Best Air Guns Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Grasping the concept and usage of firearms can be much harder than most people would normally think. There’s a huge list of things to master in order to become a proficient shooter, and learning with a traditional gun may slow down the process a lot. Instead, beginners are advised to make use of air handguns while they get a hold of the basic aspects of handling guns, carrying them, and shooting.
Air handguns are easier to handle in many aspects; to start with, they’re considerably lighter than real guns – and not nearly as dangerous. Although some air handguns are more potent than others, the main drawback is that they still don’t count with the same firing power as a real gun.
- Smith Wesson M&P
- Takes BBs .177
- Umarex XBG
- 19 Shot .177bb
- Crosman Vigilante .177
- 10 Shot Pellet Clip
But, at the same time, the lack of power and weight ultimately translates in ease of use and portability for a beginner shooter. Additionally, air handguns have very little to no recoil, which helps with learning how to position the gun while firing without having to worry about the kickback.
When it comes to gun attachments, air handguns are different from real guns as well. Scopes, sights, and other accessories are quite different, but they still allow starting users to improve multiple aspects of their shooting.
10 Best Air Guns
1. Smith & Wesson M&P
The body, frame, and grip of this air gun are made of a resistant polymer that is resistant to scratches and impact. Additionally, the polymer is texturized differently throughout the gun to enhance the efficiency of each component, such as the texturized handle for a better grip.
The M&P air gun is just as accurate as the real model, even fitting inside the same holsters. The accuracy of this gun is flawless within the standard handgun distance of 7.6m (25ft). Smooth firing makes an efficient use of CO2 propulsion, giving you access to more rounds with the same capsule.
The fixed sights of this gun consist of a fiber optic piece on the rear sight and a white dot on the frontal sight for easier aiming. The distinctive dot assists users in acquiring target easily as faster than ever, complemented by a 480FPS propelling force for instant hits.
Decent shooting speed
Not compatible with attachments
2. Umarex XBG
If you’re looking for prolonged trigger time, it’s hard to get any more economical than the Umarex XBG BB gun. The design of the gun seeks the fastest handling, which includes aiming, reloading, and firing. The fixed rear and front sights are ideal for quick target selection, also shooting in double action at 410 FPS.
Rapid fire approach
This model counts with a double action shooting quality. After charging the pistol with a CO2 capsule of 12 grams, you’ll be able to fire as fast as you can pull the trigger. There are no delays between shots or systems that prevent continuous fire.
The Picatinny rail makes the Umarex XBG compatible with a large list of accessories such as a laser sight or a flashlight. Additionally, the adaptability of the rail makes the gun suitable for some attachments of its real equivalent.
- Fast target acquisition
- Realistic magazine handling and release
- Compatible with laser and flashlight attachments
- Smooth and comfortable grip
- The magazine clip has a tendency to jam
3. Crosman Vigilante .177
The Crosman Vigilant is capable of firing both BB and pellets. The hybrid clips allow for 10 pellet shots and 6 slots for BBs, each clip must be loaded separately and consist of two individual pieces, although they can work together in the revolver at the same time.
The specially designed trigger acts and responds just like a real gun, offering enough resistance to not trigger itself yet sensible enough to fire comfortably. The grooving design feels very comfortable on your fingers, improving your ability to fire continuously.
Full metal frame
The Crosman Vigilante does a great job at mimicking its real counterpart with a fully metallic body and a realistic weight. The rail system is metallic as well, and the tactical design allows for certain attachments (compatible real gun attachments will work) and allowing users to adjust the rear sight.
- Supports both pellets and BBs (individual clips
- Real sizing and weight
- Comfortable trigger
- Single or double-action firing
- Not as powerful as some users expected
4. Colt Defender
The use of springs within the grip optimizes the release process, making it not only faster but also much smoother. This allows users to access the CO2 compartment quickly, considerably reducing the reloading time.
Efficient CO2 consumption
Thanks to the optimized CO2 intake, a single capsule of the Colt Defender runs for approximately 150 rounds before it needs refilling. Shooting slow and steadily reduces the CO2 consumption per shot, and the refill process requires no special tools in order to puncture the CO2 capsule, which features a flip-down knob.
