Best Air Guns Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Air handguns are easier to handle in many aspects. To start with, they’re lighter than real guns – and not nearly as dangerous. Although some air handguns are more potent than others, they have nowhere near the same firing power as a real one. The pellets they use cost much less than real bullets also. The lack of power and weight ultimately translates in ease of use and portability for a beginner shooter. Additionally, they have very little to no recoil, which helps with learning how to position the gun while firing without having to worry about the kickback. Some look more like the real thing than other and there is also a difference in power you need to consider. We’ve reviewed and rated some of the best on the market so you can find exactly what you are looking for!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 16 hrs of research
Decent shooting speed
10 Best Air Guns
1. Smith & Wesson M&P
Decent shooting speed
Not compatible with attachments
The medium-size Smith & Wesson M&P air gun follows the standard .177 caliber BBs and a semi-automatic firing mode. The shooting velocity goes as high as 480FPS and counts with a drop-free magazine holding 19 individual BB shots. This gun is designed after one of the newest Smith & Wesson pistols and made with highly resistant and durable materials.Read more
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 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.
2. Umarex XBG
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
The 19-round Umarex XBG air pistol features a fully metallic drop free magazine optimized for reloading speed. The gun is propelled by a 12g CO2 capsule that lies within the grip. The efficient consumption of CO2 makes each capsule much more durable, and thus hinders the costs of using the weapon. The design of the gun is compact and light in comparison to its real fully metallic countRead more
Quick action pistol
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 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.
3. Crosman Vigilante .177
Supports both pellets and BBs (individual clips)
Real sizing and weight
Single or double-action firing
Not as powerful as some users expected
If you’re looking for a modern approach of the classic revolver, the Crosman Vigilante is your best option. The fully metallic design resembles the real revolver with a realistic weight and shooting capacity. The Crosman Vigilante is compatible with both pellets and BB, allowing you to access a wider variety of practices. The 6-inch rifled steel barrel shoots up to 435FPS.Read more
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.
4. Colt Defender
Full metal build
Saving CO2 consumption
Hard to cock during first uses
Despite being an air handgun, Colt’s Defender BB edition features a completely metallic construction resembling the real weight of the gun. The magazine holds 16 shots and is integrated into the pistol near the CO2 capsule which lies within the grip. The fixed sights, both rear sight, and front sight mimic the original sights of the Colt Defender for a realistic shooting experience.Read more
Spring powered grip release
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.
5. Daisy Powerline
Manual trigger block safety
Some complaints about accuracy
Not ideal for hunting
Daisy Unisex Powerline 415 Pistol is obviously one of the best choices you can make in terms of air guns. This item comes with everything you need to get started, including shooting glasses, targets, 350 ct. BB tube and three CO2 cylinders. What really stands out about this product is its velocity. Despite its small dimensions, the semi-automatic Daisy Powerline can reach the maximum velocity of 500 fps.Read more
One of the best features that this product has to offer is the semi-automatic mechanism. The CO2 powered system harnesses the energy of one shot to reload the chamber for the next. If you’re using this gun as a hunter, you’ll gain valuable time when shooting.
Another great feature is that this pistol has a built-in magazine in which you can store up to 21 shots. Now you never have to worry about losing or damaging it when not inserted in.
Cost and Value
So many accessories included in one kit make this a great buy. What’s more, if you compare this product to others in its class, you’ll be amazed to see how low-priced it is. So don’t hesitate to buy it!
6. Gamo PT-85
Improved and replaceable grip
Reflective white dot sight
Air blowback system
Long skirt pellets damage the magazine
Gamo’s PT-85 air handgun is powered by CO2, and with over 120 years of experience in the production of weapons, the PT-85 includes everything you could potentially ask from an air pistol. An efficient blowback slide mechanism controls recoil and makes it easier to adapt to real gun recoil, as well as firing continuously. The rifled steel barrel helps the PT-85 reach a shooting speed of 450 feet per second.Read more
Innovative blowback system
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.
7. Crosman Classic .177
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
Air pump handguns hardly get any better than the Crosman Classic Pump. Despite its simple-looking design, this air handgun is structured to shoot up to 600FPS with enough pump power. The firing mode consists of a single shot bolt action system, making it much simpler to cock and load. The pneumatic air pump gives users absolute control over the shooting power of the gun, allowing them to adjust the shooting power at will.Read more
Rifled steel barrel
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.
8. Umarex Colt Peacemaker
True revolver sensation and performance
Metallic build and components
Styled after the Wild West
Reusable BB cartridges
Low shooting power
Umarex’s Colt Peacemaker is an emblematic air handgun representing the guns from the Wild West. The introduction of this gun during the time made the name Peacemaker very popular. Aside from being easy to handle and shooting with, owning the Colt Peacemaker is like owning a piece of firearm history. Despite being an air gun, the Colt Peacemaker delivers the very living experience of real Colt revolvers.Read more
Full metal frame
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.
9. Winchester 11K Kit
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
Winchester air guns are some of the most realistic builds and functionalities you can get your hands on. New shooters quickly become familiar with the use of real guns while using the Winchester 11K air pistol thanks to the lifelike blowback action. Additionally, a metallic base adds the necessary weight to resemble a real firearm complemented with a nickel finish. The kit pistol case includes everything necessary to get initiated in shooting.Read more
Kit with case
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.
10. Umarex Legends M712
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
For people who are into classic German handguns, the Umarex Legends M712 is the ideal replication. The distinctive metallic design includes a broom handle – a piece of history that will bring eyes on you when going to the firing range. The frontal sight is fixed, but the rear sight can be adjusted to fit each user’s personal shooting preferences.Read more
Full auto blowback
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.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Ease of Use
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 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.
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.
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 greater use of CO2 to enhance propulsion.
This one is a fairly simple factor; the greater the shooting force, the stronger the 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.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
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.
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 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.
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.
Other Factors to Consider
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the difference between pellets and BBs?
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?
That really depends on a variety of factors. For starters, the gun model and firepower have a massive impact on CO2 consumption. Additionally, further technology may improve 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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.