Best Air Pistols

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Air pistols have been around almost as long as air powered rifles. They were a natural progression through modification. Invariably someone had a rifle and somehow may have damaged the barrel, so they shortened the barrel to remove the damaged end.

Just like rifles, air pistols fill the same niche of allowing the owner to practice their marksmanship skills in confined spaces or in places where it would be impractical or dangerous to practice with a firearm.

Pistols use the same power plants as rifles, so there are some that are spring powered break barrel, or side lever/underlever designs, there are single pump and multi pump, pcp air pistols using high pressure from hand pumps, compressors, or air tanks, and co2 air pistols that can be powered by disposable cartridges, or others that can have the co2 liquid bulk filled into an onboard reservoir that is filled from a larger co2 bottle.

Air pistols styles range from faithful historic replicas and highly collectible firearms to match-grade target shooting machines capable of amazing feats of accuracy in the right hands. Their power can range from being able to just penetrate a sheet of writing paper from across the room, to hunting air pistols that are capable of taking small and medium game. And they can run the gamut in price from very inexpensive mostly plastic spring powered plinking guns, to Olympic-level match pistols costing several thousands of dollars.

Today we will be looking at air pistols with prices that range from less than $50 and give very good accuracy and value for the money, to a German-crafted precharged hunting pistol that delivers 17 ft lbs of energy and costs over $1000.

Air pistols are perfect for:

  • Marksmanship training or gun safety in a controlled environment where it may be unsafe or not possible to use a firearm.
  • Recreational shooting in smaller or urban areas, or indoors where higher powered airguns are not needed.
  • Refining your handgun skills by practicing the fundamentals of the proper stance, sight picture, trigger discipline, and follow through after the shot.
  • Collecting, shooting and displaying detailed replicas of historic firearms.
  • Pest control of small vermin at very short ranges, like mice or moles in your yard.

With hundreds of options to choose from it’s difficult to narrow down our top picks, but here is where we would start.

Top 10 Best Air Pistols

1. Colt Peacemaker SAA

Number #1 Best Air Pistols - Colt Peacemaker

The Umarex Colt Peacemaker is a faithful reproduction of the 1873 Colt Single Action Army (abbreviated as SAA) revolver, it even has the official Colt logos. The pistols are available in many different finishes, but this model we are highlighting has a beautiful satin nickel finish with faux ivory grips, just like what was an option that could have been ordered with the original firearm.

The pistol has a 5.5 inch smooth bore barrel and just like the Colt it copies, and loads the metallic cartridges into the cylinder one at a time via a swing-out loading gate on the right side of the pistol.

To load the revolver, you remove the left grip panel, and insert a fresh 12-gram co2 cartridge, using the allen wrench that is built into the left grip panel so you can not lose it, tighten the screw on the bottom of the frame to pierce the cartridge, then put the grip panel back on the gun.

Pull the hammer rearward to the half cock position to let the cylinder rotate freely, open the loading gate on the right side of the revolver, load a single bb into the base of each metallic cartridge, then load each cartridge into the cylinder and close the loading gate.

To fire the pistol, point the weapon towards your target, pull the hammer to the full cock position, and then squeeze the trigger. Just like the original firearm from 1873.

Its rated velocity is 410fps, with 100 shots per 12gram co2 cartridge, and is intended for recreational shooting and plinking.

The quality and attention to detail Umarex has put into the Colt Peacemaker makes it a perfect centerpiece to display and enjoy an iconic firearm from the American old west.

Why We Like It

The quality and attention to detail of the original Colt firearm are perfectly replicated in this air pistol.

Having the co2 allen wrench built into the left grip panel makes it difficult to misplace this vital tool.

The pistol can use 4.5mm pellets as well as BBs, when using pellets the accuracy of the pistol is better, and the high shot count makes it economical to shoot, the ease of loading, and the availability of extra metallic cartridges will keep the fun going for hours.

Things to Consider

The pistol has a smoothbore barrel, with BBs, the range is somewhat limited, but with pellets, the range and accuracy are increased.

Just like the Colt pistol it replicates, the sights are not adjustable, so you will either have to find ammunition that hits to the point of aim, or you will have to use “Kentucky windage” to hit smaller targets.

