The first thing anyone shopping for a pellet pistol should think about is what they intend to use it for. Narrowing down the scope of your mission before jumping into long reviews will save you a TON of time and possibly even money.
Are you looking for a match grade 10-yard pistol to destroy your buddies at competitive shooting? Are you just looking for something cheap take out those evil tin cans in the backyard? Do you need something powerful enough to neutralize those pests around the house?
In this guide, I’ll breakdown the different types of pellet pistols, discuss the pros and cons of each caliber, and give you a detailed review of what I think are the best pellet pistols currently on the market.
Keep in mind, there are literally hundreds of pellet pistols on the market right now and I obviously cannot review them all. If you feel there is a great one that I have left off this list, feel free to let everyone know in the comments section. You might also want to check out Corporal Goins’s Guide on PCP air rifles or our other guides on pellet guns and BB guns (there are some pretty cool full-auto ones).
- Here Are the Best Pellet Pistols of 2020
- 1. Crosman Benjamin Marauder .22 Cal Air Pistol
- 2. Crosman American Classic Pump 1377 or 1322
- 3. Crosman 2240 Bolt Action CO2 Pistol
- 4. Hatsan Model 25 Supercharger
- 5. Gamo Pt-85
- 6. Crosman Vigilante 357
- 7. Replica Sig Sauer P226 Air Pistol
- 8. Beeman P17
- 9. Beeman P3 Air Pistol
- 10. Beeman P1 Air Pistol
- 11. Beretta PX4
- 12. Air Venturi V10
- 13. Crosman 2300S
- 14. 2300T Air Pistol
- Types of Pellet Pistols You Have to Choose from
Pellet Pistol Buying Guide
.177 vs .22 caliber, which is better?
There is an endless debate over whether .177 or .22 caliber pellet pistols are better. The truth is both shine in different areas. As explained in the velocity vs power section, you can’t just look at the velocity of a pellet pistol to determine its power.
.22 caliber pellets are almost twice the size and weight of .177 pellets, so after factoring the weight of the pellet into the equation, at close range .22 pellets will have typically have more kinetic energy, assuming both are fired from the same gun, just in different calibers.
Fans of .177 will argue that it doesn’t matter how much power a pellet has if it’s traveling through the brain of a squirrel at close ranges. Fans of .177 will also argue that .22 caliber pellets reach terminal velocity sooner, meaning they slow down quicker and lose more energy the further the distance gets, meaning at long ranges .177 pellets could actually have more kinetic energy. They will also argue that .177 pellets have less surface area, so they require less energy to penetrate targets, meaning the pellet will travel deeper into the varmint.
The biggest advantage of .22 pellets is the can travel at higher velocities without tumbling and yawing in flight, however, because there are no pellet pistols that I’m aware of that can fire above 950 fps, this really isn’t an issue here like it would be if we were talking pellet guns.
The truth is both do the job and not all pellet pistols are available in multiple calibers. Many PCP pellet pistols are only available in .22, so some shooters buy all their air rifles and pistols in .22 just so they don’t have to buy two different calibers of ammo. I know pellets are cheap, but this is a justification for preferring .22 caliber that I’ve heard.
Velocity vs Energy vs Stopping Power
Velocity, energy, and stopping power are often misunderstood concepts in the world of air pistols. When it comes to power, most people only think of velocity, which is measured in feet per second (FPS). What most people don’t consider is the weight, diameter, and shape of the pellet. Some manufacturers know this and take advantage of it by finding the lightest possible pellets for the max velocity testing. Just keep in mind a 450 feet per second (FPS) rated 0.22 caliber pellet pistol will have much more kinetic energy than a 450 FPS 0.177 caliber pellet pistol. Kinetic energy can be calculated using the formula (KE=1/2MV^2) where M is the mass in grams and V is velocity in meters per second. When talking about stopping power, you also have to consider the diameter of the pellet, the shape, and the weight.
Here Are the Best Pellet Pistols of 2020
1. Crosman Benjamin Marauder .22 Cal Air Pistol
Velocity: 700 feet per second
Power source: Pre-charged Pneumatic
Price range: Around $375
My review: The Benjamin Marauder is the KING of air pistols. Its 12-inch choked and shrouded barrel make it one of the quietest and most accurate pellet pistols currently on the market.
