Well, yes and no. Although the $20 Walmart specials are not what I'm referring to. Airsoft can be a great training medium, and there are plenty of decent air replica guns available on the market today. Whether using it for force-on-force training, such as actually going to a field to play recreational or military simulation type games, or using it by yourself in a safe environment to build repetition, airsoft can create a great base to build fundamentals.
|Glock 17 9mm on the left, KSC Glock 18 6mm on the right.|
I started off shooting a handgun in great volumes through airsoft, as I was not yet of legal age to purchase a pistol. I believe that the tens of thousands of times that I pulled the trigger on my replica pistol greatly helped my personal proficiency of the Glock platform. The ways that both of these guns compare to each other are very similar, functionally there is little difference.
|Both pistols field strip in the exact same manner.|
As far as the feel in your hand, both weigh about the same, with the Glock magazine being plastic box with a steel liner, and the airsoft magazine being a block of steel with gas reservoir inside. The grips are of the same angle, providing the same 'point' with the handgun on the draw. Felt recoil is obviously not as strong on the airsoft pistol, but the slide still cycles fully with each shot. Shooting the air pistol you don't have an ejecting case as well. The magazine release, slide stop/release lever, and trigger all function the same, allowing fundamentals to translate between the two platforms. I use an after-market trigger on my Glock, after installing that and picking up my airsoft pistol again I noticed that the pull is damn near the same, helping to build a consistent base of fundamentals.
|Both guns will lock the slide back upon firing the last round.|
The only big difference between the airsoft and real steel is that my specific replica is a Glock 18, meaning it has the fire selector switch on the left of the slide to go between semi and full-auto, and has a ported slide and barrel. As long as I leave it on semi, it still is a great training medium. And talk about affordability! Utilizing the same ergonomics and fundamentals, I can buy a small 16.9oz can of propane and 5000 6mm pellets for right around $30. Go and look up how much it would cost you to buy 5000 rounds of your ammunition, I'll wait... See? Another great aspect is that I can train with this system in my basement, which is within city limits, without worrying about noise or spooking the neighbors.
|The exact same gear setup can be achieved with both.|
Both systems will work with all of the gear I have as well. The airsoft constituents fit and function with my SERPA holster and Glock magazine pouches. For me, if I have nothing better to do, no time, or not the extra cash available to go shooting at the range, this is a perfectly acceptable training system. Grip, sights, trigger control, reloads, malfunction drills... all can be worked on with this extremely economic option. For around $130 for the airsoft pistol, it will pay for itself ten-fold in no time.