10 Best Air Pistols

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Air guns may seem like quaint toys for children, but many are more capable than most people give them credit for.

For example, did you know that there are hunting air rifles? It’s true!

Air pistols are smaller and, often, weaker than air rifles.

However, I believe that a good air pistol has a place in every shooter, prepper, or outdoors person’s home.

Choosing the best air pistol for your needs or hobbies can give you safe trigger time at home, another tool for taking game, or even a new self-defense tool.

Let’s look at some air pistols that will help you.

The Best Air Pistols: Winners

Overall Best Air Pistol

Crosman 1377 overall best air pistol for the money high value accurate choice

Crosman 1377

The Crosman 1377 is a classic .177 caliber pump air pistol that’s used by many shooters for plinking and target shooting.

It’s a bolt-action air pistol so you get one shot, which is powered by a handful of pumps so you don’t have to shoot at maximum power. That’s 600 fps, by the way, not enough for hunting anything except small birds.

The 1377 is very accurate out of the box and can be upgraded to be even more accurate, so it’s a great choice for firearm owners who want to improve their trigger pull.

Specs
  • Caliber: .177
  • Power Plant: Multi-pump pneumatic
  • Maximum Velocity: 600 fps
  • Ammo Capacity: 1
Recommendation

The Crosman 1377 is a medium-priced air pistol that helps you slow down, appreciate the marksman’s art, and be as effective as possible.

Best Budget Air Pistol

Beeman P17 best cheap budget air pistol still quality will not fall apart

Beeman P17

Spending less than $50 on an air pistol typically gets you an inaccurate air gun that may or may not survive multiple shooting sessions.

The Beeman P17, however, is a high-quality air pistol at a cheap price.

It has adjustable fiber optic sights, a target trigger, a steel barrel, and a steel main valve so it’ll be accurate and consistent for a long time.

It’s single-shot and charges with a single stroke so the P17 is easy to use, too, though it’s only powerful enough for practice targets.

Specs
  • Caliber: .177
  • Power Plant: Single-stroke pneumatic
  • Maximum Velocity: 410 fps
  • Ammo Capacity: 1
Recommendation

The Beeman P17 is an inexpensive air pistol that outshines all other air pistols available for the money. However, it’s only good for target shooting.

Best Air Pistol on the Market

Benjamin Marauder upgrade pick pellet pistol 8 round clipazine

Benjamin Marauder Pistol

Benjamin’s Marauder series is a line of air rifles and pistols that are all accurate, compact, and powerful. Click the link for an in-depth review of the Benjamin Marauder air rifle!

The Benjamin Marauder Pistol is a .22 caliber air gun with a 65cc reservoir that can hold up to 2,900 psi of air.

It’s a bolt-action air pistol that uses an 8-round rotary magazine that’s not compatible with the rifle version. An integrated barrel shroud keeps your shots quiet.

The pistol does come with a stock you can attach for more stable shooting, though you’ll have to add your own sights unless you buy one of the available combo packages.

Specs
  • Caliber: .22
  • Power Plant: Pre-charged pneumatic
  • Maximum Velocity: 700 fps
  • Ammo Capacity: 8
Recommendation

The Benjamin Marauder is a highly-capable air pistol that can be used for plinking or small game, though you’ll need to add your own sights and have a way to charge the air tank.

Best Air Pistol for Self Defense

Tippmann TiPX best self defense airsoft pistol paintball gun pepper balls

Tippmann TiPX

The Tippmann TiPX is a magazine-fed paintball pistol rather than a BB or pellet pistol.

The power source is a 12-gram CO2 cartridge that remains unpunctured until you pull the trigger for the first shot, keeping you powered when you need it.

What’s beautiful about the TiPX is that it’s small enough to be concealable and can be loaded with .68 caliber pepper balls for less-lethal self defense!

It can also be used for recreation, though you’ll want to be sure of which paintballs you have loaded!

Specs
  • Caliber: .68
  • Power Plant: CO2 cartridge
  • Ammo Capacity: 7
Recommendation

Air pistols are typically unsuitable for self defense. Load some pepper balls into the Tippmann TiPX, though, and you have a less-lethal self-defense air pistol!