Crosman did a good job gathering feedback after releasing the Benjamin Discovery and incorporated many of the changes customers wanted into Benjamin Marauder rifle and pistol carbine.
The smooth 1.5-pound trigger on the Marauder is perfect for such a light pistol or carbine and makes shot placement easy. The power, accuracy, and smooth trigger make this pistol perfect for pest control and varmint hunting. You can shoot this thing all day for a fraction of the cost of firing rimfire ammunition and still get a high level of performance.
When charged to around 2700 PSI, you’ll get around 30 to 35 accurate and powerful shots. With a good scope, a skilled shooter behind it, and proper pellets this pistol is a tack driver out to 25 yards, shooting dime-sized groups. At 50 yards this pistol can still take down small game and easily shoots 2-inch groups so long as you have the right pellets.
As mentioned in the buying guide section of this page, PCP air pistols do require a hand pump, fill station or high-pressure compressor to refill the air reservoir. The cheapest option by far is a hand pump if you don’t already have a SCUBA setup or high-pressure compressor.
- 8 shot rotary magazine
- Can be set up as a pistol or carbine
- Quiet but deadly
- Good tree stand or field pistol
- 30 inches in carbine form and 18 inches in pistol form
- Lots of aftermarket accessories available
2. Crosman American Classic Pump 1377 or 1322
Caliber: .177 or .22
Velocity: 600 feet per second (.177 caliber version)
Velocity: 460 feet per second (.22 caliber version)
Power source: Pneumatic multi-pump
Price range: $50 to $100
My review: This is easily one of my favorite multi-pump pellet pistols of all time. It’s a single shot, bolt action pellet pistol that’s incredibly accurate and powerful for its price. Its power, combined with its rifled steel barrel, make it a plinker’s dream and a varmint’s nightmare.
There are two versions of this pistol, the .177 caliber version is called the Crossman 1377 and a .22 caliber version called the Crosman 1322. If you’re having a hard time deciding between the two calibers, check out the .177 vs .22 caliber pellet guns section of the page. If you’re just buying this for plinking, I’d just buy the .177 version. It has less recoil and is a little less noisy.
One thing you’ll notice with most of Crossman’s pellet pistols is it feels like they’re built like tanks. They’re made of mostly metal, so they’re not super light and don’t feel like toys like some pellet pistols do. They do have some plastic parts, but overall Crossman air pistols are built to last.
The pumping mechanism feels is pretty easy to pump. Crossman doesn’t recommend you pump the pistol more than 10 times because it can cause it can the air reservoir to leak and possibly even cause a second discharge without pumping the pistol.
As far as sights go, it has a pretty solid pair of iron sights. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation.
- Adjustable open sights
- Highly modifiable
- Made in USA
3. Crosman 2240 Bolt Action CO2 Pistol
Velocity: 460 feet per second
Power source: CO2
Price range: Around $70
My review: If you’re a fan of .22 caliber Crossman 1322 reviewed above, you’ll most likely like the Crosman 2240. Just like the 1322, this is a single shot, bolt action pistol that is built tough. This thing is pretty dang accurate considering the price and holds a nice grouping.
The major difference between this pistol and 1322 is the power source. The Crosman 2240 fires at the same velocity, but it uses 12-gram CO2 cartridges to propel the pellet rather than the airpower generated by pumping the Crossman 1322.
It is easily the best pellet pistols for the money. Being a .22 pellet pistol that shoots 460 FPS, I think it’s fairly obvious why this is a very popular air pistol. This thing is perfect for pest control (its nickname is “The Rat Catcher”) and backyard plinking.
You can expect between 40 high power accurate shots per CO2 cartridge. It has a comfortable ambidextrous grip and feels balanced when holding it. It also has an ambidextrous safety.
To load the pellet, you just have to work the bolt to the rear, place the pellet, and close the bolt.
It comes with a nice pair of iron sights, but you could still mount a scope on it if you want to buy some riser blocks.
To refill the CO2 cartridge, there is a cap towards the front of the pistol, just under the barrel.
