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 What should I buy for my first sniper rifle?

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crimsonfalcon07
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PostSubject: What should I buy for my first sniper rifle?   Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:36 pm

This thread is for comparing the various sniper rifles. I'll begin by giving the most comprehensive accounting of the various sniper rifle options out there, and compare their pros and cons. Comparisons will be grouped by price range--budget versus high-end, and by power--spring versus gas. I will briefly discuss why I think that sniper rifles should not be electric, and why I think that the proper domain of AEG's is as DMR's, not as SWS's.

Why not an AEG

This topic is rather controversial, since the option of full-auto certainly seems attractive for a sniper in trouble. But I will always come down on the side of a bolt-action rifle for a number of different reasons.

1. Realism. In real steel, nothing can beat the inherent accuracy of a bolt-action rifle. While in airsoft, AEG's can come close, a bolt-action is still slightly more consistent and accurate, and if you're interested in realism, most sniper rifles ARE bolt-action.

2. Stealth. An AEG is a lot harder to silence, since you have to deal with the characteristic gearbox whining noise, as well as the muzzle noise. Stealth is very important to a sniper, so I prefer to stick with a quieter bolt-action rifle, with less mechanical parts to make noise.

3. Simplicity. A spring-powered bolt-action is much simpler, and easier to fix in the field when something goes wrong. This circumstance isn't very likely, but it's a much simpler gun, which also means there's less that CAN go wrong.

4. The Skill Factor. If you have the capacity for full-auto or rapid semi-auto, you'll be inclined to use it. That means you won't conserve ammunition, and you're more likely to get yourself into situations that require you to fend off large numbers of enemies with full-auto. Basically, those snipers that I've seen using AEG's tend to get themselves into trouble a lot more often. If you have limited ammunition, and low ROF, you're required to be a lot more cautious, and to rely on your skill, fieldcraft, and tactics, rather than your gun. And that, I think, is as it should be.

There are plenty more reasons supporting either side of the debate. But I come down on the side of bolt-action rifles, so I will not include an AEG section in this review.

Spring Section:

Spring powered bolt-action rifles are my weapon of choice for sniping. They are always reliable, regardless of the temperature (unlike gas rifles), and are simple and easy to fix or upgrade. Although spring rifles require more upper body strength to cock, they're the most popular type of rifle for a sniper, who relies on fieldcraft, skill, and tactics, rather than ROF and sheer numbers. There are several excellent options available for those wanting a spring sniper rifle (along with some not-so-excellent options).

Budget Rifles

There are several options out there for affordable spring sniper rifles. I will provide a brief mini-review on each rifle, and then compare them at the end, with my recommendations, depending on what you're looking for.

1. The Super 9/Tac 9, in all of its incarnations.

The Super 9 is probably the first rifle that beginner players encounter, since it's cheap, readily available on lower end retail sites and on eBay, which is virtually useless for getting airsoft guns, aside from a few select sellers like evike and ehobbyasia. The Super 9 is supposed to be one of the most powerful stock spring sniper rifles in the budget category, typically listed as shooting over 450 fps. Something to note--those fps measurements are with .12g bb's, which no experienced airsofter uses except in mines and grenades.

The Super 9 also has some interesting features. It doesn't have the usual type of magazine, but rather a stick magazine which holds something like 25 rounds, and a rotary magazine, which holds a small number of shells (6, I think), in which you insert the bb's. This feature is very cool if you like realism, since it will eject an empty shell when you cycle the action. The Super 9 also comes with a bunch of extras, such as iron sights, scope mount, scope, bipod, and sling. However, I do not recommend the Super 9 for anything, even backyard wars, for a number of different reasons.

The Super 9 and the other UHC sniper rifle series are universally known by the moniker "Craptastic 9," or some variation thereof, due to their relatively horrible performance. It is completely unreliable past 80 feet, which means even a low-end MPEG can outrange it in terms of effective distance (some people have had better experiences, but on average, they have a minimal effective range), and are virtually unupgradeable. That means no tightbore without heavy modification, no cylinder upgrades, no hopup upgrades, nothing.

The magazine system is also irritating, because the stick magazine is unrealistic and harder to load than other sniper rifle magazines, and the shells are easy to lose. More, the gun is very toy-like. The build quality is okay, but not great--mostly middle quality plastic, which doesn't have the greatest feel, and the bolt is designed poorly, so the bolt-pull is much stiffer than it should be.

