Pellet guns and BB guns are essentially the same but different for various reasons. One of which is that they shoot out different types of ammo, and with this difference, there are a few mechanical distinctions in each gun.
Many people tend to become confused because, as mentioned, they are essentially the same but are different in a few ways. This confusion comes from the fact that they look and perform similarly to each other. Aside from how they look and function, there is also where it is used. A pellet gun is typically used by the military and police units for training and even crowd control, while a BB gun is used for target shooting and hunting animals. Although BBs are not as accurate as pellets, they are stronger and more powerful than a pellet.
What is a Pellet Gun?
A pellet gun, also known as an “air gun,” is a form of a non-lethal weapon used for hunting small animals or pests, practice for police and military, and crowd control used by the police or military.
Pellets are often composed of lead or a combination of lead and other metals. Because lead is a soft metal, the possibilities of a pellet to ricochet is far lower than with a BB. But, some pellets are made with tins and even plastic, making it lightweight and harmless. Pellets bounce, but the majority of their energy is lost upon contact. Pellets have quite a considerably greater aerodynamic form, making them incredibly accurate.
We listed a few pellet guns that you might like and also have great ratings on amazon.
Highly-Rated Pellet Guns
What is a BB Gun?
BB guns are essentially the same as pellet guns, although BB guns are heavier and have a more realistic feel. They also hit harder and stronger due to the fact that BBs are made with stronger metal such as steel. Because BBs are made with steel, they ricochet more than a pellet gun. They are all little steel balls that aren’t exceptionally aerodynamic and hence not very accurate, making them unsuitable for hunting or pest control wherein you need precision.
Though, using it for hunting will definitely give serious damage to the animal, so be cautious and always wear protective gear as it can also give people major injuries if they are shot with a steel BB.
Below, we have listed a few BB guns that have good ratings from amazon.
Highly-Rated BB Guns
What are their Differences? – Ammo
Pellet guns and BB guns have differences in their ammos. This is what mainly differentiates them. So, what are the differences in their ammo?
The first and most noticeable difference of a pellet and a BB is their shape. Pellet guns have different types of pellets that you can use such as the:
A wadcutter pellet has a broad, spherical head that slashes large holes in paper targets. Wadcutter pellets are useful for plinking, and several competitive shooting competitions require their competitors to use them.
They vary from low-priced target pellets to high-priced tournament-grade wadcutters.
Finally, high-velocity pellets come in a variety of sizes, but they are all designed to go at a faster speed. Plastic sabots are used in some high-velocity ammunition to improve the seal with the barrel. To enhance the seal, some pellets incorporate ridges or other characteristics cast into the pellet itself. High-velocity pellets, on average, penetrate better and fire flatter than different types.
The only disadvantage of increased firing speed is its instability in flight. If you buy low-cost high-velocity pellets, several of your shots may drop and completely miss the target. This dilemma will only worsen in the long run, so get a decent hollow point pellet or nothing at all.
These pellets can penetrate because of their pointed tip, making it a good choice for varmints at medium range. They offer much of the same aerodynamic advantages as domed pellets, although they aren’t as noticeable. They also hold velocity better than wadcutters, allowing them to fire flatter and penetrate deeper at longer ranges.
In low-power airguns, particularly pistols, pointed pellets perform better than domed pellets. They are often less in weight than domed pellets. Pointed pellets are much more likely to make a clean kill at a range because they penetrate better.
BBs have the same small round shape. And that is all there is to a BBs size. Although they do vary in size and weight, we will talk about that later.
Size and Weight
Size and weight vary from each pellet and BB as they are made with different types of materials. While weight is measured in grains. There are 437.5 grains in one ounce. This is an essential point to make since grains do not always consider the cartridge weight but rather the weight of your projectile.
Pellets come in various sizes and weights; they are often measured by caliber, which represents the size and diameter of the pellet and the projectile or slug diameter of the bullet cartridge. The caliber versatility varies based on the sort of air gun pellet we’re talking about here. Some are as little as 0.177 inches (about 4.55 millimeters). Pellets typically come in these sizes:
- 5 millimeters
- 5.5 millimeters
- 6.35 millimeters
- 7.62 millimeters
- 9 millimeters
And because each pellet type is made with different materials, its weight would also vary from what material it was made with.
BBs have only become marginally smaller today, with some BBs now sizing at around 0.173 in. in diameter. Others are considerably tiny, measuring roughly 0.171 in. in diameter. The larger ones have a 0.177 in. diameter, which is quite a large BB.
Unless you have significantly big BBs, BBs are relatively light. Steel BBs are typically heavier than lead pellets, though size can influence this.
Take note that most BBs come in one standard size and shape which is a 4.5 millimeter round steel ball.
Lastly, the cost of a pellet and BB also varies from what type of pellet you will use, its size, weight, etc. Those mentioned above are its determining factor of how much a pack of pellets or BBs would cost. Although, you can expect to pay more for pellets than BBs. It’s partially due to the pellets sizes and weight, as well as its design. While BBs are typically made in one standard size and shape, which makes them cheaper than a pellet.
What are their Differences? – Gun
A pellet gun and BB gun are also different in their construction and how they work. Their accuracy, power, realism, etc., also vary due to the difference in ammo and its whole construction in itself.
