We have heard it all before, when any “higher” end airsoft gun comes out, droves of people all over the internet automatically respond with “I’d rather buy a real gun” or “WOW! I could buy a real gun with that price”. While there may be some merit to this, one must understand a few reasons why airsoft guns cost as much as they do.
Taking a look at the modern firearm industry you will see several trends. Many manufacturers are looking to make their products lighter, faster, and easier to maintain. Everything you see form the leading producers reflect this, have you seen how easy it is to take apart a SCAR or some of the new high end ARs? It is this way because at the end of the day the mechanism needed to fire a gun is rather simple and the propellant needed is all packed into the bullets. This makes real guns rather simple pieces of machinery to make and maintain. Where as in airsoft, the same cannot be said.
Looking at the 4 major platforms of airsoft guns: Gas Blow Back, AEGs, HPA, and Springers, each system actually requires more engineering and “science” to function properly. Lets just take a look at two of the four mentioned.
If you were to take apart a gas blow back gun, in principle, they are very similar to many real guns, however the magic all happens in the magazine design itself. Have you wondered why GBB mags are expensive? That is because there are a LOT of things packed inside that small package. It has things like valves, a reservoir, and still needs to have space for where your BBs go. Not to mention the rather hard task of constantly trying to make your magazines as gas efficient as possible, starting to wish airsoft guns were as easy as loading bullets and pulling a trigger.
After gas blow back, here comes the big one, AEGs. Where do you even start when talking about them. To quote my friend Robert, sponsored player from Wolverine Airsoft, “AEGs are like Swiss watches, theres so much going on!” This phrase is SO true and the complexity of what is happening inside an AEG is FAR more complicated than any modern firearm. There are so many factors to them such as gears, motors, wires running everywhere, and the list goes on, yet when you pull the trigger, more times than naught your AEG just works. While many arguments can be made as to their reliability and quality, just think how much an average AEG costs. An AEG costing around $399.99 that can get you through some decent game play for several months and still work is a steal! But that same gun breaking down afterwards is sadly a grim reality, which then starts the long painful process of repairs and upgrades which will in turn rack up your costs to pretty much where higher end airsoft guns are priced at.
I chose to focus on these two platforms because they are the most prevalent in our current scene. However to briefly mention the later two (HPA and Springers) they can rack up costs even higher than the former. It is all due to the complexity of airsoft guns that in turn drive up the costs of production and selling price. I am in no way belittling real steel manufacturers and their manufacturing processes but at the end of the day the technology they use to make the real guns go “BANG” is still a rather simple system that has been developed and perfected over hundreds of years.
Taking this top down look, I hope we can start to see why some airsoft guns will be more expensive than real guns and to understand what goes on inside some of them can allow us as players to appreciate how some airsoft manufactures can make their guns cost so little compared to how much time it take for them to make and develop them.
As a final point, personally, the money I have spent on my airsoft guns is well spent, because unlike real guns, I can shoot my friends and go for a beer afterwards AND NOT end up on the evening news.