Do not underestimate the power of pellet guns. Back in 2016, a 12-year old boy was killed with a pellet gun in an Iowa shooting range and the news sent shockwaves to gun afficionados…pellet guns can kill!
Pellet Guns | A Safety Guide You Should Follow
This death is certainly not the first to be caused by a round many consider harmless. A young man in my hometown showed up in the obituaries column way too early for the same reason. Maybe you know of one, too. These incidents are a tragic reminder that the Four Rules of Firearm Safety do apply to BB, airsoft guns, and pellet guns. If you're a pellet gun owner, check out this safety guide to prevent any untoward incident.
Comparing Pellet Gun and Firearm Velocity
First let’s cover the facts about BB, airsoft, and pellet guns. With firearms, burning gunpowder produces gas pressure that propels projectiles. On the other hand, air, spring or battery forces out the projectile in pellet guns.
The projectile launched from the pellet gun in question was likely a .117 or .22 caliber, similar to the rimfire load of that size. Air pellet rifles can achieve muzzle velocities of 1,000 to 1,300 feet per second (FPS).
By contrast, a plastic BB shot out of an airsoft pistol typically travels at 300 +/- FPS. That’s highly variable depending on factors like spring or gas pressure, and any mechanical “hop up,” or velocity improvements, the user has implemented.
A typical speed of a .45 caliber bullet fired from a “real” handgun is about 800 to 900 FPS. Moving up the speed gradient, a .22 caliber bullet travels at around 1,100 FPS as it leaves the muzzle of a firearm.
Based on these numbers, pellets can travel at speeds that, even at their slowest, can break the skin or tooth. It can also cause serious injuries and, in rare instances, death.
Non-Firearm Guns are Great for Training
It’s not my intent here to be an alarmist, but a realist. Pellet and airsoft guns have numerous applications for training, pest control, hunting, and recreation. Some years ago, I met a family of missionaries who lived in Mexico. The entire family, including two young children, were learning rifle marksmanship with an eye toward being competent with the one home defense gun they could legally possess—an air rifle.
So use and enjoy your non-firearm gun with consideration to the risks they present. Wear full face and neck protection, at a minimum, when playing or training for combat with airsoft guns. Never use BBs and pellets for such activities.
The Four Rules of Firearm Safety
Observe the Four Rules of Firearm Safety for these guns. They are:
- Every gun is always loaded – consider it and treat it as such.
- Never allow the muzzle to cover anything you’re not willing to destroy. Combat games are the exception, assuming all involved are properly shielded.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on target and you’ve decided to shoot.
- Be aware of your target and what’s around it.
Airsoft GI shows a video on basic airsoft safety:
What an advantage it can be to train with these guns and their inexpensive ammunition. Practicing with pellet guns can really help you improve your aim and become a better firearm shooter. But for safety reasons, always observe the Four Rules of Firearm Safety when using any type of gun. It's about being a responsible gun owner for yourself and for the people around you.
What do you think about the airsoft safety guidelines? Please let us know in the comments section below!
California-based JAG Precision, a wholesaler of better-quality airsoft products, generously provided the Knight’s Armament AR and Echo1 AK replicas seen in this article.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.