All in all, the Super 9 in its various incarnations is suitable only for backyard skirmishes, and even then, there are better guns to get.

http://springer.airsoftretreat.com/articles/super9.htm
http://springer.airsoftretreat.com/reviews/super-9.htm

2. The UTG M324 Master Sniper/ DE M50.

The M324 is commonly called a VSR-10 clone, although it is actually more similar to an APS-2. However, it isn't actually a clone of either, having it's own internals. The M324 shoots about 350 fps stock with .2g bb's, and has a number of nice features.

The M324 comes in 3 colors--black, olive drab, and desert tan. The stock is nice and textured, with very little flex, although the look is somewhat spoiled by the various screw holes. The barrel and receiver are held into the stock by three screws of different sizes. Many people that break their guns do so by screwing the wrong screw into the wrong hole. The gun is not upgradeable with high-end aftermarket parts, but there are custom cylinders that allow power upgrades, various performance enhancing modifications, and a dbcustom 6.01mm tightbore available. Also in the plus column is the cheap and easy Leapers (UTG) customer service, which makes it very easy to replace broken parts of all kinds.

The M324 comes with scope mount, bipod, sling, extra magazine, and front accessory rail, which are all very nice touches. The sling is a very nice nylon sling, and is one of the better knockoff slings. In addition, the gun has a silent cylinder--it's about 80% quieter than most other spring sniper rifles, and with the addition of a foam-filled suppressor, is virtually silent. This feature is, for me, the biggest draw of the M324 aside from the Leapers customer service, since it allows for much more efficiency while sniping.

It does have some problems in stock form. First, the compression of the stock cylinder is very poor (although much better on the v.3's, which shoot about 400 fps stock), and requires a teflon tape modification to achieve its full potential. The cylinder is sealed, and cannot take upgrades, and the stock inner barrel is both aluminum (and hence lower quality than the brass barrels that come with most other guns), and enormous--a gaping 6.14 mm. This means that the M324 is not great in stock form. It is still capable of decent performance out to 100 feet, but is not effective past that. However, once upgraded with dbcustom tightbore and the teflon modification, it will shoot about 450 fps (perhaps closer to 470 fps with the v.3's), and will be effective out to about 180 feet.

Overall, this gun is great for backyard wars (probably the best budget sniper rifle for that purpose, due to the silent bolt), and is capable of competing with stock AEG's in the sniper role, or middle-range sniper rifles. Although it lacks the range of an upgraded high-end or some of the other more powerful budget rifles, the silent bolt, coupled with a suppressor, means that you can take shots from much closer in without giving away your position. In my opinion, that feature makes the M324 a force not easily dismissed, and all in all, an effective and affordable spring sniper rifle.

http://www.airsoftretreat.com/reviews/showproduct.php?product=104&cat=39
http://echo1og.american-forum.net/Site-Discussion-c3/Reviews-f13/Double-Eagle-M50-UTG-M324-t11.htm

3. The UTG Mk. 96/WELL Warrior 1 L96A1/BE L96A1.

These guns are all actually different guns, but I'm grouping them together due to their similar price, and the fact that their internals are essentially the same, with a few differences that I will cover here.

These clone L96A1 guns are the most powerful stock spring sniper rifles on the market, with the exception of the various SVD models. They shoot about 500 fps with .2's stock, and are also upgradeable (or downgradeable), since the cylinder can be opened. The various models differ in terms of build quality and extras. The UTG Mk96 comes with a bunch of extras, like all UTG guns, such as bipod, scope mount, sling, extra magazine, etcetera. The BE L96 has almost entirely plastic construction, including inner body construction, while the WELL Warrior 1 has metal construction for many of the parts, meaning it is more durable.

The major thing that should be mentioned about this gun is that the trigger box is made out of plastic. IMO, that was a very stupid thing to couple with a 500 fps spring, but these guns are probably not terribly reliable in stock form. Fortunately, the spring is very easy to cock, with a bolt-pull light enough that some have called the spring magical. That's a good sign that the construction is pretty solid. The gun performs reasonably well in stock form, with an effective range of about 150 fps, but the high fps exacerbates inaccuracy problems at longer range.

