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Top 5 Starter Replicas for Airsoft! [Ultimate Guide – 2021]


Want to know the best, most reliable and highly accurate starter airsoft rᎥfles on the market? Do you not have the time to spend hundreds of hours to review dozens of platforms in each category and compare numerous features? Who does?! This is why we have you covered!

Generally, at this point in your airsoft adventure, the best way to look at your rᎥfle choices is to play a few games and decide on your preferred play style. If you’re an ”all-in” kind of person who charges in the midst of a battle to get to the objective, you’re better off with a short to mid range automatic replica.

However, if you would like to be more sneaky and want to keep your distance, then you would be better off with an airsoft sniper rᎥfle; although, a sniper load-out preferably requires a secondary due to engagement distances. Here are our suggestions to suit all of the aforementioned roles.

Top 5 Starter Airsoft Replicas

  1. G&G Combat Machine Raider-L 2.0E with ETU
  2. Ares Amoeba Striker S1
  3. CYMA CM048M AKM
  4. UTG Shadow Ops MK96
  5. G&G FireHawk

Furthermore, although we believe the VSR-10 platform is one of the best on the market, we have decided not to include it in this list due to the amounts of upgrades necessary to make it field competitive. This reason alone, for us, deems it not a starter rᎥfle; see more details in “important mentions” at the end. Without any further ado, here is the list of the best starter, high-quality out-of-the-box airsoft replicas under £200 (and equivalent) on the European Market.

1. G&G Combat Machine Raider-L 2.0E with ETU

Price: $170 £150 (Approximately)

This AEG M4 model is one of the best value-for-money starter rᎥfles currently on the EU market, period. You might have seen its earlier versions, the CM16 Raider 2.0 or simply CM16 Raider used in hire kits at airsoft fields due to their low cost, sturdy builds and good out of the box accuracy. This is their newest and by far the most improved iteration of these products. Priced at only around £150, it’s the perfect replica for beginners which provides a performance that can actually compete with other airsofters who would have spent way over £300 on their airsoft rᎥfles.

It is lightweight but very durable, made with aluminium and hard plastic which will take a good beating. The perfect AEG for a novice to figure out how an airsoft rᎥfle functions, explore maintenance and eventually upgrade and tinker with its internals. These qualities are key for a beginner: well built, durable, decent performance and future upgradability, always keep those in mind when researching your first airsoft rᎥfle.

The internals are simply fantastic for the price. It comes stock with a MOSFET, ETU and a full metal gearbox which is completely 11.1v LiPo ready; fantastic value for money. Furthermore, the Combat Machine comes with a 450 round magazine for players who like to get involved in the midst of the action from the get-go.

However, one of the most important aspects is the fact that the Raider-L 2.0 E is incredibly upgrade-able which gives you access to a multitude of options and the best gear on the after-market for the M4 platform. So as you put more time and money into the sport and learn about what modifications you would like – this airsoft rᎥfle is ready to be upgraded and tailored to your play style.   

Specs & Features

FPS (Feet Per Second) – 325FPS (using 0.20g BBs)
ROF (Rate of Fire) – RPS (Rounds per Second) – 18rps on 11.1v LiPo
Effective Range – 55-60m
Recommended BB Weight – 0.25g
Gearbox Version – V2 (Full Metal)
Barrel Diameters – 363mm length/ 6.04mm diameter
Battery Connector – Tamiya
Recommended Battery Type – 9.6 NiMh/ 11.1v LiPo
Fire Modes – Safe/Single/Auto
ConstructionAlloy: outer barrel, flash hider, ironsights, charging handle, buffer tube and sling tube / Polymer: handguard, pᎥstol grip, receiver and stock
Weight – 2.5kg with magazine
Rail – M-Lok System
Min & Max Length – 75cm & 86cm


Finally, there are a few minor downsides that we have to consider; the stock is quite small thus not all batteries will fit. We recommend 11.1v LiPos stick batteries that fit snugly, such as these Nuprol ones:

Other options are investing in a battery extension unit (£20) which can also be used in other compact platforms in order to allow for more battery options or simply purchasing a bigger stock (£10 – £20). It’s not a major issue, but something that needs to be mentioned.

Furthermore, the M-Lok rail system; although lighter and more comfortable to hold in comparison to other counterparts, the airsoft market doesn’t yet contain as many low-cost attachments for this particular system. Therefore, you might need to buy a few Picatinny rails in order to mount your favourite attachments.


