Last page update 3-12-18
BBs are arguably one of the most important factors while playing airsoft. airsoft BBs are 6mm plastic balls that are launched from an airsoft gun at high velocities. These pellets have many important features that can make or break each shot you take. The main factors in BB quality is color, biodegradability, weight, polish, balance, and hardness.
BB color can make all the difference in the world. The standard color is white, and that is for a reason. Under most conditions, white is far easier to see than other colors of BBs. In winter conditions however, black is easier to see. Seeing your BBs is a very important thing. When you see your BBs, you can see if they hit their target, how the wind and elevation is affecting them, and if your hop up is set properly. If any of these factors are affecting your BBs in a way you don't want them too, if you can see the problems, you can compensate for it. Low quality BBs are often heralded by their color, green, orange, red, and other color bbs are often cheap BBs with bubbles or seams. But that is not always the case, sometimes colored BBs are good quality.
Biodegradability is a huge factor to take into account, especially when you are playing in an outdoor field. Many outdoor fields only allow biodegradable BBs (Bio BBs). Bio BBs are made from PLA which is a polylactic acid made from corn starch. Because they are made from corn, they are infinitely renewable as well as environmentally friendly. Bio BBs fully decompose within 3-6 months if they are exposed to decomposing elements such as nitrogen which is found in air and soil.
Non Bio BBs are particularly useful for indoor fields because of their lower expense by comparison. Non Bio BBs should not be used outdoors. They are only for areas that are easy to clean up. If at all possible, it is preferable to recycle used non Bio Bbs rather than throwing them away. Non Bio BBs can take thousands of years to fully deteriorate, that is why recycling them would be preferable.
BB weight is one of the most important factors. Generally, the heavier the BBs, the straighter it flies. When rifles are shooting at a higher FPS than average, it is typically a good idea to increase BB weight so they will fly straighter. BBs typically range in weight anywhere between .12 grams and .7 grams. By far the most common weights are .2 grams and .25 grams. These weights are very effective for assault rifles. Anything below .2 grams is typically considered very low quality. The normal maximum weight is .45 grams. Typically when BBs get this heavy, they are hard to find in the biodegradable or white variants. To my knowledge, there is only one brand that makes any BBs over .5 grams. That company is called DeathZone. They make .69 gram BBs. While these would likely fly very straight, they are about 15$ for 40 BBs. Generally, this is the weight charts that you should follow for figuring out what BB weight to use:
~480 FPS .36g
480-500 FPS .4g
500-540 FPS .43g
540-580 FPS .45g
580-630 FPS .5g
~340 FPS .2g
340-400 FPS .25g
400-450 FPS .28g
450-500 FPS .32g
These charts exclude anything over 630 FPS for snipers and 500 FPS for assault and other classes because you generally should never go over those.
Polish is another important factor. Polish is basically how smooth and shiny a BB is. The smoother the BB is, the better the polish. Now, you are probably wondering why anyone except a pirate would care about how smooth and shiny a BB is. Basically, it determines how well a BB flies. If a BB has no polish at all, it would have a seam on it. If it has a very high quality polish, then the air can move around it effectively creating less drag allowing it to sail through the air longer and straighter.
BBs balance is often not a problem. If it is a problem, it is often due to a bubble or a dimple. If there is a bubble inside the BB, then the weight might be offset to one side. That causes problems while it is flying and makes each shot very inconsistent. In almost any BB above the weight of .12 grams, there will not be any bubble and you shouldn't have to worry about this at all.
BB hardness is also an important factor. If you have a BB that is weak and easy to crush, then it just might crush in the magazine or in the gun. This is particularly a problem with high strength magazine springs like the ones that can be found for sniper rifles. If a BB breaks apart in the gun either before it is shot or while it is being shot it can scratch your bucking or barrel. This can cause serious problems and make every single shot you take after it very inconsistent. Even if you have a stainless steel barrel it can be scratched. While a stainless steel barrel is very unlikely to scratch, it is possible. Aluminium barrels are notorious for scratching under circumstances like this. The following video is an example. It is a long experiment video and if you don't care to watch me put weights on a BB just read the summary below. (Not gonna lie, even I was bored watching it)
Basically, different weights were put onto several different BBs until they either crushed or I ran out of weights. The Valken .43 gram non biodegradable BBs broke after I put the 35 pound and 25 pound weight on it at the same time (the actual weight put onto the BB is roughly half of the total weight of the dumbbells). None of the Longbow BBs broke even after I put the 35 pound, 25 pound, and 15 pound weights on. I had to crush them by pliers. It seemed that as the weights went up, they got harder to crush but there is no evidence of that, only speculation.
“TrueChoicePack Corp.” PLA/Bio plastics, www.biogreenchoice.com/category_s/1866.htm.