Was it six men with one gun, or one man with six?John Wick (not really)
One of the first airsoft guns I owned was a scrappy spring pistol (an M9). I remember being in love with how cool it looked and how realistic it felt in the my hands. This pistol was my gateway into the world of airsoft guns, really, even before I picked up airsoft rifles.
Since then, I’ve played in 1000+ airsoft games (all the way from casual to speedsoft) and been on dozens of MILSIM events. I’ve never gone to an airsoft battle without a trusty sidearm. In fact, for a good chunk of indoor close quarters games, I’ve ditched my airsoft rifle and gone solely with a gas blowback airsoft pistol as my primary weapon with a few extra magazines and my favorite battle belt.
While I was working in the airsoft industry I got to test fire and run 50+ (no lie) various pistols and handguns (and I’ve got my fair share of the real deal too). We’re fired the crappy Combat Zone Enforcer Co2 powered pistol all the way up to the most upgraded TM Hi Capa.
So, let me save you a ton of money by telling you which are the best airsoft pistols on the market so you can skip on the junk pieces.
Our Breakdown of the Top 5 Airsoft Pistols:
Remember, the writers at Airsoft Core easily have had thousands of hours gunrunning with these pistols and we’ve really put them through the paces.
As a heads up as well, we did NOT include any spring pistols in this list. Unless you’re looking for a cool looking piece to just goof off with; there really isn’t a place for spring airsoft pistols of any kind of competitive list. Additionally we avoided all non gas blowback pistols & electric airsoft pistols – you’ll find that they simply don’t match up to the GBB variants.
Factors to consider for what makes a great airsoft pistol
We took the below 5 of the best airsoft pistols and put them under the microscope paying most attention to these following factors:
We want this airsoft pistol to be able to do the following things:
- Muzzle velocity has consistent FPS – our standards are a +/- 20 FPS variance in 3 rounds bursts.
- Hit man sized targets at airsoft combat distances – we aim for a maximum 12 inch grouping at 60 feet.
- Adjustable hop up – this is key to a good backspin on the BB
- High quality bucking – we want consistent backspin on our BB’s.
We want this airsoft pistol to not only look and feel durable, but actually BE durable.
- Full metal construction – this is key, we ideally want at least the slide to be full metal
- It will work under tough circumstances – we want the gun to function in high (100+ degrees) and low (60 degrees) temperatures
- Precision construction – the internal metal parts must be well constructed and well fitted to ensure function during an airsoft match.
Internal Build Quality
The internals should be well fitted and made with precision.
- High quality bucking – the bucking is essential to your range and accuracy so this should be of good quality.
- Solid hop up– the hop up unit should be adjustable and well fitted. You can tell a well made hop up because it doesn’t readjust itself with use.
- Rubber seals are good – having good rubber seals ensures great gas efficiency.
- Smooth inner barrel – the inner barrel should be smooth and the crowning should be flawless.
- Well designed air nozzle – the air nozzle should seal very well in the hop up unit.
- Smooth trigger parts – sloppy trigger breaks will ruin any chance at combat accuracy.
- Good gas efficiency – at minimum we should be getting a full magazine’s worth of BB’s from a single fill. Ideally we should be getting multiple BB refills – between 2-5 magazines worth.
- Large gas reservoir – related to the above, if a magazine has a huge gas reservoir it’ll ensure that you can fire off many rounds without needing a gas refill.
External Build Quality
The externals should be made of top level metal or steel & the pistol will get a plus for real deal features such as:
- Cocking serrations – front and rear cocking serrations are nice to ensure racking the airsoft pistol is as easy as it can be (less important than in the real steel counterpart – but still).
- Skeleton triggers & hammers – lightweight parts help keep the handgun nice and easy to manuever.
- Comfortable grip – the pistol grip itself should feel good in your hands. We expect excellent ergonomics, but luckily since these guns are replicas of the real deal, they’re going to be pretty good here.
- Tactical rail – this will allow you to add attachments like lasers, flashlights, and more.
- Iron sights – the iron sights should be easy to acquire & be rock solid (if your sights move during use… that’s not good).