How They are Used
Pellet guns are generally used for military simulation games wherein you must eliminate the opposing team. SWAT teams and military units also use it for training purposes.
BB guns are often used for target shooting, and some of the more powerful BB guns can even be used for pest management and small hunting games. Though, you must be cautious when using it in a game. Wear protective gear and goggles because BBs can seriously injure a person, especially if you are not protected and if it was misused.
Type of Magazine
The guns’ magazine is one of its differentiating factors because lead pellets do not stack evenly on top of one another as opposed to steel BBs. As a result, they will have different types of magazines to cater to their needs.
A pellet gun typically has a rotary magazine, whereas a BB gun has a stick or stacked cartridge magazine. If you want to get that realistic feel, then a stick or stacked magazine will give you that authetism you are looking for.
Something to take note of is that BB guns tend to have a higher bullet capacity than a pellet gun since rotary magazines typically offer only 8-rounds and 16 if it’s a double-sided stick design. The downside of a rotary magazine is that you won’t be able to know if you are running out of ammo. In contrast, a BB guns’ magazine would typically work precisely as a real steel gun by locking back the slide on the final shot, preventing any subsequent bullets from being fired.
BB guns can shoot accurately at medium range, although they are not as accurate as a pellet gun, especially if the distance becomes greater than the target. High-quality pellets are designed in such a manner that each pellet in the tin is identical, assuring accuracy from shot to shot. If you’re plinking in the backyard or shooting for fun, any pellet will suffice, but if accuracy is what you are looking for, then pick a high-grade premium pellet for the most remarkable results. And as mentioned before, pellets have a much more aerodynamic shape than BBs, which makes them highly accurate.
Both guns are designed to imitate real and authentic guns. Some of them are even replicas of actual guns, which gives both of them a realistic and authentic feel.
The guns’ realism can come from its accuracy, power, weight, and even the look of the whole gun. In terms of the gun’s accuracy, it goes to the pellet gun because a pellet guns’ ammo is made of lead, a soft metal, and the likelihood of a pellet ricocheting is far smaller than that of a BB. Pellets bounce, but most of their energy is lost when they make contact. Pellets have a far more aerodynamic shape, making them highly accurate than a BB that tends to ricochet and is not very aerodynamic.
Regarding the weight, this would depend on the actual gun as each gun has different weights and sizes because the material used to make a gun can vary from metal to ABS plastic. However, many pellet guns and BB guns are a replica or a copy of an actual gun. An example of this is the Umarex Legends MP40 CO2 BB Submachine Gun, which was modeled by the German MP40 submachine gun used in WW2.
The general look of the gun depends on the manufacturer and if it was based on an actual gun. But, overall, each gun has its realism strength and weakness.
The power of each gun comes from what type of ammunition they use. Steel BBs are smaller and denser than lead pellets, which means that pellet guns can penetrate the target more effectively.
Since pellets are much more aerodynamic than BBs, they are more accurate, although that does not mean it’s stronger. The power of the gun depends not only on the weight, size, and shape of the ammo but also on its FPS. The higher the FPS of the gun, the stronger and more powerful the gun is. For example, the Hatsan 125 Sniper Vortex Air Rifle has an FPS of about 1250. The FPS can be determined by going to the field and using a chronograph to measure the FPS. A chronograph measures the velocity of the BB or pellet as it exits the muzzle of a gun.
Both guns have their similarities and differences, and as a result, they can perform better or worse in different situations and conditions. For example, using a pellet gun on a person (though this is not advised if the other person is not wearing any protective gear) will not cause any major injuries, unlike a BB gun, which can cause severe injuries if misused.
Also, the material used to make each gun may work well or not in different weather conditions. Its powerplant may also be a factor in how well a pellet gun or BB gun will work. For instance, gas/CO2-powered guns may not work well in the cold as the gas may freeze.
Lastly, both guns can range up to $10 to $2,000. A low-cost pellet and BB gun will work differently from a professional gun. But, cost does not always determine its quality. Take your time researching what kind of gun you’ll purchase so that you won’t come to regret your purchase.
Guns that Support Both Pellets & BBs
Some guns are made so that you can use both pellets and BBs. We listed 3 of the most high-rated pellet-BB hybrid guns below.
Which is Better: Pellet Gun or BB Gun?
A pellet gun and a BB gun each have their individual strengths and weaknesses, so there’s no better in terms of its overall. They may perform well in certain situations, and they can also not.
- If you want an accurate gun in long-range shooting, then a pellet gun is better.
- If you want a stronger and powerful gun, then using BBs is the better choice.
- If you want a higher capacity of ammunition, then a stick or stacked magazine of a BB gun will work best.
- Pellets come in many different shapes, sizes, and calibers, while BBs typically come in one standard size.
It’s all about what you require to be able to determine which gun is better to use in that certain situation.
With this guide, you should determine the differences and similarities between a pellet gun and a BB gun. Knowing its individual strengths and weaknesses will help you decide which gun you will need or want to use. You’ll be able to decide what type of gun you’ll want to use and which gun fits the situation best.
Remember also to use protective clothing and goggles to prevent you or anyone from getting seriously injured. Both guns should be used with caution, especially with BB guns, as they hit very hard, especially if you hit a person in close range.
So, take your time and have fun choosing!