Airsoft BBs

Airsoft Ammo: All You Need To Know About Airsoft BBs

airsoft bb typeI’m sitting here with my broke Airsoft rifle and I’m wondering what causes this malfunction. When the game started I immediately felt something has to be wrong with my accuracy and range. At first, I couldn’t recognize the problem, but one hour later my Airsoft replica was down…. What causes this problem? My Airsoft ammo. I bought some cheep BB’s last week….

If you want high quality and well manufactured BB’s then you just want them to be nicely polished with a perfect balanced center of gravity, and a consistent lack of seams, dimples, bubbles and imperfections on the surface of the pallet. At the end they should be as perfectly spherical as possible.

Of course we want the best BB’s for our Airsoft replica. If you invest more than $150 in your gun, you definitely want to be able to rely on your BB’s. Otherwise you will have the same problems as I had. So, what are the best BB’s and how much should they weight? How do I recognize If I bought the right BB’s causing no damage to my Airsoft replica? These and other questions I will answer in this article.

What Are Airsoft pellets Made Of ?

Plastic BB’s are made of raw plastic material and have a mineral or petroleum based center which pollute the environment. That means when you have a BB fired, they will stay in the environment for hundreds of years, if not collected.

Raw plastic is being heated for injection moulding. Heating plastic makes it softer to inject it into moulding templates. The result of moulding into these templates are the spherical contours of the BB’s. And this is what we actually want. We want a perfectly spherical contours, a flawless surface and perfect white BB’s right?  Otherwise you will soon or later dealing with problems I had. It can cost you your gun.

Airsoft BB’s are usually measure around 6mm in diameter and 0.12-0.48 gram. The most popular brands have these most common weights: 0.20g, 0.25g and 0.28g.

What are biodegradable Airsoft pellets made of?

Conventional pallets are made of plastic and pollute the environment. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that these non-biodegradable BB’s pollute the environment. So, from now on I’m careful about using these pellets, especially when sweeping the field is not an option.

Biodegradable pellets are made out of a compressed biodegradable fiber and are coated with resin. Fiber is made of a special blend of materials. These materials include hars and a stone substance with granite, marble and soapstone. These pallets are produced with the same characteristics as non-biodegradable pallets. Although they are slightly more expensive.

Biodegradable BBs are made from a special blend of materials that are designed to break down over time when exposed to the environment.

Biodegradable BBsResin is a mixture of degradable processes such as soil microbes and photosensitive degradation.(1) The BBs are coated with resin to get a polished surface. The blend of materials and coating (resin) breaks down when it is exposed to the elements.

Some Airsoft fields out there require the use of biodegradable BBs. With the use of biodegradable Airsoft BBs they’re trying to avoid long-term environmental impact due to the difficulty of cleaning up the BBs after play.

As biodegradable Airsoft BBs degrade, you need to store them properly. Keep your biodegradable Airsoft BBs sealed in a cool, dry and dark place. These BBs will last for year with proper storage.

Like non-biodegradable Airsoft BBs they are available in a variety of weights.

How long does it take for biodegradable BBs to decompose?

Bio degradable BB’s actually are compostable BBs.  They do break down faster than their plastic cousins like the non-biodegradable BBs. But we’re talking about a longer timezone here. We’re talking about years to decades of time for these BBs to compost and go away. So for it to happen in your backyard, it will take like 20+ years when you will see some progress on that. Don’t expect some progress within 5 years or less.

So yes, biodegradable BBs do break down. They do break down faster than non-biodegradable BBs. In a landfill situation it will take a couple of years. In other situations, like your backyard, it will take decades to decompose.

I know one brand that is truly biodegradable. That brand is P-Force. I little to non experience with those BBs. Maybe you have. Let me know in the comment.

What size Airsoft BB do I need?

The standard Airsoft BB has a 6mm diameter. However, some BBs have a 8mm diameter. The 6mm Airsoft BB is the most common size and is used with most AEG (automatic electric gun) and gas powered Airsoft replica’s.