What you buy should be worth the money being spent.
- Features to cost ratio – the more features per dollar spent, the better.
- Performance to cost ratio – the high overall performance of the airsoft pistol, the better.
- Customer Service of the Manufacturer – The manufacturer’s warranty and customer service reputation should be good to ensure that IF you receive a lemon, it’ll be covered.
Keep these 3 tips in mind when purchasing
- What is the reputation of the manufacturer? Much like other industries the airsoft hobby has budget companies & excellent companies making airsoft products. Ensure that you’re purchasing a product from one of the more well known companies in the industries. Luckily, every option we present here has been manufactured by a top level airsoft company.
- Does it come with a warranty – the warranty can be provided by either the manufacturer or the retail store. Always check with the specialty store you’re purchasing from to determine if they will cover damages. In general, most airsoft specialty shops will do free repairs within a certain timeframe. Always look at their policies closely.
- Use the right kind of ammo and propellant – if you put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out. Only use high quality, perfectly spherical 6mm BB’s into your airsoft guns. Additionally, you’ll want to use well known green gas canisters from the reputable manufacturers.
With that said – let’s start:
1. KWA ATP-LE Adaptive Training Pistol
|Construction:||Metal Slide / Polymer Frame|
|FPS:||330 FPS w/ 0.20g|
|Magazine Capacity:||23 Rounds|
|Iron Sights:||3 Dot|
- KWA grade at a much lower cost.
- Solid out of the box performance.
- Simple 3 dot rear sights.
- Fits perfectly in Glock 17 / 19 Holsters.
- Front accessory rail accommodates tactical attachments.
- 5,000+ BB rounds through this and it is still going.
- Solid NS2 gas piston / system allows for many shots per gas fill (100+ BBs per fill!)
- Top level customer service.
- Smooth trigger pull.
- Real Glock 17 style features like slide catch, takedown lever, and more.
- ATP's magazine base plate is annoying too thick, making green gas refills more of a pain than it needs to be.
- Doesn't really match a real-life pistol in terms of looks.
- Utilizes proprietary hop up and bucking.
- Threaded barrel is not too strong.
Did you know, that Glock airsoft guns were once.. illegal?
Well, not actually, but Glock was not at all friendly to the industry and would forward a cease & desist to any manufacturer who made a Glock airsoft product. Then came KWA, known for making some of the best airsoft handguns on the market at the time, and they made the ATP.
This is known as the Adaptive Training Pistol and it was meant to be a full scale alternative to a full size Glock 17. It was design to fit in Glock 17 holsters and was meant to be a training tool alternative to actual firearms to those who wanted to use a full size Glock airsoft pistol (ex. law enforcement agencies). It even includes a functional trigger safety!
Just avoid the Gen I version of this gun.
We ran a Gen II for many years and after thousands of BB’s fired through it we can say with experience that it is easily one of the top airsoft handguns we’ve ever used while being extremely gas efficient. The latest technology in NS2 system with improved blowback unit is simply impressive.
This pistol still shoots nearly as well as the day we got it. The muzzle velocity is extremely consistent despite variant temperatures. The nice thing is that it comes in at a much lower price tag when compared to a similar KWA blowback airsoft pistol ($125ish at the time of this writing – which is STEAL for a KWA).
Checkout our KWA ATP review here for performance tests. Check out especially the how gas efficient this airsoft pistol is, we’re impressed.
Who is this gun for?
Someone looking to get the best bang for your buck. High quality performance at a price that is VERY reasonable. There is a version of the ATP with a full auto feature… we say avoid that one.
2. Elite Force 1911 TAC Co2
|Construction:||Metal Slide / Metal Frame|
|FPS:||350 FPS w/ 0.20g|
|Magazine Capacity:||14 Rounds|
|Iron Sights:||3 Dot|
- Solid out of the box performance.
- Has all 1911 safety features like functional grip safety and ambidextrous controls.
- Ambidextrous safety.
- Co2 gives this airsoft pistol a lot of feedback for realistic blowback action.
- Smooth skeleton trigger pull.
- Front &
- rear slide serrations.
