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Best Pellet Pistol: Top Reviews of 2024

L.p. Brezny | Updated February 20, 2024 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
cover photo best pellet pistol

Today’s airguns are not the spring-powered Red Ryders of before. 

They don’t just shoot eyes out. They can hunt small to mid-sized game or stop an attacker in his tracks. 

If you get the right one, that is… 

Boy holding a red ryder air gun
Caption: Yes, that Red Ryder

But don’t worry. Our team of firearm experts field-tested dozens of guns to bring you this list of the best pellet pistol choices of 2024. 

Best Pellet Pistols

1 – Benjamin Marauder – Best Pellet Pistol of 2024

Powerful air pistol Benjamin Marauder 

Pros

  • Lightweight with the rifle stock off
  • You can mount an optic to it
  • Top pellet gun for the money

Cons

  • .22 pellets are harder to find than .17s and more expensive
  • The polymer stands up to bad weather, but some people still want the feel of wood in their hands. Can’t blame them.

The Benjamin Marauder is a 22-caliber PCP, and it’s No. 1 on the PCP list. Benjamin is an old air gun maker with a reputation for producing higher-end air guns. This one comes with a detachable rifle stock.

Marauder pistol with scope shooting pellets

With a full tank and alloy pellets, you can hit 800 FPS with the .17 rounds. If you want to buy alloy pellets, read the label to make sure they’re not lead. It can be hard to tell the difference.

Loading an air pistol with pellets

Don’t worry about this being a short-barreled rifle. Air guns are not regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Since the BATF does not care about air pistols or air rifles, you can also buy full auto air guns, but that is a review for another day.

Benjamin Marauder pistol trigger

The furniture is polymer, which makes this accurate air pistol lighter than something with wood stocks.

My Thoughts

The first time I handled the Benjamin Marauder PCP, I was impressed. I quickly discovered it’s perfect for small game hunting, pest control, or target practice, of course. 

I couldn’t ignore the pellet velocity either. It’s powerful. I’ve tried other air pistols, but I tested it to have a full power of 627 feet per second and a little over 12 foot pounds with the .22 rounds. 

Field test diagram of FPS vs number of shots for marauder pistol
My field test results, FPS vs Number Of Shots

I pumped it up to 3,000psi and was about to get around 40 shots before I noticed a serious drain in accuracy and power. If you’re worried about it, recharge after 30 shots as the FPS does drop around there. 

I’ve always liked Marauder products, it just feels more potent, and it really does level up my target shooting.

Testing the best air pistol in the backyard
Target practice in my backyard

The detachable stock is a big deal too. It’s easy to switch from a handgun to a short-barrel rifle. I kept the stock on for the testing. 

Pre-charged pneumatic pistol air compressor
You’ll need an air compressor as well

There are a couple of things I had to adjust to though. The .22 pellets were a bit harder to find, and they definitely cost more than the .17 caliber ones. Over time, that adds up.

Pressure gauge for air pistols

As I mentioned before, the stock is polymer, not wood. It’s weather resistant, which I love, but it doesn’t have the “classic” look and feel. That just comes down to personal taste. 

In the end, this is a solid choice for anyone looking for a PCP pistol to shoot .22 pellets.

2 – Alfa Competition PCP – Most Accurate Pellet Pistol

Alfa Competition pre-charged pneumatic pistol

Pros

  • It has a lifetime warranty, the best in the air pistol world
  • The grip fits right- or left-hand shooters
  • No need to buy CO2 cylinders

Cons

  • Get a PCP compressor to charge this air pistol
  • This is not a gun for amateurs or a casual shooter

The Alfa Competition PCP pellet pistol is the air pistol for people who demand the best. Moving past this gun to the next level are custom-made air pistols not available commercially. 

Alfa Competition PCP who why it's one of the best pellet pistols on the list

This is an extremely accurate air pistol.

If you buy this air pistol, you must have a way to charge the built-in tank.

The air pistol trigger is factory set to 8 ounces, but you can adjust it. You can also set the trigger for 2-stage or single-stage shooting.

