Today, we’re going to discuss the most tried and true tin can slayer of all time, the BB gun.
BB guns used to be thought of as weak toys used for nothing more than teaching kids the fundamentals of marksmanship and firearm safety, but nowadays there are some very fun and powerful BB guns that when fired will put a smile on just about anyone’s face.
From multi-pump BB rifles to BB pistols to even full-auto BB guns, there are some seriously impressive products on this list!
After looking through this list, you might want to take a look at my review on the coolest BB gun targets for plinking. We also have reviews on pellet guns and pellet pistols you might be interested in.
This review will begin with good starter BB guns for kids, but if you’re looking for something a little more powerful, you can use to table of contents below to navigate straight to the variable pump, C02 powered, or full auto section of the review.
- Here Are the Best BB Guns in 2020
- BB Pistols
- Full Auto BB Guns (CO2 Powered)
- BB Gun Buying Guide
Here Are the Best BB Guns in 2020
1. Daisy Red Ryder (Best Starter BB Gun)
Price Range: Around $40
My Review: This certainly isn’t the coolest or most powerful BB Gun on this list, but it’s a great place to start for kids.
My first BB gun was a Red Ryder just like this one. I loved it, but after a couple of years, I upgraded to a variable pump BB gun that was a little more powerful.
This classic model is a lot of fun and actually shoots pretty far considering how basic the level action cocking mechanism is . It fires standard .177-caliber BBs and is spring-powered, meaning that velocity and max range will be limited by the amount of force generated by the spring propulsion mechanism (I described how that works at the bottom of the page if you’re interested).
This starter set comes with iron sights, so it’s easy to aim and accurate right of the box.
This particular model includes both a supply of ammo and targets you can practice with. If you think the paper targets it comes with are boring you can use some soda cans, or if you really want to have some fun check out my page of air rifle targets.
- Limited range and velocity.
- No way to attach a scope or other upgraded sight.
- The lever is cheaply made
- Has a tendency to shoot multiple rounds if shots are taken too fast.
Bottom Line: An inexpensive, yet quality, single-shot, spring-powered starter rifle for younger shooters or those just learning how to handle a weapon as well as for target practice.
If you want to see this classic Red Ryder shoot skip to around 0:35 in the video below.
- Well-established model and brand.
- Known for being super accurate despite being a spring-powered gun.
- It comes with a target.
- Includes ammunition (.177 BBs).
- Estimated Velocity: 350 feet per second
- Powered by a spring / single pump
2. Daisy Model 25
Price Range: Around $45
My Review: This is another classic single-pump offering from Daisy that was first introduced over 100 years ago in 1914. It has been discontinued several times and reintroduced, and it has also undergone revisions and small modifications along the way.
It has since become a go-to introductory single-pump BB gun for youth or new shooters as well as a tried and true gun in terms of reliability. It shoots BB balls only, comes with adjustable iron/open rear sights that can be set for wind direction and speed to increase accuracy.
Like all single pump weapons, this gun does not have a super high velocity and a limited max range due to the limitation of how much pressure can be built up with a single pump, versus multiple pump guns in which the velocity and range can be controlled and customized depending on the task at hand by either pumping more or less, up to the maximum pressure specified. However, this single pump BB rifle is perfect for target practice and is super easy to use.
Velocity and range limited by single-pump air compression capabilities.
Single shot, which is perfect for kids and beginners but limits the rate of fire.
Limited to the iron and open sights that come standard with the gun.
Bottom line: This classic beginner air rifle is perfectly suited for beginners, affordably priced, and is a classic model with proven staying power, so repairs or replacement parts could theoretically be found very inexpensively, or the gun can be replaced without a large drain on your wallet.
- Estimated Velocity: 350 feet per second
- Estimated Max Range: 195 yards
- Includes adjustable rear sight.
- An excellent value for this classic, coming in around $45.
- Easy to use
- Powered by single pump
Multi-Pump / Pneumatic BB Guns (Most Powerful)
3. Crosman 2100X (Recommended Multi-Pump)
Price Range: Around $55
My Review: This is a BB gun that I personally own and I still love using it. It’s a classic single-shot variable pump rifle that is one of the most powerful, yet most affordable BB guns reviewed on this page.
It comes standard with iron sights and a detachable 4×15 scope. This is nice because if the scope breaks or you want to practice using iron sights it’s easy to switch between the two.
Above the trigger area, there is a covered hole where you can store tons of BBs, so when you cock the bolt back a BB automatically loads. This makes it nice for walking around and plinking with because you won’t have to worry about continually adding BBs or carrying extra ammo.
