When I was introduced to airsoft, I was very young and I did not have much money to spend, so I got what I thought was strictly necessary and nothing more. A pair of boots, a uniform, a pair of safety glasses, and of course an airsoft gun.
It was enough to play with some friends on Sundays, and for about a year that was just what I needed.
However, when I joined my first club, I had the opportunity to see the equipment that some more experienced players had, and to study the reasons behind the use of said gear. It wasn’t long before I started to study the kind of equipment I would like to have and use, but there was still the problem of money, which I would only be able to solve a few years later.
Nevertheless, thanks to some advice and a lot of practice, I was able to improve, step by step, my equipment, up to the level reached today. And I’m not done yet!
New Player: The Tactical Gear Brands I Used
I could not quite tell what brands I used when I first started. At that point, I tried to get my hands on anything that I didn’t already own, that I wanted to have myself or that I thought might be useful to have.
I had pair of Italian Army boots, given to me by a friend, and a uniform, also a gift. I had a secondhand ALICE type belt, found at a flea market, and an 80-liter Army backpack, found among the knickknacks at home.
The only brand new things I had were a pair of Royal goggles, a universal Cordura holster, also Royal, and a neoprene mask of an unknown brand.
The last thing I bought was a plate carrier seen on Amazon, of an unknown brand, which I managed to buy for about twenty euros.
Unfortunately, I had no way to be picky in the choice of equipment: the goal was to save as much money as possible.
Experienced Player: The brands I used:
As time went by (and savings increased) I managed to get my hands on the first pieces of equipment of average workmanship:
I bought two 6094 Plate carriers by TMC, one OD and one black, to be used respectively in forest and urban environments.
I bought some Magnum Panther boots, an Emerson MOLLE Multicam belt, and all the second-hand pouches I could get my hands on.
I bought my first radio, a Baofeng UV5R, a few second-hand caps, and a balaclava or two. I still have a few of these items as supplies to use if needed.
I also started buying modifications for the airsoft guns: I bought a second-hand holographic sight, a vertical grip, and a torch by X-fire, with remote control and red navigation light.
I also started buying accessories: I got a backpack, a compass for navigation, red lights for emergency signaling, a first aid kit, a camelback, a utility knife, and an emergency whistle.
Eventually, I started taking more care about clothing: I bought rain jackets and softshells, thermal underwear, high resistance socks, and any other garment that could make simulating easier and more comfortable.
My equipment was evolving together with my necessities: At the time, I started participating in long-duration simulations, in which I needed way more equipment than I needed when I used to simply play for a few hours with my friends.
The player I am now: The brands I use:
Today, my needs as a simulator are very different from those I had in the past as a player. I try to use, as much as economically possible, only military specifications equipment, or at least extremely solid and reliable.
Today, I have two RPCs of the Warrior Assault System, one OD and one black, for simulations in woodland and urban terrain. In addition, I have several uniforms and camouflage to use according to the indications of the specific simulations.
I use Crispi boots, but I’ve also used Salomon Quest, and I’ve tried Lowa as well. Additionally, I use a Commander Belt from DOM Systems to carry my survival equipment and my backup, but I plan to move on to Ferro products or to give them a shot at least.
I have a few holsters made by Vega Holsters, which I am very comfortable with. For compatibility issues with the team, I still use the Baofeng, which despite the price can still have a decent performance. For the moment, I’m relying on Vortex products for my sights and Olight for lighting.
Here unfortunately the economic factor comes into play. I’m planning to try Aimpoint and Surefire products as soon as possible for comparison. My go-to options for pouches are Templar’s Gear and Blue Force Gear right now. The reason behind my choice to get MILSPEC equipment is that I use the same equipment both during simulations and at the range, so I try to get the safest gear I can afford.
There is no need to get such expensive equipment to play airsoft if you’re not willing to simulate scenarios that can stress your gear in a way that would be comparable to a real-life scenario. Many airsoft brands produce equipment that can be considered high quality for the means of the recreational part of airsoft.
For anyone who’s not interested in simulations, I’d recommend buying material of the brands from the previous section: it’s perfectly suitable, and it will save you a lot of money.
If I could restart my airsoft journey, what would I do differently?
Trying before buying, I can’t stress that enough.
I spent a lot of money buying items that were low quality, uncomfortable, or that I simply didn’t need. I would focus my spending on the most important pieces of equipment and put off secondary purchases.
The other thing I would pay more attention to is the correct maintenance of the equipment: you must take extreme care of your equipment, or it might not work properly, get damaged, or even break, making you lose money and spoiling operative situations.
In the end, I’d say I can’t complain about how my journey went. I did what I could with the means I had, and as time went on, I implemented my equipment more and more, until I got to where I am today.
Today I am much more aware than I used to be, and this is also thanks to patience and a lot of practice that it takes to clarify the ideas about what is needed and what is not.
My Tips on starting off airsoft on the right foot: in what order should you purchase tactical gear?
Don’t rush. Before buying, study the situation carefully and ask yourself the right questions:
- What do I want to do?
- What will I need?
- What would make it easier?
- What will get in my way?
- What is essential?
- What can and cannot I do without my equipment?
The questions are many, and it takes time to give reasoned answers and buy consciously.
There are many people who are convinced that they have the facts in their hands, indisputable and universal. Personally, I’m of the opinion that if something works for you, then it’s fine.
I may not be able to use a piece of gear, a technique, or to do certain movements while someone else can. We are not all the same, we all have different talents, limitations, and needs.
You have to study, try and try again, trying to be as honest as possible with yourself. Don’t force things because you think they are cool to see. Or, because you have been told that what you want to do doesn’t work. Just try it, and see.
Another piece of advice I feel like giving is: don’t hoard too much. If you don’t have the money to buy high-quality equipment, get the bare minimum, even second-hand. Keep saving, and when you can, sell your old equipment and buy new, better, and more suitable for your needs. You will see that your equipment will evolve with you as you gain experience.
Another important thing: prioritize. There are some supplies that are more important than others, and whose quality you should never skimp on.
As mentioned in my airsoft on how to build a beginner loadout for airsoft, my personal order of priority is
- Safety equipment
- Survival equipment
- Combat equipment
- Auxiliary equipment.
Basically, buy first what preserves your safety and health, then what allows you to simulate well, and only after everything that allows you to facilitate and improve your experience.
Finally, train, train, and train. Training is where all the problems with your equipment come to the surface, and it’s the best ground to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.