There is also a “dry fire” mode that enables you to test the trigger and do practice shots. I love that feature. 

Alfa shoots .177 caliber pellets
Enabling the dry-fire mode

This air pistol includes a 6-ounce weight to help balance the air gun. You can change that to a different weight if needed by putting the included weights in the groove of the gun barrel.

Solid pellet pistol from Alfa

Some shooters may find the unweighted air gun too light to be comfortable. 

It is 1.94 pounds. Light as a feather… but enough to feel secure

Wooden grip on the air gun

The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. 

Adjustable rear sights on an air gun

The front sight can be turned as well.

Front adjustable sights of the Alfa 

This is a 177-caliber single-shot pellet air pistol. You want precision pellets to get maximum accuracy.

It shoots pellets at 500 feet per second (FPS). Enough for shooting targets but not enough to hunt. 

My Thoughts

The Alfa Competition PCP is popular among pros and shooting enthusiasts. 

Why? 

It’s extremely accurate.

I remember my first time taking it to the range. It was dead on right out of the box.

Target paper with holes near the center
Not bad… 

The trigger is great. You can customize it for single-stage or two-stage shooting. This means more control and precision for you. 

No need for CO2 cylinders. This is a big plus. 

Instead, it uses a built-in PCP tank. You’ll need a PCP compressor to charge it. It’s an upfront cost, but worth it. You’ll save on CO2 cylinders in the long run.

Built-in PCP tank to easily fire multiple shots

The Alfa Competition PCP is light, weighing only 1.94 pounds. Some might like this. For me, it was too light. But it comes with a 6-ounce weight, so you can adjust it to your liking.

So, what factors should you consider with this one? 

Accuracy, intended use, the built-in tank, the need for a compressor, and the customizable weight and trigger. 

All in all, if you’re looking for a competition gun or for extreme accuracy, this is a great choice. 

3 – Diana Bandit – Best Air Pistol for the Money

Diana Bandit; the most powerful air pistol out there

Pros

  • 2 caliber choices, .17 and .22
  • Quieter than spring-piston air pistols
  • Good starter PCP air pistol

Cons

  • You must have a PCP air gun compressor or access to one. This is not an air gun for a manual pump.
  • Chunky at 2.2 pounds

If you need an air pistol to take into a deer stand for the squirrels, consider the Diana Bandit PCP.

Wooden grip of a pre-charged pneumatic pistol

The 725 FPS is what pushes this to the top of our small game air pistols and takes the No. 3 spot on this list of PCP air pistols.

You can remove the rear sight to mount optics if you like. 

Hands holding a Diana Bandit

A rail is underneath the sight. If you do mount an optic, you may not be able to use the drum mag, which will slow down your time between shots.

The rear is adjustable for windage and elevation. The trigger is adjustable to suit your preferences.

Adjustable trigger on air gun

The 17 and 22-caliber air pistol delivers a lethal wallop to animals skunk-sized and smaller. If you plan to just pop squirrels and chipmunks, the .17 is enough. If you move up to skunks and critters of that size, get the .22. It is a drum mag-fed pellet pistol. 

You can get extra mags too. 

Diana says the suppressor-looking thing on the end is a fixed moderator. It is not a silencer, suppressor, or a can. 

Fixed moderator on a Diana Bandit
“Druckluftwaffen” meaning “compressed air gun”, not “drunk German pilot” 

Does it reduce the noise of the air pistol? In my experience with “moderators” on air pistols, no. 

However, this is a PCP, and so is a LOT quieter than a spring-piston-driven air pistol.

My Thoughts

The Diana Bandit PCP is versatile. It comes with a multi-caliber feature. You can choose .17 or .22. This means you can adapt your shooting based on your targets. 

The smaller .17 is perfect for small game, while the .22 works for larger animals.

Front sight of an air gun

The Bandit is a quiet shooter. As a PCP, it’s quieter than spring-piston air pistols. This is crucial when hunting – you won’t scare off your game.

It has an adjustable trigger. This allows you to fine-tune your shots, improving your accuracy. 

There’s an adjustable rear sight, too, which helps with windage and elevation so you can adapt to weather conditions and different target distances.