- Adjustable hop up.
- Front picatinny rail for mounting accessories.
- Low pistol magazine capacity (all single stack 1911's are like this).
- Co2 cartridges makes the metal magazine especially not drop safe.
- We had issues with a sticky magazine release (took time to break in).
Umarex / Elite Force really knocked it out of the park with this 1911. OEMed by KWC (known for making good Co2 gas pistols) this is a 1:1 replica of the famous M1911 Tactical. Why is it tactical? This pistol features a front accessory rail system for the attachment of tactical accessories as well as having front and rear serrations for easier slide racks.
Check out our full review here.
This replica also comes with the 1911 safety pistol features you can expect, a beavertail safety, ambidextrous safety lever, even a hammer safety (although the hammer is mostly non-functional).
Performance wise this pistol stacks up with some of the best airsoft 1911 handguns on the market. Co2 is known for having impressive power in terms of muzzle velocity, but most of the top tier airsoft sidearms don’t use it. We’d say that this particular choice is the exception.
One of our writers has several KWA 1911 PTP’s and he found his experience with this Co2 airsoft pistol a whole lot of fun. This is especially because the Co2 really gives this airsoft gun the strongest blowback, more so than the GBB airsoft variants. So, that makes this 1911 a fun shoot. Strong blowback does put more wear and tear on the body, but you’ll see below just how long it’s last us.
We put down about 2,000 rounds and have only had a few failures (mostly due to Co2 cartridges running low & the slide lock not engaging). This is one of the most popular 1911’s we see on the field. After using this airsoft gun, chances are we’re not going back to the green gas version. This pistol fires GREAT.
Who is this gun for?
A player looking for a snappy full size 1911 utilizing Co2. This is easily the best Co2 pistol available.
3. KWA M9 PTP Full Metal
|Construction:||Full Metal Slide / Full Metal Grip Frame|
|Muzzle Velocity:||350 FPS w/ 0.20g|
|Magazine Capacity:||25 Rounds|
- Excellent full metal slide &
- general metal construction makes for great heft.
- Outstanding gas consumption due to NS2 system.
- Functional safety decocker and thumb safety like the real gun.
- Excellent hard hitting performance and features realistic blowback action.
- Fully adjustable hop up.
- Solid Customer Service.
- Comfortable GBB pistol grip w/ ambidextrous controls.
- Pricey - but you get what you pay for.
- Utilizes proprietary adjustable hop up and bucking.
- No accessory rail.
This is the M9 that all other green gas Beretta M9’s aspire to be. The KWA grade full metal construction can be felt immediately from picking up this popular gas blowback pistol. The KWA M9 is made of better steel than most airsoft pistols and you can FEEL it as you squeeze the trigger.
The full metal construction on this gas blowback pistol isn’t just outstanding, but is realistic is too. Exactly like its Beretta counterpart, the safety has a functioning decocker on the slide. These features really sets the full metal design of this green gas powered pistol apart from the other TM, KJW, or WE-Tech M9 style airsoft pistols.
But, it isn’t just the exteriors that make this gun outstanding, the performance out of the box is just fantastic. The sights are well aligned and we were easily smashing targets out at 90 feet easily (the BB actually goes further, but we’re talking effective distance here).
Additionally, KWA’s NS2 system is really effective at great gas efficiency. Firing most of our rounds at a consistent 350 FPS with minimal variance is quite a feat for GBB pistols. They’ve even modified the green gas magazine a bit to better ensure a good seal during firing.
The fact is, if you’ve got the dough, just go with this pistol and don’t look back. One of our editors (who served with the us armed forces during Operation Enduring Freedom) uses this gas powered airsoft handgun almost exclusively and it would not be an exaggeration to say he’s put over 5,000 rounds through it. It is still slinging airsoft BBs as well as the day he bought it. I’m a huge fan of this realistic replica of an M9.
Check out our full KWA M9 PTP Tactical Review here.
Who is this gun for?
Someone looking for the one of the best pistols money can buy. Most KWA gas blowback pistols are solid choices, and this M9 sits at the top of the pack (chances are it’ll be like that for quite a bit longer).
