Airsoft is a pretty "point and shoot" type of sport. All you need to start playing is eye protection, an airsoft gun, and a magazine full of airsoft BBs for ammunition. First, off let's talk about what airsoft BBs are. Airsoft BBs are used as ammunition in airsoft guns which are similar to paintball guns. Instead of paint, they shoot little plastic pellets or "BBs". These plastic pellets are used for target practice or to safely tag other airsoft players in force-on-force team matches and games. Safety is a top priority while playing airsoft and each airsoft player must wear eye protection!
Have you ever wondered about the types of airsoft BBs, how they are made, and which ones to use? Did you know that airsoft BBs come in all different weights, qualities, and colors? If you did, great! If you didn't, then you have come to the right place! Picking the right type of airsoft BB can help you play better on the airsoft field!
Airsoft BB Size and BB Manufacturing Process
All standard airsoft BBs are 6mm in size. This is because most airsoft guns like pistols, rifles, sniper rifles, and squad support airsoft guns have magazines which accept 6mm airsoft BBs and also have 6mm airsoft gun barrels. If you are unsure what size BB your airsoft gun shoots, look for 6mm airsoft BBs. Your airsoft gun is most likely a 6mm airsoft gun. If you have questions about what airsoft BB size your airsoft gun accepts, check in your airsoft gun owner's manual, look for markings on the airsoft gun magazine, or check online by looking up the model number and manufacturer of the airsoft gun.
However, some airsoft BBs also come in a larger 8mm airsoft BB size. These larger airsoft BBs are predominately used in specialty airsoft pistols like revolvers and other close range weapons. The larger 8mm size of the airsoft BB creates more air resistance around the BB as it travels through the air. This makes these larger BB sizes harder to use in longer range airsoft guns. You usually know if your airsoft gun shoots 8mm airsoft BBs.
The airsoft BB millimeter (mm) size is the approximate measurement of the diameter of the airsoft BB pellet. These sizes allow them to be shot out of most spring airsoft guns, automatic-electric-gun (AEG) airsoft guns, or gas powered airsoft guns.
Airsoft BBs are made using a plastic molding process. In short, the airsoft BB manufacturing process is made up of material selection, sorting, melting, material injection, polishing, and packaging. We'll talk more about the airsoft BB manufacturing process later. If you want to learn more, check out this video by Novritsch to see how airsoft BBs are made as Christoph Neuwirth, Novritsch CEO, tours the airsoft BB factory. Novritsch is a airsoft BB manufacturer which specializes in making high quality airsoft sniper BBs.
The High Speed Manufacturing Difference
Look for high-quality airsoft BBs which are specially made with a seamless plastic molding process. This type of airsoft ammo is usually manufactured with injection molding, has a spherical bearing BB design, and is molded so the airsoft BBs are completely seamless. Then, the airsoft BBs are double polished to ensure that every 6mm BB is 5.95mm +/- 0.1mm in diameter and perfectly round.
Airsoft BB Size and Airsoft Gun Barrel Accuracy
The airsoft BB size allows it to fit perfectly into airsoft gun barrels. This is important for the accuracy of the airsoft gun and the flight stability of the airsoft BB. The inner airsoft gun barrel diameter is just slightly bigger than the BB size. That way when the BB is fired, less air can escape around the BB and more air pushes the BB out of the barrel. The feet-per-second (FPS) performance rate of the airsoft BB is increased as a result.
FPS is the term which tells you how fast airsoft guns shoot a BB. It's similar to rate of fire (ROF) which includes rounds per minute (RPM) and rounds per second (RPS). These two terms define how many BBs an airsoft gun can shoot in a minute or second. Some airsoft guns shoot very high RPMs which can increase into the thousands of BBs shot per minute. For example, some squad support machine airsoft guns can shoot up to 38 airsoft BBs a second or 2,280 airsoft BBs per minute! Most airsoft fields have FPS limits, so be sure to check with field staff when playing airsoft.
Airsoft guns can also be upgraded with tighter barrels or "tight bore barrels" to increase the FPS of airsoft BBs. For example, many AEGs which shoot 6mm BBs usually come with a 6.08mm barrel. The barrel can be upgraded to a 6.01mm or 6.03mm tight bore barrel for better tolerances and performance which allow less air to escape around the airsoft BB when it is fired there by increasing the BB's FPS.
