An airsoft pistol is a highly realistic replica of a real pistol.  They can be made of plastic, die-cast metal, aluminum or steel.  Many of look identical to a real pistol, and are sought after by recreational shooters, collectors and law enforcement training personel.  A particular type of airsoft pistol called the gas blowback pistol (GBB) even operates very similarly to a real pistol.  Some of the best airsoft pistols include Hi Capa airsoft pistols, Airsoft Glock pistols, 1911 Airsoft pistols, Airsoft Desert Eagle, Airsoft P226, MK23 airsoft pistol.  Particularly fun are the full-auto selectable airsoft pistols like the airsoft Glock 18C or the M93R.  Apart from airsoft pistols, we also offer a selection of air guns that shoot metal BBs for target practice only.

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Airsoft Pistol

An airsoft pistol is a highly realistic replica of a real pistol.  They can be made of plastic, die-cast metal, aluminum or steel.  Many of look identical to a real pistol, and are sought after by recreational shooters, collectors and law enforcement training personel.  A particular type of airsoft pistol called the gas blowback pistol (GBB) even operates very similarly to a real pistol.  Some of the best airsoft pistols include Hi Capa airsoft pistols, Airsoft Glock pistols, 1911 Airsoft pistols, Airsoft Desert Eagle, Airsoft P226, MK23 airsoft pistol.  Particularly fun are the full-auto selectable airsoft pistols like the airsoft Glock 18C or the M93R.  Apart from airsoft pistols, we also offer a selection of air guns that shoot metal BBs for target practice only.

What is an airsoft pistol?

Airsoft pistols, or airsoft handguns, are very realistic looking replicas that shoot plastic BBs.  Similar to paintball, they are designed for people to shoot at each other in a competitive gaming environment.  As such, their power levels are significantly lower than airguns or BB guns.  Airsoft pistols are usually secondary or backup weapons, with a rifle or SMG serving as a primary.  Airsoft pistols are usually kept inside holsters when taken into the field. Some airsoft pistols have a threaded barrel that allows you to attach a suppressor to make them quieter, or you can attach an airsoft tracer unit which lets you use glow-in-the-dark tracer BBs in low light conditions.  This helps you to see where your BBs are going and whether you have hit your target.  

Airsoft pistols come in several categories which are further explained below.

Spring Pistols

A good starter airsoft pistol would be one that is spring-powered.  Within the pistol is a big spring, which is compressed when you pull the slide back to cock the gun.  If you are right-handed, you hold the pistol grip with your right hand while you pull back the slide with your left hand.  The spring is held in a compressed position until you pull the trigger, after which it pushes a piston into a cylinder within the slide.  This creates a small pocket of compressed air that is pushed through a nozzle and onto a BB, which is subsequently propelled out of the barrel.  The benefit of a spring pistol is that they are simple with few moving parts, making them reliable and also more affordable than other kinds of airsoft pistols.  The tradeoff is you need to cock the gun for each shot that you take, which means it is difficult to keep up with semi-auto or full-auto pistols in a shootout.

While most spring pistols are very affordable, some high-end competition spring pistols can cost hundreds of dollars.  But these sports shooting pistols are designed as spring powered to achieve greater accuracy, which is only possible with precision fitting and fewer moving parts.

Electric Airsoft Pistols

Electric-powered airsoft pistols can either be Electric Blowback Pistols (EBB) or Automatic Electric Pistols (AEP).  EBBs are essentially motorized spring pistols, where instead of you having to cock the pistol manually for each shot, a motor powered by AA batteries will wind up a series of gears to compress the spring for you and shoot the BB out.  All you need to do is keep pressing the trigger.  However, EBB pistols are relatively weak since the small motor and AA batteries generate limited torque, which means the main spring is equally weak and cannot generate much power.  They are great for younger players who want the functionality of a semi-auto pistol but do not demand high power or range.

AEP pistols are higher powered than EBB pistols and have much stronger internal components including a stiffer main spring.  They use higher torque motors that are powered by a rechargeable battery.  AEPs basically have a miniaturized version of the gearboxes found in larger Airsoft Electric Rifles (AEG), but because of the more limited real estate within pistols, AEP gearboxes are generally much weaker than their AEG cousins.  AEPs do not operate as realistically as gas pistols, and generally cannot compare in terms of power potential as well, making them a less popular choice.  The fewer available options from airsoft brands are also an indication of their lower popularity.  AEPs do have one benefit over gas pistols, and that is they offer more consistent power even when used in cold weather.  They also have lower running costs than gas pistols.

