BB’s and pellets are two completely different forms of ammunition, and in this guide we’ll explore the key differences and similarities between them.

Below you’ll find a table outlining some of the key similarities and differences between BBs and pellets.

BB vs Pellet Comparison

AmmunitionSimilaritiesDifferences
BBAmmunition for air soft guns (and air guns)
Used for general shooting
Spherical
Less accurate
Lower velocities
Not appropriate for hunting
Inexpensive
Made of steel
PelletAmmunition for air guns (and air soft guns)
Used for general shooting
Non spherical
More accurate
Come in different calibers
Travel at faster speeds
Great for hunting
Cost more
Made of lead

BB’s

Copper and Zinc Coated Steel BBs

The ammunition term for BB guns known as “BB” originated from the size of steel ball pellets used in a shotgun shell of the same size. A BB shot was generally around 4.57mm in diameter.

Around and about 1900 Daisy, one of the pioneer BB gun manufacturers introduced the “round shot” which was 4.45mm in diameter. However since the round shot was so similar in size and the fact that the “BB” name was already established, the term managed to stick through the years.

BB’s are spherical projectiles used as ammunition primarily for air soft guns but some airguns also have the capability of firing BB’s alongside pellets. BB’s are commonly made of plastic but you can also get steel BB’s coated with copper and zinc.

Since BB’s are made from steel and are round shaped they aren’t very aerodynamic. As a result of its mediocre trajectory, BB’s are also not very accurate and not ideal for hunting or pest control.

Your best bet for using BB’s is for general shooting and plinking. Also, if you have the right safety gear you can always enjoy a fun game of air soft (use plastic BBs)!

One of the dangers of BBs is that they are more likely to ricochet, especially the ones made of steel.  To reduce the risk of a ricocheting BB causing an injury, it’s important to shoot in a safe location and make use of protective glasses.

Pellets

Flat, round nose, hollow point and pointed air gun pellets.

Pellets are non-spherical projectiles fired through an air gun. A pellet is most commonly designed in the Diablo shape, Thus it tends to have a hollow or round pointed tip,

followed by a taper to a thin waist.  The head part in front of the waist is sized to fit the bore before rifling. This allows the pellet to stay in the center of the bore and reduces friction when firing.

The skirt of the pellet is usually made of lead but there are also tin and plastic alternatives available. Since lead is a soft and malleable material it significantly reduces the chance of ricochet.

Pellets come in many different types of shapes. Some common types you’re likely to come across when shopping are superdome, wadcutters, and superpoint.

Since the pellets shape is very aerodynamic the quality of the pellet you use will have a significant effect on accuracy. Your best bet to find the most accurate pellet for your gun is to experiment with a variety of different kinds. However, its important you do not use off brand pellets as you’ll risk doing damage to your air gun.

Pellets are available in different calibers. The pellet caliber of your air gun will be determined by its internal barrel diameter. The most common pellet calibers are the .177 and .20 caliber.

Pellets are designed to travel at speeds slower than the speed of sound. High velocities can cause light pellets to bend, twist or even break apart in its trajectory. The closer a pellet comes to the speed of sound (340.29 m/s) the more accuracy suffers. A simple solution to this problem is to use heavier pellets.

Pellets are also generally more lethal due to their weight which increases kinetic energy, and reduces air resistance. Pellets however are not bullets and air guns do not carry as much lethal force as firearms. Pellets are capable of traveling at speeds as low as 50 atmospheres whereas bullets operate at thousands of atmospheres – you can see the power difference here.

In conclusion, BB’s and Pellets are two different forms of ammunition and while some guns  are capable of shooting both, the decision to chose which one is right for you will depend on what you’ll be using your gun for. If all you plan to do is general shooting and plinking, then a BB gun may be the right choice. However, if you wish for your gun to also have hunting capabilities then a pellet gun would be appropriate.

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