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Non-lethal weapons

BB guns for the beginner.

For many years I have had an interest in weaponry of all kinds and spanning across many centuries of warfare from the Romans through the Saxon and viking ages and onwards up to modern weapons used in military combat throughout the world.

My small collection of weapons.

I also used to enjoy a spot of target or rodent shooting when I was younger using air rifles. The army wouldn't have me due to being colour blind and living in the UK the only chance of shooting a real gun with live ammunition is to have a license and be a member of a gun club.

Luckily for me I have several friends who are legal gun owners and one of these was kind enough to take me along to their gun club with them where I was allowed to shoot weapons under the guidance of my friend and other members in a safe and secure environment.

Enfield .303 Bolt action rifle

I remember having a toy replica of this gun as a child which shot plastic bullets a very short distance and I also recall seeing them used in the war films my Dad watched religiously

The second gun I got to shoot that day was a .22 rimfire which was very light and had next to no kick to it, almost like shooting an air rifle, there were a few different types of gun on display and in use that day by other members of the club and the experience was one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Live firing guns however get a bad rap in the UK and sometimes the USA, when criminals use them as tools for their illegal activities or they are used to kill innocents, hunting of any kind is also frowned upon by many groups of people and as such I began looking into non-lethal forms of enjoying weaponry.

an old .177 air rifle

So what has this got to do with BB guns? with the moral issues aside it was the realization that the cost of owning a legal firearm was a little out of my price range, not only do you have the cost of license and membership, a weapon, a wall secured safe, alarm system and regular police checks there is also the cost of ammunition which is quite high, in fact the cheapest part of setting up legally is actually purchasing a rifle.

As it came apparent to me that I was perhaps dreaming about being a legal gun owner I looked further into ways I could enjoy the sport of shooting, of course there is paintball, this would have been an ideal solution if it wasn't for my health issues, and the same goes for airsoft wargames,an ideal safe environment for adults to play with non lethal weapons and of course air guns should only be shot on private land or at a club so these solutions are no good to me these days.

An array of BB guns available on the market.

Looking at Airsoft guns put me onto their, lets call them "little brothers", the humble BB gun, these are lower powered weapons than professional airsoft guns and the worst injury it could cause is a sting or bruise as long as protective eye wear is worn and like all gun use, is used in a responsible manor.

The ammunition for these guns is predominantly small plastic balls or in some cases metal ball bearings could be used (but not advisable) the guns are usually all plastic with some metal variants available, however there are certain strict laws enforced where purchasing guns in the UK is concerned.

To begin with you have to be 18+ to purchase a BB or Air weapon, you can however buy one as a gift for a minor but it must be used under adult supervision, one of the stricter laws surrounds the colour of the gun, for example any weapon which looks like a "real" gun is illegal to own and carry in the UK, that is unless you work in film/tv or theater.

The only exception to this is antique and deactivated weapons but these have to predate the 1900s to be legally owned.

So to get around this law any supplier will supply the same gun which is advertised in black but you will receive a two colour gun, in the case of the two I own one of these is black and gold the other black and blue, personally it doesn't bother me that they have to be two tone to be legal and I still think some of the guns available look great.

There is another exception to the colour law and that is if you are an active member of an airsoft club you are then allowed to own weapons which look realistic but they must be carried in a bag if in public and not something that you should really have on display.

CCp Custom 5.1 Spring pistol

Moving on to the guns, when I first decided I would buy a BB gun i looked at the cheapest option, I found a CCP Custom 5.1 spring pistol in gold and black for only £8.99 and so I purchased this and 2000 BB's for ammunition from the website Just BB Guns, it took only a few days to arrive and was packed well, I also ordered a small plastic gun case to go with it and it was all in good order, I found loading the magazine quite simple, just pull back the spring, pop in the BB's until there was no more room and slide it into the handgrip of the gun.

The overall weight and build quality is what you would expect from a cheap plastic gun and there wasn't much power to it, shooting from 4-5 ft away at a piece of paper I taped to a bucket the BB's just bounced off, moving closer to around 3ft and it did penetrate the paper.

Obviously this gun is meant for just playing around in the garden, its ideal for kids but not really suitable for target shooting from any kind of distance, after shooting this pistol over a few days I really wasn't impressed but for the price I got what I expected.

L96 custom sniper rifle and CCP 5.1 spring action guns

A few weeks later I purchased a slightly better gun, a custom L96 sniper rifle with mock scope, bipod and mock silencer, again this rifle was all plastic construction, very light weight and seemed to feel a little smaller than the advertised 1:1 scale, this is probably due to the stock not extending like its real life or more expensive counterparts.

The large magazine is easy to load from underneath by opening a small panel and it holds quite a lot of BB's, I haven't counted the exact amount and haven't yet shot the rifle long enough to empty a full magazine, once the magazine has been filled but leaving a space for the BB's to move you can pull the spring back and lock it into place.

A simple rocking motion will then fill the reservoir and you can then push the spring lock back and push the magazine into the rifle pretty much the same way you would put a loaded magazine into a real rifle.

The mock scope is simply just that and no use as an optic.

The construction of the rifle is a little flimsy and after removing the mock scope (this was literally useless as any kind of optic and I couldn't target with it on) I found that cocking the gun with the slide action caused the joint at the rear and close to the stock to open apart slightly, this was easily fixed using a cable tie for now and purchasing a better scope to place on the rail will also stop this happening.

There is a simple trigger lock on the rifle which was difficult to notice at first, a small tab which you push forward then slide across the top of the barrel allowing you to cock the gun with the side lever and fire ammunition from the loaded magazine, there is also a small hole beneath where the scope sits and even when the "trigger" lock is activated you can load single balls into this and fire them, not a very effective mechanism in reality.

The distance this rifle shoots is much better than the hand gun and it will pierce paper targets at around 8-10 feet, and shoots at around 140 fps, enough to sting through jeans in close quarter combat or bounce off from further distances, I have yet to test how far it will shoot in total but at a guess I would say 20-30 feet maximum distance before it falls short of the target and taking into account wind speed and direction.

Overall the rifle is a fun little thing to play around with and I have found it to be quite accurate at 6ft with a very minimal spread of ammunition piercing the target, the target in the image below was shot at from exactly 6ft away and I used 24 BB's in total and no scope or optics of any kind.

Shooting from 6ft away with no optics.

Of course there are better and more expensive guns available, there are also some historic replica's available such as the German Mp40 and the STG 44, the British Thompson and German officers Luger, these can all be purchased at a reasonable price in two tone or if you are a member of an airsoft club, tv, film or theater company you can purchase them in black which do look so much better.

for someone like myself I am quite happy with the two tone option and even though the black guns do look much "cooler" it isn't much of an issue to me and I will definitely be purchasing others in the future when funds allow.

If you are looking for a hobby in shooting and don't/can't pay out for a legal option real firearm and joining an airsoft club isn't for you then the budget priced BB guns are the perfect option, especially if you don't have much space or access to a garden.

I hope you enjoyed this article, if so please check out my other work by clicking my profile below and if you happen to be feeling generous why not click the Tip button and show your appreciation, thank you.

product review
Phill Ross
Phill Ross
Read next: 10 Remarkable Facts Of The 18th Century That Will Surprise You
Phill Ross

I have been writing for 35 years starting out with poetry then moved on to song lyrics and music/band reviews,I now write mostly historical fiction and I have written and self published 11 books to date.

See all posts by Phill Ross

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