The only thing I can think of that people might not like about it is the plastic materials used for construction, but I mean come on it’s a BB gun, not a collectible. Although it’s made of plastic, it’s not fragile, flimsy, or easily breakable like low quality or cheap BB guns.
At a price point of under 75 dollars, this rifle packed full of features, including the iron sights and detachable scope, which makes this best BB gun for the money and the one I recommend for most people looking for a traditional style BB gun.
- Pumping can be hard for small kids (only after 5 pumps or so when trying to reach max power)
Bottom Line: Based on a very wide consensus, this is the best BB gun for the money reviewed here. Very powerful multi-pump, single-shot makes this perfect for hunting small game.
Here is a video of the Crossman 2100x Classic in action. Skip to around 3:45 if you just want to see it shoot!
- Can shoot BBs and pellets (must single load pellets)
- Runs Off: Multi-pump / pneumatic air powered
- Estimated Velocity: Up to 800 feet per second
- Estimated Max Range: Unspecified (but quite good)
- Comes with scope and fiber optic sight
- Comes with iron sights and a detachable scope
- High velocity and very powerful
- Extremely affordable
4. Crosman 760 (Pink BB Gun for Girls)
Price Range: Around $40
My Review: If you’re looking for a pink BB gun for girls, this is a classic rifle is much like the one I recommend above in brown (which I personally own). It is made by the reputable Crosman company and is a great BB gun for kids and teens.
In the rear of the gun above the trigger area is a compartment that holds a ton of BBs, so you won’t have to worry about carrying around ammunition. All you need to do is cock the rifle, pump the gun and it’s ready to fire. You can adjust the power of the rifle by adjusting the number of pumps (more pumps = more power).
- Max velocity of 645 FPS
- Shoots BBs or pellets
- Pink BB gun makes an awesome gift idea for girls
- Adjustable iron sights
- Fires BBs or pellets
5. Daisy Powerline BB/Pellet Rifle (Best Seller)
Price Range: Around $60
My Review: This is another BB gun that I had to add to the list. I’m pretty sure this is the exact rifle a friend of mine had when I was a kid, and I can tell you I loved it, but the critters, not so much. It’s a hybrid BB/pellet gun, meaning you can shoot either BBs or Pellets. Its single-shot, pneumatic multi-pump BB rifle, which means you have to cock the gun (feed the round) and pump it between each shot. like the guns above there is a storage area near the trigger to store up to 50 BBs, so you won’t have to worry about always carrying ammunition with you. It has a respectable velocity of 750/715 feet per second for BBs and pellets, respectively. Its most attractive feature has to be the bundled items that are included, at under 75 dollars this rifle is a steal!
The bundle includes free safety glasses, a 750-count carton of BBs, a 500-count box of pellets, iron sights, and a detachable scope that can be removed/replaced with an aftermarket scope if you so desire. This rifle is strong enough to hunt small game and pests with (I know from experience).
Bottom line: A solid all-around BB gun that comes with all the necessary accessories to get shooting right away. You might want to check out my targets page to include a cool target if you’re buying this as a gift.
- Many users report problems with scope calibration and quality.
- Woodgrain plastic is very fragile and cheaply made.
Bottom Line: An affordable multi-pump rifle with high velocity but rather cheap plastic construction on both the bundled scope as well as the stock of the gun itself.
If you want to see the Powerline shoot skip to 1:49 in the video below.
- Estimated Velocity: 750 fps with BBs /715 fps with pellets
- Hybrid BB pellet gun
- Includes scope, BBs, pellets, and safety glasses for no extra charge
- Powerful velocity
- Holds up to 50 BBs
- The scope can be upgraded and replaced.
- Runs Off: Multi-pump / pneumatic air powered
6. Gamo Outdoors M4
Price Range: Around $50
My Review: If you’re looking for a realistic looking BB gun that is powerful and can shoot pellets as well as BBs this one is perfect. Coming in at just under $50 this rifle is a great value. It can fire up to 880 feet per second but takes a good bit of pumps to get to that kind of power. It is a replica AR platform, so many aftermarket AR parts will fit on this model, such as scope, stock, and more. The rifle is made out of plastic, but the plastic used is very durable. It could easily be mistaken for an authentic AR, even at close range, so you definitely want to be careful when walking around with it, as doing so could definitely lead to legal problems or scared neighbors. This is a risk that you face anytime you pull a gun out, replica or real, but with the demonizing of assault rifles recently in the United States and worldwide, it is much more likely that an accident like this could occur with a replica assault rifle in your hand than with an air gun that is obviously marked as such.
- Despite being solidly constructed, it is still made of plastic.
- The realistic look and feel could actually work against you if someone interprets it as a threat.
