Last updated: 05.08.2017. Added images.
To learn more about airsoft guns and to see our picks for other gun types like shotgun, AEG, machine gun check out our comprehensive airsoft gun guide.
Airsoft handguns are utilized for a few different roles in the airsoft world. Of course, in most games, they are secondary weapons — they can be used when your main gun runs out of ammo or if it malfunctions.
Having a sidearm allows you to rapidly transition to an alternative weapon while you seek cover to reload or fix the failure.
As a secondary, an airsoft pistol can be used in place of a primary that is ill-fitted for a given situation. For example, spring sniper rifles are somewhat slow to use so if a sniper is clearing his way to position, a handgun may be his go to the line of defense.
There are some games where players exclusively play with airsoft pistols. These are usually high-intensity close quarters matches. In this situation, your sidearm has to be pretty freaking great. You don’t want any cheap junk.
At the end of the day, you want to balance quality and play style. Let’s face it, the style of an airsoft gun matters. We all want something that fits our hand and our preference.
So let’s talk about airsoft pistols and hopefully, we can make your selection easy.
Important Choosing Factors
Airsoft handguns operate in different ways, and each has their levels of pros and cons. The environment can be a significant determination in your operating system as well as your budget. Different systems of operation cost significantly more or less.
Gas powered guns are unique and are one of the most popular options for airsoft handguns.
- Powerful for their small size
- Utilizes either green gas or 12-gram CO2 cartridges
- Uses an automatic handgun magazine to hold the power source
- Can be both fully automatic and semi-automatic
Blowback deals directly with automatic sidearms. With an automatic blowback pistol, the slide of the weapon recoils rearward. This replicates the real action of an automatic pistol.
- You get realistic cycling action but you also get a louder weapon and slightly more recoil.
- A bit more expensive on average
A nonblowback gun uses a fixed slide and maintains the same accuracy, muzzle velocity, and power as a blowback gun. They function less realistically but are simpler overall.
- Quieter and there is a noticeable difference in recoil due to the lack of a slide recoiling rearward.
- More affordable
Gas powered airguns have issues with consistency as the air source begins to fade. They also have problems operating reliably during the cold weather. A cold weather can render the guns nearly inoperable.
Electric pistols are quite similar to electric rifles. The difference is that they can utilize double A batteries instead of rechargeable LiPo batteries. Although several electrical systems have rechargeable batteries and these are usually from high-end manufacturers.
- Can be semi-automatic or fully automatic
- Tend to have lower power than gas powered guns
- If you live in a cold environment, this may be your only real option.
There are electric blowback guns and some are great, but many are poorly made and overly complicated. If you go with an electric blowback pistol, it’s ideal to purchase a high-end model from a well-respected company that produces high-quality airsoft guns.
Nonblowback electric airsoft guns are more common and much simpler overall. They function better and last longer than blowback electric guns.
Spring-powered airsoft guns are the cheapest option for an airsoft pistol. They function very simply. They don’t require gas or batteries but are only single shot weapons. The user must manually cock the gun after every shot.
They are excellent options for beginners and are perfect for learning how to shoot airsoft guns and a good stand in until you can purchase a better gas or electric powered airsoft gun.
Revolver or Automatic?
The age-old question in the real steel world is whether to opt for revolver or automatic, and that’s the same question you have to ask yourself about your airsoft sidearm.
The difference in the airsoft world is that the revolver doesn’t offer a ton of benefits over an automatic handgun. A revolver simply looks cool. You can’t get more stylish than a magnum sized six gun.
With models designed after real pistols like Dan Wessons and Colts and Smith, the style is undeniable.
Revolvers have a capacity of 6 to 8 rounds, and that is it. An airsoft automatic pistol can have a capacity ranging from 15 to 30 rounds. It’s hard for an airsoft revolver to keep up with an airsoft automatic handgun.
Airsoft automatics can also be fully automatic or semi-automatic; they are purely one round per trigger pull. They are commonly made by a wider variety of manufacturers so there is more selection for automatics.
There are more holster options, most autos feature an accessory rail and recharging the gas system is often easier.
Choosing an automatic airsoft pistol is much more pragmatic but I understand choosing an airsoft revolver just for the cool factor attached to it.
Do You Need an Accessory Rail?
Accessory rails on automatic guns are one of their major selling points. An accessory rail, or Picatinny rail, is a small section of rail located on the frame of the pistol. It is universal throughout airsoft and the real steel world.
It allows an individual player to mount a variety of accessories to their airsoft pistol. This includes flashlights and lasers, as well as foregrips if you are rocking a machine sidearm.
If you want to rock any of the above accessories, you have to ask yourself if you have a holster that can accommodate the accessory.
Here is a significant consideration. Your gun is only good as long as you can fire it. So this is where magazine capacity comes into play. The bigger the capacity, the better.
You can stay in the fight a lot longer with 25 rounds than with 6. A higher mag capacity is also more forgiving of poor accuracy, or when engaging multiple targets. Having a high capacity could make a big difference in your gameplay.
