Are you interested in airsoft pistols? They’re really popular these days. This is both good and bad. Good because you have a lot of options to choose from. Bad because, well, you have a lot of options to choose from.
How do you find the best pistol for your needs? Today we’re going to take a look at a popular category of airsoft pistols: the 1911. What makes this type of airsoft pistol special, and is it the right choice for you?
What is a 1911 Airsoft Pistol?
The 1911 airsoft pistol is a replica of the M1911 pistol, a standard issue sidearm for the U.S. Army. Over 2.7 million M1911 pistols were used U.S. Army personnel from 1911 to 1986.
The gun was first used in the Philippine-American War. Then it saw plenty of use by American soldiers throughout WWI, WWII, Korean War and the Vietnam War among other conflicts both big and small.
Ever heard of a pistol called the forty-five? That’s the 1911. During WWI its official name was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911. This later changed to Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 and then Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic M1911A1.
Eventually, the military replaced the 1911 with the 9mm Beretta M9. But the popularity of the .45 remains strong to this day. Members of the U.S. Army Special Forces, Navy and Marine Corps still use the 1911 – and the pistol is also extremely popular among civilians.
Why is the 1911 So Popular?
This pistol has been the choice of the U.S. military for a reason. Designed by John Browning, the operating system of this pistol is the foundation for all center fire pistols. The short recoil principle gives the pistol a slim width and excellent stopping power.
The pistol is very accurate, too. This is one of the most popular guns used in competitive shooting events including the USPSA, IDPA and International Practical Shooting Confederation.
The Difference between the 1911 and the 1911 Airsoft
The same quality which drives the popularity of a traditional 1911 is also the reason people choose an airsoft 1911. They expect (and usually get) the same sturdiness, accuracy and timeless design found in the real pistol.
With an airsoft 1911, you get a quality pistol but without the capability of being lethal to humans. Don’t get us wrong – getting hit by a BB from an airsoft gun isn’t pleasant. But barring a freak accident, an airsoft gun is unlikely to kill somebody.
This means you can use an airsoft gun in competitions. Airsoft guns are also great for younger kids. With proper supervision, they can learn all about proper gun safety and handling. Plus, airsoft guns are cheaper to maintain than non-airsoft guns, and they require less maintenance.
Uses of an Airsoft 1911 Pistol
There are three common reasons people use airsoft guns:
Similar to paintball, people get together to fight each other in teams using airsoft guns. This friendly competition can take place in either indoor or outdoor arenas. Goals can be simple, such as trying to shoot your opponents while avoiding getting shot yourself. They can also be a bit more complex, such as Capture the Flag.
Participants will need to gear up appropriately. This includes:
- Camouflage clothing to match your surroundings (especially important for outdoor arenas)
- Padding and protective gear including proper eye protection
- An airsoft rifle based on the needs of your team (sniper, assault, etc.)
- A walkie-talkie to communicate with your team
- A sidearm
Most competitive airsoft rules allow the players to carry a sidearm. The 1911 is very popular among this group of players. After all, this is an airsoft model based on perhaps the most popular sidearm in the world – seems pretty easy to understand why airsoft players would prefer the 1911 airgun, too.
2. Animal Control
Many people live in places and situations where they have to contend with unwanted animals. From city and suburban dwellers faced with nosy raccoons and squirrels to farmers who need a way to stop coyotes and wolves from attacking livestock, animal control is an on-going issue for a lot of people.
An airsoft pistol is an inexpensive, effective way to chase these animals away. Depending on the type of airsoft gun used, the shots can be either lethal or non-lethal to the animal.
You can use an airsoft gun in situations where live ammunition would be completely inappropriate. For instance, suppose you live in the suburbs and catch a raccoon tearing through your outdoor trash cans. A shot from an airsoft gun will scare that raccoon away. A shot from a real gun will likely scare the entire neighborhood, and might even result in a visit from the local police.
3. Safety Training
Airsoft guns are great as a teaching tool for younger people and those who are unfamiliar with guns. Students can become familiar with the look and feel of a real gun without having to worry too much about injury or danger. Of course, airsoft guns can still be dangerous, but far less so than a gun with live ammunition.
Types of 1911 Airsoft Pistols
There are three major categories of airsoft pistols:
These guns are powered by a trigger released spring. Before every shot, you need to pull the spring back and cock the gun. Most spring-powered guns can only fire one shot at a time before needing to be reset.
These are the least expensive category of guns. They’re also the cheapest. Most spring powered guns are made from plastic. They’re a fun choice for people to use as target shooting or to learn gun safety, but they’re not going to be the best option for competitive airsoft sports.
Automatic Electronic Guns
This is a spring system powered by an electronic piston instead of by hand. Some of these use AA batteries which you can buy anywhere. Other, more sophisticated AEG-powered guns are powered by specialized batteries.
These are a mid-range gun. They’re more powerful than a spring piston. But you won’t see as many on the course as you will gas powered (discussed below). Automatic Electronic Guns are highly customizable.
This is when the gun is powered by a canister of compressed gas. There are three types.