- Runs of 12 gram CO2 cartridges
- Ambidextrous safety
- Adjustable rear sights
4. Hatsan Model 25 Supercharger
Velocity: 850 FPS alloy/700 FPS lead
Power source: Break barrel lever
Price range: Under $100
My review: If you’re looking for an air pistol that has the power of an air rifle, look no further than the Hatsan Model 25. This is probably the most underrated pellet pistol on this entire list. With a max velocity that looks more like that of a rifle (700 to 850 FPS), the Supercharger is one of the most powerful pellet pistols on the market right now.
Make no mistake, this is a man’s pellet pistol The break barrel single cocking mechanism does require a fair amount of force to cock (around 40 pounds), but for adults it’s still fairly easy, especially if you use the detachable cocking lever which can easily be attached to the end of the barrel. I know 40 pounds of pressure may seem like a lot, but it’s a small price to pay for 700-850 FPS from a single pump springer with good range. Also, like a lot of single pump and barrel break air pistols, when you cock the gun the automatic safety engages.
The red and green fiber optic sights are easy to acquire, and they’re one thing a lot of people comment on the first time they fire the Hatsan Mod 25. That said, many people still mount a scope on it.
The only real cons I see about this air pistol is it’s a little heavy and hard to cock for smaller people. I’ve even heard of people sending it back because they found it a little too hard to cock. The accuracy is pretty good, but it’s certainly not as accurate as some more expensive high-end air pistols like the Benjamin Marauder. Overall, considering its quality, power, range, and accuracy, I would say this is easily one of the best pellet pistols under $100 currently on the market. When this gun was first released it was closer to $200. It does have an adjustable trigger, but I still found it to be a bit heavy. That’s okay, though, because this isn’t designed to be a match pistol. It’s more of a backyard plinking type pistol that can be used for some small game. To make a budget air pistol with the specifications of the Hatsan Model 25, most of the parts had to be plastic. While the most important parts like the main cylinder and inner barrel are metal, the rest of the gun is made of a cheaper ballistic polymer (AKA plastic).
You can purchase Hatsan Model 25 in .22 caliber, but the max velocity (around 450 FPS) is significantly less.
- Recoil reduction mechanism
- One of the most powerful pelelt pistols on the market
- Rifled barrel
- 2 Stage Quattro Trigger
- It comes with a fully adjustable rear sight for windage and elevation
5. Gamo Pt-85
Velocity: 450 FPS
Power source: CO2
Price range: Around $80
If you don’t already know, Gamo is the largest manufacturer of airgun pellets in the world. Their pellet pistols are top-notch, and this pistol actually reminds me of the Sig Sauer replica reviewed above. It’s .177 CO2 powered and has a 16 round pellet double magazine. It has fixed sights with reflective white dots.
This pistol also has the blowback feature, meaning the slide moves back and backward and forward between shoots. This feature does look and feel cool, but it does use a small amount of air, and personally, I’d rather just get more shots out of each CO2 cartridge.
Overall, this is a solid pellet pistol and comparable to the Sig Sauer pistol reviewed on this page. The performance is similar, so if you’re trying to decide between the two, I recommend picking whichever one you find more visually appealing.
- Rifled steel barrel
- Blowback feature
- Fixed sights with white dots
- Weights 1.5 pounds
6. Crosman Vigilante 357
Velocity: 435 feet per second
Power source: CO2
Price range: Around $60
My review: The Crosman Vigilante is a revolver style pellet pistol that looks unique and shoots great.
While I would definitely recommend this pistol for backyard plinking, there are far better pellet pistols on this list for hunting.
Although this air pistol can shoot BBs, if you want to prolong the life of the pistol I recommend only shooting pellets through it. The pellet rotary clips hold 10 pellets and the bb clips hold 6 rounds.
- Shoots pellets or BBs
- Accurate rifled steel barrel
- Single or double action trigger
- Fixed front sights and adjustable rear sights
- Dual accessory rails
7. Replica Sig Sauer P226 Air Pistol
Velocity: 450 feet per second
Power source: CO2
Price range: Under $100
My review: If you’ve read any of my reviews on this website, you already know I’m a big fan of Sig Sauer. The P226 replica holds up to Sig Sauer standards and I think it’s a fun pistol to shoot.
