by David McBryan
Spring, CO2, Green Gas, Blowback & Non-Blowback (There's Something for Everyone, Including You)
Airsoft pistols have two primary uses:
As a result, manufacturers put a lot of emphasis on realism, designing pistols that mirror their realistic counterparts.
In this roundup, you'll find replicas of these 12 famous pistols:
You'll also find our picks for best airsoft guns across 5 categories:
(Click on those links to jump to each section.)
Let's get started.
Spring-powered pistols aren't the typical go-to for most airsoft players because they tend to fire at lower velocities and require manual cocking before every shot, but they don't require gas or a battery and are great as training pistols to simulate actual firearms.
The UTG Sport U988 1911 is a great bang-for-your-buck, spring-powered airsoft pistol. You'll be hard-pressed to find anything better than this in its astonishingly low price range.
Its biggest advantage is its solid metal frame with realistic weight and balance, making it great for simulating actual firearm use. It also boasts impressive shot velocity for a spring-powered pistol, reaching 245 fps with 0.12g BBs. It also features a functional safety and a 13-round magazine, and you can store up to 90 additional rounds in its storage chamber.
Dollar for dollar, you won't find a better spring-powered airsoft pistol than the UTG Sport U988 1911 Spring.
The H&K P30 is an authentic H&K replica with a built-in hop-up system for more firing time before reloading and an extended life trigger system. It's very accurate with both 0.12g and 0.20g BBs, though you'll get better accuracy with a slightly lower shot velocity with the heavier 0.20g BBs.
This spring-powered pistol's exterior is a durable polymer with a full metal slide, which differs from the all-metal build of the UTG Sport U988 1911 above, making the H&K P30 easier to handle though less realistic.
However, the biggest downside of this model, by far, is its incredibly heavy slide and trigger. Cocking the slide back fully into position can be tough, and it takes a lot of pressure to pull the trigger.
If you're looking for a cool, classic revolver experience, the UKARMS 357 Magnum will help you get your fix. It's the lightest of the three spring-powered airsoft pistols featured in this roundup and is made entirely from ABS polymer, but its 6-round chamber, 11.5" length, and integrated front and rear sights make it fun (and easy) to operate.
You don't need to cock the hammer before each shot, and firing velocities are on the low-end at just 150 fps with 0.12g BBs, but you aren't going with the UKARMS 357 Magnum for performance. This model is all about being an affordable airsoft version of a timeless classic.
Now for the good stuff. CO2-powered pistols kick harder and shoot faster than green gas pistols, but the downsides are that CO2 is harder on your gun and less cost-efficient. Gas blowback guns are more realistic than non-blowback guns and shoot faster. Put it all together, and these CO2-powered gas blowback guns are going to pop with more trigger responsiveness and some serious kick.
The KJW ASG CZ P-09 is a powerful replica of the CZ duty pistol with a lot of blowback. It nails the aesthetics, so if you're looking for a replica gun for airsoft, look no further. It comes packed with features for customization, such as a 14 mm threaded barrel and 20 mm Picatinny rail system, and the full metal slide and heavy trigger signal how much power and kickback this gun has.
Ask anyone who's used multiple airsoft pistols which is most accurate, and the SIG Sauer P226 probably makes their shortlist. It's an impressively designed replica that nails the feel and aesthetics of a real SIG P226, and it fires with surprising kick (especially this CO2-powered model).
However, there are a couple of letdown features that prevent it from being the best CO2-powered airsoft pistol. Removing and replacing the CO2 cartridge frequently is a pain for two reasons: You need an Allen wrench, and the cartridge can be challenging to insert properly. I'd also expect a more durable finish that doesn't scuff so easily, but there's no doubt this gun has the heft you'd expect with a comfortable grip and pleasing slide action.
The M1911 is a classic pistol, and no airsoft pistol is a better replica than the Umarex Elite Force 1911 Tac Gen 3. It checks all the boxes for a quality CO2-powered pistol: realistic look and feel, high firing velocity, extreme accuracy, and comfort in use. It's a great model with one huge drawback: It has a small, 15-round magazine.
Compared to the 25-round mags for the KJW ASG CZ P-09 and SIG Sauer P226, 15 rounds is puny. You'll be reloading constantly, and you'll definitely want to buy more mags (which gets expensive).
But performance-wise, there's nothing wrong with the Umarex Elite Force 1911 Tac Gen 3.
As we run down this list of the best CO2-powered gas blowback airsoft pistols, we're hitting many of the best-in-class replicas of classic firearms. This Beretta APX replica is another standout model from Umarex that mimics the real firearm in almost every way, save for a couple of differences with the safeties.
From a skirmishing perspective, the Umarex Beretta APX performs to expectations, firing 4.5 mm (.117 caliber) BBs with strong velocity and tight accuracy, though the 15-round magazine is limiting compared to the 25-round magazines of the CO2-powered pistols above.
If semi-automatic pistols aren't scratching your itch, reach for the KWC Magnum Research Desert Eagle. This CO2 gas blowback gun is fully automatic and capable of firing 0.20g BBs nearly 400 fps with a 21-round magazine, and all that power is packed inside a fully-licensed replica of the classic Desert Eagle.
Generally, non-blowback guns have lower firing velocities but offer more gas efficiency and accuracy. Want the power of CO2 without the blowback? These two non-blowback airsoft guns are your best bets.