Best Air Pistol for Target Shooting

Crosman 1701P Silhoutte most accurate pellet pistol for target shooting

Crosman Silhouette 1701P

Designed for silhouette shooting, the Crosman 1701P is a single-shot air pistol that’s about as accurate as you can get.

It has a free-floated Lothar Walther barrel and a two-stage adjustable trigger. Out of the box, you can expect quarter-inch groups at ten meters!

The 3,000 psi air tank provides the power for up to 50 shots before refilling.

The 1701P is a quite expensive air pistol but you’ll still need to add your own rear iron sight.

Specs
  • Caliber: .177
  • Power Plant: Pre-charged pneumatic
  • Maximum Velocity: 450 fps
  • Ammo Capacity: 1
Recommendation

The Crosman 1701P is a masterpiece of accurate pellet shooting that’s approved by the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association, though it is a hefty investment.

Best Air Pistol for Hunting

Benjamin Marauder Woods Walker best hunting air pistol camouflage small game

Benjamin Marauder Woods Walker

The Benjamin Marauder has already graced this list as one of the best air pistols. The Woods Walker is the hunting-specific version of the Marauder.

This hunting air pistol is camouflaged to help keep from spooking your game and comes with a CenterPoint Optics Multi-TAC scope that, while not the best scope, is good enough for short-range hunting.

The Woods Walker sends a .22-caliber pellet at up to 700 fps, which gives about 15.5 foot-pounds of energy, enough for you to ethically take small game such as rabbits.

Specs
  • Caliber: .22
  • Power Plant: Pre-charged pneumatic
  • Maximum Velocity: 700 fps
  • Ammo Capacity: 8
Recommendation

With a scope, camo paint pattern, and enough power for small game, the Benjamin Marauder Woods Walker is a great small game hunting pistol.

Best Blowback Air Pistol

Umarex Pietro Beretta Gardone 92 FS best blowback air pistols for practice shooting

Umarex Beretta 92FS

Air pistols have a different recoil pattern than firearms. If you’re seeking an air pistol that feels like a traditional gun then you want the Umarex Beretta 92FS.

The Umarex Beretta looks like a nickel-plated Beretta 92F. It uses a 12-gram CO2 cartridge both to expel the .177 BBs as well as to actuate the slide, thus emulating the experience of unleashing gunpowder on your target.

The 8 round clip, manual safety, all-metal construction, and semi-automatic action all contribute to an authentic feel and fun shooting without the expense or legal issues of firing 9mm in your backyard.

Specs
  • Caliber: .177
  • Power Plant: CO2 cartridge
  • Maximum Velocity: 425 fps
  • Ammo Capacity: 8
Recommendation

The Umarex Beretta 92FS is a licensed copy of the Beretta 92FS. It feels like shooting the real thing without blowing out your eardrums.

Best BB Revolver

Colt Python BB Revolver fast fun accurate air pistol with cylinder

Colt Python .357 BB Revolver

The Colt Python is one of the classic revolvers of our age. The Colt Python .357 BB Revolver is just about as classic.

This BB gun is powered by 12-gram CO2 cartridges and is fed by a 10-round clip that swings out of the side of the air gun.

It’s double/single action, like the real thing, and has adjustable rear rights. Which is good because the Colt Python is fairly accurate for a BB pistol.

For about $100 more you can get a chromed version with “wood-like” grips, which doesn’t seem worth the expense to me.

Specs
  • Caliber: .177
  • Power Plant: CO2 cartridge
  • Maximum Velocity: 410 fps
  • Ammo Capacity: 10
Recommendation

The Colt Python .357 BB Revolver may fire .177-caliber BBs instead of .357 Magnum, but it’s a fun and well-built BB revolver.

Best BB Pistol

Daisy Powerline 408 best dual ammo BB pellet pistol starter kit

Daisy Powerline 408

It took long enough for a Daisy air gun to get on this list!

Known more for their air rifles than their air pistols, Daisy still has an excellent pistol in the Powerline 408.

The 408 is a well-built air pistol capable of firing either BBs or pellets, both .177 caliber. It’s semi-auto thanks to the 12-gram CO2 cartridge.

The steel barrel is rifled for accuracy. However, the sights are non-adjustable.