The High Speed Measurement Difference
Since high-quality 6mm airsoft BBs are 5.95mm +/- 0.1mm and perfectly round, an upgraded barrel means the BB has just the right fit inside the barrel with only about 0.07mm room to spare. This helps your airsoft BBs go farther faster!
Airsoft BB Weight
Airsoft BBs come in a few standard weights. The most common weights are 0.12 gram and 0.20 gram BBs. Other common weights are 0.25 gram, 0.28 gram, 0.30 gram, and up to 0.40 gram BBs. The weight of the airsoft BB affects how much force is needed to propel the BB out of the airsoft gun and direct its flight path after the BB is fired.
Lighter airsoft BBs, like 0.12 gram BBs, are usually designed for closer range targets. They are typically used in spring powered airsoft guns which fire them at about 250 FPS. These BBs are hollow internally and are the most accurate at close ranges. They are not recommended for use in airsoft guns with higher FPS because they can shatter causing damage to the airsoft gun and are almost completely ineffective and inaccurate at longer ranges.
Mid-range airsoft BB weights, like 0.20 gram to 0.28 gram BBs, are the "middle of the road" for airsoft BBs. These BBs have the widest use range because they are light enough to be used in airsoft guns with lower FPS at close range and strong enough to be used in airsoft guns with higher FPS at longer ranges. However, their flight paths are not as stable as heavier BBs for extreme long range usage.
Heavier airsoft BBs, like 0.30 gram to 0.40 gram BBs, are designed for the highest flight stability and longest range. They are most often used in high powered AEGS and airsoft sniper rifles. More force is needed to fire these heavier BBs, and they are more stable and accurate during flight because of it.
The High Speed Weight Difference
You can find airsoft BBs on online in many common sizes and weights including both 6mm and 8mm diameters and 0.20 gram, 0.25 gram, 0.28 gram, and 0.32 gram weights. These BB weights can be used in most airsoft guns and are accurate from short to long ranges with great stability. This allows players to choose the best BB weight for them in any airsoft game.
Play Airsoft with High Quality Airsoft BBs
We know how important it is to have the right airsoft BB weights while playing airsoft! Check out our airsoft BB reviews and order the correct airsoft BB weights for your airsoft gun!
Airsoft BB Material and Manufacturing Quality
Airsoft BBs are only as good as the material they are made out of. There are lots of details to think about when it comes to BB quality, but there are a few very important things to know. We'll cover the basics here! There are two very common types of BB materials available to airsoft players, non-biodegradable airsoft BBs and biodegradable airsoft BBs.
Non-biodegradable Airsoft BBs
Non-biodegradable airsoft BBs are usually made from a plastic called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). ABS plastic is chemically constructed from a compound with a molecular formula of (C8H8•C4H6•C3H3N)n.
ABS airsoft BBs are the cheapest, do not significantly degrade over time, are not really environmentally friendly, and are not water soluble. Because of this, many outdoor airsoft fields do not allow players to use these non-biodegradable airsoft BBs since they will literally be in the ground where they fall for a long time. However, ABS BBs are suitable for indoor use where they can be easily collected or cleaned up or on private property with the owner's consent.
Biodegradable Airsoft BBs
Biodegradable airsoft BBs (a.k.a "bios") are usually made from a plastic called polylactic acid or polylactide (PLA). PLA plastic is constructed from natural resources and renewable materials including corn products and certain starches with a molecular formula of (C3H4O2)n.
PLA airsoft BBs cost more than ABS BBs but are environmentally friendly, are more water soluble than ABS BBs, and break down into water and carbon dioxide in about 47 to 90 days in industrial recycling facilities or a bit longer under the right environmental conditions outdoors. Most outdoor airsoft fields require players to use these types of biodegradable airsoft BBs.
