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Air Gun Ammunition: Pellets vs. BBs



When it comes to air gun shooting, choosing the right ammunition is essential for achieving accuracy, consistency, and optimal performance. Two of the most common types of ammunition used in air guns are pellets and BBs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the differences between pellets and BBs, their respective characteristics, and the considerations to keep in mind when selecting the appropriate ammunition for your air gun.


Types of Pellets: Pellets come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, each designed for specific purposes and shooting applications. The most common types of pellets include:

  1. Diabolo Pellets: Diabolo pellets are the most widely used type of pellet and are characterized by their waisted design, which helps improve aerodynamic stability and accuracy. They are available in different calibers, including .177, .22, and .25, and variations such as pointed, hollow point, wadcutter, and domed.
  2. Round Nose Pellets: Round nose pellets feature a rounded tip and are suitable for general-purpose shooting, target practice, and pest control.
  3. Hollow Point Pellets: Hollow point pellets have a concave tip designed to expand upon impact, making them ideal for hunting small game and delivering lethal energy transfer.
  4. Wadcutter Pellets: Wadcutter pellets have a flat head and are commonly used in target shooting and competitions due to their clean-cut holes on paper targets.
  5. Pointed Pellets: Pointed pellets feature a pointed tip, offering increased penetration and accuracy over longer distances, making them suitable for hunting and pest control.

Advantages of Pellets:

  • Accuracy: Pellets are renowned for their superior accuracy, especially when paired with high-quality air rifles equipped with rifled barrels.
  • Versatility: Pellets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making them suitable for a wide range of shooting applications, including target shooting, hunting, and competitions.
  • Energy Transfer: Certain types of pellets, such as hollow point and pointed pellets, are designed to deliver optimal energy transfer upon impact, ensuring effective hunting and pest control.


Characteristics of BBs: BBs are spherical projectiles typically made of steel or copper-coated steel. Unlike pellets, which are available in various calibers, BBs are standardized at 4.5 millimeters (0.177 inches) in diameter. They are commonly used in air pistols, CO2-powered guns, and BB gun replicas.

Advantages of BBs:

  • Affordability: BBs are often more affordable than pellets, making them a cost-effective option for casual shooting and plinking.
  • Convenience: BBs are readily available and can be purchased in bulk quantities, making them convenient for recreational shooting and backyard plinking sessions.
  • Less Sensitive to Wind: Due to their spherical shape and higher velocity, BBs are less affected by wind drift compared to pellets, making them suitable for shooting in outdoor environments.

Considerations When Choosing Ammunition:

  1. Gun Compatibility: Before selecting ammunition, ensure that it is compatible with your air gun’s caliber and type. Using the wrong ammunition can damage your gun and compromise performance.
  2. Shooting Application: Consider your intended shooting application, whether it’s target shooting, hunting, or plinking. Choose ammunition that is suitable for your specific needs and preferences.
  3. Accuracy and Performance: Evaluate the accuracy, consistency, and performance of different types of ammunition through testing and experimentation. Opt for ammunition that delivers optimal results with your air gun.
  4. Legal and Safety Considerations: Be aware of any legal restrictions or regulations regarding the use of specific types of ammunition in your area. Additionally, prioritize safety by following proper handling and storage practices for your ammunition.


In conclusion, understanding the differences between pellets and BBs is essential for selecting the appropriate ammunition for your air gun. Whether you prioritize accuracy, versatility, affordability, or convenience, there is a wide range of options available to suit your needs and preferences. By considering factors such as gun compatibility, shooting application, accuracy, and safety, you can make an informed decision and choose the ammunition that best meets your requirements. With the right ammunition, you can enhance your shooting experience and achieve your shooting goals with precision and confidence.


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