I would rent a AEG and go to a game. Seeing as how your budget is not very large for airsoft and your not sure its right for you.
Here's an idea of the breakdown to get into airsoft:
These things are mandatory:
Decent starter AEG: $300
Ammo: $15 (2,000 rounds, should last 2-3 games depending on how much you shoot)
Eye Protection: $60-$100+. DO. NOT. CHEAP. OUT. HERE.
Footwear: $80-$120+. DO. NOT. CHEAP. OUT. HERE.
BDUs: $60-$100. If you're spending more than $100 on BDUs you're looking in the wrong place.
Hydration Solution: $30-$60. REQUIRED.
Good battery charger: $60. A cheap wall adapter is NOT a good charger.
Extra batteries: $30-$60. Always have at least one extra.
These things are optional, and not required for your first few games:
Tacvest: $80-$400+. You can get cheap vests, but they suck. IMO be prepared to spend at least $200 on a rig if you're buying new.
Pouches: $20-$40 each. Some vests come with pouches, some don't.
Magazines: $15-$60 each, depending on your gun. Hicaps suck. Be a man and get some standard or lowcaps. Enough for 300-600 rounds.
Knee Pads: $30. I actually played 6 years without them. Now that I have them, I have no idea how I did it.
Tacticool gun accessories: $0 - $100 billion dollars. You can trick your gun out with everything or nothing, completely optional here.
So basically, based on my simple list above:
$605 to $815
plus OPTIONAL costs:
$750 to $1,495 (I used $150 for tacticool).
So you're looking at anywhere from ~$600 to well over $1,000 to get started. These costs are COMPLETELY realistic, I'm not bullshitting you. Depending on what you can beg/borrow/steal/haggle you might be able to do it for $500-ish, but I think $600 is a more realistic number.
I have played maybe 15 games since I started last july, and maybe 3 of them I was wearing actual camo. The rest I had street clothes that met green vs tan requirements... solid green/black/tan that were fit into the rules of the game, both skirmish and milsim.
You can hit the field with a backback and water bottles or a murse and water bottles... anything to carry a water bottle. Most people have at least a backpack kicking around.
Sure, a gun with 1 highcap is not ideal, but it's DOABLE and absolute minimum investment. Even if he gets more mags, there are solutions he can repurpose from around the house to carry those mags... cargo pants pockets, regular pockets, that bag he's using to carry water. Again, not ideal, but doable.
You won't look tacticool, but you can be in the game with that. And for someone who just wants to try beyond a rental, I think that's a good start.
I have to agree ^ with most. A pair of cargos and a golf shirt or button up shirt with a $25 chest rig and you can pull off a good contractor loadout. Except for the chest rig most people already own these things.
My best advice to a beginner is to get a good reliable gun, quality eye pro, a good battery and programable smart charger. Don't cheep out on these things even if it means blowing your whole budget on them. You're looking at probably $450 ish to get a good starter package if you make smart purchases. IMO you should hold off on buying gear and BDU's for a while because you might end up realizing what you got doesn't fit your play style. Or if you want to join a team they probably won't wear the camo you have so you'll have to buy everything twice.
But what you should really do before you buy anything is go out and try to rent for a game or two until you get a better picture of what will suit you best. I played my first few games in Carhart work pants and a collared shirt with a rented MP44. I stuck out like a sore thumb but it saved me a bunch of dough.
Hydration is not optional. Even if its bottles of water. Have a way to get water into you.
These guys have laid out some great lists so there's not much to add, but I'll make a couple suggestions that can save cash.
The South African [insert camo color] vest ran me about 47$ with shipping on ebay. It's tough and has everything you need. Basic, but very functional. Don't judge quality based on price alone. I ripped a pocket off an 80$ vest in store. Unintentionally just in case there's any confusion.
Alternatively you can go to an army surplus and haggle for a decent pair of webbing. I found a really nice set for 40$. I like it so much I'm thinking of using it as my primary vest.
Gloves. Rothco makes some pretty good quality gloves. Not much in terms of protection, but then again, a little pain here and there keeps you staying sharp. ;) We're all a little masochistic here...
Anyway, gloves ran me about 17$. I use gloves so I can be rough with my hands(not worry about what I'm grabbing, etc), not necessarily for knuckle protection. I've already taken a couple bbs to the knuckles, and while it doesn't tickle, it's not the end of the world(tough it out pussy!). :p
I disagree with some of Kalnaren's suggestions but his price suggestions are spot on. I cut corners as much as I could and I think I was just under 1k, but I should add my gun was almost 50% of the total.
which brings me to what all the vets are saying: don't cheap out on the gun.
I didn't say it was optional, I'm saying most people already have something capable of carrying at the very least, bottles of water onto the field. If a new player is looking to start on the cheap, you do not need to pay for a specific hydration solution like a camelback or condor carrier for this purpose.
If you want to try it before you dump money into it, play some games at Xtreme Tactics.
If you find that you like it, start playing regularly and from there you'll network with other players and find individuals/ teams of a like mind who can get you in on outdoor games.
Experienced regulars are often quite approachable and willing to offer advice on gear and tactics, plus XT has a Pro Shop which sells just about everything.
Sales people there are usually happy to answer questions and give advice, but if it's busy or there aren't many people on shift keep it reasonable and don't be offended if they need to move on to other things if you're not there to buy.
This is also why going to regular games and hitting up players for questions is a good idea.
Airsoft isn't for casuals; or at least the good stuff isn't.
It's totally cool to go to a place like XT or Ambush Anonymous and rent for shits and giggles with friends once in a while, but if you're serious about it then the necessary level of financial commitment is no different from a Rec/ Amateur sports league.
Echoing other posters, $300 is the absolute minimum I'd spend on an AEG, and it's much better to have a flexible budget of up to $450.
Clear AEGs work. They don't work well, but they do work.
The problem is they must be considered as disposable.
If you're comfortable spending $200 on something that will break spectacularly and not be worth fixing or be utterly unfixable, I won't stop you, but I'd offer that if you're willing to drop $200 on something you should expect to throw away why wouldn't you just save another $200 and get something that can be fixed/ is worth fixing.
If you get a decent AEG, you'll use it and it more than likely won't break. And if you don't like airsoft after a couple of games, you can probably resell your AEG for a reasonable amount. So the loss you take is more along the lines of $50 to $75 - what it would cost you to rent an AEG for a couple of games anyway - rather than the full $200 for the cheap clear gun.
I just played my first Airsoft game last Saturday. I bought a decent rifle (C-TAC M4) and some JT goggles, 2 extra G&G Low Cap mags and 2000 .25 BB's. My gun came with a battery and a wall charger and a mid cap mag.
Total price $790.00 plus 10.00 bucks for the field fee.
I am very happy!
I am new to airsoft, but I used to give similar suggestions to people on fields I am familiar with, so I understand exactly what you mean. Thank you Eeyore.
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