Why are these Airsoft BB’s 6mm or even 8mm? Well, most Airsoft replica barrels come with a 6.08mm barrel. So these Airsoft BB sizes allow it to fit perfectly into most Airsoft replica barrels. As the inner barrel of your replica is slightly bigger, less air can escape around the BB when it is fired. That means that more air pushes the BB out of the barrel and results in a higher FPS (Feet Per Second) performance rate.

The air escaped after firing a BB  has a negative impact on the FPS performance. If you want to upgrade your replica to a higher FPS you can change your barrel into a tighter one. Most standard barrels has a 6.08mm barrel. Instead, you can upgrade your replica into a 6.03mm barrel or even a 6.01mm barrel.

A tighter barrel result in a better accuracy and a higher FPS

Airsoft BB Weight Guide

How much should your Airsoft BB weight? Well, that depends on what kind of Airsoft replica you have. And the FPS limit of your replica. Here are some basic guidelines on which BB to choose related to the FPS limit of your Airsoft replica.

You can use a basic rule of thumb choosing the optimal BB weight for your Airsoft replica:

FPS Range BB Weight
300-350 0.20 gram
350-400 0.25 gram
400-450 0.28 gram
450-500 0.36 gram
500 + 0.43 gram

The most common used BB weight is 0.20 gram. However, there are a few more standard weights out there like 0.12 gram, 0.25 gram, 0.28 gram, 0.30 gram up to 0.40 gram.

Light BBs
I didn’t mention the lighter 0.12 gram BB’s because they are typically used in spring powered Airsoft replica’s within the 200-250 FPS range. Most Airsoft players don’t use 0.12 gram BB’s. They are actually designed for close range. They are also the most accurate at close ranges. I only would use them for my cheap low cost (<$100) Airsoft replica. Why? Because these cheap Airsoft BB’s can easy chatter and cause damage to your Airsoft replica. Their also quite ineffective at long ranges.

Mid range BBs
The 0.25 gram  – 0.28 gram BBs have the widest use range. They can be used in Airsoft replica’s with lower FPS at close range as well as in Airsoft replica’s with higher FPS at longer ranges. However, for long range usage these mid range BBs are not as stable as heavier BBs.

Heavier BBs
These BBs have a typical weight of 0.30 gram up to 0.40 gram and are designed for long range shooting. They also have the highest flight stability and longest range. When do you use these heavier BBs? These are often used with higher FPS replica’s like Airsoft sniper rifles and high powered AEG’s. This is because more force is needed to fire these BBs. The usage of heavier BBs with these guns will result in a more stable and accurate flight.  

All these BBs are 6mm BBs so the varying weights come from different composition. They are not the same as steel BBs used by conventional BB guns.

What is the best Airsoft BB weight?

Airsoft BBs and weight

Source Metal Tac

The most common and often used Airsoft BB weight is 0.20 gram. These BBs are a good choice for the majority of Airsoft replica’s within the 250-370 FPS range. These BBs are also the most economical choice. This is because of the the development and competition in these BB weight range.

A bit heavier BB weight will increase accuracy bur lowers velocity. So the usage of 0.25 gram BBs will result in more accuracy but don’t reach the same distance as 0.20 gram BBs.

Actually there is no best BB weight because the kind of Airsoft replica you have makes a huge difference. For the more powerful Airsoft guns we recommend heavier BB to increase accuracy. The most AEG’s with a metal gear should use 0.20 gram BB’s or heavier with a high polished layer on the outside.

If you have a bolt action sniper then use 0.28 gram BBs or higher for a better accuracy. These sniper rifles have a higher FPS so it will not affect

Sniper rifles needs heavier 0.30 gram BBs if they shoot over 425 FPS. These heavier BBs are less affected by wind and result in a better accuracy.

What kind of Airsoft BB should I use?

The majority of Airsofters use 6mm ammunition, sometimes 8mm. So the different weight comes from different BB compositions as they are most of all 6mm BB’s.

