How to Choose an Airsoft Pistol Sidearm
At Mach 1, we have a pretty diverse set of sidearms in our armoury. Personally, I own a Glock 17 Generation 4, built off a Tokyo Marui Glock 17 Custom. This would be my third Glock and 5th sidearm in the last 4 years.
– WE Hi Capa 5.1
– KSC Glock 17 Generation 3
– KWA M9A1 Professional Training Pistol
– KSC Glock 17 Generation 3
– TM Glock 17 Generation 4
Now you may be thinking, that’s expensive. You know what, you’re right. It was expensive and a couple of mistakes were made along the way. So in this article, we’re going to talk about what to look for when purchasing a firearm and how to ensure that you’re going to enjoy it for years and not just toss it aside for the next trend that comes along.
What is the purpose of your sidearm?
First question you should always ask yourself is what do you want out of your gun? It seems very open ended, but it’s a good and honest question you should ask yourself. Why are you obtaining this gun? Is it because you want an all-around secondary? A backup gun? Or is this your primary gun? You’ll note that all the guns I’ve listed above are full sized pistols. That’s because the purpose of my sidearm is to be my main weapon. Ken, my fellow associate at Mach 1, carries a Glock 26 instead of the full sized Glock 17 I carry. His logic is that it is truly a backup weapon to his rifle and thus, he is willing to make the tradeoff in firepower for weight and compactness. Now, if you swap pistols between the two of us, he ends up with a gun heavier and bulkier than he needs on his rig. For me, I’ll end up with a gun with half the capacity and half the barrel, which in other words, unworkable.
What are your “Must Haves”?
The second question you should ask yourself is what features do I need out of this gun? In other words, what must this gun have (or lack) in order to make it a good fit to how I would use it? My boss, Rich, carries a M1911. It’s a great pistol, but the lack of ammunition capacity kills me. As well, I feel that the presence of a safety is acronistic on a duty gun. In other words, these are features he values, where I do not. So ask yourself, what do you need out of your gun’s performance? In the case of my Glock, I wanted one consistent trigger pull. My M9 was an excellent sidearm, but it had two things going against it: a DA/SA trigger and the weight. The Glock is at most ¾ the mass of the M9, which is important for me because I wear a police officer’s duty belt as my rig. Out of a sidearm, I desire a light, consistent, and simple to use gun. However, here’s the other thing – there is no free lunch. I can’t have everything I want. The Glock is a striker fired pistol, meaning that if it doesn’t go off the first time, I need to cycle it. With the M9, being a DA/SA pistol, I could pull the trigger again and get the second strike to fire the gun. You have to determine which features you can trade off and which features are essential to you.
What are your “Nice to Haves”?
In the engineering world, “Nice to Have” indicates features we desire in a product, but aren’t deal breakers if we can’t get them in the end. Often, these features are creature comforts. An example would be my Glock 17’s frame. The majority of Glocks are the Generation 3 version, which is a decent grip. However, I desired a better grip. Such as the Generation 4 with enhanced texture and interchangeable back straps. This comfort makes me more confident in my pistol, but isn’t a deal breaker if I can’t get it. You will find similar in your search. Maybe you’re looking for a gun you can just leave and forget. Maybe you want a modular gun you can take apart and reconfigure every few months. Heck, maybe you just want a gun with a particular grip. It can be anything, but the key theme is it’s satisfactory if you can’t get it.
You must remember that chief among all of these questions are two considerations: Are there parts for my gun and is my gun reliable? In my case, I was pretty sure my Hi-Capa 5.1 was more useful as a paperweight than a sidearm. In the opposite case, I have the utmost confidence in my current sidearm. The perfect fitting firearm means nothing when it won’t work reliably. Yet you have to remember, guns are mechanical. They will break with use. They require maintenance. Despite all of this, time and time again I see airsofters neglect this in their purchasing decisions. They are buying guns, which to their shock later, have no aftermarket parts and in some cases, no parts available, period. If you have no parts support, then congratulations, you now own a ticking time bomb of poor financial decisions.
The Final Word
So, when you’re making your next purchase, I want you to do this: sit down, maybe with a friend, and think over your purchase. What is your gun’s purpose? In order to accomplish this purchase, what features must your gun have? Lastly, what would be nice to have in your gun? Once you know this, then you can start looking at the guns that fit your criteria, keeping in mind reliability and support. Once you find one that fits, then you’re good to go.
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