Airsoft vs BB Gun: Definitive Guide to Their Similarities and Differences

Airsoft guns and BB guns are two types of replica weapons that are often mixed up. The confusion is understandable since they share many similarities. However, there are many regards where airsoft and BB guns are rather different. In this article we’ll try to clear up the confusion and solve the dilemma: airsoft vs BB gun. Let’s dive in.

Airsoft vs BB gun

What Are Airsoft and BB Guns?

Let’s start from the basics: what are airsoft guns and what are BB guns?

Airsoft guns are simply toy guns that closely resemble real-life weapons, at least in looks. They’re mostly used in the game of airsoft, where opposing teams try to eliminate players by shooting them accurately from an airsoft gun. Therefore, airsoft guns are specifically designed to be shot at other people as part of a game (similarly to paintball guns).

BB guns are air guns that, unlike airsoft guns, aren’t designed to be shot at other people. Instead, BB guns are mostly used for target shooting, but can also be used for pest control. Compared to airsoft, BB guns aren’t as safe for recreational use.

As you can see, both airsoft and BB guns are essentially replica guns that use air to shoot out small projectiles. However, they differ in many aspects.

Difference Between Airsoft and BB Guns

Although somewhat similar, airsoft and BB guns differ in a lot of regards, such as:

  • the size and material of the BB (or pellet) they shoot,
  • their safety,
  • realistic appearance,
  • accuracy,
  • power,
  • use case,
  • etc.

Size and Material of the BB

Perhaps the most significant difference between airsoft and BB guns is the ammo they shoot. Airsoft guns use small, light, round, plastic pellets (often referred to as BBs). These are usually 6mm in diameter and weigh much less than a gram.

Some of the best airsoft BBs you can find are the non-biodegradable Elite Force Premium 6mm Airsoft BBs and their biodegradable counterpart BBs. You can check out our review of the best airsoft BBs for all the best options you can choose from.

On the other hand, BBs used by BB guns are made of steel. They’re actually smaller than airsoft pellets, being less than 4.5 mm in diameter. At the same time, they weigh around 0.35 grams, which makes them somewhat heavier compared to airsoft guns.

However, the crucial difference between the pellets used in airsoft and the BBs used by BB guns is the material they’re made from. As already discussed, airsoft pellets are made of plastic, while BBs are made of steel.


The safety of airsoft and BB guns is related to the material of their ammo. Since airsoft guns use plastic pellets, they are much safer compared to BB guns. In fact, as long as airsoft players are wearing the necessary protection, there shouldn’t be any danger of injuries. After all, airsoft guns are specifically designed to be shot at other people, which alone tells you enough about their safety.

When it comes to BB guns, the story is different. They shoot denser steel or lead BBs, which makes them more dangerous. For this reason, you shouldn’t shoot a BB gun at other people in any situation.

Regardless of the gun you use, there are always dangers that you should strive to avoid. Certain body parts (mainly the eyes) are very vulnerable and if they’re hit it could lead to injury, even if it’s only from an airsoft gun. That’s why the recommended protection should always be worn. Check out this definitive guide to staying safe in airsoft.

Even though it’s not as dangerous to be shot from an airsoft gun compared to a BB gun, there are some other dangers related to airsoft guns. Some of them are connected with their realistic look. For example, due to their resemblance to real guns, people could mistake your airsoft gun for a real gun, which could lead to panic or even worse situations. However, if you’re being responsible and not showing your gun in public, this really shouldn’t be an issue.

Realistic Appearance

When it comes to their realistic appearance, airsoft guns are much closer in looks to real guns compared to BB guns, and in fact any other toy or replica gun. This isn’t really a surprise since airsoft guns are designed to resemble real guns as closely as possible. In fact, many manufacturers go into the smallest details when replicating real guns, including copying the triggers, switches, and even logos. That’s why combat enthusiasts usually prefer airsoft guns to any other type of replica guns.

BB guns aren’t as realistically looking, which is completely alright, since a realistic look is not the main goal of BB gun manufacturers.


While both airsoft and BB guns have great accuracy, this is an aspect where BB guns are probably superior. The reason is simple and it has to do with the material of the ammo they’re shooting.