Overall, we have found this to be the perfect starting point considering the value of included internals, external build quality and future potential for upgrades. If you were already considering this airsoft rᎥfle then all we can say is – go ahead and buy it already!

Read More: see our comprehensive review of the slightly more advanced Tokyo Marui Next Generation Recoil Shock SCAR-L to see the one of the most well rounded Airsoft rᎥfles!

2. Ares Amoeba Striker S1

Price: $200 £175 (Approximately)

Although Ares Amoeba is quite a new airsoft company in comparison to veterans such as the following CYMA, they have been producing great quality products ranging from AEGs, sniper rᎥfles to even grenade launchers. The Striker S1 is one of their most successful and popular replicas that is often seen being used out in the fields by sniping beginners and veterans alike. It is simply an amazing out of the box sniper rᎥfle!

The build quality feels sturdy and certainly not cheap, the replica is lightweight which makes it perfect for aggressive snipers and the weight balance is also well centred. One of the great features is the short bolt pull which makes this airsoft sniper rᎥfle great to operate in the field; use a little bit of oil to make the pull even smoother!

Another great bonus is the fact that the magazines take between 40-45 BBs, with only 2 spare magazines you will be able to get through around 130 shots; perfect for when supporting your teammates.

Most importantly, the internals are made out of a good quality metal; there is also a dampening pad on the cylinder head which is a nice bonus. Furthermore, alongside the cylinder, the trigger unit (sear specifically) is sturdy enough to withhold stronger springs. This will allow you to easily upgrade this rᎥfle to be hitting the 500FPS mark (UK limit) without changing the internals. On top of all of that, the hop up produces consistent results allowing you to hit torso sized targets at approx. 75 meters.

Specs & Features

FPS (Feet per Second) – 430FPS (using 0.20g BBs)
ROF (Rate of Fire) – Bolt-action rᎥfle
Effective Range – 75m
Recommended BB Weight – 0.36g
Hop-Up – Rotary (adjusted with allen key)
Barrel Diameters – 550mm length & 6.03mm diameter
Fire Modes – Safe/Single Shot
ConstructionAlloy: upper receiver, outer barrel, trigger system / Polymer: – stock
Weight – 2.3kg with magazine
Rail – 20mm RIS Picatinny rail for mounting scopes
Length – 108.5cm


Although many claims have been thrown around on the internet that the Striker S1 is fully compatible with VSR-10 parts, it’s simply not true. Some parts are compatible, some unfortunately not. To quickly explain why this compatibility is important, the VSR-10 platform is the one with the most and best quality aftermarket upgrades. VSR barrels work, VSR hop-ups do too; the rest do not unless further modified. This is something to consider for future reference.

However, apart from that, there is nothing else negative to say about this replica especially considering the amount of quality and value that is available both internally and externally for such a low price. Furthermore, the aftermarket for this particular airsoft rᎥfle is actually growing due to the real counterpart’s popularity. Thus we thoroughly recommend this rᎥfle as our first choice for high quality, out of the box, starter sniper rᎥfle.


Price: $240 £195 (Approximately)

We have had a long discussion at Airsoft Ranch about whether the CYMA CM048M or the G&G RK47 should take the spot as a beginner AK platform in this list. Although CYMA is often regarded as an inferior brand, we can’t fault their AK platforms in most cases. CM048M is one of the best beginner platforms ; it comes with a full metal V3 Gearbox and is very reliable. It is also one of the most realistic AKM replicas on the budget-market squeezing in just under £200.

In order to make the body as close to the real counterpart as possible, the manufacturer has included real wood handguard and stock. The rest of the body is full metal apart from the polymer pᎥstol grip. As you can imagine, such materials aren’t lightweight so the rᎥfle is quite heavy at around 3.4kg with magazine, but this also makes it incredibly durable.

This airsoft rᎥfle also comes with a metal, high-capacity 600 rounds magazine. It shoots around 14 BBs per second, making the fire rate highly adequate for a starter rᎥfle! It is also very easy to take apart and reassemble, which all in all makes it a great platform for beginners in order to get to grips with all the internals of an AK platform.

