Pellet Guns Vs. BB Guns

by Chandler Jarrell
Kids with air rifles

Kids with air rifles

The world of recreational shooting is a popular one, especially in the United States. Two of the most popular types of practice guns are BB guns and pellet guns. Although the two are often lumped together, several significant differences between them exist, including variations in size, uses and safety.


Apparent from both their names, BB guns and pellet guns shoot different kinds of ammunition. The most obvious difference between the two types of ammunition is in their shapes. BBs, or ball bearings, are small spheres that usually measure about 0.180 inches in diameter. Pellets possess a more unusual shape, with a flat, circular top and a bottom that tapers in toward the middle. Pellets are twice the size of BBs, measuring 0.22 inches across at their widest point.


Both pellet guns and BB guns can found in range air rifles. Because of the size of the ammunition, the pellet-only air rifles are all 0.22 caliber, while BB-only variations tend to be much smaller. Air-powered pistols much more commonly come in the BB variety. These guns are also better suited to lighter, close-range shooting practice.


The uses of BB and pellet guns tend to cross paths, but each are suited for specific things. The size and shape of pellets make them much more effective for hunting ― for instance, for pests and small game. The clearly visible holes left by pellets make pellet guns good for target range practice. BB guns are almost exclusively used for practice sessions, but they tend to be used at close range and for amateur backyard practice.


Depending on the quality of the product, the prices of BB and pellet guns can vary quite a bit. It's safe to say, however, that BB guns are the cheapest guns on the market, in the form of air pistols. Air rifles, which are designed to shoot BBs, cost more than air pistols but not nearly as much as air pellet rifles, which can easily cost upwards of $500.


Both of these types of guns can cause serious injury, especially if used at close range. Pellet guns possess the most potential for danger, however. Pellets' greater size and awkward shape can cause more damage than BBs. Because of their spherical shape, however, BBs can easily ricochet off of walls with unpredictable consequences.

Photo Credits

  • cub scouts shooting bb guns image by pixelcarpenter from