I’m going out on a limb by saying I think most keen airsofters will also enjoy combat video games.
Does that sound like you?
In many of these games, especially when playing competitively online, you can choose your role in your team, with a loadout that best suits such a position.
The exact same can be said when you’re playing airsoft.
In this article, I’m going to explore the different airsoft roles within a team. The guns, the gear, and the equipment, what’s expected of that role, and who is best suited to fill it.
Take your airsoft experience to the next level, and read on to find out which role YOU should play.
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Airsoft Team Roles – Too Long, Didn’t Read
Before we get into each role in more detail, let’s take a brief look at the most commonly available positions in any decent airsoft team.
It should be noted that this is predominantly geared towards MilSim (Military Simulation) players, but we’ll talk a bit about speedball towards the end of the article, so go there if that’s what you’re looking for.
The roles in an airsoft team include:
- Team leader
- Designated marksman
Depending on where you play and who with, these roles might be interchangeable, or they might not exist at all. What you have there is a typical airsoft team setup, which can be adapted to suit.
Perhaps you already know which role you’re interested in, but read on to find out more, including the loadout for each position, advice on tactics, typical characteristics, and everything you’ll need to play your part.
You should also be aware of the different types of airsoft guns available – because the weapon you choose will largely affect your role in a team.
The Airsoft Team – A Breakdown
When setting up an airsoft team for the first time, it’s important that you designate a team leader in your squad.
Otherwise, it might be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
A good team leader is going to be capable of making intelligent decisions for the good of the group, including what roles each member can play, as well as suggesting attack and defense tactics.
It goes without saying that this role should be filled by the most experienced airsofter, someone who is competent, confident, and respected, with the skills to back it up.
As for loadout, a team leader can operate under any of the following platforms, but is most commonly found leading by example, on the front lines, with an AEG as a primary weapon, and a gas-powered sidearm.
No self-respecting officer would be without a trusty pistol at his or her side.
Check out this article on the best airsoft pistols to find a gun that’s fit for the talismanic skipper in your team.
Suggested weapon: Elite Force 1911.
Arguably the most popular and common team member position, is your basic grunt. The backbone of any military unit – airsoft or otherwise.
He or she is going to see the most action, fire the most rounds, and deal the most death, with a maximum range of around 150 feet.
The downside is they’re also going to come under heavy fire themselves, and might well spend a fair bit of time in the dead box as a result. Y’know – like real life.
It’s the job of the infantry to directly assault the opposition defenses, and achieve the objective by any means necessary. If you need to defend a position, riflemen will be there, too.
As such, you’re going to need nerves of steel, courage under fire, and the ability to follow orders when asked to do so. Insubordination will not be tolerated – there’s no ‘I’ in TEAM!
A typical infantry loadout – as mentioned above – will be an AEG with full and semi-auto capabilities, or possibly a CQB (Close Quarters Battle) shotgun – depending on the terrain and size of the field/playing area.
Take a look at this review of the best AEGs on the market, most of which will be perfect for assault purposes.
Suggested weapon: Tokyo Marui M4.
As the name suggests, the role of support involves following in behind the initial charge, and mopping up anything the front lines might have missed, while laying down some heavy suppressing firepower.
Not as common, they essentially operate like immediate reinforcements, so your team can simply overrun the enemy position with superior strength and numbers.
However, they’re also heavily relied on for defense purposes, and should you need to fall back, support personnel are armed to the teeth to provide that all-important retreat covering fire.
Support soldiers typically carry a reliable AEG with high-capacity magazines capable of suppressing a position without the need to reload often. You’ll carry enough pellets to start World War III, backed with the will to use ‘em.
Having said that, shotguns are becoming more popular as a useful backup you can keep handy – for close encounters.
This is particularly true if you’re clearing rooms in buildings, or generally in a more compact arena. As a secondary weapon for the support role – they can be invaluable.
Support gunners are often required to handle a lot of extra gear, guns, and ammo, and so a good candidate should be physically fit, and capable of carrying some weight.
They’re expected to resupply front troops when running low on ammo, so expect to carry backup munitions and supplies.
This article on the best airsoft shotguns will give you some great examples as to what’s currently on offer as an excellent secondary choice for a support role, although the AEG is still king, here.
Suggested weapon: EMG Salient Arms M870 Shotgun.
Airsoft noobs or anyone who is unfamiliar with the sport will automatically confuse this role with the sniper – but, much like in the real world, the two have significant differences.
While DMs are also expected to take out targets at a distance, they’re a lot more mobile than a sniper, and operate within the groups as a whole, joining attacks as necessary.
They’re basically a sort of halfway house between a sniper and a rifleman, capable of taking out enemy troops that are out-of-range of your front line, while still being able to provide a high rate of fire, run and gun.
In airsoft, special designated marksman rifles (DMRs) exist – much like they do for the real military. They typically have longer barrels than assault weapons, with an extended range, but capable of a higher rate of fire than sniper rifles.
The FN-FAL, which pretty much won the Falklands War for the British, is a great example, as are the iconic M14 and M15 platforms.
DMs are accurate sharpshooters, and can be employed to run point as scouts. They’re physically fit, and are required to be mobile, and move quickly. Binoculars are also a useful accessory for a DMs loadout.
Take a look at this article as there are a few solid choices for DMs in the best airsoft rifles on the market.
Suggested weapon – Evike CYMA Full Metal M14.
Ahhh, the lone wolf. The renegade. The elite. The role that everyone wants to play when they imagine themselves first getting into airsoft, dreaming of that long-distance headshot.