It holds .177 pellets in its 16 round double-sided rotary magazine (8 on each side). It has a 4.5 in rifled steel barrel that gets the job done and makes the pistol pretty accurate. It has a single and double action trigger.
It’s made of mostly metal and feels real. There are only a few components on the gun that are actually made of plastic, like the grips and some internal parts. It does have full blowback, meaning the slide works much like a real pistol.
This pistol can fire BBs or pellets, but the manual says that it should be operated with pellets only. I have seen this pistol fired with BBs, and surprisingly it seems to be just as accurate with BBs.
Sig advertises it at 610 FPS, but from reviews I’ve read by people that actually tested it with a chronograph, the velocity is closer to 450 FPS. The discrepancy in advertised vs real world FPS is probably because lighter pellets were used during Sig Sauers testing. All in all, the difference really isn’t a huge deal and almost all manufacturers advertised max velocities are higher than you’ll get with standard pellets.
- Runs of 12 gram CO2 cartridges (fits in the grip of the pistol)
- 16 round magazine
- Quality magazine release and safety
- White dot sights
- Working safety and decocker
- Thread of tip of pistol for silencer
- Blowback action
8. Beeman P17
Velocity: 410 feet per second
Power source: Single stroke pneumatic (over-lever cocking)
Price range: Around $35
My review: The next two pistols on this list, the P17 and P3, are made by Beeman. If you don’t already know, Beeman is one of the most reputable manufacturers of spring powered air pistols in the world. They have a unique over-lever cocking mechanism that allows for a great deal of power to be generated from a single pump.
The model reviewed here, the P17, is a less expensive version that is made in China, while the P3 is made in Germany. Both of these pistols work just fine for plinking, but I wouldn’t use them for any type of pest control.
If you’re tight on funds, the P17 will do the job just fine, but if you’re one of the fortunate among us that have a large amount of disposable income, the P3 is more reliable and has a better trigger. The most noticeable difference between the two is the internals and trigger mechanism. I’ve also read less complains of air leaks with the P3, although most people have no problems with the P17. From what I’ve read the accuracy and velocity are very similar, and I’ve even heard from people who tested both with a chronograph say that the P17 fires at a slightly higher velocity.
For an inexpensive single pump pellet pistol, the Beeman P17 delivers good performance. It’s a single-stroke pneumatic air pistol, meaning it is powered by an air piston instead of a CO2 cartridge.
The fiber optic open sights are pretty basic and what you’d expect from an inexpensive air pistol. To cock the gun, all you have to do is pull the hammer back The rear sights are adjustable for windage and elevation.
It has a nice safety feature, once the gun is cocked the safety automatically switches to the safe position. This is a nice feature because as mentioned it does take a good bit of force to pump it and you don’t want to have a loaded gun in the fire position as you’re focusing on cocking it.
The load and pump the gun, pull the hammer to the rear, this will open the pistol. The top of the pistol is attached to the front of the pistol with a hinge joint, so you can rotate the top slide all the way forward. In this position, you can load the pellet into the breach and pull the slide all the way back to its original position. If you’re confused by this, just watch some Youtube videos. It does take a fair amount of force to pump the pistol, so this may not be the best choice for youngsters.
- Rifled steel barrel
- Lightweight polymer frame
- Made of mostly plastic with metal parts
9. Beeman P3 Air Pistol
Velocity: 410 feet per second
Power source: Single stroke pneumatic (over-lever cocking)
Price range: Around $225
If you read the review of the P17 above, you already know the basics of this pistol. This is a solid pellet pistol made in Germany that’s known for its quality. Considering it’s powered by a single pump it’s incredibly powerful and has very little recoil.
The top-loading function is a little funky, but after some practice, it’s easy to load and use this pistol. As mentioned with the P17, it does take a pretty good amount of force (around 30 pounds) to actually pump the pistol, so this is probably not the best option for kids.
It has fiber optic sights that are adjustable for windage and elevation in the rear.
All in all, it’s a unique air pistol with a unique cocking mechanism that gives a lot of power from a single pump. As mentioned, however, it is a little hard to pump so this is not the best option for youngsters.
