BB Guns in the UK

What is a BB Gun?

‘BB gun’ is a very broad term that can cover a lot of different items that we sell here at Pellpax, but as a rule of thumb, BB guns are mainly pistols that can fire a round, solid ball bearing. The two main sizes that BBs come in are 4.5mm and 6mm. The 4.5mm BBs are made from steel, whereas the 6mm are made from plastic and ceramic. The guns that fire these BBs are also referred to with different terms, with the 4.5mm steel BB guns classed as airguns, and the 6mm ones as airsoft guns.

4.5mm BB Firing Airgun Pistols



Here at Pellpax, the majority of our CO2-powered air pistols fire the 4.5mm steel BBs, and use the small 12g CO2 capsule as their power source. These pistols come in different shapes and sizes, with most of them being replicas of famous and iconic pistols that you will recognise. Some examples are the Umarex Beretta M9 A3 and the Remington P-1911 RAC, to name but a couple. The 4.5mm BB airguns don’t require any licence to purchase and own, although you must be over the age of 18 and have ID to prove age, name, and address when we deliver. ID such as a driving licence is perfect.

A lot of the pistols that fire the 4.5mm steel BBs also feature a blowback action, which means the slide moves back on each shot to reload the next BB into the barrel, just as a real gun would do. This feature is huge fun and adds a sense of realism to the pistol, but does use more CO2 gas in the process (so you get fewer shots) and causes a lot more movement, which affects the accuracy. If you’re just looking for a BB gun for a bit of plinking and target shooting, and love the blowback and sense of realism, then I would suggest looking at the Remington P-1911 RAC Tactical, which offers superb reliability and quality at a great price.

The other alternative to blowback is non-blowback pistols, which are available in the standard classic pistol shape, or as revolvers. The non-blowback pistols allow you to get better accuracy and groupings when shooting, as you don’t have the movement from the slide when shooting. And because the CO2 isn’t being used for a blowback system, you also get a higher shot count. If you’re after one of these types of pistols, then good considerations are the Gamo GP-20 4.5mm BB or the Heckler & Koch USP.

Revolvers are great as well, if you prefer that style, with a lot of revolvers available in iconic styles such as the Colt Python, Colt Peacemaker, ASG Schofield, and Webley MKVI. An advantage of the revolver is that the hammer system is exposed so that it’s very easy to cock the pistol prior to each shot and shoot with a lighter trigger for increased accuracy and precision on each shot. A slight downside to revolvers is that a lot of them are limited to 6 shots in the revolving cylinder, but this is being really picky.

A few good choices for a BB gun revolver are the Dan Wesson 2.5″ Silver and the Umarex Colt Peacemaker Nickel, which are both full metal pistols and offer extremely good value for the price point.

6mm BB Airsoft Pistols

6 mm BB firing guns are referred to as Airsoft guns, as they are designed to be used in the recreational sport of airsofting, which is similar to paintball, except 6mm BBs are used. Airsoft guns are much less powerful than the 4.5mm BB guns, so as not to inflict harm when partaking in the sport; they also require a UKARA licence to purchase and own.

The power levels that these guns are restricted to is 1.3 joules for a gun capable of firing multiple shots with one trigger pull, and 2.5 joules for those that fire one shot per trigger pull.

Airsoft pistols are mainly separated by their power types, which here at Pellpax are CO2 powered and green gas powered. Gas powered air pistols are becoming the more popular of the two types, mainly because the 12g CO2 cylinders can be fiddly to change when out on the airsoft field in the midst of a match, whereas gas is quicker and easier to refill. Green gas also provides a more stable pressure, so your power and accuracy between shots is more consistent.

If you prefer the CO2 BB guns, then a lot of them are available in the classic pistol shapes, such as the KWC M-92 CO2 6mm Airsoft, based on the M92 frame, and the KWC Desert Eagle CO2 6mm Airsoft, which is quite self-explanatory as to what it is based on! These are both great pistols and perfect if you don’t mind the CO2 canisters.