The pistol comes with only 6 metallic cartridges, but more are available online if you wish to have more preloaded.

2. Crosman 2240

Number #2 Best Air Pistols - Crosman 2240

On paper, the Crosman 2240 is a .22 caliber co2 powered bolt action single-shot pistol with open sights. Which it is, and in that configuration has given many thousands of owners much enjoyment. But like Clark Kent, it also has a secret identity many owners have never seen or experienced.

The Crosman 2240 has served as the basis for many custom-built guns by enthusiasts that just can’t get enough of them. The 2240 can use parts like the steel breech and barrel from the ever-popular Benjamin Discovery and Maximus platform. It can utilize the match grade trigger and grip arrangement from the Crosman 1701p SIlhouette match pistol. All with off-the-shelf parts, and some minimal hand tools.

Enthusiasts have shortened the barrels to make “stubby” pistols, and have added longer co2 tubes and barrels from the Crosman 2260 and the Crosman shoulder stock from the 1377 multi-pump pistol to make rifle length airguns. You are only limited by your imagination and your budget. It is the equivalent of Legos for airguns.

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As it comes from the factory, it shoots at about 460fps, and gives about 6.5 ft lbs of energy, making it great for backyard plinking and small pest control at short ranges. You will get about 60 shots per 12gram co2 cartridge that fits in the pressure tube below the barrel.

There are unlimited possibilities of where you can take this pistol with aftermarket accessories.

Why We Like It

The pistol is quite capable as it is from the factory, but it is ultimately customizable with aftermarket accessories, you are only limited by your imagination and your budget. There is also a large community of enthusiasts that are willing to share their knowledge and guide new owners on their journey.

The pistol is easy to operate and is very accurate, and has a good balance of shot count versus power. The Crosman 2240 gives a lot of value for the money, and tens of thousands of owners can’t be wrong!

Things to Consider

It is a single shot co2 pistol, so you will have to buy 12-gram co2 cartridges to shoot the pistol, but they are available at most big box stores.

As it ships from the factory it has a plastic breech, and no way to mount an optic without buying a scope mount designed for the pistol.

3. Springfield Armory Mil Spec 1911

Number #3 Best Air Pistols - Springfield Armory Mil Spec 1911

When it comes to realism, the Mil-spec Springfield Armory 1911 co2 BB pistol from Air Venturi is about as real as it gets. Its full metal, semi automatic, blowback, has a drop-free magazine, it has the last round hold open, and the double diamond checkered grips carry the iconic Springfield Armory logo, as does the slide.

The semi automatic pistol can fire 18 rounds of steel bbs down range at 320 fps as fast as you can pull the trigger. The blowback action is crisp and strong, getting about 65 shots from one 12-gram co2 cartridge that is contained in the metal drop-free mag.

The Springfield Armory Mil-spec 1911 pistol weighs 2 pounds, while the real 1911 weighs about 2.3 lbs. All of the controls work just like the firearm, and they are in the exact same places, allowing you to use the air pistol to practice your marksmanship, and training drills in places you could not use your firearm, or just roll tin cans in the backyard, and doing it at a greatly reduced cost compared to the firearm.

Why We Like It

The replica is full metal, has a realistic weight, it is officially licensed so it has all of the company crest and logos of the firearm it replicates, so it will appeal to both shooters and collectors alike.

All of the controls are functional, and it has the same ergonomics as the firearm, and realistic blowback action for added realism, the three-dot sights are easy to acquire and get on target quickly

.

Things to Consider

The Springfield Armory Mil-spec 1911 only has a 90-day warranty. The pistol ships with only one magazine so practicing reloads will require purchasing a second magazine.

The finely checkered grips are made from plastic but look very realistic, and allow you to get an excellent grip on the pistol.

4. Crosman 1377C / PC77

Number #4 Best Air Pistols - Crosman 1377C / PC77

The Crosman 1377C is an updated Crosman 1377 that has new more modern styling and ergonomics. The pistol is a .177 caliber bolt action, single shot, multi-pump pneumatic that can send 7.9 grain pellets down range at up to 600fps with 10 pumps.

