The Ultimate List of the Best Air Pistols [Highly Powered & Accurate]

high powered pellet pistols

So you’ve decided to buy a best air pistol. Your friends who are recreational shooters and "plinkers” seem to get as much buzz from firing their air pistols as people do from firing metallic cartridges.

And you want that buzz too, but you’ve seen that air pistols come in varied configurations, from competition pistols for field target and ten-meter competitions, to general target practice and plinking, to near replicas for live-fire tactical training.

So how do you know what kind to buy?

Just ask yourself following questions:

  • For what purpose will I most often use this?
  • What power level best suits my intended purpose?
  • What caliber best suits my purpose?
  • What type of action will provide the best performance for my purpose?

Got the answers?  I will wait you can ask yourself again.

Stores will present you with a bewildering array of air pistols, many of them replicating the sizes, weights, and designs of famous handguns.

But this article will help to narrow down your choices and in the end, you will come down to the air pistol that will be your preferred style, preferred brand, and the amount of money you are willing to spend.

However, here is a quick comparison table of some top pistols from all 3 categories we have reviewed pistols for. (Informal Target Shooting, Formal Shooting and Live-Fire Tactical Training)

Name

Caliber

Velocity

Price

Benjamin Marauder

Benjamin Marauder

0.22

700 fps

Remington 89260

Remington 89260

0.177

320 fps

Crosman 2240

Crosman 2240

0.22

460 fps

Beeman Sportsman

Beeman Sportsman

0.177

410 fps

ASG Dan Wesson

ASG Dan Wesson

0.177

318 fps

Crosman Silhouette

Crosman Silhouette

0.177

450 fps

Crosman 2300S

Crosman 2300S

0.177

520 fps

Crosman 2300T

Crosman 2300T

0.177

420 fps

Beretta 92FS

Beretta 92FS

0.177

425 fps

Colt 1911

Colt 1911

0.177

425 fps

BH&K USP

BH&K USP

0.177

380 fps

Kinds of Air Pistols

The fact is, almost any air pistol will serve your purpose for informal, backyard, target shooting or plinking, but we normally group them into five categories. There are pump pistols, CO2 revolvers, CO2 blowback pistols, tactical air pistols, and competition air pistols.

The fact is, almost any air pistol will serve your purpose for informal, backyard, target shooting or plinking, but we normally group them into five categories. There are pump pistols, CO2 revolvers, CO2 blowback pistols, tactical air pistols, and competition air pistols.

As a general rule, air pistols with the select fire option (also called full auto) are designed to fire BBs, whereas revolver and semiautomatic air pistols are designed to fire lead or alloy pellets.

An air pistol with a revolver action has a cylinder containing the pellets which rotates as the hammer or the trigger is pulled. So it simulates the action of a metallic cartridge revolver.

With a CO2 blowback action, some of the gas that is used to propel the pellet also causes the air pistol's slide to recoil when the pistol is fired. Hence it simulates the action of a semi-automatic metallic cartridge pistol.

In some pistols an overlever is used to compress either a metal spring or a nitrogen-filled gas chamber in order to cock the air pistol. This type of air pistol is limited to one shot at a time.

In other pistols a bolt is retracted to expose the barrel's breech for loading and then replaced before firing. This type of action is also limited to single shots, but it is considered to be the most accurate type of air pistol action.

The Single-Stroke Pneumatic Air Pistols:

For beginners, pistols that use spring pistons or pneumatics are a good choice. These are available in single stroke, multi-pump, and CO2 models. The single-stroke pneumatic air pistol requires only one motion of the cocking lever to compress the air needed to fire the pellet. It is by far the easiest kind to operate and the most consistent and accurate to shoot.

Multi-Stroke Pneumatic Air Pistols:

With the multi-stroke pneumatic air pistol, you need between two and ten strokes of the fore-end pump lever to create the internal pressure needed to fire the pellets at a respectable velocity. So most multi-stroke pneumatic air pistols are in the light to medium power range. As you pump up a multi-stroke air rifle, each pump requires more effort, so in terms of accuracy, the multi-stroke air pistol is acceptable rather than brilliant.

The pneumatic air pistol must be recharged using an 80-cubic foot SCUBA tank (3000 psi) or a carbon fiber tank (4500 psi). To charge the air chamber, you need a special hose with a pressure gauge to siphon out some of the compressed air from one of those tanks.

Pre-charged Pneumatic Pellet Pistols:

The pre-charged pneumatic pellet pistol provides the greatest shot-to-shot consistency, as well as variable power levels. It has high accuracy, requires little effort to cock the action, and generates no recoil. Some pre-charged pneumatic air pistols are single-shot versions, while others feature multiple-shot magazines.