The metal trigger resembles the real Colt Defender long and heavy trigger. Smoothness is the main quality of the trigger, also featuring a crisp break that allows users to predict trigger movement. The trigger has the real sensibility to provide a realistic shooting experience, ideal for drills and target acquisition.
Full metal build
Saving CO2 consumption
Hard to cock during first uses
5. Benjamin Trail .177
The Trail .177 caliber break barrels are considerably quieter than the average air handgun thanks to the Nitro Piston technology, which produces around 75% less noise when firing in comparison to air guns powered by springs. This comes in extremely handy while hunting, when keeping things silent is an advantage.
Cocking an air gun doesn’t get any simpler than it does with Benjamin’s Trail. Cocking your gun consists of one simple and soft motion that barely requires any effort thanks to the assisting cocking aid technology. The quick cocking allows for fast follow-up shots with very little to no delay at all.
As if the light recoil from the .177 wasn't enough, Benjamin's NP technology in combination with a special barrel design makes the recoil of the Trail Pistol barely noticeable, allowing you to accurately fire continuous shots.
- Utterly silent firing
- Really use to handle and cock
- Great firing power (625FPS)
- The gun takes some time to break in
6. Gamo PT-85
The PT-85 features a new technique that gives a realistic sensation and looks while shooting. The system consists of an air mechanism that uses a small amount of air to make the slide move backward when shooting.
The grip of this handgun is texturized to enhance the grasp of the hand. Both the back of the grip (where the palm rests) and the front of the grip (where the fingers rest), include a specific design to make the grip much more comfortable regardless of what your dominant hand is.
Both rear and frontal sights lie in a fixed, non-adjustable position. The sight and blade are carefully aligned with the barrel for maximum aiming accuracy. Additionally, reflective white dots help users acquire targets quicker and keeping them in sight.
- Improved and replaceable grip
- Reflective white dot sight
- Air blowback system
- Long skirt pellets damage the magazine
7. Crosman Classic .177
A rifled steel barrel makes the Crosman Classic Pump extremely accurate in relation to its sights. Additionally, the barrel design allows pellets to be propelled with much more force, allowing the gun to shoot up to 600 feet per second.
Unlike many other pneumatic air pump pistols, the Crosman Classic Pump counts with a smooth pumping forearm. The pumping forearm is assisted by its own design, allowing users to pump faster and effortlessly.
Adjustable shooting power
The pneumatic air pump gives users the option of selecting the amount of air compression at will. This makes the gun suitable for different kinds of shooting and goals, rather than having one fixed shooting velocity.
- High shooting speed (600 fps)
- Easy to pump
- Easy cocking and loading
- Adjustable rear sight (peep or open)
- Requires pumping and cocking with every shot
8. Umarex Colt Peacemaker
The construction of this revolver is completely metallic and heavy-weight, representing the weight of authentic Colt revolvers. The metallic build covers the barrel, cylinder, body, and trigger.
Real revolver action
Every aspect of the Colt Peacemaker is carefully designed to imitate the engagement of an actual revolver. The firing action and cylinder rotation work exactly like in a real Colt, with a cylinder capacity of 6 BBs propelled by the CO2 compartment in the grip.
The Colt Peacemaker is a BB-cartridge-loading Single Action Army (SAA) and is extremely easy to load. Unlike traditional revolvers, the shells in the chamber make inserting the BBs and loading a really simple process.
- True revolver sensation and performance
- Metallic build and components
- Styled after the Wild West
- Reusable BB cartridges
- Low shooting power
9. Winchester 11K Kit
The Winchester 11K pistol comes with a kit case that, aside from the gun, includes two individual CO2 capsules with a 12g capacity. For ammunition, the kit offers a 750-count Winchester BB packet – the ammo from the same manufacturer is the perfect match for this gun. The case is perfect for transportation of both the gun and the accessories.
Realistic blowback action
The recoil of the Winchester 11K resembles a real firearm, allowing users to practice with BB’s while conditioning them for usage of real guns. The blowback is not violent and doesn’t kick too deep. It doesn’t match the full blowback of a firearm, but it gives users a very similar experience.
High power and efficient consumption
The velocity of the Winchester 11K goes around 410FPS, which is fairly enough for plinking and recreational shooting. Additionally, the CO2 consumption is strategically administrated to the gun in order to provide more shots per capsule.