Airsoft BBs Manufacturing Quality
High quality airsoft BBs have several design characteristics which are important to the airsoft BB's performance. These characteristics include:
- Airsoft BBs must have a spherical round bearing design
- The surface of the airsoft BB must be polished to remove molding edges and imperfections
- The diameter of the airsoft BB must be 5.95mm +/- 0.1mm to ensure the BB fits exactly into standard airsoft gun barrels
- Quality control during the airsoft BB manufacturing process must be high to prevent internal air pockets and make sure no internal flaws exist
- Airsoft BB materials need to be high quality (preferable non recycled) which allows for BB material consistency
- The plastic material of the airsoft BB (whether ABS or PLA is used) needs to be engineered to prevent chipping, fragmenting, or splitting when BBs hit hard surfaces like concrete, wood, or a player's airsoft goggles or mask for safety
The High Speed Material Difference
Use biodegradable airsoft BBs which are made of PLA plastic material. This helps keep the playing fields and earth cleaner! When shopping for airsoft BBs, look for airsoft BBs are only made from PLA plastic or marked as "bios". These types of airsoft BBs are biodegradable and leave a minimum signature behind when played with. You can do your part to keep the earth as clean as possible keep the Earth green and plastic free. Please join our efforts to keep airsoft fields the way we found them by using biodegradable BBs.
Airsoft BB Colors
Airsoft BBs come in all kinds of colors. The color of the BB increases or decreases its visibility while in the air. This can increase a player's tactical advantage significantly since other players cannot see where the BBs are being fired from, but there are some downsides.
White and lighter colored airsoft BBs are the most popular. These BBs are fairly easy to see after being fired and while they are mid-flight in the air. A few positive things about using these lighter BBs are that the shooters can easily place shots by visually tracking the fired airsoft BBs and airsoft field referees can call "dead" airsoft players out more easily after seeing them hit with the BBs. A downside is that targets can usually tell which direction the BBs are coming from and know the general area where the other airsoft player is hiding.
Darker and black colored airsoft BBs are harder to see because their color blends into the surroundings more. An advantage of these BBs is that they are less easily seen by targets while in the air mid-flight. A few downsides of these darker colored airsoft BBs are that the airsoft gun shooter may not be able to check his shot placement by sight and airsoft field referees cannot see the BBs hit players.
The High Speed Color Difference
If you are just starting out playing airsoft look for white airsoft BBs. These are the easiest to find and play with. Lighter colored BBs have become the airsoft industry standard and are available at many airsoft retail stores and also online.
The Airsoft BB Wrap-up
How's that for a quick airsoft BB run down? Know you know about how airsoft BBs are made and how to tell if an airsoft BB is high-quality and seamless or not. You know the differences in airsoft BB size and weights and know which to choose that will work best with your airsoft gun. Speaking of airsoft guns, we also covered rates of fire including RPM and RPS. When optimizing your airsoft gun, it is good to know how fast it shoots and how many airsoft BBs it fires over 1 second and 1 minute. You know the differences between non-biodegradable airsoft BBs and biodegradable airsoft BBs and the plastics these BBs are made from. All that is left to do now is to find your perfect airsoft BB and start playing airsoft!
Airsoft BB FAQs
Airsoft BBs are the little plastic balls or pellets fired out of airsoft guns. They are the airsoft gun's ammunition. They come in 6mm or 8mm sizes (with 6mm being the standard and most widely used size), and the BBs weigh between 0.12g to 0.20g to 0.46g with many other weights in-between. Airsoft guns shoot the airsoft BBs and use airsoft gun magazines to store extra BBs before shooting them out of the gun barrel.
Airsoft BBs are made using an plastic injection molding process. They are precision molded into round, spherical BBs and quality controlled to make sure each BB is exactly 5.95mm in diameter. They are also polished to remove any surface imperfections, molding seams, and deformities. Learn more about how airsoft BBs are made on this page or by clicking the airsoft BB manufacturing section.
No, plastic airsoft BBs cannot normally break glass under normal conditions. This includes glass windows found in houses and car windows. However, there may be occasions where airsoft BBs can damage or crack glass if the glass is really cold, if the airsoft BBs are being shot with very high energy (Joules) or FPS, or if the glass being shot is already broken or cracked. Therefore, it is best not to intentionally shoot at glass with airsoft BBs using airsoft guns.