- Quiet toploader
- Quality metal internal components
- Adjustable trigger
- Ambidextrous, except the safety that is on the left
10. Beeman P1 Air Pistol
Velocity: 600 feet per second
Power source: Single stroke pneumatic (over-lever cocking)
Price range: Around $450
My review: If you’re looking for a single pump, spring-powered air pistol, the Beeman P1 is almost impossible to beat. This kind of quality does come with a hefty price tag, though. This thing is top-notch and has almost no metal, except for the fiber optic sights.
The Beeman P1 was inspired by the Colt 19111, and while it is not an exact replica, they do look a lot alike. You can find this air pistol in .011 caliber, .20 caliber, and 22 caliber but only the .177 version has two power levels.
One stand out feature of the P1 is its adjustable trigger, that can easily be adjusted with an Allen wrench. You can literally make this thing have a hair-trigger if you so desire. If you do decide to modify the trigger pull be very careful and make sure the pistol is uncocked and unloaded before doing so.
Another unique feature about the P1 is that when fired the pistol actually goes backward instead of forward. This transfers the energy backward and gives it recoil a lot like a real firearm, although much less.
If you decide to buy the .177 version, the two power levels features is pretty nice. Basically, to fire in low power mode, you only cock the lever halfway until you hear a click. Although it’s not hard to cock the full way, if you’re just plinking or letting someone younger operate it, it’s not really necessary to cock to full power.
When cocking to low power instead of high power you lose just over 100 FPS of velocity. This isn’t a huge deal if you’re plinking soda cans at 10 yards, but if you’re planning on using this for pest control, you’ll definitely want to have it at the full power setting.
As far as accuracy, this thing is deadly accurate at close ranges and has decent range. However, if you’re looking for a pellet pistol to hit varmints at 30 to 40 yards, there are probably better options for you on this list. That said, this is one of the highest quality single pump air pistols ever made. It’s certainly not for the average Joe, but it is powerful, accurate, well made, and a close replica to the 1911.
- Over-lever cocking mechanism allows for a surprising amount of power from a single pump
- Adjustable trigger and ambidextrous safety
11. Beretta PX4
Velocity: 380 feet per second
Power source: CO2 cartridge
Price range: Around $70
My review: If don’t already know by the name and picture, this is a replica of the Beretta PX4 Storm. It has an easy to load double-sided rotary mag that gives you 16 shots total. After firing the first 8 shots, flip the mag and you’re ready to fight the next 8. Being a CO2 powered pellet pistol it will shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger.
Shoots BBs and pellets out to 10 meters pretty accurately. This an awesome replica and great for plinking, but there are far better air pistols on this list for hunting.
- Double and single action trigger
- Realistic ejection cut
- Picatinny rail
- Blowback functionality
- 8 shot double-sided 8 shot rotary magazine (16 shots total)
- 12g CO2 cartridge located in handle
- Rifled metal barrel
12. Air Venturi V10
Velocity: 400 feet per second
Power source: Single stroke pneumatic
Price range: Around $250
My review: As far as match grated target pistols, the Air Venturi is one of the best for the money. This thing is an absolute tack driver at 10 meters and delivers exceptional performance for a single stroke pneumatic pellet pistol.
Whether you’re just looking for match grade pellet pistol or just a deadly accurate pistol to take out those evil targets in the backyard, this is a great option. One thing to note is that the grip is designed for right-handed shooters. If you’re a left-handed shooter, the left-handed grips typical run between $50 and $100.
As far as the sights, it comes with a blade sight and fully adjustable rear notch style sight.
- Trigger is adjustable to under 1 pound
- Competition grade target air pistol
- Consistent FPS
- Easy to pump
13. Crosman 2300S
Velocity: 520 feet per second
Power source: CO2
Price range: Around
My review: The 2300S is one of the cheapest entry-level competitive shooting pistols on the market. For those of you looking to hit bullseyes without dropping $1000, this is a solid choice. Crosman’s designers and engineers worked closely with competitive shooters to create a pistol to compete with high-end air pistols for a fraction of the cost. The 10.1-inch Lothar-Walther chocked match barrel combined with a quality single-stage adjustable trigger makes this a great starter pistol for those getting into competitive shooting
It has an adjustable hammer spring that allows the operator to adjust the velocity anywhere between 440 to 520 feet per second. You expect to get around 60 powerful shots from a single CO2 cylinder.