Propane is the cheapest options. You’ll need an airsoft adaptor to connect to the propane tank. Propane gives you the most shots per cartridge.
CO2 gives you the most power. You’ll get fewer shots per cartridge, however. CO2 cartridges are rather expensive. They’re usually only found in sporting good or specialty stores.
Green gas is a combination of propane and silicone. This is a self-lubricating solution. You’ll get about a thousand shots per can.
Gas-powered guns are the preferred type for anyone playing competitive airsoft sports. They’re also the strongest. If you’re looking at high-end airsoft 1911 pistols, you’ll see that the majority are powered by gas.
Reviews of Top Airsoft 1911 Pistols
The 1911 is a popular gun, so it’s no surprise that the airsoft replica is equally sought after by airsoft enthusiasts, collectors and shooters. Here are five airsoft 1911 pistols which we reviewed:
1. Umarex Elite Force 1911 TAC Gen3 Review
This is Elite Force’s most realistic replication of the 1911. The TAC Gen3 has full-metal construction, which makes it durable enough for extensive outdoor use – including cold and wet weather. Plus, the pistol has a solid, sturdy heft.
• Front cocking serration on slide
• Fast draw diamond grips
• High tang beavertail safety grip
• Safety lock accessible to both left and right hands
• 12 gram CO2 cartridge
• Muzzle velocity of 345 feet per second
• Incredibly realistic look and feel
• CO2 cartridges are expensive and can be hard to find
• Very few aftermarket accessories available
• Powerful blowback probably a bit much for younger kids
• Internal O-ring can wear down, which impacts the re-chambering mechanism
2. Colt 1911 Co2 Full Metal Airsoft Pistol Review
• 6mm blowback semi-automatic pistol
• Full metal body
• Textured handgrip
• Realistic look and feel
• .200gram BB with a velocity of 344 feet per second
• Adjustable hop up increased accuracy
• Unavailable for New York residents
• Sold with only one magazine
• Small magazine holds 15 to 17 bb’s
• Attaching a silencer has the potential to damage the barrel
• CO2 cartridge can leak if not installed correctly
3. Tanfoglio 358003 1911 Full Metal Pistol Review
• Muzzle velocity of 345 feet per second
• Fixed front and rear sights
• Textured grip
• Single-action trigger
• Full metal construction
• Real 1911 grips need filing in order to fit
• Finish tends to wear off over time. Touch-up paint or a paint stick will likely be needed
• Extra magazine and CO2 cartridges are necessary for serious competition
4. Blackwater 1911 CO2 Airsoft Pistol Review
Made by the private military contractor, Blackwater’s 1911 airsoft pistol is an extremely accurate replica of their Blackwater 1911. These pistols have a heavy kick, loud recoil and a firing velocity of a whopping 463 feet per second.
• Recoil blowback system gives the gun a realistic shooting feel
• Rail frame lets you add tactical accessories
• Adjustable BAXS shooting system
• Made of 100% metal
• A sturdy two pounds
• Can be completely disassembled or reassembled just like the real pistol
• Unique safety features require hand be fully on grip in order to fire
• Consumes a lot of CO2. Cartridge is depleted in about six clips of about 16 shots each.
• Slide remains back after clip has run dry, which needlessly wastes CO2
• Too large and powerful for youngsters
Not every airsoft 1911 needs to a high-powered, super-accurate replica. This low-cost, spring-loaded airsoft pistol isn’t the most popular airgun on the market, but it’s suitable for younger kids and those who just want to shoot for fun.
• Full-scale .45 replica
• 9.75 inch total length
• Magazine holds 15 rounds
• Spring operation is simple
• Barrel velocity of 250 feet per second
• Unavailable for New York state residents
• Spring operates requires cocking before each shot
• Relatively low-powered velocity
Our choice for the top airsoft 1911 pistol is the Colt 1911 Co2 Full Metal Airsoft Pistol.
If you’re interested in a 1911 pistol, you’re likely interested in realism. You want a solid, metal airgun which sounds, looks and feels like the real thing.
Colt already has a sterling reputation for manufacturing real guns, and their airsoft line is a reflection of that. The 1911 CO2 Full Metal pistol is already a popular, reliable airgun prized by both collectors and competitive airsoft players. In short, this gun has been re-released for a reason.
There’s little to dislike here. The 6mm blowback semi-automatic has a textured handgrip and full metal body. With a velocity of 344 feet per second, this pistol is effective on the course or target range. Also works well for pest control (although if that’s your main use, we recommend a larger airsoft rifle instead of a pistol).
The BBTac Airsoft pistol is certainly cheaper, but it’s more a toy. The Colt 1911 is better suited for serious competition.
The Blackwater 1911 is louder and has a faster velocity, but CO2 cartridge depletion is simply too high and needless.
The Elite Force 1911 is a good all-around airgun, and certainly an accurate replication, but we have to give the edge to the Colt in terms of realism.
If you’re looking for a durable, high-quality airsoft 1911 pistol, we recommend the Colt 1911 Co2 Full Metal Airsoft Pistol. Great for both collectors and competitors.