0.12 gram BBs

The lightest BBs are used in inexpensive spring guns like the Walter PPQ Spring which shoot at a lower velocity. What is your favorite Airsoft replica for your 0.12gram BBs? Know that these 0.12 gram BBs are not geared towards most of the people that play Airsoft on a regular basis. They are merely based on lower powered AEG’s as well as spring pistols of cheap quality.

airsoft bb typeAs these BBs are not very heavy, their flight trajectories are poor and greatly affected by wind. Another disadvantage is the low quality of these BBs. There is often a lack of quality control and many of these BBs usually have seams. These seems are bad for your hop-up. Actually there are a ton of issues with these .12 gram BBs. So in general we do not recommend to use these BBs in replica’s above $100-$150

0.20 gram BBs

The 0.20 gram BB’s are used in the majority of replica’s. It’s the standard for entry level players and general players as well. It’s an all around and the most economical choice. That is because a lot of manufactures make them for many years now, so the quality become consistent now. The 0.20 gram BBs are actually great for everything from electric replica’s to gas replica’s and even some spring replica’s as well.

As the quality and consistency is at a good point now, most BB brands have very little imperfections and have a good shine. That’s an advantage for you as a player because you shoot straighter and further.

As these 0.20 gram BBs are one of the lightest versions they are perfect for CQB play. Outdoors you may want some slightly heavier BBs as you’re dealing with the elements.

Overall the 0.20 gram BBs are very affordable because of the reasons I mentioned earlier. I recommend you start with an 0.20 gram BB as a beginner. From that point you can experience with higher weights.

0.25 and 0.28 gram BBs

These BBs are typical mid range BBs. While 0.20 gram BBs are perfect for CQB play, these slightly heavier BBs perform better outdoors. This is because their flight trajectory is pretty poor when effected by wind. These slightly heavier BBs are less effected by wind and therefore you will have a better accuracy.

Most Airsoft beginners start with a standard rifle that shoots 300-400 FPS. When you become more involved in this sport, at one point you may want another better and more expensive replica. Your second replica will probably shoot above 400 FPS or higher. With that kind of guns I would switch to 0.25 gram BBs or heavier.

0.30 gram BBs and higher

So you now have a heavier Airsoft replica that shoots 400 FPS or higher. It’s time for some real Airsoft playing… You definitely will play a lot outdoors with such a replica. Therefore I would recommend to test some 0.30 gram BBs with your Airsoft replica.  With these BBs you have the ability to cut through wind with still having a good range. And with the extra power of your replica you’re going to have a much better range and accuracy.

The 0.25-0.36 gram are great for your standard 400 FPS replica. But as you can see in the table below, once you start shooting at 400+ FPS it’s not a bad idea to increase the weight of your BBs and use some in the range of 0.35-0.45 gram BBs.

0.40 gram BBs are great for sniper rifles DMR’s or even Polarstar users. These heavier BBs means better accuracy and better range. These factors will give you a great advantage on the field. Be sure to always match the weight of your BBs with the FPS range of your Airsoft Replica.

BB Weight FPS Range Replica type Main goal Role
Light range 0.12 <300 -less expensive guns $75 or less
Mid range 0.20 300-350 -metal gear AEG’s, -majority of Airsoft replica’s  in the 250-370 FPS range close quarters combat to semi mid range -Rifleman, support gunner
0.25 350-400 -more accurate than 0.2gram

-outdoor environment

Rifleman, support gunner
0.28 400-450 -bolt Action Sniper -outdoor environment Rifleman, support gunner
0.30 >425 -sniper rifles – perform better over long distances Rifleman, support gunner
Heavier BB 0.36 450-500 -increase accuracy and range. Sniper rifle role
0.43 500+ – increase accuracy and range sniper rifle role

As you can see it’s not easy to get the right BB’s immediately. What weight BBs you need depends on your role and your Airsoft replica. Do you play CQB a lot or do you play mainly outdoors? For CQB play we recommend 0.20-0.28 gram BBs with a 300-400 FPS gun.

If you play outdoors we recommend 0.25-0.30 as a starting point. From that point you can go higher to 0.35 gram along the way, depending on your replica (type) and role. The heavier BBs are mainly for sniper rifles and DMR’s.

As always, do follow the FPS field rules and choose the right BBs.

