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The BB gun is a well-established favourite across the world, with many people using them for a bit of outdoor fun – but how are they made up?

We thought we’d take a quick look at what it is that makes BB guns so popular by explaining the key components of one.

The design and ways of working of BB guns have evolved over time, but the basics remain more or less the same.

Inside the Barrel

The length of a BB gun’s barrel will vary based on the type of gun – i.e whether it’s a BB rifle or BB pistol. Some models will allow the user to attach barrel extensions which then improve the accuracy of the weapon.

Inside this barrel is a firing pin, usually a bolt which retracts when the gun is cocked – allowing a BB to fall into the barrel from the magazine. At the same time the bolt hooks into the hammer, which is then pushed forward by a spring in the barrel when the trigger is released, firing the BB.


BBs are made of a number of different materials. Airsoft 6mm BBs are plastic while more powerful .177 Air Pistol BB ammunition is typically made of steel and coated in another type of material such as copper or zinc. Depending on what model of gun you have BBs are usually loaded into the weapon through a hatch on the side of the gun or by filling a magazine which then slots into the gun.

Propulsion System

Most basic BB guns use manual propulsion systems such as the spring firing one explained above. However, some are powered by gas cylinders. If the gun uses gas cylinders, a gearbox mechanism is activated with the trigger, releasing a valve that pushes a burst of compressed gas into the barrel.