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Air Pistols

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About Air Pistols

Air pistols typically come in .177 or .22 caliber. Air guns are designed to shoot BBs, pellets or sometimes both using air-powered propulsion such as CO2 or pre-charged pneumatic air tanks.
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Air pistols can be so much fun, but how do you choose the right one? Since 2002 we've helped thousands of customers figure that out, and here are some things we think you should keep in mind while choosing an air pistol.

Tips for buying an air pistol:

  • Most pistols shoot either pellets or bbs, only a handful can shoot both. Pellet pistols are usually more accurate and powerful.
  • You'll find better build quality, including more metal parts, field strip capability, realistic controls, and blowback, as the price increases.
  • CO2 pistols are temperature sensitive, so if you are out shooting in the cold, consider a pneumatic (PCP, single-stroke or multi-pump) or spring-powered pistol.

Airgun pistols come in all shapes and sizes and can be categorized in a number of ways. First, let's look at power plants.
  • CO2: This is the largest category of air pistols. These guns are typically powered by a single-use 12-gram CO2 cartridge. This is a fairly cheap and easy method but make sure you stock up on enough CO2 cartridges. CO2 allows for things such as blowback and semi and even full auto functions. The drawback is that CO2 is temperature sensitive so the guns are more powerful when the ambient temperature is warm, and when it is cold they won't work as well or perhaps even at all.
  • Spring Powered: Springs can be coiled steel or gas springs, but they both work the same way. When you cock the gun you compress a spring that shoots a piston forward when you pull the trigger, compressing air and expelling the pellet. Relatively few air pistols are springers, but the Umarex Trevox and the Beeman P1 are great examples.
  • Pneumatics: These can be single-pump or multi-pump. A good example of a single pump is the Beeman P3 and the P17 that is based on it. Cocking these guns compresses air behind the valve which is completely exhausted upon firing it. The Crosman 1377 is a good example of a multi-pump. It needs to be pumped at least 3 times, but no more than 10.
  • Pre-Charged Pneumatics (PCPs): These guns have an onboard reservoir that needs to be filled from an external source like an air tank or compressor, but they aren't temperature sensitive and they are usually the most powerful air pistols.
One of the largest segments of air pistols is CO2 replicas. These have become extremely realistic and they are usually built to the specs of the original, so the size, weight, and overall feel match very closely. This means that they can be used as trainers that allow you to shoot at home and to shoot much more cheaply than you could with the original firearm. Some of these, like the Umarex Legends MP40 and the Beretta 92A1, are about as fun to shoot as any airgun on the market. Air pistols are great for backyard plinking because they typically aren't very loud and they are a lot of fun to shoot. Keep in mind, though, that BBs ricochet and can be dangerous, so always wear safety glasses.
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