Fortunately, this gun is upgradeable. I do not suggest leaving this gun in stock form, but rather to replace the stock trigger with an APS-2 trigger assembly or an APS-2 L96 zero trigger assembly. The hopup and inner barrel should also be replaced, and eventually you may want to replace parts in the cylinder as well. Since the gun is fully upgradeable with aftermarket parts, it's a great platform for building a fully upgraded sniper rifle, but probably shouldn't be left in stock form. I would suggest this rifle as an option for those wanting an upgraded sniper rifle, capable of competing with the best rifles, but would probably not rely on it in its stock form. The UTG and WELL versions are also probably better deals, as they have stronger internals than the BE version.

4. The USR-11.

The USR-11 is a fairly venerable VSR-10 clone. And that's right, it is a full clone of the VSR-10, compatible with all of the aftermarket parts. It's got a solid build, and is quite durable, although not as durable as an actual VSR-10. The cylinder can be opened and upgraded by drilling out some pins, and that will increase the FPS from a fairly low stock fps to a more respectable 350+ fps. It can be upgraded with teflon mod and tightbore to approach 430 fps with .2's, without any internal upgrades.

Basically, the USR-11 is the option for those who want an upgraded VSR-10, but don't want to pay as much for the starting platform. It can take all the aftermarket upgrades, comes with iron sights, but no scope mount, and also has a gas cylinder available, although there is very little information on the gas version. All in all, the USR-11 is always a good choice if you want to upgrade, but not the best choice if you want a competitive rifle in stock form.

Helpful thread: http://www.airsoftretreat.com/forums/index.php?topic=12470.0

5. The AGM MP001 Sharp Shooter (sometimes called the JG MP001).

The MP001 is one of the most recent clone rifles out of China. Visually identical to the VSR-10, it is nevertheless not a true clone, and is not upgradeable. The only upgrade it can take is a dbcustom or madbull tightbore. However, it makes up for the lack of upgradeability with truly superb performance with a small amount of easy modification, and its ability to take a number of replacement parts from other guns with slight modification.

The MP001 comes in three colors--faux wood, olive drab, and matte black. The stock is well-made, and has some of the best fake wood available, which was a surprise. Almost all of the rest of the gun is metal. It shoots 400 fps stock, but with teflon mod, tightbore, and a few other performance-enhancing modifications, can get up to 470 fps on average, and 491 fps if you do a really good job.

Stock performance is very good, but not spectacular, with a 170-190 foot effective range, but post modification, this gun is easily capable of 250+ foot shots, which makes it competitive with all but the very best rifles. It does have a very wide inner barrel, at least 6.1mm, but it is made out of brass, and is surprisingly accurate. It is also the cheapest rifle on the market, so if you're willing to take a little time learning about the internals of your gun and working on it (you'll have to spend no more than 5 dollars on upgrade parts), you'll have a very competitive rifle. There is a ton of information available on this rifle on ASR (I'll get links up in a while), and I know this gun inside and out, so if anything goes wrong, I can almost always give you a quick and easy fix. All in all, I recommend this rifle for almost any type of player--beginner or expert, backyard war or full skirmish.

http://www.airsoftretreat.com/reviews/showproduct.php?product=114&cat=62

6. Kart M40.

There is very little information available so far on this gun, so I will update as I learn more. Internals seem to be loosely based on the VSR-10, but not an actual clone. It doesn't have magazine compatibility, and finish is rather poor. It is probably not upgradeable, but may still be comparable in performance to the MP001 with modifications.

This concludes the budget spring sniper rifle section.
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PostSubject: Re: What should I buy for my first sniper rifle?   Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:48 am

High-end

If you want upgradeability, reliability, and a great upgrading platform for building the ultimate SWS, chances are that you will go with a high-end rifle. There are a number of excellent choices available. I haven't gone too much in depth on these guns because there is a ton of information available, and each of these guns is a good choice. You can't go wrong, no matter what you pick, so it really comes down to preference in looks and feel. Here are some of the more popular guns. Review links from the "Looking for a Sniper Rifle Review" sticky on ASR.

1. Tokyo Marui VSR-10 line.

The VSR-10 includes three different models: The Pro-Sniper--the first variation, which may be distinguished externally by its iron sights and longer barrel than the GSPEC, and lack of weights like the Real Shock; the Real-Shock, which is essentially like the Pro-Sniper except with weights to provide more authentic recoil (and the model that the USR-11 is based off of); and the GSPEC, the most recent and updated model, which has a shorter barrel, no iron sights, but comes with scope mount and silencer. At any rate, they all take the same upgrade parts, so I'll group them together here.