In pistols or revolvers powered by carbon dioxide, the gas is either contained in a 12-gram cartridge or transferred from a bulk CO2 tank into the air pistol's reservoir.  CO2 air pistols are in general easy to cock and have no recoil. Match-grade CO2 air pistols are consistent and highly accurate at ten meters.

A CO2 cartridge, when kept at room temperature, will deliver about 900 -1000 PSI. But when the ambient temperature is raised or lowered, the impact point can change due to increases or decreases in the pressure of the internal cartridge. 

This is not a problem for target shooters who have time to allow their rifles to heat or cool to the surrounding air temperature. But hunters who sight in on a hot day and then go out to hunt on a colder day (or the other way round) won’t know precisely where the projectile will hit. A change in air temperature during the day can cause a similar problem. So when you use a CO2 pistol, you need to fire a few test shots to verify the pellet's point of impact.

CO2 Revolvers:

The CO2 revolver is an air pistol powered by a CO2 cartridge. It has a similar size, weight, and appearance to either a single-action or a double-action metallic cartridge revolver. And it feels very similar when you use it. When you cock the hammer and pull the trigger, the cylinder rotates.

Co2 Blowback Pistols:

The CO2 blowback pistol, unlike the CO2 revolver, is specifically designed to look and feel like a semi-automatic metallic cartridge handgun. It too uses carbon dioxide gas to propel the BB or pellet. The handgun's slide recoils when the pistol is fired, just as happens with a metallic cartridge semi-automatic pistol.

Tactical Air Pistols:

The tactical air pistol is a CO2 cartridge air pistol that is designed to simulate the action of the well-known tactical handgun. It may or may not include the CO2 blowback feature.

Gas Piston or Gas Ram Air Pistols:

The gas piston or gas ram air pistol operates like a spring-powered air pistol, and is cocked and fired in a similar manner. The main difference is that when you cock a spring-powered air pistol, you compress a heavy-duty metal spring which is held until the trigger is pulled. When that happens, the piston and spring are propelled forward. This forces the air in the compression cylinder forward, which in turn forces the pellet down the barrel. The gas ram piston (also called a nitro piston) works in much the same way, but it compresses nitrogen gas which is contained in a sealed chamber behind the piston. This gas acts like a metal spring when the trigger is released.

Gas pistons have the advantage of durability. They can be used for years since they have no metal spring to break, and when the nitrogen chamber eventually starts to lose its pressure, it can easily be recharged. Another benefit of the gas ram air rifle is the efficiency of the shot cycle. Since there isn't a metal spring involved, the cycle is both quieter and quicker. This is why shooters who are used to the feel of metallic cartridges find gas piston pistols quite comfortable.

The competition air pistol is specifically designed to provide the shooter with the greatest possible accuracy. Many local air gun clubs hold formal air pistol competition shoots that demand the utmost skill from the shooter.

Two popular tactical handgun competitions are the International Practical Shooting Competition (IPSC) and the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA). Both employ human-shaped cardboard silhouette targets stapled to wooden stakes.

The targets may be set up in a live-fire course to simulate various tactical situations, and the shooters are timed as they complete the various courses. The times are then tabulated, together with the accuracy scores, to calculate the final score.

Although precision target air pistols can cost as much as $2,000, all of the competition pistols we review are adequate for the novice or intermediate shooter who wants to take part in ten-meter, field target, field hunter target or metallic silhouette events.

11 Best Air Pistol Reviews - 100% Unbiased 

(a) Informal Target Shooting 

Benjamin Marauder PCP - Best Pellet Pistol:

most powerful air pistol

Pre-Charged Pneumatics (PCPs), which use only high-pressure air, rather than CO2, are well-known for their ability to discharge multiple shots. The .22 caliber Marauder Pistol comes with an 8-shot, auto-indexing magazine.

This quiet, bolt-action pistol, with a velocity of up to 700 fps, is suited to hunting small game at a range of around 33 yards. Using compressed air of 2900 psi, it can take out rats, possums and other quarry. In short, it's a pistol that performs like a rifle. However, since it has no open sights, you'll need a dot sight or a scope.

With an overall length of 18 inches, the pistol also has a 12-inch shrouded and choked barrel and a raised aluminum breech which makes the clip easy to load.

The Benjamin Marauder is the most powerful air pistol and has great efficiency, considering its relatively small air tank, and is easy to pump up manually. It appears to be good value for money.

