The Shootout: Top 8 High End AEGs 2018 Edition
April 30, 2018
The time has come for another top guns article to reflect the ever changing market that is the Airsoft hobby. These top eight guns define the standard for what high end means with their performance, style and features. After a ton of deliberation (and the occasional gentleman’s duel) we’ve settled on what we think are the best guns you can spend your hard earned duckets on.
Before we get into the list, we’d like to remind you that this is the order we settled on, and you’re more than welcome to have your own opinion. We’re going based off of cold hard performance and utility, with bonus points for style here. With that said, let’s get into the list, starting with the number one pick!
#1: Classic Army Nemesis 2018 Edition
Coming in at the front of the pack is the Classic Army Nemesis rifle! These guns have been solid performers since they arrived on the scene recently, but the 2018 edition has launched these guns into the stratosphere. With an upgrade to 18:1 ration gears, a 31,000 RPM high torque/high speed motor, and numerous external enhancements, the performance on these high end BB Blasters just cannot be beat. Coupled with the tight bore barrels present in most off-the-rack Classic Army guns you’ll be able to achieve incredible shots at range and suppress the enemy with a mesmerizing rate of fire in full auto (or you can use the ECS trigger to change your full auto to three round burst if you prefer).
Powering this gun is a breeze thanks to the B.A.S. stock, Classic Army’s newest innovation. This stock allows you to store multiple LiPO batteries with ease so you never run out of power. The flash hider is designed to accommodate a suppressor out of the box and hides a 14mm- thread to take most after market options. These guns also come with a wide variety of handguard options to fit your taste, which is what gives the 2018 Nemesis line the edge over the competition! While they can be a little heavy, we’re willing to sacrifice the weight for the durability of Classic Army’s metal bodies. You’ll never have to worry about your investment crumbling in your hands from poor craftsmanship. The final piece of the puzzle is the quick access motor grip that comes standard on the Nemesis (and now the ECS enabled skirmish guns for the budget minded players). These grips allow for tool-free access to the motor and connectors on your gun, which is a massive quality of life improvement.
On the performance side of the equation, these guns hit hard at 375-380 FPS, right in the sweet spot for field play (though, there will soon be an option for CQB, more on that later). An 11.1v battery puts in the neighborhood of 26 RPS, far faster than your average gun. We’ve tested these guns to be accurate out as far as 250 feet as well, so they can cover most fields’ effective engagements. Pair that with the ability to set your select fire settings to burst fire or full auto via the ECS, plus the incredible trigger response you get from that same system, and you just cannot beat this behemoth, and that’s why it claims our number one spot.
The top contender to the Nemesis is the VFC Avalon series guns from Elite Force. These guns come in at the same price bracket (the $300-$400 range) as most of the guns in the list, and are second only to the Nemesis in bang-for-buck. The Avalons come in two flavors (and two lengths): The Calibur and the Saber models, both available in short CQB friendly lengths, and longer field ready lengths.
These guns feature upgraded parts over the previous VFC guns available to the airsoft community, including a faster motor, stronger piston, and a more utility focused MOSFET unit. All of these features combine to make a strong shooter with style oozing out of every crevice.
VFC spared no expense on the externals either. The body is made from a high quality aluminum, giving structural stability and lighter weight. The stock, trigger guard, pistol grip, sights, and magazine all hail from VFC’s new QRS line giving you a head start on customizing it as well. We’re particularly big fans of the QRS stock, as it is a modular option that gives you options to fit several different types of batteries, and it looks great! The option of either a keymod or MLOK handguard gives great modularity and options for accessorizing as well.
On the performance side, we’ve seen the various Avalon rifles all perform admirably. They have snappy trigger response, despite not having a micro switch like some of the other guns on this list. The rate of fire is solid, thanks to the upgraded Avalon motor keeping up in the low to mid 20’s on an 11.1v LiPO battery. We’ve also had consistent results taking these guns out as far as 225 feet with no issues, and in the perfect conditions the range on these guns hold up against the Nemesis. In fact, the only real downside to this series of airsoft gun is that it may be a little too good for it’s own good. Some of the older (relatively) Avalon rifles have a habit of double-tapping when really go to town on the trigger in semi-automatic. This is a less common issue though, and wasn’t much of a hindrance, but it did make us want to keep these guns on lower powered batteries, such as 7.4v and lower discharge rated 11.1v batteries so we didn’t accidentally overshoot anybody.