- Includes all required items for shooting (BB’s and CO2)
- The case is ideal for transportation
- Ammo from the same manufacturer
- Full metal body
- You can’t break it down
10. Umarex Legends M712
Blowback doesn’t get any more realistic than the Umarex Legends M712. The fully automatic engagement provides the user with a real gun shooting experience. The maximum potency goes as high as 350 fps, which is not the best speed, but definitely not bad for an automatic handgun. The shooting speed will decrease gradually as the CO2 cartridge is used.
Adjustable firing mode
If fully automatic firing isn’t your thing, or you simply want to experience semi-automatic shooting, the adjustable firing mode is the feature you’re looking for. The Umarex Legends M712 allows you to freely switch between semi and fully automatic fire. Be advised; when the CO2 runs low, the gun may fire automatically even if it’s set for semi-fire.
Aside from accurately resembling the classic German design, the construction of the Legends M712 gives you a very realistic experience in the matter of balance and weight thanks to the realistic metal frame weight.
- Changeable shooting mode
- Classic and attractive design
- Realistic weight and blowback
- When running low on CO2 there’s not enough power to completely kick back the bolt, resulting in full-auto shooting
In conclusion, there are many benefits that you can obtain from an air handgun in relation to a real gun. To begin with, you’re able to practice much more openly and calmly with an air handgun as you can fire it in pretty much any open space (given that your local law allows it, please investigate thoroughly and verify that you’re allowed to do so before using any air gun openly).
Owning an air handgun is also much more versatile, as you can normally carry them with much more ease (and far fewer restrictions) than a real gun. Not to mention, of course, that the supplies for air guns such as the BBs and pellets are noticeably cheaper than the ammunition you would need for a real gun.
Generally speaking, air handguns are possibly the best option for people who want to introduce themselves to guns and shooting. The variety of weight, materials, and designs give you the option of practicing in your own way – whether you prefer a real-weight gun that is fully metallic, or something lighter and easy to handle.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Air Guns
Gun preferences, just like everything else, vary from one user to another – it’s impossible to create a unique gun build that fits every single user individually. However, it is possible to provide gun users with the features they need to personalize their guns back and forth at their own will. This not only makes a gun suitable for a much larger amount of users that may not like the original design, but it also gives all of its users, in general, the ability to experiment with different things.
Something as simple as an adjustable rear sight or front sight can be the difference that makes a person purchase a specific gun. There’s not much thought behind this; users that may not like certain fixed sight positions are now potential customers due to the fact that they can adapt the gun to their preferences.
But, user adaptability is not just a matter of expanding the number of potential customers. It’s mostly a matter of improving user experience by increasing the ways in which they can use their air handgun. If you’ve ever owned a gun, you’ll know that there’s nothing like a gun that you can adjust to your very own likings.
Another important aspect of user adaptability is the firing mode selection. But, more complex technologies like firing mode switches involve a significantly larger amount of changes to the gun in comparison to an adjustable sight. While multiple manufacturers offer the ability to select different firing styles, it’s more uncommon than any other adaptive technology. This also means that it will make the gun more expensive in general.
However, the benefits of multiple firing modes certainly come in handy. Most users who own switchable guns believe that an additional investment is really worth it when it comes to gaining access to another firing mode. When we’re talking about this type of advanced adjustment, it’s not only a matter of users being able to try new things. The ability to switch shooting styles can (and most likely will) become extremely helpful during activities like hunting and pest control.
Attachments and pieces
We consider the possibility of incorporating gun attachments as a huge advantage ranking-wise. Some airgun producers make specific emphasis in applying real gun designs to their air handguns, making them resemble their real counterpart as much as possible. In some cases, this also includes making the air handguns compatible with the attachment of its firearm equivalent.
Adding attachments to a handgun is unquestionably the most popular way to customize the user experience. Whether it’s a small flashlight or an aim-assistant laser, the possibility of incorporating attachments certainly gives users a plethora of ways in which they can become more comfortable with their air handgun.
Furthermore, replaceable pieces are the cherry on the cake when it comes to customization. Gun owners, both air handguns, and real firearms, usually have their personal favorite components. These can go from a customized grip to a special kind of magazine and even a specific trigger.
Because of all of these parameters, we believe that user adaptability and customization is an important factor to consider when looking for the best air handguns. Moreover, it’s because of this same reason that customizable air guns had an advantage during our research, evaluation, and ranking process.
