Best BBs for airsoft
Every airsoft gun should be matched with the appropriate airsoft BBs, as this determines the optimal performance of a given weapon. Good ammunition allows for longer-ranged and more accurate shots, very much influencing the results of any skirmish. When choosing your BBs, you have to pay attention to their weight and quality. These are two key elements, but a lot also depends on the construction of your airsoft gun. And so - how do you choose appropriate BBs?
Types of airsoft BBs
BBs can be made of various materials. Plastic is the most common material, but recently biodegradable BBs are gaining increased popularity. They’re made of natural materials, like cane sugar or corn starch, and their advantage is that they completely dissolve over time. Seamless BBs with a perfectly smooth surface are also a good choice, ensuring smooth travel through the gun barrel. If a battle take place after dark, airsoft tracer BBs come in handy.
How to match BBs to your airsoft gun?
For me, the first and most important factor for choosing my ammo is to determine the cylinder to barrel capacity ratio. Bu before we start I would like to introduce you to the terminology that we use.
FPS (feet per second) – unit of measurement for muzzle velocity.
Joule J – unit of kinetic energy measure, this value translates into how far the bb will fly, and how much it hurts when you get hit.
Now, continuing - the cylinder has different capacities depending on the type. The same applies to the barrel - the longer the barrel, the more air it can hold. The more air in the cylinder relative to the barrel's capacity, the heavier BBs we can use. The most optimal ratio falls within the range of 1.80-3.20, allowing for the selection of commonly available BB weights. For example, if we want to use 0.28g BBs, the capacity ratio should be around 2.5, and for heavier 0.36g BBs, it should be as high as 3.2 - as the legend suggests below the table.
On the internet, you can find calculators and guides, but personally, I use a table that I’ve found a long time ago on the WMASG forum, created by someone named Szogun.
Selecting the right weight for airsoft BBs
As an example, I will use my Specna Arms SA-E10 airsoft gun, which has a type 3 cylinder and a barrel length of 170mm. If you have a barrel of standard length, you can simply refer to the table. Mine has a non-standard 170mm length, so I had to add it. Looking at the ratio of the barrel's capacity to the type 3 cylinder, we see a value of 2.98. According to legend, this means that we have enough air even for BBs of 0.32g+.
As you can see, the airsoft gun generates 331.2 FPS and 1.01J. Let's see how it performs with heavier airsoft ammo.
With 0.36g BBs, we can see an increase in energy from 1.01J to 1.16J. This means that the excess air in the system has been used to propel the heavier airsoft BBs. This effect is called Joule Creep and, in this case, it means free "power tuning." This result confirms the table's entry that I can use heavier BBs with this airsoft gun. When changing to 0.20g BBs, my gun generates 353.8 FPS - exceeding the limits for CQB venues.
This is not a significant problem - all I need to do is switch to 0.28g BBs, which gives me 1.1J - approximately 345.1 FPS (within the limits). This approach helps us determine the weight range of BBs to use by matching them to the amount of air in the system, preventing excess air, which can lead to unstable projectile flight and greater dispersion.
Airsoft ammo and airsoft skirmish conditions
Now that we've established the weight range for choosing BBs for airsoft guns, it's time to consider where we will use them.
Forest – In large, open spaces like forests, several factors are important: having BBs fly straight for as long as possible, resistance to gusts of wind, the ability to penetrate leaves and small branches. Heavy airsoft ammo, preferably 0.28g and above, provides the stability and power needed for such environments. 0.30g and 0.32g BBs’ weights are also popular and if your hop-up can handle heavier BBs - even 0.36g (I'm referring to choosing BBs for AEG guns). Heavier BBs are less affected by wind and vegetation. However, it's essential to remember that heavier airsoft ammo flies slower, so this should be considered, especially when shooting at moving targets.
CQB – In close-quarters combat where action is fast-paced and dynamic, the priority is the speed of the BBs. This allows hitting moving opponents without adjusting for the BBs’ travel time. Looking back at the SA-E10 results, you'll see that the difference in speed between 0.20g and 0.28g BBs is around 40 FPS, and with 0.36g ammo, we lose almost 70 FPS - a significant difference in close-quarters combat. Therefore, for CQB battles, I recommend using BBs in the 0.20g to 0.28g range to ensure they reach the target quickly. In indoor CQB arenas, there is no wind, so the benefits of heavy BBs don't matter much here.
Mixed Terrain – In environments where both open spaces and indoor combat are encountered (assuming you have a single airsoft gun for both uses), you'll need to compromise. When using SA-E08 and SA-E10 in such conditions, I opted for 0.28g BBs. They provided sufficient stability for longer distances and the advantage of speed in indoor battles while staying within limits.
Airsoft BBs – price vs. quality
Knowing the weight range for selecting BBs, the question remains of which brand's products to choose. My advice is simple - high-quality airsoft ammo is the cheapest form of tuning.
Having an airsoft gun with a good barrel, a decent hop-up rubber, properly functioning pneumatics, along with correctly matched BBs’ weight and making the most of Joule Creep effects, you may still miss. BBs may veer left or right, the hop-up may unevenly spin them, and they may even jam in magazines or worse - in the barrel. It sounds like a horror scenario, but it could be the result of choosing low-quality airsoft BBs - based on their price only. If you want to fully utilize your gun’s potential, you must invest in high-quality ammo. From my experience, I can recommend airsoft BBs from BLS or G&G as examples of more expensive brands. More budget-friendly options include airsoft ammo from Specna Arms or Rockets Platinium. I especially recommend them to beginner airsoft enthusiasts who don't want to spend a fortune on their new passion.
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