So, are you interested in buying an air pistol? Well, before you head out to your local specialty hobby store, there are several important factors you need to understand first. The most important rule when handling any type of air gun is safety. Just because it shoots pellets does not mean you should take it lightly. Being irresponsible when handling airguns is a sure way to injure yourself or others. Make no mistake, air guns can be potentially fatal, or at the very least, cause serious harm.
Just remember to have a good understanding of its features, uses, and safety before buying one. With that in mind, we will discuss important aspects of the air pistols such as proper handling, maintenance, and care. We will also be going through key safety tips as well. But before that, I’ll first give you a list of the best air pistols on the market today. I have compiled this list based on personal experience as well as overall customer feedback.
Top 10 Best Air Pistols
This list is not in any specific order. Most people will have a specific preference for their air pistols, so what may be perfect for one individual may not be to another’s liking. Rest assured though, that each of these air pistols offers the best performance and quality around.
Let’s start the list off with a staple brand name when it comes to quality air guns, the Crossman. This is the Crossman American Classic Pump Air Gun. While this is one of the more affordable models available in the market, it still manages to deliver a solid performance on all fronts. The air pistol uses the standard single action bolt mechanism, which makes reloading quick and easy. It uses .177 caliber ammunition pellets, and can deliver speeds of up to 600 feet per second, not bad for a budget air pistol.
The longer barrel also gives it improved accuracy, making it ideal for hunting vermin as well. The Crossman American Classic incorporates a highly adjustable design, which makes it one of the most comfortable air pistols to use. You can adjust both the grip and stock to suit your personal preference.
It also has an ultra-light trigger that weighs around 4 ounces. The light trigger helps offer faster and more consistent shots for both hunting and target practice. The cocking mechanism is located underneath the barrel, making it easy to load your shot. You can also choose between the default 600 or 480 feet per second power, depending on the situation.
Overall, the American Classic Pump Air Gun certainly delivers a well-rounded experience for air pistol enthusiasts without affecting their budget. It’s an affordable air pistol that delivers quality well above its price tag. This is a good air pistol for beginners who are still learning the ins and outs of air guns.
The Benjamin Trail NP Break Barrel Air Pistol has been around for quite some time now, but that should give you an idea of how good this air gun is if I still included it in this list. It delivers impressive knockback power at an affordable price. It is also well-designed, in that reloading and cocking the barrel feels fluid. It uses a nitro piston system which helps reduce the overall weight of the air pistol for better handling. The Benjamin Trail NP Break Barrel Air Pistol delivers up to 625 feet per second in speed, and uses .177 caliber pellets.
This power is possible thanks to its use of the patented nitro piston system by Crossman. The nitro piston is commonly used by air rifles, which explains its knockback capability. Another advantage of having a nitro piston system rather than the spring coiled mechanism is its ability to withstand various weather conditions. You won’t need to worry about the internal mechanism being corroded. It also delivers less recoil and easier cocking.
A nifty little feature here is the inclusion of a fiber optic sight. The fiber optic sight is located at the back and front of the air pistol. This helps to increase precision when aiming at your target. You can also use a night optics if you want to practice or hunt pests at night.
The Benjamin Trail NP uses a lightweight, polymer frame, which handles like a dream. The use of a synthetic frame greatly improves the handling of this air pistol. You can use it at a prolonged duration without tiring yourself out.
I would also like to point out another helpful feature that the Benjamin Trail NP has, which is the cocking aid. If you have trouble pumping your air pistol before firing, then this feature will make things significantly easier. You also won’t need to worry about the cocking aid making the air pistol unbalanced, as it weighs next to nothing.
Benjamin Marauder PCP Air Pistol
Let’s kick things up a notch here with the Benjamin Marauder PCP Air Pistol. As the name suggests, this one utilizes the pre-charged pneumatic system (PCP). The Benjamin Marauder uses .22 caliber pellets, which in conjunction with the PCP system, allows for high accuracy and knockback capability, as it can produce around 3,000 psi of force. It has an overall power of 700 feet per second and can accurately hit targets as far as 33 yards.
The one-foot barrel that it comes with helps to reduce the noise it produces, not that it is loud since it uses the PCP system. It also comes with an 8-shot clip that uses a self-indexing capability. You can also attach a shoulder stock to the pistol if you prefer, or use the default handle grip. If you want speed and precision, this impressive PCP air pistol might just be the one you are looking for. Although, I would warn you that this is one of the high-end models in the market and can be quite expensive for beginners.
You should also be aware that this air pistol comes with a considerable weight to it. If you plan to attach a scope to it, then you will increase this weight even further. It also needs to be pumped a couple of times to produce maximum knockback power. The pumping can be a bit difficult for some, and might even tire out others quickly.