Firing Power & Velocity
Before going into any detailed explanations and arguments, we’d like to clarify that the firing power directly depends on the activity the gun is meant for. Firing velocity is one of the things that users look into the most when purchasing air handguns, often trying to get as much as they can. However, maximum raw power is not always something you should be looking for.
While the shooting power and velocity certainly are important, there’s much more to the efficiency of an air handgun than just that. At the same time, this does not mean that you should overlook the maximum velocity of a handgun. Depending on the activity you’re looking to perform (if you’re interested in a particular thing, that is), you might want to reconsider how much power you want. In order to do this, you should consider the drawbacks of having too much velocity.
Most users wouldn’t normally think that too much power is a thing – and it’s not crazy to think so, as it is part of the purpose of air handguns. Yet, there are actual drawbacks in using excessive power; one of them is the consumption of CO2.
The faster and stronger the shot, the more CO2 is required. At the end of the day, CO2 is what propels the ammunition. Although spring systems and air compression mechanisms may play a role in the definitive velocity of each shot, CO2 will always (or almost always) be the element that affects shooting velocity the most. Thus, in order to achieve greater shooting power, the gun requires a greater use of CO2 to enhance propulsion.
You may be thinking that you shouldn’t worry about the amount of carbon dioxide used while firing, and you would be wrong if you did so. Efficient CO2 consumption is something air handgun manufacturers are consistently researching and improving, and it’s also one of the key features that determine the true efficiency of the product.
As you can probably guess from the explanation above, efficient consumption is the extreme opposite of maximum power. But, like we said, a minimum of velocity is also necessary to make an optimal air gun. Thus, we conclude that power-wise, the most efficient guns are those that deliver a healthy balance between CO2 consumption and gunfire velocity rather than guns that offer raw power at a high consumption rate.
This one is a fairly simple factor; the greater the shooting force, the stronger recoil it will create. If you remember something from your physics classes back in high school, you’ll know that Newton taught us about forces and their opposite effects. Any force applied in one direction generates just the same amount of force in the opposite direction. It’s pretty much the reason why you can’t push a wall without moving backward.
Well, that’s exactly what happens with guns. If you’re into absolute raw power and heavy ammunition, that’s absolutely fine, but you better get used to firing with some recoil. Both pneumatic air guns and CO2-propelled guns work in a very similar way; they operate with compressed gas. Thus, their behavior and reaction are pretty similar when it comes to recoil.
There’s a common misconception amongst beginner (and even intermediate) air handgun users, and it’s that airguns don’t recoil. Don’t get it wrong – every single gun that propels ammunition will recoil. However, compared to the recoil of a spring firearm, the kickback of an air gun is pretty light (which is what leads people to think they don’t recoil).
As soon as the ammunition goes off impulsed by the compression of the gas, the air gun will move in the opposite direction with the same force. For small guns with light ammo, recoil is certainly not an obstacle, but this must not lead you to believe that absolutely all air guns will let you have a go without recoil. At the end of the day, you just can’t break the law of momentum conservation.
If you’re looking for big and powerful air handguns, keep in mind that the heavier the ammunition and the greater the power, the more recoil you’ll experience. For 10-meter target air guns, recoil is going to be an obstacle.
We evaluated the best air handguns keeping in mind how suitable they are for specific practices. But, the convenience of a gun isn’t something you can evaluate as a single factor, as there are multiple things that determine how convenient an air gun really is.
While certain guns offer very attractive features for recreational shooting and range practice, we also kept in mind users that use air handguns for functional purposes like pest control or small game hunting. When we’re talking about practices that demand an optimal performance level, deep evaluation of each aspect of the guns is required.
Do notice that air handguns can be used for an abundance of different activities, all of which may require pretty specific features and functionalities that differ from the features required for different practices. Because of this, it’s hard for us to compile a list of what features define the convenience of an air pistol – what works for one activity may simply not be efficient for another specific use that another person may find for his air gun.
Regardless, we’ve come up with generic parameters that are considered to make an air handgun practical in general. Once again, these factors are completely standard and nonspecific and may differ with the requirements for optimal performance of specific doings.