Adjust your hop-up to make a better BB weight choice

I know there is a lot of information out there about BB weight. I can totally understand that you just want to shoot as far as possible and that you therefore want to know what BB weight you should get. I hope I can make a difference with these tables and help you with your choice. However, not only the BB weight affects your accuracy. Your hop-up plays an important role too in the performance of your gun.

How does a hop-up works?

Hopup chamber M4 M16If you ever shot with an Airsoft gun that has no Hop-Up you probably know how important an Hop-Up actually is. What will happen with your BBs if you don’t have an Hop-Up installed on your Airsoft replica? Well, those BBs are just being propelled by air in different direction. So when they come out they always immediately would start to tip and they’d dip and dip and dip…. run out of momentum to the ground. The result of this is a curve that starts to dip really slowly and then as it runs out of energy it comes down fast. So without Hop BB’s fall very short.

What does a Hop-Up? A Hop-Up apply a backspin to a BB as it’s coming out of the barrel. That backspin creates momentum which causes a spin against the force of gravity. The trajectory ends up looking like a straight line as you can see in the image below. So the only thing a Hop-Up does is applying the backspin to the BB.

As there are different types of Hop-Up depending on what type of gearbox you’ve got they all are in some kind of way adjustable. It is adjustable by a little dial on top of the Hop-up that affects the lever and causing more or less spin. As there are many replica’s we have different ways to adjust a hop up. On some replica’s there’s just a little slightly lever that sticks out on the side of the gun like the AK and MP5. For any M4 with a V2 gearbox you will either have a catch button or a bulb handle which you have to pull back so that Hop is revealed.

A Flat Hop-Up will help you with your BB weight choice

Most of our Airsofters don’t want to experiment with BB weight, gun choice and what kind of role you play on the field. You just want to shoot as far as you possibly can and want to know what kind of BB is perfect for your situation (replica and role). Well, I have to say that you have to spend some time on adjusting and experiment with your hop-up to get it right.

The reason you want a flat Hop is because your replica is over-hopping or the BB’s coming out going absolutely everywhere. Over-hopping is when BB’s have too much contact with the Hop and then fly out at all different angles. They fly up in the sky or they just drop down into the ground. By adjusting your Hop you don’t get it right because there is too much contact between the Hop and the BB’s. If your BB’s flying up and you try to adjust your Hop down then they just go everywhere.

How to make a flat Hop?

If you are a technical person you can flat your Hop by yourself. Even if you’re not… I think you can do it too…

At the end of the inner barrel you will find the hopup bucking. The hopup mechanism is pushed over it. You need to disassemble the hopup to get that hopup bucking from the barrel. When you get the hopup bucking off turn it inside out so you can shave that line off that’s inside the hopup bucking. You’d best turn it inside out with a pen lid. Put it over the top of the pen lid and when you get it turned halfway take get a plier and work the rub around the flies.

Once you get it inside out and cleaned it off, put it back on the and of the barrel. Take a sharp knife and slowly work it up and down to get the line off. Once you’ve done the straight line turn it over on the other side with the hard little nub and do the same. By the way, I highly recommend using a Prometheus rubber.

Now you need to apply the rubber to the end of the barrel. The easiest way to do that is to first get a little bit of lubrication and put it over the end of the barrel. Try to avoid getting the lubrication into the barrel! Now that the perfect alignment is removed – because it’s flat now – make sure that when you put it on you do it nice and slowly so it has the same degrees as where it normally should sit.

rubber nub for hopupFor your flat hopup you need another nub. The best nub is a firefly bomb with a stainless steel that goes through the middle of it. Now you need to cut the both lips next to the ball. Once you’ve got it cut you need to get the stainless steel pin and put it through the hole. Therefore you can use a set of tweezers.

Now it’s time to assemble your hopup unit onto the barrel.

Side effects of using low grade BB’s

BBs are an inexpensive investment but are mostly the last or even most forgotten part in Airsoft. You’ve got your gun, batter and charger, several protection gear a vest and you’re actually pretty much out of budget. You decide to buy some cheap low grade BB’s. After a while you regret your decision….

Bear in mind that buying low cost BB’s will not only cause damage to the gearbox components but might burn a hole in your wallets as well… Why are they so cheap then? Well, these BB’s are meant to be used in low quality Airsoft guns. If you ever checked the quality after you bought them, you’ll probably noticed that their size, shape and weight are completely off.

