Bolt Action Sniper Rifles in Airsoft - High Power or Low Power?
I came up with this idea when thinking about the Silverback SRS. Personally, I prefer more typical rifle designs, hence my love for the VSR and m700 platforms. I've never spoken too highly of the SRS as I am not as keen on it as a sniper rifle. However, I thought to myself, "I always joke about sniping in CQB, but... what if I could?". The 16" covert version of the Silverback SRS is a very short rifle and running a bolt action at 1 joule definitely has its merits, so I thought I'd write about them.
Airsoft sniping has traditionally been about those high power guns using their greater muzzle energy limits to grant increased range over standard AEGs. This has always come at the price of a minimum engagement distance, or MED, but for the most part this has been the way of the airsoft sniper for years and why wouldn't you? Reducing yourself to a single shot, bolt action rifle you can up the power from 1.1J all the way up to 2.3J at my local site (your local limits may be different).
However, I want to visit another potential method of building up your bolt action sniper rifle in airsoft: the 1 joule bolt action.
This idea isn't exactly new. People have indeed been doing this with their bolt action sniper rifles over the years, but it's hardly a mainstream idea. The limits allowed and the role of an airsoft sniper both tend towards upgrading the power all the way up, as it gives you a significant advantage over normal AEGs when engaging at long range. However, the cost of a 30m zone of "no shooting" is a pretty significant downside. Furthermore, the upgrade of power will tend to increase the noise if running a spring powered bolt action sniper rifle.
With the improvement of airsoft technology overall, power is no longer such a massive factor when it comes to determining effective range; it's all about the hop up these days. With a well tuned setup, I don't think you would lose too much effective range running the gun as 1.1J instead of 2.3J, but you would remove the need for an MED and also decrease the noise the gun makes when firing. Naturally, you would lose some effective range due to the lower power and likely lower weight BBs, but all that will change is how you play, perhaps focusing more on stealth than long range marksmanship.
Now, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this. I, personally, have set up my VSR to fire up to the 2.3J limit and embrace the MED that comes with it as an excuse to use my pistol more. Equally, I can see the merit and would like to get a bolt action rifle that I can use firing at 1.1J as well. It all comes down to your preferred play style.
Though at the end of the day if you want to be super sneaky with a long range gun at 1 joule, you just buy an mk23 NBB pistol and slap in a bunch of upgrades. Super compact, super long range, super silent.
My mk23 is no longer a sidearm. It's a primary.