- Under $200 and meets IHMSA rules for Production Class Silhouette competitions.
- Grooved receiver for mounting a scope
- Adjustable velocity
- Williams notch sight with target knobs for easy adjustment
- Stainless steel bolt
- Overall length of around 16 inches
14. 2300T Air Pistol
Velocity: 520 FPS
Power source: CO2
Price range: Around $210
My review: The 2300T is another popular air pistol made by Crosman. This pistol was actually designed for shooting clubs and organizations to teach beginners how to safely handle and shoot pistols. There isn’t anything fancy about it, but it’s accurate, easy to shoot, reliable, and has good range for a .177 CO2 powered pellet pistol.
It features a rifled 10.1-inch barrel and a single-stage adjustable trigger that can be adjusted between 1-4 pounds.
All in all this air pistol is very accurate and reliable air pistol and considering its affordable price point I definitely would recommend it.
- Powered by 12gram CO2 cartridges
- Great trigger
- Great target pistol and could be used for small pests
- Adjustable rear sight for windage and elevation
- Adapter available for scope
- Made in USA
Air Pistol Common Calibers
.177 is the most common caliber of pellet pistol. You’ll find them made from many materials, including copper, zinc, and there are even some plastic variants. .177 pellets are great for plinking and in some cases can be used for varmint hunting, however. because higher caliber pellets can travel at higher velocities and generate more power, .177 are not the best for hunting. .177 pellets can travel at high velocities but are not really designed to travel at velocities higher than 950 fps. Any faster than 950 fps and the pellets tumble and yaw in flight, making them much less accurate.
.22 is one of the most popular calibers for hunting. Because they’re a little heavier than .177, they can travel further at higher velocities without losing accuracy, however, because most pellet pistols travel at speeds far under 900 fps, this is not a bid deal. These are perfect for small game like squirrels.
Obviously, a .177 caliber pellet is not ideal for self-defense, but are they viable at all? I mean after all, there are true stories about people being killed after being shot in vital organs like the heart.
In my opinion, none of the pellet pistols on this can be considered a reliable or viable self-defense weapon, but I do want to present you with the counterarguments. Some would argue that in a self-defense scenario you aren’t always trying to kill an attacker, and usually, you’re just trying to deter or incapacitate. Since most intruders look for easy targets, some argue that simply having an air pistol that looks real may make them rethink their decision and find an easier target. The counterargument to that would be because you pulled out a gun, the attacker may feel threatened and actually use their real gun against you, when if you had nothing you may have just lost some personal belongings, instead of your life.
In terms in incapacitating an intruder or attacker, a single shot .177 pellet gun isn’t going to do you much good for those purposes, but things get interesting when you start talking about some of these air pistols that hold 15+ pellets. I guess if you land some really great shots to exposed areas on the body you could do some serious damage, but I certainly wouldn’t count on it. Also, when you’re in a fight you get a surge of adrenaline that reduces pain sensitivity. I highly doubt a pellet is going to cause enough pain or damage to actually stop an attacker.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments, this is just my opinion.
Advantages of a pellet pistol over traditional firearms?
Laws are Kinder to Air Pistols: One of the biggest reasons to buy an air pistol is that laws are much kinder to air powered pistols and rifles than traditional firearms. Because air powered pistols do not use combustion to expel a projectile through a barrel, they are generally not considered a firearm. This makes them much easier to purchase, and you can even find many of the best pellet pistols on Amazon. While laws are kinder to pellet pistols, there are still age restrictions, supervision requirements, and it’s still illegal to use these types of devices in public places. Because laws vary so much from state to state. I recommend Googling “air rifle laws” or “air pistol laws” in your state.
Great Way to Teach Youngsters: Will correct parental supervision, pellet pistols are a great way to teach kids how to safely operate firearms. Because they have little recoil, it’s a good way to build good shooting habits. Also, air pistols are less powerful, so yo
Cheaper Ammunition: Costs a lot less to plink and take out those pests around the house.
