I bet anything, that if you were to randomly gather an average-sized group of people and bring up the topic of Airsoft, you will certainly be met with a variety of responses regarding the sport. A fairly large percentage of this group would respond with questions or comments related to Airsoft replica weapons. This is very reasonable as the weapon itself is a necessity for playing the game. However, there are other necessary items. While other items such as protective gear may be an optional item for some (despite being something you should use), Airsoft ammunition is just as needed as is the weapon that shoots it. This may lead you to question, “What Airsoft BB’s should I use”?
The short and sweet answer to this question is “use high-quality BB’s”, but the “best” answer is a little more involved. What Airsoft BB’s you should use can depend largely upon other factors such as the weapon you are playing with, the environment, etc.
Ok, so this may not be the direct answer you are looking for, but that is in part due to many things that should also be considered as it relates to choosing the right Airsoft BB’s. There are many types of Airsoft weapons and many different Airsoft BB’s to choose from. Gaining a little knowledge about what Airsoft BB’s are available and how they work with your particular Airsoft replica, can help improve your game and even avoid some issues that can render your weapon useless. Let’s review some of the different BB’s that are out on the market for use in Airsoft replicas.
The most commons size of Airsoft BB is 6mm, although you can find some in 8mm. Just as Airsoft gun models come in different types (spring, AEG, Gas), Airsoft BB’s can be classified into different types as well. Unless you are playing somewhere that has specific guidelines for the Airsoft BB’s used, most BB types mentioned below will work. This can leave some of the BB types as more of a matter of personal preference. Let’s look at each type.
Standard BB’s are the most common and typically the cheapest type of Airsoft BB on the market. These basic plastic-resin BB’s can lack some features associated with other types of Airsoft ammunition. Be aware that Standard BB’s sometimes are labeled as Premium, Precision, or Hi-Grade. However, these labels are simply clever marketing used to bolster confidence in the buyer of a product being touted as a more superior option from a lower price point. It’s just hype. Standard BB’s are considered harmful to the environment as they are consist of a hard outer plastic layer with an inner petroleum-based center. Standard BB’s are well suited for indoor Airsoft game use as they would likely take many years to compost on their own outdoors and would be harmful to the environment.
This type of BB provides a greener option for those who are concerned with reducing our impact on the environment. Biodegradable BB’s are made from a type of resin that allows the BB to compost over time. It is considered a safer option in regards to environmental pollution and minimal harm to aminals. As these BB’s are better for the environment, many outdoor fields mandate the use of biodegradable BB’s for gameplay. Be aware that biodegradable BB’s can cost more. As with anything, if you opt for a lower quality, cheaper biodegradable BB, you should be aware that they may compost at a slower rate. Just as important, the lower quality BB’s may be brittle. Brittle BB’s can cause issue inside your gun, and lead to costly repairs or replacements of your Airsoft weapon.
As the name suggests, this type of BB is designed with a unique feature which will mark the target upon contact. A colored powder coating is applied to the BB. When the BB strikes an object, the powder marks the surface where the BB came in contact with the target. Marking BB’s have been known to be used for checking the accuracy of an Airsoft weapon. They can also be used to mark players hit by BB’s who otherwise may not be calling their hits. One drawback to using Marking BB’s is that over time there is a buildup of the powder residue inside the Airsoft weapon. This build-up, if left in the weapon, will cause jamming which can lead to malfunction of the Airsoft weapon and damage to the internal parts of the gun.
These type of BB’s are designed with features that allow you to see where the BB has traveled or to provide stealth so that your position is not known. They are typically more expensive than the Standard BB. Tracer BB’s are mostly used during Night-time gameplay. A small “charger unit” is affixed to the end of the gun and charges a glow in the dark BB as it is exiting the barrel. This unit will usually resemble a flash suppressor or silencer. A pretty cool feature during night skirmishing, however, it also can give away your position.
Non-traceable BB’s are quite the opposite. These are made in darker colors so that they cannot be seen. This would be used typically by snipers so as to not give away their position. This also means that if they can’t see where the BB has come from, you won’t be able to check shot placement visually.
Airsoft ammunition is classified by weight. This weight is measured in grams (g). There is a small range of weights that are manufactured with a few being Standard weights for Airsoft BB’s. Weight has a direct effect on how much energy an Airsoft weapon must generate in order to expel the BB. The heavier the BB, the more power is needed to propel it through the air. Using the correct BB will also improve accuracy and reduce potential damages to your Airsoft weapon. Some common weights are as follows:
These are the lightest weight BB’s available. They are typically only good for close range and are hollow. Due to their lighter weight, they suffer from being highly inaccurate over a longer distance. In terms of quality, they sometimes are on the very low end of the quality spectrum. .12g BB’s are usually used in spring type Airsoft weapons that shoot at 200-250 FPS. Using .12g BB’s in a weapon with a higher FPS can damage your weapon. The poorly made BB’s can sometimes be packaged with the cheaper “toy” Airsoft guns sold at big box stores.
.20 – .28 gram
BB’s in this range tend to work well for most players. They lend themselves to being light enough for lower FPS weapons at closer ranges, but heavier enough that they won’t shatter in some higher FPS weapons. Unfortunately, they are not heavy enough to be used for long-distance targeting. The .20 gram BB is a pretty commonly used BB amongst Airsofter players. They are pretty consistent in quality and is a good BB for beginners to start with.
.30 – .40 gram
These are heavier BB’s that lend themselves well for use in higher FPS Airsoft weapons. The heavier BB will provide for better accuracy and range. These work well for sniper rifles and outdoor play when distance is considered a factor.
FPS & BB Weight
When evaluating what Airsoft BB you should buy, take a good look at the Airsoft weapon you are using. Matching the BB to the weapon based upon its FPS (feet per second) will greatly improve how your weapon performs. BB’s come in different weights. The heavier the BB, the more power needed to expel the BB from the barrel of your Airsoft gun. Vice-versa, a lighter BB will require less power.
Use High-Quality BB’s
To get the best performance from your Airsoft weapon, always use high-quality BB’s. High-quality BB’s will give you the most range and accuracy from your weapon. The cheaper BB options are likely to have defects such as seeming, dimpling, and other inconsistencies that can jam your weapon or magazine. Cheap or poorly made BB’s at best will achieve less range and are not as accurate. At worst, they can severely damage your Airsoft weapons internal parts. Aside from inspecting the BB’s for any defects, a good rule of thumb is to purchase the BB’s from a reputable source and not a big-box store whose focus is not solely Airsoft.
Do Not Reuse BB’s
Reusing BB’s in Airsoft replicas can cause irreparable damage. 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 replica weapon. Considering that the Airsoft weapon is one of the biggest purchases made in the hobby, it would be unthinkable and unreasonable to intentional do anything that would damage your weapon. Check out another post I wrote on resusing Airsoft BBs, here.
What Airsoft BB’s should I use? Simply put, you should buy the best high-quality BB’s you can afford. Keep in mind that you may spend a little more now, but it will pay off in the long run as you will enjoy more accuracy, range and lessen the possibility of damages to your weapon. Also, take into account the weight of the BB that works well with your weapon. Consider the BB that works well for your role. Are you a Sniper or do you engage in close-quarter combat? Consider accuracy and FPS as it relates to your weapon and BB choice. Above all, don’t go cheap and don’t re-use BB’s. Use high-quality BB’s and you will get the most out of your Airsoft weapon.
See you out on the battlefield!