What is Airsoft Ammo Made Of? Unveiling the Secrets Behind the Battle Pellets

If you’re an airsoft enthusiast, you may wonder exactly what your airsoft ammo is made of. Surprisingly, the answer is quite simple: airsoft pellets, also known as BBs or balls, are typically made of plastic, precisely a type of polymer called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). This material is chosen for its balance of durability, weight, and affordability.

When you load your airsoft gun, it’s essential to know that your ammunition is eco-friendly and biodegradable. Some airsoft BBs are made from polylactic acid (PLA), a biodegradable material derived from renewable resources like corn starch or sugar cane. These environmentally-friendly options are becoming increasingly popular among airsoft players who want to leave a smaller environmental footprint.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that airsoft BB weights can vary depending on your gameplay requirements. Lighter BBs, usually around 0.12 grams, provide a greater range but less accuracy. Heavier BBs, like 0.20 grams or more, offer increased accuracy and stability during a flight but may have a shorter range. In general, it’s essential to experiment with different weights to see what works best for your airsoft gun and gameplay style.

Airsoft Ammo Types

Airsoft ammo comes in various materials which cater to different needs and preferences. This section will explore the four primary types of airsoft ammo: biodegradable, non-biodegradable, tracers, and metallic.


Biodegradable airsoft BBs are made of a unique eco-friendly material, usually polylactic acid (PLA) or similar biodegradable plastics. These BBs decompose naturally over time, usually within a few months to a year, making them an excellent choice for outdoor airsoft games where cleanup may not be feasible.

However, they can be more expensive than non-biodegradable BBs and may require special storage conditions to maintain their integrity.


Non-biodegradable airsoft ammo is typically made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) plastics. These BBs do not decompose, making them more affordable and easier to store.

However, they can leave a substantial environmental footprint, and many outdoor airsoft fields require players to use biodegradable ammo in an effort to minimize pollution.


Tracer BBs are designed to emit a visible glow when exposed to a specific type of light, usually included in a particular tracer unit that attaches to your airsoft gun’s barrel. This allows you to track your shots in low-light or nighttime airsoft games.

Tracer BBs are available in biodegradable and non-biodegradable variants, so you can choose the option that best suits your play style and environmental concerns.


Metallic airsoft ammo, primarily comprised of lead or steel, is significantly heavier and harder than standard plastic BBs. They can provide improved accuracy and range but are more likely to cause damage to your airsoft gun or your opponent’s gear.

Because of this risk, metallic BBs are typically reserved for specialized airsoft guns, such as those used in target shooting or competitive marksmanship. They are often not allowed in most airsoft game scenarios.

Materials and Manufacturing

This section will explore the different materials used in airsoft ammunition and their manufacturing process.

Plastic BBs

Most commonly, airsoft ammo is made from a plastic material called Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) resin. ABS resin is lightweight, durable, and has a low cost of production. The manufacturing process involves injecting molten ABS into a mold to create the desired shape, then cooling and polishing the BBs to achieve a smooth and uniform surface.

Biodegradable BBs

Biodegradable airsoft BBs are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic BBs, and they break down naturally over time, minimizing their impact on the environment. These BBs are typically made from a blend of polylactic acid (PLA) and other biodegradable materials, such as polycaprolactone (PCL) or polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA).

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

PLA is a popular choice for biodegradable airsoft ammo because it’s derived from renewable resources like corn starch, tapioca roots, or sugarcane.

Besides being eco-friendly, PLA has many desirable properties, such as durability, low weight, and affordability. However, one drawback of PLA is that it’s more sensitive to moisture and temperature, so storing them properly is crucial to maintain performance.

Size and Weight

In the world of airsoft, the size and weight of the ammunition play a significant role in the performance and accuracy of your airsoft gun. Let’s dive into the standard sizes and weights of airsoft BBs.

Standard Size

Most airsoft guns are designed to use 6mm BBs, which have become the industry standard. Their diameter is precisely 5.95mm with a +/- 0.01mm tolerance, ensuring a consistent fit in the barrel of your airsoft gun.

For airsoft guns that require a different size, such as 8mm BBs, ensure you’re using the correct size to avoid damaging your airsoft gun or affecting its performance.

BB Weight

Airsoft BBs are available in various weights, typically ranging from 0.12g to 0.43g or more. The weight you choose affects the flight path, velocity, and accuracy of your shots.

