Airguns are often referred to globally as BB guns. They are also commonly confused with Airsoft guns. It’s easy for the uneducated to make these simple mistakes. Today, we are going to take a look at the various distinctions. But we first need to look at the market as a whole.
Airsoft guns are airguns, but not all airguns are airsoft airguns. Given the overlap between the various products, it is easy to see why people struggle with the distinction. BB guns, Pellet Guns, and Airsoft guns are all technically “airguns,” but they all occupy very different market segments and serve very different shooting needs. While airsoft guns shoot “BBs,” they differ from the .177 caliber steel BBs used by traditional BB guns. And pellet guns shoot lead pellets vs. steel or plastic BBs. But since they are all Airguns, and most people grew up with their Daisy Red Ryder “BB” gun, it’s understandable how all Airguns are identified as BB guns. It’s a tangled mess, but it’s not impossible to sort out.
What are Airguns
It’s pretty easy to define what an airgun is. Or is it? An airgun is a gun that propels its projectile via compressed air or gas. In simple terms, a firearm does the same thing. Expanding gasses propel the bullet down the bore. So why aren’t firearms considered airguns? It’s because there’s an explosive charge involved with a firearm. It may be expanded gasses, but those gasses started with an explosion.
A true airgun does not use an explosive charge. Rather, it uses a mechanical piston, compressed air, or other inert gas stored in a storage vessel.
What are BB Guns
We’ve tackled this question many times, but it still comes across our radar far more than you may imagine. The typical BB gun is an airgun that fires steel BBs .177 (ish) caliber BBs. They can be spring-powered like the Daisy Red Ryder, CO2-powered like many Umarex replica pistols and Legends series airguns, or pump-pneumatic powered like the Crosman 760 Pumpmaster. Some enthusiasts have gone so far as to create PCP-powered BB guns. What makes a BB gun a BB gun is not the power plant but rather the ammunition that it fires.
What are Airsoft Guns
Airsoft guns are an interesting breed of gun. While they use air to propel a 6mm plastic BB down a smooth bore barrel, they use a very low-pressure air charge vs. traditional airguns, which require much higher pressure. Airsoft guns can use various means to send their BBs down range. They can be spring-powered, CO2-powered, and green gas-powered (Green gas is a variation on propane and fills like you would a butane lighter). Some airsoft guns called AEG, which stands for Automatic Electric Gun, use a powerful battery connected to a gearbox that actuates a piston. Many AEG Airsoft Airguns are select fire, which can fire semi-automatic and fully automatic with a flip of a switch. The advantage of AEG Airguns is that shooters can simply replace or recharge a battery to keep right on shooting vs. buying consumables like CO2 or green gas.
Airsoft guns are often replicas of actual firearms. Because they closely resemble firearms, they are legally required to have a blaze orange band on the muzzle. The blaze orange band is NOT required on typical airguns.
Let’s try to wrap this up
The Airguns category covers many different products, from pellet guns to BB guns, to airsoft guns; they are all Airguns. Once you’ve properly identified the segment that interests you, it’s easy to dive in and see the options. And if you need help, just give us a call.