is to test out a heavier weight BB.
BB’s that weigh more will be less affected by outside forces like wind or air and so they are far more likely to have a stable flight path. You might need to adjust your hop up a bit when you use heavier BB’s, however.
In general, if you’re already using 0.20g BBs, consider moving up to 0.25g or even 0.28g (any heavier than that and you’re getting into airsoft sniper rifle territory). Immediately you should see these rounds fly far more straight and consistently than the 0.20g version.
Some things you’ll notice, however, is that the FPS will drop as well as the range. This is the tradeoff for more stability, so you will need to find the right balance for you. Our recommendation is to test out different brands and weights and decide on which is more important to you.
We found that, especially in an indoor airsoft game, the lighter BB’s still have good consistency. Once you move the airsoft game outdoors, however, you’ll see the benefits of heavier BB’s.
All other upgrades will require you to take apart your gun, which will void your warranty.
Where should I buy these heavier BB’s?
You can see the links below for the most up to date price & user reviews:
What batteries should I use for my airsoft guns?
Most manufacturers will have a recommended battery size and power. Typically, you should be using 9.6v NiMH batteries. 8.4v versions of the same battery exist, but you’ll find their performance lacking. Voltage for your batteries are going to be between those two. There are LiPo batteries, but you may wish to avoid those until you’re more familiar with high-powered hobby batteries as they need to be charged in a different way and can be too powerful for some airsoft rifles.
Remember, higher voltage will mean your rate of fire and your trigger response will increase. You’ll see the difference in all the fire modes.
After looking at voltage you’ll want to consider the configuration. All airsoft guns will have a varying amount of space for their battery compartments, with some accommodating different sizes based on where and how the gearbox is wired.
Some of the configurations that exist are:
- Stick (All cells are arranged back to back)
- Block (All cells are stacked side to side like a brick)
- Crane / Nunchuk (All cells are arranged in two sticks with connecting wires)
- Custom Blocks (All cells are arranged to fit a specific gun’s battery compartment.)
The last thing to consider here is the power storage amount. This is typically tracked as “mAh” which means milliamps / hour. Think of this as the “gas tank” of the battery. It determines how long the battery will last under a full charge before requiring a recharge. So, the higher the mAh the longer the battery will function. Naturally, more mAh usually means bigger cells, so you’ll need ample space in your airsoft gun’s compartment.
It is usually recommended to have two sets of batteries. This is so even if one battery is juiced out at an airsoft game you have a backup.
What charger should I get for my battery?
Assuming you’re using a NiMH battery talked about above you’ll almost always want something called a “smart charger.” Standard wall chargers are liable to overcharge your batteries, which can result in a battery fire ruining it. A smart charger has a safety device that knows to turn off the charger once your battery has been fully charged.
If you’re using a lipo battery then you’ll need to use a completely different type of charger known as a balance charger.
Note: DO NOT mix this up as using the wrong charger will not only void any warranty on the battery but it can actually burst into flames (this is quite a problem!)
What do electric blow back airsoft guns do differently form normal airsoft guns?
There are two types of electric blow back airsoft guns.
Visual blow back – this type of blow back just simulates a bolt cycling in a real gun. What happens is the mock bolt cover will cycle back and forth like the real thing. The mechanism for this is usually derived from the gearbox cylinder – where it uses some of your air compression to cycle that mock bolt.
In terms of actual performance, it does nothing but look cool.
The second type of electric blow back is simulated recoil. Simulated recoil guns will actually use a spring powered mechanism to simulate recoil and your airsoft gun will actually shake. We’ve seen multiple ways airsoft manufacturers (such as KWA with their ERG or Tokyo Marui with their Recoil Shock Sytem) achieve this, some with more success than others. Typically this will place more strain on your motor resources (the impact of the spring loaded weight has to come from somewhere).
In terms of actual performance, it actually is likely to reduce the performance of your gun at the benefit of simulation and immersion.
In general, if your goal is to max out your performance you should probably stay away from electric blow back airsoft guns. But, if your goal is to feel immersed in the sport and hobby, then go for it, that’s what an airsofter using an airsoft sniper rifle might do.
An alternative to the electronic recoil guns are green gas blow back rifles like the KWA LM4. Green gas blow back airsoft rifles (GBBR) set the standard for maximum realism in airsoft.
What’s considered a good rate of fire?
Utilizing a chronograph – it is possible to see the number of rounds an airsoft gun fires per second. This is often shortened to RPS (rounds per second).
In general, the following guideline applies:
- Below 8: low
- 9 – 15: average
- 16 – 22: good
- 23 – 30: high
- Above 30: very high
Can I remove the orange tip?
United States has federally mandated that all airsoft guns are to be sold with the orange tip. This is really for your own safety as you don’t want any police agencies believing you have a real firearm (which the orange tip helps ID it as an airsoft product). You’d hope that United States law enforcement would be able to tell the difference between an airsoft gun and a real one, but it is not really reasonable for them to assume. This is why the orange tip is essential and removing them can create a problem.
With that said, you’ll find a lot of players end up removing their orange tip. Hopefully, they know the risks involved. Ultimately, we want you to be safe, and the airsoft hobby / sport truly does NOT need any tragedies. To maintain top interest in the hobby we have to show that the player base is a quality bunch. Our content is built with safety in mind.
By removing the orange tip you can create other legal concerns as well.
Please, keep your orange tip on your airsoft guns.