Airsoft pistols are some of the most versatile and popular choices for airsoft players. Their mix of ergonomics, simplicity, and value make them excellent as starter weapons for beginner players or for backup weapons in certain situations.
However, there are many different types of airsoft pistols, with various designs, firing systems, materials, and power ratings that can make finding the right gun for you a confusing and frustrating process.
There is no shortage of options for beginners or enthusiasts, and despite a lot of key differences in their performance and features, many airsoft pistols look almost exactly the same externally.
This can lead to you purchasing something that’s not fit for purpose and that may offer poor performance or be totally unusable. This in turn can have a really detrimental effect on how enjoyable an airsoft match is.
If your first ever gun doesn’t shoot well or breaks down immediately a whole day of airsoft can be ruined. For experienced players, an unreliable backup pistol can be the difference between a successful assault or being sent back to the respawn area.
Ultimately, making sure you have a pistol that is quality and that performs well will mean more time playing and less time respawning or waiting around for the next match to start. If you’re someone who fantasizes about being the next John Wick, an airsoft pistol may be exactly what you’ve been looking for.
If you have any questions about particular features to look out for or have questions about airsoft please check out the buyer’s guide and FAQ below for some answers and information that may help you to better understand what to look out for in a good quality airsoft pistol.
OUR TOP PICK
The Elite Force HK P30 is a great entry-level airsoft pistol that is lightweight, versatile and has a host of great features to help you learn how airsoft guns work.
Featuring real licensed Heckler and Koch markings this pistol looks very realistic and the P30 is a famous, good-looking pistol that has an excellent pedigree among various worldwide armed forces and police forces.
Unlike a lot of airsoft pistols, this P30 is actually electrical and is powered by 4 AA batteries that provide 180 fps of power and a very nice blowback that makes the gun feel realistic when in use in the field.
This pistol fires 6mm 0.12g plastic BBs which are perfect for close-quarters engagements as they can hit the target cleanly without causing unnecessary damage to other players.
The built-in Hop-Up system allows you to adjust the pistol to your preferred range and can also fire both semi and fully automatic which gives a lot of versatility.
The fixed sights are clean and work well, the magazine holds 16 BBs and comes with an additional spare and the accessory rail allows for the attachment of torches or other equipment depending on your preference.
Overall this is a very ergonomic pistol that looks good, fires well at close range, and has blowback to add realism and immersion to your airsoft experience.
- Officially Licensed by Heckler and Kock
- Blowback action
- 180 FPS
- Extra Magazine Included
- Accessory rail
- A little bit weak at long range
The Umarex HK Heckler & Kock VP9 is another very famous pistol that has seen wide use and is featured in a lot of video games due to its instantly recognizable profile.
Umarex has fully licensed this pistol so it has all the correct markings for players who want a very realistic-looking pistol.
Adding to the realism is the fact that this VP9 has a full metal slide and polymer frame and is gas-powered using green gas magazines (gas not included).
Gas-powered pistols are very common because they pack a great punch, provide realistic recoil, accuracy and remove sensitive electronics from the pistol’s cramped main body.
The 20mm accessory rail is a nice touch that is compatible with a wide array of attachments and accessories, and the grip is highly ergonomic much like the real pistol HK produces.
Firing 6mm BBs at up to 325 fps, this pistol has a great deal of power and is able to be used at close to medium range when required, making it an excellent backup performer as well as a capable starter gun for players who like to move fast, flank and engage at close range.
If you’d like to be able to extend the range the pistol can fire at using a slightly heavier .2 or .23 gram BB will enable excellent accuracy and stability due to the green gas propulsion that gives great performance in a very small and light package.
- Gas Powered - Provides excellent power and range
- 325 FPS
- Fully licensed by Heckler and Kock making it a 1 to 1 replica of the original pistol
- 20mm Accessory Rail
- Very realistic recoil blowback
- Metal Slide and Polymer Frame
- A little more expensive
The Umarex Glock 17 is another fully licensed design reproduced on behalf of Heckler and Kock, meaning this is one of the closest looking replicas available and is essentially a 1 to 1 reproduction.