Types of Pellet Pistols You Have to Choose from
Spring Piston or Break Barrel
Spring pistol air pistols utilize a cocking mechanism that compresses a spring on a pistol, which then propels the pellet from the barrel at high speed. This type of pellet pistol is generally the simplest and least expensive. While the design is quite simple, there are still some very impressive spring powered air pistols on the market right now
Variable pump air pistols have a lever that when pumped, compressed air into an air reservoir.
You can find variable pump air pistols that are inexpensive, but still quite powerful.
CO2 is a common power source for pellet pistols. CO2 air pistols utilize a small (typically 12 gram) CO2 tank to propel the pellets. The CO2 tanks are often attached to a hose or outlet inside the handle of the pistol. When the trigger is pulled, air is released into the chamber, forcing the pellet out at very high speeds. CO2 pellet pistols are great for target practice or small game hunting.
CO2 pistols do have some pros and cons. The biggest pro is that you can fire multiple shots without having to pump or cock the gun. They’re also typically a bit more powerful than spring powered air pistols. The biggest downside is that you need to purchase CO2 cartridges that can’t be refilled. CO2 cartridges aren’t very expensive and can be purchased at most sporting goods stores and online retailers like Amazon, but the small cost does add up over time. One small tip for those of you that do decide to buy a CO2 powered air pistol, if you add a little bit of Pellgun oil to the tip of the cartridge it will improve the life of your air pistols seal and prevent leakage over time. This is certainly not required but if you do find you’re having issues, it’s something to consider.
Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP)
PCP pellet pistols are nice because you can fire multiple shots without needed to refill the air reservoir. The downside of this, as you probably guessed, is that they are far more expensive than other types of pellet pistols.
Hand pumps are the simplest and cheapest ways to refill an air reservoir. They look a lot like standard bicycle pumps but are able to attain much higher fill pressures. A bicycle pump will not work for a PCP air pistol. Using a hand pump takes a little work and time, but if you’re just getting into the world of air pistols it’s a good option. A reliable hand pump will likely cost you anywhere from $150-$350 new, but you can find some pretty good deals if shop for used pumps.
Another option is to invest in a SCUBA/SCBA setup. This option requires less work and time to fill the pistol’s reservoir. SCUBA tanks allow for a fill pressure of around 3000 PSI, while SCBA tanks allow for pressures around 4500 PSI. The higher pressure of SCBA tanks allows for more fills before the fill tank itself needs to be refilled. Most people choose SCUBA tanks because they can easily be refilled at most dive shops, while SCBA tanks need to be taken somewhere like a paintball store or even a fire station if they will work with you. Crosman has a map on their website that allows you to search for shops near you that can provide 3000 to 4000 PSI fills.
The last option is to use a high-pressure compressor. High-pressure compressors can actually be used to fill your PCP pellet pistol or high-press fill tank. The downside is good high-pressure compressors run anywhere between $600 to $3000 plus. If you’re just buying your first PCP pellet pistol, I wouldn’t recommend this. Unless you have a compressor or SCUBA setup, just buy a hand pump, then later on down the road if you really get into PCP air pistols and rifles you can invest in a high-pressure tank if you think you need it.
Regulated PCP Pistol Meaning: When shopping for PCP pellet pistols you’ll see the term regulated or unregulated. Regulated means there is a device inside the pistol that measures air coming through the air tube. Regulated PCP pistols are generally more consistent and each shot will have roughly the same velocity. On the flip side, with an unregulated pistol, as the air pressure in the reservoir drops, you’ll see a slight drop between shots in each fill. Some of the best air pistols of all time are unregulated so don’t stress too much about whether or not the pistol you’re looking at is regulated or unregulated. You can always have a gunsmith add a regulator onto your pistol later on down the road.
Alright, that does it for this review. Let me know what you think is the best pellet pistol for the money in the comments. Like I said earlier, there are hundreds to choose from, so there is no way I can review them all here.
We have a lot of air pistol and air rifle reviews on this website, so consider checking out some other pages before you go! If you have any questions, be sure to let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines that specialized in Mortars. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, running, shooting guns, and reviewing gear. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. We are currently looking for former Marines to join the team who are interested in writing about tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. For more information about us or joining the team, check out the “About Us” tab.