Airsoft guns and air guns are often confused. It’s an easy mistake to make – especially if you’re new to either.

But they’re used for different purposes.

One is designed to fire plastic projectiles safely at well-protected humans in a combat sport.

The other fires metal projectiles at paper targets, cans and/or bottles – or to kill rodents and other pests.

But can you use metal BBs in airsoft?

F**k no, is the short answer.

Keep reading for a more in-depth explanation, and why you should never attempt to use metal BBs in airsoft.

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Can Airsoft Guns Shoot Metal BBs? A Brief Summary

If you don’t have the time to read the full article, here’s the short version upfront:

Airsoft guns are designed to fire plastic BBs, and while some are capable of firing metal ammo, the calibers are different, and should you attempt it – you risk ruining the inner workings of your gun.

man aiming an airsoft gun

And if you’re caught trying it at an airsoft field, you can say bye-bye to ever being allowed to play there again. Take a look at this article on airsoft rules and etiquette for more information.

But there’s a bit more to it than that, so stay tuned.

Metal BBs vs Airsoft Pellets vs Paintballs – THE PAIN!

When it comes to combat sports, particularly for beginners or anyone interested in trying them out for the first time, common early questions and concerns always relate to the pain factor.

How much does it hurt?

And while it depends on a number of variables, including the type and caliber of ammo, the FPS velocity of the gun, the level of protection, and conditions on the day – here’s the answer in a nutshell:

Paintball hurts more than airsoft, and metal BBs hurt more than both combined.

A LOT more.

As such, metal ammunition should NEVER be used in airsoft, or any other combat sport for that matter.

A typical airgun is going to have a high FPS rating to shoot a heavy metal BB with incredible accuracy – as it’s designed for pinpoint target shooting, and/or killing rodents and other animals.

Fatalities can occur from airgun misuse, and you’re going to know about it if someone shoots you with a high-powered air rifle loaded with metal ammo.

An airsoft pellet will leave a mark, an airgun BB will leave a scar.

Air pistols and rifles should be handled with the same respect as a real firearm, and they should never be fired at another person, or at an animal you don’t intend to kill or seriously injure.

Which most certainly covers use in airsoft.

You should be following the same kind of safety protocols as you would at a shooting range – and you can follow that link for a range etiquette and safety guide.

For combat sports, this article on the differences between airsoft and paintball pain will tell you more, and go here for a general article on airsoft for beginners if you’re looking for further help getting started.

Airsoft Gun vs Airgun – Key Differences

Aside from the pain factor, one of the first things to note are the differences between an airsoft gun and an airgun.

Depending on the type of weapon, airsoft guns are typically powered by Co2, green gas/compressed air, springs, or a rechargeable battery.

man holding a pcp air rifle

This article on the different types of airsoft guns will tell you all you need to know.

Airguns also use Co2/compressed air and springs – but battery-powered airguns aren’t currently a thing.

Sometimes, the two can be confused, especially when both are interchangeably referred to as “BB guns.”

Check out this piece on the differences between airsoft guns and BB guns for more information on what sets them both apart.

Aside from power/velocity, the main key difference is in the type of ammo used, with airsoft using harmless plastic pellets, and air guns using heavier metal BBs.

Can You Put Metal BBs in an Airsoft Gun?

Metal BBs are generally .177 caliber, weighing in around five grams, and designed for use in a compatible air rifle or pistol.

They are not designed for use in an airsoft gun, which typically takes larger, six millimeter plastic pellets that commonly weigh either 0.12 or 0.20 grams.

This article on the different types of airsoft ammunition will tell you more about what you can and can’t load into your airsoft gun.

Now, you can easily put metal BBs in an airsoft gun – and providing they’re the same caliber as your plastic pellets, they should fit into a magazine as normal.

But can you use metal BBs in an airsoft gun? It’s strongly advised that you don’t.

You’re risking seriously damaging your airsoft rifle or pistol, and you might find it’s unusable, difficult to repair, and/or it has shortened its longevity.

Remember, even the best airsoft AEGs on the market are going to wear out sooner or later. You can help prolong their life by following a good maintenance program, and not using them to fire incompatible ammunition.

If you choose to carry on regardless, then metal BBs can scratch and damage the barrel, destroy the hop-up, break the magazine, and cause additional damage that will be costly to repair.

Aside from that, most airsoft guns simply aren’t powerful enough to shoot the heavier metal pellets, so it’s a waste of time, effort, and money all-round.

The video below will show you a good example of this, as metal BBs in an airsoft gun clearly doesn’t work well.

A Word on Safety

Telling someone not to do something is a sure fire way to get them to go and do it.

Especially when it comes to kids and young adults.

As such, there’s a strong possibility that people reading this article or others like it will still try to fire metal BBs from an airsoft gun.

So long as it’s not at people or animals – then go for your life. Just be sure to take all the necessary safety precautions.

You should always be wearing eye protection when firing any kind of projectile. Take a look at this review of the best airsoft goggles on the market, or this piece on the best paintball masks.

Either way – masks and goggles should be rated to take the force of ballistics.

airsoft gun and bbs

Ski and snowboard goggles are not going to cut it, and getting hit with a metal BB or plastic BB can cause non-ballistic-rated goggles to shatter into your eye.


Can you reuse airsoft ammo?

It’s a good question – good enough for us to write an in-depth article on the subject, to help you understand the limits of airsoft ammo recycling.

Head on over to this link to find out if you can reuse airsoft ammo.

Can airguns shoot plastic BBs?

Provided you’re using the right caliber of ammunition, then it is possible for an airgun to shoot a plastic airsoft BBs.

Some are even designed to be compatible with plastic ammo – in which case, you should have no problems using this type in your gun.

But it’s not about if you can – it’s about if you should.

Can an airsoft gun kill?

A small rodent, perhaps, but they certainly can’t kill a human. At the time of writing, there have been no recorded fatalities from shooting someone with an airsoft gun.

However, they can still cause a fair bit of damage if you’re not wearing any protection – particularly if you’re hit in the eye, or any other soft tissue around the head and neck area.

This article on what to wear for airsoft should tell you all you need to know when it comes to the protective gear required.

Can I use an airgun for airsoft?

No, you can’t. Even if you’re firing plastic pellets, an airgun typically has a higher FPS than an airsoft gun, and all airsoft fields have strict limits for how powerful a player’s gun can be.

This is usually around 350 FPS for outdoor arenas, and 250 FPS for indoor matches. A typical airgun, by comparison, is going to fire at 600 FPS and above, with many shooting well over 1000 FPS.

As you can tell, that’s some serious overkill for an airsoft field.

Take a look at this article on the best airsoft rifles and bring something that’s more compatible, instead.


Can you use metal BBs in airsoft? No – you most certainly cannot. Doing so is going to get you kicked out and banned from a field faster than you can say “I’m an idiot.”

If you want to mess around plinking at home with metal BBs in your airsoft guns – be my guest. But you might ruin the internals if you do so.

Keep the plastic pellets for airsoft, and the metal BBs for the airguns.

Let me know your thoughts on the matter, or if you have any further advice or experience you’d like to share with the community.

Stay safe out there, and happy airsofting!