Airsoft can be an expensive hobby.
Guns, gear, ammo…it can all add up – particularly if you’re a high-volume shooter with an itchy trigger finger who likes to mag dump on opponents.
The good news is there are a number of ways you can save money if you’re on a budget.
But can you reuse airsoft BBs?
Unfortunately, no – you can’t reuse airsoft BBs.
But keep reading for some pro-tips and tricks on how to make your ammo go further, as well as some expert advice for getting the most out of it.
Let’s fire in.
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- Are Airsoft BBs Reusable? – The Short Answer
- What Are Airsoft BBs Made From?
- Why You Can’t Reuse Airsoft Pellets
- Reusing Airsoft BBs – Resist the Temptation!
- How to Make Airsoft BBs Last Longer
- Airsoft and the Environment
Are Airsoft BBs Reusable? – The Short Answer
In this fast-paced world, we often don’t have the time to read a full article. With that in mind, here’s the brief summary of this one:
Fired airsoft BBs are not reusable. There are several reasons for this – which we will explore in more detail below. But for now, remember that once a BB has been shot, it cannot (should not) be used again.
The only exception is with some airsoft grenades – many of which are designed to be reused. In fact, airsoft scatter grenades are one way in which you can reuse spent BBs.
Follow that link for more information on airsoft throwables.
What Are Airsoft BBs Made From?
Typically, airsoft BBs are made in large batches from plastic and are available in a range of variable qualities – and prices.
Pro-grade BBs are going to be perfectly smooth and spherical, with no mold lines, blemishes, or imperfections in any way.
Airsoft pellets are usually six millimeters in diameter, although larger eight-millimeter BBs are available, and the two most common weights are 0.12 and 0.20 grams.
Take a look at this article on the different types of airsoft ammunition for more information, and watch the video below on how popular YouTube airsofter Novritsch manufactures his brand of airsoft BBs.
Why You Can’t Reuse Airsoft Pellets
While even the best quality airsoft BBs start life as perfectly spherical, smooth pellets, ready to be loaded up and fired at unsuspecting enemies, unfortunately, they each have a lifespan of one shot.
The pellets are not reusable because they lose their shape after being fired, and can also pick up additional dirt, grime, and damage that compromises their form.
This is due to the stress imparted on each pellet throughout the shot cycle, as well as resulting from striking players and/or the surrounding environment, as well as from lying on the ground.
Let’s say, for example, a single, plastic BB exits a gas-powered pistol (and you can check out that link for some awesome options), at around 300 FPS, and smashes into a wall.
Or, it hits its intended target with the same force, who happens to be wearing one of these plate carriers.
Or, it misses everything completely and ends up rolling around on the floor, in an area where there’s a lot of foot traffic.
In these three common scenarios alone, the shape of that perfect sphere is almost guaranteed to be compromised, and attempting to fire it again in your top-quality airsoft gun runs the risk of seriously damaging the weapon’s internals.
It can easily cause your weapon to jam, create feed problems, damage the hop-up, scratch the bore (a horrifying thought), and generally cause you a serious headache with repairs.
It doesn’t matter the type of airsoft gun you’re running – reusing BBs will render them all useless.
Which will take you right out of the fight until the issue has been addressed. And it’s not a quick fix, as you will need to open the gun up to locate the problem.
If that ever happens, or if you’d just like to learn how to keep your gun operating at peak performance, take a look at this article on airsoft gun maintenance for all you need to know.
Aside from the damage it can cause to your airsoft gun, used BBs just aren’t going to perform as well as a fresh batch.
They won’t fly straight and true, which means your accuracy is going to be off, and you’re not going to be at your best on the day.
Right across the board – reusing airsoft pellets is just not worth it.
Reusing Airsoft BBs – Resist the Temptation!
When playing at a well-attended airsoft event – particularly indoor speedsoft arenas, there’s a good chance you’ll see hundreds, if not thousands of BBs all over the floor.
