What Is the Difference Between an Air Gun and An Airsoft Gun?

What Is the Difference Between an Air Gun and An Airsoft Gun?
Category: Tips

This blog is not intended to explain which type of gun is better or worse, it is only to point out what makes each gun different and how these differences can affect their performance and usage. At Just Airsoft Guns we stock both Air Guns and Airsoft Guns and respect each type of gun for the type of shooting it was designed for. 


  • In short Air Guns or BB Guns (airguns that shoot steel BB or lead pellets) have been around for a long time so they get to keep the name of being called a “BB gun”, even though many people refer to Airsoft guns as “BB guns”. And yes, Airsoft guns shoot a plastic BB but they do not inherit the name as it is reserved for the long-standing… well BB gun in the USA anyway!
  • BB Air Guns generally shoot a 4.5mm or .177 caliber steel BB but some can also shoot lead pellets in either 4.5mm or .177 and 5.5mm or .22 as known. 
  • BB Air Guns are most often used for target practice and training, some high-power BB guns can also be used for pest control.
  • Airsoft guns generally shoot 6mm plastic BB’s ranging in weights depending on what they are being used for.
  • Airsoft guns are most commonly used for tactical simulation games but can also be used for target practice and training, there are also Airsoft leagues that conduct IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) competitions.
  • Both BB Air Guns and Airsoft Guns can use Springs, Air, Gas, or CO2 as a means of propulsion.
  • Both BB Air Guns and Airsoft guns can be made out of a variety of materials depending on the grade and use of the gun.


  • I would have to give the edge to the Airsoft guns in this category, the entire hobby is based on how real the gun looks and functions. Most Airsoft guns are near impossible to tell apart from the real steel versions, even on close inspection.
  • That is not to say that there aren’t any highly realistic BB Air Guns available, there most certainly are but the focus is not always on realism. It is often more on performance and so compromises are made that can affect realism.


  • BB Air Guns generally have more power (energy) and carry that energy out further down range, but both BB (Air Guns) and Airsoft Guns can shoot up into the 500+ fps ranges.
  • BB Air Guns have smaller but denser and harder ammo so they tend to penetrate deeper into objects which can be good or bad depending on what you want to do with the gun. (War games vs target and pest control)


  • Both BB Air Guns and Airsoft Guns can be very accurate and this is very surprising when you first start shooting. Many people have the impression that Airsoft Guns would not be as accurate as a BB gun (Air Gun) but you will be impressed with the results when shooting a well-made and tuned Airsoft gun.
  • With that said I still feel that a BB Air Gun takes this category, not so much for close-up shooting, but when shooting out at range a steel BB or pellet is less susceptible to the elements and will be more accurate further down range.
  • One advantage Airsoft Guns generally have over BB Air Guns is the hop-up that gives the 6mm Airsoft BB some backspin and allows it to keep a more level trajectory which can help with long-range shots.


  • Because of the material and energy levels of both projectiles, BB Air Guns and Airsoft guns are best used for different shooting situations and with different levels of safety implemented. Always use eye protection with either gun but be aware that a steel BB or Pellet will cause more damage when it hits an object and that object could be you. BB Air Guns require a heavier backstop and will also ricochet off of objects with much more force than an Airsoft plastic 6mm BB would so you need to be careful around windows and breakable objects.
  • Airsoft guns can be a better solution for indoor shooting or even sometimes when doing some backyard shooting where you may live close to buildings.
  • Airsoft guns are obviously the better choice when being used in war games as the plastic BBs are designed to hit but not harm, keep in mind that proper clothing and protection are required and limits to the FPS are often employed to keep everyone safe.
  • Do not even think about using a standard Steel BB Air Gun for war games unless you want to make a trip to your local emergency room for ammo removal. 


  • Larger caliber BB Air Guns such as .22 with a high velocity is recommended for pest control. This is the most humane way to take care of small varmint if this is required. 
  • We would not consider an Airsoft Gun for pest control or hunting period! If you want to scare off your neighbor’s cat, well that’s another issue.


  • Both BB Air Guns and Airsoft Guns can range dramatically in cost and so comparing quality to quality they are about the same to buy and also the cost of use is about the same as ammo is fairly close in price, perhaps steel BBs and Air Gun Pellets are a bit cheaper but not by that much.
  • Some BB Air Guns can get up there in price, however, a high-end competition Airsoft Gun can also cost a lot. 


If you have any questions on either Airsoft Guns or BB Air Guns, then please contact us via this website. 

www.just-airsoftguns.com / [email protected] / 972-685-5211

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