How many airsoft BBs you should buy depends on the types of airsoft guns you use, how fast your airsoft guns shoot BBs, and how much you plan on playing airsoft. Most airsoft BBs come in 5,000 count bottles and bags (quantities vary by airsoft BB manufacturer). If you use a green gas GBB airsoft pistol like an Elite Force HK USP handgun for example, you might only shoot a few hundred airsoft BBs a game. If you use an AEG like an KWA RM4 SR-10 AEG3 M4 Carbine Airsoft Rifle like the ones sold by Evike Airsoft, you could shoot thousands of airsoft BBs a game. If you are unsure, buy 2 to 3 bottles of airsoft BBs so you will have about 5,000 to 10,000 spare airsoft BBs on hand if you need them.
The lightest airsoft BB weight is about 0.12g. These airsoft BBs are usually only used in single shot spring pistols and low FPS airsoft guns. Most sporting goods stores including Cabelas, Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, Dick's Sporting Goods, and some airsoft stores stock the light 0.12g airsoft BBs. They can come in various colors like yellow, camouflage, blue, or white.
The heaviest airsoft BB weight is currently 0.49g. These airsoft BBs are a non-bio airsoft BB made by Novritsch. They are usually only used in airsoft sniper rifles. The next heaviest airsoft BBs are biodegradable and weight 0.46g (also made by Novritsch) and 0.45g (made by BioShot). All of these airsoft BBs come in white colors.
Yes, plastic airsoft BBs can hurt bare skin. They are shot at extremely high speeds out of airsoft guns and hurt when you get hit. How much it hurts depends on the FPS and power of the airsoft gun you are shot with. Getting hit by an airsoft BB shot out of a spring pistol can feel like getting "flicked" or tapped by a finger. More powerful airsoft guns like AEGs and sniper rifles can feel like getting pinched. The best way to avoid getting hurt by airsoft BBs is to wear protective clothing, long sleeves and pants, face and ear protection like airsoft masks, and neck protection. Also, be sure to wear airsoft goggles every time you play to protect your eyes. Goggles are NOT optional.
Not normally. Plastic 6mm airsoft BBs shot at close range or high FPS can hurt a lot, cause red welts, and cause skin to bleed. They usually do not penetrate skin. It is important to use protective clothing, airsoft masks, and goggles when playing airsoft. Also, make sure the airsoft guns you are using only shoot plastic 6mm or 8mm standard BBs. Do NOT play airsoft with metal BB guns or other non-plastic BBs (like ceramic or metal) which could potentially penetrate the skin.
Certain types of airsoft BBs are biodegradable. These include environmentally friendly airsoft BBs which use plastic types like PLA plastics which also called polylactic acid or polylactide plastic. Airsoft BBs made out of these plastics are biodegradable because they can breakdown into water and carbon dioxide in about 47 to 90 days in recycling plants. Outside in airsoft fields, this decomposition process can take longer and also depends on environment, weather, and temperature.
Different airsoft BBs are better to play with depending on your airsoft gun and how fast it shoots or the "FPS" of the gun. Fast shooting guns can use heavier airsoft guns. Sniper airsoft guns can also use the heaviest sniper BBs since they can shoot really far. So, there's not really a "best airsoft BB". Instead look for a company which makes high quality airsoft BBs and choose a weight which is best for your airsoft gun. Check out or airsoft gun FPS to airsoft BB weight charts to see which BB is best for your gun. Then check out or best airsoft BB reviews to see which manufacturers we recommend.
You get what you pay for when it comes to buying airsoft BBs. Expect to pay around $20 USD for a 5,000 count bottle of airsoft BBs (about $0.004 a BB). Also, look for a good airsoft BB company which makes high quality BBs. Check out our airsoft BB reviews to see which airsoft BB supplier companies we recommend. Cheap BBs are usually not good and do not shoot well or can damage your airsoft gun. Buying airsoft BBs from places like Walmart is not recommended. Buy them online or at your local airsoft store or airsoft field.
Many places online sell airsoft BBs. We recommend checking out our best airsoft BB reviews and where to buy those BBs. Amazon is one of the best places to buy airsoft BBs because many airsoft companies and manufacturers sell their BBs through Amazon. You can usually find the airsoft BBs you need and get fast and free shipping. See the best airsoft BB reviews.
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