Many airsoft replicas are replications of weapons used today by militarized forces, regardless of how old the design may be. In this series of articles, we'll be looking at a few modern weapons. In this article, we'll be taking a quick look at assault rifles being used today that hold a strong presence on the airsoft field.

    First, we'll cover one of the most popular models in airsoft, the M4 Carbine. In real steel, the M4 was introduced as the XM4 in 1988 by Colt, based on their M16A2. It was adopted by the United States military in 1994 to replace the M3 Grease gun. It was utilized mainly by Army infantry, Naval infantry, and Marine Corps officers. Despite being an original design by Colt, the US Army took complete ownership of the M4 design, which allowed other companies to make them. Real steel, the M4 is made by Colt, US Ordnance, SME Ordnance, Remington, and even FN Herstal. In airsoft, the M4 Carbine is made by practically all companies. Coming in many varieties, you'll have to do a little research to find the right one for you.

    Next, a weapon known for its rugged capabilities, the AK-47 was developed in 1947 by Mikhail Kalashnikov in Russia. Initially, Kalashnikov submitted a design in 1944 that was defeated by what would be adopted as the SKS, but after a few revisions and needs by the Red Army, Kalashnikov and his team produced the AK-47 to the army for tests in 1948, and in 1949, it was adopted by the Soviets as the "7.62 Kalashnikov assault rifle", also known as 'Avtomat Kalashnikov', or AK. Known mainly for the vast number of rifles produced (approximately 75 Million) and its reliability in harsh conditions, this rifle can be found nearly everywhere, being owned by gun enthusiasts, pirates, terrorists, security forces, and just about anyone who knows how to operate one. In airsoft, the AK series is very prominent, seeing AK-47 variants, AKM variants, AK-74 variants, and more. Like the M4, most airsoft companies produce an AK variant, and you'll just need to find one to suit your needs.

    Up to now, it is the current primary weapon of the German Bundeswehr, the Gewehr 36 or G36 for short. The G36, the heavier battle rifle used previously by the Bundeswehr, was becoming outdated, leading Germany to seek a replacement for it. Trials began in the late 1970s, leading to the innovative design of the Heckler & Koch G11, but the unification of East and West Germany prompted budget cuts, halting the G11's production. In 1991, British company BAE Systems purchased H&K, charging the company to create a 5.56 NATO rifle. Project 50, or HK50, was born. The HK50 was trialed where it defeated the rival Austrian AUG system, which destined the Bundeswehr to adopt the HK50 under the moniker Gewehr 36. The G36 sports many models, including a G36c (carbine), a G36k (Kurz, or short), G36e (Export), the MG36 (Maschinengewehr, or Machine gun), and the SL8 and SL9 (Both civilian models). In airsoft, there are many companies that produce a G36 model, including, but not limited to ARES/Star, Jing Gong, Classic Army, Tokyo Marui, Echo 1, and Guay & Guay. Like the AK and M4, many variants are produced, leaving the user to find one suiting their needs.

    There are many more assault rifles seeing use in airsoft not stated here, including but not limited to the: FAMAS, a French weapon. F2000, a bullpup rifle by FN Herstal. M14, a weapon used by US Forces in the Vietnam war, still used today. G3, a German battle rifle still seeing uses today as well. SA80 platform (L85s), England's primary firearm, and even the Beretta ARX-160, an assault rifle new to real steel and to airsoft, seeing a production by Elite Force. With all these mid-range offensive 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.