All told, the Avalon is a no brains recommendation for one of the top AEG’s on the market. With four different models, each in two colors, to choose from, you get a lot of potential variety to your own build. These things spit laser beams as well, and dominate the mid range playing field. If they had the ability to program burst fire, and a micro switch like the Nemesis, this list could have been VERY different.
The next gun in our list comes as no surprise to many of our readers. The Krytac brand has become synonymous with quality that actually keeps up with the hype. The SPR and CRB are very similar rifles, one designed for more mid-range approaches while the other is meant to tackle longer engagements, however internally these guns are very similar, which is why the occupy the same space on the list.
These guns have lightweight full metal externals, similar to the Avalon, but only come in two lengths of keymod handguard, a negative compared to the variety offered by the guns ahead of it in this list. The Krytac pistol grip however, is extremely comfortable, and features a texture that provides more grip than the traditional smooth plastic of many other guns. This ensures that you shouldn’t drop it just because your hands get a little sweaty in the heat of the game. Krytac also has a very comfortable stock that sits against your cheek without making you feel like it’s trying to cave in your skull, and it has more than adequate battery storage, though not as much space as the QRS or B.A.S. stocks of the Avalon and Nemesis.
Internally, these guns feature Krytac’s trident gear box. These gearboxes are time tested to withstand pretty heavy abuse and keep dishing out performance. Featuring a space-age coating and a built in MOSFET unit to make it stand out from the crowd, these internal parts keep on trucking with relatively minimal instances of issues. The Krytac barrel and hop up make for a trustworthy combination as well, providing solid accuracy and consistency.
The devil is in the details though, and that means performance. Krytac’s guns perform admirably in practical use. The trigger is snappy, if not necessarily the fastest, and rate of fire is above average in the high teens to low twenties depending on battery voltage. Practical range is equivalent to the Avalon, though we did find we had to crank the hop up just a little higher to achieve it. Krytac hasn’t innovated much with these guns since the inception of the Mk2 line-up, but that by no means makes it a bad gun. Solid, consistent performance out of a gun that feels rugged and durable is something many airsoft guns fail to deliver on. The Krytac simply loses out to the other guns on features. It’s missing many of the external amenities of the Avalon, and lacks the raw performance and programmable trigger of Classic Army’s Nemesis, placing it firmly in the number three slot.
Sticking to the Krytac family, the number four slot belongs to the Vector. This one gets its own place on the list just because of how different it is from it’s siblings in the Mk2 line.
This beauty looks unique, because it’s the only licensed AEG variant of a Kriss Vector submachine gun on the market today. It features many of the same amenities of the Mk2 line, but achieved through clever redesigns of the gearbox, and even adds a couple of neat abilities to the fold.
Externally, this gun is a tough blend of metals and polymers that feels stable and capable of taking some abuse. It features separate safety and fire control levels, similar to the real firearm it is based upon. Ergonomically, the Vector isn’t for everyone though. Its folding stock allows it to be compact, but some players may take umbrage with the length of pull, which while adjustable, is not able to do so easily. Additionally, the magazine release only being located on the left side of the gun does make it noticeably slower to reload compared to the familiar locations of other guns like the AR and AK. The proprietary magazines are also a downside, even if it’s all part of faithfully recreating the source material, as long stick magazines are much harder to find pouches for as well.
Performance is the saving grace of the Vector. It has astoundingly great range for a gun of such compact size, clocking in at 200 feet with ease. Its compact size makes it perfect for CQB, and has a snappy micro switch trigger to help level the playing field against the polar stars and gas blowbacks of the world. FPS is low, at around 350, but that makes it perfect for close quarters. This gun suffers from it’s uniqueness as much as it benefits though. The non-M4 style isn’t for everyone, and the controls take a lot of getting used to before you can become proficient with it. That knocks it down a couple of pegs, despite it’s higher than average utility, landing it squarely at number four.
