Pellet Gun vs BB Gun: What's the Difference and Which Is Right for You?

2nd Feb 2021

Are you looking to pick up a new hobby? These days everyone searches for something to occupy their free time in safe, socially distanced ways.

Maybe you're an avid hunter and you're looking for a way to practice your marksmanship close to home.

Maybe you're looking for a way to get your kids out of the house and into the outdoors. This has you thinking about the possibilities, but when it comes to a pellet gun vs BB gun, you don't know which one is right.

To learn more about the key differences between these two popular air guns, keep reading.

What Is a Pellet Gun?

A pellet gun is a firearm that shoots metal pellets using compressed air. These pellets are non-spherical diabolo shaped, and designed to be less aerodynamic than a slug or bullet from a traditional rifle.

They feature a rifled barrel and a variety of different pellet sizes from .177 caliber to .50 caliber. These calibers have different uses. Smaller pellets are great for target shooting or pest control, while the larger pellets can be used for game hunting.

There are two different types of air compression these guns use to shoot pellets. These are pneumatic and CO2 air guns.


All of these types of pellet guns use compressed air to shoot pellets. The difference is how do they compress the air they need.

Pneumatic is the most common pellet gun form. These are where the user has to take physical action to compress the air. For break-barrel guns, the hinged barrel compresses the air and cocks the gun.

Fixed-barrel pneumatic air guns, often called multi-pump, require the shooter to pump an underlever beneath the barrel to compress the air needed to fire the gun.


These air guns use carbon dioxide to shoot the pellets. Because they used tanked and compressed gas, pellets fired from these guns do not decelerate like pneumatic pellets.

Since carbon dioxide is a refrigerant gas, these guns cool when fired. For maximum pellet acceleration, these guns require shots at 15 to 20-second intervals.

If you see a pellet gun in the form of a pistol, it is most likely CO2 powered.

What Is a BB Gun?

A BB gun is an air gun. Like a pellet gun, BB guns use compressed air to fire a projectile. They work the same way. The difference is in what they shoot.

Pellet guns shoot diabolo shaped caliber pellets through a rifled barrel. BB guns shoot small, metallic balls the size of birdshot out of a smoothbore barrel.

Invented in 1886, these guns still feature multi-pump pneumatic powerplants as the most common type of air compression. In recent years, CO2 BB pistols grew in popularity.

Though these firearms can be used for some small game hunting, BB guns are often used for plinking. Plinking is a type of informal target practice where people shoot at empty bottles or cans.

Pros and Cons of a Pellet Gun

The pros and cons of a pellet gun often depend on who you're buying one for. If you're buying one for your children to use, you'll find that many of the pros may end up being cons.

If you're buying a firearm for someone underage, you should teach them responsible gun use and supervise them as much as possible.


One of the biggest pros of any high-powered pellet gun is its unlimited power supply. If you buy a pneumatic pellet gun, you don't have to worry about gun powder. As of right now, the earth isn't in imminent danger of running out of air.

Another great aspect of pellet guns is their increased accuracy. Since they shoot diabolo or non-spherical pellets from a rifled barrel, they provide a more accurate shooting experience.

Since the pellets can be large, they make great guns for small game hunting. Some hunters with sublime stalking skills even use them for deer hunting.

The ammunition for most pellet guns remains cheap, and in many states, you don't need a license to use one.

With proper supervision, you can use a pellet gun as an introduction to high-powered rifles and other firearms. Teach your children how to target and shoot with one of these before putting a hunting rifle in their hands.


Since pellet guns shoot through a rifled barrel and the pellets do not decelerate as rapidly as a BB, they can be much more dangerous. Your children should not use a pellet gun unsupervised.

Since these pellets range in size, larger pellets make a huge con. They move slower. Large pellets are not a great option for hunting fast-moving game or target practice.

If you invest in a large caliber pellet gun, you may find you have a harder time finding the proper ammunition. Large pellets are not as common as smaller ones. Though they're still cheaper than bullets, you might have to special order them online.

Pros and Cons of a BB Gun

When it comes to the pros and cons of a BB gun, you have to consider pellets vs. BBs. BBs are much smaller than pellets, and BB guns are designed for a backyard shooting experience.


BB guns are often much cheaper than pellet guns. Buying one for yourself or for a child to learn about shooting is a much less expensive option.

Like the guns themselves, the ammunition is plentiful and cheap. Steel BBs can be found at almost any sporting goods store or outdoors shop.

Another great pro is that you can buy Airsoft guns rather than a metal shooting BB gun. Airsoft ammunitions are non-lethal plastic spheres meant to mimic traditional steel BBs.


If you intend on hunting game larger than pests or squirrels, a BB gun is not a great option. The spherical BB shape decelerates the projectile. These guns aren't lethal to larger game.

Since the ammunition decelerates, they are not accurate for long-range shooting. If you intend on doing any longer-range target shooting other than casual plinking, you will be better off with a different type of air gun.

Pellet Gun vs BB Gun: What's Right for You?

Which one is right for you? It depends on your intentions and who you're buying for.

Pellet guns make great small and mid-range hunting weapons depending on your skill. They're also fantastic for teaching children about guns and gun safety.

BB guns work great as recreational guns for some backyard plinking fun and pest removal.

Pellet gun vs BB gun? Both are great options for outdoor fun.

If you're in the market for any type of air gun, you can't beat our inventory. Check out our online store today.