  • 0.12g: These lightweight BBs best suit low-power spring airsoft guns and beginner players, and they have lower accuracy and are generally less recommended for experienced players.
  • 0.20g: This weight is commonly used for standard AEGs and GBBs, balancing velocity and accuracy. Ideal for casual play and general use.
  • 0.25g: A popular choice for players seeking improved accuracy at longer ranges, these BBs work well with higher-powered AEGs and GBBs.
  • 0.30g and above: Heavier BBs, such as 0.30g and up, are designed for high-powered airsoft guns and snipers, providing excellent accuracy and stability in flight but reduced velocity.

The best weight for your airsoft gun depends on the specific model and type you’re using, as well as your personal preferences and style of play. Experiment with different weights to find the one that works best for you and your airsoft gun.

Precision and Quality

In your pursuit to improve your airsoft game, you need to understand the importance of precision and quality in airsoft ammo. Let’s dive into the factors that contribute to high-quality airsoft pellets.

Polishing Process

The polishing process plays a pivotal role in producing high-quality ammo. When fired, a properly polished pellet will have a smooth surface, ensuring greater accuracy and consistency. Manufacturers use varied techniques and materials to polish the pellets, ultimately giving you better performance in your airsoft gun.

Seams and Imperfections

Seams and imperfections on the surface of airsoft pellets can significantly impact their performance. To avoid reduced accuracy and consistency, you should look for pellets with minimal or no visible seams. Imperfections like air bubbles and deformities can also affect pellet flight, so always choose high-quality ammo for optimal performance.

  • Consider precision: Investing in precision-crafted ammo improves accuracy and overall performance.
  • Examine seams and imperfections: Always check for visible seams and surface imperfections when buying airsoft pellets.
  • Choose polished pellets: Opt for well-polished ammo to ensure smoother shots and a more enjoyable airsoft experience.

Performance Factors

Understanding various factors that affect the performance of your airsoft ammo will help you maximize your game experience. When using airsoft ammo, you should consider range and accuracy, flight stability, shot placement, muzzle velocity, and the hop-up system.

Range and Accuracy

Your airsoft gun’s effective range primarily depends on its muzzle velocity and the weight of the ammo. Achieving high accuracy requires balancing your gun’s FPS and using the right BB weight for your play style.

  • Higher FPS: Increases range but may sacrifice accuracy.
  • Heavier BBs: Provide greater accuracy and better resistance to the wind but may reduce range.

Flight Stability

A stable flight path is essential to maintaining accuracy downrange. Factors affecting flight stability include BB quality, the spinning motion generated by the hop-up system, and the influence of external elements such as wind.

Shot Placement

The ability to hit your target consistently depends on your shot placement. Aim for center mass, and be aware of your surroundings so your shots are less affected by wind or obstructive obstacles.

Muzzle Velocity

Muzzle velocity, measured in feet per second (FPS), directly impacts your airsoft pellet’s flight performance. However, keep in mind that increasing FPS is not always the key to better range and accuracy, as local laws and field regulations govern it and may compromise safety.

Hop-Up System

The hop-up system plays a crucial role in accuracy and range by generating a backspin on the BB, stabilizing its flight, and ensuring a flatter trajectory. Properly adjusting your hop-up unit and utilizing high-quality materials will vastly improve your airsoft gun’s performance.

Airsoft Guns Compatibility

Knowing which types are compatible with your airsoft gun is essential regarding airsoft ammo. In this section, we’ll discuss the compatibility of airsoft BBs with electric, gas-powered, and spring airsoft guns.


Electric airsoft guns, also known as AEGs (Automatic Electric Guns), utilize a battery-powered motor to propel the BBs. These guns typically have a high rate of fire and consistent performance, making them popular choices among airsoft players.

  • Compatibility: AEGs work best with 0.20g to 0.25g BBs for optimal accuracy and range.
  • Avoid: Using BBs outside the recommended weight can lead to decreased performance and potential gun damage.


Gas-powered airsoft guns use compressed gas (green gas or CO2) as the propellant for the BBs. These guns often feature a realistic blowback action and are widely used by airsoft players who seek realism in their gameplay.

  • Compatibility: Gas-powered guns perform well with 0.20g to 0.28g BBs for optimal range and accuracy.
  • Avoid: Using too heavy or light BBs can cause inconsistent shooting or gun malfunction.


Spring-powered airsoft guns are manually cocked between each shot, which can be time-consuming and hamper rapid-fire situations. However, they are cost-effective and ideal for beginners in the sport.

  • Compatibility: Spring airsoft guns perform best with lightweight 0.12g to 0.20g BBs for reliable shooting and proper function.
  • Avoid: Heavier BBs are discouraged as they can significantly reduce your gun’s range and accuracy.

