If you’ve been wondering which airgun to purchase, maybe you have also been wondering whether you can use a BB gun to shoot lead pellets. Well, can you?
Some BB guns are able to shoot both lead pellets and BB’s. BB guns able to fire pellets will have a way to insert one single shot into the chamber for a pellet, and often have a bolt that fits into the skirt of the pellet. Multi pump airguns are often able to do this.
Read on to discover some of the reasons that BB guns don’t always shoot pellets, and how to tell which type of guns yours is.
When Can I Shoot Both BB’s and Pellets With the Same Gun?
Usually, your gun, or at least the packaging on the gun, will tell you outright if it is capable of shooting both types of ammunition. There are ways that you can infer though if that is not clear.
BB guns fire small round metal balls called BB’s. BB’s are almost always steel or copper, both hard metals. Because the ammo used by BB guns is much harder than the soft lead used in pellet guns, BB guns have to have smooth bores, meaning no rifling.
A rifled gun has spiraling grooves on the inside of the barrel that spin the projectile as it travels through the barrel. This lends it accuracy, but is vulnerable to damage from steel BB’s. Pellet guns usually have some kind of rifling on the inside of the barrel, which is why you can’t always fire BB’s from a pellet gun even if they take the same caliber ammo.
Because of the softer nature of lead, pellet guns also have to try harder to not damage the pellet as it is loaded into the barrel. What this translates to is usually you loading up the pellet one at a time, though you can get magazines to go with some pellet guns.
BB’s are able to swirl around in some kind of reservoir until they are forced into a loading queue and then into the barrel.
These differences in loading techniques and barrel style make it difficult to fire each type of gun with the other ammo without damaging anything. There are times though when a rifled barrel will be made to stand up to the added stress of guiding a BB through the barrel.
Sometimes a smooth bore gun will be made with a sliding breech or some other way to open the chamber up. Conveniently, that will let you put a pellet directly into the gun, and you can fire away.
Is It Ever Safe to Shoot BB’s out of a Pellet Gun if I Do Not Know What Ammo it Takes?
If you are not sure if your pellet gun is able to shoot BB’s, then do not shoot BB’s out of it. As we said before, if your airgun is not designed to deal with that kind of stress, then it is best to not to.