Remington 1911RAC - Best CO2 Pistol:

co2 pellet pistol

CO2-powered air guns are an increasingly important part of the air gun market, and it's easy to see why. Lovers of replicas can enjoy them for their own sake, while the power source itself presents exciting possibilities.

This semi-automatic CO2 pistol looks and feels like the Colt that was standard issue for American military forces from 1911 to 1985. Weighing about two pounds, it has good field stripping capabilities, much like the original.  Its magazine contains the BBs and the CO2 cartridge which you can buy from any hardware store. It also comes with both fixed rear and front sights, so your accuracy is great at fifty feet or less. 

The BB Pistol Kit can hold eighteen rounds in the reservoir, so less time is needed for reloading. Since it is a semi-automatic, you can fire multiple shots. I didn’t care for the plastic grips, but was able to exchange them for wooden ones for a few dollars.

Crosman 2240 Bolt Action CO2-powered .22 Air Pistol:

best pellet pistol

This beginner-range pistol with its steel breech and plastic grips is good for hunting and for dealing with small pests. A sturdy, well-built pistol, it is powered by one 12g CO2 Powerlet and is available in .22 caliber. The Powerlet provides 460 feet per second of power.

Being simple to load, the Crosman is good for plinking and is moderately priced, but several people I’ve spoken to remark on its loudness compared with other airguns. The pistol is ergonomically designed for comfort and balance, with a thumb-rest on each grip panel. The rear sight is open and adjustable, although it’s a bit fiddly.

You can use the 2240 straight from the box, but it's also easy to customize. For example, you can buy a steel breech kit for it which includes rails for mounting optics.  Some people have added spring guides, while others have replaced the trigger system to improve accuracy.

Beeman P17 Deluxe Pellet Pistol:

pellet pistols

The Beeman P17 is best pellet pistol for someone interested in a light, budget-priced, 4.5 mm (.177 caliber) air pistol. This realistic-looking single-pump pneumatic pistol shoots lead pellets. It’s made of plastic, with a stainless-steel barrel and is good for plinking or target shooting, although it is rather loud.

It has a pneumatic piston that draws air when you pump it for a single time, and it automatically defaults to safety every time you cock it. Since it is not affected by cold weather, you can shoot the Beeman indoors or out. Overall, the metal inner workings give it a solid feel.

The Beeman P17 is not hugely powerful, but its range is reasonable. It has consistent power and easily-adjustable fiber optic sights.  Unfortunately, the pistol is too large to fit most holsters. Otherwise, it could be a highly useful training aid for single-shot draw-and-shoot exercises.

ASG Dan Wesson CO2 Powered Air Revolver:

best co2 pistol

The name Dan Wesson is synonymous with iconic American pistols. Wesson was famous for his uniquely-designed semi-automatic handguns. Not surprisingly, his air-powered replicas are in hot demand these days. 

To open the cylinder of this cleverly-designed air revolver, you simply push the catch on the left of the main frame. You can also pull it back to serve as a safety. In fact, loading this air revolver with its 12g CO2 cartridge, feels like loading the genuine article.

You just drop in a new capsule, wind the screw until a hissing sound is heard, and put the grip back. There will be enough gas for at least 120 shots. But after rapid fire you must let the bulb return to normal temperature, to prevent a slump in power output. You can use the trigger in single- or double-action mode. The latter is faster, but then accuracy becomes more of a challenge.

People who buy ASG's Dan Wesson pistol like its looks, its feel and the realism of the loading and firing process. The frame is a sturdy aluminum alloy, and the plastic grips are resistant to knocks. The good news is that is shoots well too and owning one won’t break the bank.

(b) Formal Target Shooting 

Crosman Silhouette PCB - Most Powerful Pellet Pistol:

most powerful pellet pistol

A PCP air pistol runs on compressed air, and shooters appreciate the accuracy this provides. Another advantage of the pre-charged pneumatic rifle is the power of its multi-shots. A friend who switched to PCP from springers says he is enjoying the change, especially the lack of recoil and predictable 50-yard shots. It has a built-in air pressure gauge and a synthetic grip.

The Crosman Silhouette PCB takes both heavy and light pellets, although not the leadless kind which are common these days. It would work well with a hand pump. It's almost as quiet as a shrouded pistol because of its efficient use of air. In fact, it will deliver about 30 high-power shots before you need to refill the tank, a surprising number considering the little air that's used.

While this pistol is somewhat expensive, and really intended for silhouette competitions, you can, of course, appreciate it simply as an accurate air pistol.

Crosman 2300S Air Pistol

Described by one enthusiast as "a fun .177 caliber trainer for your backyard," this Crosman is a budget entry into the world of precision air pistols. Instead of putting their own barrel on the gun, Crosman put a high quality choked Lothar Walther on it. 

