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Airsoft optics: an overview of aiming devices


Are optics needed in airsoft?

One of the advantages of frequently testing different airsoft gun is that I have is a pretty good idea of how far regular replicas shoot. You can argue about the work culture, whether a given replica's power is sufficient or not. But it's hard to argue with the fact that a factory stock replica will shoot, for example, 50 meters. It's such a funny distance. To most people, landmarks such as trees or small structures will seem much further away than they actually are. However, this is undoubtedly the distance at which noticing a human silhouette is not a problem. Of course, without taking into account camouflage or lack of lighting. We can handle this distance easily using mechanical sights. Does this mean that various types of optical sights have no use? Absolutely not. We just need to remember what their function is.

Two airsoft guns on the ground

Red-dots or scopes have the function of helping us aim. They make this process more efficient and faster. If we don't have to align the front sight and the rear sight of the rifle and just aim an easy-to-identify dot at the target, we will be much faster. Thanks to this, there is a chance that we will hit the enemy before he shoots at us. And this is the main advantage of this type of solutions in airsoft. Having some kind of optical sight only makes more sense as the range of our replica increases. Below we will check the three most popular solutions.

Airsoft scope - pros and cons

Let's start with what is probably most associated with the term optics in airsoft, i.e., riflescopes. These are sights that give us some kind of magnification. We have many types of them. We will find those that have a fixed or variable zoom level. The magnification factor itself can vary greatly. The scopes feature illumination and various styles of reticles. We can adjust it with or without tools. There are many dividing lines we can draw. A lot depends, as always, on what airsoft gun we have and what our needs are.

airsoft gun leaned against a wall

The scope has its advantages. The most important one is, of course, magnification. Personally, I think that 4x power is enough for most situations. There is nothing stopping you from using larger ones, for example in sniper replicas. However, there is something that may bother them. A full and good image in the scope is obtained only at a specific distance from its eyepiece. This distance is called "eye relief". Unfortunately, it cannot be too long or too short. Which is probably why the second situation is even worse than the first one. Good quality scopes inform about their eye relief in their descriptions. Usually it is not one, rigid value but, for example, a range. The larger it is, the easier it will be for us to shoot. This is important, especially when we often change replicas and when we shoot from forced positions.

So-called LPVOs are also popular. Their characteristic feature is that they offer a zoom level starting from 1x. This makes them suitable for both short and longer distance shooting. And this makes them quite a flexible solution, especially popular on assault replicas for forest games.

Is it worth investing in an airsoft red-dot sight?

A red dot sight is probably one of the best accessories you can buy for your airsoft gun. These are devices that display the aiming point in the place where our replica should be aimed. Of course, if they are properly set. They have different forms. Closed or open. With or without raised mounting. They all have their uses. A good quality red-dot significantly improves our game.

Black airsoft collimator

It's hard to say whether they are cheaper than scopes. Nowadays, it is not difficult to find both sights in a very wide price range. The most important feature of red-dots is that they do not zoom in on the image by themselves. However, we do not have to be at a specific distance from the viewfinder to see its image. Thanks to this, we can place the red-dot sight quite far away on our airsoft gun and aim with both eyes open. This will allow us to maintain visibility of the surroundings and aiming will be slightly faster and more efficient. With a bit of training, of course.

The sights discussed in this part of the article have different structures. From the simplest to the more complex. The most important division is the distinction between open and closed red-dots. The former has an exposed glass on which the aiming point is displayed. Others, on the contrary, encase it. Personally, I prefer the latter, but they may obscure the image a bit more. However, we don't have to be so afraid of damaging them by hitting something. This is always possible, but a bit easier in the case of open red-dots.

An indirect route – magnifier

What if we could combine the advantages of red-dots and scopes? If our requirements assume shooting at short and longer distances? Basically, the problem is solved by the already discussed LPVOs. But they still require us to take a shot at an appropriate distance from the scope glass. As I mentioned, the red-dot does not have this problem. This may be important during short-range firefights. For the longer ones, we usually have a little more time to find the aiming cross and take the shot.

Black airsoft magnifier

An interesting solution to the above problem is sets of a red-dot and a magnifier. It is a kind of additional scope that brings the image closer when we need it. Most often, they are mounted on a hinge or other latch that allows the device to be placed on the aiming line when needed. Then the red-dot aiming point is visible in the enlarger.

Unfortunately, the described solution is not without its drawbacks. First of all, we need to buy two devices. This requires adequate funds from us. In addition, our airsoft gun should have enough space on the mounting rail to fit the red-dot and magnifier. I probably don't need to mention it, but I'll point it out for the sake of clarity. It is heavier than the red-dot itself and sometimes also the scope, although this is no longer the rule. Little attention is paid to the fact that the magnifier also enlarges our aiming dot in the red-dot. So, a small precise point can become… less precise.

airsoft replica SA-J04 leaned against a wall

How to choose the best airsoft optics?

Unfortunately, choosing a sight for our airsoft gun is not easy. We need to do our homework and think about what our requirements are. What is certain is that mechanical sights alone are usually only a good solution for the beginning. Each of them has an advantage over them, but none of them is free from disadvantages. The scopes will work well on replicas with a longer range. Red-dots rule in CQB games. LPVOs and magnifiers are attempts to combine these two domains. We need to consider what our requirements are and what we expect from a given type of sight and make a choice based on this.


Author: Boreq

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