The plastic pellet used by an airsoft gun can much more easily be affected by the wind or other external conditions, especially for further targets. This can be somewhat buffered by using the hop-up system in airsoft, which enables airsoft guns to shoot farther and more accurately.

On the other hand, steel BBs are not as likely to be taken off course by the wind.


Both airsoft and BB guns can shoot at large speeds reaching and even going beyond 500 feet per second. However, due to their weight, material, and density, BB guns can be much more dangerous and could penetrate the skin much more easily compared to airsoft guns.

Use Case

This is a difference that was already mentioned previously. Airsoft guns are mostly used for playing airsoft, a game where players use the toy guns to intentionally shoot opposing players. Due to their realistic appearance and safety, they’re probably the best choice for such games and scenarios.

On the other hand, BB guns shouldn’t be used to shoot at other people. Instead, they’re used for target shooting and pest control. Airsoft guns can also be used for target shooting. When it comes to pest control, airsoft guns should probably be avoided, since they’re likely to just injure the animal and leave it suffering.

Airsoft vs BB Gun: Pros and Cons

Given the differences between airsoft guns and BB guns, both of them will have their pros and cons compared to each other. Some of the pros of airsoft guns in relation to BB guns are:

  • they’re safer to shoot at other people and to be shot by, due to the material of airsoft pellets and their smaller density;
  • they’re much more realistically looking, to the point that they’re difficult to distinguish from real weapons.

On the other hand, one of the pros of BB guns is that they’re more accurate given that their steel BBs are less affected by the wind compared to airsoft’s plastic pellets.

Which Is Better: Airsoft or BB Gun?

There isn’t one right answer to the question of which of airsoft and BB guns are better, with both being better in certain situations. Due to them being safer, airsoft guns are better if you’re interested in playing a combat game that will involve shooting at other people. On the other hand, BB guns are a better choice for target shooting and pest control.


The distinction between airsoft and BB guns often confuses the general public. And rightly so, given that they indeed share similarities. However, they also have a number of differences that make them distinguishable from each other. In this article, we tried to go over those differences in detail, as well as to answer questions such as what are the pros and cons of each other, which one is best suited for you, and other similar queries you may have. Hopefully, now you understand the dilemma of airsoft vs BB gun better.


Which Hurts More: Airsoft or BB Gun?

Given that BBs are denser and made from steel or lead, BB guns will generally hurt more compared to being shot from an airsoft gun, which shoots pellets made of plastic. Airsoft guns are designed for shooting at other people, so getting shot by one shouldn’t hurt terribly or cause damage, especially if the necessary protection is worn. Contrary, BB guns should never be used to shoot at other people.

Are BB Guns and Airsoft Guns the Same?

While they do share certain similarities, such as shooting out small projectiles, airsoft and BB guns are not the same. In fact, they’re different in many aspects, such as their appearance, use case, safety, accuracy, power, as well as the size and material of the ammo they shoot (airsoft guns shoot plastic pellets, while BB guns shoot steel or lead BBs).

Can You Play Airsoft With a BB Gun?

You can’t and you shouldn’t ever play airsoft with a BB gun. Airsoft guns are made to be shot at other people, and as such are safe to use in an airsoft game. Contrary, BB guns shouldn’t be used to shoot at other people in any scenario, since they have much higher energy compared to airsoft guns and since they can penetrate a person’s skin, potentially causing serious injuries.

Airsoft vs BB Gun for Target Shooting?

Both airsoft and BB guns are great for target shooting. However, BB guns may be slightly better, due to the fact that the BBs they shoot are made from steel or lead, and are therefore not as affected by the wind as the plastic pellets used by airsoft guns. Still, you can’t really go wrong with any of those two if you want to practice shooting at targets.

Airsoft or BB Gun for Children?

Airsoft is safer compared to BB guns and is, therefore, more appropriate for children. In fact, many children start playing airsoft at an age as young as 10, or even younger. On the other hand, you should absolutely avoid giving BB guns to children, since they can cause much more damage compared to airsoft guns. Still, with both airsoft and BB guns, wearing the necessary protection is always strongly recommended.