In this Comparison Video I go through the benefits and shortcomings of Steel BB Versus Pellet Airgun ammunition, and what they are best suited to.
Here are some basic statements that best describe Steel 4.5mm BB and Pellet Airgun ammo.
Steel 4.5mm BB's:
- Steel BB's comes in 4.5mm
- Steel BB's use a hard steel and are often coated in either copper or zinc.
- Most BB Airguns usually do not have rifled barrels since the hard steel will not take advantage of the rifling and only wear down the rifling.
- BB's are often loaded inline or one on top of each other with a spring follower that loads them into the breach of the gun. This can be done using a removable magazine or a built in loading bay.
- Pellets come in a variety of sizes, the most common sizes are .177 and .22 caliber (.177 is very close to 4.5mm).
- Pellets are most often made with lead but can be made with other light weight materials. (light weight high velocity pellets)
- Most Pellet Airguns have rifled barrels since the soft lead can grab onto the rifling and create spin.
- Pellets are either loaded one at a time or can be fed into a rotary magazine which then is placed into the Airgun. Pellets can not be stacked one on top of each other because they would deform and not load consistently.
- Most Airguns shoot either BB's or Pellets, a few Airguns can shoot both types ammo but compromises are made. Barrel diameter may not be ideal for Lead Pellets and the rifling can get damaged if there is a high use of Steel BB's. Some dual purpose Airguns may not even have a rifled barrel.
- There are much fewer blowback Pellet Airguns since stick, or full size drop out magazines with followers work better mechanically with blowback operation.
Steel 4.5mm BB's:
- BB's tend to be a bit lower cost than Pellets.
- Most BB Airguns have higher capacity magazines.
- BB's because of their hardness can have better penetration characteristics than Pellets.
- You may be able to reuse BB's if you have a proper backstop that can catch them safely.
- Pellets can be more accurate than BB's since they are generally shot out of rifled barrels, especially at longer ranges.
- Pellets are heavier and so will generally cary more energy and hit with more impact.
- Pellets are an overall better choice than BB's for hunting since they are more accurate and will carry more energy into their target.
- Pellets have the added benefit of mushrooming when they hit an object for even more stopping power.
Steel 4.5mm BB's:
- Copper BB's in my optioning can corrode over time and create a rust like looking dust which can get in your Airgun.
- Steel BB's will rebound off of hard objects much easier potentially hitting the shooter.
- BB's do not work well in rifled barrels and can wear down the barrels.
- Pellets are made out lead which is considered toxic.
- Pellets can deform pretty easy so care is required when handling.
- Pellets may not penetrate harder objects as well as hard Steel BB's.
In this Comparison Video I go through the benefits and shortcomings of CO2, Spring Piston and Pump Airguns. I focus mainly on Airguns but there is a bit of a crossover with Airsoft guns.
All three systems (CO2, Spring, Pump) create pressure that forces the ammunition with a high force out of the barrel. Similar to how gun powder is the source of energy for a bullet.
Here are some basic statements that best describe CO2, Spring Piston and Pump Airguns.
- CO2 Airguns use the expansion of CO2 gas to create the pressure required for the ammo.
- CO2 Airguns generally store enough CO2 for multiple shots per cartridge.
- CO2 Airguns have a limit as to how much power they can produce since CO2 has a set vapor pressure of 850 psi, or about 56 bar at room temperature which is around 25 C or 77 F. CO2 Gas also requires a warm environment to expand so warmer temperature and longer barrels help with power.
- Some CO2 guns can also use pressurized air tanks in place of CO2.
Spring Piston Airguns:
- Spring Airguns use the release of a pre-cocked spring and plunger system to compress air to power the ammo.
- Spring Piston Airguns require the cocking of the spring between each shot so they are single shot only.
- Spring Airguns are limited to how much effort is humanly possible to cock the spring into position. If you make the spring to strong then not everyone will be able to use the Airgun effectively. Too week of a spring and the Airgun will lack power.
- Spring Piston Airguns are known for having a fair amount of recoil and vibration when the spring moves both forward and backwards quickly inside the Airgun.
- Spring Airguns can use either a mechanical spring or a gas spring.
- Pump Airguns (either Single or Multi-Pump) store air pressure in a chamber that when released, powers the ammo.
- Most Pump Airguns require at least 1 or more pumps, often up to 10 pumps for each shot and you generally only get one shot per set of pumps. Not to be confused with PCP Airguns (Pre Charged Pneumatic) which have large pressure tanks that are recharged with a high volume of pressurized air that is capable of shooting multiple shots per charge.
- Pump Airguns are also somewhat limited to how much effort is humanly possible since the higher the chamber pressure, the harder it will be to pump the Airgun.
- Generally speaking both Spring and Multi-Pump Airguns have more potential power than a CO2 guns since CO2 has a set peek pressure limit.
- Pump and CO2 Airguns are know to have very little recoil since the pressure is stored in a chamber and then released by a valve. No slapping back and forth of a large internal spring.
- CO2 Airguns allow for multiple shots per CO2 cartridge for more realistic action shooting.
- CO2 Airguns do not require any human effort to charge the gun other than loading the CO2 and Ammo into the Airgun.
- CO2 Airguns allow for true semi auto shooting ability.
Spring Piston Airguns:
- Spring Airguns have the potential for high velocity since the larger and stiffer the spring, the greater the output force.
- Spring Airguns do not require anything other than your ammunition, typically either a Pellet or BB.
- Spring Airguns are mechanically very simple which makes them very reliable and less expensive to produce than other types of Airguns.
- Pump Airguns have the potential for high velocity since more pumps equals greater output force, only limited by the users strength and the pressure rating of the Airgun.