The G17 is one of the most popular pistols in the world used by many police forces worldwide, it is also the standard issue pistol for the British military among others.
The beauty of this airsoft pistol is that it is functionally identical to the HK original, requiring a lot of the same handling thanks to its green gas propulsion system.
The ergonomics are great as you’d expect from a HK-derived design and the gas-powered blowback will blow you away with its realistic characteristics.
The drop-free magazine makes for very simple and fast reloading too making this pistol an excellent main armament for close quarters playing fields as well as a reliable backup when your primary is out of ammo or malfunctioning.
Firing 6mm BBs at up to 290 FPS, this pistol is capable of close and even medium range usage with ideal conditions, but it is best used for flanking, breaching, and clearing as well as assaulting tight or confined spaces.
Overall this is another superb-looking HK-derived pistol that will improve any player’s flexibility and will look great when paired with any other setup or kit package.
- Fully Licensed Heckler and Koch design
- Gas-powered for excellent range and stability
- Excellent blowback for added realism
- Excellent ergonomics
- No accessory rail makes customization a little more difficult
This simple entry-level pistol by BBTax is great looking and has excellent power for a spring-powered pistol, making it ideal for backyard practice and casual fun.
Spring-loaded pistols don’t have the flexibility, recoil, or range of their gas-powered or electronic competitors, and their slow rate of fire makes them unsuitable for highly intense and competitive airsoft gameplay.
That being said, this offering from BBTac has a surprising FPS rating of 240 using .12g BBs which is pretty respectable for a spring-powered airsoft pistol and makes it great for practice and beginners who want to dip their toe into airsoft without also dipping their arm into their wallet.
A realistic alloy frame and durable ABS plastic construction make this pistol feel sturdy and reliable in hand, and it looks quite realistic for an unlicensed pistol. The grip is ergonomic and the trigger handles surprisingly well which is a nice touch.
The clip magazine makes loading the 6mm BBs quick and easy, just don’t forget to cock the slide before firing!
- Good power
- Realistic looking
- Comfortable grip
- Good value for beginners
- Spring-powered - This firing mechanism has a low rate of fire and is quite underpowered and unstable compared to other airsoft pistols.
This Elite Force pistol is another Heckler and Kock licensed replica which just indicates how popular and well-made HK pistols are, and how much they dominate the firearms world.
The USP is a pistol that is very popular in video games and with law enforcement agencies worldwide, and this CO2-powered version really looks the part with its two-tone dark earth coloration and authentic HK markings.
The pistol is very ergonomic thanks to its ambidextrous mag release, drop-free magazine, and integrated accessory rail, all of which make this pistol supremely comfortable and easy to use.
Powered by a 12g CO2 canister, the USP delivers consistent velocity and good accuracy, making this the perfect airsoft pistol for CQB or urban playing fields.
An FPS of 330 makes it one of the most powerful pistols on this list capable of handling itself quite well at medium range, firing 6mm BBs in semi-auto from a 16 shot magazine.
This pistol would make an excellent addition to any kit due to its power and ergonomics.
The lack of a functioning slide and the non-blowback design may be seen as a flaw by some, however, this makes the USP much more reliable than other gas blowback pistols as there are fewer moving parts that could malfunction.
This means this pistol provides a great middle-ground for players who want the power and stability of a gas-powered pistol but don’t want to deal with recoil mechanics as they play.
- Good power
- Realistic looking
- Good ergonomics
As you can see, even though pistols are sometimes seen as simpler or more accessible airsoft weapons, there is a lot to know about them and many features that set them apart.
The various differences in performance and usability mean that finding a pistol that suits your playstyle can be quite difficult.
To help you get the most out of your new airsoft pistol we’ve highlighted some of the most important features to look out for in airsoft pistols as well as answers to some commonly asked questions to help you make an informed purchase.
