Airsoft guns are gas- or spring-powered replicas of weapons that fire small pellets (“BBs”) at high velocities. As a sport, airsoft has exploded in popularity in recent years. Everyday, airsoft clubs stage matches between teams made up of friends, coworkers, neighbors and enthusiasts across the globe.
Getting into the world of airsoft isn’t difficult, but it does require a weapon. Choosing an airsoft weapon shouldn’t make you sweat: choosing your first airsoft pistol should be fun.
Compare: The 10 Top Rated Airsoft Guns of 2016
|Soft Air Thompson 1928 AEG Airsoft Gun||Soft Air||$$$$||4.9|
|Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 CO2 Full Metal Airsoft Pistol||Colt||$$$$||4.9|
|Soft Air Taurus PT24/7 Spring Powered Air Pistol||Soft Air||$||4.7|
|Crosman Stinger P311||Crosman||$||4.5|
|Taurus Millennium PT-111 Spring Powered Pistol||Taurus||$||4.4|
|UMAREX Airsoft Walther CO2 P99||UMAREX||$$$||4.7|
|Marines Airsoft SR01 Spring Powered||U.S. Marines||$$||4.6|
|Multi-Shot Combat Commando Shotgun airsoft gun||UTG||$$$||4.6|
|UTG Multi-Shot Combat Tactical Airsoft Shotgun||UTG||$$$||4.7|
|U.S. Army DCSWS Spring-Powered Infantry Sniper Airsoft Rifle||U.S. Army||$$$||4.8|
Why own an airsoft gun?
- 0.1 Why own an airsoft gun?
- 0.2 Contenders
- 0.3 Factors to Consider
- 1 Our Airsoft Gun Reviews
Owning an airsoft gun opens up a world of competitive and friendly sport. Airsoft players’ associations are across the nation, and airsoft is reaching the level of an internationally recognized sport. In a few years, airsoft might just make it to the Olympics. Players learn tactics, strategy, teamwork and how to operate under fire—literally.
We’ll review the top 3 airsoft pistols from each price class, with special attention paid to historical realism, accuracy, reliability and durability. The top 3 contenders are:
Crosman Stinger P311
Soft Air Taurus PT24/7 Spring Powered Air Pistol
Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 CO2 Full Metal Airsoft Pistol
Airsoft players go to great lengths to simulate real-world conditions. Historical realism and attention to detail are prime considerations when choosing an airsoft gun for sport. Accuracy is obviously another top consideration. Reliability and durability are also very important factors when selecting an airsoft gun for competitive play.
Factors to Consider
Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 CO2 Full Metal Airsoft Pistol – Airsoft players who value realism, sturdy construction, superb accuracy and great range have a terrific option in the Colt 100th Anniversary 1911. Lovingly modeled after the iconic military sidearm, this airsoft pistol is an exact replica of the famous M1911, the standard-issue sidearm of the US military for more than 50 years. From the barrel to the magazine, this airsoft pistol stays absolutely faithful to the original. Nearly every piece, from the handle to the slide, is made from 100% stainless steel.
The barrel is constructed from aluminum to reduce the weapon’s overall weight. The palm-activated handle safety ensures this airsoft pistol will not fire unless the handle is firmly gripped. The thumb-activated safety on the left side operates just like the real thing. The checkered grips—again, built exactly like the real M1911—provide a great hold under any conditions. All that attention to detail makes it a must-have for airsoft players who like World War II and Vietnam-themed games.
The Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 is not just beautiful and highly accurate: it’s a piece of history. Designed by the Japanese firm Inokatsu, renowned worldwide for their commitment to absolute realism, the Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 CO2 is one of the most detailed and historically accurate airsoft pistols on the market today. For tournament play and highly competitive, ultra-realistic airsoft games, the Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 CO2 is the airsoft pistol of choice in its price range.
Modeled after the iconic M1911, the standard sidearm of the US military for more than 50 years, the Crosman Stinger P311 looks and feels like a classic American sidearm. The Stinger is modeled after the same military icon, but unlike the Colt, its construction is entirely plastic.
For hardcore war simulation fighters, the plastic construction really takes away from its historical realism. But, as a clone of the M1911, the Stinger will fit in practically any standard holster. The slide-mounted safety is a simple thumb-activated switch that operates just like the real thing. Keep in mind, however, this airsoft pistol is designed for right-handed shooters—sorry, southpaws.
Soft Air Taurus PT24/7 Spring Powered Air Pistol – When it comes to historical realism and attention to detail, the Soft Air Taurus PT24/7 Spring Powered Air Pistol hits the middle point of the range set by the Stinger and the Colt. Modeled off of one of the most popular handguns from the Brazilian armaments manufacturer Taurus, the PT24/7 is a stylish addition to any airsoft player’s arsenal.
