Green BBs?
December 4, 2008 4:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm asking for a BB gun this Winter Holiday, as a way to ease into learning to shoot. Since I'll be shooting on my land, I'm curious about the ecological implications of BBs hanging around.

I assume I don't want the plastic BBs, but are steel ones also a bad thing to leave lying around on the ground? This is not arable land, it's scrubby cedar-and-post-oak, rocky-ground "forest." I am concerned about both immediate dangers to wildlife/waterways and what will happen to the ammo years from now.

Will they rust away? Could I conceivably pick them up with a giant magnet? Forgive my naïveté, I just don't want to do something I regret later and can't undo.
posted by fiercecupcake to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If they are just steel/iron, then yes, they will just rust away slowly. The extra iron isn't really harmful. Things like lead or plastic would be more problematic. You can get biodegradable BBs though, if you are worried about it. Here would be one source, but I'm sure there are plenty of others.
posted by Gneisskate at 4:30 PM on December 4, 2008

They'll rust away. I used a magnet to find BB's that were about 10 years old in my yard and they were about half the size.

If you use the plastic ones or lead pellets, that's another story, though.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:35 PM on December 4, 2008

Here are comparisons of several brands of biodegradable BBs.
posted by enn at 4:43 PM on December 4, 2008

That link should have gone here.
posted by enn at 4:43 PM on December 4, 2008

Every BB I've seen is steel, which is pretty safe but some of them have a copper coating which can be toxic.

Roughly speaking, if you want to shoot, you have to say fuck you to the environment at least a little. Even TMF centerfire rounds are still toxic to a certain extent.

People in this thread also seem to be confusing airsoft BBs which are too big to be fired by the gun you linked to with .177 caliber BBs which is what I am guessing you were talking about. Also, if you really want to shoot you may want to look at a rifled gun with lead-free pellets rather than the non-rifled gun you linked to.
posted by 517 at 5:19 PM on December 4, 2008

enn, I saw those, but I wonder how biodegradable they are. With most "biodegradable" plastic-y things, they need direct sunlight, which is hard to get on the forest floor.

517, thanks for the distinction. Do you have a suggestion in that area you'd be willing to make? I've really just scratched the surface with that one .177 BB gun I linked to.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:32 PM on December 4, 2008

In terms of your followup question, the Benjamin line from Crosman is very high quality. If you want to learn to shoot with fixed sights, then something like the Benjamin 392 or 397 would be good. If you want to learn to shoot with a scope, then a Benjamin Super Streak or Remington Summit are good choices.

The scoped rifles are also powerful enough for small game (squirrel and rabbit) hunting, which you might be interested in.

More along the lines of your original question, use a pellet trap to collect the pellets for reuse or disposal.
posted by jedicus at 6:14 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I like RWS guns but they are expensive and the price may take the fun out of it. But basically a break action, spring powered, gun with a rifled barrel that shoots around a 1000 fps is what I would be looking for. Guns like that start around US$100. However, once you get a rifled gun you cannot use it to shoot steel BBs -- anything other than pellets will scar or erode the rifling.

If you want to shoot BBs then the type of gun you linked to would probably be perfect. But if you get into accuracy you may find BBs frustrating as they sometimes have a mind of their own.

You may also want to buy a pellet trap if you go for a low velocity gun or line up some phone books to trap the pellets from the high velocity guns.
posted by 517 at 6:40 PM on December 4, 2008

My first thought was that "You'll shoot your eye out!" Then I remembered there is no joking on AskMe...

We used pellet guns to reduce the European Starling population in the nature reserve my dad supervises. They rust or erode fast enough that there is little permanent environmental degradation. Unless you plan on shooting several thousand rounds in the same place.

That said, I didn't know there were biodegradable options, those look like they would be perfect.
posted by schyler523 at 8:49 PM on December 4, 2008

I have a Crosman Quest that I'm pretty happy with.

It looks like any of the lead-free pellets would work for your purposes. Also, seconding the notion that you should consider a rifled pellet gun, rather than a combo pellet/BB gun. Typically the combo guns are of lesser quality, and the reduced accuracy with BBs will be pretty frustrating if you're target shooting.
posted by electroboy at 10:23 PM on December 4, 2008

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