The VSR-10 is one of the most popular rifles for building an upgraded SWS. It is based loosely off of the Remington M700, but doesn't actually completely resemble any real steel rifle. The VSR-10 shoots 275 fps with .2's stock, so in today's day and age, it really must be upgraded for most play in the US. There are a multitude of places to buy upgrade parts from, and they are all usually readily available. Build construction is very good, although the VSR-10 tends to be a bit lighter than other high-end models (the GSPEC weighs about 2kg), which gives it a bit of a toylike feel. Price range runs around 160-200 USD, with GSPEC's usually being more expensive.

The major draws to the VSR-10 series are their reliability, the ready availability of aftermarket parts, the hopup (which is one of the best on the market), and, in the case of the GSPEC, the functional suppressor, which makes the GSPEC one of the quietest rifles on the market. The VSR-10 also tends to be the cheapest alternative for a high-end rifle, which has made it also one of the most popular. All in all, the upgraded VSR-10 is a formidable airsoft SWS, and is always a good choice.

PS:
http://www.renegaderecon.com/article_details.php?id=55
http://snowman.ascuk.net/vsr10.htm
http://64.124.25.51/vsr10.htm

GSPEC:
http://www.airsoftcommunity.co.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=25705&st=20
http://www.airsoftretreat.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=47852
http://www.renegaderecon.com/article_details.php?id=54
http://www.renegaderecon.com/article_details.php?id=44

2. The Maruzen APS-2.

The APS-2 has 4 versions--the Original Version, Sniper Version, EX, and Type 96. Again, the internals are essentially the same, although the L96 has it's own upgrade parts. These guns are heavier than the VSR-10 series, usually around 2.9kg, and shoot about 285 fps stock. Price range runs about 240-350, with the OV and SV being the cheapest, and the EX being the most expensive.

The APS-2 is one of the most popular rifles to fully trick out, and is usually the base for custom retail rifles. It is very reliable, has very solid build, and also has a multitude of aftermarket parts available--probably more than any other rifle. Although it typically is more expensive than the VSR-10 series, it's also one of the best options available for an upgradeable sniper rifle. If you're thinking about getting one of these, go for it. You won't be disappointed.

SV:
http://www.airsoftcore.com/reviews-54.html
http://www.airsoftplayers.com/aps2/aps2_1.asp
http://www.floridaairsoft.com/reviews/aps2sv/
L96A1:
http://www.airsoftcommunity.co.uk/forums/index.php?
showtopic=19093&pid=243245&st=0#entry243245 - post #3
http://www.floridaairsoft.com/reviews/type96/
http://www.renegaderecon.com/article_details.php?id=55

3. The Classic Army M24 SOCOM.

The CA M24 is also a very popular rifle, although they aren't as common as the previous two rifles. It is based off of the M24 SWS, and is finished VERY well. It's one of the most solidly built rifles, weighing in at 3.6kg, and shoots 280 fps stock. There are two versions, the military, which has a fluted barrel, and the civilian, which doesn't. It comes with swing swivel mounts and integrated scope mounts, and of course the signature adjustable stock. The CA M24 also is a fairly pricy rifle, usually costing around 300 USD.

I do want to mention that the CA M24 has a reputation for being a bit finicky, mostly because the hopup requires a good amount of adjustment to work properly, and because the hopup also is easy to knock, so that you have to keep adjusting it. You can solve this problem primarily by replacing the adjustment pin, which is the smallest piece in the gun, with a small piece of wire, and by also replacing the pin. You can also dial it in to a specific range, and then use some clear nail polish to keep the hopup fixed.

It also has a very stiff trigger pull when you put in high-power upgrades, so you'll definitely want a zero trigger system to cut down on the stiffness of the trigger pull. However, you can also sand and lube the sears, and that does a lot to cut down on the heavy weight trigger pull.