White target with accurate shots in the middle
I found it to be accurate right out of the box

However, the Bandit isn’t perfect. It requires a PCP air gun compressor. 

Pressure gauge of compressor

Manual pumps don’t cut it. This means you’ll need access to a compressor to keep it charged.

Also, it weighs 2.2 pounds. While weight can improve stability, it can be cumbersome for prolonged use. 

I personally liked the weight, but this is more of a preference thing. 

What stood out for me was the bang-for-your-buck factor. It gives the expensive guns I tested out a run for their money. If you’re looking for high accuracy at an affordable price, this is the one. 

4 – Hatsan Jet 2 – Top Pellet Pistol for Hunting

Hatsan Jet 2 best air pistols for varmint hunting

Pros

  • This is a precision gun. Hatsan does all the manufacturing at its plant, so you are not dealing with a company that outsources important parts of the gun.
  • Add an extra tank for even more shooting time between recharging.
  • Your choice of .177, .22, or .25
  • Comes with 2 mags and extra O rings

Cons

  • One-year warranty is not that good compared to some others.
  • That it is sold with extra O rings, a cause for pause. Yes, airguns do wear out the O rings, but to include extras is worrisome.
  • The second tank may add more weight than you want, and you will have to adjust your non-trigger hand grip.
  • At 3.4 pounds, with the rifle stock, this is light in the rifle configuration. 2.4 pounds as a pistol puts it to the heavier side of pellet pistols.

Based in Turkey, the Hatsan company is recognized worldwide as one of the best air pistols and rifles makers around.

Removable stock on Hatsan Jet 2
The stock is removable, which is nice

Pros shoot these pellet pistols. Amateurs shoot these pellet pistols. Hunters shoot these pellet pistols. 

The Hatsan Jet II offers you some choices other air pellet pistols do not.

Powerful air pistols from Hatsan

So, with all these great points, why is this air pistol pellet gun No. 4? That’s because if you are investing in a Hatsan with a stock, get a full-sized air rifle and get maximum performance. 

Adjustable cheek rise on air rifles

The pistol form of the Jet II isn’t the best, so I found myself just using the stock the whole time. You might as well buy a full-sized air rifle, but if you want an all-in-one, this is a great choice.   

With a full tank and .177 alloy pellets, you can get around 800 FPS with a full tank. The .22 gets you around 700 FPS, and if you get the .25 barrel, you drop to around 600 FPS, which is still very good for pellet pistols.

Chronograph readings of Hatsan Jet 2

Caption: My chronograph tests showed consistency over 650 fps with .22 pellets

The rifle stock is adjustable for pull and cheek rise. If you are putting that much effort into the stock, get an air rifle to get better accuracy, especially out to 100 yards (or meters). 

Fiber on the rear sight for backyard plinking

The rifle stock also has a rear sight. The pistol frame has a sight as well, giving you two back sights on this pellet pistol.

Hatsan Jet 2 on a wooden table
Hatsan Jet 2 offers slightly higher velocity with different pellet calibers

This is an extremely reliable air pistol.

My Thoughts

I’ve been using the Hatsan Jet 2 with its .22 caliber. It doesn’t disappoint. This thing has serious stopping power for a pellet gun. 

It’s made hunting small game so much more efficient.

The power is great. We’re talking a top speed of 850 feet per second with the .177 pellets. 

The shots were precise as well. I can hit targets at longer ranges with ease. 

The extra punch means the pellets penetrate deeper too, meaning you can ethically hunt squirrels, raccoons, birds or other small game with this. 

Pressure gauge on a barrel showing large air reservoir
Threaded barrel for add ons and pressure gauge 

Refilling has become a breeze. That quick-fill nozzle? Pure genius. It’s a game-changer that saves me a ton of time.

The all-weather synthetic stock? Absolute winner. I’ve used it in all kinds of conditions. Rain or shine, it stays sturdy. No warping, no swelling. It’s a perfect companion for any outdoor shooting session.

Finger on a trigger of the Hatsan Jet 2

In short, the Hatsan Jet 2 has upped my game. The power, convenience, and durability are top-notch.