Overall, the Benjamin Marauder PCP Air Pistol is a great air pistol, but it does come with some flaws. It can be more physically demanding to use than your standard air pistol but in exchange, it will give you consistency and reliability. That’s a good trade in my opinion.
In terms of authenticity, the Winchester Model 11K has it in spades. It fully captures the feel of an actual pistol, which makes it a popular choice for gun aficionados. It is made of durable nickel frame, and uses checkered grips for optimum handling. It uses CO2 cartridges, which allows you to fire multiple shots in rapid succession. The air pistol can also hold around 750 BBs at once. The addition of the case helps you protect it from the natural elements during storage.
In terms of safety, the Winchester Model 11K excels in preventing misfires. You will need to fully disengage the catch if you want to fire the air pistol. While this means you can’t use this for quickdraw occasions, that stalling helps you prevent accidentally firing the air pistol.
As for its performance, expect the Winchester Model 11K to produce up to 410 feet per second in terms of power. While that may sound a little low, remember that this uses CO2 cartridges and allows you to fire up to 16 shots uninterrupted. It uses .177 caliber BB ammunition. It is also important to note that it is not compatible with pellets and is strictly a BBs air pistol.
The Winchester Model 11K Air Pistol comes with its own case and kit, which includes several accessories that you can use to enhance the air pistol’s capabilities. It is relatively loud, though, which is something you should be aware of. It has decent enough knockback power to be a reliable pest control pistol, and its high authenticity makes it a good choice for target practice.
As this is manufactured by one of the premier firearm developers to date, you can expect it to deliver in both performance and quality. The Smith & Wesson M&P 40 BB Air Gun uses the same design as the Smith & Wesson police and military sidearm. In terms of authenticity, the M&P 40 definitely feels like an actual pistol. This is a great replica air gun if you want something that looks like a real firearm.
This air pistol uses a CO2 cartridge, which is integrated perfectly into the grips. It utilizes a 19-round drop down the magazine. Reloading is quick and simple with the M&P 40 Air Pistol, and it emulates an actual sidearm as the magazine slides down effortlessly with a push of a button.
Other features offered by the Smith & Wesson M&P include a double action trigger, as well as manual safety. In terms of accuracy, this air pistol is installed with a fiber optic sight located on both the rear and front. The front sight is adjustable and will improve your precision significantly.
This is a nigh indistinguishable replica of a real sidearm, so be responsible when you take it out with you. It is also quite powerful and can deliver up to 480 feet per second in knockback power. Accuracy is also impressive. The only downside here is that CO2 cartridges can be quite expensive in the long run. Other than that, this is a highly recommended air pistol for both training and eliminating small pests.
Daisy 985415-42 Hunting Air Pistol
Another air pistol designed to be as authentic as possible, don’t make the mistake of looking past the Daisy 985415-42 Hunting Air Pistol because of its name. It packs quite a punch at 500 feet per second speeds. It also utilizes .177 caliber BB ammunition and uses the ever reliable and fun CO2 cartridge system. As the name implies, this air pistol is designed for hunting small prey, and is capable of delivering a humane death to small vermin.
The Daisy Hunting Air Pistol features a unique grip that is not only anti-slip, but also gives the user optimum comfort when firing the air gun. This is an important element when hunting and when doing target practice, as it allows you to fire the gun for a prolonged amount of time without tiring out.
One extra feature that I always tend to look for in my air pistol is the safety. It incorporates a trigger block that is operated manually. This greatly reduces the danger of misfires when handling the air pistol. I also find the red indicator light to be a good inclusion, as it lets you know if the air pistol is hot (safety off) with just a quick glance.
The Daisy Hunting Air Pistol is also compatible with other accessories like the scope, tactical flashlight, and a laser sight. This ability to choose from a wide selection of accessories helps improve an already solid air pistol, pushing it to its peak performance. All in all, either for practice or for hunting small prey during the day or at night, the Daisy 985415-42 Hunting Air Pistol is a solid choice for both beginners and experts alike.
GAMO PT-85 Blowback Pellet Pistol
In terms of capturing the feeling of firing a live firearm, the GAMO PT-85 includes a nifty blowback feature which simulates what it feels like to fire a live gun. However, it is still lightweight when it comes to its overall design, which makes it easier for individuals to use. The GAMO PT-85 uses .177 caliber ammunition, and can fire pellets of up to 450 feet per second. It is powerful enough to be used for hunting small prey (5 lbs. and below), as well as for delivering accurate one-hit kill shots.