Bottom Line: An amazing value for this realistic looking, very capable AR BB gun replica.
- Rifled barrel
- Picatinny rail mounts
- Tactical front and rear sights
- Holds up to 80 BBs
- Sturdy construction, yet lightweight
- Authentic look and feel of an M4 assault rifle
- Dual fuel means you can use either BBs or pellets.
7. Daisy Powerline 340 (Cheap)
Price Range: Around $10
My Review: This cheap little spring-powered BB pistol is the lowest priced model. This gun is famous for being mass-produced and readily available at big box stores like Wal-Mart, making it one of the first air pistols that most youths end up with. Its velocity is only 240 feet per second, making it the least powerful weapon that we have reviewed. Furthermore, with a 3-star average rating, it is the gun with the largest number of complaints, but these complaints are generally from people expecting to get the power of a $30-60 pistols instead of the very cheap $8 price tag.
While you won’t be killing any game with this, it is very useful for target practice and novice gun handling and safety training. The cheap price tag does have an upside, though; and that is the fact that you can easily spend the $8 to purchase this and see if it will accomplish your intended goals without hurting your wallet at all. If it does not meet your intent, you can easily put it away in a drawer and order a better BB pistol to solve your issue.
- Estimated Velocity: Up to 240 feet per second
- Cheapest BB gun on the market
- The large 200-BB capacity reservoir is larger than most
- Looks realistic
- Runs off spring power
8. Glock Gen 3 BB Pistol
Price Range: Around $65
My Review: This BB pistol is a replica of one of the most popular handguns in the world, the Glock 19. It has the traditional Glock fixed U-shaped rear sight and white dot front sight. It has a weaver rail system located on the bottom of the barrel to attach a laser or flashlight. If you a Glock fan or just looking for a reliable bb pistol, I really have no major complains about this BB gun.
While I don’t use it for this reason because I prefer Sig pistols, some people actually buy this replica so they can dry fire it and use it as a practice gun for when they carry their Glock 19.
- Co2 Powered
- Fixed sights
- A velocity of 410 FPS
- Integrated front Weaver Rail
- 15 round magazine capacity
9. Sig Sauer We the People BB Pistol
Price Range: Around $100
My Review: It’s made by Sig Sauer, do I really need to say more? They’re one of the most legendary companies out there and are trusted by police and military personnel all over the world. On top of that, this particular BB pistol is a replica of one of the most famous handgun models in the world, the 1911. If you’re a patriotic American, you’ll probably also love this model because it has “we the people” engraved on the side and 1776 (the year America was founded).
- Velocity of up to 340 fps
- Full metal blowback side
- Distressed finish
- Skeletonized trigger
- Can be field stripped
10. Beretta 92A1 Full Auto BB Pistol
Price Range: Around $180
My Review: Beretta is another company that is trusted by civilians, law enforcement officers, and military personnel around the world. This particular model is unique because it’s one of the few reliable full auto BB pistols on the market right now. It takes 12-gram CO2 tanks that go inside the handle.
- A velocity of 330 feet per second
- Semi or full auto
- Looks and feels real
- Awesome replica
- Comes with two magazines, 1500 BBs, and 12 CO2 Cartridges
11. Umarex Brodax BB Revolver
Price Range: Around $35
My Review: This is another one of my favorite products on this list, I love that it is a BB revolver that looks and feels so real. It fires at a velocity of 375 feet per second, which is about average for a CO2 pistol of this type and in this price range. It has a realistic revolver action, and the frame is made out of a special hardened polymer (plastic). Purchasers of this gun tend to be surprised by the performance, as they indicate better performance than the manufacturer specifies, which means that this is a pretty good pistol to have around versus a model that advertises a higher power velocity than what their product manual specifies. This tends to give Umarex a great reputation for this rather hefty, very affordable pistol.
- Plastic frame, although the polymer is very hard.
- BBs sometimes roll out of the barrel when they aren’t supposed to
- Possible design flaw can result in CO2 leakage (add pellgun oil to the top of the cartridge if this becomes a problem)
Bottom Line: An affordable CO2 BB pistol with some attractive features as well as some not so promising possible design flaws. All around, though, a pretty nice offering from Umarex for the price.
- More powerful than advertised
- Realistic looking revolver BB gun
- Easy to use and smooth firing.
- Estimated max velocity of 375 feet per second
- Runs Off CO2
12. Remington 1911
Price Range: Around $85
My Review: This CO2-powered, semi-automatic BB gun is one of the best replicas out there. Modeled after the exacting specifications of the 1911, this gun boasts full metal construction, giving a full weight experience.
