Sidearms are generally used as secondary weapons when the main airsoft gun is unavailable or can’t work for a particular situation. But despite being secondary, they can be expensive and difficult to maintain. And so many new players hesitate whether to have a sidearm or not.
The need for an airsoft sidearm depends largely on the player and the gear they have. You need a sidearm if you’re a sniper, you frequently play MilSim and pistol-only games, and if your primary gun has a significant maximum engagement distance (MED). Other than these, you can do without a sidearm.
The rest of this article explains the points mentioned above and several factors to consider when deciding on getting a sidearm. It also discusses what to look out for in a sidearm if it turns out that you do need one.
Six Things To Consider Before Deciding on a Sidearm
Sidearms are mostly secondary weapons, and as such, you may or may not need one. Here are some things to consider when deciding on whether or not to get a sidearm.
1. Airsoft Field Regulations
Airsoft fields typically have MED (minimum engagement distance) regulations for different FPS (feet per second) limits.
The MED is the closest distance at which you’re allowed to shoot an opponent, and it depends on the FPS of your gun. For instance, some fields don’t allow shooting a 400 FPS gun at opponents less than 30 feet away.
If you use a primary gun that has such limitations, you’d need to draw your sidearm to take out an opponent that’s close by since sidearms typically have lower velocities.
On the other hand, if your primary gun has a lower FPS and there aren’t any restrictions on it, or the limitation is a short distance (like 10 to 20 feet, 3 to 6 meters), you can make do without a sidearm.
2. How You Play
Individuals play several roles in airsoft teams; the popular ones are sniper, rifleman, and scouts.
If you mostly play as a sniper, it means you have to use a sniper rifle or perhaps a DMR (designated marksman rifle). These airsoft guns are bulky, may have low ROF (rate of fire), and MED of 80 to 100 feet (24.5 to 30 meters), which makes them ineffective for close-range engagements.
In this case, you’ll need a sidearm to supplement the sniper rifle, as there are times when even snipers need to engage in close-quarter combat.
3. The Type of Games You Like To Play
There are different types of airsoft games. Most games go on for 15 to 30 minutes. If these are the kinds of games you are interested in, you can make do with just your primary gun, provided it’s of good quality, well-tuned, and maintained.
By contrast, MilSim (military simulation) games can last up to 40 hours. That is enough time for you to run out of ammo or for your gun to develop minor faults.
For these kinds of games, it’s strongly advised to have a secondary weapon or sidearm, as every advantage you have increases the chances of your ‘survival’.
Furthermore, some airsoft games are “pistol only”. As such, you’d need a sidearm if you are to play this type of game.
4. Your Primary Gun
As mentioned earlier, airsoft sidearms are primarily secondary weapons. You use them when your primary gun malfunctions or runs out of ammo.
If your primary rifle is of excellent quality, well maintained, and well-tuned, then it’s not likely to malfunction, and you won’t need a secondary weapon.
On the flip side, if your primary gun isn’t the best quality and has malfunctioned a couple of times, it’s wise to have a sidearm for backup.
5. Existing Equipment
Prioritize quality gear like eye protection goggles, magazines, RDs (red dot sight), and hydration carriers over sidearms.
If the equipment you have isn’t of excellent quality, focus on upgrading it rather than getting a sidearm. You can play better with the proper equipment and no sidearm than with a sidearm and inadequate gear.
Let’s face it, sidearms do make you look cool, and having one on your hip can add to the game’s appeal.
So if you like how a sidearm looks on you, then, by all means, get one. But get a cheap entry-level springer gun since it’s mainly for appearances.
Do You Need a Sidearm? How To Decide
By carefully considering the points above, you can decide whether or not you need a sidearm.
You need a sidearm if at least three of the following points applies to you:
- You’re a sniper
- Your primary gun isn’t in the best shape
- MED for your primary gun is more than 30 feet
- You’re interested in Milsim and pistol only games
- You like how it looks on you, and it’s affordable
Similarly, you do not need a sidearm if three or more points below apply to you:
- You have a good and reliable primary airsoft gun
- You don’t play as a sniper or designated marksman
- The MED for your primary gun is less than 30 feet
- You’re not interested in Milsim and pistol-only games
- You don’t have complete gear, or what you have isn’t the best quality. Invest in quality gear over sidearms
If You Need a Sidearm
If it turns out that you need a sidearm, the most popular choices are a pistol or a revolver. By design, a revolver is limited to 6 to 8 rounds while pistols can have 15 to 30 rounds, so bear that in mind when you’re getting a sidearm. Other things you should consider are:
- Weight: Select a sidearm that’s not too heavy since you’ll have to carry it for long, which may affect how you play.
- Length: The gun shouldn’t be so long that it prevents you from crouching on the ground.
- ROF: If the rate of fire on your primary gun is low, it only makes sense that your sidearm has a higher rate of fire.
- Power: Choose a gas or electric sidearm over a spring-powered one. The only exception is when the gun is mainly for appearances.
Whether or not you need a sidearm or secondary airsoft gun depends on your playing preferences and the airsoft gear you already have. You need a sidearm if you’re a sniper and interested in playing MilSim and pistol-only games. If that’s not the case, then you don’t need a sidearm, and you can survive without one.