This airsoft pistol is a faithful replica of the Taurus 24/7, down to the grips, rail system and logos embossed on the sides. As with all airsoft weapons, the barrel is tipped with a highly visible orange ring to indicate that it is not, in fact, a lethal weapon. The barrel length is exactly the same as the real deal: 4.25 inches. As if it could not get even more realistic, the Taurus PT24/7 has a universal rail system under the barrel, allowing players to mount laser sights, flashlights and other accessories quickly and easily.
The mounting system is a military-style Picatinny rail, which is nearly universal and compatible with almost all under-the-barrel airsoft accessories. Although it is not a lethal weapon, users should take care and always wear eye protection when handling this powerful replica. Although the construction is entirely plastic, apart from the aluminum barrel, the Taurus PT24/7 does not feel like a cheap, plastic pistol. Out of the box, the magazine capacity on this airsoft gun is 26 rounds, which is much higher than most other models in its price range. The slide automatically locks when the magazine runs out of rounds, so players know exactly when they have to reload without “dry firing.”
The automatic slide locking features adds to the overall realism of the Taurus PT24/7: the slide locks, the magazine is ejected, a new magazine is inserted and hitting the slide release button automatically chambers the next round—just like the real thing. Keep in mind before making a purchase that there are two versions of the Taurus PT24/7: one features the ultra-realistic auto-locking slide, while the other requires the operator to manually pull back the slide and engage the slide lock when the magazine runs out.
Obviously, we recommend the auto-locking version, which is the same price as the manual version: anywhere from $30 to $40, depending on the retailer. Airsoft players who value realism, but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it, should definitely consider the Taurus PT24/7.
For many competitive airsoft players, accuracy is the one and only consideration when it comes to selecting an airsoft weapon. Who cares if an airsoft gun is historically accurate and pays close attention to detail if it can’t hit the target? Here’s the breakdown on accuracy and range for the top 3 airsoft guns in each price class.
Soft Air Taurus PT24/7 Spring Powered Air Pistol – The standout feature of the Taurus PT24/7 from Soft Air is the patented BAX system, which provides super-high accuracy. Invented in 2003 by Bertrand Marsac, the BAX system has revolutionized airsoft accuracy and adjustability. The BAX system allows the operator to adjust the trajectory of the pellet up, down and side to side. This is great for customizing shots to wind and range conditions. Putting a slight upward spin on the pellet can increase muzzle velocity and counteract the long-range effect of “pellet drop,” i.e., the tendency of the pellet to obey gravity and fall to the ground as it travels. Compensating for the wind is a breeze: simply adjust the trajectory to fire against the direction of the wind to continue to shoot accurately in windy conditions. The BAX system is a professional feature that allows shooters to adjust and compensate for shifting, in-game conditions. Users report superb accuracy at distances of up to 100 feet. The Taurus PT24/7 is the leader of the pack when it comes to high accuracy at long range.
Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 CO2 Full Metal Airsoft Pistol – Next up in terms of accuracy is the Colt. Although it is the highest-priced of all the airsoft guns under review, it isn’t necessarily the most accurate. Like the Taurus PT24/7, the Colt features the BAX system to adjust accuracy for wind and distance conditions. But it really excels at shooting pellets far and hard.
As a gas-powered, semi-automatic pistol, the Colt allows players to fire round after round without pulling back the slide each time. The only things that players have to worry about are running out of pellets or CO2. In a fast-paced game, players do not have time to pull back the slide to chamber another round. The Colt’s reliance on compressed CO2, rather than a simple spring, increases accuracy and range, but also introduces its own considerations. Swapping out the gas cartridge is straightforward: the magazine release button exposes the cartridge housing and an included hex key unlocks the cartridge to be replaced. The Colt 1911 is compatible with both CO2 and “green gas” canisters; however, the CO2 magazine comes with a small bumper which messes up the lines of the pistol, leaving it less than an absolutely perfect replica. Players who want to get as close to real thing as they can get should opt for a “green gas” canister, which fits into the magazine chamber perfectly and looks exactly like the original M1911. The Colt’s recoil spring is wound quite a bit tighter than other airsoft pistols, which contributes to more noticeable recoil, louder action and greater realism overall. The heavy steel slide provides a satisfying snap as it sends 6mm pellets roaring down range at more than 400 feet (120 meters) per second. All that speed doesn’t necessarily mean a more accurate pistol, however. The Colt, despite all its attention to detail and historical realism, is at the midpoint in terms of accuracy for the airsoft guns reviewed here.
Crosman Stinger P311 – The Stinger is the cheapest at also the least accurate of the airsoft pistols reviewed here. But that doesn’t mean it won’t hit the target. Pellet velocity out of the barrel is 325 feet (100 meters) per second. That’s got to sting, so make sure to wear eye protection at all times. The Crosman Stinger P311 is compatible with 6mm plastic pellets, and can accept pellets of nearly any weight. Airsoft players should keep in mind, however, that heavier pellets mean slower muzzle velocity: put simply, the heavier the pellet, the slower it travels. For an entry-level airsoft pistol like the Crosman Stinger P311, pellets of between .12 and .20 grams are ideal.