Bottom line, it’s fantastic. 

5 – Umarex Colt Peacemaker – Top CO2 Pistol 

Umarex Colt Peacemaker CO2 powered

Pros

  • Peacemaker. Nuf said.
  • Solid build: it’s well built and feels sturdy
  • Reasonable power of 380 FPS and good accuracy at short ranges
  • A smooth trigger
  • Great for targets, plinking, or costumes
  • Great for beginners

Cons

  • Slow to load
  • Limited to 6 shots before you have to reload
  • Lack of extras, no way to add on a laser or scope
  • Sights are not adjustable

A Peacemaker airgun? Oh yes! 

The Umarex Colt Peacemaker lets you play out the fantasy of being a Wild Wild West Federal Ranger back in the days of horses and open-range cattle drives. 

Peacemaker with cocking mechanism

Once loaded, this single-action air pistol revolver functions just like the legendary Peacemaker, except recoil is non-existent, so it’s a great gun for a kid or just something to mess around with.

Hand holding a CO2 powered pistol

And you do not need hearing protection to shoot it, so one less thing for your parents to worry about. 

Plus, with a sufficient backstop, you can shoot this in your yard and even your basement if you have one. I personally like using it in my basement on cold days when going outside isn’t an option. 

Six pellets in a pistol for backyard plinking

The 6 pellets go in the cylinder, so you can have some fun plinking quick-fire style. 

Removing cartridges from the Peacemaker

Caption: Me removing the cartridges 

The cartridge is held in the grip. The metal is chromed for that classic look and rust resistance. 

This air pistol ships with a tin of precision .177 pellets and 5 cartridges in case you or the kids lose one. 

Fingers holding a cartridge

My Thoughts

The Umarex Colt Peacemaker is my top pick if you’re after a genuine Old West feel or if you’re looking for something to give to a kid. 

It’s got this unique vibe that’ll transport you back to the cowboy days. 

A cowboy on a horse from the movie True Grit
That’s what I’m talking about

This one’s for both beginners and seasoned shooters, but isn’t overall too accurate. The Peacemaker air pistol is more for “fun” as opposed to serious shooting. 

CO2 cartrige placement in the Peacemaker’s handle

When I got my hands on this baby myself, I found it felt just like the original, even the weight. At 2 lbs, it feels just right. 

Now, let’s talk about why this is a great buy. 

First off, the realism. It’s the spitting image of the iconic Peacemaker. 

The muzzle of the CO2 powered Peacemaker

Then there’s the craftsmanship. It’s well-made and functions smoothly. It’s not your typical air pistol; it’s a unique piece of history.

When it comes to numbers, the Peacemaker is right where they should be. It pushes out pellets at around 380 feet per second. That’s relatively powerful for a CO2 pistol.  

The trigger pull is another thing; it’s smooth and feels just like the real thing.

Close look at the revolver, trigger and cocking mechanism of the Peacemaker

Bottom line… 

The Umarex Colt Peacemaker is a great buy for those looking for a low-powered CO2 pellet gun or a “fun” shooter.

6 – Sig Sauer 1911 Spartan Air – Best Blowback Pistol

Sig Sauer 1911 Spartan Air pistol

Pros

  • Rail under the barrel for a laser
  • Functions like a real 1911
  • Easy puncture CO2 mechanism
  • Quick load magazine

Cons

Blowback action lowers power to near 300 FPS

THIS IS SPARTA!

Even if Leonidas had the Sig Sauer 1911 Spartan, it would not make a bit of difference in the war. 

This is a BB gun. 

An optic or laser mount rail under the barrel of 1911 Spartan
Optic or laser mount rail

It looks and feels like the real Sig Sparta 1911, which shoots the .45 ACP. 

This makes the list mostly just because of the coolness factor. 

Based on the legendary 1911, the Sig Sauer-authorized air pistol comes with a set of Molon Labe logo grips and Molon Labe engraved on the metal slide. Molon Labe is Latin and means “Come and take it,” which is a rallying cry for 2A supporters these days. 

In other words, this is quite cool.