Coupled with a semi-automatic rate of fire, this pistol will definitely give you the feeling of a realistic shooting experience. This pistol utilizes .177 steel BBs for ammunition. Unfortunately, at 400 feet per second maximum velocity, it does not pack that great of punch, but will do just fine for target practice, which is exactly what it is designed for; but without a fresh CO2 cartridge, the velocity is going to be significantly decreased, as with all CO2 cartridge powered air pistols.
Another cool feature is that it is designed for field disassembly in the same way that the original 1911s are, meaning that you can clean it thoroughly.
Bottom line: Expensive but ultra-realistic in design, this CO-2 powered pistol will give you the look and feel of holding and shooting an authentic government 1911.
- Ultra-realistic, true to the original design
- Full metal frame construction
- Highly accurate with recoil blow-back for increasing the accuracy of your shot
- Estimated Velocity: 400 feet per second
- Powered by a CO2 cartridge
13. Crosman Vigilante 357 BB Revolver Pistol (CO2 Powered)
Price Range: Around $55
My Review: This semi-automatic, revolver bb pistol is very realistic looking. It comes with a free holster, which is a nice addition for a BB gun under 50 dollars. Its maximum velocity is 435 feet per second, which is pretty standard for a pistol of this type. Also, it includes extra rotary magazines, so you won’t run out of ammunition or have to reload each slot after firing. The grip is ergonomically designed, and it very comfortable in your hand. Furthermore, the barrel is rifled, which increases the accuracy of pellets fired versus the smoothbore counterparts.
The only cons I see:
- The double-action does not always work as designed.
- Some parts are made of low quality plastic.
- Shooting BBs instead of pellets wears the barrel rifling.
Bottom Line: This is a very capable pistol that comes with some nice freebies.
- Rifled barrel and can shoot pellets
- A holster is included for no extra charge.
- Uses 10-shot revolver-style “clips” for ammunition storage, extras are included.
- Single and double action.
- Comfortable, ergonomic pistol grip.
Full Auto BB Guns (CO2 Powered)
14. MP40 Submachine Gun Replica Air Gun
Price Range: Around $200
Note: Accepts Pellets and Steel and Zinc BBs only (no copper)
My Review: This MP40 BB gun replica by the Legend company looks awesome and just like the that was used by the Germans in world war 2. The 0.177 caliber gun can shoot BBs or pellets, be sure to read the note above if you are planning on using BBs. It has a velocity of 450 feet per second and is powered by small Co2 cartridges.
Along with looking totally badass it’s also functional and shoots true. It has a full metal-polymer grip that looks and feels realistic. Whether you’re buying this for yourself as a cool collectors’ piece or for a kid or teen as a gift this thing is a steal at under 200 dollars.
- Removable clip
- Looks like an MP40
- Semi or full auto BB gun
15. Crosman DSBR (My Favorite On This List)
Price Range: Around $160
Note: Crosman also makes this rifle in another model, which is called the Crosman DPMS SBR. From what I can tell the only difference is the color.
My Review: This thing is an absolute nightmare for small varmints and tin cans everywhere. It’s a powerful BB gun that is accurate and has a fire rate of just under 25 BBs per second.
The Crossman DPMS is one of the newer BB guns on this list and nothing but pure joy to shoot. It has a selector switch that allows the user to easily switch between safe, semi-automatic, and fully automatic.
This thing looks real, feels real, and breaks apart into upper and lower components (good in-case of jams and barrel obstructions) much like a real m4 or AR-style rifle. It has a realistic charging handle and bolt system that gives the gun a small amount of recoil. It has front and rear flip-up sights, but only the rear sight has windage adjustment capabilities.
Like many of the other high-end BB guns on this list, it has rail space for custom attachments like flashlights, red dot sights, etc.
I could go on and on about the Crosman DPMS, but I think the video below does a great job covering loading the magazine, how to use the speed loader, and some more awesome features of this BB rifle.
The bottom line is this is one of the coolest BB guns, a backyard plinker’s dream, and in my opinion the best BB gun in the world right now.
- Comfortable rail system and an adjustable foregrip
- Speedloader included
- Full muzzle break
- Comfortable rail system and an adjustable foregrip
- 25 round magazine capacity
- Adjustable Stock Flip-up sights
16. Legends M712
Price Range: Around $105
My Review: The Legends M712 is a small and compact World War 1 replica BB gun that shoots full auto, all for under $100.
This certainly isn’t the most functional or most powerful BB gun on this list, but for those of you are just looking for a cool BB to add to their collection, this thing is awesome! If you want a fun gun to display and shoot on full auto with your buddies this is great, but if you’re looking for your first BB gun to actually hit targets with at long ranges, this isn’t the BB rifle for you.
