Best Airsoft Pistols for Beginners – What decades in airsoft has told us

Nearly everyone starting airsoft should have a sidearm.

An airsoft pistol is one of the first purchases most airsoft beginners make when first starting out.

Well, let us tell you that many of them end up buying something simple LOOKS cool, but don’t actually perform at all on the field. They end up being unhappy with their purchase and now they have to shell out more money for a replacement.

Let’s avoid that, shall we? Below we have our list of the best airsoft pistols for beginners.

What is the best airsoft pistol for beginners

Factors to consider for what makes the best airsoft pistol for beginners

Here are the factors we considered when compiling our list of the best airsoft pistols for beginners:

Shooting Performance

A beginner airsoft pistol should have:

  • Consistent Muzzle Velocity – the standards we want to hit are +/- 20 FPS variance in 3 rounds bursts. 
  • Decent accuracy at combat distances – we should see hits on a man-sized target at 25 yards easily.
  • Adjustable hop up & high quality bucking – this is key to a consistent flight path on the BB.

Reliability

When you pull the trigger, a good airsoft pistol should fire without fail.

  • Full metal construction – while not a requirement – a full metal gun has a tendency to be more resistant to drop damage than a plastic one.
  • It will work under tough circumstances – can this airsoft pistol function under high/low temperatures? How about a bit of sand or dirt, does that affect the function?
  • Precision internal construction – precisely built internal parts help ensure that the airsoft pistol will cycle properly.

Internal Build Quality

The internals of a gun should be made of great materials and assembled in a precise way.

  • High-quality bucking – the bucking is the main object touching your BB before you fire your gun, it is important that it is of the highest quality.
  • Solid hop up – the hop-up unit should be adjustable and the adjustment shouldn’t move by itself while firing the gun.
  • Rubber seals are good – good gas efficiency is reliant on solid seals.
  • 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 – we should be able to get, at least, a full magazine’s worth of BB’s from a single fill. Ideally, we should be getting multiple magazines worth of BB’s. 
  • Large gas reservoir – related to the above, if a magazine has a large gas reservoir it’ll ensure you get plenty of shots before needing a refill.

External Build Quality

The externals should be well constructions and gets extra points for:

  • Cocking serrations – cuts made into the slide to increase friction on your fingers. This means you can rack the pistol more easily (although with airsoft, it’s quite easy to rack your slide).
  • 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 – you’ll be able to attach accessories like lasers, flashlights, and more.
  • Iron sights – the front and rear sights should be easy to acquire and be rock solid during use. 

Value

What you buy should be worth the money being spent.

  • Performance to cost ratio – the high overall performance of the airsoft pistol, the better.
  • Features to cost ratio – we’re looking for more features for every dollar spent..
  • 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 2 tips in mind when purchasing

  • What is the reputation of the manufacturer? Much like anything, you get what you pay for. I’d say that with airsoft is especially true, as the difference between even $20 can be stark. Good airsoft manufacturers will have more rigorous quality assurance processes to ensure that you’ve got a good product that will run when you need it to run.
  • Does it come with a warranty – Review the warranty policy to determine if it is provided by the manufacturer itself, or the store. One nice thing about airsoft specialty stores is that they typically provide some kind of warranty on top of what is currently available.

With that said – let’s start:

Elite Force 1911 Tac Co2 Airsoft Pistol

kwc gas blow back pistol from right

It’s hard NOT to recommend this airsoft 1911 to beginners. For those looking to get started in the 1911 world, it’s hard to beat the value you’re getting. I still remember the days where Jet “The Desert Fox” started showcasing this pistol and it took the airsoft world by storm.

This is the new Gen 3 variant (at the time of writing) of this Co2 gas blow back pistol and it’s a SOLID pick for anyone looking to start airsoft.

SpecsElite Force 1911 Tac
ManufacturerKWC OEM
Magazine Capacity14+1 Rounds
FPS340 – 350
Gas SystemCo2 Proprietary – 12 gram cartridges
Hop UpFully Adjustable – KWC Proprietary System

Positive
  • Full metal construction
  • Features all cool options like front rails, ambidextrous safety, textured grips, the works!
  • Strong blowback
  • CO2 Powered
Negatives
  • Incompatible parts with other 1911 models
  • Can’t top off on gas due to Co2 system

WE CQB Master 1911 MEU Airsoft Pistol

Many newbies start off with a WE pistol. If I were writing this 10 years ago, I might have steered users away from WE. However, their recent batch of pistols has made some fairly decent improvements.