The magazine holds 16 pellets.

Hand holding a Spartan Air BB gun

It also has a “fast load” function on the mags that speeds up the loading significantly 

Sig Sparta 1911 Spartan Air with full blowback feature

At 2.6 pounds, it is a heavier one, but so is the real Sig Sparta 1911. It is a blowback model, so this is a great way to train to shoot the real 1911.

What about noise level?

I maxed it out around 95 decibels indoors, so outside should be a bit lower. This makes this neighborhood or basement friendly. 

Lower decibel reading for Spartan Air
I couldn’t get it over 100 decibels on the range

My Thoughts

The Sig Sauer 1911 Spartan Air is a great air pistol to consider. 

Why?

Let’s go over a few key features.

Its feel is similar to a real 1911. That means you get a genuine experience, and practice feels more like the real deal.

Authentic 1911 sights on Spartan Air
Authentic 1911 sights

I liked the trigger too. It’s commendable, the pull weight is decent and the break is crisp.

Air gun with a CO2 system with realistic blowback action

It also has a pretty ingenious CO2 mechanism that punctures and locks in the cartridge in one swift motion, which helps save lots of gas and time when compared to your standard twist mechanism.

CO2 powered system in the handle with full blowback when shot
I really liked the CO2 cartridge system 

It’s really well built too. Solid. 

The slide action stayed smooth even after a lot of use. 

The performance? Accurate and reliable. Despite the blowback action, BBs fly true. I didn’t find the blowback to affect the accuracy very much. 

White and grey target with holes in the center from shooting BBs
I got some nice grouping at 7 yards

The downsides? 

It has a high CO2 consumption. It’s due to the blowback action. Something to keep in mind when buying an airgun – you’re going to run through a lot of CO2 cylinders. 

I also didn’t like how they advertised up to 410 FPS firing speed, but my test with the chronograph told a different story. 

Mine were maxing out at around 325 FPS, which is pretty standard for a blowback CO2 pistol, but I don’t like it when they exaggerate. 

Test fire of Spartan air to determine firing speed 
Me testing the firing speed on the range 

Bottom line. 

The 1911 Spartan Air is a great air pistol that works great and looks cool as hell. It’s worth buying for anyone interested in a blowback or 1911-style pistol.

7 – Black Ops Exterminator – Best BB and Pellet Combo Pistol

Hands holding a Black Ops Exterminator air pistol

Pros

  • Double action trigger
  • Pellet or BB
  • Top & bottom rails

Cons

  • It can only shoot 6 shots. This could easily be a 9-shot revolver.

The Black Ops Exterminator is another revolver that uses cartridges to hold a BB or a pellet. This means the loaded pellet pistol looks a lot like a real gun.

Black Ops Exterminator cylinder popped out

Your choice of pellet or BB is inserted in the ammo cartridge.

Since it is an all-metal construction with polymer grips, it has the heft of a real revolver. The 8-inch barrel is going to deliver better accuracy than a 2-inch barrel.

It has iron sights with a fiber in the front and rear. The rear sight is adjustable. The top rail means you can mount an optic, and the bottom rail lets you put in a light or laser sight.

My Thoughts

I had a chase to try out the Black Ops Exterminator, and here’s my take. 

First off, it takes both BBs and pellets. 

Why is this a big deal? Flexibility. 

You can switch ammo types as you please, so that’s a big plus. 

CO2 cartridge in the Black Ops Exterminator
The CO2 cartridge was pretty standard 

What’s it feel like? 

A real gun. 

It’s all-metal, with polymer grips. It feels solid and authentic, which I greatly prefer. 

Accuracy? 

It’s got an 8-inch barrel. Longer barrels improve accuracy. It’s a solid choice for precise target practice or plinking.

Fiber sights on the rear to shoot BBs

It’s also very customizable. It’s got top and bottom rails. You can mount an optic, a light, or a laser. You could make it even more accurate if you wanted. 

Bottom line…

The Black Ops Exterminator is versatile, it’s realistic, and it’s fun as hell to shoot. 

