4 Reasons Why You Need a Sidearm in Airsoft (With a Guide to Choosing Best)

Airsoft player that chooses best sidearm

There are many airsoft guns that can be used as a sidearm and there are no particular rules, however, some airsoft guns such as pistols are generally accepted as the best sidearms out there.

As you will see, pistols are just one option and sometimes there are better airsoft guns to aid you as a sidearm.

In short, how important is the sidearm?

Airsoft sidearm is absolutely necessary for many situations, yet it is completely possible, to begin with, airsoft without one. Sidearm helps you to take enemies within MED limits and works great when your primary airsoft gun is out of ammo or can not be reloaded in time.

Airsoft is about loadout, strategy, team play, and skills, so let’s answer some common questions regarding sidearms and see what options you have.

Reasons why you need a good sidearm

1. You are out of ammo 

You have been playing quite recklessly without the intention to save the ammo and you find yourself in the middle of the game with an empty magazine.

The solution is to reach for the magazine and reload it, however, the enemy is at the corner and only a few seconds make the difference between getting shot or claiming the opportunity to return fire.

You draw your sidearm and unleash the load of BBs in their direction and buy yourself time to reload your primary gun.

Not to say that experienced players may figure out that you are out of ammo and behind the cover, so they may rush you to score the kill before you get the chance to reload.

This can be a great strategy if the field forbids high-capacity magazines and only low and mid-caps are allowed.

To counter this, you either have to be extremely quick at reloading which is absolutely doable, but a sidearm is already loaded and in reach of a hand, so why not have one?

2. MED requirements

Most airsoft fields regulate the distance at which you are allowed to hit someone and sometimes your primary airsoft gun won’t comply with the rules and you will have to switch to a lesser-velocity sidearm to take someone out that is close to you.

The MED varies from field to field, but let’s say that someone approaches you at 20 feet and the MED states that your 400 FPS primary gun can not be shoot at players under 50 feet, you will need a 320 FPS sidearm to deal with the problem.

This is just an example, but you get the point.

3. Primary gun is too slow

Snipers and DMRs are slower than rifles, SMGs, pistols, heavy machine guns, and shotguns when you need to apply pressure.

In this case, you switch to your sidearm until the danger is over and later return to the primary gun.

For example, if you are scoping some guys from a safe cover on a roof, they can’t reach you because you are well protected and your sniper outreaches their AEGs.

You are keeping them trapped and they can’t advance to the objective because you will scope them down once they leave the cover.

Everything goes well until you hear the footsteps on the first floor, breaking branches and cracking dry mud on the stairs.

These are the reinforcement enemy players who have been called on a mission to take the dangerous sniper from the roof, so the rest of the team you have trapped can advance to the objective.

Your bolt action sniper rifle can not deal with the enemy reinforcement and you need to quickly switch to a short barrel shotgun that shoots 3 BBs at a time and will take nearby enemies down at once or a quick handgun that will pressure them down and make them a step backward.

In this case, I would also drop in a bomb or something, but yeah, a quick-firing sidearm is a must.

4. It fits the role you play

After all, airsoft is best experienced through role-playing, so if you choose a role that naturally fits a specific sidearm you will have to go for it.

For example, the grenadier may carry a rifle and have a grenade launcher on the back to switch to or simply you are a sneaky sniper and it does not make sense to carry two big guns on your back, so a small pistol suits your role the best for the realism purposes.

If you play MILSIM or LARP games there may be specific load-outs you will want to acquire and a specific sidearm will take place!

If you are taking the role of a SWAT officer and it is a known fact that a Glock 17 or a Sig Saurer 226 is a must, you will have to own one!

Best sidearms you can choose for airsoft


Anything except spring pistols will make it, but I adore non-blowbacks for their efficiency and simplicity over anything else.

Of course, if you like the blowback on guns, gas blowback pistols are awesome for added realism they come with, but what I have figured out is that AEG non-blowback pistols work the best from a gameplay perspective.

They may not compare in terms of range and power with most gas pistols but in terms of rate of fire, they simply win.

I recommend a quick AEG pistol that can burst BBs in no time at the target direction if you do not mind a lower effective distance which anyways is not a problem in almost any CQB situation.


  • Medium to high rate of fire
  • Extremely light to carry
  • Short and well fitting


  • Need to be reloaded sooner than other guns
  • Somewhat lesser range


Spring shotguns are awesome and effective for any beginner out there and they are also extremely affordable.

There are not many airsoft gun types that work well with a spring mechanism, but shotguns excel at it, especially those 3 shot shotguns that blast 3 BBs at a time.

They are awesome for the CQB environment because it is easy to clean the rooms with their burst potential.

If you have higher budget gas shotguns are also a great pick and maybe a better pick for outdoor games too due to the slightly better range on some models!


  • Can shoot multiple BBs in a burst for great pressure
  • Satisfying to use


  • Low to medium rate of fire
  • Need to be manually pumped and reloaded often
  • Heavier and bigger than pistols


SMGs are a bit heavier pick, but shotguns are also considered heavier airsoft guns than pistols, so SMGs can fit if you do not mind this issue.

After all, weight is the reason why you do not see people carrying big secondary guns and for the same reason, pistols are most common.

However, SMGs like MP9 or JG Scorpion offer great rates of fire and they are so satisfying to use. 

To make it comfortable and to reduce the impact of weight, find a good holster that will fit it well!


  • Excellent rate of fire
  • Medium to high capacity mags


  • Heavier and bigger than pistols and sometimes heavier than shotguns

Conclusion – What to look for in sidearms?

The weight

Weight is probably the biggest concern I would have when choosing a perfect sidearm because you have to carry it all day long and running with heavy gear is never a good thing unless you want to torture yourself or compete in a strongman championship at the end of the year.

Pistols are always the lightest pick you can go with, but some shotguns and SMGs can also pass.

The size

Besides the weight, there is the length that may cause you issues when you got to crouch, sneak, move from cover to cover, and enter buildings.

There are not many as annoying experiences as those when your gun collides with the window or a branch while you are trying to advance in position.

Also if your secondary gun does not fit well in a holster you may break it, so find a good holster that will fit the size.

Rate of fire

If your primary airsoft gun is slow it makes lots of sense to use a high-rate-of-fire secondary gun.

You can use slow secondary guns such as revolvers if you want to, but the rate of fire is a nice thing to have in some high-pressure situations, so suit your game style the way you like.

You can try with a full automatic if the field allows it, which leads us to the next important factor.

Field rules

Fields may forbid full auto airsoft guns or the role you play may not allow one.

There are also other possible field rules that may ban certain gun types and so on, but this is impossible to answer here because you got to check the rules of the field you want to play on your own.

Have fun and enjoy your next airsoft game!


Dino is a thrill seeker who loves to share what he learns about his favorite hobbies.

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