As stated earlier, the GAMO PT-85 incorporates a special blowback feature to emulate firing a live firearm. As training equipment, this feature definitely helps better prepare individuals if they plan to handle an actual firearm in the future. The design of this air pistol also mimics that of a real gun with the grip, frame, barrel, optics, and trigger – all made to look like the real deal.
The grips of the GAMO PT-85 are well-made. It uses plastic grips that are uniquely textured for optimal comfort. The plastic material is easy to handle and fits perfectly in your palm. The textured designed also reduces the strain of using the air pistol for a prolonged amount of time.
The stock sights on the pistol are also top-notch. I would even go as far as saying that GAMO PT-85’s sights are among the best in the market today. The sights use reflective white dots that help improve your aiming capability. If you choose, you can also attach additional accessories like scopes and laser sights.
The GAMO-PT-85 utilizes a 16-pellet double magazine feature, which is a solid number for a magazine. This allows you to keep firing longer before the need to reload. The pellet magazine can also be easily reloaded, as it uses the smooth drop-down magazine reloading system.
Beeman Sportsman Series Deluxe Air Pistol 2004E
The Beeman Sportsman Series Deluxe Air Pistol is a pneumatic pistol designed to cater to air gun enthusiasts. It is actually one of the most affordable air pistols on the market today, since it has been around for a while. However, it is still widely used by air gun connoisseurs due to its top of the line performance.
Its practical design eliminates any bells and whistles, but all that extra space allowed the manufacturers ample room to upgrade their mechanism. The air pistol has an all-black finish and uses durable synthetic material that feels good to handle. The rear sight can be adjusted to your liking, while the front sight is fixed in place. Aiming with this air pistol feels good, thanks to the well-balanced construction of the air pistol.
As for the cocking mechanism, it uses the over-lever design. You will need to lift the barrel at least 180 degrees forward to reload the pistol. The good news here is that cocking this air pistol is effortless, so you can fire rounds for a long time before you tire out. Just makes sure that your hand is completely clear of the grip and barrel, as they snap back quickly, and you don’t want to get your hand trapped in there when it does.
The Beeman Sportsman Series Deluxe uses .177 caliber pellets and can produce up to 410 feet per second in terms of power. If you are looking to save some cash but want a solid air pistol with considerable knockback power and high accuracy, the Beeman Deluxe Pistol might just be the one you are looking for.
Colt Defender .177 Caliber Steel Air Pistol
The Colt Defender is another CO2 powered air pistol, so expect some rapid-fire goodness with this one. It uses a magazine that can hold up to 16-shots of BB ammunition. To the trained eye, the Colt Defender does have some similarities to the Daisy Air Pistol that we reviewed earlier, but it still manages to stand on its own with the fixed front and rear sights.
The biggest question most will have when it comes to using a CO2 powered air pistol is how many shots can it make before you need to replace the cartridge? Well, for the Colt Defender, I would put it at around 100 shots before you notice a significant decrease in its knockback power. At its max, it can deliver up to 450 feet per second. Remember that CO2 powered air rifles require better maintenance, as air leakage is a common issue. However, as long as you take care of the Colt Defender properly, you won’t need to worry about any CO2 leakage in the cartridge.
The biggest strength of the Colt Defender is the construction. It is one of the most durable air pistols that I have owned. In fact, it still in good working condition to this day, even though it has been quite some time since I last used it. In all other aspects, the Colt Defender is a well-rounded air pistol at an affordable price. In terms of longevity, it is right up there with some of the best.
UMAREX TDP45 .177 Caliber Steel BB Air Pistol
Let’s throw in a wild card for the last entry with the lesser known UMAREX TDP45 Air Pistol. While it is not as popular as the other brands I included in this list, I still believe it deserves a shout out and a spot here. It is an affordable air pistol that does not skimp in quality.
For a budget air pistol, it can easily deliver 410 feet per second in terms of power. This is good for target practice and other recreational activities. However, I wouldn’t recommend this for hunting, even if you just want to do a little pest control. It does not deliver enough power to take out prey with one shot.
So why did I include it here amongst air pistols that are designed for both practice and hunting? Well, it is a solid air pistol for beginners. In fact, it is advertised as a great introductory air pistol. It is a bare bones air pistol that focuses on the most vital accessories. Of course, you have the option of adding additional gear like a weaver rail, which further gives you more bang for your buck.
All in all, the UMAREX TDP45 Air Pistol is a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. That is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are just a beginner learning the ropes. It comes at a low price and a decent performance on all fronts – just what a great beginner’s tool should be.