Because of the multi-pump design, the velocity is adjustable by how many times you pump the mechanism. The 1377 sports a rifled steel barrel, steel pressure tube, and a metal grip frame. The receiver has an adjustable rear sight, that also switches between a notch, and a peep sight to suit your sighting preference.

The pistol sports an ambidextrous grip that can be easily switched with the 1399 shoulder stock from Cosman that converts the pistol to a compact, lightweight powerful carbine.

The 1377C is the multi-pump equivalent of the 2240 mentioned earlier in this list, it shares the same flexibility of being modified by users to create some truly amazing custom airguns.

The 1377C is built in the USA with Crosman’s reliability, this airgun requires minimal maintenance, all you need is a tin of pellets and the pistol for an afternoon of fun. The 1377C is sure to provide you and your kids and your grandkids with years of enjoyment.

Why We Like It

The adjustable power output allows you to punch holes in paper across the room, roll tin cans across the yard, or remove small pests in the backyard, all with the same gun, and with no modifications, just selecting the power needed to do the job by the number of times you pump the gun.

The pistol has a manual safety, good ergonomics, and is ambidextrous so it’s perfect for left-handed shooters of all ages.

The pump pistol is covered by a 1-year warranty, over the decades since its inception, millions of owners can’t be wrong about the Crosman 1377.

Things to Consider

There are not many negatives to say about the Crosman 1377, but there are a few things most owners say they would like to change. The trigger pull is about 4.5 lbs, but it is entirely usable.

The pistol comes with a plastic breech, so you will have to use an intermount scope mount to use optics.

Because of the 10.25 inch barrel, and the high velocity, of up to 600fps, the pistol will be somewhat louder than lower powered pistols.

5. Umarex Steel Storm

Number #5 Best Air Pistols - Umarex Steel Storm

The Umarex Steel Storm is a BB repeater that is one of the few BB submachine guns on the market to offer a 6-round burst feature and semi auto in the same package.

When you shoot full auto, even with a BB gun, the recoil of the gun will move the gun off of your target. When shooting real machine guns, they teach you to fire in short bursts (with the m60 machine gun as you pull the trigger, you would say the phrase “a burst of six” in your head and that would be about how long it took to fire six rounds), your first few shots will be on target, but as you continue firing, the recoil will push the gun off target. The Steel Storm has this six-round burst feature built-in to help you increase your accuracy and hit probability.

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The Umarex Steel Storm has a 300-round reservoir under the front sight to hold 300 BBs that are fed into the 30-round spring-loaded internal magazine. It is powered by two 12-gram co2 cartridges housed in a removable tray that is inside the pistol grip, giving you over 300 shots before you have to change the cartridges.

The sights are not adjustable, but it has a Picatinny rail for mounting optics or lasers. The Umarex Steel Storm is a reliable, fun, and accurate BB submachine gun that is sure to give you hours of family fun.

Why We Like It

The Umarex Steel Storm is very gas efficient as it gets over 300 shots with only two co2 cartridges. With the 6-round burst mode, it increases your full auto accuracy and helps you conserve ammo.

The airgun has an easy-to-load BB reservoir that holds 300 BBs, and feeds into a spring-loaded internal 30-round magazine, so you will not waste ammo by spilling it on the ground trying to load the BBs into a small opening.

Things to Consider

The Steel Storm is made of mostly plastic on the outside, with metal components inside. It is not a blowback action, so it does not stop when the magazine is empty, but the 30-round internal magazine coupled with the six-shot burst feature makes it easy to keep count of your rounds in the magazine when shooting in burst mode (5 bursts per magazine).

The BB magazine is not removable like most co2 powered BB guns, but once you get used to how it works it becomes easy to use. The BBs will start to rattle in the reservoir once you start to empty the hopper, but with 300 rounds in the gun, that is a lot of shooting.

6. Crosman Vigilante

Number #6 Best Air Pistols - Crosman Vigilante

We covered a historic single-action revolver earlier in this list, now we move into a different century with the Crosman Vigilante. The Vigilante can trace its lineage to the venerable Crosman 357 pellet revolver.

The Vigilante weighs in at 2 lbs and is flexible in its ammo, it comes with both a 6-round BB magazine and a 10-round pellet magazine. The rifled steel barrel ensures great accuracy with pellets. With both metal and polymer construction, the Vigilante is built to last.

