Is It Legal Use a BB Gun For Self Defense: Find Out Now


Someone is breaking into the house. You heard a glass window shatter, and you can hear voices, but the only gun you can reach is your BB. Is that enough to do the job? Unless you checked the specs, then it’s hard to know how hard, far, or fast your BBs are traveling. More importantly, the middle of a robbery is not the time to stop and try to figure it out. I’ll answer all your burning BB questions about self-defense, and show you the difference between a pellet gun and a BB.

Is it legal to use a BB gun for self-defense? You can use a BB gun for self-defense. However, you’d need to be an excellent shot to do more than hurt and annoy your assailant. Still, they’re handy to keep around and work wonders on animal nuisances. 

Can a BB Gun for Self Defense Kill Attackers

Using a BB gun for self-defense is the same as anything else. The question of how, when, and why you use any object for an attack is always a touchy subject. Self-defense should still (legally) be about doing the minimum amount of damage to stop your attacker. Then you escape.

However, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, there is no law enforcement. That means you have nowhere to turn once you escape. Whether you’re looking at a bear, a pack of wild dogs, or humans, you need to know the capabilities of your weapon. Furthermore, you need to know its limitations as well.

Though the laws on self-defense vary from place to place, using a BB gun is no different from any other weapon legally. However, according to, you should never use a BB gun for self-defense.

That said, use whatever you have when your life is the price of failure. You can certainly do enough damage with a BB to make most attackers think twice, and a well-placed shot could stop them cold. All projectile weapons are dangerous and capable of harm.

Killing With a BB Gun

So, can you kill with a BB gun? Yes, you can. There are at least two ways that I know of to accomplish such a feat. Although a shot to the chest is more likely to enrage your opponent than stop them, eyes are very vulnerable and near the brain. Shooting most people or animals in the eye will undoubtedly stop, and most likely kill them.

Alternatively, you can use it as a club. Despite knowing that this was not the intended purpose, it’s still useful to know. If you’re not a very good shot, then maybe don’t try to kill with a BB gun.

Realistically, anyone can swing a bat, and you could use your BB gun as a blunt weapon. Keep in mind it probably won’t work as a gun when you’re done, especially if you’re defending yourself and not holding back. This is also useful if you run out of shots.

Training With A BB Gun

Despite the evidence that a BB gun may not kill attackers, primarily, if you shoot them in the body, there is something you can do with this weapon. Use a properly weighted BB gun to practice instead of a real firearm. Sure, the accuracy and range are different, but ammunition is less expensive.

You can quickly get a feel for firearms by using this less deadly option. Unsurprisingly, many BB guns specifically look and feel like ‘real’ guns. Moreover, you must treat all weapons with equal respect.

I recommend the Umarex Glock 19 Gen3 from Amazon for practice. This BB gun shoots .177  steel BBs at up to 410 fps. That’s a lot of stopping power at close range. Plus, this model is almost exactly like a standard Glock. You can find out more by clicking here

Pellet Gun Vs. BB Gun for Self Defense

While you can use both BB guns and pellet guns for self-defense in a pinch, the main difference is the ammunition. Because of the shape of the bullets, a pellet gun is far more accurate. Naturally, it doesn’t matter much at point-blank range.

Choosing a good BB gun is mostly about sport shooting and practice. They are excellent for backyard targets assuming you have enough yard space. Though the small game might be at risk from a BB shot, I wouldn’t recommend hunting bears.

Although it’s challenging to get an accurate shot at a distance, from close range, a BB could be deadly. They certainly hurt. More importantly, they do damage. As non-lethal deterrents go, BBs are a reliable option.

The BB

It’s a common misconception that BB stands for Ball Bearing. Although some models could certainly shoot a ball bearing, the original BB guns did not. Instead, they were created to shoot size BB lead shotgun pellets. These were supposed to be roughly 0.180 inches or 4.57 mm. However, the shot was widely variable due to manufacturing at the time.

Around 1900 the barrels began to be standardized, with a shot to match. This uniform BB shot was marketed as “Airgun Shot.” Still, by the time that happened, BB was the common name most people used.

These days most people use steel BB shot in their BB guns. Sadly, when combined with the round shape, this material aids in making the shot less accurate. Round balls tend to bounce around. Plus, steel is less soft than lead, so it makes a better ricochet.


The Pellet gun came about after the BB. You might call it a direct descendant. Resultantly, the pellet gun is what you might think of as an upgrade. The pellets certainly are when compared to the round BBs.

Pellets you find for these guns are usually lead or lead composite, making them softer and more malleable. That means they’re less likely to rebound, and more likely to deform on co. When pellets do ricochet, they lose most of their energy after the initial impact, making them slower.

Typically you see pellets in the ‘diablo’ style, which is variable itself. The tips may be hollow, rounded, or flat. Behind that, they taper back to a hollow waist. Beyond that, the skirt is thin lead, plastic, or aluminum so that it will deform easily on impact.

All those features combine for a bullet that doesn’t tumble like a BB. The shape is highly aerodynamic, unlike a sphere. Overall, that means you can shoot more accurately with a pellet gun. However, you should hold on to your BB gun. It’s still very useful.

Choose The Right BB Gun

Selecting your BB gun is a matter of taste. For those who prefer a Glock-style gun, the Umarex I recommended above is ideal. However, some of us like a longer body style on our weapons. It’s essential to buy a gun you’re comfortable using.