Comprehensive Guide to Air Pistols
You might already be aware of both the air pistol and air rifle if you are reading this article. However, if you are relatively new to the game, you might want to understand the benefits of choosing one over the other. The truth is that comparing an air pistol with an air rifle is something of a non-factor. They both do and utilize the same mechanics, so why exactly choose one over the other? The primary deciding factor here is your skill level. For beginners, I highly suggest that you orient yourself with an air pistol. It serves as the stepping off point for air gun aficionados. Air pistols are great for target practice and recreational activities. Some even have enough knockback power to be used as a hunting or pest extermination tool. But if you truly want to sink your teeth into hunting, a hunting rifle is the way to go. Hunting rifles will require a new set of understanding and skill set though. If you go straight for the air rifle, you might feel the learning curve is a bit steep.
What I’m trying to say is that you can choose whichever you want, but a little understanding can help iron out the process as you move on.
Air Pistols for Hunting
Obviously, air pistols will likely not stack up to the overall knockback power of an air rifle. Some can, but these are the higher end and more expensive air pistols. This means that if you want to hunt small prey or eliminate pests in your location using an air pistol, you need to get as close as possible and hit the target at the precise area for a humane kill. This is the main reason I don’t recommend using the air pistol for hunting.
Pellets and BB ammunition for your air pistol are easy to find. You can buy them at your local gun, sporting, hunting, or hobby store. The same rules apply to both air pistols and air rifles when it comes to pellets. You should also consider getting an air pistol that is relatively lightweight. Experts understand that aiming becomes tiresome, even if you are using air pistols and air rifles: thus, the more balanced the weight distribution, the better. This is doubly true for air pistols, as you normally hold them with one hand.
Air Pistol Buying Guide for Beginners
Choosing the best air pistol is not exactly rocket science, so don’t be intimidated. The top 10 list I shared with you above should further help narrow down your choices. But as I’ve always said, it is best to arm yourself with the right knowledge as well. So, I’ll give you some comprehensive pointers on what to look for when buying an air pistol. Let’s begin.
Pistol Power Source
There are several kinds to choose from here. You can get the traditional spring coiled or break barrel, the CO2, or the PCP powered air pistols.
Spring Coiled Air Pistols
- Simple and easy to use.
- Best for beginners.
- The spring coiled mechanism is susceptible to corrosion problems. Replacement of parts is cheap though.
CO2 Powered Pistols
- No recoil.
- Bolt action and semi-auto capability for multiple shots before the need to reload.
- Significant temperature changes can affect its performance.
- Power and precision drops once the pressure in the CO2 cartridge decreases over time.
- CO2 cartridges can be a little expensive.
PCP Powered Air Pistols
- Tremendous power at 2,900 PSI on average.
- Pressurized cartridges are not affected by temperature.
- High accuracy.
- Multi-shot capability.
The trigger-pull quality for every air pistol differs, so it is best that you have some understanding of this element. Make sure that there is enough pressure on the trigger so that it is not too light. A trigger that is too light is susceptible to accidental discharge.
Air Pistol Caliber
You can choose from a .22, .25, or .177 caliber. How do you choose? Well, most air guns use only one type of caliber, but some do offer the user to choose between two. Here is the lowdown for each caliber.
- .177 caliber – this is the standard and most common caliber you will encounter when using an air gun. It is small and is usually made from lead. It is the easiest type of pellet ammunition to find.
- .22 caliber – the best choice for hunters. The .22 can deliver one-shot kill to small animals due to its larger size. This allows for a more humane way to kill small prey and pests.
- .25 caliber – larger than the .22 caliber, the .25 packs a wallop. The downside here though is that the velocity of the air gun takes a considerable hit if you use this type of ammunition, making the .22 caliber a more practical choice. Have you ever wondered why you don’t see .25 caliber pellets in stores? Now you know.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Air pistols are not created equal, as some can deliver 1,400 feet per second firepower, while others fall around the 500 feet per second mark. If you will be using it for hunting and prefer long distance shooting, the higher the velocity the better. If you only want to use it for target practice or recreational activities, then you can make do with the lower velocity air pistols.
Some air pistol products come with the option to attach several accessories like scopes, laser sights, and tactical flashlights. Ask yourself, will I actually need those accessories? There are also air pistols that come with holsters, which adds a nice touch. You should also try to find an air pistol cleaning kit specific to the type of power source your pistol uses.
The air pistol is a great way to practice shooting in a cost-effective manner. Finding the best air pistol will all revolve around your personal preferences. You should first decide what your main use of it will be, and then work your way up through the categories from there. Obviously, this is not a child’s toy. Children should never be allowed to handle air pistols without proper adult supervision. Just like with an actual firearm, you should always be responsible when handling an air gun, and make sure that all safety precautions are met at all times.