How Dangerous Are BB Guns
My Journey with BB Guns: A Tale of Caution and Respect
Raising a son can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope. I remember my own childhood, a time filled with a yearning for toy guns to role-play as soldiers. But back in the day, forty years ago, our choices were limited to plastic replicas that snapped apart after a couple of weeks, to my father’s frustration. Now, times have changed, and the spectrum of choices has expanded beyond imagination.
My son’s fascination with guns began with Nerf guns, an obsession that led to an impressive collection of over a hundred items. As he grew older, he craved more—more authenticity, more power. And with power, naturally, came the potential for danger. It was a precarious line between keeping him safe and letting him relish his childhood.
In his ever-growing desire for authenticity, he pleaded for a BB gun. My first instinct? To hit Google and search. I wanted to know—just how dangerous were these things? I had a rough idea, but the clarity I sought was absent in the online information. So, I took it upon myself to conduct my own research—reaching out to individuals and retailers about the potential hazards of BB guns.
The Big Question: Just How Dangerous Are BB Guns?
The truth I unearthed was unsettling: a BB gun should be regarded as perilous, warranting the same safety measures as a regular firearm. Though the projectile isn’t as large and the power behind the BB gun isn’t as immense, the BB can still inflict substantial harm if it strikes the human body, particularly the eyes.
Understanding BB Guns: Facts and Safety
What Exactly Is a BB Gun?
To ensure we’re on the same page, let’s define a BB gun. It’s a type of airgun that propels spherical projectiles, typically made of steel.
The size of these BBs (known as the caliber) is usually 0.177 inches, the same size as the most prevalent pellet. This similarity allows some airguns to shoot both BBs and pellets. The power sources for BB guns, like airguns, typically include CO2 (carbon dioxide) or spring-piston.
The Speed of the Shot
The force of a BB gun doesn’t depend solely on its shooting speed. It also hinges on the mass of the projectile it’s propelling. Given that most BB guns are 0.177 caliber, we’ll assume this is the ammunition in question.
Most BB guns can shoot faster than 200 FPS (feet per second), translating to about 135 mph. Some can even reach speeds close to 500 FPS, which is around 340 mph.
So, we’ve determined that a BB gun can shoot a metal projectile at remarkable speeds. While it’s not as fast as a more aerodynamic pellet, it still packs a punch. But what kind of impact can it make on you?
What If a BB Hits You?
A BB only needs to travel at 150 FPS to penetrate your skin. Considering most BB guns can shoot at higher speeds than this, it can undoubtedly puncture your skin at close range. To guarantee safety, you’d ideally need to be at least 500 yards away, although many variables could affect this.
For example, a spring-powered BB gun typically delivers a projectile at higher velocities than CO2. A variable pump gun’s velocity depends on how many times you pump it. Weather conditions also play a significant role.
The highest risk of injury is to your head, particularly your eyes. A BB can cause blindness with little effort and can easily penetrate your skin at close range, possibly causing damage to the bone and internal organs if you’re particularly unlucky.
Based on the above, we can confidently state that a BB gun is not a
toy, far from it. A BB gun is a weapon and should be handled with the same safety measures as a regular firearm.
If you’re curious about some of the best BB rifles available, feel free to check this out.
The Lethal Potential of a BB Gun
Sadly, yes, a BB gun can be lethal, especially at close range. Injuries and fatalities have decreased over the past two decades, thanks largely to increased awareness and safety gear adoption.
The biggest risk, in my view, is complacency. It’s crucial to remember that even if your child has been shooting without problems for a while, they’re still a child. They’re prone to impulsive actions, and as they should be. But we need to keep a watchful eye on them.
A few simple steps can go a long way in ensuring safety when using a BB gun. Follow some basic rules, and you can have an exciting and safe experience.
Minimum Age Requirement
The minimum age varies depending on where you live. It can differ from country to country, and in the US, even from state to state or city to city.
However, in most places, you need to be at least 18 to buy a BB gun, and if younger, you must be supervised by an adult.
Here are some safety measures you can implement to ensure the shooter and those around them remain safe.
- Always assume the weapon is loaded – even if you’ve just fired it. This rule will help prevent accidents related to a loaded gun.
- Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction – never aim the rifle at anyone, regardless of whether it’s loaded.
- Load and cock last – try to load your gun only when you’re ready to shoot. Avoid walking around with a loaded/cocked gun if possible.
- Everyone wears glasses – The other day, while shooting a little .177 caliber pellet gun, a pellet bounced off a tree about 20 yards away and struck me just below the ear. If it had hit an unprotected eye, it could have caused serious damage. So, proper safety glasses are a must for everyone in the vicinity.
- Use a decent backstop – If you’re shooting in the backyard, you need something that will absorb the energy and prevent BBs from ricocheting. Metal works well for this.
- Store safely – After you’re done for the day, store your BB gun in a safe place. If possible, keep the gun, magazine (if it has one), pellets, and CO2 in different locations.
These are just a few ways to enhance safety during shooting. I’ve written a more detailed article on this topic, which you can check out here.
So, How Dangerous Are BB Guns?
After reading this, you’ll likely agree that yes, a BB gun is dangerous. However, so is flying a plane, right? That doesn’t mean we stop doing it.
It’s all about striking a balance between safety and enjoying a sport. With proper safety measures in place, they soon become second nature and don’t interfere with the love of the sport.
I’ve found that the safety rules I’ve implemented in my home, although different from forty years ago, don’t detract from the thrill of the sport in the slightest.
If you’re considering buying a BB gun, either for yourself or your family, you might find my reviews on the best BB guns available today helpful. Any of these will keep you satisfied for a long time.
By the way, if you’re unsure about the difference between a BB gun and an airsoft gun, you can find out here.
In Conclusion: My Personal Take on BB Gun Safety
In essence, this journey through my experiences and research highlights that a BB gun, while a source of enjoyment and a possible entry into the sport of shooting, is not a toy. It holds potential dangers, especially when mishandled or treated with complacency.
I’ll confess, when my son first pleaded for a BB gun, I was apprehensive. Yet, my journey into understanding the power and potential danger of these guns also led me to realize that with proper safety measures, supervision, and a respect for the tool, the dangers could be significantly mitigated.
Let’s not forget, many sports and activities we engage in daily have their risks. But with the right safety protocols in place, we can navigate these risks and still enjoy the thrill and joy they bring. Flying a plane, as mentioned earlier, is dangerous too. But, that doesn’t stop us, does it?
It’s about finding that balance between letting your child explore, learn, and enjoy their childhood while ensuring they remain safe. The basic safety measures, once adopted and practiced, become second nature and seamlessly blend into the sport’s enjoyment. They don’t detract but add a layer of responsibility and understanding that enhances the experience.
So, if you’re considering a BB gun for your home, remember: it’s not the gun but the hands that handle it that determine safety. Equip those hands with knowledge, respect for the tool, and a commitment to safety, and you’ll find a happy balance.
If you’re interested, I’ve written reviews on the best BB guns available today. Investing in a quality product is also a step towards safety. And, should you ever wonder about the difference between a BB gun and an airsoft gun, I’ve got you covered here.
In the end, remember to have fun but stay safe. After all, that’s what it’s all about.