Along with the plastic airsoft BBs, there are metal BBs on the market.
Airsoft guns are normally used with plastic BBs because shooting other people using metal BBs would cause serious injuries, however, the question still remains whether you could load an airsoft gun with metal BBs and perhaps shoot the target.
Let’s answer this in short,
Metal BBs can be used in airsoft guns technically, but you should not attempt to do such a thing. Metal BBs could seriously destroy the gun internals because airsoft guns are not made to endure anything else, but the common plastic BBs.
Another reason not to use metal BBs in your airsoft gun is the fact that most metal BBs weigh more than plastic BBs, so you won’t be able to shoot it far.
If you are new to airsoft, you may misinterpret airsoft guns for air guns (BB guns) that use metal BBs and although they can look quite similar, there is a big difference between them.
Why you cant use metal BBs in airsoft guns
A gun could jam due to different BB size
This is something that makes me shiver, a metal BB is usually 4.3-4.4 mm in size compared to the airsoft plastic BB’s size of 6mm.
This means that a metal BB could easily jam your gun if it would escape the traditional route within the gun.
The smaller a BB is and less fitting it is, the more are the odds of it getting lost somewhere inside the inner parts.
This can happen with regular airsoft BBs, especially if a BB is shattered and small pieces find their way to internals.
Jamming is annoying experience and requires an intervention from your side, most importantly if you would continue to use a jammed gun it could get seriously damaged.
Cylinder head and a piston can be annoying to fix, but sometimes jamming can occur at other parts of the gun as well.
Metal BBs weigh more than plastic BBs
Metal BBs on average weigh around a 0.35 gram, airsoft BBs average and most used weight is 0.20-0.25 gram
As you can see, the difference is noticeable and a difference between 0.20 gram BB to 0.40 gram is so big that a 400 FPS airsoft gun could barely move a 0.40 gram BB to reach some effective distance, so you would need at least 500 FPS airsoft gun to comfortably use 0.40 gram BBs.
Imagine how powerful the velocity should be to propel anything heavier than that and there are metal BBs that can weigh over 40 grams.
If you have a really powerful (over 400 FPS) airsoft gun that can take heavier BBs, you could technically use it, but then you will need to calculate other issues that I am about to mention.
Inner barrel would get scratched
When a plastic BB goes throughout the inner barrel of your airsoft gun, it happens quite smoothly as It should, however if the plastic BB has dirt on it or is damaged it can accumulate dirt within the barrel or scratch it.
This is one the reasons why it is not suggested to use possibly damaged and dirty BBs such as the ones taken from the floor.
Now, if inner barrel seems to be so sensitive just imagine what would happen if you would run a metal BB throughout it.
A metal BB would scratch it for sure and seriously destroy it over time.
A damaged inner barrel leads to decreased accuracy and thus effects the performance of the airsoft gun.
Always clean your dirty barrel and take care of it, you will need to preserve it!
The hop-up may get damaged
The hop-up unit is pretty soft and sensitive, so I can imagine that a metal BB would tear it down way sooner than any plastic BB.
Hop-up is important for gun’s accuracy and range, do not mess with it.
Magazine could break
Airsoft guns are not built for metal BBs, so it is logical to expect that airsoft magazines that fit such gun are neither.
If a metal BB would fit the size of regular 6mm plastic BB, it could technically fit in the magazine, but over time it could lead to certain damages and reduce the efficiency of BBs feeding capability.
This is however, not proven by me, but I can assume that it could happen under such circumstances.
The difference between airsoft guns and air guns
Airsoft guns are primary made for shooting at other people in airsoft matches, air guns in other hand are used primary for taking down the practice targets or for hunting of small animals and pest control.
This is the fundamental difference between airsoft guns and air guns and everything starts from there.
If we’d like to explain this furthermore, you would just need to take a look into the inner barrel of airsoft guns and compare it with the inner barrel of air guns, they differ a big time.
Air guns have the inner barrel that is compatible with metal BBs, while the airsoft gun’s one is not.
The whole inner system that runs both gun types is quite similar, but yet again differs in a very crucial way.
For instance every part of the air gun from the part where the magazine connects and sends BBs into it to the part where a BB is propelled and leaves the barrel, is made from materials that can endure higher pressure and more sturdy materials.
This is the reason why on average, air guns have a more sturdy build and are made with higher velocity. It is all about performance and that’s it.
How dangerous are metal BBs compared to plastic airsoft BBs?
Metal BBs are made for creating damage and thus have greater puncture power, while plastic BBs are made to reach the target without inflicting any serious damage.
If you would hit a man from the same velocity gun, first with a plastic BB and than with a metal BB, a plastic BB would not break through the skin and the metal BB certainly could.
Plastic BB can not inflict any damage to the skin if a person wears protective gear and in other hand a metal BB could inflict some damage through it.
However, if the plastic BB lands on unprotected body part it can seriously hurt and cause an injury.
The same applies to glass on windows, ceramics and similar materials could shatter from the very first hit of a metal BB, while a plastic BB would require to be shot from at least 1/3 more powerful gun to do the same.
Yet, sometimes people break windows with airsoft guns if they are not careful enough, so take care.
In conclusion, do not ever use metal BBs on humans, it can seriously hurt them even through safety gear.
Final take on
There you go, metal BBs should not be used in airsoft guns for many reasons, but even if you could use one on your own risk, you would not benefit it from it because they are forbidden for use against players.
Metal BBs may be a good pick for target practicing because they are strictly made for performance, however in that case you would still need an air (BB) gun.
Target practicing is cool, so why don’t you get yourself a BB gun and have some fun in the garden if you find airsoft guns less capable?
I personally like airsoft guns and their performance for target practicing just as they are useful for their primal function, the competitive use in the fields.
Yeah, the accuracy is not always nice on some airsoft guns and does not behave realistically, but it may be up to a model of a gun or you may just need to lower the expectations.
If you want to use airsoft guns for practicing shooting, I have named some important factors I would consider for such purpose in my post about target practicing, but BB guns are still superior for anyone who wants to take it seriously.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun and stay smart and happy!