Players who want to fire pellets heavier than .20 grams at velocities greater than 100 meters per second may need to invest in long gun or even an AR-style airsoft rifle. Heavier pellets offer better accuracy, but sacrifice range. The reverse is true for lighter pellets like the 6mm, .12 gram rounds the Stinger accepts: long range, but less reliable accuracy. As a sidearm or backup weapon, though, the Crosman Stinger P311 packs more than enough wallop. Users report .12 gram pellets going through two layers of cardboard at 50 feet—ouch.
The Stinger P311’s smooth bore aluminum barrel combines with its tightly-wound steel spring to deliver unbeatable accuracy and speed in its price class. The magazine capacity is 12 rounds, and the repeater mechanism is smooth and fluid. As a spring-powered airsoft gun, the Crosman Stinger P311 is a single-shot pistol. Unlike the military sidearm on which it is modeled, the Stinger is not semi-automatic. Operators need to pull the slide back after each shot. Some users may want to invest in speed-loader to increase the Stinger’s baseline magazine capacity.
Reliability & Durability
Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 CO2 Full Metal Airsoft Pistol – The champion of reliability has just got to be the Colt. Unlike its less expensive cousins, the Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 is a CO2-powered, semi-automatic airsoft pistol with an almost 100% metal construction. The price on this beauty ranges from $90 to $100, depending on the retailer, but it’s worth every penny. At 2.23 pounds, the Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 CO2 is heftier than its competitors and handles very nicely. Its steel construction means that it will last for years, and can easily survive bumps, drops and other in-game accidents. This airsoft gun will reliably shoot for years and years. Operators report nothing but complete satisfaction with this airsoft pistol.
Soft Air Taurus PT24/7 Spring Powered Air Pistol – The Taurus comes up second in terms of reliability. Jamming is the only issue with this spring-powered airsoft pistol. Users report that jamming is easily avoided with practice: don’t pull the trigger when the safety is engaged and don’t use too much force when pulling back the slide in order to avoid unnecessary jams. The only other complaint is that the slide takes a fair amount of force to fully engage. Because of this, the Taurus PT24/7 may not be suitable for young shooters who have yet to develop sufficient arm strength. Teenage and adult shooters should have no problems pulling the slide on this airsoft pistol. The soft rubber grips are comfortable and mold to fit nearly any size of hand, with ribs that help with stability. For high-intensity games, however, players should consider investing in gloves to avoid the pistol slipping out of sweaty palms.
Crosman Stinger P311 – Last but not least in the reliability department is the Crosman Stinger P311. One of the only downsides of the Crosman Stinger P311 is that the magazine release button is not 100% percent reliable. Users report sometimes having to manually pull the magazine out of its housing when the release button fails to engage. Apart from this minor annoyance, the Stinger gets an plenty of endorsements for its all-around quality, reliability and durability, especially considering its low price. As a spring-powered airsoft pistol, the Crosman Stinger P311 is not very loud. Apart from a mechanical clicking sound as the spring engages and fires the pellet, this airsoft pistol is pretty quiet. The Stinger P311 for anywhere from $15 to $30, depending on the retailer.
As we’ve seen, prices on introductory airsoft weapons can range anywhere from $20 to $100. At the high-end of this increasingly popular sport, professional players can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on the perfect “weapon system.” But for players who are just getting started, here’s the breakdown.
Our Airsoft Gun Reviews
At $20, the Crosman Stinger P311 is a steal. The Stinger is perfect as a primary weapon for new players, as a backup weapon in close quarter situations for more experienced players, or just as a target practice pistol for some friendly plinking. Players have praised the Crosman Stinger for its durability and reliability. While the Stinger may be at the lower end of the price range for airsoft pistols, its construction is anything but cheap.
As a backup weapon for defense while reloading or as a last-ditch weapon, the Stinger excels. As a target practice pistol, the Stinger P311 is a great choice, striking a perfect balance of accuracy and range.
About twice the retail cost of the Crosman Stinger P311, the Taurus PT24/7 from Soft Air is a step up in the price department, but with more features and the patented BAX system, it’s worth the added cost for dedicated airsoft players.
The Taurus PT24/7 is the best airsoft pistol in the under-$50 price range.
The leader overall in terms of reliability and durability, accuracy and historical realism is certainly the Colt 1911. This CO2-powered pistol can send pellets downrange at a walloping 450 feet per second; its patented BAX system allows for target adjustment to account for distance and range; its all-metal construction accounts for its extreme levels of durability and reliability.
Its designers have ensured that every inch is historically accurate, making the Colt 1911 CO2 a perfect replica of an American classic.
Beginning airsoft players need to balance the considerations of price, accuracy, reliability and durability, as well as historical accuracy. We’ve introduced just a few of the top contenders for best airsoft weapon for beginners: there’s plenty more out there, but we’ve tried to make the first step into the world of competitive and friendly airsoft games as easy as possible. Happy hunting!