8 – Crosman American Classic – Best Pump Pellet Gun

Man in red shirt holding the Crosman American classic

Pros

  • Plenty of power
  • No need for a compressor or CO2 cartridges
  • Rear sight is adjustable

Cons

  • No rails
  • Plastic furniture is weatherproof but not as tough as true polymer

The Crosman American Classic air pistol has been around for a long time. Crossman offers two models for shooting .177 and .22 pellets. I tested out the classic .177 version. 

The pump action is under the barrel. This one has a rifled barrel. You will see more accuracy from this than smooth-bore air pistols.

Crosman with rifled steel barrel
The safety mechanism 

Because you can adjust the air pressure, you can get up to 695 FPS with alloy pellets, which is a good bit more than CO2 cartridge guns

Author testing the Crosman American classic pump action
Me testing out the pump action

I ran it on the chronograph, and it was a tad shy of 700 FPS. I went up to the manufacturer’s recommendation of 10 pumps, but I’m sure you could get it higher if you gave it a few more. 

Since you pump it up, you do not need a compressor or CO2 cartridges. You can shoot until you run out of pellets or arm strength without leaving your shooting stand for refills.

My Thoughts

Smooth trigger on the Crosman American classic
The trigger was smooth as well

The American Classic has a special place in my heart, as I’ve been shooting them since the 1970s. They have a long-standing rep for making quality products, and this one doesn’t disappoint. 

Check out that pump action – it’s easy to use and smooth as heck. 

But here’s where it really stands out. It’s the rifled barrel. This is one of the most accurate pistols on the list.

Accurate sights on the air pistol
Mine was accurate right out of the box, but you can adjust the sights

Want power? 

The Crosman delivers up to around 700 FPS with alloy pellets. 

CO2 cartridge guns? They usually hit 300-400 FPS.

Author hand pump the Crosman

Also, a huge plus that I love about a pump action is that you don’t need CO2 or an air compressor to shoot. It’s a hassle to keep the CO2 cartridges on hand and set up my compressor. 

With this, just grab it and go. 

Bottom line, this is a great pump action pistol that is accurate, cheap and packs a punch. 

9 – Umarex Browning Buck Mark – Best Break Barrel Pistol

Umarex Browning Buck Mark with break barrel

Pros

  • Takes less strength to cock than some other break-actions
  • Adjustable rear sight
  • Rail to mount optics

Cons

  • Loud enough to scare smaller critters away
  • Pretty weak even in the air handgun category

Licensed by Browning, the Umarex Buckmark is modeled on the Browning Buckmark .22 auto. Past the look, there are two significant differences.

Browning logo on the Umarex Browning Buck
  1. This gun has a lot of plastic parts.
  2. It is a single shot, break action.

Getting past that, it shoots a .177 pellet at up to 320 FPS. That is good enough for plinking but not sufficient firepower for popping squirrels and chipmunks.

My Thoughts

This is what I found while testing out the Buck Mark. 

It’s easy to use, particularly the break action. It’s smooth, and you don’t need to be strong to cock it. Great for kids. 

Break barrel of an airgun

The grip is comfy. It’s sort of this oblong oval shape, which for me is a nice change of pace from the more skinny grips which are common now. 

I found that the grip makes it easier to use over long periods. So, it’s also great ergonomically.

It also has a rail to mount an optic 

Now, for some numbers. I did a few tests. The average cocking effort? Roughly 20 pounds. Far less than the 30 pounds you’ll find in many break barrel guns. 

It fires at 320 FPS. That’s with a .177 pellet. Keep in mind, this is under ideal conditions, using top-quality pellets. 

Adjustable rear sights

In real life? 

The speeds vary. I measured mine at 289.2 FPS. 

It’s also a “bit” loud. I tested the decibels around 82. Not a big issue – it’s definitely “neighborhood friendly” but you might scare away animals if you’re hunting small game. 

Trigger of the Umarex Browning Buck Mark
The trigger wasn’t bad either

Bottom line.

Umarex Browning Buck Mark is an easy-to-use, safe, and surprisingly well-designed pellet gun that is great for “plinking,” target practice, or pest control.  