The Vigilante is capable of being fired double action, or single action, giving you the choice of speed or better accuracy. The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation, but the Vigilante also sports a Picatinny rail on top of the barrel for your choice of optics, and another rail on the bottom of the barrel for lights, lasers, or other accessories.

The comfortable hand-filling molded black combat grips have finger grooves and stippling on them for a sure grip. The Vigilante has a manual safety, and a break-open design that is easy and very fast to reload.

Getting over 70 shots per co2 cartridge, it is an all-day shooter that is sure to please anyone.

Why We Like It

The Vigilante has a rifled steel barrel for accuracy but is also “dual fuel” as it can shoot both BBs and pellets, it sports molded grips for a good hold.

The pistol is covered by a 1-year warranty from Crosman and has mounting points for both optics on the top and other accessories on the bottom.

With extra magazines available so you can have some pre-loaded to keep the fun going.

Things to Consider

The gun does have a lot of plastic furniture but it has metal where it counts, coming from Crosman it is well made.

The Vigilante comes with only 1 of each type of magazine, extras may be purchased at a nominal cost.

Some owners find the finger grooves molded into the grips do not fit their hands well, so comfort will depend on the size of your hands.

7. Beretta PX4

Number #7 Best Air Pistols - Beretta PX4

The Beretta PX4 Storm air pistol replicates the actual PX4 Storm firearm in almost every way, the looks, the ergonomics, the operation, just not the Beretta PRICE!

The PX4 Storm is a co2-powered blowback air pistol that is capable of shooting both BBs and pellets interchangeably, so you can shoot whatever ammo you have on hand.

The 16-round magazine has an eight-shot rotary clip on each end, you shoot the first eight, eject the magazine, flip it over and reinsert it, and shoot the other eight rounds. Extra magazines are available at a very reasonable cost so you can spend more time shooting and less time reloading.

With a weight of 26 ounces and a maximum velocity of 380fps, it is no flyweight in either the heft or the power department. With its rifled steel barrel, it is at home on the target range or rolling tin cans in the backyard.

Why We Like It

It can use either pellets or BBs interchangeably and uses an innovative magnet to hold the BBs in the rotary clip. Extra magazines are available at a very reasonable cost.

The pistol replicates the action, ergonomics, the feel, and function of the PX4 firearm almost exactly making it ideal for teaching someone safe and proper gun handling. The rifled steel barrel gives the pistol accuracy so they may hone their marksmanship skills as well.

Things to Consider

The PX4 Storm only has a 90-day warranty, but it is a well-made air pistol that should give you years of enjoyment.

The rear sight is molded into the plastic slide so it is not adjustable, and the safety and the slide release are not functional. So the slide will not lock back after the last shot.

8. Beeman P1

Number #8 Best Air Pistols - Beeman P1

Legendary German craftsmanship by the Weihrauch company, that pretty much sums up the Beeman P1 spring-powered air pistol.

The P1 is considered by many airgunners to be the Holy Grail of air pistols. This is an airgun that you will pass along to your grandchildren and their children.

The gun’s construction, feel and balance shows quality and attention to detail. It feels and handles just like a model 1911 pistol, so you develop the same muscle memory when practicing at home. The grip fills your hand without feeling bulky or oversized.

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The adjustable two-stage trigger, has a serrated surface for more control, to help you achieve maximum accuracy from the Beeman P1. The top of the Beeman P1 has a dovetail groove for mounting your choice of optics, many owners have opted for a scope to increase the precision of their shots.

Unlike many of the current production air pistols, the P1 is a solid metal gun with finely checkered walnut grips. And as a bonus, it’s completely ambidextrous.

The Hammer is actually the release lever for the unusual over-lever cocking mechanism that compresses the powerful mainspring, offering both a low power and a high power setting that can be chosen just by how far you extend the cocking lever, letting you choose which power level is best suited for your intended target. The Beeman P1 is an excellent backyard or indoor training pistol for those that use a 1911 for protection or competition.

Why We Like It

The Beeman P1 is an heirloom pistol that will last for generations. The ergonomics, weight feel, and sight picture replicate a 1911 target pistol.