Specs
  • Caliber: .177
  • Power Plant: CO2 cartridge
  • Maximum Velocity: 485 fps
  • Ammo Capacity: 8
Recommendation

The Daisy Powerline 408 is a fairly accurate and capable repeating BB pistol that’s fun to shoot all day long.

Most Powerful Air Pistol

AirForce TalonP Spin Loc Pellet Pistol PCP most powerful air pistol

AirForce TalonP

Air pistols, due to their small size, are rarely as powerful as air rifles.

The AirForce TalonP is a pistol-sized version of the AirForce Talon that solves this problem. It fires a .25-caliber pellet at speeds up to 900 fps for 50 foot-pounds of kinetic energy!

That’s powerful enough to hunt raccoons, possums, and maybe even coyotes[1]! A 12″ Lothar Walther barrel and two-stage trigger keep you accurate, too.

You’ll only get 30 shots from the 213cc Spin-Loc tank on low power and 12 shots at high power, making this a poor plinking pistol. Plus, it doesn’t come with any sights.

It’s also quite loud.

Specs
  • Caliber: .25
  • Power Plant: Pre-charged pneumatic
  • Maximum Velocity: 900 fps
  • Ammo Capacity: 1
Recommendation

The AirForce TalonP is the most powerful air pistol you can buy, though it is large, expensive, and doesn’t come with sights.

What to Look for When Buying an Air Pistol

There are a lot of nifty air pistols out there.

However, for every good air pistol, there seem to be a dozen crappy ones that seem to be designed so you can buy a “gun” to give to your kid for a couple of shots until they get bored and go back to playing on the Nintendo Switch.

That’s why you can’t just look at the aesthetics of an air gun to determine if it’s good or not. Arguably, some of the best air pistols out there are the ugliest!

With that in mind, how do you choose from all of the choices out there?

Let’s start by narrowing down your choices.

Should You Use BBs or Pellets?

This is probably the biggest decision to make.

BBs and pellets are different from each other in important ways.

You can click here to learn more. The tl;dr is that BBs are economical but only good for target shooting while pellets are more accurate and/or more powerful.

If you just want to plink at a close target repeatedly then a BB pistol or revolver, such as the Colt Python, is your best choice.

However, if you want an air pistol that’ll do you proud for precision or hunting, you need a pellet gun.

Which Air Pistol Power Plant is Best?

Air guns have to have a way to compress air before unleashing it behind the projectile.

Though there are spring guns, those are mostly air rifles and none made it onto this list. Instead, we have manual pneumatics, pre-charged pneumatics, and CO2-powered air pistols.

Manual Pneumatic

A manual pneumatic air pistol requires you to pump the gun before each shot.

Single-stroke pneumatic pistols only require this once, often as part of the loading process. This is quick, easy, and doesn’t allow for much power.

Multi-stroke pneumatic guns can be pumped multiple times. This lets you vary the strength so you can pump a few times for a long afternoon of target shooting or ten times for long-range shooting or hunting.

Though, none of these will be powerful enough to hunt anything larger than, say, starlings.

Benjamin Marauder PCP pump kit refill pre charged pneumatic air pistols

Pre-Charged Pneumatic

PCP, or pre-charged pneumatic, air guns have an internal or external air tank you fill up before using.

These are typically the most powerful air pistols because they get to a higher pressure than what you can do by hand.

The problem, however, is that the higher-quality air tank increases the price of the air pistol. You also have to have a way to fill it.

I’ve refilled an AirForce Talon air tank using a SCUBA tank that was refilled at a local dive store when it got low.

There are also hand pumps for these guns, though it can require a lot of pumping. The Benjamin Marauder is available as a combo kit with the pump.

PCP air pistols are the most capable but aren’t worth the time and expense unless you actually need the extra power.

CO2 Cartridges

Small cans of CO2, sometimes called Powerlets or CO2 chargers, are an easy way to get power for dozens or a hundred shots out of your air pistol.

However, you won’t get as much power as with a PCP pistol, and the power will start to drop as the cartridge empties.

Does Caliber Matter?

Larger pellets are heavier than smaller pellets. This has three big effects that can help you choose whether or not you want to get a .177-caliber air pistol or a higher-caliber air pistol.