If you’ve gotten this far and haven’t found something you like, take a look at our article on the best air rifles.

Comparison Table

NamePower (FPS)AmmoType
1. Benjamin Marauder627.22PCP
2. Alfa Competition PCP500.177PCP
3. Diana Bandit725 / 630.177 / .22PCP
4. Hatsan Jet 2800 / 700 / 600.177 / .22 / .25PCP
5. Umarex Colt Peacemaker380.177CO2
6. Sig Sauer 1911 Spartan Air325BBCO2
7. Black Ops Exterminator4106mm BBs / .177CO2
8. Crosman American Classic695.177 / .22Pump Action
9. Umarex Browning Buck Mark320.177Break Action

Buying Guide For Pellet Pistols: Things to Consider

Ammo: Pellets vs BBs

Pellets from H&N Sport

With the exception of the BB/ pellet combo and the Sig Sauer Spartan, all these guns are solid pellet pistols. They also shoot hollow bases and hollow points.

Pellets tend to have better penetration and accuracy as they are more “bullet-like.” Hollow points are better for hunting as they expand and do more damage on impact.

Now, BBs are generally steel. Some are copper coated, some are not. They are less accurate than a pellet because they do not fully engage the rifling in the barrel.

They can hunt small animals if the gun has enough power, but in general, they’re better suited for “fun” target shooting. 

Magazines

Unless the gun has a fixed internal mag, get some extra magazines. Load them up and keep shooting until the air runs out. Then, recharge the tank or replace the cartridge and reload the mags.

Price

Pellet pistols, in general, are cheap. You can buy some for under $100 dollars going up to nearly $1000 for high-power or accuracy versions. 

Blowback

Blowback guns naturally have more recoil than single shots or bolt actions. That slide coming back will be a surprise to someone who has never shot one of these guns. However, that quickly becomes a non-issue.

Blowback air pistols are great for teaching people how to shoot real blowback handguns. Light recoil and a little noise will let them get familiar with how the gun functions.

Power

Power is only a concern if you plan to hunt with your airgun. If you hunt, get as much velocity as possible. Use dedicated hunting pellets. The combo provides enough power for ethical kills.

If you’re just plinking, the difference between 350 FPS and 800 FPS is not important. The lower speed does mean you can often see the pellet’s trajectory.

Types of Pellet Pistols

Pump And Spring

Four pump and spring air rifles on a wooden table
Good Old Daisy

Pump air pistols mean you have to pump up pressure into the internal air tank for each shot. You can do multiple strokes to increase the pressure and power. 

Spring-loaded air pistols have to be cocked, which sets the spring. You only cock it once, as repeated cocking does nothing.

Pump guns let you change the power from shot to shot. They can be as accurate as mid-range PCP air pistols.

Hands holding an air pistol

A spring-powered air pistol is louder than a gas-powered one. You do not need hearing protection even so. Spring-powered air guns are also the least powerful. They recoil more than other guns, and you’ll experience some vibration as well.

All are single-shot air pistols. Some are pellet guns and BB guns in one. 

CO2 Cartridge

CO2 cartridge pistols rely on precharged small CO2-filled cartridges. These are use-and-toss because you cannot refill them. Having shot a LOT of these guns, I recommend getting the Crosman cartridges

Crosman cartridges product image

The advantage here, compared to the PCP air guns, is also a disadvantage. You can carry a lot of extra cartridges (advantage), but you cannot refill them (disadvantage). 

PCP Guns

PCP stands for pre-charged pneumatic, compressed air in other words. This kind of air pistol is used by Olympic-level shooters. This level of air pistol has its own compressed air tank that has to be filled. It does not use CO2 cartridges.

Spritech PCP air gun compressor product image

A PCP air compressor with the proper fittings is not necessary, but you will likely want one. The alternative is a manual pump, and that is an immense amount of work. PCP airgun compressors can set you back more than the cost of the gun, but they are worth it. 

Common Uses For Pellet Guns

Hunting

Black airgun for varmint hunting

I have hunted across North America. I hunt with airguns too

The first critter I ever killed for the table was a rabbit I shot with a Daisy BB gun. I shot it while sitting on a tractor with my Dad. 

