Airsoft Gun or BB Gun: Which is better?

Just become interested in Airsoft and don’t know whether you should choose an Airsoft gun or a BB gun? I had the same doubts when I just started because both are a look alike of a real firearm and I also got confused because Airsoft guns were also called BB guns. So with some research done and a lot of experience I wrote this article so you can consider which one to choose.

So which is better, an Airsoft gun or a BB gun? There are many differences between an Airsoft gun and a BB gun. The most important distinction is how much more damage that a BB gun can do over an Airsoft gun. For target shooting/hunting use a BB gun, for competitive play use an Airsoft gun.

In most of my articles I use replica instead of gun because that is how you should call them

As we looked in more detail to the differences between Airsoft replica’s and BB replica’s we found out that there are similarities but also obvious distinctions which makes it pretty clear that they are designed for different purposes and that the two are in different categories.

After your read this article, it should be pretty clear what the differences are and clear up any confusion about how to use it, when to use it and which one is best for you. So what actually are the main differences and which is better? In about 10 minutes you can make your own decision…

Airsoft replica vs BB replica: The Main Differences

So what are the main differences between Airsoft replica’s and BB replica’s? Both Airsoft replica’s and BB replica’s look very similar but we want to point out what makes each gun different and how do these differences effect their performance and usage.  

BB replica’s are most often used for target practice and training. Some high power BB replica’s can also be used for pest control. Airsoft replica’s are most commonly used for tactical simulation games but can also be used for target practice and training.  

A BB replica generally shoot a 4.5mm or .177 caliber steel / lead BB. An Airsoft replica on the other hand generally shoot 6mm plastic BBs ranging in weights.

Both can use spring , air, gas or CO2 as means of propulsion and can be made out of a variety of materials.

Airsoft pistol


In Airsoft it’s all about experience. The entire hobby of playing Airsoft is based on how real the gun looks and functions. Most Airsoft guns are a look alike of a real gun, even on close inspection. As the focus with Airsoft guns is on realism, the focus with BB replica’s is more on performance. So less focus on design and more on performance. Therefore you will experience less effect on realism. But to be honest, the realism of both replica’s is quite high.

What is the difference in Cost?

So if you like realism you probably made your choice… But hold on… didn’t you think about your budget? What actually cost an Airsoft replica or a BB replica? What is the difference between both? Well, both Airsoft replica’s and BB replica’s have a wide variety of price ranges. I wrote an article about the best beginner Airsoft gun where I described in detail what price range you should go for.  

The most important factor is, of course, your budget. In my opinion a bare minimum is $150,- because everything below $100 is crap and can’t be good. The manufacturer still have to make a profit so don’t expect a good quality. I suggest that you start in the price range of $100-$200. From approx.  $150 and above you can buy a great Airsoft replica with nice features. I still think the G&G Combat Machine is the best beginner gun.

BB replica’s are about the same to buy and also the cost of use is about the same despite the fact that BB replica’s use steel BBs.

Instead of choosing a replica a $100-$200 price range, you can go for a $300+ price range or even $1000+ price range.

Performance – any difference?

As mentioned before, BB replica’s are built for performance and not especially for their design and realism. However, a BB replica is still a look alike of a real gun.

Both Airsoft replica’s and BB replica’s can shoot up to 500 FPS. But the type of ammunition play a significant role. BB replica’s use metal BBs which are smaller and far denser than plastic Airsoft BBs. Therefore BBs of a BB replica ten to penetrate deeper into objects which is dangerous in military simulation games. And that’s why a BB replica is great for pest control or target shooting and less adequate for shooting at other people.

How accurate is a BB replica vs An Airsoft Replica?

Both BB replica’s and Airsoft replica’s are accurate these days, especially when you know how to adjust the hop-up system. The hop-up system gives the BB some backspin and allows it to keep a more level trajectory. This helps tremendous with long range shots. BB replica’s don’t have a hop-up system.    BB replica’s tend to be more accurate because when shooting out at range, a BB is less susceptible to the elements and will be more accurate down range. Remember that BB replica’s use metal BBs instead of plastic BBs.

BB Replica Guns vs Airsoft Replica Guns; Where to Use it?

For indoor shooting and backyard shooting an Airsoft replica is a better choice due to their effectiveness at close range.  I also recommend an Airsoft replica for milsim play as the plastic BB’s are designed to hit but not harm.

A BB replica fires steel BBs and those can cause more damage when it hits an object. They also require a backstop and will also ricochet off of objects with much more force than an Airsoft plastic BB. In milsim play, that object could be you!  So always make sure that you always wear face protection an keep in mind that proper clothing and protection is required. You probably have been on an Airsoft field with strict FPS rules. Those limits to the FPS are often employed to keep everyone safe.

Can I Use my BB replica / Airsoft replica for Hunting?

Yes you could, but I rarely recommend to do so. For pest control or hunting I prefer larger caliber pallet replica’s that shoot with a max allowed (allowed in your area) velocity. However, furry critters can be alleviated with a high powered BB replica. I do not recommend to use an Airsoft replica for pest control at all. If you’re just a beginner Airsofter and bought the best beginner Airsoft replica it probably shoot around  300-450 FPS and that is not fast enough. And also the plastic BBs are inappropriate for hunting. Steel BBs are a better option as they can cause more damage.

BB ReplicaAirsoft Replica
Not appropriate for competitive playRecreational play
Airsoft is about the game, not about performanc
Shoot hard pellets Pellets are designed for game play
Metal BB and metal pellets
Almost same FPS as real firearms Majority of Airsoft replica’s shoot 300-500 FPS
Propels projectiles made of steel with zinc or copper coatings
Generally about 4.5mm (.177 caliber)
Propel 6mm or 8mm plastic pellets
Weight .12g to about .42g
Very accurate Less accurate than BB replica’s
Does not have an orange tipcomes with an orange t ip
Powered by spring electric or gas
Wide variety of replica’s
Orange tip

As you can see there are differences between Airsoft replica’s and BB replica’s.  Airsoft replica’s are much safer than BB replica’s but both still will require the proper protective measures. Most of us think that Airsoft replica’s are only designed for competitive play. Well, that is actually not the whole story. BB replica’s are simply too powerful for competitive play.

That being said, Airsoft replica’s are built with the competitive play in mind and that’s why you can find so many styles and also why they have the orange tip to distinguish them.

Related Questions

Are BB guns dangerous? BB guns are not toys and can cause serious injury or death if uses improperly; however, many bb guns are designed for youth and shoot under 500 FPS. If eye protection is worn, these guns are unlike to cause serious injury and are generally safe.

How fast do pallets shoot?  In general, pellets fly approximately 20 FPS slower than BBs when fired from the same gun; however, more powerful airguns are generally made to shoot only pellets and thus would shoot much faster.