They’ve made some great internal component improvements that help increase the gas efficiency of the pistol as well as looked to improve their quality assurance process.

They’re now well worth recommending to new players, especially since they come in a lot of models.

Note: Most WE-Tech 1911’s are internally all the same, and so what you’re really buying are the externals. We will be providing multiple options below.

SpecsWE 1911
ManufacturerWE-Tech
Magazine Capacity16+1 Rounds
FPS300 – 320
Gas SystemGreen Gas
Hop UpFully Adjustable – WE Proprietary System

Positive
  • Full metal construction
  • Lots of external options exist including rails / no rails, color, and more.
  • Extra magazines are incredibly inexpensive and cross-compatible with other WE 1911’s
  • Green gas-powered keeps you using the same system and most players
Negatives
  • Incompatible parts with other brand’s 1911 models
  • So popular it is hard to keep in stock

WE CQB Master 1911 MEU Airsoft Pistol Great Value

Similar to the Marine MEU 1911

WE Custom 1911 Knighthawk Airsoft Pistol Great Value

Similar to the Nighthawk Custom 1911

WE 1911 GI Gen 2 Airsoft Piatol Great Value

Similar to the classic M1911A1

KJW M9 Airsoft Pistol

kjw m9 government airsoft pistol

When newer players ask which brand they should go with for an airsoft M9 we always first point to the KJW line. The KJW line of airsoft M9’s are fully TM compatible, and in our opinion, BETTER than the Tokyo Marui line of M9’s.

Featuring full metal construction and solid overall performance at a GREAT price point, it’s our go-to choice if you cannot spend more for something like the KWA M9 PTP.

SpecsKJW M9
ManufacturerKJ Works
Magazine Capacity25+1 Rounds
FPS320 – 340
Gas SystemGreen Gas
Hop UpNon Adjustable TM Style

Positive
  • Full metal construction
  • Fully Tokyo Marui compatible for later upgrades and spare parts availability
  • Extra magazines are inexpensive
  • Green gas-powered keeps you using the same system and most players
Negatives
  • Sadly, the hopup is not adjustable
  • External options are very limited
  • Hard to keep in stock

Swiss Arms P226 Airsoft Pistol

Made famous by Seal Team Six’s use, the P226 is our first “unique” airsoft pistol on our list. OEMed by We-Tech, the Swiss Arms P226 has some really cool features. Some of the coolest we think are:

  • Functioning decocker
  • Fits into P226 holsters
  • Preupgraded bucking

This airsoft pistol is pre-upgraded with a REAPs style bucking. This means the BB’s should have a more consistent backspin and get more distance.

Pick this one if you want to have heads turning at the field.

SpecsSwiss Arms P226
ManufacturerWE-Tech
Magazine Capacity20+1 Rounds
FPS300 – 320
Gas SystemGreen Gas
Hop UpAdjustable WE Tech Style F226

Positive
  • Compatible with WE F226 parts
  • Functional decocker
  • Extra magazines are inexpensive
  • Authentic Swiss Arms Licensing
  • Preupgraded internals
Negatives
  • We are not fans of the P226 ergonomics
  • Magazines are more prone to leaking than other brands
  • Swiss Arms licensing just isn’t Sig Sauer

G&G GTP9 Airsoft Pistol

G&G GTP9 Airsoft Pistol

It is awesome to see G&G try something new. Known most of their Combat Machine line of airsoft M4’s, the GTP9 is one of their most effective stabs at the gas pistol market.

The GTP9 is modeled to have similar ergonomics as a Glock (and looks very much like the KWA ATP). There are some differences and even new features. Some of the major stand outs are listed in our pro / con list below.

Overall though, the internal function of the gun is GREAT for the price point, easily earning a spot on our list.