Metal or Polymer body
Since an airsoft gun is often carried in a holster, it can be subjected to a lot more abuse than a long gun. This includes being drag along the ground while crawling on the prone, as well as hitting and bumping to the doorway during CQB and much more.
Metal is always the best option to resist abuse as it’s way more durable than any polymer. Some hard polymers are quite tough though and can withstand abuse. Many airsoft handguns have metal slides and polymer grips.
The key to employing polymer is to employ high-quality materials and ensure they are from a quality manufacturer.
If you purchase an airsoft pistol, you need to have a means of carrying it correctly. There are tons of holsters out there in different styles for various uses.
When choosing a handgun, it’s wise to know if you are choosing the one that you can find a holster for. When purchasing an airsoft gun that is modeled on a 1 to 1 scale of a real steel handgun, your options open up significantly.
You also need to ensure that they have a holster that fits your handgun in the means you want to carry it — drop leg thigh rig, shoulder rigs, strong side carry, etc.
A big issue can rise when you want to mount an accessory to the rail system. You need to choose a particular accessory and then determine how that accessory functions with your holster choice.
When installing a light, you need to find holsters that allow the use of that light and gun combo. This can be a hassle so as a free pro tip, I advise you to look at the Blackhawk Omnivore series of holsters.
Outdoor Empire Recommendations
|Product|| || || ||
|Muzzle Velocity||250~280 FPS||340-350 FPS||180 FPS||360-380 FPS|
|Weight||1.7 lbs||2.2 lbs||0.5 lbs||2.8 lbs|
|Length||9.5 in||8.5 in||7 in||9.7 in|
|Magazine Capacity||13+90 rounds||24 rounds||16 rounds||32 rounds|
UTG Sport 1911
The UTG Sport 1911 is not only an affordable airsoft gun, but is also well-made and reliable.
- Spring powered
- Built on a 1 to 1 ratio with the real 1911 so it’s easy to find a holster that fits it which includes both traditional and tactical options.
- Uses a 100 round magazine, and it comes with 2 magazines. So even though you have a slow rate of fire, you have an excellent capacity.
- On frame magazine release
- Manual safety and grip safety
- Fixed hop-up
- Hard coat matte black finish
1911 is famed for its excellent ergonomics and this is translated over to the UTG 1911 perfectly. You get a fantastic grip angle and a thin and comfortable grip. You get a traditional 1911 design that’s all metal.
If you are a beginner on a budget, it’s hard to find a better option.
Best Gas Powered
KWA M9 PTP
The KWA M9 PTP is one of the most well-made airsoft guns on the market. It’s a full metal airsoft gun built to the same specs as the Beretta M9 pistol. It replicates the look and feel of a real M9 while being a high-performance airsoft handgun.
- Green gas powered
- Metal slide and alloy frame
- Magazine capacity of 24 rounds
- Adjustable hop-up
- Replicates a realistic slide lock and a decocking safety like the actual M9.
- It has a new lightweight gas piston that gives you faster and more realistic blowback action while maximizing the performance of each shot.
Because the M9 is the choice of the US Armed forces, you also have a wide option available for holsters, grips, and other accessories. You can easily find tactical leg rigs, shoulder rigs and more for the KWA M9.
Umarex HK P30
The Umarex HK P30 is built to a 1 to 1 ratio to the famous HK P30. This allows you to utilize a wide roster of holsters easily.
- Equipped with a Picatinny rail to mount flashlights, lasers, and more
- Fully automatic mode should you need to dispense righteous justice at 200 shots per minute.
- Blowback electric model
- Manual safety
- Comes with an additional magazine
Umarex is an important and well-known company, and they have excellent customer service and warranties.
For an electric weapon, it’s priced affordably. And due to Umarex’s wide reach, it’s easy to find on most store shelves. It’s always great to see licensed guns from actual arms makers and the Umarex P30 is an excellent way to get your German Engineering on.
The biggest downside is the relatively slow 180 feet per second velocity, but this is what you can expect from most electric guns.
One of the most versatile and cool options for an airsoft gun is the KWA M93R-2. It is a small and lightweight machine pistol with the option for both three shot burst and semi-automatic modes.
This is an excellent for snipers who need a little more firepower than a standard pistol.
- Equipped with a folding foregrip for easier control and a massive 32-round magazine. This gives you rock solid capacity and the ability to flip a switch and start letting a burst of BBs go at 360-380 feet per second.
- Green gas powered blowback gun
- Full metal construction that includes the frame slide and folding foregrip
- Uses the efficient and reliable KWA NS2 gas system to ensure you get consistent shots in every round.
The KWA Beretta 93R fits in most cloth type M9 holsters, but you can also find a few dedicated holsters out there. The large magazine and extended barrel makes it a bit larger than normal but increases the effectiveness of the platform.
If you want a versatile, cool looking pistol, the M93R is hard to beat. Is is excellent for snipers who need a little more firepower than a standard pistol.