Specs & Features

FPS (Feet per Second) – 340FPS (using 0.20g BBs)
ROF (Rate of Fire) – RPS (Rounds per Second) – 14 RPS on 9.6v NiMh
Effective Range – 55m
Recommended BB Weight – 0.25g
Gearbox Version – V3
ETU – No
Hop-Up – Slider (behind mock bolt)
Barrel Diameters – 455mm length & 6.08mm diameter
Battery Connect – Mini Tamiya
Recommended Battery Type – 8.4 Nimh / 9.6 NiMh
Fire Modes – Safe/Single/Auto
ConstructionAlloy: outer barrel assembly, receiver and trim / Wood: handguard and stock / Polymer: pᎥstol grip
Weight – 3.4kg with magazine
Rail – n/a
Length – 91cm


The two major drawbacks for this particular replica are: there is no MOSFET installed and this replica lacks any kind of rails for attachments. However, you will find the lack of rails is something you always have to consider when purchasing any classic AKs. The simple solution for that particular problem is investing in an AK scope mount:

In terms of the MOSFET, this replica is officially not LiPo ready thus we don’t recommend using these batteries as they will void your warranty; however if you go ahead and upgrade the internals by installing a MOSFET later, the internals are sturdy enough to sustain an 11.1v LiPo.

Nonetheless, be aware that some gears might also require shimming to make your gearbox last longer; this is something to consider in the future and if you won’t feel confident doing it, ask around for a local techie at your airsoft site. I am sure he/she will happily help you out! Here’s a video to show what this entails:

All in all, we think this is a great beginner AK considering its full metal gearbox, sturdy external build and the fact you can pick these up for less than £200! If you are struggling to find one in stock, as that sometimes is the case in our niche market; we also recommend it’s AK47 equivalent with exact same internals – the CM048.

Read More: if you’re looking for a great airsoft pᎥstol replica to go with your primary – make sure to see our in-depth review of the beautiful and highly praised Tokyo marui Hi-Capa 5.1 Goldmatch!

4. UTG Shadow Ops MK96

Price: $170 £140 (Approximately)

The UTG Shadow Ops sniper is also great out of the box when it comes to airsoft sniping. Although it’s a much cheaper clone of the (original) Tokyo Marui L96, it holds up well in terms of external and internal build quality and gives you access to all future upgrades on the L96 aftermarket. The replica itself is based on the L96 7.62mm sniper rᎥfle, mainly used in the British Army.

UTG has done a great job manufacturing the body ensuring an authentic look; this airsoft rᎥfle is made fully out of metal, apart from the stock which is ABS plastic. This is another great choice for the best out of the box airsoft snipers under £200.

A budget sniper with internals ready to fire up to 480 FPS, just underneath the 500 fps UK legal limit. It’s a great performer and gets the internal fundaments right which combine power and range. After careful hop up adjustments and scope zeroing, the sniper can, most of the time, hit a torso target around the 80m distance. So if you are a sneaky sniper like Michael, then this is the replica for you.

Specs & Features

FPS (Feet per Second) – 480FPS (using 0.20g BBs)
ROF (Rate of Fire) – Bolt-Action RᎥfle
Effective Range – 70-80m
Recommended BB Weight – 0.36g
Hop-Up – Rotary Adjustment
Barrel Diameters – 495mm length & 6.04mm diameter
Fire Modes – Safe/Single Shot
ConstructionAlloy: upper receiver, outer barrel, trigger system
Weight – 3.5kg with magazine
Rail – 20mm RIS Picatinny Rail for mounting scopes
Length – 117cm


The plastic quality isn’t as good as the Tokyo Marui original, however, it is sturdy enough to not worry about potential knocks during gameplay. Unfortunately, we have also seen a few users’ reports on sniper forums that their trigger box began to crack after around 1500 shots leaving the replica unusable; this might be true in some unfortunate cases.

However, in our personal experience with it at Airsoft Ranch, we haven’t seen this issue occur at all. Michael has owned this rᎥfle model for a while now and has put easily more than 2500 rounds through it and he hasn’t had any problems as such so far. If you ever come across this problem yourself, you can get a replacement trigger box for around £20 – £30.

Finally, the accuracy of this airsoft rᎥfle isn’t as consistent as the Striker’s listed at number two. Some BBs stray to left and right past the 70m range and although this replica can potentially reach further targets at the 80m mark, consistent accuracy is key when adjusting your shots. The accuracy can be improved by investing in a better inner barrel and hop up later down the line; luckily the L96 platform is also incredibly popular so you will be presented with an abundance of options and upgrade guides. All in all, a great out of the box sniper ready for future upgrades.

5. G&G FireHawk

Price: $170 £140 (Approximately)

Last but not least; the main reason why this replica has ended up on the fifth position is the fact that we have already included the M4 platform above. While this platform may be compact, it is still designed with taste and elegance. The short outer barrel gives it a rugged, mean look but also improves grip and number of accessories you can mount.