And it can be a massive temptation to try and gather them all up, save some money, and attempt to reuse them in your own guns.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
But you must resist, and allow the facility to clean up and dispose of this spent ammunition by whatever process it chooses.
Even if the ammo looks unblemished, it could have microscopic problems, such as tiny cracks, dirt, and/or a compromised shape.
And even the smallest, unnoticeable spec of dust can give you feed issues.
Furthermore, you might not know the type of airsoft BB you’re picking up, and they could well be completely unsuitable for your gun and setup.
And just one dirty, misshapen, or incompatible pellet could cause you a world of hurt inside your gun, cost time and money to repair, and – perhaps most importantly – stop you from actually playing airsoft.
How to Make Airsoft BBs Last Longer
If funds are tight, and you would like to limit how much you spend on ammo, try these tops tips for conserving your BBs and making them last longer:
- Pick your targets well, and only fire when you’re sure of a hit.
- Just like with real steel – keep your finger off the trigger until you’re 100% ready to fire.
- Conserve your ammo – consider using a semi-auto mode rather than mag dumping on full.
- Practice stealth and patience, rather than all-out assault. “Knife kills” can be epic.
- Challenge yourself to get through a match with as few shots as possible.
- Consider becoming the team sniper – and you can read more about airsoft roles at that link.
- Store your ammo securely, and take care when opening new bags or packages. Spilling thousands of BBs into the dirt is as heartbreaking as it is costly.
Take a look at this article on airsoft tips beginners, for more top tips to help you get started.
And this piece on the best “cheap” airsoft guns should point you in the right direction if you’re on a budget for purchasing weapons.
Airsoft and the Environment
The environmental impact of airsoft is something that has been a concern for the community for a number of years, and is well documented.
Particularly when it comes to its extensive use of microplastics.
Indoors, it’s not so much of an issue, as the organizer should have a system in place for cleaning up after a match, and sensibly disposing of all the spent pellets.
Outdoors, however, is a different story.
BBs can easily get washed into watercourses when it rains, and we’ve more than enough plastic in our rivers, seas, and oceans as it is.
It can cause a huge, detrimental impact on wildlife – which has a knock-on effect that will eventually reach back to us.
But can you recycle airsoft BBs? As in – can you take them to a recycling facility and hand them in with a clear conscience?
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the answer is no. Airsoft BBs are made in such a way that they are classed as unsuitable for recycling.
They might be a fraction more expensive (it’s negligible, really) but that should change over time. In the end, we’re hopeful that plastic BBs are no longer manufactured and used at all.
In almost all aspects of our lives, it’s time we made the switch to biodegrade products, and away from single-use plastic. Airsoft ammunition is no exception.
Can you clean airsoft BBs?
Yes, you most certainly can! In fact, many players wash their brand new BBs to remove manufacturing oils and residues, which will improve the feed and overall performance.
Take a look at this video on how to wash your BBs. Remember, though – it’s still not a good idea to try to wash BBs that have been fired and picked up off the floor.
But if you happen to spill a batch of fresh pellets, then by all means you can try giving them a thorough clean before running them through your gun.
Do airsoft BBs expire?
No, they don’t. Provided you store them appropriately and away from extreme temperatures and sunlight, you should be able to use your ammo now, and/or five years from now.
Unless, of course, you’re running biodegradable BBs – as mentioned above.
But generally speaking, that’s one advantage airsoft has over paintball, in the sense that paintballs have a shelf life and will expire. Follow that link for more information.
Can I use metal BBs in airsoft guns?
You can – but you certainly shouldn’t. And you should never bring or use metal pellets at an airsoft field, regardless.
Can you reuse airsoft BBs? No, you can’t. It might look tempting, but you’re almost certainly going to ruin your gun if you try, and considering the affordable price of BBs, it’s really not worth it.
Let the community know what you do with your spent BBs in the comments, or if you have any other airsofting experience you’d like to share about BB use.
Stay safe out there, call those hits, and happy airsofting!