Bottom line: It’s an awesome full metal German replica BB Gun that looks and feels realistic, but isn’t very accurate.
- Runs of 12 Gram CO2 cartridges
- Max speed of around 350 FPS
- Full auto blowback action
- Fixed front sight and an adjustable rear sight for elevation
17. SteelForce BB Airgun
Price Range: Around $105
My Review: This is another BB rifle that looks really cool, but if you’re looking for something that will survive the test of time, this certainly isn’t the best option on this list. That said, being that it’s priced at just over $100 and shoots full auto, It’s a good bang for your buck.
I personally feel that this is an awesome addition to any collection, but if you’re just looking to buy one rifle, there are better options on this list.
Being that it is a good value and that some of you might want it just for the cool looks factor, I decided to add it to the list.
- 300 round BB reservoir
- Powered by two 12 gram CO2 capsules
- Fire selector switch to quickly switch between firing modes
- Adjustable stock
18. Air Ordnance SMG
Price Range: Around $550
My Review: Look y’all I know this is technically a pellet gun, but come on, it’s belt-fed baby! Thinking about 700 pellets being fired per minute, I’m too fired up to not put this rifle on this list.
That said, if you’re looking to just buy one bb machine gun on this list, the Crosman rifle above is much more practical, as it doesn’t require a large paintball style CO2 tank to operate. That said, this thing is super unique and one of a kind, so I wanted to at least let you know about it.
Some of you who played paintball in the past probably already realized the frame of the gun is basically a modified Tippmann 98.
- Upper and lower Picatinny rail
- Velocity of around 600 fps
- Rifled barrel
- Up to 12 rounds per second
- 22 caliber
19. Sig Sauer MPX with Red Dot Sight
Price Range: Around $190
My Review: This semi-automatic rifle is .177 (standard caliber for BB guns), but is designed to shoot pellets. I think it’s awesome and made by one of my favorite companies, Sig Sauer, so I decided to add it to the list!
If you’re looking for a modern looking badass pellet gun, look no farther than the Sig Sauer MPX air rifle with red dot scope. They also sell this rifle without the red dot sight and they also sell another model called the Sig Sauer MCX here if you’re interested in checking it out.
I’m a former Marine and got to play with all kinds of military weapons and rockers and I still think this thing is badass. It has a rifled barrel that spins the round to increase the range just like a real rifle barrel. If you’re a Sig fan this may be for you!
- 30 round magazines
- Includes red dot sight
- Picatinny rail for optics and accessories
- Velocity: Around 400 feet per second
- Runs off 90-gram CO2 cartridges
20. Gamo Silent BB Gun (Works Better with Pellets)
Price Range: Around $150
My Review: This is a .177 caliber rifle, so technically it can shoot BBs, but it is highly recommended that you fire standard pellets or Performance Ballistic Alloy (PBA) Pellets. They will be much more accurate than BBs.
I included this to the list because it has a simple cocking mechanism much like most BB guns, but is significantly more powerful.
If you want to see it shoot skip to about 1:00 in the video below.
It has a unique barrel break design for loading and cocking the spring. It includes a sound dampener that can reduce noise by up to 52%, which makes this the worst enemy of those annoying little pests around the house. It comes standard with a 4×32 scope sight, which makes it a lot of fun and accurate. Though it is a single pump rifle, it is surprisingly powerful, with the ability to shoot at a rate of 1200 feet per second with PBA pellets and around 1000 feet per second with standard pellets. It comes with an adjustable smooth action trigger (Gamo made this improvement after getting many complaints about the previous trigger quality).
- At around $150, it can be a little out of most buyers price range
- The cocking mechanism can be difficult for small kids.
Bottom Line: A high-powered, yet whisper-quiet rifle perfect for taking down small game or ridding yourself of bothersome pests.
- Estimated Velocity: 1200 feet per second with PBA pellets; 1000 fps with standard pellets.
- Most powerful BB Gun that is single pump
- Rifled barrel
- Quiet and powerful at the same time
- Includes a scope
- Improved smooth action trigger
- Say goodbye to annoying pests around the house
BB Gun Buying Guide
What is a BB Gun? (Introduction)
A lot of people think that the “BB” in BB gun stands for “ball bearing”, but that’s not accurate. They actually get their name from the size projectile the original guns fired (BB-sized lead shotgun shot pellets).
BB guns are a type of air-powered gun that fire small metal balls or pellets without the use of gunpowder or any sort of combustion.
They come in all shapes and sizes, from toy replicas of historical pistols to very powerful modern looking air rifles that can be used to hunt small game. While technically BB guns are strong enough for some types of hunting, they’re more commonly just used for plinking, target practice, and having a good time.
