Is A BB Gun Considered a Firearm?

is a bb gun considered a firearm

The debate over the right place for guns in American society has grown more heated, polarized, and controversial. These discussions raise concerns about public policy, individual rights, law and order, and personal and communal safety.

Gun laws and rights are complicated legal areas that frequently touch on deeply held opinions for people on all sides of the debate. State laws sometimes prioritize federal gun regulations, which impose broad limitations on all weapons, although gun rights differ from state to state. So, is a BB Gun considered a firearm? Many people don’t frequently think BB guns as “real firearms,” and many don’t even know that federal gun regulations include them.

BB guns occupy an interest in legal. Although they have a projectile and resemble weapons, BB guns typically have significantly lower power than actual firearms. Most lawyers do not frequently handle matters involving BB guns; when they do, they are usually unprepared to handle the problems raised.

What is a BB Gun?

BB guns are air weapons made specifically to fire projectiles. The term “BB” refers to the spherical pellet, also known as a “bullet ball,” that the gun shoots out. It is about the same size as a single lead shot and is housed inside a shotgun shell. 

Modern BB guns often feature a 4.5 mm (0.177 in) smoothbore barrel with steel balls that are 4.3–4.4 mm (0.171–0.173 in) in diameter and 0.3–0.35 g (5.1–5.4 gr) in weight. These steel balls are typically zinc- or copper-plated for corrosion resistance. The larger conventional lead balls, which weigh between 0.48 and 0.50 g (7.4 and 7.7 gr), are still produced by some companies and are often used in rifled barrels.

Laws on BB Gun

In National Firearms Act (NFA), 1934 regulates suppressors, short-barreled rifles, sawed-off shotguns, and other weapons. The Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 prohibited mail-order firearm sales and interstate handgun sales while requiring serial numbers on all brand-new guns. Any machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986, were banned from being owned by citizens under the Hughes Amendment.

In the above Acts, the legislation has not mentioned BB Guns or other air guns, and it is because no federal laws govern the sale, ownership, or use of BB guns. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates them, which indicates that they are bound by general legislative restrictions addressing “substantial product hazards.”

State Laws on BB Guns 

State laws on BB guns differ from one another. Some places restrict BB guns, while others have few or no restrictions. Massachusetts and California both have strict regulations on BB guns.

California classifies BB Gun as a BB device: “Any instrument that expels a projectile, such as a BB or a pellet, not exceeding 6 mm caliber, under the force of air pressure, CO2 pressure, or spring action, or any spot marker gun”. 

Selling, lending, or transferring a BB gun, also known as a “BB device,” to a juvenile is a crime in California.

In Massachusetts, anybody who violates BB Gun laws is considered an offender and shall be punishable by a fine of up to $ 1 00. Massachusetts State Police seize and destroy the BB gun or air rifle.

BB guns are treated as if they were firearms in the meaning of the federal definition in New Jersey and Rhode Island. Felons and other federally prohibited and unsupervised minors cannot possess BB guns.

According to Michigan law, BB guns must meet the same standards for a firearm license, safety inspection certificate, and concealed pistol permit as other firearms. You cannot buy a pellet air gun in Michigan until and unless you have a permit.

Some states forbid openly carrying BB guns in public, also known as the “right to carry.” The “right to carry” laws that BB gun owners may have benefited from in their home state may not get reciprocated when they enter another state with their air rifles.

Difference Between Airsoft Gun and BB Gun

A specific kind of pellet gun known as an airsoft gun fires tiny plastic pellets using spring, gas, or electrical systems. Airsoft guns are designed and produced to seem like genuine pistols and are usually accurate replicas of various real firearms. Additionally, some airsoft guns can fire at excessively high rates, and some have the same manufacturer marks as actual firearms.

When compared to airsoft guns, BB guns are similar. However, BB guns may fire pointed metal pellets instead of plastic pellets because they are air-powered guns. Compared to most airsoft guns, these guns can shoot further and quicker, making them suitable for hunting. 

The Red Ryder BB Gun, promoted and sold as a toy, is regarded as the most well-known BB gun on the market.

Both firearms can fire pellets at rapid rates of speed, and as a result, they are recognized as dangerous. The potential for eye damage is one of the most apparent risks involved with Airsoft and BB guns; Airsoft guns need careful handling since they may fire pellets at speeds of up to 100 feet per second.

Is BB Gun and Air Rifles Same?

Air rifles and BB guns are similar, but they are not identical. Using compressed air, they individually fire a single tiny pellet. In a BB gun, the compression is mechanically produced by a spring that is compressed by pulling a lever and then released when the trigger is pushed, pushing a piston forward and making the compression and pellet fire. In an air rifle, the force needed to fire the pellet is produced by compressed CO2 gas cartridges rather than a spring or piston.

Who Can’t Own a BB Gun Under Federal law?

The following individuals can’t possess BB Guns:

  • Anyone found guilty of any domestic abuse
  • Anyone under a restraining order involving their partner or children
  • Anyone who uses illicit drugs
  • Individuals living in a psych hospital or have a court-ordered diagnosis of mental illness
  • Residing illegally in the United States
  • Lost American Citizenship
  • Have received dishonorable discharges from the American military


So, the answer to is a bb gun considered a firearm depends on state laws. Since BB guns don’t require gunpowder to fire their tiny metallic balls, they are sometimes seen as less deadly than pistols, rifles, or shotguns. As a result, many individuals, especially the younger generation, frequently use these tools at home to practice shooting. However, they might not be aware that what they did might be considered a crime.

According to federal law, a BB gun is not considered a firearm. A person can be critically wounded or gravely injured by BB guns. Because of this, there are places where shooting a BB gun is prohibited. A misdemeanor charge might be brought against someone if they get alleged to violate such a law. Who is allowed to purchase a BB gun is governed by several regulations. States have passed laws governing BB guns’ purchase, transfer, and use.

FAQs on BB Gun

Do BB guns considered firearms?

Not according to the federal government. However, other jurisdictions have different regulations.

Is a license required to own a BB gun in the US?

The regulations of firearms generally do not also apply to BB guns.

Which states require a license for BB guns?

Only two states, New Jersey and Rhode Island classify non-powder guns as firearms, such as those that shoot BBs or pellets.

What distance can a BB gun shoot?

BB gun’s maximum range in the 120–180 m/s (390–590 ft/s) range is 200–300 meters.

Can BB guns be used in public areas?

Without a “reasonable justification,” carrying an air weapon in a public place is prohibited.