Alas, only very experienced players can actually pull off the sniper platform with any genuine success, and it’s a very challenging class to be any good at.
The key quality you must have by the bucket load is patience.
Snipers typically don’t see that much action, nor are they very mobile. They will often stay motionless in one or two positions during a game, hidden, waiting for the opportunity to take a shot. Stealth is essential.
Aside from this, snipers are also relied upon for reconnaissance, spotting enemy troop movements, and generally providing information that will aid the team in achieving its objective.
Some snipers go all-in with ghillie suits, for the ultimate in undetectable camouflage. They might also be packing night-vision goggles, range finders, bipods for stability, and a secondary sidearm.
For a loadout, snipers will use high-powered, single-shot, bolt action rifles. As mentioned, it takes a lot of skill to use these weapons effectively, so you should know what you’re doing to be effective in this role.
Here’s a great article on how to be a successful airsoft sniper – if your heart is truly set on this rewarding but challenging airsoft position.
And check out this article on the best airsoft sniper rifles for some quality recommendations.
Suggested weapon: Novritsch SSG24 sniper rifle.
If your team decides to play with a scout, traditionally this is going to be someone who is light, fast, and nimble.
A sniper can also assist with recon, while a DM can play a scout role, depending on the size of your team and the type of game you’re playing.
Such positions are often interchangeable. You might have one without the other, and a single player fills a hybrid role.
The means of communication is vital to the scout, as they need to be able to relay enemy activity and positions back to their team. A radio is an essential piece of equipment.
Scouts can also play the “spotter” role for a sniper. Watching the sniper’s back while calling out potential targets.
Scouts typically don’t get involved in the fighting if they can help it, as they’re designed to be more like ghosts. However, a light loadout is still advised, with an SMG, or similar short-barrel rifle probably the best choice.
Having said that, some scouts like carrying a longer-range weapon, as they’re likely to be the first to see the enemy, and might enjoy taking a couple of pot shots to gain an early numerical advantage.
Suggested weapon: Elite Force Amoeba
In the video games, the grenadier is usually the big guy carrying all the heavy explosives. In airsoft, it’s arguably the most obsolete role in the team.
Airsoft “grenades” and “explosives” are expensive, and they’re not often very practical. For most skirmish games, it’s rare that they will be employed.
Still, if you’re going for accuracy with a historic MilSim, grenadiers are basically riflemen with added wallop.
They should be capable of laying down a lot of pellets – in some form or another – in order to eliminate as many enemy troops in one go as possible.
Grenade launchers are available, both as an extension of an existing weapon, and as a stand-alone gun.
While they don’t actually launch grenades (more’s the pity) they fire a burst of pellets all at once, in the hope that the scatter effect will take out several enemy combatants.
Unfortunately, they don’t have the best range, nor the highest success rate. As such, grenadiers are not the most popular airsoft team role available.
Satchel charges and mines have also been developed, should you wish to scare the living shit out of the opposition. House rules will apply on how they are deployed and how they work.
Suggested weapon: B&T GL-06 Gas Grenade Launcher
Vital in the field of battle, medics are the unsung heroes of any conflict. In airsoft, however, they’re not particularly popular, nor are they often required – unless you’re playing an authentic MilSim.
It’s challenging to decipher where players get hit, and how “injured” they would be as a result. How a medic operates would need to be established before the game begins.
Some games have medics performing a respawn role – where it’s necessary to have contact with your squad’s medic in order to be allowed back to the fight.
Whether you decide to play with such rules or not, having someone present who is actually trained in first aid is always a good idea when playing any kind of combat sport.
A typical loadout would include a first aid kit (slings, tubular bandages, plasters, field dressings), the ability to contact outside help if necessary, and perhaps a light sidearm should the need arise.
This article on the best cheap airsoft guns might contain a useful option for a medic, but failing that, any decent SMG should do the trick.
Suggested weapon: Elite Force H&K MP5
Additional Gear and Equipment
Aside from the individual loadouts for each role, everyone should be carrying a radio of some description. Of course, if it’s just a skirmish game or CQB, this isn’t going to be necessary.
While the grenadier is usually the one packing the heavy explosives, it’s not a popular or common role, so it’s more likely that all your troops will have grenades – if you’re choosing to use them.
Perhaps the most important consideration is that you should make sure you’re wearing the right kind of gear, and your head, face, and neck are adequately protected – no matter the role you’re performing.
But don’t be afraid to play around with the gear you carry, and find the right loadout for you.
A Speedsoft Team
Speedsoft is a relatively new airsoft variant that doesn’t quite rely on the tactics and preparation of dedicated MilSim or historic games.
However, that’s not to say there aren’t roles to play within a speedsoft team – which typically consists of five players, with the goal of simply eliminating all your opponents as before they eliminate you.
More often than not, the team is split into two, with a backup player capable of moving where required – often the team leader and most experienced speedsofter.
The two fastest players will lead the line down the middle, while two will operate on the flanks, attempting to pincer around the enemy positions.
However, this is not set in stone, and you should have fun and play around with it. If something’s not working – change things up.
For more information, head on over to this article that explores speedsoft in detail.
In closing, I would like to stress that airsoft is a fun sport, where you’re welcome to play however you so choose – so long as it’s not hurting anyone.
As such, these roles are more like guidelines, based on a typical airsoft team. You can mix them up, add new roles, or do away with them altogether – the sky’s the limit.
Just remember to have fun, stay safe, and play fair!
Choosing airsoft roles within a team can be a rewarding and fun experience, and I hope this article has helped you find your calling.
Let me know which position interests you and why, or if you’ve been playing a role for a number of years and have an experience you want to share.