Number five on our list returns us to Classic Army’s catalog with the Scarab. The Scarab rifles come in three variants, for short, medium, and long range play and all feature the ECS gearbox that makes their nemesis guns so good.
Externally, the Scarab tries to take a twist on tradition, providing a monolithic upper receiver that falls somewhere between an M4, an XCR, and a SCAR. The unique looks add to the cool factor, but thankfully it retains use of an M4 magazine to make sure it is both good looking and functional. The Scarab’s solid metal body is hard as a rock and capable of taking a severe beating in the field without failing.
Internally, this gun features the same ECS gearbox (and the programmable features) that makes the Nemesis the number one contender. This versatile engine is capable of tackling any role necessary on the field and will keep on trucking. Unfortunately, what ends up hurting the Scarab’s ranking is small gripes that stop it from hanging out higher on the list when compared to the other offerings. The battery storage on the Scarab is minimal, forcing you to resort to smaller LiPOs, and it requires the usage of an allen key to access the battery area, or upgrading to an external PEQ box style set up. The lack of the quick access grip found on the Nemesis line also hurts, as this is such a huge feature that makes the Nemesis our number one pick.
Performance on these guns is pretty comparable to the Nemesis. While they do not have the 2018 upgrades to the Nemesis lineup, they still keep up in range and accuracy. Rate of fire is still in the high teens to low twenties, in the same neighborhood as the guns ahead of it on this list. Trigger response gives most stock guns a huge run for their money. The Scarab is a good example of where the Nemesis line would have ended up in the list without the upgrades it got in 2018, still one of our top picks, but not nearly the monster it is today.
Number Six is a gun that is every bit as unique as it is high performance! The ASG Scorpion EVO takes a unique style and stuffs it with high tech internal parts to make for a unique gun (which both helps AND hurts its place on this list).
Externally, the three separate models of the Scorpion EVO all feel phenomenal to hold. The ergonomics of these guns, especially on the smaller models fit your hands perfectly, without getting in the way. While the gun does suffer from an awkward battery compartment, forcing you to remove the flash hider and then the hand guard to install a LiPO battery in the top of the receiver, with practice this just becomes a minor annoyance rather than an overall hindrance. Fire controls are in an easy to reach location, but don’t get in the way, making the EVO a breeze to operate. AK style magazine releases are excellent for the ambidextrous design, and that serves as a positive for this gun as well, even if you still have to deal with proprietary magazines with the EVO. These magazines may be worth the trouble though, as they provide the gun with some really cool internal features.
Internally, this gun is stacked with neat features that put it a cut above your average AEG. The proprietary magazines provide you with a “last round lockout” feature, which stops your gun from dry firing when you run out of ammo. This provides an uncanny level of realism very few other AEGs manage to achieve without sacrificing performance. The gearbox is hearty as an ox as well, capable of detecting when it is experience performance issues and shutting the gun down to prevent further damage. Between that and one of the most well designed and innovative gearbox designs in the non-M4 market, this gun is very reliable and should last significantly longer than many of its contemporaries.
Performance is a big positive with this gun as well. The Scorpion EVO may be small, but it is mighty. Capable of pushing bbs out to distances that could make a DMR jealous; this gun is not just a CQB oriented blaster. FPS rides a bit high out of the box for close quarters, but due to a quick change spring system, that is an easy fix as well. Ultimately, this gun simply suffers from the same unique style that makes it such a head turner. The non-M4 nature just isn’t for everyone. It also comes in higher than it probably should in the FPS range as well, and while it is a quick fix, it is still a fix.
#7: Nemesis X9
Number Seven is a gun that has not quite yet been released yet (though it is around right around the corner as of the publishing of this article). The Classic Army Nemesis X9 takes the popular Nemesis line, and flips it on its head to go from dominating midfield and long range play and instead crush the close quarters game.