This single-shot air pistol uses 12-gram CO2 cartridges, each of which supplies over 60 useful shots with consistent velocity.  It has a stainless-steel bolt with a longer handle to make it easier to operate. A fixed front post sight sits atop the aluminum muzzle. The rear Williams sight is fully adjustable, with positive clicks and target knobs.

There are two power levels (high=520 fps and low=440 fps), and the textured synthetic grips have thumb rests on both sides.

The Crosman 2300S is a boon for air gunners, who want to impress with their new-found shooting skills. It  was designed for airgun silhouette competition, and is just about as accurate as a rifle.

air pistol reviews

This pellet firearm is designed specifically for clubs where pistol shooting is taught. It's a moderately-priced, competition-oriented pistol which is ideal for both beginners and advanced shooters.

Because the 2300T has no power adjustment, the gun goes at full tilt from the start.  Features include a 10.1-inch barrel with ten lands and grooves, a one-stage adjustable trigger with a pull of 1-4 pounds, and a screw to adjust over-travel.

From one Crosman Powerlet, the pistol does more than 40 shots (one shooter claims to have gotten 60,) Some of the loading difficulties with the 2300S pistol have been carried over to the 2300T—an issue Crosman needs to address in both pistols. (Who wants to rod the bore after every third shot?)

 The sights are also awkward to use. The front post is narrow on this pistol, compared to the rear notch, and the distance between them makes it hard to estimate when the post is centered. However, mounting a red dot could make the alignment easier. 

All that aside, Crosman has done a great job with both the 2300S and the 2300T pistols. The T lacks the power adjustability of the S, but the Crosman barrel is just as good as the Lothar Walther. If you want a good all-around pellet pistol, the T is the one to buy, but if you want to compete in air gun silhouette, I recommend the S.  Either way, you're getting a quality air gun.

(c) Live-Fire Tactical Training 

Beretta 92FSm Blue Air Pistol

pellet pistol reviews

I love the fit and finish of this beautifully crafted CO2 pellet pistol which looks exactly like a real 9mm firearm and feels like a product that will last many years.  That said, it was a bit expensive for a CO2 pellet pistol. There are cheaper guns out there that will give you just as good a performance, although I doubt any will give you the same realistic feel and finish.

The Beretta has an excellent weight and balance, and apart from the recoil, it feels identical to the real thing. It's a great weapon for backyard training and plinking, whether or not you own the real thing.

Disadvantages? Pulling the trigger is hard in double action, and in single action it's unpredictable. It doesn't come close to 425 fps and needs more power. All that aside, if you enjoy shooting replica pistols, the highly realistic Beretta FS92 will enhance your collection.

Colt 1911 A1 Air Pistol

high powered pellet pistols

This black CO2 pistol is made entirely of high-quality die-cast metal, so it looks and feels like the original 1911 and weighs the same too. I am enjoying its remarkable accuracy and power. In short, it’s fun to shoot. Like the Beretta, it can fire in double action mode (just pull the trigger) or in single action mode (cock the hammer before pulling the trigger).

The pistol has no adjustment on the rear sight. Another criticism would concern the safety on the butt of the gun because you need to grip the handle fairly tightly. The grip safety sounds strange and has a gritty feeling when pushed down. However, the grittiness smooths out with use.

As with the Beretta 92FS mentioned above, the only adjustable setting is the rear sight, which can be adjusted for windage using a key provided. The CO2 use is good, and will easily give you 60-80 shots.

H & K USP Pistol

H&K USP

The Heckler and Koch USP was designed in the early 90s for the police and military, and it continues to perform reliably and accurately.  It is 7.94 inches long, 5.35 inches high, and 1.26 inches wide. It weighs 28.16 ounces unloaded, with a capacity of 10/15 or 18 with a jet funnel.

Frankly, the USP isn't a sexy-looking firearm. "Stodgy" might describe it better. But if you like reliable German engineering, you'll appreciate its solid feel.

The stock trigger on the USP isn't its best point. It seems to value dependability and safety over comfort and precision. The trigger was probably designed for optimal reliability in bad conditions, but it could certainly be improved.

Good points? The single action pull is heavy but smooth, and the safety/decocker, mounted on the frame, is simple to use. The texturing on the grip makes for easy handling.  H & K's proprietary finish is resistant to corrosion, and the machining is clean and precise.

One Comment

  1. Victorinia Salley Reply

    Thank you this information was very informative. I can now make a decision on my choice of air pistol. Thanks

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