As for gas-powered BB guns, again they are all mainly based on classic pistol frames and are all of good quality, but a couple to take a look at are the WE Big Bird 6mm Airsoft and the Nighthawk 1911 6mm Airsoft, both of which offer superb build quality and stable reliability. The green gas and BBs are loaded into the dropout magazines, making it easy to have a few on hand to drop in when one runs out, which is very useful when out on the field. Most also have adjustable hop-up, which is the spin on the BB that many shooters find useful when outside in the elements, shooting.

We also have two-tone pistols, which are below the 1 joule limit, and which have at least 51% of their frame painted in a bright colour – normally blue, orange, or clear. These items don’t require any licence to purchase and own, although you must be over the age of 18. A lot of these are spring powered, so you pull the slide back to cock, then fire the shot. This makes them very simple and reliable to use and great for a bit of plinking in the back garden. You can view the whole range here…

I hope this article has helped explain a bit more about what BB guns are and how you would go about obtaining one in the UK!

Spring Powered vs CO2 vs PCP : Pros and Cons

One of the hottest topics of debates between air gunners is the power source behind the pellet. The three main sources are spring power, Compressed CO2 gas, and Compressed air (PCP). One of our resident airgun experts, Jason Whittle, ways up the advantages and disadvantages….

The three main power sources available in airgunning are at the heart of all air rifles and air pistols of all different shapes and sizes, but ultimately they all do the same thing, which is to fire lead pellets or BBs. There are advantages and disadvantages to all of them, as there are with petrol, diesel, and electric cars, for example. Ultimately it comes down to what is best for you, and what you’re going to be using it for, but hopefully the information in this post will help you with that decision.

Spring Power

The workings of a spring powered airgun

The diagram here shows how a spring rifle works and what components it consists of inside. Spring rifles are the simplest of the three power methods available to airgunners, thanks to the low number of moving parts and absence of high pressure seals and valves etc. This makes spring rifles the most reliable out of the three types of power plant.

Some advantages to the spring powered system are that it doesn’t require any gas or refills when shooting, just a person to cock and load it, and it’s ready to go. This is ideal in a hunting situation, when carrying spare gas or a diving bottle isn’t really an option. Spring rifles aren’t affected by changes in temperature like gas powered rifles, are which means you know that it’ll be just as powerful on a cold day as it is a warm day.

There are of course disadvantages. Spring rifles do have recoil when shot, some more than others, and while this can be reduced with tuning kits and polishing, it can’t be completely eliminated. Springers can also be quite noisy when shot, as the noise of the piston moving at a great speed then abruptly stopping is loud. This can’t be helped. The muzzle crack can be suppressed with the fitting of a moderator, but most of the time the difference isn’t very noticeable.

Over time, springers do suffer from spring fatigue, as the metal spring loses its springiness over time, and becomes tired, causing a drop in power. However, this can be easily remedied with a service and a replacement spring, which is often relatively inexpensive.

If you’re looking for a hassle free rifle which will work when you want to, with plenty of power, then a spring rifle is for you. They are often referred to as ‘workhorses’, as they just keep going, and in my opinion, it’s best to start with a spring rifle to learn how to shoot with the recoil, as that is an art in itself.

In terms of picking the best spring air rifle, there are a host to choose from, and the Weihrauch HW95k, and Air Arms TX200 are often mentioned.

CO2 Power

A diagram showing the workings of a Co2 powerplant in an airpistol
A diagram showing the workings of a Co2 power plant in an air pistol

Co2 air rifles and air pistols can be powered by either of the standard capsule sizes which are the 12g Capsule, as first introduced by Crosman, or the 88g Capsule that is commonly used on paintball guns. As you can see in the diagram opposite, the insides consist of a gas chamber where the co2 sits, or attaches, which then goes through a valve, which is knocked by a hammer to release the gas through to the barrel on each shot.

