The world of air guns is a fun and exciting place, but choosing the best air pistol (or air rifle) for your needs can be difficult, especially if you’re new to this area of shooting sports.
These are far more than simple bb guns after all. Many of them are used even by professionals as training tools, and some of them require a significant amount of your hard-earned cash as well.
That’s why we put together this list of the best air pistols around. Here’s our picks for the best air pistols, from simple break barrel models, to double-action semi-automatic handguns that use CO2 cartridges.
Tanfoglio Witness 1911
Tanfoglio Witness 1911
Crosman 2240 Bolt- Action
Crosman 2240 Bolt- Action
Beeman P3 Air Pistol
Beeman P3 Air Pistol
ASG Dan Wesson
ASG Dan Wesson
Crosman Silhouette PCP
Crosman Silhouette PCP
Gamo P-25 Air Pistol
Gamo P-25 Air Pistol
Umarex Beretta MOD. 84FS
lite Force 1911
Elite Force 1911
Let’s talk about how to choose the best air pistol, why we like these particular ones so much, and then we’ll dive into a look at each of them individually so you can make the most informed choice possible.
Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing the Best Air Pistol
So you’ve decided to buy an 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. Scrolling through Amazon listings is a nightmare of stats and terms that don’t make a lot of sense.
Don’t worry. We’re gonna make this easy.
Just ask yourself following questions:
- How will I use this air pistol the most often?
- 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?
Whether you’re hunting varmints, training your pistol skills, or just plinking and having fun, you should have an airgun that works well for your intended purpose. This means picking and airgun with the action, caliber, and power rating that best suits your most likely uses and your budget.
Types of Air Pistols
If you’re on a budget, a simple break-action BB gun is the cheapest option, and is perfectly fine for plinking, but they aren’t great for hunting or pest control. That said, they use springs for power so your only consumable to buy is your ammo, but you only get one shot before you have a lengthy (and fiddly) reload to perform.
On the other end of the spectrum, pre-charged pneumatic or PCP air guns use a refillable cylinder that you pressurise with a bike pump or air compressor. These guns are more expensive, but are far more powerful on average and can fire several shots from a reloadable magazine before you need to swap mags or top up the tank.
PCP guns are pricey, but they are also much more effective for hunting and even self-defense.
Somewhere in the middle, we have blowback, CO2-powered guns. These are less powerful, but some pellet versions can still be used for pest control. Their primary purpose however is as a training tool or “fun gun”.
Included in this category are the replicas of popular semi-automatic firearms like the Beretta 92FS, Glock 17, and the legendary 1911. This is great if you like that style of gun and want a cheaper training option with a similar design.
Finally, we have pneumatic guns that use either a spring or a compressed gas piston. The former is very good for budget target shooting, while the latter is a little more pricey, but has less recoil and a faster lock time.
Recoil may not be something you typically think about with an airgun, but because the velocity is so low, and the lock time, or time between pulling the trigger and the gun firing, is so long, that recoil can really throw off your shot. This is especially true with spring-powered guns or “springers”.
Air Pistol Features To Keep in Mind
There are a few other things to remember as you’re choosing an air pistol. Any air handgun is better than no air handgun, but if you want something that truly works for you, here’s what you need to keep in mind.
Air Pistol Caliber
Air pistols range in bore diameter from the very common ISSF-style .177 caliber all the way up to the big bore .50 caliber rifles that are used for large game like deer. For varmint hunting, .22 caliber is very popular, as are .177 guns loaded with field points.
The larger calibers like the .30, .357, and .50 cal options are typically best suited for PCP-style guns as spring, pneumatic, and even CO2 cartridge guns don’t really have the power needed.
The other thing to keep in mind is the power rating of your gun. Most shooting sports organizations like Field Target Federation have power and/or fps limits on guns you can use. Almost all states have a caliber or power minimum for certain game as well, so make sure your gun is within the legal range for your selected activity.
Also, make sure that if you’re looking for a long-range target gun, that you get one with enough oomph to go the distance.
Alright, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best airguns around.
11 Best Air Pistols [Expert Choices]
1. Benjamin Marauder - Best Air Pistol For Target Shooting
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 Benjamin Marauder PCP Air 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 at 2900 psi, it can take out rats, squirrels, and other small game or pests.
In short, it's a pistol that performs like an air rifle. However, since it has no open sights, you'll need a dot sight or a scope. It does however come with a detachable carbine stock as well, so you can shoot it like a rifle for more accuracy.
It has an overall length of 18 inches, and the pistol also has a 12-inch shrouded and choked barrel so it is suitably quiet for hunting.
While not the most powerful air pistol out there, it has plenty of power for target shooting or for taking out small game and pests.