- Pump Airguns do not require anything other than your ammunition, typically either a Pellet or BB.
- Pump Airguns have next to no recoil which makes them very easy to shoot and highly accurate.
- CO2 Airguns require the purchase and use of CO2 or they simple do not work.
- CO2 Airguns are very susceptible to temperature changes, especially cold temperature since CO2 needs a warm environment in order to expand. Cool down effect also plays a role in power output.
- CO2 Airguns have a maximum set amount of power output.
Spring Piston Airguns:
- Spring Airguns require the pre-cocking of the spring for each shot.
- Spring Airguns can take some getting used to since the spring recoil/vibration requires a very lose grip (Military Grip) to shoot accurately with them.
- Spring Airguns should not be stored pre-cocked since this can damage the spring, less so with gas spring versions.
- Pump Airguns require pre-pumping to pressurize the air chamber for each shot.
- Pump Airguns, especially Multi-Pump Airguns take the most amount of human effort for each shot.
- Pump Airguns need to stored with at least one pump in them or the seals can get damaged over time.
In this Comparison video I go through the benefits and shortcomings of both Blowback and Non-Blowback Airguns. I focus mainly on Airguns but there is a definite crossover with Airsoft guns.
Here are some basic statements that best describe both Blowback and Non-Blowback Airguns.
- Blowback Airguns usually have a movable slide that moves back and forth with each shot.
- Sometimes the blowback operation is internal (Internal bolt) so there may not be an external moveable slide.
- Some CO2 is used to move the slide rearwards in a Blowback Airgun.
- The Blowback motion of the slide with some blowback airguns can also cock the hammer or internal striker allowing for true single action trigger pull. But not always!
- Some Blowback airguns have the potential for full auto capabilities since they can have a true semi auto action.
- There is some noticeable recoil from the Blowback action simulating the recoil of a real gun.
- Non-Blowback Airguns can have fixed or movable slides but they will not cycle back and forth with each shot.
- Non-Blowback Airguns tend to have less working parts since no Blowback valves are required or even a moveable slide.
- There are some Blowback and Non-Blowback Airguns that field strip similarly to their real steel counterparts but this is most commonly found in Blowback Airguns.
- Non-Blowback Airguns require the shooter to cock the hammer for single action shooting or use a double action trigger pull for semi auto like performance.
- Blowback Action causes a noticeable recoil which makes the airgun feel more realistic.
- Blowback Airguns in some cases have true semi auto action with true single action triggers which mimic the authenticity of the real steel versions of the guns they replicate much better making them better training tools.
- Having some recoil makes blowback Airguns potentially better training tools.
- Blowback Airguns look really cool when shooting them and are great action prop guns.
- Non-Blowback Airguns tend to have less working parts so less to go wrong and more reliability.
- Non-Blowback Airguns can be more accurate since the recoil from the blowback is not a factor.
- Non-Blowback Airguns have more potential power and more shots per CO2 since no CO2 is robbed for the blowback operation.
- Blowback operation can rob some of the power and will also rob how many shots you get from the Airgun.
- Blowback Airguns are effected even more by cold weather and the cool down effect.
- The recoil from Blowback Airguns can effect accuracy for some shooters.
- Non-Blowback airguns are generally double action when shooting semi auto and so the trigger pull will be longer and heavier.
- Non-Blowback Airguns do not replicate the recoil action of a real gun.
- Non-Blowback Airguns do not look as cool to shoot and are not as good of an action prop gun.
It seems like most Replica Airguns collectors are looking for their Replica Airguns to be made out of metal. I even get people complaining about the frames of their airguns being made out plastic (polymer), when in fact the real steel version the gun is designed to replicate also has a plastic or polymer frame.
Most modern real guns are made as light weight and compact as possible, utilizing high grade plastics (polymer) and light weight metals. Of course they use high grade hardened steel in areas where the gun receives the most pressure and continuous wear and tear.
In the real steel gun world, lighter is often better since carrying around a 3 pound pistol all day can be uncomfortable. On the other hand in the Replica Gun world it can be the other way around as replica airgun collectors want that heavy clanky gun that feels solid and real in the hand.
This begs the question - Do Airguns really need to be made out of metal? For strength reason generally not since high pressure is not a factor even in blank guns as there is no bullet holding the pressure in the barrel and when talking about an Airgun or Airsoft Gun, there is even less pressure on the internal parts. For this reason most companies use low grade metals that have a higher content of zinc, often called pot metal. Even though it looks and feels like gun steel it is not nearly as strong and will scratch and break much easier and not be able to handle high pressure. So even though you may think metal is a better option for an Airgun, the reality is that plastic can sometimes be a better option, at least in terms of durability.
What are the benefits to Plastic components:
- Lighter weight.
- More flexible, can take a bit of a beating without breaking.
- Does not show scratches or dents as much as metal.
What are the benefited to Metal components:
- Gives the gun a more realistic weight, feel & sound.
- In some situations will wear better than plastic.
What are the cons to Plastic components:
- Can be less realistic in weight, feel and sound.
- Can wear quicker than metal parts in some situations.
What are the cons to Metal components:
- Shows scratches and wear more.
- Lower quality metals can break or crack fairly easily.
What do I prefer?
- I prefer realism so I like to have metal parts where they would be in the real version of the same gun.
- I like my Replica Guns to have a similar weight and feel as their real steel counterparts.
- I like higher quality metals to be used in the mechanical parts like: (pins, triggers, hammers, barrels, screws, springs, catches…)
- I don't mind the use of plastic when it is high quality plastic and again when used in a similar manor to the real steel version of the gun.
Watch my YouTube video on What is Better - Plastic or Metal Replica Airguns?