Gas Airsoft Pistols 

Gas pistols are by far the most popular kind of airsoft pistol.  They work by charging the gas reservoir within the pistol with pressurized airsoft gas, which is then used to shoot the BB.  There are several different kinds of gases with different pressure levels.  Each pistol can only work reliably with a certain kind of gas, and using overly powerful gas in a pistol can damage it beyond repair.  Our product descriptions indicate whether a certain pistol works with HFC134, green gas (12Kg pressure), red gas (14Kg pressure), or black gas (16+ Kg pressure).  Do note that only a few pistols from a handful of brands can tolerate the higher pressures of red and black gas.  Attempting to use red gas in a pistol that is rated to work only with green gas can result in irreversible damage to the gun, so be careful.

Within gas pistols, there are three main types of pistols.

• Non-Blowback Pistol (NBB)

An NBB pistol has a fixed slide that does not cycle.  They have a double-action trigger where the hammer will cock back and strike forward onto a gas valve all in one quick motion.  All the pressured gas in the gun is used solely for shooting the BB.  Because you need to cock the hammer back to strike the hammer when you pull the trigger, the resistance on the trigger will be higher when compared to a PBB or a GBB pistol.  The trigger travel is also considerably longer, which means it is harder to tap off rapid shots on an NBB.  The benefit of an NBB is that they tend to be very powerful and gas efficient, which one charge lasting anywhere from 60 to over 100 shots.  They can also be very quiet, making them great for when stealth is essential.

•  Partial Blowback Pistol (PBB)

A PBB pistol has a small part of its slide or bolt that cycles back on each trigger pull, generating a small recoil impulse and also cocking the hammer for the next shot automatically.  PBB might be considered a sub-category of GBB pistols since they essentially operate in the same manner, except that GBB pistols cycle their entire slide.  The benefit of PBB pistols is they are generally less complicated than GBB pistols, and hence are more affordable.  Without the need to cycle an entire slide, they also cycle much faster, are more gas efficient, and offer up a higher rate of fire.  PBB pistols tend to be on the cheaper end of the gas blowback pistol range.

•  Gas Blowback Pistol (GBB)

Gas blowback airsoft pistols are the most popular kind of airsoft gun because they offer very realistic operation, are relatively affordable, and come in hundreds of styles.  Many of the most iconic and recognizable pistols are available as airsoft gas blowback pistols.  GBB pistols operate almost exactly like a real pistol, with slides that cycle when you shoot the pistol.  As the slide moves backwards, it creates a loud noise and a sense of recoil that combined can create a very realistic shooting sensation.  The slide's backward movement also helps to cock the hammer back to prepare for the next shot.  As the slide returns to its forward battery position, it pushes the next BB into the hop-up bucking in exactly the same manner that a bullet is chambered in a real pistol.  Just like a real gun, you can even pull the slide slightly back to look into the barrel and see if a BB is chambered. 

In most cases, pressurized airsoft gas is stored in a gas reservoir stored in the removable magazine and when the trigger is pulled, the hammer strikes the valve on the magazine open, feeding the pressurized gas into the pistol’s blowback assembly that cycles the slide, and also an air nozzle that propels the BB out of the gun.  This action replicates the semi-auto functionality of a real gun.  Some gas blowback pistols can shoot full auto, where you hold down the trigger and the pistol keeps shooting.  And just like a real pistol, the slides on GBBs will lock back in an open position when the pistol runs out of BBs.  Removing the magazine and inserting a fully loaded one allows you to continue shooting.

Unlike spring or electric airsoft pistols, gas blowback pistols have a lot of character and each pistol can feel very different.  Many popular GBB pistols can be upgraded using aftermarket parts for more power, greater accuracy, or an unlimited array of realistic parts like aluminum or steel slides, barrels, different styled triggers, different frames, real grips, fiber optic sights, and much more.

CO2 Airsoft Pistols 

CO2 airsoft pistols are very popular because CO2 cartridges are more easily available in many countries compared to airsoft gas.  CO2 airsoft pistols essentially have the same internal design as gas pistols, except that instead of a gas reservoir in the magazine, a 12g CO2 cartridge is inserted into the magazine instead.  Once the CO2 cartridge is empty, you simply replace it with a new one.  12g CO2 cartridges are usually good for 30 - 100 rounds depending on whether the pistol is a fixed slide version or blowback model.  Some of the most powerful airsoft pistols tend to be CO2 non-blowback pistols where the slide does not move.  The primary benefit of using CO2 is the improved cold-weather performance over airsoft gas pistols.  CO2 is higher pressure and therefore generates a stronger recoil impulse as well.  The downside to a CO2 pistol is you cannot top it up, which means that you might find yourself entering a new game with a partially expended cartridge and have to replace it mid-game.