Since then, I’ve put more rabbits, squirrels, and a few birds in the supper pot with an airgun, including an old Daisy CO2 cartridge pistol.

I take an airgun into the deer woods regularly to pop tree rats (squirrels) that raid and damage my feeders.

So what do you need to hunt with a pellet gun? 

First, you need to look at the pellet velocity

For ethical kills on critters, from rats to skunks and invasive birds, you need to run at least 600 FPS. This means you shoot a PCP, a high-end CO2 cartridge gun, or a good break-action.

You need that extra power to deliver a kill shot. Also, when shooting squirrels and skunks, go for headshots.

Competition

PCP pellet pistol for competition shooting

If you are shooting tournaments, then you need the PCP and you want a higher-end, high-dollar gun, especially if you are shooting for money. Experts can put pellets through a Life Saver at 10 meters.

These guns will set you back high three to four figures. If money is on the line, then these are worth it.

As noted earlier, you also need precision pellets. (Reference 1: Pellet Pistol)

Self Defense

Pellet pistols for self defense

Are air guns useful for self-defense? Well, it is better than not having anything at all. If you are not allowed to have a real firearm, this may be your only alternative.

Some of these guns look exactly like real handguns except for the diameter of the barrel. In an emergency situation, no one is really going to take the time to check the barrel specs.

Regardless, the most important thing with self-defense is practice. You must know how to use your chosen weapon, no matter the circumstances. (Reference 2: Pellet Guns)

A Quick Digression 

Many years ago, I lived in Southern Nevada. One of the Vegas bars was a darts hangout for the locals. One night someone tried to rob the place. When the robber turned his back to leave, he suddenly sprouted enough darts to look like a mutant porcupine. Metro police collected him at the bar, still screaming in pain.

Practice matters.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure 

At BarrettRifles.com, we ensure that all of our reviews are based on the product’s merits. We test all products prior to writing about them.  

The recommendations are based purely on how the product performed compared to our rating criteria. 

We accepted no money or free products to write or feature any gun in this review. 

We are not associated with any firearm manufacturer and encourage you to verify any information found on this site with the manufacturer. 

We earn a percentage of the purchase price as a “referral fee” when the item is bought on Amazon or any of our referral partners. You can find a full list of our partners on our affiliate disclosure page at the top or bottom of this article, or you may contact us directly through our contact page. 

For more reading see our article on the most badass 1911 pistols and what does plinking mean.

FAQs

What is the best pellet gun brand?

The best pellet gun brand is Alfa, Diana, and Hatsan for commercially available pistols. Olympic-level shooters often have their guns custom manufactured.

What pellet pistol has the most FPS?

A PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) pellet pistol will have the most FPS. The heavier tanks can hold higher air pressure than other guns.

What is the top pellet pistol for killing squirrels?

The top pellet pistol for killing squirrels is a .177, .22, or .25 in a PCP capable of delivering at least 600 FPS. All the PCPs in this list will do.

Which is better a BB pistol or pellet pistol?

A pellet pistol is better than a BB pistol in every category except cost. You can get 1,000 BBs for the cost of 100 precision pellets. Steel BBs can also be reused.

What is the most powerful pellet pistol?

In this list, the Benjamin Marauder is the most powerful. At 25 yards (22.8 meters) or less, pellets from this gun can penetrate the skull of small hogs, raccoons, and such.

Who makes the best pellet guns?

The brands that make the best pellet guns in this list are Alfa, Diana, and Hatsan. You can get better, but you’ll have to custom order and may have to pay several times the cost of an Alfa pistol.

Our Top Pick Benjamin Marauder PCP

Powerful air pistol Benjamin Marauder 

References

  1. Civilian Marksmanship Program, CMP Air Rifle and Air Pistol Competition Rules. Retrieved from https://thecmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/2022CMPAirGunRulebook.pdf
  2. Vijaita Singh, What are pellet guns and why are they lethal? Retrieved from https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/What-are-pellet-guns-and-why-are-they-lethal/article60558977.ece


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