BB Guns & Airsoft: A Guide

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Daisy was the very first BB Gun brand

BB guns have been around since the 1900s, with Daisy being one of the first companies to manufacture them. Although the term “BB Guns” has become a very broad term, it was originally used to refer to 4.5mm ball bearings.

What is a BB Gun?

BB Guns are a type of air gun that shoots small ball bearings. The majority of the BB guns are CO2 powered and the ball bearings are often zinc or copper, or gold plated. This type of ammunition is often referred to as 4.5mm BBs. The term ‘BB gun’ was used to specifically describe air guns that fired ball bearings, but is usually misused to describe pellet guns. Some models like the Heckler & Koch P30 (see below) fire both BBs and pellets, giving you the best of both worlds, while others are strictly 4.5mm, like the Beretta Elite.

Daisy Guns

Daisy started in 1882 in Plymouth, Michigan as a windmill company. In 1886 they started to give away BB guns with each Windmill, but the gun became so popular they packed up the windmill business and sold just BB guns instead. One of their most famous BB guns was the Red Ryder Model. This was named after a comic strip and followed the design of lever action rifles. Even to this day the Red Ryder is still available to buy.

The U.S army trained recruits in safe firearms handling using the Daisy Model 99. This helped the soldiers learn to use, handle and quickly draw their weapons. The sights were removed from the BB gun during training and the technique’s name changed from Quick kill to Quick fire.

Competitive Shooting

There are many competitions for 4.5mm BB guns around the world. Daisy hold their own one each year. Their competition is a 5m target shooting contest and sees teams from all around America compete. To qualify for the daisy competition your team must place within the top 3 in a state championship.

Competitions like this exist in the UK as well and follow a similar structure. There are restrictions on power, BB grain etc. to ensure a fun, fair shoot for everyone.

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The GHK GK74 Blowback, a great airsoft rifle

The Law on BB Guns

A 4.5mm BB gun must be less than 6 ft/lbs (8.1 J) by law. If a BB gun is more powerful than this they count as a firearm and are illegal in the UK. Any BB gun under 0.737 ft/lbs (1 J) is not included in the firearms regulation but are included in the VCR Act.

In Scotland you must have an air weapons certificate to own a 4.5mm BB gun no matter the power form the 1st of January 2017.

The last few important things to note about the law is that due to the 2006 Violent Crime Reduction Act all sales of new air guns must be done face to face either at a gun shop, or delivered to your door by us here at Pellpax, where we conduct the face to face transaction at your door, by delivering to you in person.

To buy either a 4.5mm or 6mm BB gun you must be at least 18 years of age and have ID to prove so. When transporting these guns you must do the following or it counts as an offence;

  • – The BB gun must not be loaded with ammunition or propellant
  • – They must be in a non-easy to reach area such as a boot
  • – Must be kept inside a bag or case

The Japanese airsoft craze

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Airsoft Snipers on a Milsim patrol

In the early 1980s, airsoft guns were sold in Japan. They were known as soft-air which referred to the green gas they use. The main reason this craze took off was down to the fact you could hit humans without injury and they closely resembled real guns. Airsoft now has a variety of game modes such as C.Q.B (Close quarter Combat), Field, MilSim and historical reenactments. Airsoft has also been used by modern military and police organisations for training purposes.

Although BB guns used to refer to the 4.5mm made by Daisy Guns, the term has broadened in recent years and started to include airsoft guns as well.

Airsoft uses spring, gas, electric or co2 and come in a variety of powers. The WE 999k is a mid-range rifle firing at around 330fps and comes in either Gas or Electric. A higher end gas rifle is the GHK GK74 (pictured, above) which shoots at around 380fps and starts at £509.99.

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The Heckler & Koch P30, a great example of an airsoft sidearm

The biggest factor that separates an airsoft gun from a BB gun, is the ball bearing it shoots. Where airsoft uses plastic BBs that measure 6mm, BB Guns use 4.5mm made of copper or zinc. Although the terms use to be separate the definition of BB Guns has changed and now includes a variety of different guns. To get started in airsoft, you can pick a decent tub of 0.20g BBs up for £7.99 here. The 4.5mm BB comes in tubes of 1500 and are available here for £5.89.

Type of airsoft

Airsoft guns are often referred to as BB guns as they shoot 6mm plastic ball bearings.  Today airsoft is bigger than ever with over 200 venues in the UK all offering a variety of game modes. Most venues offer basic game modes such as Capture the Flag, TDM, hostage rescue and more. Some venues offer more specialised game modes like planting the bomb, hostage rescue, president etc.

One type of airsoft that is growing in popularity is MilSim. This is an abbreviation for Military Simulation and is focused on providing the most realistic experience to players.  These are often done over the weekend and last 1-3 days. Some of the most popular venues in the UK are Warzone and Airborne which offer events all year round.

To learn more check out our MilSim blog here. The official War Zone site is here. The official Airborne site is here. 

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