In Star Wars, beloved character Han Solo famously quipped that there’s no substitute for a good blaster by your side. While we don’t actually have those pew-pew beam guns in real life yet, he might as well have been talking about Airsoft sidearms.
While most of the attention goes to primary battle rifles, no player should brave the field without a sidearm. There are plenty of situations where your primary rifle will not be useful. For one thing, it’s much faster to draw your pistol than it is to reload a rifle. If you are playing a specialized role such as sniper, you also have no other close-quarter combat weapon than your sidearm.
Here is an interesting mix of sidearm options, ranging from basic pistols to fancy licensed hand cannons and automatic personal defense weapons.
Colt 1911 black silver CO2 Blowback Airsoft Gun
The real Colt 1911 is so named because it was first taken into service in 1911. This handgun is a legend, thanks to serious stopping power, and was the standard US military sidearm until 1986. The Beretta M9 would replace it, but the 1911 is so popular that some units in the military have stuck with them.
The look of the 1911 is one of the most iconic. So an Airsoft replica is obviously very desirable, both because it’s such a cool gun and because of its status as real-life US military mainstay. This replica is fully licensed by Colt, which means that apart from the orange safety tip it’s pretty much spot on in terms of looks. It has the right markings and a solid metal body; complemented by plastic grips. This pistol weighs 2.15 pounds, which is almost exactly as much as the real pistol sans ammo. The chrome slide looks beautiful and, overall, the presentation of this pistol is wonderful.
This is a co2 gas blowback pistol, which means you’ll get “realistic” recoil and gas blowback – although obviously nowhere near as strong as a real 1911. One neat but ultimately irrelevant detail is the inclusion of unique sequential serial numbers for these handguns, so you and your buddy won’t have the same guns.
The Amazon listing for this pistol doesn’t provide much information, but I was able to track it down elsewhere on the net. It’s rated for 340 feet per second and can take 17-round magazine as standard. There’s also a 27-round extended magazine out there, but you’ll have to contend with it sticking out from the pistol’s body. Overall, this is an awesome replica of one of the best pistols ever made.
Best Value for Money: WE-USA NG3 Metal 1911
Here we have another 1911, but not the official Colt replica. This 1911 from WE-USA sports desert camo, but not any of the official markings or stamps. It is, however, a full-metal design at an inviting price.
The NG3 line of pistols actually represents a souped-up version of the pistols one usually gets. The idea is that Evike takes note of the upgrades that people make to the vanilla pistols and then they pre-install the most popular mods in this model from the start. That’s great for a few reasons. First of all, you don’t have to void your warranty or potentially damage the pistol by installing them yourself. Secondly, you aren’t paying for parts twice. That is, the stock parts and then again the upgrades. So you get the benefit of an uprated pistol at almost the same price as stock.
This is a gas blowback pistol, which makes for a somewhat realistic recoil effect. The grips are polymer and the nozzle has been reinforced to last longer and work with higher pressures. The firing system has been upgraded to improve range and accuracy compared to other standard 1911 airsoft guns. The frame is made entirely of metal and the weight of the gun is pretty close to that of the real firearm.
This pistol is at the budget range for blowback pistols and has some nice upgrades overall – the best bang (get it?) for the buck here.
WG Model-708 Revolver
At this point I have to admit that I have a soft spot for revolvers. Yes, they take much longer to reload than a pistol. Yes, they hold fewer rounds, but they are just so cool. On the practical side, they are also much less apt to jam or have mechanical failures.
This revolver by WG also has another advantage: it’s got a significantly faster firing velocity than most pistols. At 400 fps, that’s anywhere between 50 and 100 fps faster than the other guy’s pistol. Feeling lucky, punk? It also comes with a nice nylon holster, which is pretty neat. It’s a cool sidearm with powerful short range abilities, but it is a little on the pricey side. Still, for revolver lovers like me it may be worth the premium.
ARES Amoeba CCC M4
Just as in real life, small automatic weapons meant for personal defense blur the line between a sidearm and main weapon. This ARES Amoeba M4 is an unlicensed take on that class of weapon. It’s a small automatic rifle that’s compact and light enough to be your secondary gun. It only weighs 1.8 kg – just a little more than a decent pistol.
This is an electronic gun that runs off a battery (not included) and offers a muzzle velocity of between 280 and 310 feet per second. The gearbox is all metal too, so that promises to [[ missing text? ]]
You can choose between semi- and full- automatic. If you buy the optional bespoke programming unit, you can even create custom firing modes. The M4 holds a staggering 300 rounds and is compatible with a wide array of magazines from the big names in Airsoft.
While the size and shape of the M4 is a little more awkward than a pistol would be, there’s no comparison with the additional firepower it provides. Having a second automatic weapon that will also work for close quarters combat is a powerful recipe and this is less than twice the asking price of a decent blowback pistol. A compelling option for sure!
The WE-Tech SMG-8 is clearly riffing off submachine guns such as the legendary Uzi. It has the same iconic general design and doesn’t take up much more space than a pistol, while providing a high capacity magazine and automatic firing modes.
This is an open bolt blowback gun, which means you’ll get that awesome automatic recoil effect for added realism. The rated muzzle velocity is very impressive too for a sidearm. It fires at between 370 and 400 feet per second, depending on the type of gas you use. It only takes 44 rounds per magazine though, nowhere near something like the M4, but that’s still way more than a revolver or pistol and it’s more compact than an M4. A really cool gun all round.
Magnum Research Licensed Semi/Full Auto Metal Desert Eagle
The real-world Desert Eagle (or “deagle” as some insist on calling it) is a firearm with a mixed reputation. A 50 caliber handgun is certainly a technical achievement, but as a practical disarm [[ I don’t know what this means ]] the size, weight, and recoil of this monster hasn’t convinced anyone. This means the Desert Eagle has become the gun of choice for showboaters.
When it comes to Airsoft, though, the idea is to have fun. If you are too serious about your milsim hobby you may want to take a step back. That’s why I think this fully-licensed Desert Eagle replica has a place on the Airsoft battlefield. This is a gas blowback model, with an extra heavy aluminum slide to simulate the ridiculous amount of recoil a real DE kicks out. Yet its actual muzzle velocity is pretty average, topping out at 340 feet per second under the best of circumstances.
The gun is advertised with a full-auto mode – not too strange for a gas pistol but something you won’t find on a real DE. Thank goodness.
Strictly Just for Fun: Taurus PT111 Spring Pistol
This is the best-selling Airsoft pistol on Amazon. This, I think, is mainly due to its price. For about as much as a fast food meal, you can own this plastic replica of the well-regarded 9mm handgun made by one of the best-known makers in the world.
While the real-life PT111 holds 13 rounds in total (12+1), this replica has a magazine that will hold 20 BBs. It’s a single-shot spring action pistol that only manages 180 feet per second shots. That’s using the rather light 0.12g BBs. Clearly this is not a pistol you’d actually want to play Airsoft with, but it’s a fun toy for anyone who just wants to feel what shooting with BBs feels like and for light target practice.
The people who have bought this (and there are MANY) say it’s very reliable, shoots well, and has a strong spring, besting more expensive single-shot pistols. For less than ten bucks you can afford to throw it in with an order of other, more expensive items.
A Hands-on Experience
Sidearms may not get the most action in the field, but I have always felt that few things feel as cool as wielding a handgun. With a good sidearm you’ll also feel confident that, should your rifle jam or otherwise become unavailable, being quick on the draw can still save your behind.