They primarily fire “BB” projectiles, which are small balls (usually made of steel) that look just like the shot pellets you would find in shotgun shells (approximately 4.5 mm in diameter).
In addition to BBs, some guns can fire pellets, which are non-spherical projectiles that are typically more accurate and do more damage than BBs. They also are generally more accurate and have more stopping power due to their shape and design, which is why pellets are usually the preferred over BBs for shooting long ranges and/or hunting, but both work.
5 Considerations and Tips to Find the Best BB Gun Possible.
When you decide to enter the BB gun market, there are quite a few things to consider, especially due to the fact that there are so many different types and models. You should have a clear idea of what you are looking to get out of it. For example, if you just you’re just looking to buy one as a gift for a kid, a single pump BB will work great. But, if you’re looking for a fun gun to use yourself and want some something a little more powerful, you really should consider one of the other types.
Types of BB Guns
Spring Powered / Single Pump: These are the simplest type of BB guns. Many of the cheaper rifles and BB pistols are spring-powered, and this just means that a tightly-compressed spring mechanism is responsible for the propulsion of the BB. They can be very powerful, but cheaply-constructed spring firing mechanisms can be pretty terrible in terms of velocity and max range and they have a tendency to jam the spring if not handled with care.
Here’s how they work: When you cock or “pump” the lever (depending on the design) it pushes back a small piston that compresses the spring. When the piston slides back to a certain point it catches on a small latch (called a sear), which holds the spring in a compressed position. When the trigger is pulled, it pushes on the sear and unlatches the piston, causing the spring to expand very quickly, which pushes the piston forward. The compressed air in the chamber then propels the BB or pellet forward, resulting in a fairly powerful gun.
They are limited by the amount of air pressure the spring mechanism can generate from a single pump/compression.
Due to the fact that they are generally weaker, they are the best BB gun type to give kids who are still learning proper weapon safety. They can have a good time without the dangers associated with higher-power air or combustion rifles.
Multi-Pump (Pneumatic): Unlike single-pump BB guns, multi-pump BB guns get stronger with each pump, which means they usually have higher max ranges and velocities than single pump/spring guns.
Here’s how they work: Each time you pump the gun a small piston moves inside a tube, there is a one-way valve that lets air in but not back out, which means with each pump the pressure inside the chamber increases. That’s why it gets so harder and harder to pump with each sequential pump. When you pull the trigger, it allows the air to release from the chamber, which propels the BB or pellet forward. I remember as a kid my brothers and I would always try to get the max number of pumps in, but we were too weak at the time so we would have to do it together. When we got our first multi-pump BB gun it was bad news for the birds around the house.
Multi-pump guns can sometimes match or even exceed the stopping power and velocity of even a CO2-powered gun. These are also called “variable pump” guns because the user can determine the velocity of the shot by pumping either more or less each time, depending on the target and intended use.
This gives the user a very high degree of control over the power and accuracy of their shot with the ability to change these characteristics to meet their shooting needs.
Co2 Powered: Co2 powered BB guns use separate charges of compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) as the propulsion mechanism. The CO2 cartridges resemble the CO2 cartridges used for charging whipped cream cans under pressure but are, in general, slightly larger.
They utilize CO2 the same way that fountain drink machines utilize the gas in order to build pressure and force the projectile through the barrel.
Good CO2 air rifles can rival the power of multi-pump BB guns, but in general, tend to be weaker, and the potential velocity of the projectile decreases significantly as the cartridge gets low.
The main drawback to a CO2 powered BB gun is the cost of the replacement cartridges, contrasted with pump-action guns in which the propellant is air in the environment, of which there is an unlimited supply. This makes the cost of ownership of a CO2 air gun much higher that of a single-pump or variable-pump unit.
However, if you are looking to go with a semi-automatic or fully-automatic BB gun, the CO2-powered type is the only way to go.
Understanding Rates of Fire
As with traditional firearms, BB guns are designed with varying rates of fire. The different firing rates are expressed as either single shot, semi-automatic, and fully-automatic guns.
Single Shot: This means that, with each pull of the trigger, exactly one round exits the chamber. Sometimes, with lower quality spring-loaded pistols, two BB may fire simultaneously, but this is a design flaw, a symptom of cheap manufacturing standards, instead of an intentional rate of fire.
Semi-Auto: Semi-automatic firing implies that you do not have to cock the gun between firing each round.
It’s “semi-automatic” because like a fully automatic gun you do not have to operate the bolt or cock the gun in order to fire your next round, but unlike full auto, you still need to pull the trigger each time you want to fire. You can continue firing the gun until the magazine whatever is holding the rounds is empty, then you can just replace/refill the magazine afterward and go back at it.
