“It’s probably alright to reuse BB’s?”, you may think. Like some pastimes, Airsoft does have some “consumable” items required to engage in the sport. To function as intended, some Airsoft weapons use gas for propulsion. Other guns are battery operated. However, all Airsoft guns need ammo.
Airsoft gun ammunition is not like traditional ammo used in firearms, BB guns or air rifles guns. In Airsoft, ammunition consists of spherical plastic BB’s. Airsoft BB’s come in different weights and diameters. They also come in a variety of colors. Some BB’s can mark a surface and some glow in the dark (tracers) for night time play.
It may come to mind that these little BB’s may be collected for reuse in your Airsoft weapon of choice. Call it saving money, or leaving where you play cleaner than when you came. The real question is, “Can you reuse BB’s in an Airsoft gun?”
As a general rule, you should never reuse BB’s in an Airsoft Gun. Used BB’s have scratches, splits, dents, or dirt on them. Any of these defects can cause jamming or internal damage to your replica which at best, can result in poor performance or at worst, a complete weapon failure.
If you’re reading this article, you may have thought of, or been curious about reusing previously expelled Airsoft BB’s. It hardly seems like an idea that is unreasonable. However, sometimes what seems like a reasonable option may not be upon further inspection. There are some Airsoft users have recommended that BB’s can be reused in Springer Airsoft guns.
Whatever reason you may have for reusing BB’s, there are many things to consider. Before deciding to run around collecting BB’s after a skirmish or after target shooting into a trap, give some careful thought as to why you are considering reuse of the BB’s and at what cost this may have on your weapon. Some things you may not have considered are as follows:
For Starters, Airsoft BB’s Are Cheap
Your Airsoft gun in and of itself can be one of the most expensive items you purchase for the sport. Consider how much you’ve spent on a weapon and upgrades. As such, why would you want to risk fouling up your weapon unnecessarily in order to save a few bucks by reusing your airsoft BB’s? We get it. Between the cost of the gun, the gear and the consumables, it can all add up. The price of Airsoft BB’s can vary depending on factors such as type, size, weight, or features such as whether the BB is environmentally friendly. Currently, a 3,000-5,000 count of premium grade BB’s can be priced at or less than $20 USD with premium grade BB’s being priced higher.
On a budget? Here are a couple recommended budget brand BB’s which perform well:
- ThunderBB’s: Great quality, accurate performing BB’s with a highly attractive price tag for Airsoft players on a tight budget.
- Crosman: Produces a well manufactured, well performing BB’s for budget conscience airsoft players.
Dirt can Hurt
So, you have managed to collect a sizable amount of what appears to be “good” and reusable BB’s from the playing field or a trap you have fashioned to catch them in. While the BB’s may appear to still be perfectly spherical, there may be slight dents or scratches which can go unnoticed to the naked eye. These dents and scratches can pick up dirt and debris. Dirt and debris from reused BB’s can deposit itself in the internals of your gun. This is one the contributing causes of jamming and damage in an airsoft gun. Aside from damaging your guns internals, used BB’s can also cause inaccuracy when expelled. “Why don’t you just wash the dirty ones?”, you may ask. While you may be able to remove dirt and debris, you still are left with BB’s that are not viable and can still cause internal damage to your gun.
BB’s Come in Different Sizes and Weights
The standard Airsoft BB is the 6mm BB. However, Airsoft BB’s also come in 8mm size. Also, consider that Airsoft BB’s come in a variety of weights. “Why does this matter?”, you ask. Well, when you out scavenging for BB’s it would be very difficult to accurately know which BB is 6mm versus 8mm just by sight. Equally difficult would be determining which BB is .12g or .20g in weight just by feel. In both cases, you would need some way to measure diameter and or weight. Regardless if you were able to tell the difference, it would not change the fact that the used BB’s may not be solid as they were pre-shooting. Additionally, BB weight in relation to your guns FPS is all that matters when considering you don’t want to sacrifice accuracy and range.
Standard or Biodegradable
One thing that you may also not have considered is what type of BB’s you are collecting. Just as there exist different sizes and weights, Airsoft BB’s also come in compositions. Airsoft BB’s come in Standard and Biodegradable. Standard Airsoft BB’s are made of ABS plastic. Standard BB’s are not water soluble and do not do not degrade over time. Biodegradable BB’s are made of PLA which will compost in the soil over time. They are also more water soluble. “Why does this matter?”, you may inquire. Some cheaply made Biodegradable BB’s can splinter. You will also run the risk of collecting Biodegradable BB’s which have begun composting. These BB’s can also break apart and cause damage to your Airsoft gun.
What Can Happen if You Reuse BB’s in an Airsoft Gun?
From the moment you pull the trigger on your airsoft gun, there is stress acting upon the expelled BB. Although these plastic BB’s are durable and may appear “okay” for reuse, stress can weaken the BB. Once the BB has struck an object, this force can cause the BB to crack. Cracking can occur on the outside of the BB or from within. Reusing weakened or cracked BB’s can often lead to jamming, Hop-up System damage and even inner barrel damage. Worst case scenario, a BB shatters inside your gun while you are shooting. If unnoticed, you can end up expelling 5-10 rounds causing even more damage. Also, consider the quality before the BB’s is expelled. Cheap or low-quality BB’s can be plagued by dimples, seaming and other imperfections right out the pack. It is said that the best used BB’s are not as good as the unused Low-quality cheapo’s.
Acceptable Reuse of Airsoft BB’s
If you simply must reuse airsoft BB’s, then consider reusing them in mines, hand grenades or booby traps. These are sometimes overlooked. Unlike Airsoft guns, reusing BB’s will have little effect on their performance. The M18A1 anti-personnel mine is a spring loaded mine that launches BB’s outward when triggered (check out this affordable one on Amazon). The very nature of how this device operates lend itself well for the reuse of BB’s. You can fashion a simple booby trap out of basic materials from around the house. A small booby trap can be made out of mousetrap, duct tape, and a trip wire. Take and make a small cup to hold the BB’s. Affix the cup to the portion business end of the trap. Tie a trip wire to the trigger. When the trap is triggered, the BBs will fly outward. This is an improvised Claymore Mine. Keep in mind that your booby traps should be non-lethal in nature.
Not Sure What BB’s to use?
Ok, so now you know you know that you shouldn’t reuse BB’s, but aren’t sure what BB’s to use… Just head over to my other post What Airsoft BB’s Should I Use, located here.
Airsoft BB’s are designed to be durable ammo for airsoft guns. As such it may seem reasonable and acceptable to collect and reuse them. It may seem like a waste to not use what seems to be “still a good BB”. While Airsoft BB’s can be reused in some applications, they should never be reused in Airsoft guns. Reusing BB’s in Airsoft guns can cause irreparable damage to your gun. Airsoft BB’s are subject to stress from the moment they are fired. They can crack or shatter when reused causing damage to your magazine and or gun. Considering that one of the biggest purchases made in the Airsoft hobby is the gun, it would be unthinkable and unreasonable to intentional do anything that could damage your weapon.
See you out on the battlefield!