Advantages to the Co2 system include the absence of recoil. As there’s no large inertia of the kind to be found in the spring rifle, when the trigger is pulled, the hammer travels about an inch forward to strike the valve and that is it. This absence of recoil helps you keep your aim and hit your target as your hand is not being moved by this force, whilst the pellet is travelling down the barrel. Another advantage is the quietness of the actions. Most of the noise that comes from a Co2 gun is caused by the co2 gas and pellet escaping the barrel at great speed, so fitting a silencer can often make these guns near silent. CO2 systems are often bolt action, or in pistols they can be semi auto, so this permits a multi-shot system that means you can fit in a follow up shot a lot quicker than you could do with a spring rifle. Co2 pistols are also great fun in semi auto format as the projectiles come out the barrel as quick as you can pull the trigger so target shooting or plinking is always a blast.

Crosman air pistol with Co2 Capsules. Credit: By Hustvedt – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, $3

Disadvantages of this system is that temperature can massively affect the performance of these guns, which in England, with our cold winters and hot summers, can be a real problem! This difference can sometimes be a foot pound of energy or so, but it does depend on what gun it is. The number of shots also decreases on a cold day which can be a real problem when you’re on a hunting trip or shooting at a competition, and you forget to account for the change in temperature. As the co2 capsule in the gun is used the pressure decreases until it runs out which can be a problem as the pellet velocity drops, as does the point of impact, so if you don’t realise that the co2 is running out, you can totally miss what you’re aiming for very easily.

PCP Power

PCP airguns are very similar to Co2 guns in that the air is held in a reservoir, and then released through a hammer and valve system. Examples include the Walther Rotex RM8 and the BSA Scorpion SE.   The difference between CO2 and air is the compressed air is held at a much higher pressure than the Co2 is. Co2 on average is around 800 PSI, whereas PCP Rifles work on around 2900 PSI, so more than 3 times the pressure! This massive increase in pressure means that the compressed air gives the pellet a very quick push, opposed to Co2 providing a very slow push which in turn leads to better shot to shot consistency and accuracy.

A Daystate Pulsar Synthetic. A great example of a high-end PCP Air Rifle.

Other advantages of PCP are that the pressurised air isn’t affected by changes in temperature like Co2 capsules are. This is mandatory when in a serious shooting situation, whether it is hunting or target shooting as each shot counts. A PCP rifle’s power output is normally higher and much more stable than a CO2 weapon, as the rifles themselves are of better construction, and sometimes incorporate regulators, which increase the consistency even further. Accuracy is also phenomenal on the PCP rifles as high quality barrels and materials are used, and it is quite easy to put pellet on pellet.

As with Co2 power, suppressors can be fitted, which make most of the PCP rifles whisper quiet, and most of them feature multi-shot magazines, which are indexed through a bolt action or side lever action system making them a joy to shoot.

Disadvantages to the PCP system include the expensive set up costs. The rifles themselves start from around £380, then either a stirrup pump or a dive bottle are needed to recharge the reservoir. The dive bottle then needs to be refilled when they get low which is normally around £5 at a dive shop, although this is a small price to pay for the accuracy achieved. Other disadvantages are that there are a large number of seals within a PCP rifle, and for the most of the time they are hassle free, but over time they do perish and cause leaks, requiring a service. However, these regular services alleviate any down time.


Which one you choose is really your decision at the end of the day, but if you’re looking for a rifle which you will shoot occasionally for either pest control/hunting, and the odd bit of casual target shooting and plinking, then a Springer will be the best choice for you, as they are rugged and reliable.

A Co2 will be a step up from a springer for a similar job, although they are really more suited towards smaller pest/vermin control and casual target shooting and not up to hunting due to the fluctuations in power.

If you’re going to be using an air rifle a lot for hunting, and competitive target shooting, then a PCP is the way to go. A good PCP can last 10 years or more if looked after, and the refills are a small price to pay for the accuracy and quality that a PCP delivers.

You can check out our range of spring powered air rifles, Co2 Powered air rifles, and PCP powered air rifles in our airgun store. Unlike most online retailers, we can deliver these direct to your door!