How much is a good airsoft pistol?

If you’re looking for a good airsoft pistol, then we recommend looking specifically in the PBB or GBB category.  While spring pistols are the most affordable and can run less than $30, spending a bit more can get you a decent entry-level gas pistol with good performance from KWC, WE or KJ can at less than $100.  If you can spend up to $150, then your options will open up vastly into the mid-range offerings to include the full line of Umarex Glock airsoft pistols, Sig Sauer airsoft pistols, and many styles of 1911 airsoft pistols.   The RWA Agency Arms EXA pistol is a custom Glock airsoft pistol that offers fantastic value for money.  These pistols will provide solid and reliable performance, and tend to enjoy a lot of aftermarket upgrade options.  If you have the budget to spend more, then the range of options widens considerably.  For ultimate realism, consider some of the steel pistols which can cost upwards of $800, including the RWA Nighthawk Custom pistols.

The total cost of ownership of using an airsoft pistol would also include consumables, and you can read about how much airsoft really costs.

What is the best airsoft pistol?

There is no single best airsoft pistol because the answer depends on the price range and what feature you feel is most important.  Take a look at our Best Airsoft Pistols to see our picks.

How to clean an airsoft pistol?

Keeping your airsoft pistol clean is extremely important for it to function properly and remain durable.  Keeping the moving parts and o-rings lubricated with silicone spray is important but can also attract dust and grime.  Read our top tips on how to clean an airsoft gun.

How to upgrade airsoft pistol?

Many popular airsoft pistols have many aftermarket upgrade parts available to make them more accurate, more powerful, or simply better looking.  The fastest and easiest way to ensure your pistol is delivering its maximum potential is to use good quality BBs and batteries or gas.  Using a good quality gas is especially important in GBB pistols since the performance can have a huge difference.  RWA airsoft gas has the best overall performance and has minimal power drop compared to other brands.  Poor quality airsoft gas can have large pressure drops between consecutive shots and also perform so poorly in cold weather that it renders your pistol inoperable.  Using good quality airsoft gas in your airsoft pistol is akin to using high-quality gasoline in a sports car.

The next thing to look at is upgrading your airsoft pistol inner barrel with one that has higher precision and tighter tolerances.  Most airsoft pistols come with a factory inner barrel of 6.08 inner diameter.  Many BBs are 5.95mm +/- in diameter, so there is a bit of a gap between the BB and the walls of the inner barrel that can lead to lost power.  Upgrading to a 6.04mm, 6.02mm or 6.01mm inner barrel can keep things more airtight, but do make sure that you use high-quality BBs if you choose this option.  Poor quality BBs may not be perfectly round or might have seam lines, which can jam the BB inside a tight bore barrel.  Choosing a stainless steel inner barrel over a copper or aluminum one can also reduce vibration and flex, and deliver better accuracy.  Some players attach a suppressor to their pistol to conceal a much longer inner barrel, which can generate more power and accuracy.

For more range, consider upgrading the hop-up bucking, sometimes referred to as the hop-up rubber.  This part imparts a back-spin on the BB as it leaves the barrel, countering gravity so that the BB can fly a greater distance.  If you play any racket sport, think about what happens when you apply backspin to the ball and how it changes the flight trajectory.  Upgrading the entire hop-up unit, also known as the hop-up housing, can also be helpful.  Check our offering of hop-up buckings and parts.

There are many more upgrade options that you can explore.  Check out our entire offering of upgrade parts.

Can you play airsoft with only a pistol?

Yes, with lots of practice and skill, you can play effectively with a pistol against less experienced players using rifles.  Seasoned players frequently like to challenge themselves by joining games with only a pistol and many spare magazines.  In fact, there is great enjoyment and fulfilment in playing with a pistol, which requires a lot more discipline and precision, where you have to make each shot count.  If you want to play with a pistol but need a little bit more firepower against better players running airsoft rifles, then opt for a full auto airsoft pistol like the Umarex Glock 18C or the KSC M93R.  Or consider moving up a notch into a compact SMG like a Vz61 Scorpion or an M11, which are small enough to be fired like a pistol.

Can An Airsoft Pistol Kill You?

No, an airsoft pistol cannot kill.  Airsoft pistols are designed for recreational use and are not designed to cause serious injury.  The energy that a gun can deliver is measured in joules.  Most pistols shoot with 1 to 1.5 joule of power, which is very safe.  Even highly upgraded airsoft pistols that can shoot 2 joules or more would not be able to kill anyone.  Some non-blowback CO2 pistols can shoot between 2-3 joules.  By comparison, a real 9mm pistol delivers over 500 joules of power.