Make sure you understand how much the gun weighs before purchasing it. Smaller BBs work well for anyone with less hand and arm strength. Alternatively, some of us prefer a more classic style. Plus, the visual deter attackers.

The Daisy Adult Red Ryder BB Rifle from Amazon is a fantastic gun. Generations of people are familiar with this gun. It’s similar to the child-size version used in A Christmas Story (1983). You’ll be impressed by the smooth bore steel barrel and lever cocking spring air action. Click here for prices and availability

How Does a BB Gun Work

For those considering a BB gun for self-defense for the first time, there are some vital differences between this weapon and a standard firearm. The main thing that a weapon like a rifle or a handgun has, but a BB lacks is gunpowder. There’s no ignition to propel the bullets.

Instead, BB guns have two possible alternate methods of launch. Either spring or compressed air forces the BB out of the chamber. If you’re wondering what the difference between an air gun and a BB gun is, sometimes there’s none.

While a spring-loaded BB gun is not an air gun, many BB’s are because of the bullet projection method. Any pressurized air firearm isn’t really a ‘fire’ arm at all. They are all air guns, regardless of bullet style.

Even spring-style BB guns use air pressure to move the bullet. However, there are some critical differences in how the air moves that BB. I’ll explain the differences below.

CO2 Cartridges

Using a CO2 cartridge is similar to using a pump-action pneumatic shotgun. The principal is also very like the explosion of a spark on gunpowder. Essentially a bang is a bang, no matter how you achieve it.

In the case of CO2, the compressed gas is where the explosive power comes from. Although the cartridges are small, there’s a lot of pent-up energy inside. When you pull the trigger, a precise amount of gas gets released, and the process is fast enough to propel a bullet. It’s an air explosion.

Interestingly, you could power a gun with other compressed gasses. However, carbon dioxide is safer. Using any other gas is likely to cause problems with your weapon or rounds, and that danger isn’t worth the risk of losing a finger or worse. Resultantly, you’ll only find air guns designed to work with CO2.


Most people probably think that a spring BB gun uses that spring to push the BB forward directly. However, the reality is a little bit more complicated. Inside the barrel, a spring, piston, and sear work together to launch the bullets forward.

The piston is closest to your BBs. This part pushes backward on your spring. As the spring compresses, it stores unreleased energy. As the piston slides further, and the spring compresses completely, that gives your BB gun power to release.

The sear is what holds your piston in place.  A sear is merely a spring-driven latch that swivels into place. Resultantly, it keeps the piston in place when it reaches the end of its backward push on the spring. Hence, the energy is stored and held ready to ‘explode’ outward.

When you pull the trigger, the sear releases. Once the pressure is off the piston, the spring moves it forward, thus expelling the bullet. Then the piston creates a pocket of air behind the BB that launches your shot out of the gun at high velocity.

How Far Can a BB Gun Shoot for Self Defense

When you’re using your BB gun for self-defense, the question isn’t merely how far it can shoot. What you need to know is how far it’s effective. All projectiles from thrown rocks to high-powered rifle shot lose power over distance.

There are numerous factors at play when it comes to the effective range of a BB. Spring or compressed air changes the power. At point-blank range, shoot for the face, and all you have to do is hit your attacker to stop them. Even if it doesn’t kill the assailant, a shot in the cheek will stop almost anything.

Shooting down an incline, you may get a more useful range. Hence you’d have a little more range going down a staircase or off a balcony. The maximum to break the skin is right around ten meters.

How Powerful is a BB Gun

As previously mentioned, the power will vary slightly. However, an excellent overall estimate for how powerful your BB gun is, falls in the five-hundred-fifty FPS (feet per second) range. That is enough to kill someone nearby.

Typically, self-defense, by definition, cannot include long-distance shooting. An attacker has to be close enough to try and hurt you actively. Otherwise, it’s considered an offensive action.

In a genuinely SHTF scenario, the government has broken down, and there’s nothing to stop you from shooting further. Regardless, it’s still just offense if you’re the one attacking. When you’re preparing for a long-term scenario, keep the BBs for the house and get a better distance weapon for other uses.

Small but Mighty

The size of your gun doesn’t necessarily determine how powerful it is. For example, the Umarex Glock has a higher fps than the Daisy, which only shoots around 350. Always check to see how powerful your shot is rather than guessing based on size.

A superb example of a mighty yet mini BB gun is the Crosman SNR357 from Amazon. This snub-nosed revolver weighs just two pounds. However, the twelve-gram CO2 cartridge can propel BBs at up to four-hundred fps and five hundred for .177 Cal pellets. Click here to read the reviews.

Smaller guns like this are easier to conceal. Moreover, they’re much simpler to handle for beginners who may lack the muscles associated with more practice.

Final Thoughts

Self-defense with a BB gun might be a little more complicated, but there’s no reason to waste a perfectly good weapon if you have one. Although I wouldn’t recommend that you try and become a sniper with this style, they’re still useful. In close quarters, like when you’re at home, you don’t need accuracy.

For more tips on how to defend yourself, check out this useful video. Now that you know the weapons’ limitations, you can use it effectively. Plus, when you run out of shots, it’ll make a great club.

Never hesitate to use what you have to save yourself or your family. The world is a dangerous place, but you can learn to keep yourself safer with a BB gun.

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