4. Umarex GLOCK Gen 3 G19
|Construction:||Full Metal Slide / Polymer Frame|
|Muzzle Velocity:||300 FPS w/ 0.20g|
|Magazine Capacity:||20 Rounds|
|Iron Sights:||Dot & Bucket|
- High end construction.
- Solid out of the box performance.
- Authentic markings and features similar to the G19.
- Front accessory rail for tactical attachments.
- Metal slide and barrel length
- The BEST G19 replica currently available with fully licensed trademarks.
- Adjustable hop up
- Functional trigger safety.
- Compact barrel length.
- FPS is lower than we'd like.
- Extra magazines are a real pain to find.
- Blowback housing is proprietary.
Good news! Glock is back being on good terms with the airsoft industry!
This is about as close to the real Glock 19 as it gets. The real gun is famous for its popularity with law enforcement agencies worldwide. I really think this is an outstanding pistol.
It absolutely has everything to do with the fact that I own and train with the real G19. So, when it comes to finding an realistic replica that looks and feels like the real firearm I own, nothing comes close except the Umarex GLOCK 19.
I, in fact, run this airsoft pistol with the same grip tape modifications on the grip & slide like on my real steel (absolutely not needed). This is easily the most advanced airsoft glock today with high quality internals and precision level railed frame + metal slide. The fact that is fully licensed is quite a big plus.
This particular airsoft gun is OEMed by VFC, known for making some of the older Glock pistols in the past (back when Glock was absolutely not on friendly terms with the airsofting community). The VFC variant of the G19 is similar to the TM design, but with a lot of functional improvements for general performance making this gun gas efficient yet have strong blowback. Hot or cold weather, this pistol shoots 60-70 rounds per magazine fill.
My experience, overall, with this pistol is that is simply outstanding. I’ve had almost as much fun using it as I’ve done with the real deal.
Who is this gun for?
Someone looking for a no-nonsense airsoft pistol modeling after the most popular real steel pistol in the world.
5. Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa 5.1
|Construction:||Plastic Slide / Plastic Frame|
|FPS:||300 FPS w/ 0.20g|
|Magazine Capacity:||31 Rounds|
- It's a TM - it is indeed a great product.
- Smoothest slide cycle we've felt.
- Functional 1911 safety features.
- No nonsense sights.
- Gigantic gas reservoir.
- Tons of upgrades available like hop up, bucking, trigger, outer barrel, full metal kits, blowback housing, etc
- Ambidextrous controls.
- Enlarged magazine release.
- Magazine has a high round count.
- FPS is lower than we'd like.
- Plastic construction makes it less friendly to green gas.
- Grip texture is a bit too smooth for us.
- No accessory rail.
Tokyo Marui is an absolutely LEGENDARY manufacturer and they have a reputation for some of the highest performing guns on the market…. 20 years ago. It’s no secret that we think TM is still great, but they’re easily running up against great competitors in the manufacturing world.
There is one place, however, that many airsoft enthusiasts say they still reign supreme, and that is in the airsoft handgun world. Almost all airsoft competitive shooters will tote just how great Tokyo Marui pistols are.
The TM Hi Capa (Hi Capacity) line is known to be the most upgrade-able and customizable gas powered airsoft pistol platform to date. At the same time, there are hundreds of aftermarket parts available to this semi automatic pistol (buckings, seals, fiber optic sights, textured grips, etc) and some airsoft players have build some absolutely great builds, especially competitive shooters. Modeled after a double stack 1911, you’ll find the pistol grip to be a bit wider than the single stack replicas (this is to accommodate more BBs and a larger gas reservoir). For some with larger hands, this actually makes for quite a comfortable grip.
We’ve fired our fair share of TM, and we do agree the pistol shoots well compared to other metal pistols.
Who is this gun for?
An airsoft player looking for a gun that will take upgrades like a champ, and is willing to take time fine tuning it. For style conscious shooters, there are absolutely tons of external upgrade parts to personalize the gun.
