Airsoft Guns vs BB Guns: What is The Difference Between Them?

It is quite a common misconception among people that Airsoft Guns and BB Guns are the same and can be interchanged. But the reality is far from that.

In this article, this contemporary age myth will be debunked. You will see how different these two types of ammunition are from each other – Airsoft Gun vs. BB Gun.

At the end of this article, many preconceived notions you have will be expelled, and you will be able to differentiate between them on your own.

History of Airsoft Guns

History of airsoft Guns

To properly grasp the origin of Airsoft Guns, we will have to look at the gun laws existing in Japan, where Airsoft Guns were first created.

Ever since 1958, Japan has imposed strict gun ownership laws. If you want to acquire a gun in Japan, you have to go through a multitude of tests. Moreover, you have to pass with an exemplary record in those tests before becoming eligible to own a firearm. 

These tests require one to have a lot of patience and determination. Such strict gun laws have brought down crime rates in Japan to almost zero. It is quite an outstanding model and something that is admired all around the world.

But, on the flipside, such strict gun laws became a major problem for shooting enthusiasts. They were unable to partake in any shooting-related activity that they found great delight in.

So, to fight this depravity, Airsoft guns were invented in the year 1970. Airsoft guns almost look like real guns, but in reality, they are like toys. Unlike real ammunition, Airsoft guns shoot miniature and small plastic balls.

Initially, these guns were used in only gun shooting arenas. But later on, it was discovered that their bullets were harmless, and the injuries or wounds they caused were rather insignificant. So, people in Japan came up with the idea of Airsoft Games.

In the late 1980s, Airsoft guns became very popular in the United Kingdom as well. They were used for recreational purposes. There was a spike in their popularity because of the resemblance of Airsoft Guns to real firearms.

At present, these guns are popular all over the world. They are used by the military and police of many different nations in various tactical and war-type simulations.

History of BB Guns

History of BB Guns

BB Guns have been around way longer than Airsoft Guns. Thus, they have gone through more stages of evolution as time has gone on.

Around the year 1886, BB guns were introduced to the world. The person given credit for this inception was George W. Sage. The first gun was made out of a small amount of metal and maple wood and had a spring piston in the interior. The invention of this gun led to a massive upheaval in the firearm industry.

Initially, shotgun pellets were used in BB Guns. It was widely speculated that George W. Sage had chosen a mainstream projectile to insert inside the firearm. The very first pellets used had these dimensions:  Diameter of 4.66 mm or .18 inches.

A couple of years onwards, in 1888, the Plymouth Air Rifle Company showed the world the very first air gun made up entirely of metal parts. The firearm was known as the Daisy BB Gun. Due to very effective marketing and promotional activities, this gun became very popular among the masses.

Fast forward to the year 1900, the company, which now went by the name of Daisy Manufacturing Company, reduced the diameter of their pellets to 4.4 mm or .175 inches. This reduction in size was executed to increase the precision of the firearm.

The pellets were renamed and called “ Round Shots”. But due to the popularity of the “BB Gun” brand, most users were inclined to call it a BB gun while also referring to the pellets as BB shots.

Why Do People Think BB Guns and Airsoft Guns are the Same?

Why Do People Think BB Guns and Airsoft Guns are the Same

As mentioned before, it is quite a common misconception of people to think that BB Guns and Airsoft Guns are the same and interchangeable. The misconception is out there primarily due to the fact that both these firearms are made from the same materials.

There is a noticeable difference in the origin year of BB Guns and Airsoft Guns. BB Guns were there long before the first Airsoft Gun came along. But this long tenure has only seemed to make people think that these guns are interchangeable. 

BB Guns and Airsoft Guns are made from basically the same materials. Or, it can be said that Airsoft Guns were made from mechanical concepts similar to that of BB Guns. This similarity in design/making added with the popularity and established name of BB Guns in the market has led to people thinking they are the same. While in reality, the truth is far from it.