Externally, you’ll see the same attention to detail and quality present in the other guns of the Nemesis line. Where you’ll see changes is in the shorter hand guard and the size of the magazine. The Nemesis X9 uses a 9mm style magazine to give you a different look, and style. What is unique about this gun versus other similar types of setups however; is that it is designed to accept an upper receiver from any other nemesis model. What this means, is that if you want to build a 9mm style rifle that looks unique or fits your play style more, you have that option now.
Internally, these guns are identical to their cousins in the rest of the Nemesis line, but tuned to a lower FPS. This means you still get the ECS trigger unit, which allows you to set up burst fire modes, or lock out your full auto setting entirely (perfect for semi-only arenas) with only a few trigger pulls. You’ll still find Classic Army’s high performance 31k torque/speed motor as well, meaning it has some of the fastest trigger response of any stock rifle!
Performance is the most important factor though, and that’s something we have to guess on a bit with the Nemesis gun (and why it’s so far down in the list, instead of near the top like its cousins). We know how good the ECS gearbox is, and Classic Army has a pedigree for building rock solid airsoft rifles, but until we actually have it in our hands it would be unfair to put this above other proven performers on the market. We have had a chance to demo and try the production samples though, and if it shoots even half as good as that demo unit, it’s still a huge contender in this list! Ultimately, if you want a badass short rifle purpose built for CQB, this is the one to get!
#8 Classic Army ProLine / Airsoft GI RAGNAR
We’ve lumped two different rifles into the number 8 slot, because one of these is the base model gun, and the other is the custom line we build out of them here in house at Airsoft GI. These guns are the Classic Army ProLine guns.
These guns come in a variety of styles, from basic M4A1’s to high speed low drag style custom AR15-esque rifles. We use the ARS line up for the RAGNAR series (more on that in a minute) which feature some slick keymod handguards for ultimate customization. Externally though, both these lines feature full metal bodies, and polymer stocks and pistol grips. The RAGNAR gets a small upgrade in the stock department as well, as we switch the factory stock out for a PTS EPS Stock, a fantastic upgrade for any style of play. The RAGNAR also gets an EPM mid cap magazine, while the standard ProLines typically include a High Capacity magazine.
Internally, these guns all feature Classic Army’s proline gearbox. This gear box is sturdy and rugged, and best of all, it is easily customizable. While it gives up some features in favor of standardized parts, the stock form of this gearbox is a solid performer, coming in ahead of other guns in its price point. With the RAGNAR, we take it a step further, and give it faster gears pair with an even better motor, the Classic Army M2. Paired with the in-line MOSFET, both of these guns shoot with crisp triggers, and the hop up delivers ranges that outrange many other stock guns, clocking in past the 200 foot mark with ease thanks to the included tight bore barrel.
Performance is as always the key, though, and this is where the two guns stop being so similar. The RAGNAR is simply a better version of the ProLine, featuring newer parts, or higher performance upgrade parts as a standard. However, the standard Proline guns don’t slouch. The standard model keeps up with the other guns on the list without issue, it simply lacks the fancy features many of these other guns possess. What we find though, is it makes these guns perfect for building the ultimate custom rifle, which we’ve even done for you in the RAGNAR.
Ultimately though, this list is about stock, off the shelf guns, and because the RAGNAR is a custom build option, we have to rate it based on the performance of the base model, which is why this gun ends up at the end of the list. If what you want is an infinitely customizable base for a project rifle this is the one to buy! In that specific aspect, it surpasses every other model on this list.
To conclude, the eight guns listed here are what we’ve found through use to be some of the best guns on the market today. There are tons of great options on the market though. We are lucky to live in a time when many of the guns on the market are high quality, high performance shooters with competitive prices. Some honorable mentions go to the Ares Amoeba line from Elite Force, the Classic Army Skirmish Series and the KWA Ronin line of AEGs. Each of these guns could have easily made this list as well, as this sort of list is highly competitive, often coming down to the preference of the person shooting the guns. Ultimately, if you pick any of the guns listed in this article, you’re going to end up happy and shooting circles around your competition!