The Winner is:
Well, after firing tons of pistols and going out to multiple airsoft games to stress test them, we really think the best airsoft pistol is the KWA M9. The rugged construction really sets this gun apart from even the other choices on this list – the moment you pick this GBB pistol up it FEELS right. Now if it just didn’t fetch for high prices….
This pistol makes a perfect choice for best overall airsoft handgun in our eyes. The KWA M9 is the best overall pistol available on the airsoft market, and for good reason.
So, we wanted to give a shoutout to the KWA ATP. The Adaptive Training Pistol is just absolutely GREAT for the value players receive. Cheaper than the M9 PTP and provides nearly the same performance and excellence of build. The KWA ATP is the best value pistol on the list and will serve you well in any close quarters airsoft battle.
However, as mentioned earlier, if you choose ANY of the pistols on this product list you’re in for a real treat. The quality of these gas airsoft pistols is placed at the top 25% of any airsoft sidearm we’ve ever shot. The perfect sidearm for you will depend on what you enjoy aesthetically in addition to your budget.
Perhaps one day we will end up making a list of cheaper pistol products with lower prices, but until then you can enjoy our list of the best airsoft revolvers.
*Edit* – Looks like we got around to doing that. Check out our list of the best cheap airsoft pistols under $100.
Conclusion: Final Breakdown on the Best Airsoft Pistols:
KWA M9 PTP
Best Overall Airsoft Pistol
Umarex Glock Gen 3 G19
Elite Force 1911 TAC Co2
Best Co2 Powered Pistol
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the best brands for green gas airsoft pistols?
We will bucket the main brands into 4 main categories. There are several manufacturer’s in the airsoft world that fall into each, all fetching different prices.
Entry Level Brands
These airsoft options usually have prices around $100, and they’re the bare minimum we’d even consider recommending. At this price range you can at least expect them to be gas blowback pistols vs non blowback pistols (like a combat zone enforcer co2).
WE-Tech guns have gotten better, but we’d need more time on them to determine if they get upgraded into the intermediate brand section. This might not be a bad option for those looking to do hand to hand sparring in addition to firearms training.
- WinGun (WG)
- WE-Tech / WE-USA
These airsoft products are actually fairly decent and we’d feel confident with any green gas blowback airsoft pistol from here. You can except the prices here to be around $120 – $140. Many GBB pistols here feature the ability to use both green gas or Co2.
High Class Brands
These bad boys are about as good as it gets. The best airsoft pistols are in this category and we’d be confident taking these reliable sidearm to an airsoft game. Prices here will end up running $130+. Some of these airsoft pistols are good enough to train real steel with.
Wild Card Brands
These brands don’t actually make their airsoft products. Instead, they’re usually rebrands (OEM) from one of the manufacturers listed above, or sourced from a place with zero reputation or quality assurance. Sometimes their airsoft guns are great, and sometimes they’re not – it depends on each individual product line.
The main advantage with these brands is that they have official licenses (like Sig Sauer, Dan Wesson, etc). Fully licensed stampings can look pretty dang cool.
- Elite Force / Umarex
- Sig Sauer Pro Force
- UTG Sport line
If you want a more indepth breakdown, we have a guide on the best airsoft brands here.
Co2 and Green Gas – which is better?
It depends really. We prefer green gas version of airsoft pistols, but there’s an argument to be made for Co2 as well. Check out our article on green gas vs co2 for more info, but we think most of the best airsoft pistols are green gas based.
Can I remove the orange tip?
United States has federally mandated that all airsoft products are to be sold with the orange tip. This is really for your own safety as you don’t want any police agencies believing you have a real weapon (which the orange tip helps ID it as an airsoft product). You’d hope that United States law enforcement agencies would be able to tell the difference between a replica and real firearms, but it is not really reasonable for them to assume. This is why the orange tip is essential due to local laws and removing them can create a problem.
With that said, you’ll find a lot of players violating local laws and end up removing their orange tip. Hopefully they know the risks involved. Ultimately, we want you to be safe, and the airsoft hobby / sport truly does NOT need any tragedies and you want to reduce dangerous situations as much as you can.
By removing the orange tip you can create other legal concerns with local law as well.