If you are looking for a quiet pistol that offers accurate shooting, cheap practice, low recoil, or fun plinking, then an air pistol is just what you need. These are not kids’ play toys, either. Live-action air pistols often look, feel, and handle just like conventional pistols. The only thing missing is excessive recoil and the high cost of ammo.
Whether you’re planning to use your air pistol for target practice, pest control, hunting or self-defense, our guide will help you find the best air pistol to fit your shooting needs. Consider this your right-hand guide to finding an air pistol to help you with training, stocking the freezer, or just having a little fun on the range.
Top 10 Air Pistols Table
Don’t just jump into buying your air pistol before reading this section!
Here is some basic information to consider before you pick one.
- Four Power Plants. Air guns are powered by four basic types of power plants. Each variety comes with its set of pros and cons and choosing the right type of power for your specific shooting needs could mean the difference between hitting your targets consistently or going home feeling frustrated. Let’s take a look at the four different methods air guns use to propel your pellets downrange.
- Variable Pump. This method of propulsion consists of a self-contained on-board pump which must be pumped before each shot. Its effective range is around 15 yards making this type of air pistol best for plinking and close-range target shooting.
- CO2. This type of power plant requires a 12-gram CO2 cartridge which facilitates 40-60 shots before needing to be exchanged for a fresh cartridge. These guns are convenient and offer consistent accuracy. They are most effective at ranges up to 20 yards and are best suited for target shooting and backyard plinking.
- Spring Piston. Spring piston airguns use a lever to cock back a spring which, when released, rapidly compresses air inside of a piston causing the pellet to be forced rapidly down the barrel. The gun must be cocked before each shot, but offers unlimited field shooting. The 35-yard range of these guns makes them perfect for target shooting and small game or varmint hunting.
- Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP). These guns have an onboard pressure reservoir which must be filled with a pump or high-pressure tank. This type of power plant is powerful, consistent, and wonderfully accurate for up to 60 yards. The power and range of these pistols make them incredibly versatile since they can be used for longer-range hunting or target shooting and are even effective against some predators.
- Consider Caliber. When deciding which is the best air pistol for your needs, you’ll also need to consider the shot caliber. Listed below are the three most popular airgun calibers and the best uses for each.
- .177/4.5mm is the caliber required for competitive target shooting; this is the smallest of popular air gun pellet sizes. Its light weight facilitates a faster pellet speed but limits its effectiveness in hunting to only the smallest of game.
- The .22 round is often considered the hunter’s choice for ammunition. It is ideal for both target shooting and small game, although it isn’t quite heavy enough to take down larger small game species or predators.
- .25 rounds are a hard-hitting option. These pellets may pack a bit more punch than their .22 caliber cousins, but their heavier weight tends to decrease velocity often making long-range shooting a bit more difficult. The .25 is a great choice for small to medium game or pest elimination.
Top 3 Best Air Pistol Reviews
In spite of its historically accurate look and feel, this is hands-down the best air pistol on the market today. Collaboration between Umarex and Colt resulted in this replica of the famous Wild West Peacemaker. It is incredibly accurate in detail right down to the stamped colt patent dates. This gun looks just like a real-deal Colt .45 Peacemaker with the small exception of the manual safety, which is hidden just forward of the trigger guard. It is sturdy, accurate, and fun to shoot. If you’ve always wanted to be Roy Rogers, Maverick, or any of the old western movie heroes, this is the best CO2 pistol for the job.
Umarex has created a very faithful replica of the Colt Commander 1911 in air pistol form. This air gun looks and performs so much like its cartridge-firing counterpart that it makes an awesome training tool. The only thing this gun is missing is the high cost of ammunition. CO2-powered and semi-automatic, the Umarex Colt Commander is also a great side arm for hunting small game or battling household pests. It is so accurate and easy to shoot, plus the mag releases so smoothly, that you’ll have to remind yourself you’re shooting an air pistol and not the real thing.
Don’t let the price tag on this gem frighten you. Sometimes you truly get what you pay for, and this couldn’t be truer of the Benjamin Marauder PCP Air Pistol. It’s a bit pricier than many other air pistols, but boy does it deliver. This ultra-quiet lightweight air pistol is an excellent choice for small game hunting, delivering all of the accuracy and strength necessary to take down game from as far away as 40 yards. A shoulder stock is provided and is easily interchangeable with the included pistol grip. You will love the tactical feel, as well as the utility of this excellent pneumatic air pistol.