There are still a good amount of upgrade parts available for the CA M24, although it is harder to find upgrade parts than it is for the previously mentioned rifles. This rifle is a great project gun, because it does take some work, but once you get it up and running, it's easily one of the best SWS platforms, and is one of the best feeling and looking rifles on the market, IMO. If you want realism, the CA M24 doesn't feel like a toy at all--it's a great replica of a great rifle.

http://www.airsoftretreat.com/m24.asp
http://www.planetairsoft.net/review-m24.htm

4. The SVD Dragunov (Atoz/KA/KM)

For those of you looking for Soviet weaponry, look no farther. The legendary SVD has been reproduced in full metal/wood, with excellent out-of-the-box performance. The KA usually has faux wood instead of real wood, although some models do come in full wood (although that may have been because of owner modification). The internals are great, with solid full-metal goodness. The SVD is the most powerful stock rifle on the market, shooting almost 500 fps stock, and also has the enviable addition of a stock tightbore, which means NO upgradeability necessary. It is listed as taking AEG upgrade springs, which do fit, but don't really give power upgrades, unless you use a spacer, since the AEG springs are too short. Shortyusa does apparently have an upgrade spring available, however.

It does, however, weigh less than the M24, weighing in at only 2.7kg. Another problem is that the gun is HUGE, with 590mm inner barrel, and is just beastly long. This means that it's not really terribly useable in skirmishes because it's a real pain to camouflage. In my experience, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Still, I can't fault its performance. The hopup is excellent, and it shoots very well. Also, it's one of the best sounding rifles on the market, with a really intimidating metallic Ka-CHUNK noise when you cock it. It's a good buy, but not the most skirmishable gun. It does cost around 500 dollars, with the cheapest one being at www.gunnerairsoft.com (about 420 shipped), but it's one of very few options available if you want an SVD. The TM and JG SVD conversions look terrible, the G&P is hard to find, and the PDI is even harder. Although this gun lacks semi-auto like the others, since it's manual spring cocking, it's still one of the best options for those wanting an SVD. Basically, you should only get this gun if you really must have an SVD.

http://www.arniesairsoft.co.uk/reviewpost/showproduct.php/product/204/sort/2/cat/all/page/1
http://www.unconventional-airsoft.com/information/atozsvd.php

There are a number of other good options available, but I don't have any experience with them, and they aren't as popular, so I haven't included information about them. I'll update this post with the best posts about the other rifles, however.

Specialty/rare spring rifles

1. The M82A1.

If you want an anti-vehicle rifle, and you have the spare cash, you can shell out about 1200 USD for an M82A1. This rifle shoots 8mm plastic ammunition, which is the largest airsoft bb, and fires at a reasonable 400 fps on average. Not much to say about this rifle, since I don't have much experience with it, except to say that it's really cool, and if you have the expendable income to get one, you'll be envied everywhere you go.

2. The WA2000.

Yes, that's right, Geneth has made a replica of the WA2000, made famous as Weber's rifle in Rainbow Six. It's a gorgeous weapon, made from full metal and wood, and weighing in at a hefty 5.2kg. It shoots at about 285 fps, has a 25 round capacity, and is basically one of the most gorgeous looking rifles out there. It's hard to find, and typically sells for about 1500 USD. If you get one, I'll hate you forever (just kidding), since it's such a rare gun to see on the field. I do really want one, so I thought I'd mention it. But you won't find much information about it.

http://www.redwolfairsoft.com/redwolf/airsoft/ProductDetail?prodID=10961

This concludes the spring rifle section.

Gas section

This section is in progress, but if you have information about this that you'd like to have included, I'll edit in the best response. Thanks!

1. HFC USR-11 gas version.

2. KJW M700.

3. KJW M700 Takedown version.

4. Tanaka M700 AICS.

5. Tanaka M700.
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PostSubject: Re: What should I buy for my first sniper rifle?   Wed Apr 18, 2007 4:20 pm

so in your opinion whats the best spring sniper?


Last edited by on Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: What should I buy for my first sniper rifle?   Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:38 am

What, are you talking about the M82? There's a VFC version which is decent but not great, and a Smokey's Gun Factory spring version. Barrett does not produce an M82. Please keep all information factual, and DO NOT POST HEARSAY. If you have the gun or have first-hand experience (and have a high-end to compare to, preferably, if you're going to talk about ACM's), great, let me know.
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PostSubject: Re: What should I buy for my first sniper rifle?   Tue Jun 19, 2007 2:40 pm

Will there be any additions to this list, thinking particularly the Bar-10 or any other of the new rifles coming out.
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PostSubject: Re: What should I buy for my first sniper rifle?   Sat Jun 30, 2007 7:56 pm

Sure, I'll get an update posted.
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