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How to Start IPSC Action Air on a Budget

Getting started with IPSC Action Air can seem daunting if not almost unnerving when comparing equipment in use by those who are already competing in the sport. You’re seeing videos and pictures of all the expensive equipment and replicas, and your wallet starts to cower in fear. How did they afford all of this kit? They must have started their journey from somewhere. Here is a guide to how you can start shooting IPSC Action Air on a budget!

Choosing an Airsoft Pistol (Replica Imitation Firearm)

The most important piece of equipment for competing in IPSC Action Air is your choice in pistol. There are a few key factors to consider when choosing your pistol which can somewhat effect your budget. The only requirement for your pistol is that it has to be a gas blowback mechanism which shoots six millimetre plastic BBs housed within a detachable magazine. The following factors need to be considered when choosing an airsoft pistol: accuracy, reliability, durability and handling. These factors need to be paired with the division you want to compete in within the sport.

Standard Division / Open Division

If you want to shoot Standard division, one of the best pistols to get is a Tokyo Marui Hi Capa 5.1. That being said, any of the clones from other brands can be substitute to assist with budget. We would recommend a Tokyo Marui because of all the factors addressed above and because of the upgradability of the platform. If you want to shoot Open Division, you would have to invest in a mount and an optic, however this process can be lead to after having purchased and used the Hi Capa in Standard division.

Classic Division

If you want to shoot Classic Division, once again, one of the best pistols to get is a Tokyo Marui 1911 or MEU. These pistols just like their cousins (Hi Capa 5.1) are not only very reliable, but also have the same upgradability. You need to make sure that the pistol used is a 1911 with stirrup cuts on the front of the slide (classic 1911 styling) to meet the requirements of the division. This division has restrictions however any MEU or 1911 replica would meet the requirements of this division as long as it is not a C02 magazine.

You can technically shoot Standard Division or Open Division with these pistols which opens up avenues in the future, however if certain modifications are made, you may not be able to use the pistol in Classic Division again.

Production Division

If you want to shoot Production Division, there are a multitude of pistols to choose, however they must strictly represent any handgun within the approved Production List. This list is expansive however this makes it very difficult to recommend a pistol because of how the airsoft replicas which represent these handguns don’t normally have a good reputation for reliability or durability. That being said, here are the airsoft replicas of which we recommend if they meet your taste: Tokyo Marui Glock 17 Gen 4, VFC Glock 17 Gen 5, WE XDm, Tokyo Marui XDm, KWA HK45, and Tokyo Marui HK45.

You can technically shoot Standard Division or Open Division with these pistols which opens up avenues in the future, however to stay in Production Division, the pistol must essentially not be modified out of the box (there are some rules which allow modification but they are severely restricted).

Gas Magazines

Magazines are seen as disposables with a long life span. They will eventually be discarded as they wear and tear, however it is worth considering the same brand magazines as the pistol you choose for the sake of compatibility. If there are more reliable alternatives, we would recommend experimenting with them however this may not work with your budget. We would always recommend having at least four extra magazines for your choice of pistol (this may require more if you shoot Classic Division).

Allied Equipment

Once you have chosen your pistol and hence the Division you will compete in, the equipment will be the next important aspect of your gear. The good news is, this can be as cheap as you want it to be as long as it is functional. The equipment you will need are: a two-part belt, a compatible belt holster (no drop leg, strap or Serpa), and compatible magazine holders. There are some rules to think about, however they generally are about placement on your belt and not about the equipment itself.

A two part belt is an inner belt and outer belt configuration designed for practical shooting. The inner belt is threaded like a normal belt, around your trouser belt loops and has hook and loop on the outside. The outer belt attaches to the inner belt and will be what your holster and magazine attachments will be applied to. You must ensure that your choice of holster is safe and covers the trigger guard of your choice of pistol. Magazine holders merely need to retain your magazines for you whilst you manoeuvre around stages.

Personal Protective Equipment

The most important part of your gear is your personal protective equipment. This is primarily just your eye protection when it comes to IPSC Action Air. You do not need to have ear protection due to the safer decibel readings of airsoft pistols. Good eye protection starts with a good safety rating which wraps around your eyes. An additional benefit would include the quality of the lenses which prevent distortion and/or improves visibility when shooting. There are a multitude of brands and different price points for eye protection with no poor options other than the use of eye wear which is not designed for sport.

Budget Example

We have given some guidance on what equipment is needed and how you can choose that equipment, however we have not given a fair assessment on how much all your gear may cost. This is because prices on the market can vary and the number of options may change based on your region. In our example, we have provided an average costing which leads to a total of £360. This example provides all we would expect a new competitor to need to shoot IPSC Action Air at any match level without any extra equipment. It is your choice whether you want to add to your budget or cut from it, however this should not stop you from being able to compete.

Gear TypeProduct NamePriceQuantitySub-Total
Replica Imitation FirearmTokyo Marui Hi Capa 5.1£1351£135
Gas MagazinesTokyo Marui Hi Capa 5.1 Gas Magazine£304£120
Allied EquipmentIDOGEAR Shooting Belt with 4 Mag Pouches£501£50
Allied EquipmentEmerson IPSC Pistol Holster£451£45
Personal Protective EquipmentBOLLE RUSH+CLEAR Safety Glasses£101£10