Airsoft guns shoot tiny plastic spheres that are less likely to cause severe damage to people or things that they hit. The standard plastic BBs are non-biodegradable. Manufacturers have developed a biodegradable version of the ammunition to have less impact on the environment.
Most airsoft pellets are 6mm and can range from .20g to .30g in weight. The average used for outdoor games is .28g, while indoor games usually use .25g.
What’s the Difference Between Biodegradable BBs and Normal BBs for Airsoft?
Normal BBs are made using acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a durable and inexpensive plastic. It is used in other products such as electronics, automobiles, and housing items.
Biodegradable BBs are made from polylactic acid (polylactide), which degrades fairly quickly in water. Its source is renewable as it is made from common plants like tapioca, corn, or sugar cane. It is also used in food, supplements, and medications because it biodegrades in the body.
Because they do degrade in the body as well, accidental ingestion of a few biodegradable BBs is unlikely to cause any serious or long-term problems for animals or humans. Ingesting more than a few is not recommended and may require medical care.
Are Regular BBs Bad for the Environment?
Consider how many BBs are used in one game. If each game has 20 players and each shoots a thousand BBs, and there is one game every hour, that adds up to 160,000 BBs in eight hours. While a BB or two will not significantly harm the environment, hundreds of thousands might.
Games played in woods and fields result in thousands of pellets littering the ground. The chances of getting all of them picked up (or even most of them) are unlikely. These bits of plastic will leech into the land and may cause chemical toxicity over time.
These BBs that are less likely to get picked up do not degrade very quickly. Some of the non-biodegradable BBs take more than seven years to disappear. The more people play, the more BBs get added to the environment.
Are Biodegradable BBs Bad for Your Gun?
Generally speaking, no, biodegradable BBs will not harm your airsoft gun. Exceptions to this rule exist, however.
- If the biodegradable BBs get wet, they will degrade quickly. They will then gum up your gun.
- When you first open them, biodegradable BBs begin to be affected by the elements. In their packaging, they are dry and protected. Once they hit oxygen and humidity, deterioration begins. Waiting too long to use them can cause damage to the gun.
- If the BBs spend more than a few minutes in direct sunlight, they begin to break down more quickly.
You can test the integrity of the biodegradable BBs by pressing them. If they squish easily or feel soft, you don’t want to use them.
If you store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, sealed in an airtight container, they will last longer. Once you open them, use the BBs as quickly as possible.
Are All Airsoft BBs Biodegradable?
When comparing biodegradable vs. regular airsoft BBs, you will find that only the BBs labeled biodegradable will break down in a reasonable time frame. Some people suggest that all airsoft ammunition should be made biodegradable, but currently it is not.
How Long Do Biodegradable BBs Take To Degrade?
When you expose the BBs, biodegradable BBs break down in about 90 days. The time it takes is largely dependent on the conditions. They break down more quickly in hotter temperatures, so compostable BBs are likely to decompose faster than those lying on the ground.
Contrast this with the non-biodegradable BBs, which last for years no matter where they are. When regular BBs stay on the ground, they could still be there a decade later.
Are Biodegradable BBs More Expensive?
Comparing the price of biodegradable vs. regular airsoft BBs shows that biodegradable pellets cost slightly more – from 10%-30% on average. The cost difference is due to the materials that allow them to decompose and the packaging, as they require an airtight seal until ready to use.
Is It Worth It To Buy Them?
Considering the difference in contamination and pollution between the two types of BBs, it is worth spending a little more to keep the world a bit cleaner. Choosing a better quality pellet that is also biodegradable will give you the best results.
You should buy a better quality pellet any time you can because when the quality is better, so is the shot. Consistent shapes and smoothness will result in consistent shooting. When shots go wide, it is usually the fault of the ammunition rather than the equipment.
Can Biodegradable BBs Be Reused?
You can reuse some BBs if you pick them up in an area that is not wet and not dirty. Either water or dirt can cause a problem inside the airsoft gun. Additionally, those elements begin the decomposing process, so BBs that have been wet or dirty are less reliable and more likely to jam.
However, when BBs hit a target, whether it is the one at which it was aimed or not, it can crack or warp. Reusing a pellet that looks fine but is damaged can result in a jam in the airsoft gun and will almost certainly not shoot properly.
Do Biodegradable BBs Shoot Differently Than Regular?
When people first developed biodegradable BBs, the pellets were not of good quality. They were likely to break too easily and had a short time frame for use. Over time, manufacturers have changed the composition and the quality to make them almost indistinguishable from the regular BBs.
Biodegradable and non-biodegradable ammunition is quite comparable, and the difference is between lower and higher quality rather than the ability to biodegrade.
Most commercial outdoor airsoft fields require players to use biodegradable pellets because it is difficult to gather up the BBs from a grassy or wooded field. Since they offer a similar experience to regular airsoft BBs, there seems to be no reason to avoid biodegradable BBs.