Why it is worth investing in quality gear in airsoft

Almost everyone that approaches this discipline does it during adolescence, with a lot of drive, but with very little money to start getting the gear. Luckily, airsoft is a sport that does not require big expenses, at least at the beginning: some protections, a camouflage suit, a replica and you’re ready to go! However, usually it's not long before you start upgraiding your own equipment: a pair of boots, a backup weapon, a quality holster, a scope, some more protections, and so on. When jumping into these purchases, people often go for items created ad hoc for airsoft, or Chinese replicas of real military-spec equipment. This usually help saving some money, but there are also a few downsides: after all, it's often not high-quality equipment - many of these items turn out to be too fragile, improper, ineffective, or simply unavailable. So, depending on the type of activity you will have to carry out, it may be worth investing in quality equipment, even in the field of airsoft. Let's see together in which cases, and why:

Activity Type:

Some players like to make the most of airsoft to have a day in the countryside and to spend a few hours having fun with friends. Almost everyone starts out just like that. But there are also players who decide to take the practice to a more challenging level. Let's talk about simulators and MILSIM (MILitary SIMulations) activities. During this type of activity, it is often required a high preparation and a certain will to stick to the simulative context, where it’s essential to try to recreate actions, situations, fights, and equipment in the most realistic way possible. This type of activity is not much different, for some aspects, from real combat scenarios: therefore, also the stress to which the equipment is subjected, as well as the level of effectiveness and efficiency required, is definitely very high. Often, the economic equipment simply cannot resist satisfactorily to such "mistreatments", and can wear out quickly; therefore, it will require replacement after a couple of uses. It is also possible that it braks down during the activity, creating a damage also on the operational level, not only on the economic one. Besides, very often people deal with equipments poorly designed, reason why they don't perform in satisfactory way, because of the handicap that the simulator will have to compensate with his own ability (if the case allows it). Some universal gear as the universal gun holsters, or universal pouches, often do not turn out to be suitable for this type of activity, because their versatility, which, in this case, does not pay their deficits in efficiency. The same goes abdomen carry holsters of Chinese production, which will feel so uncomfortable that they will result being totally useless. In other words, having quality equipment will allow you to simulate without worries, efficiently and without having to spend money periodically to replace the equipment, often ending up spending more money than you woul’d have, if you invested in good gear.

Equipment Type:

Another difference may be the type of equipment we’re taking into account. For example, many simulators have trouble finding quality gun holsters. Often these items are not present on the market, because there is not much request, or due to the high production costs. This is the case of customized gun holsters: in fact, when you apply, for example, a flashlight on a gun, you automatically need a tactical holster for pistol with light, because it will not fit a regular holster anymore. The same goes for other pieces of gear, such as silencers and red dots. Also shoulder pistol holsters and concealed carry holsters are not very common, because the market of casual players does not foresee a frequent use, on the contrary of the simulative context, where there are often needs of different equipment distribution. It may happen, in fact, to have to act undercover, and therefore need an appendix holster to not be noticed as a threat. Things are similar for the uniforms: they often have poor copies of famous camouflages, printed with cheap inks, which make them visually ineffective. In addition, they tend to break easily, especially the pants, in spots with many seams, such as the seat, knees or belt loops. Often, even the rubbing of a pistol belt holster is enough to ruin them, which doesn’t happen when wearing highly durable military pants, specifically made to withstand even this kind of use. The same applies to plate carriers and tactical belts. Quality plate carriers are usually made of 1000 denier cordura, with PALS sewn with very high strength threads. In fact, they should not loosen with use, even when carrying heavy equipment such as chest pistol holsters, grenades, radios etc. Moreover, they often have more efficient closing systems than airsoft replicas and are way more comfortable, allowing the simulator to concentrate on the operation, without having to worry about annoying equipment. The same goes for the tactical belts and for gun holster belts, that are much more resistant and rigid than those available on the market of the replicas.

Specific situations:

As mentioned above, there are some situations that may call for higher performance, or simply higher quality, gear. For example, shooters who participate in dynamic shooting competitions with airsoft guns may find it beneficial to purchase a kydex or leather holster, rather than a generic universal pistol holster in nylon or cordura, which would slow down the draw of the weapon, worsening the overall performance. Or again, talking about the world of concealed carry, it is really difficult to get decent equipment without having to buy quality gear: in fact, in the world of replicas, it is almost impossible to find cheap concealed carry equipment, such as concealed carry bags, concealed carry pouches, belly holsters, car seat gun holsters and so on. The same applies to clothing: to find a concealed carry suit that performs effectively in the field, you must necessarily buy quality clothes, otherwise you will find yourself to be discovered easily, or simply being uncomfortable. The same goes for items such as radios, night-vision goggles, GPS and electronic equipment in general: if you buy a cheap product, you run the risk of being limited in the situations of use, and you me end up carrying bulky and heavy stuff that will be useless during operations. Many simulators also make it a matter of aesthetics: certainly, if you had to simulate in the shoes of a sheriff of a small town in Texas, a Ruger 357 would be a good choice, with a custom leather revolver holster, while if you were to play an operator of a team of urban combat, a Glock or a Beretta, with a kydex duty holster or a drop leg holster, would look way better. To be able to buy this kind of equipment, you must necessarily turn to qualified sellers, as the world of airsoft supplies does not offer such wide-ranging choices, especially in the field of custom gun holsters.

There are also other particular cases in which one is, for better or worse, forced to buy quality gear: for example, equipment specially designed for women. Often, due to anatomical issues, women have different needs than men when it comes to gear. It is difficult to find women's plate carriers and women's gun holsters or concealed carry purses in the market of replicas. It is mandatory, in this case too, to buy quality gear. The problem of holsters also occurs for left-handed people: in fact, left handed pistol holsters are not very common, and the airsoft replicas that can be found are often cheap and low-quality made. It may also be the case of exotic gun holsters, which are simply not produced since there is no demand, because nearly all casual players are interested in most common gun models.

Conclusions

In summary, you must ask yourself: at what level do I want to practice this sport? Do I want to be competitive? How much do I need to rely on my equipment? It is important to understand if you belong to that category of people who really need quality equipment. If this is the case, wait no more: get informed: look for gun holster reviews, tutorials, and educational videos to understand what equipment you need, estimate a budget to invest, prioritize your purchases and start upgrading your gear. Carefully planning this type of purchase is important, so as not to invest money unnecessarily in expensive equipment that may turn out to be a non-priority, or unsuitable. Keep in mind that you don't have to buy everything right away: if you have decided to buy a leather holster, you can start by buying a used leather holster, save some more and then sell it, to buy a brand-new high-quality leather holster. This can apply to all the gear: rifles and pistols, helmets, boots, sights, night vision and so on. The main thing is to establish priorities and goals, and train hard with your equipment, keeping in mind that the performance in the field depends on attitude, gear, and training.

Riccardo „Black“ Mariconda

I’m an Italian MILSM and airsoft simulator and trekking and survival enthusiast. I like spending my spare time out in the woods, shooting firearms at the range, training FOF with airsoft guns and learning and developing new skills about survival, both in urban and wild scenarios. I’m a Psychology graduate, and I like to approach any tactical subject through psychology, studying human behavior. I had the opportunity to train with Italian Special Forces during survival courses. I’m also into SERE programs, stealth camping, mantracking, and other fields of the kind. My aim is to get better and better in those disciplines that I love, helping others to develop their own skills.


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