The quality of a gun is often related to the amount of noise it makes when firing. Generally speaking, a gun that has a noisy shooting mechanism is looked down by small game hunters and most air gun owners. Smoothness and silence of each shot are two of the key features that tell apart a quality air handgun from a budget one. This is, of course, with the exception of guns that are meant to be noisy for whatever reason.
When it comes to real firearms, a loud bang usually translates into greater firepower (although gun modifications may deliberately make a louder noise, such as a resonating barrel tip). However, this is not necessarily the case with air handguns, as the releasement of compressed gas is quite different from the real shooting mechanism. At the same time, this does not mean that air guns are noiseless.
During activities like hunting (which is one of the most popular purposes of air handguns), a loud sound is an opposite of what you should be looking for. If you’ve ever gone hunting, even small game, you’ll know how valuable it is to count with a silent and smooth shooting air gun.
Additionally, any other practice in which your positioning and location are things that you want to hide, an air gun with reduced noise will absolutely give you an advantage.
Loading and cocking
This is a pretty simple guess; the easier you can load and cock your gun, the better. An air gun stops being convenient when the loading and cocking process is troublesome and slows down your performance.
We evaluated the ease of loading for each gun in relation to the purpose it’s meant for rather than comparing the loading ease between the products on our list. This is because, like in the previous sections, the specification of each gun varies a lot based on its purpose.
For instance, a pneumatic pump air gun may seem impractical at first sight as the users have to re-pump the gun after each shot for an optimal firing power. However, pneumatic gun users know this, and if they’re knowingly acquiring that type of weapons regardless, we assume that their practice is not hindered by having to re-pump their gun. If the pump was a negative feature in relation to their practice, they would simply be looking for a different type of air handgun.
It’s safe to say that you should be looking for as much magazine capacity as you can. Generally, the capacity of your magazine won’t affect your gun as it grows (as long as the magazine occupies the same space). We don’t really see any drawbacks of enhanced ammo capacity, and thus we gave priority to products that offer the largest capacity.
A magazine that supports 20 pebbles will always be more efficient than a magazine that supports only 15 pebbles (given that every other characteristic of both guns is absolutely equal). Capacity-wise, traditional handguns are handier than revolvers, due to the fact that revolver cylinders usually don’t hold nearly as much ammo as a magazine.
Yet, this factor alone doesn’t mean that an air Glock is better than an air Colt. Some users may find features on the revolver, such as firing power, which would beat traditional guns and compensate for the shortage of capacity in some way.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the difference between pellets and BBs?
A: BBs are metallic ball projectiles that have nearly the same size as the .180 lead bird shots. A pellet, on the other hand, is non-spherical and may vary a lot in shape depending on its purpose.
Q: How many shots can I get from 12g CO2 capsule?
A: That really depends on a variety of factors. For starters, the gun model and firepower have a massive impact on the CO2 consumption. Additionally, further technology may improve the CO2 saving and optimize its consumption, providing you with plenty more shots per capsule. Generally speaking, you can get around 60-100 shots out of each 12g capsule.
Q: Should I get a fully metallic gun?
A: That’s up to you. There are pros and cons to having a fully metallic air handgun. While metallic builds certainly are heavier than any other type of material used for guns, they help you adapt to the weight and dimension of a real gun. It depends on your goals and usage.
Q: How big should my magazine be?
A: For airgun designs similar to the Glock, you should expect at least 10 shots before having to refill the magazine, but they may go up to 20 (or more) depending on the gun. Revolvers have significantly less capacity that generally doesn’t exceed 10 slots.
Q: What does FPS stand for, and what does it mean?
A: It stands for feet per second, and it refers to the maximum velocity that a pistol can shoot at. An airgun labeled as 480FPS may reach around 480FPS at the fastest point of the trajectory, but this doesn’t necessarily mean each shot will travel at that speed.
Q: Should I carry my air handgun in a holster?
A: It’s not specifically necessary, but it does optimize the transportation of the gun as well as your ability to access it in and put it away in situations like hunting. Most of these handguns resemble real firearm models, and thus they’re likely compatible with the same holsters. We recommend trying Kydex holsters.
Q: Can I add attachments to air handguns?
A: You certainly can, and you even should in some cases. Just like with the holsters, the air handguns may be compatible with attachments meant for their firearm counterpart if they’re designed similarly. Additionally, there are attachments specifically designed for air handguns as well.