A lightweight, highly-efficient, non-blowback CO2 pistol, the H&K HK45 is yet another great replica by Umarex. It has a polymer frame instead of a full metal design, but its 15-round magazine is more than the model ranked below, and it features an adjustable hop-up and 20 mm Picatinny rails for lights and lasers.
All non-blowback guns are going to sacrifice realism for cost-efficiency, but the Umarex H&K HK45 still checks enough boxes in terms of overall functionality to be a quality CO2-powered pistol at an amazing price point.
The WG/TSD Metal M1911 is the non-blowback version of the classic M1911 (the Umarex Elite Force above is the gas-blowback version) and this thing packs some serious punch with astounding CO2 efficiency at less than half the price of the blowback guns above.
Unfortunately, it has just a 12-round magazine.
On the plus side, you can get up to 100 shots at 450-500 fps with a single 12g CO2 cartridge, meaning up to 8 magazines before swapping in a new cartridge. And if you lower your firing velocity, you can get even more efficiency.
Overall, this is a great non-blowback option if you're looking for a fun, budget CO2-powered airsoft pistol.
Green gas blowback pistols are quieter with lower firing velocities than their CO2 gas blowback counterparts, but that doesn't mean you're at a disadvantage. Instead, green gas guns get much better gas efficiency, which can keep you on the field longer without having to reload cartridges.
First, a necessary disclaimer: The Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa 5.1 works with green gas, but it's recommended you use 134a (also known as duster gas, because it's the stuff in cans of computer duster). Green gas provides more power than duster gas, which can cause increased wear and tear with Tokyo Marui's all-polymer build, including the slide. I'm still listing it as the best green gas airsoft pistol because this gun is phenomenal and still fires at 300 fps with duster gas, and many people in-the-know still use green gas and get many great years from their Tokyo Marui pistols!
Despite its all-polymer construction, this pistol is incredibly well-made and durable. Tokyo Marui's name is associated with quality, and their finish and attention to detail are legendary. The Hi-Capa 5.1 also has solid weight for an all-polymer gun, mostly due to the quality interior components that ensure this gun will fire reliably and accurately for years.
The SIG Sauer M17 green gas airsoft pistol is a beast of a gun with a 330 fps firing velocity despite the green gas propellant and weighs in at a hefty 2 lbs, 10 oz. With a metal slide and all-around durable construction, you can even use this gun with CO2 for more power and a bigger kick.
Its 21-round capacity is solid, and it comes with a 20 mm Picatinny rail under the barrel and a removable rear sight, giving you the option to add both a scope and a laser should you choose.
This gun goes toe-to-toe with the Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa 5.1 above, only losing out by a hair because of the Hi-Capa's incredible 31-round capacity, which is a huge advantage when skirmishing.
Another quality replica from Umarex, this one of the classic Glock G17 Gen4. Even with green gas, this pistol has comparable firing action and recoil to the actual firearm with loudness similar to using a suppressor on the actual firearm. That makes this airsoft pistol great for either skirmishing or indoor target practice.
The 22-round magazine capacity is similar to most other airsoft pistols, the Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa 5.1 notwithstanding (they call it Hi-Capa for a reason), though the firing velocity here is a little less than the SIG Sauer M17 above.
The heaviest green gas blowback airsoft pistol here, the KWA M9 PTP boasts an all-metal design, which is missing from the other four pistols in this section, and a huge 350 fps firing velocity even with green gas propellant that increases to 380 fps if you use CO2. The 24-round magazine is great, and the 20 mm Picatinny rail under the barrel allows you to add lights or lasers for improved accuracy.
All-in-all, the KWA M9 PTP is a great M9 replica with big-time power. Spec-wise it tops almost everything above it in this section, so why does it land fourth? Accuracy. Don't get me wrong, this isn't an awful, inaccurate gun. It just isn't as accurate as any of the pistols above.
What do you know, another Umarex! These guys really do deliver quality replicas, and the H&K VP9 Tac is no exception. It's lightweight at just under 2 lbs and comes with both Picatinny rails and a threaded barrel for additional customization. Shot velocities are on par with the other pistols in this section, and the inclusion of three custom-sized grips to help you dial in the right feel is a nice touch from Umarex.
Green gas, non-blowback pistols are all about practicality and efficiency. If you're looking for a solid pistol for on-the-field skirmishing and not for tactical training, these models are great options.
Possibly the most unique pistol on this list, the Tokyo Marui SOCOM MK23 definitely is the quietest. It comes with a silencer that actually works. Combined with its green gas firing mechanism and non-blowback design, you'll be able to eliminate players at close (but safe) distances without anyone knowing you were there. The included light attachment module (LAM) actually works, but not too well. Illumination is poor, and the LED red light doesn't work well over distances.
It's tough to beat a Tokyo Marui, so there's no shame in this Y&P M9 Beretta coming in second among green gas, non-blowback airsoft pistols. This realistic replica has a polymer frame and metal slide that's compatible with both green gas and CO2, and it has an advertised top-end 400 fps firing velocity when using CO2.
I don't love the fixed hop-up system and sights, but this is an inexpensive, entry-level pistol that gets you on the field with a solid magazine capacity, strong firing velocities, and durable construction that will last years when properly maintained.
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