So it's Monday. Which means the weekend is now behind us. I hope upon all hopes that you were all able to get out to your favorite venue to throw some 6mm plastic downrange on either Saturday or Sunday or both days, if you're hardcore and/or try hard.
But let's get on topic here.
Today we're going to talk about Squad Automatic Weapons (aka SAWs).
Squad Automatic Weapons are also known as light machine guns. They are designed to put prolonged, fully-automatic fire down on the enemy's position to keep their heads pinned down while your infantry squad advances upon their position. This type of firing is also referred to as suppressive fire. SAWs generally utilize a bipod and a high-capacity box or drum mag. The role of the SAW or support gunner is not necessarily to rack up a bunch of kills in game, but to assist the assaulting infantrymen in gaining a clear shot. Basically, the SAW gunner sets 'em up, and the rest of the squad knocks 'em down. Does this mean one cannot shoot to kill with a support weapon? Absolutely not. It just means that even if you don't have a perfectly clear shot, you can still be of assistance to your teammates by providing suppressive fire to allow them into a position to get the kill. While Airsoft is (dare I say it?) just a game and therefore you may do as you darn well please, it would be advisable to stick with at least one other squad mate to be truly effective as a support gunner.
Now, there is one issue I need to be clear about: Adding a bi-pod of any sort and a box mag to your M4 or MP5 does NOT make it a SAW in the realm of military simulation. Examples of typical squad weapons available in the 6mm world include:
The LMG from Knight's Armament
(Although this is heavily flirting with the line between SAW and an M4 with Box Mag)
This is my transitioning sentence into the issue of cost.
Due to the prolonged firing on full auto, one can expect to burn through a ton of BBs during the course of an Airsoft game day. This WILL raise your cost of ammunition to very expensive levels. I suggest buying in bulk (for example, check out the TSD BBs Bulk Pack or the AirVenturi BBs Bulk Pack). Notice the significant discount offered on a per bag/bottle basis. I do not recommend you put an expensive tight-bore barrel in your gun that will require you to run premium grade BBs. This is relatively pointless in a SAW (in my opinion) and will REALLY run your cost of BBs up. When it comes to your SAW's accuracy, I am of the school of thought that it's actually better to have a little bit looser shot grouping than what would be required of a designated marksman or sniper rifle. I'm not talking about just shooting random fliers everywhere and having no consistency at all, but i don't think you need to have the thing shooting quarter-sized groupings at 50 yards with a 6.01mm inner barrel. Basically, I like a little bit of spread on my SAW groupings.
Another item of importance is what type of battery to use. The general rule is that the higher the voltage, the higher the rate of fire (ROF). So I would recommend at least a 9.6V battery with a high storage capacity (mAh), like this one. You'll want a higher ROF in your SAW because that will allow it to spit out more BBs in a short amount of time at your opponents. Battery voltages in Airsoft can go as high as 14.8V, but that's at the very extreme end of things. Most people don't use anything higher than an 11.1V Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) or 12V Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery for their high-ROF setups.
So those are some of the basics to getting started with a squad automatic weapon. If you're interested in picking one up, but aren't quite sure if you want to go through with it, ask yourself, "What would an Operator do?" And then do it!