What will happen with your Airsoft replica if you use these low grade BB’s? As these BB’s are not as spherical as they should be, they can cause jam or get stuck in the barrel. Moreover they are materially imperfect and have a high change to break inside the barrel, causing a jam too.

If you do regularly a quality check, you will find out that some of these BB’s have holes in them, dimpels, dents bubbles, seems and some have even the wrong size. They often try to hide these imperfections by polishing these BB’s.

Unfortunately it’s not easy to get the best BB’s out of the bad quality BB’s. It’s because of the imperfections are very settle and not obvious.

Actually, speaking of low grade BB’s these are often 0.12gram BB’s and they are not really geared towards most of the people who play Airsoft on a regular basis.

Can I reuse BB’s ?

The short answer is NO, you cant. After using BB’s you should always discard them or allow them to biodegrade.

After a BB is hot they have not that perfect form that hey once have. They have dents and seems, are dirty and not spherical anymore.

If you reuse those BB’s they may cause permanent damage to your Airsoft replica. They definitely jam up your barrel.

You still want to buy some low grade BB’s? Than expect to get basic malfunctions like jams in your barrel or in your hopup. Other forms of damage are stripped gears and a stripped piston.

Best Airsoft BBs (brands)

Now that we now all about Airsoft BB’s what are the best brands and which should you use? These are my favorite Airsoft BB brands:

  • Elite Force 0.20 gram Biodegradable BBs: These BB’s are actually the best BBs for most Airsoft players. They are perfectly spherical and polished and very consistent. You can use them if your Airsoft replica shoot 280 to 350 feet per second. As those BBs don’t have any imperfections like dimples and seems, they are a durable choice for your Airsoft replica. Check the lowest price on Amazon here!
  • Elite Force 0.25 gram Biodegradable BBs: These are typical mid-range BBs and perfect for Airsoft replica’s that shoot 350 FPS or higher.  As mentioned earlier, with a slightly heavier BB, you can iValken 0.36gr BBncrease your accuracy and flight stability. The quality of these BBs is perfect and most Airsofters use these BBs for their mid range replica. Check here the lowest price on Amazon!
  • Valken Tactical 0.36 gram BBs: These are some heavier BB and perfect for your bolt action sniper rifle (role). These are high quality BBs especially for modified guns that shoot at an higher FPS. The combination of a heavier weight and a higher FPS results in a accuracy and fly beyond standards. These BBs are available in white and green color. Their super high quality make these BB’s very accurate. I think these Vaken 0.36 gram BBs are the most accurate on the market right now!
  • Thunder BBs – The best Budget BB – : I think these BBs are the most price/perairsoft thunderBBsformance competitive. These BBs do compete with pricier brands as they are perfectly spherical and without any imperfections. These 6mm BBs are perfectly polished and assembled without any seems, bubbles and cracks whatsoever. Only some tighter barrels sometimes do have problems with feeding. The other thing is that some hopup calibration is needed. But overall I definitely would recommend these ThunderBBs!

Conclusion on BBs

A high quality BB has a smooth shiny polish, a consistent lack of deformities, seems and dimples with a perfect balanced center of gravity. The surface is without any bubbles or cracks without any further imperfections. Of course, every 5000 BB bag has one or two outliers but as long as the rest is up to standards, no problem! The better the BB spherical the better your performance.

So the first thing I would do after buying some BB’s is checking on sphericalness. While shooting you will immediately notice BB’s with imperfections on the inside as well as the outside. Those BB’s swerve all kind of different ways.

However, your performance in Airsoft does not only depends on the quality of the BB’s you’re using. Your accuracy depends on your own shooting skills, how you aim your replica, the elements (outside or inside) and how it’s set up, especially when you’re a beginner. With set up I mean that a slightly change in BB weight must be followed up with an hopup adjustment…

So experiment a little bit with weight and stay away from those cheap low grade BB’s which causes a lot of jamming issues or even permanent damage to your gun.

See you on the field…

P.S. if I can expand my tables let me know in the comment…