Many airsoft replicas are replications of weapons used today by militarized forces, regardless how old the design may be. In this series of articles, we\'ll be having a gander at a few modern weapons.
In this article, we\'ll be taking a quick look at sniper rifles being used today that hold a strong presence on the airsoft field.
Just a quick note before we begin: The word \'sniper\' refers to any hunter skilled enough to shoot a snipe, an elusive bird. This has evolved into specially trained military units who shoot with extreme precision. The \'sniper rifle\' is the weapon they use. To conclude, the word \'sniper\' cannot refer to a sniper rifle.
First on the list today is the Remington 700, or R700 for short. The Model 700 series of firearms are bolt-action rifles manufactured by Remington Arms since 1962.All are based on the same centerfire bolt action. They often come with a 3, 4 or 5-round internal magazine depending on caliber, some of which have a floor-plate for quick-unloading, and some of which have no floor-plate. The rifle can also be ordered with a detachable box magazine. The Model 700 is available in many different stock, barrel and caliber configurations. It is a development of the Remington 721 and 722 series of rifles, which had been introduced in 1948. Both the U.S. Army\'s M24 Sniper Weapon System and U.S. Marine Corps\' M40 sniper rifles are built from the Remington Model 700 rifle, in different degrees of modification, the main difference being the custom fitted heavy contour barrel. Most famous users include the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, and the US Border Patrol, the US Army, Marines and Navy. In airsoft, the R700 is represented most famously as the JG BAR-10, but there are other models available.
Next up, the L96, technically named the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare, is an English weapon. The Accuracy International Arctic Warfare rifle is a family of bolt-action sniper rifles designed and manufactured by the British company Accuracy International. It has proved popular as a civilian, police and military rifle since its introduction in the 1980s. The rifles have some features which improve performance in very cold conditions, without impairing operation in less extreme conditions. The AW system is almost unique in being a purpose-designed sniper rifle, rather than an accurised version of an existing, general-purpose rifle. The modular design of the AW system allows for flexibility, serviceability and repairability under field and combat conditions. Major components such as barrel and bolt can be switched between rifles, or replaced in the field by their operator with the help of some tools. The chambering can also be switched by the operator as long as the barrels, bolts and feeding mechanism can handle the shape and size of the cartridges. There are ten officially recognized variants, the most popular in airsoft is probably the AWP, or Arctic Warfare Police. While the real-steel AWP is only available in black, green AWPs are available in airsoft.
Now under the limelight, the Dragunov SVD. The Dragunov SVD (SVD Standing for Snayperskaya Vintovka Dragunova, or Dragunov Sniping Rifle) was designed by Yevgeny Dragunov in Russia. Entering service to replace the Mosin-Nagant rifle in 1963, and the SVD design was picked up by Izhmash in 1964. With seven variants, including the bullpup SVU, the most popular is the standard SVD setup with wooden or polymer furniture. The Dragunov also served as the basis for several hunting rifles. In 1962, the state armory in Izhevsk developed the Medved (Bear) rifle, initially chambered first in the 9x53mm cartridge and later in the 7.62x51mm NATO round for export. In the early 1970s, Izhevsk introduced the Tigr (Tiger) hunting rifle with a fixed thumbhole stock without a cheekpiece. They were originally produced individually, but, since 1992, they have been made serially in batches. Today, they are available with shortened (520 mm) and full length (620 mm) barrel, different stocks (including SVDS style folding stock) and chambered in 7.62x54mmR, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield or 9.3x64mm Brenneke. In airsoft, A&K is the leading manufacturer of the SVD, but King Arms, JG, and Real Sword also make an SVD model that can be seen from time to time.
Less popular in airsoft, but one may still be seen every now and again, the WA2000. Designed the late 1970s and early 1980s, the WA2000, made by renowned German firearms company Walther, was intended for use by German police units, but was expensive to produce, leaving only 176 units to be produced. The WA 2000 was designed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in response to the 1972 Summer Olympics Munich massacre. The bullpup design was chosen because it would allow a standard length barrel to be used whilst the overall length would be shorter than a conventional rifle.
The rifle was produced from 1982 until November 1988. The rifle was used by some German police units, but production was stopped because it was too expensive to achieve widespread sales. It was never adopted by a military unit due to its cost and not being robust enough for field service. The final retail cost for a base rifle in the 1980s was in the range of $9,000 to $12,500, and the rifle\'s current value ranges from $40,000 for the first gen. to $75,000 for the 2nd gen. The airsoft variant is a rarity to be sure, only being widely produced by Asahi and ARES. Both discontinued, the ARES can still be found listed overseas for about 480 USD.
There are many more sniper rifles seeing use in airsoft not stated here, including but not limited to the:
Barrett .50 Cal, an American anti-material rifle seeing some use by airsoft snipers in numerous configurations.
DSR, a bullpup sniper rifle made for airsoft by ARES.
Blaser R93, a German hunting rifle made by King Arms.
With all these long-range marksman replicas to choose from, how does one decide which is right for them? This part is up to you. With all these replicas being used against them, how does one protect themselves? This one is simple, ALWAYS wear eye protection when handling any airsoft replicas, and never treat one like it\'s a simple toy. Airsoft replicas can and will hurt people, so be courteous, be careful, and be safe with them all.
Please join me next time, when we dive into the final article, a more supportive role using heavier weapons. And, as always, stay frosty.