Qualities of a Good Airsoft Gun

Qualities of a Good Airsoft Gun

Qualities of Airsoft guns depend on the type you are using. There are multiple types of Airsoft Guns out there, so each of them has different attributes.

But, all in all, some qualities are common in all types of Airsoft Guns. So keep these points in mind when making your purchase. Otherwise, you might end up with regrets later on.

Here are some of them:

  1. One of the most important features any firearm should have is a modifiable or adjustable hop-up. It is greatly advised to not buy any Airsoft Gun if there is no adjustable hop-up. Keep in mind that fixed hop-ups do not make the firearm any better or more lethal.
  2. Another key factor to keep in mind is the comfortability of the firearm in your hand. Do not buy something just for the sake of buying. Make sure you are comfortable enough in using it. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money.
  3. Pick a gun that boasts a speed that is in compliance with your local laws. Gun regulations vary from place to place. Buying something that is not compliant with the laws and regulations is an act of ignorance and will cost you later on.
  4. When you buy something for the first time, you might stop looking at the big picture. The big picture is the aftermarket support you need to use and prolong the life of your firearm. Keep notice of price fluctuations of different parts, for example, the magazine. This will help you save quite a bit of money in the long run.
  5. Electric pistols are available in the market as well. But these aren’t that efficient in a competitive environment. So if you are looking to compete, best not buy electric pistols.

Airsoft Guns vs. BB Guns – Key Differences

Airsoft Guns vs. BB Guns

Although they were created with the same objectives in mind, here are few key differences between Airsoft Guns and BB Guns:

Type of Ammunition

The ammunitions of both these types of firearms are relatively the same. The pellet of BB guns is made out of steel. On the contrary, the round ball projectiles of Airsoft Guns are very small in size and are made out of plastic. But, since both the pellets look alike, people tend to think these guns are the same.

The diameter of BB pellets is about 4.5 mm, while the pellets of Airsoft Guns are about 6 mm. BB pellets are much heavier and smaller in size than Airsoft pellets. BB Gun pellets have higher velocity and travel much faster than Airsoft Pallets.

Considering the higher weight and smaller size of the BB pellets, it is very easy to understand that BB pellets have the potential to cause severe injuries. Sometimes the damages caused might even be fatal. However, the injuries caused by Airsoft Guns are rather inconsequential compared to BB guns.


The appearance of Airsoft Guns really catches the eye. In fact, it is arguably the first thing that people notice about this firearm. These guns have been made to look like real-life firearms. Different countries have different laws to make sure there are markers on Airsoft Guns so that people can tell them apart from actual guns.

BB Guns do not resemble real firearms to the extent that Airsoft Guns do. They are made of steel as they use projectiles made up of lead or steel. This requires them to have rigid and consistent barrels and stocks. There is barely any plastic on BB guns.

Airsoft Guns, on the contrary, shoot plastic pellets. It does not take the same amount of power as BB guns to protect these pellets. Thus, their main body is made up of plastic as well.

In recent times, manufacturers have tried to make BB guns look more like real-life firearms. This has been done with the objective of selling more BB Guns.


Since BB Guns have heavier pellets, it is only natural that they have higher accuracy than Airsoft pellets. This edge is obtained due to some characteristics of the BB Gun, such as lesser drag and higher velocity.

BB Gun pellets can reach greater distances than Airsoft Gun pellets. Airsoft Guns can only compete to achieve such distances if they have any modifications added to them. BB Guns can quite easily manage to hit targets within 100 yards. For Airsoft pellets, this is very difficult.


The most significant difference between these two types of guns is their functionality. Airsoft guns are primarily used in a sport called Airsoft – thus their name. Besides the game, these guns are also used for target practice and team-building exercises. In some countries of the world, Airsoft Guns are used in police and military simulations.

When it comes to BB guns, the pellets are much more dangerous. They are also used for target practice. But regardless, they can have potentially severe and fatal consequences. People using BB guns for recreational purposes have to be really careful about their surroundings. They might end up hurting, or worse, killing someone.