2. Tanfoglio Witness 1911 Full Metal Airgun -Best CO2 Air Pistol
CO2-powered air guns are an increasingly important part of the air guns 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.
The Tanfoglio Witness 1911 is a semi-automatic, CO2-powered pistol that looks and feels like the Colt that was standard issue for American military forces from 1911 to 1985. Weighing about two pounds, it’s easy to carry 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, though some Kentucky windage may be required.
The magazine that comes with your bb pistol kit can hold eighteen rounds, so less time is needed for reloading. Since it is a semi-automatic, you can fire multiple shots quickly, making it a good training tool as well.
Overall, this is one of the best CO2 airguns , and is great for semi-automatic pistol shooters that want a cheaper option for practice. Unlike the standard 1911, it is double-action, but it still has a metal slide and steel barrel for that classic 1911 weight and feel.
3. Crosman 2240 Bolt- Action .22 Air Pistol
The Crosman 2240 is a beginner-range hunting air pistol with a steel breech and plastic grips that is good for hunting and pest control. A sturdy, well-built pistol, it is powered by one 12g CO2 cartridge and is chambered for .22 caliber pellets. The CO2 cartridge 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. In truth, it’s still much quieter than any firearm, but it may be a bit obnoxious to your neighbors if you’re in close quarters.
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 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 a rail system for mounting optics. Some people have added spring guides, while others have replaced the trigger system to improve accuracy.
Want to know about best scopes for .22 pistols? Check out our guide.
4. Beeman P3 Air Pistol
The Beeman P3 is a great pellet pistol for someone interested in a light, budget-priced, 4.5 mm (.177 caliber) air pistol. This realistic-looking single-stroke 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 cock it, 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 P3 is not hugely powerful, but its range is reasonable. It has consistent power and easily-adjustable fiber optic sights. It is a very good trainer for drawing from a holster and firing a first shot quickly.
5. ASG Dan Wesson CO2-Powered Airsoft Revolver
The ASG Dan Wesson CO2-powered airsoft revolver is a great option for anyone interested in target shooting with 6mm plastic BBs.
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 frame. You can also pull it back to serve as a safety.
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. It shoots well too, and won’t break the bank.
6. Crosman Silhouette PCP - Most Powerful Air Pistol
The Crosman Silhouette 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 each shot.
A friend of mine 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 PPB 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 also 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. That said, if you’re looking for one of the most powerful air pistols for serious competition, this is a really great option.
7. Crosman 2300S Air Pistol
Described by one enthusiast as "a fun .177 caliber trainer for your backyard," the Crosman 2300S 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 Lothar Walther on it. Not a bad step up from many of the options out there if you ask me.
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 many air rifles.
8. Crosman 2300T Air Pistol - Best Pellet Pistol
This Crosman 2300T Air Pistol 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, but it isn’t much of an inconvenience.
The sights are also a little awkward to use at first. 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. 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.
9. Gamo P-25 Air Pistol
The Gamo P-25 is a 16-shot air pistol that runs on CO2 air cartridges like many of the other blowback models on this list. It is modeled after the iconic Walther PPK, so if you want to feel like James Bond while you stalk tin cans in the backyard, this is a great option.
It’s also just a great compact option to keep in a pocket or something so you can have something handy to dispatch the occasional snake or rat with.
Beyond that, it is an accurate little air gun, and one of our favorite blowback pellet guns on the list because of its ease of use and classic styling. It isn’t the best for target shooting or for hunting small game just because of the short sight radius, but it is excellent for general plinking.
And of course, ammo and CO2 cartridges are cheap so you can easily shoot all day with this great little pistol.
10. Umarex Beretta MOD. 84FS Blowback Pellet Pistol
I love the fit and finish of this beautifully crafted Umarex Beretta MOD. 84FS CO2 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 gun. 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 shot it's unpredictable. It doesn't come close to 425 fps and needs more power. All that aside, if you enjoy shooting replica pistols, this highly realistic Umarex copy of the Beretta FS92 will enhance your collection.
11. Elite Force 1911 Blowback 6mm BB Pistol
The Elite Force 1911 6mm airsoft pistol is made entirely of high-quality die-cast metal, so it looks and feels like the original 1911 and weighs close to 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. It also features and adjustable “hop up” feature that will be familiar to many veteran airsoft shooters. Hop up applies an upward spin to the
Air pistols, from single-shot pellet guns to big bolt-action PCP air pistols pusing almost 800 feet per second, are a fun shooting hobby to get into. Whether you’re using them for varmint hunting, pest control, serious competition shooting, or just general plinking fun at the range, there is something out there for everyone.
We’ve carefully reviewed all the options here, and we’re confident that you’ll be happy with them.