SpecsG&G GTP9 Airsoft Pistol
ManufacturerG&G
Magazine Capacity27+1 Rounds
FPS300 – 320
Gas SystemGreen Gas
Hop UpAdjustable G&G Proprietary

Positive
  • Slick Looking aesthetic w/ cocking serrations and slide cuts
  • Lots of options for externals
  • Ambidextrous magazine release & Ambidextrous slide release
  • Front Rail
  • Solid performance for price point
Negatives
  • Hop up adjustment is ackward
  • Trigger is a little squishy
  • Bar safety is tacky (in our opinion)

KJW KP-13 Airsoft Pistol

kjw airsoft pistol kp13

The next item on our list, the KJW KP-13, is another shot in the “Glock replica” airsoft world. We think that this airsoft pistol is closer to the Glock in terms of ergonomics, and even has some additional features.

Coming in at a reasonable price point, KJW is known for making quality internals for their gas guns. We found that the KP-13 is a worth entry.

A common question is: Does the KP-13 fits Glock holsters?

It does, but it is an incredibly tight fit.

SpecsKJW KP-13 Airsoft Pistol
ManufacturerKJW
Magazine Capacity24+1 Rounds
FPS300 – 320
Gas SystemGreen Gas
Hop UpAdjustable KJW Proprietary

Positive
  • Fairly close to Glock pistols in terms of ergonomics
  • Solid internals
  • Fiber optic sights included
  • Front Rail
  • Compatible with TM G-Series parts and magazines
Negatives
  • Slide seems loose and rattles more than we’d like
  • Tight fit on hard shell Glock holsters

WE M9A1 Airsoft Pistol

WE Airsoft M9A1 Pistol Desert

If you’re a newer player with a smaller budget, then the WE M9A1 might be what you need. Featured on our list of best cheap airsoft pistols under $100, the WE line of airsoft M9’s won “Best M9 for under $100”. For those who have a little more money, we usually recommend the KJW M9.

However, if you cannot afford the extra $30, then this choice will serve you well enough. One thing we are glad to report is that WE Tech has improved its QC, meaning that we’ve found players reporting fewer lemons than before.

Considering the price – it’s a solid option.

SpecsWE M9 Airsoft Pistol
ManufacturerWE
Magazine Capacity26+1 Rounds
FPS310 – 340
Gas SystemGreen Gas
Hop UpAdjustable – Sort of

Positive
  • Inexpensive!
  • Matte finish looks great
  • Front Rail
  • Improved REAPS bucking pre-installed
  • Spare magazines are inexpensive
Negatives
  • Still a bit of a gas hog
  • Hop up is incredibly obnoxious to adjust

APS XTP Airsoft Pistol

aps xtp airsoft pistol

APS is a brand of airsoft gun that dabbles in the Co2 realm. This is another entry in the “Glock replica” realm.

One of the most unique things about this airsoft pistol is that it is “dual gas.” This means that it can take Co2 and Green gas (each magazine will specialize in one or the other). Some newer players aren’t sure if green gas or co2 is better for airsoft, but in this case, you won’t have to worry.

The polymer slide… we’re honestly not sure just how well it’ll stand up to long-term use. However, it makes using Co2 have a LOT of heft and gas efficiency. Give it a go and we think you’ll enjoy the performance.

SpecsAPS XTP Airsoft Pistol
ManufacturerAPS
Magazine Capacity25+1 Rounds
FPS300 – 320 (Green Gas) / 340 – 350 (Co2)
Gas SystemGreen Gas OR Co2
Hop UpAdjustable

Positive
  • Compatible with TM G-series magazines
  • Glock style ergonomics
  • Front Rail
  • Strong blowback with Co2
Negatives
  • Frame safety is ugly
  • Polymer slide

Just interested in getting the best pistol on the market? Check out our article on the best airsoft pistol. Or, if you’re ready to jump into starter airsoft rifles – check out our article on the best airsoft guns for beginners.

Timothy Hackett

Timothy Hackett

Tim has been playing airsoft since 1994. With over a thousand (no lie) airsoft games under his belt he has spent countless hours testing various airsoft guns and tactical gear. He's gotten hundreds (still no lie) of people into the airsoft hobby and is more than willing to spread the love of slinging 6mm plastic to any new player.

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