Some people use BB Guns to kill off pests and to hunt. Some BB guns are powerful enough to shoot an animal to death.

Regardless of which ammo you are using, you must be very careful about your environment. One momentary lapse on your behalf might have severe consequences elsewhere.


As mentioned before, Airsoft guns use plastic pallets. This fundamentally makes them very easy to use. Other than that, the speed at which their projectiles are thrust also makes them safer to use. They can only cause potential injuries, depending on the environment you are operating in.

In comparison, BB Guns are much more morbid. Their pallets are made of steel or lead, and they have higher accuracy due to the slow expulsion of the ammo. This contributes to BB guns being potentially dangerous weapons. This is why people do not use BB guns for recreational purposes but for target practice, hunting animals, and pest eradication.

Airsoft guns have a lot more safety in their usage. However, it is still highly advised to wear the proper gear and protection when operating these guns. Otherwise, you might end up hurt while participating in these games.


Airsoft guns were mainly invented for recreational purposes. The main reason for their creation was for shooting enthusiasts to use a firearm that was not deadly for recreational purposes. They were not necessarily built for performance but for having fun.

However, BB guns were not built for appearances but rather for performance. BB replica weapons can fire at 500 FPS. Their particular ammo makes them more penetrating and damaging. Airsoft guns usually shoot up to 300 FPS.

Which Gun Should You Acquire?

There is no proper answer to this question. The quality of performance depends on the quality of the user, the environment in which the gun is being used, and the type of reason the firearm is being used for.

If you are looking for some recreation and fun time, you should purchase an Airsoft Gun. Not only you, you should encourage your friends and family to do so as well. It is excellent for some quality pass time.

But make sure you use it in an environment that is safe for the use of Airsoft Guns. You cannot use it anywhere because you might end up hurting yourself and others.

But if you want to train yourself to be a better shooter, or if you are in the military, you could use BB Guns in simulated environments. The potential for causing damage is much higher when it comes to BB guns. So, always make sure you have the proper gear on. Otherwise, you might end up causing severe damage.

Things to Keep in Mind When Using a BB Gun

Things to Keep in Mind When Using a BB Gun

Airsoft and BB guns might look alike, but the potential of BB guns to entice or initiate violence is exponentially higher than Airsoft guns. They have the potential to kill someone or injure someone severely. There are few things you should keep in mind while buying and owning the gun:

  • Don’t underestimate the power of the BB gun in its ability to cause substantial damage. People might think that just because it’s a replica firearm, it does not have the potential to cause any accidents. But you should treat it as if it were a real firearm.
  • BB Guns should not be used to threaten someone you have a conflict of interest with. For example, your neighbor might not have the same opinion as you do on a particular topic. But that does not mean you can use your firearm as a catalyst to coerce them to do something or change their individual opinions.
  • Guns are something that we do not use every day. Rough use might lead you to not taking proper care of the gun. Store it properly so that it always remains in a condition to be used. It’s not a toy, so you should take care of it properly. That includes both storing and gun maintenance.
  • Make sure the firearm you own is in compliance with your comfortability and legal under state or county laws. Owning illegal firearms might end up leading you to big troubles.
  • And without having good comfort, you cannot test the limits of the firearm.
  • Learn all proper gun safety measures and laws before owning or using a firearm.
  • BB guns can cause havoc. So, use them in spaces that have an environment conducive to their usage. Don’t use them just about anywhere.


For some people shooting is a sport or recreation. For others, it might be a part of their profession – as in for people in the military, police, or any form of law enforcement. Which gun you should purchase is entirely dependent on your preference or area of usage.

But always make sure to buy something that caters to your needs. Firearms can often end up being very expensive. So, meticulous research before making a purchase decision is very vital.

Make sure you can protect yourself and others when using any type of firearm. The thrill of using a firearm is never greater than someone’s life.

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