The spring-powered pistol has two user-selectable power levels, that can be chosen just by how far you cock the powerful spring piston. The piston recoils rearward not forward like most spring-powered airguns, so it replicates a recoil pulse just like a firearm.

The top rail allows the use of optics or you can use the fully adjustable target sights for precision bullseye shooting. The adjustable two-stage trigger is light and breaks cleanly.

Things to Consider

Weihrauch quality and accuracy doesn’t come cheap, but it is a pistol that will give years of service and enjoyment to you and your family for generations.

While the ergonomics, weight, and sight picture replicate a 1911 target pistol, the pistol is larger than a 1911, so it will not fit in holsters for 1911’s.

The pistol is a single shot spring powered pistol, meaning it must be cocked and loaded for each shot, it is not a repeater. The power of the pistol is preset at two levels, and they cannot be adjusted to a higher power than the pistol is capable of delivering.

9. Weihrauch HW44

Number #9 Best Air Pistols - Weihrauch HW44

When purchasing a Weihrauch airgun you can be certain you will be getting the best piece of airgun equipment that German craftsmanship can produce, and the Weihrauch HW44 continues that tradition.

The engineers at Weihrauch took the action of their venerable HW110 precharged pneumatic air rifle, and squeezed it into a pistol, giving you the HW44, a multishot precharged pneumatic powerhouse capable of producing up to 750 fps in .177 and 570 fps in .22, with 13 ft lbs of energy and 17 ft lbs of energy respectively.

Cocked and loaded by a simple pull of the smooth side lever action, the HW44 uses the same 10-shot rotary magazine as the HW110 rifle and fills to 200 BAR (2900 psi) so it is hand pump friendly.

The pistol has an accessory rail for lasers, lights, and other accessories, and also features a picatinny scope rail for optics. The 2-stage match trigger aids in exceptional accuracy, while the permanently mounted suppressor makes it quiet and backyard friendly.

Why We Like It

The HW44 melds 21st-century manufacturing with old-world craftsmanship and attention to detail. It shares the same magazine as the HW 110 rifle for compatibility.

For such a small pistol, it produces a lot of power for small game and pest control, or backyard plinking. The moderator keeps things quiet so as not to annoy the neighbors.

The pistol ships with 2 magazines, and fills to 2900 psi making it easy to use a small hand pump.

Things to Consider

The HW44 uses a proprietary fill probe so be careful to not lose it. Because of the compact size, it only gets about 20 shots per fill.

It only has a one-year warranty, and the pistol uses a lot of polymer parts, but since it is a hunting gun, it is more durable than wood.

The magazine uses a retention lever you have to manipulate in order to load the magazine, this can take some getting used to.

10. Beeman P17

Number #10 Best Air Pistols - Beeman P17

The Beeman P17 is a .177 caliber single-stroke pneumatic, single-shot pistol that is styled after a modern semi automatic pistol. The grip is very reminiscent of a Walther P99 9mm firearm.

The pistol sports fiber optic sights that are adjustable for windage and elevation, an 11mm dovetail rail running between the front and rear sight for mounting optics, it has a decent trigger and even a dry-fire option that is normally found on high-end 10-meter target pistols. The P17 also delivers excellent accuracy for the money.

With a single stroke the P17 can produce 410 fps, and every time you cock the pistol, the safety is automatically engaged, and only takes a flick of your thumb to get the pistol back into action.

The Beeman P17 does not require any co2, just a tin of pellets and the air pistol, which are all that is needed for an afternoon of fun.

Why We Like It

The P17 offers a lot of value for the money, it is accurate, has a decent trigger, and has adequate power to dispatch small pests such as mice and moles at close range.

The pistol is not pellet picky, and the fiber optic sights are bright and easy to see. The automatic safety is conveniently located on the left side so it can be disengaged with your non-firing hand.

It does not require any support equipment or co2 cartridges to use the pistol.

Things to Consider

This is an inexpensive pistol so it makes extensive use of synthetic materials on the outside, but internally, it is reinforced with steel and aluminum where it counts.

The length of the cocking mechanism makes it hard to cock for some shooters, but you will develop your own technique to make it easier.

The optics rail is made from plastic, and while it will hold red dots, the use of larger scopes may not hold up.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>