The pᎥstol grip is not wide, which means the FireHawk is great especially for younger players. The six positions adjustable LE stock and polymer body make it very easy to handle in a CQB situation and the flip-up front and rear ironsights make it easy to aim in tight situations.

With this super compact rᎥfle, you have the possibility to change between semi and full auto fire modes. Out of the box, this rᎥfle should fire between 330 – 340 FPS without any upgrades which is just under the UK limit and has an incredibly high rate of fire out of the box. Although the Fire Hawk is lightweight and small, it packs a serious punch and can reach decent distances.

Specs & Features

FPS (Feet per Second) – 330FPS (using 0.20g BBs)
ROF (Rate of Fire) – RPS (Rounds per Second) – 22 on 7.4v LiPo & 29/29 on 11.1v Lipo
Effective Range – 45-50m
Recommended BB Weight – 0.25g
Gearbox Version – V2 (Full Metal)
ETU – No
Hop-Up – Rotary Adjustment
Barrel Diameters – 120mm length & 6.08 diameter
Battery Connector – Mini Tamiya
Recommended Battery Type – 7.4v LiPo & 11.1v LiPo
Fire Modes – Safe/Single/Auto
ConstructionAlloy: outer barrel, rails, sights, buffer tube and selector switch / Polymer: handguard, pᎥstol grip, receiver and stock
Weight – 2.2kg with magazine
Rail – Picatinny System
Min & Max Length – 54cm & 59cm


Although G&G officially recommends using 11.1v lipo battery with the stock internals, we recommend investing in a MOSFET to prolong it’s lifespan. Furthermore, this replica’s stock is similarly small to the Raider-L, however, stick batteries will also do the trick for the Firehawk. Apart from that, there’s no other issues with this platform; just make sure to consider whether such a compact airsoft rᎥfle is something you would enjoy.

Read More: here’s our comprehensive review that goes into a lot more detail about this particular replica – G&G Firehawk!

Bonus – Recommended PᎥstols (Under £100)

Secondaries are simply necessary when playing in the sniper role. Most airsoft sites will have an engagement distance specific to sniper rᎥfles due to their higher FPS. These might vary between 20-30 metres depending on the sites’ policies, therefore a secondary is a must when you find yourself in a close combat situation.

KJW M9 – (Michael’s choice)

Price: $120 or £99

The KJW M9 Would be my no. 1 choice as one of the best starter side arms in airsoft. A highly realistic feel and weight, manufactured with great detail and out of the box amazing performance in both indoor and outdoor field scenarios. Compatible with both Green gas and C02 which allows for game-play in both summer and winter, and many upgradable parts and customisation options.

Elite Force 1911 Tac – (Kamil’s choice)

Price: $110 or £90

Although sometimes hard to come by in the EU market, Elite Force 1911 Tac is an amazing pᎥstol that falls just under the £100 mark. Full metal build with adjustable hop up and great internals; extremely reliable and also takes both Green gas and C02 which makes it the perfect competitor for the KJW M9. Either of these pᎥstols will be a great investment if you’re looking to get into airsoft and not wanting to spend extortionate amounts of money.

Other Important Mentions

If you are absolutely serious about being an airsoft sniper or are thinking of creating content for Youtube and want the highest quality sniper rᎥfle possible, we recommend investing in Tokyo Marui VSR-10 (£180) or the cheaper JG Bar-10 (£130) clone. Also available in a “G-Spec” version with a shorter inner barrel and a suppressor as shown below:

Both of these are the same platform which gives you access to the most amount of high-quality upgrades available for a sniper rᎥfle currently on the airsoft market. However, do expect to pay a lot of money to upgrade them to a high standard; more about this in the future!

Before you leave, make sure to check out the rest of our replica reviews by click here!

Final Words

As you can see, there is an abundance of variables that impact one’s choice and we understand it’s difficult to make a decision; we’ve been there ourselves. You’ll see many people arguing about certain brands based on their personal experiences; at the end of the day it is your choice and we recommend going to a local shop, speaking to other players, asking if you can try their replicas and browsing airsoft forums for more opinions.

Generally, just keep in mind the external and internal build qualities and potential upgradability, and make sure you actually like the way it looks and handles!

We hope this article has helped you with your choices, give us a follow to stay updated with our future articles!

Written by Michael Harrison

Follow Michael on Instagram: @michael_harrison98




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