Heavier pellets require more raw materials to manufacture.

This makes them less economical if you’re just poking holes in paper.

Heavier pellets resist wind better.

This makes them better for longer-ranged shooting as there will be less deviation at long distances.

Heavier pellets also carry more energy.

If you’re hunting with an air pistol, prioritize .22 or even .25 caliber selections. .177 caliber pellets just won’t cut it for any game except small birds.

How Will You Use the Air Pistol?

Finally, how you’ll use the air pistol will help you determine which one to buy.

Plinking

Plinking is casual target shooting at short ranges.

You don’t need an expensive air pistol for this. The Beeman P17 is an excellent choice, as is the Daisy Powerline 408.

Improving Trigger Control

One of the strengths of air pistols is the ability to spend lots of time behind the trigger without spending a lot of money[2].

Pellets move slower than bullets so they are more impacted by movement after pulling the trigger. They also hit where you aim, unlike practicing with snap caps.

I use a Crosman 1377 to practice my trigger pull. I’m noticeably more precise with my Glock after having spent time with the 1377.

If nothing else, pellets being cheaper than handgun ammo has saved me the equivalent of the 1377’s price several times over!

A blowback air pistol can also help train you to react properly to a handgun’s recoil, so the Umarex Beretta 92FS is also a good choice here.

Competition Shooting

Air pistols can also be used for competitive shooting, such as metallic silhouette shooting.

The Crosman 1701P is an extremely-accurate choice for when your goal is to have as small groups as possible.

The Benjamin Marauder and AirForce TalonP are also known for their accuracy, though they won’t be quite as accurate.

How to choose air pistol hunting self defense target shooting caliber bbs or pellets

Hunting

Hunting with an air pistol requires an accurate, high-caliber gun with lots of air available for each shot[3].

The Benjamin Marauder Woods Walker is good enough for small game. You can use the normal Marauder too, if you don’t like camo and want to add your own optic.

The best hunting pistol is the AirForce TalonP, which is powerful enough for some medium-sized game.

Self Defense

Air pistols are, generally, unsuitable for self defense.

They just aren’t powerful enough to reliably stop an attacker.

The Tippmann TiPX is an exception because it’s a less-lethal air pistol that can fire .68-caliber riot balls and pepper balls.

It’s also semi-auto, unlike other hunting-power air pistols. This is very important for defending yourself!

Conclusion

Air pistols can be very capable tools but they come with some serious limitations.

If you want power, you won’t get convenience. If you want fun, you won’t get power.

For all-round capability, the Benjamin Marauder is a strong contender. It’s powerful, accurate, and gets a fair number of shots from each tank load.

However, the air pistol I’ve used the most is the Crosman 1377. I’ve upgraded it several times and used the air gun to hone my trigger skills enough to see true improvement with my firearms.

I’ve also used the rifle-sized version of the AirForce TalonP in a professional context and would gladly own the TalonP for defending my garden from invading critters if I didn’t have other priorities with my money right now.

Though it’s one of the best air pistols, I wouldn’t use the TalonP for plinking!

FAQs

Can Air Pistols Kill?

Yes.

Smaller caliber air pistols are unlikely to kill somebody. However, any solid projectile traveling at high speeds can penetrate skin.

Higher caliber air pistols, such as the AirForce TalonP, can push a pellet fast enough to cause lethal injury if misused and you’re unlikely.

Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to hunt with these air pistols!

Which is Better: Air Pistols or Air Rifles?

Air pistols are smaller than air rifles, which means that they cannot have as large a power source as their bigger cousins.

Air rifles also have the advantage of a stock, which gives you stability and consistency so you can be more precise at longer ranges.

Air pistols can still be very capable tools for both target shooting or small game hunting, though.

Especially the Benjamin Marauder, which comes with a detachable stock so you can use it as a pistol OR as a rifle!

Resources

  1. https://www.airgundepot.com/vault/articles/basic-airgun-hunting-guidelines/
  2. https://www.airgundepot.com/vault/articles/airguns-for-handgun-training/
  3. https://www.airgunsofarizona.com/hunting/2013/11/hunting-airgun-power-requirements/

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