Today I want to talk about BBs. Biodegradable ones to be exact. Good for the environment sure, but are biodegradable airsoft BBs any good for gaming? Read on to find out.
My personal opinion is that regular BBs should be banned, except for the heaviest ones used in airsoft sniper rifles. The reason for this is that the world is drowning in plastic as is. We should be responsible in everything to lessen the impact on nature, including our hobbies like airsoft. This means using less plastic, which regular BBs are made out of like you will soon learn.
Using regular BBs means essentially littering forests and other playgrounds with plastic debris at an incredible rate. I’m sure most of you reading this have seen the amount of BBs on an airsoft field even if it’s been in use just for couple years. Here’s a newsflash for you, those BBs aren’t going anywhere for thousands of years and they will just keep piling up!
I’m certain if someone did some serious research on the effects of airsoft BBs on the ecology of a forest there would be all sorts of negative outcomes. At the least they produce micro plastics that end up in our food chain. In the worst case scenario small animals and birds mistake them for berries and suffer horrible deaths from bowel impaction. So this stuff is important even if you don’t think so!
The only logical solution to this is to ban regular BBs and require everyone to use biodegradable ones. The only exception I would allow is using heavy BBs in spring-loaded sniper rifles as the amount of BBs fired from these are minimal compared to your average AEG and other automatic airsoft guns.
But that’s enough preaching, let’s get on with the facts!
Difference between bio and non bio bbs
So what exactly is the difference between biodegradable BBs and “regular” ones? Let’s start with the obvious. As the name clearly suggests, biodegradable BBs are, well, biodegradable and regular BBs really are not. This of course comes down to the material the BB is made out of. Most airsoft BBs are mainly made out of something called barium sulfate powder. It’s an inert mineral salt (like chalk really) that doesn’t have environmental effects and is biodegradable
The differerence between regular airsoft BBs and biodegradable ones is the stuff that is used to keep the barium sulfate powder together. The so called binder and coating.
In regular airsoft BBs the binder is made out of plastic. Most of the plastics used, like polystyrene, polyethylene and polypropylene, are from petrochemical sources.
They are very resistant to bio degradation and it takes hundreds or thousands of years for a plastic BB to degrade in the soil. The plastics also contain chemicals that are bad for the environment and to humans and as they degrade they produce micro plastic that ends up in the food chain.
Biodegradable BB binder can be made of several different organic polymer resins. Most commonly used ones are corn starch and sugar cane based polymers. These are essentially plant based plastics that can be consumed by the microbes in the soil. The also don’t posses any harmful chemicals to the environment as they are made of completely natural substances.
Are biodegradable bbs really biodegradable
Well yes and no. This depends on the BB. Quality BBs use materials that are truly biodegradable. Some test have been made by the airsoft community that have shown that some of the brands don’t seem to really degrade any faster than real BBs. Of course considering that regular ones can take hundreds of years you have to take these kinds of tests with a grain of salt.
On the other hand many have tested that the high quality ones do degrade in a couple of years in the nature in right conditions. The length of the degradation process will vary highly depending on the environment. For instance pretty much nothing degrades in dry sand since there isn’t many microbes which are responsible for the decomposing process.
How long does it take for bbs to biodegrade
Like I pointed out in the previous paragraph the time it takes for a BB to decompose depends a lot on the environment.
A low quality biodegradable BB in a dry sand play field might take decades to decompose. On the other hand a high quality biodegradable BB in a moist forest floor with ample amounts of decomposing microbes might be gone in a few months.
The lesson here is to use high quality biodegradable BBs that are known to be made out of truly biodegradable materials.
Better quality biodegradable BBs will break down faster and are more resistant to premature degradation which can happen with some cheap biodegradable BBs if they get wet or are forgotten in the sun for long periods of time.
Are biodegradable bbs bad for your gun?
In short, high quality ones aren’t. There is no difference between high quality regular and biodegradable BB concerning performance and reliability.
There have been some reports of low quality biodegradable BB leaving a coating in the barrel and the hop-up unit. Also, some low quality biodegradable BBs are prone to deforming if they get wet.
I want to emphasize however that this is not a problem with high quality BBs. I’ve been using G&G bio BBs for years and never had feeding problem that was caused by a BB.
Even low quality regular BBs are notorious for causing feeding issues and even damaging your gun. That’s why it always wise to use high quality BB’s from an established manufacturer.
Using cheap BBs to save a few cents can turn expensive fast if your gun breaks and is really a foolish thing to do.
Best place to buy airsoft bbs
There is currently only one brand of biodegradable BBs that I can honestly recommend. They’re products are accepted as very high quality BBs by the airsoft community and the materials used in them are truly biodegradable.
I actually recommend getting your BBs from Amazon as they generally have very fast delivery times and usually the lowest price on the market. Only place you can find the BBs cheaper is buying in bulk straight from the manufacturer.
The best brand of biodegradable BBs available is Bioshot. Their biodegradable airsoft bbs are competition grade and contain no toxic chemicals. They have tested the time it takes for their BBs to decompose. With ideal conditions it can happen in 60 days and takes at max 3 years in poor conditions. So they are truly biodegradable. The come in all the common sizes from 0.20g to 0.43g. That means they can be used with even high power sniper rifles.
That’s about it for today! Please consider using high quality biodegradable BBs even if it’s not required by your local rules. The price difference to regular high quality BBs is marginal and some times there isn’t one.
By using bio BBs you are being responsible and doing the right thing. This is also important for the reputation of the sport. We don’t want airsoft to be banned because of environmental reason do we?
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop a comment below!