Most semi-automatic rate of fire BB guns are powered by CO2. It is the most common rate of fire for quick-firing weapons. This is mostly because the US government banned ownership or possession of a fully automatic machine gun back in the 1980’s. This ban does not apply to BB guns or pellet guns, but it definitely had an impact on the types of guns produced afterward, with a preference for semi-automatic.
Full-Auto: Fully automatic fire simply means that you can squeeze the trigger one time and hold it down and the gun will continue to fire until the trigger is released, or it runs out of ammo. Fully automatic firearms built after the mid-1980s are specified by the federal government as “machine guns”, but with small lower caliber BB guns you don’t need to worry about it.
Understand Velocity / Max Range:
Velocity just means the speed of something in a certain direction. There are more technical definitions, but that’s the gist of it.
Max velocity, when talking about BB guns, refers to the top speed the BB or pellet can theoretically reach as it travels through the air. This matters because a high max velocity usually correlates with a high max range (how far the gun can shoot). Most guns will come will have the max range and specifications printed on the box or in the user manual.
Types of Sights
“Sights” are mechanisms used for lining up your intended target with the trajectory of the bullet. Using a sight, whether it a lower-quality iron sight on a cheap gun or the best scope in existence, is the fastest and easiest way to increase the effectiveness of the gun. If you’re buying a BB gun for a child, be sure you teach them how to properly use whatever type of sight it comes with.
- Iron sights are the most basic and easy type of sight to use. They’re not typically as accurate as scopes, but they’re cheap to make, so most BB guns come equipped with some form of iron sight, whether it is a rear-mounted, front-mounted, or a combination of the two. They are by far the most common form of sight on BB pistols. Some rifles may include both iron sights and a scope.
- Scopes are mounted to the top of the rifle or pistol. You look through them much in the same way you would a monocular. Most offer some degree of magnification, which enlarges the target for the shooter. Usually, scopes are very accurate, as most also contain crosshairs that give you a visual indication of where the projectile will land, but you still have to take wind speed and direction into account before firing. When using a scope, the target will look like it is moving around more than it would through iron sights. This is because the target is magnified, and the shooter’s natural movements or “shakiness” are also magnified.
- Red dot sights are usually non-magnifying sights that use a red LED in the lens to mark the aim-point. They don’t usually come with BB guns but can be purchased and attached to some types. The main advantage of red dot sights is they allow for faster target acquisition. They are more for quick shots than they are for long-range accurate shooting.
Just like everything else, the best sight to use is going to depend on personal preference and training level. It’s also important that the scope is properly adjusted or “zeroed” so that the bullet hits where you’re actually aiming. Usually, BB guns come sighted in out of the box, but if you bang them around a lot or mess with the sights that can throw off pretty bad.
Different caliber / Round Types
BBs, as mentioned above, are 0.177 caliber projectiles similar in size to bird-shot pellets found inside of shotgun shells. They can be fired out of guns with either smooth bore or rifled barrels, but repeated use of BBs instead of pellets in a rifled barrel can lead to faster wear of the rifling, leading to early failure and a reduced life of the barrel.
a Pellet is another type of projectile that is more aerodynamic than a BB, which is why they typically have a higher max range and velocity They come in different sizes, just like bullets, ranging from .177-caliber (standard BB size) to .22-caliber, and even .25 caliber. Some of the more-advanced air rifle systems can actually have almost as much stopping power as their combustion-based counterparts.
Ok, enough about the technical details. let’s dive into the list of the best BB guns on the market today.
What is the best age to start training my child to use a BB gun?
There is no age that acts as a magic number for which it is appropriate for a child to begin using a BB gun. Generally speaking, when your child can demonstrate that he or she has, at the very least, a working understanding of the need to be wise and safe when using any weapon, and understands the consequences of improper use then you can think about buying them a BB gun. They need to understand that these guns are not toys, but rather are tools designed to accomplish a specific task. The best option for your child’s first BB gun is a single-shot, spring-powered or single-pump action rifle with a limited range and velocity. Either of the first two guns we reviewed meet these characteristics, but the Red Ryder is probably the best BB gun for kids.
Will BB guns take out your eye?
The short answer is yes, but it is very very unlikely if proper safety precautions are followed. As a general rule of thumb, you should never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot (that’s a weapon safety rule in the Marines). So, as long as they never point the gun at someone or fire at something too hard that could cause the BB to ricochet (safety glasses will protect against this), you won’t need to worry.