Environmental Impact

Airsoft ammunition, specifically biodegradable BBs, reduces the sport’s environmental impact. In this section, you’ll learn about the degradation process of biodegradable BBs, the role of soil microbes, and the impact on outdoor fields.

Degradation Process

Biodegradable BBs are designed to break down over time through a process called photosensitive degradation. Exposure to sunlight and natural elements causes them to disintegrate gradually. As a result, they’ll leave less of a trace in the environment compared to non-biodegradable plastic BBs.

Soil Microbes

Soil microbes also aid the breakdown of biodegradable BBs. These tiny organisms play a crucial role in decomposition by consuming and processing the BBs, and this supports the environmental benefits of using biodegradable airsoft ammunition.

Outdoor Fields

Using biodegradable BBs significantly reduces the environmental impact when playing airsoft on outdoor fields, leaving fewer remnants behind and contributing to maintaining the ecosystem’s health. By choosing biodegradable BBs for outdoor games, you’re playing your part in preserving the environment for future generations.

Cost and Storage

Understanding the cost factors and proper storage techniques for airsoft ammunition is crucial to maximizing your investment in the sport.

Cost Factors

Airsoft ammo costs depend on type, quality, and quantity. Here are the main aspects that influence pricing:

  • Type: Airsoft BBs come in different materials, such as plastic, biodegradable and tracer BBs. The material affects the cost.
  • Quality: Higher quality BBs, with better manufacturing precision and fewer imperfections, tend to cost more.
  • Quantity: Buying in bulk often reduces the price per BB, making it more cost-effective.

Storage Recommendations

Proper storage of your airsoft ammo ensures its longevity and maintains performance during gameplay. Here are some general storage recommendations:

  1. Environment: Store your BBs in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent warping and degradation.
  2. Containers: Use an airtight container or resealable bag to protect your ammo from moisture and dust.
  3. Label: Label your storage containers with the BB weight, type, and date of purchase for easy reference.

Following these guidelines will help keep your airsoft ammo in optimal condition, ensuring dependable and consistent performance on the field.

Specialty Ammo

In the airsoft world, you’ll encounter various specialty ammo types that cater to specific needs and preferences. This section will discuss two popular types: Glow-in-the-Dark and Suppressor Compatible.


Glow-in-the-dark airsoft ammo, also known as tracer BBs, is designed to make your shots visible during nighttime or low-light games. These BBs are coated with a luminescent pigment that charges when exposed to light, allowing them to glow for a short time after being fired.

You’ll need a specialized tracer unit to get the best results with tracer BBs. This device attaches to your airsoft gun’s barrel and “charges” the BBs with a bright flash of light as they’re fired, ensuring a bright glow. Some popular tracer units include:

  • Acetech Lighter S
  • Xcortech XT501 MK2
  • G&G Battle Owl Tracer

Suppressor Compatible

Choosing ammo compatible with your equipment is crucial when using an airsoft suppressor or silencer. Suppressor-compatible BBs, also known as non-bouncing BBs, are designed to minimize bouncing and ricocheting once they’ve passed through the suppressor.

Non-bouncing BBs are made from a special polymer blend that deforms more easily upon impact, reducing their tendency to bounce or ricochet. While using suppressor-compatible BBs, it’s essential to maintain your airsoft gun and suppressor to ensure the suppressor’s effectiveness and longevity.

Some leading brands that offer suppressor-compatible airsoft ammo include Elite Force and G&G Armament. Always refer to your suppressor’s guidelines for the recommended BB weight and specifications.

Comparisons and Alternatives

This section will explore the differences and similarities between airsoft and other popular shooting sports such as paintball, airguns, and BB guns.

Airsoft vs. Paintball

Airsoft and paintball are often compared due to their similar styles of play. However, the main difference between them is the type of ammo used.

  • Airsoft: Airsoft guns use small plastic BBs as ammunition, typically 6mm in diameter and weighing 0.2-0.3 grams. They are designed to be non-lethal and cause minimal pain when hit.
  • Paintball: Paintball guns use larger, paint-filled capsules that burst upon impact, marking the hit player. These capsules are typically more painful and can cause bruising.

Overall, the choice between airsoft and paintball boils down to personal preference, with airsoft being more focused on realism and paintball leaning more towards high-energy gameplay.

Airsoft vs. Airguns

While airsoft and airguns might look similar, they are meant for different purposes.