Spring, Gas, or battery-powered
Spring-powered airsoft weapons, particularly pistols, are usually something to stay away from if you’re an experienced player who wants the best performance possible.
This is because spring-powered guns are very slow to reload, requiring you to cock the spring back after each pull of the trigger. This can really reduce your effectiveness in airsoft combat and is only fun when using high-powered purpose-built sniper rifles at long distances.
Cocking back a pistol in close quarters will likely be frustrating as well as end up with you heading back to the respawn area.
The best use for these pistols is as a practice tool for backyard plinking and for casual fun.
Battery-powered pistols are actually quite rare due to their compact size. This doesn’t allow a lot of space for battery storage or wiring so this isn’t the preferred choice for most pistol manufacturers.
However, they do exist and have a nice mix of reliability and consistency that comes with electronic airsoft weapons. The only thing to be aware of is that battery life can run down and they don’t feel as realistic compared to gas-powered airsoft pistols.
That being said, battery-powered pistols provide good power and performance and can be a solid first choice of backup armament for any level of airsoft play.
Finally, we come to the kings of airsoft pistol design, the gas blowback format.
Gas pistols are preferred as they can use small gas canisters and don’t need to rely on weak batteries or dealing with internal wiring and gearing.
Gas pistols are simple and effective, they often look and feel very realistic and can be very powerful.
They often use the gas from each shot to retract the slide and provide serious recoil which feels amazingly realistic and is preferred by many airsofters. The only drawback is that they can be a little more expensive to run.
A high FPS means your shots will be more accurate and travel further, as the BB is traveling at a higher velocity.
Generally, anywhere around 300FPS is considered a respectable FPS for airsoft pistols, with spring-powered and electronic ones coming in a little weaker.
High FPS isn’t really required for close-quarters use but it will make your shots more stable and faster which can make a huge difference in tight scenarios where every detail matters.
Pistols are often made of both polymer and a metal slide a lot like real pistols, but there are some that are all polymer, generally on the entry-level side of the scale.
If you value realism, metal pistols will feel more sturdy in your hand and be harder wearing, while polymer pistols will be lighter and easier to hold up for long periods of time. Although made of polymer these pistols are still fairly tough and can handle moderate usage quite easily.
BB size varies a lot depending on your barrel width and FPS, but most pistols will use 6mm BBs weighing around 0.12g to 0.2g.
These lighter BBs are fine for close-quarters fighting, but if you want a little more range from your pistol and it has a good FPS rating 0.25g BBs will help you achieve greater accuracy and stability at range.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are airsoft pistols dangerous?
The biggest danger airsoft pistols pose is to your eyesight and the eyesight of other players. Most airsoft guns, even the highest-powered versions will be unlikely to break the skin even at fairly close range, however, a direct hit in the eye can cause serious injuries.
Always practicing good habits with even airsoft pistols is important to keep everyone safe, and you should always wear goggles when using them or observing them.
How old do I need to be to own an airsoft gun?
This varies depending on where you are in the world. In the US, however, there are no age restrictions as airsoft guns are not classified as firearms.
Some major cities or states do have slightly different rules, such as in California where they can only be bought by people 18 and over. However, in the US you do not have to be a certain age to actually use airsoft weapons.
Why do airsoft guns have orange tips?
Orange tips help differentiate these replicas from real-life firearms and make sure that they are easily identifiable. This makes everyone safe and prevents accidental or deliberate harm from being caused when using airsoft pistols.
These tips are not mandatory however and can be removed, but if you do so make sure to only brandish them at certified airsoft fields to avoid misidentification and potential accidents.
Do I need protection to play airsoft?
Eye protection is of paramount importance and is usually mandatory at any reputable airsoft site. Even in your backyard, you should be wearing eye protection to prevent permanent injuries that can be caused by airsoft weapons.
Some players also use mouth protectors to help prevent BBs from damaging their mouth, as BBs have been known to knock out more than a few unfortunate teeth over the years which can be a real shame and an expensive trip to the dentist.