Even low-powered spring-loaded pistols carry the possibility of serious injury and even penetration of the skin; and fired point-blank or at a very close range, even these lower velocity guns will puncture several layers of the skin. Emergency rooms all over the nation treat these types of injuries every single day. Some of the highest-powered compressed air rifles are actually powerful enough to create a through-and-through wound with both entry and exit wounds, although the probability of an exit wound is less likely, with a more likely outcome being that the BB or pellet could become embedded in the skin, requiring surgical removal.
Thus, it is entirely possible to not only take out your eye but to cause even more serious injuries, up to and including death if a vital organ is punctured, if proper care and safety precautions are taken. BB Guns are not toys, they are tools for accomplishing a task, and as such, should not be treated as toys, even BB guns. With that said, with proper training and handling, shooting a BB gun for sport or just for fun can be a very enjoyable experience that will provide one with a certain level of gun-handling experience.
Can convicted felons who have lost the right to possess firearms own a BB gun?
This is a loaded question because state laws vary from state to state as does the legal definition of a firearm. In the state of Florida, for example, an air gun is not considered to be a firearm, but rather, an “imitation firearm.” However, New Jersey, any gun that fires a projectile, including BB guns, are defined as firearms under the law, and as such, a convicted felon is prohibited from owning one. Other states, like New York, require a permit to be issued prior to the purchase of any BB gun by any person, whether they have been previously convicted of anything or not.
However, if you have lost the right to bear arms due to a conviction, and you brandish a realistic-looking BB gun in public, you can almost guarantee that you will be arrested and possibly even charged with a crime that carries a lengthy prison sentence. The law can be interpreted in many different ways, even in the same courthouse by two different judges – and if the decision is wrong, it won’t be corrected unless the person takes it to an appeals court.
The best advice here is, if you are unsure of the laws in your state, contact a criminal defense attorney before you buy any gun, be it a real firearm, and imitation firearm, or a BB gun. Gun laws are notoriously ambiguous at the federal level as well, and as such, the best advice is to contact a local criminal defense attorney to clarify whether or your state allows possession of a BB gun if you have been convicted of a felony. It is a simple, free, 2-minute phone call that could potentially save you 5 years in prison.
What can you do and shoot with a BB gun?
Many things, ranging from target practice using either professional or ready-made targets that you can purchase from any sporting goods store or simply lining up objects like cans or bottles to improve the accuracy of your shot.
Alternatively, you can go live quarry shooting, which basically means that you enter a property known to be populated with annoying or crop-damaging animals in order to hunt them and/or rid the property of them. However, it is super important to obtain the express consent and permission of the property owner before you enter any property, much less enter a property with a gun or any type in your possession ready to open fire. Failure to get permission is not only illegal but if the property owner sees you lurking around on his property with a gun in hand, then he/she could take your life and would be completely within his or her rights under the law in doing so.
In an emergency situation, such as if your home is being burglarized, and you do not have any other self-defense weapons, a BB gun may end up saving your life. In some scenarios, it is actually preferable to use a BB gun to stop a criminal act, as the criminal will likely underestimate the power of the shot. The other plus side is that you will not have to live with the emotional consequences that come from taking a life (even if you are justified in doing so) that you may have to deal with if you open fire on an intruder, say, with a 12-gauge shotgun or a large-caliber handgun. This means that you will be able to inflict some damage on the intruder, and possible even detain him alive until the police arrived, catch him in the act of being in your home illegally, and charge him with a felony without the need for you to make a trip to the district attorney to make a separate complaint. Plus, with the intruder still being alive, he can be held accountable by the court for violating your home. Now, BB guns are definitely not designed to be self-defense weapons, but in a pinch, it may just save your life.
Are BB guns legal for children to buy? This depends on the state in which you are residing. In some states, there may not be any legal restriction whatsoever, and in some, such as California, it is a misdemeanor criminal offense to sell a BB gun to a minor. Federal law does not place that many restrictions
Wikipedia: Pellet and BB Guns
Encyclopedia Britannica: Air Powered Rifles
Who would have thought there was so much to know about a simple BB gun? Not me, well at least not until I started writing this page. As I’ve said before the best BB gun depends upon what it’s being used for and who is using it. For a youngster learning firearm safety, a single pump gun is best. For an adult or gun enthusiast replicas or even a full auto BB gun is a ton of fun.
Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or if you found this review helpful. It’s always good to hear from you guys. Let me know of any really cool BB guns you think should be added to the list. Make sure you check out my page on air rifle targets as well. If you’re buying one of these as a gift it is a great addition.
Until next time.
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines that specialized in Mortars. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, running, shooting guns, and reviewing gear. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. We are currently looking for former Marines to join the team who are interested in writing about tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. For more information about us or joining the team, check out the “About Us” tab.