  • Airsoft: Airsoft guns are designed for recreational shooting and simulation games. They use low-power, lightweight plastic BBs that are not intended to cause harm. The focus of airsoft is on teamwork and tactics.
  • Airguns: Airguns, also known as pellet guns or air rifles, use metal pellets or BBs as ammunition. They’re typically used for target shooting, pest control, and small-game hunting. These guns can cause severe harm or even be lethal and are not meant for playing skirmish games.

When deciding between airsoft and airguns, consider your intended purpose and remember that both types of guns have different uses and characteristics.

Airsoft vs. BB Guns

BB guns are a category of airguns primarily using steel BBs as ammunition. We can differentiate airsoft and BB guns based on some key factors:

  • Airsoft: Airsoft guns are designed with skirmish games and tactical simulations in mind. They use plastic BBs and have lower muzzle velocities, generally ranging from 200-500 FPS (feet per second). This makes them safe for recreational gameplay when used with proper safety gear.
  • BB Guns: BB guns are typically used for target shooting and plinking and can shoot steel BBs or lead pellets. Their higher muzzle velocities, often between 300-1000 FPS, make them more dangerous and unsuitable for game-like scenarios. They’re also prone to ricocheting, which poses additional safety concerns.

Despite the similarities in looks, airsoft guns, and BB guns serve different purposes and have distinct features that set them apart.

Safety and Regulations

Safety Guidelines

Your safety is paramount when playing airsoft. Always wear proper eye and face protection, like full-seal goggles or a mask, when on the field. Getting hit by airsoft ammo can be painful and cause injury without the proper equipment.


You must keep your airsoft gun pointed in a safe direction and keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Additionally, using a barrel cover when not engaging in play is a best practice to prevent accidental firing.


Airsoft guns are regulated differently depending on your location. Familiarize yourself with the specific laws in your region, which may cover aspects such as power limits, orange tips, and transportation requirements.

Most airsoft fields enforce their own rules regarding allowed gun types, ammo weight, and velocity limits. Following these rules is essential for the safety and enjoyment of all participants.


Besides the official rules and regulations, there are specific recommendations you can follow to ensure a fun and safe airsoft experience:

  • To minimize potential injuries, wear appropriate attire, such as long sleeves, pants, and sturdy footwear.
  • Invest in quality equipment like reliable guns, durable protective gear, and good quality airsoft ammo made from biodegradable materials.
  • Inform yourself of your specific gun model and ensure all its components function correctly before entering the field.


Airsoft ammo, also known as BBs, is mainly composed of plastic and biodegradable resin. These materials allow airsoft enthusiasts to enjoy their game while minimizing environmental impact.

Plastic BBs are commonly made of ABS or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. However, beware of low-quality BBs, as they may cause damage to your airsoft guns or lead to inaccurate shots.

  • ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
  • Low-quality BBs to avoid

In contrast, biodegradable BBs are made from a blend of PLA (polylactic acid) and PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate). These BBs offer an environmentally friendly alternative that naturally degrades over time.

  • PLA (Polylactic Acid)
  • PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoate)

As an airsoft aficionado, always choose high-quality BBs that fit your equipment and play preferences. Doing so will ensure a better gaming experience and contribute to a sustainable airsoft community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is airsoft ammo made of?

Airsoft ammo, also known as BBs, are typically made of plastic materials like ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) or PLA (Polylactic Acid). Some environmentally-friendly options use biodegradable materials like PLA, which decompose more easily over time.

Q. What sizes do airsoft BBs come in?

Airsoft BBs are usually available in sizes ranging from 6mm to 8mm in diameter. The most common size is 6mm, but using the correct size for your specific airsoft gun is essential to ensure proper functioning and accuracy.

Q. Are heavier BBs better for accuracy and range?

Heavier BBs offer better accuracy and longer range than lighter ones. This is because they are less susceptible to wind resistance and other environmental factors. However, heavier BBs may require a more powerful airsoft gun to maintain optimal performance.

Q. How do I choose the right BB weight for my airsoft gun?

Consider your airsoft gun’s power and build quality when choosing BB weight. A general rule of thumb is to use lighter BBs (0.20g to 0.25g) for low-powered guns, while heavier BBs (0.28g to 0.40g) are more suitable for higher-powered, upgraded airsoft guns.

Q. Is it safe to reuse airsoft BBs?

Reusing airsoft BBs is generally not recommended, as they can become deformed or dirty after being fired, potentially damaging your airsoft gun’s internals or reducing accuracy. Using brand-new, high-quality BBs for optimal gun performance is always best.

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