Airsoft vs Paintball

Airsoft vs Paintball

If you’re reading this article, you probably wonder what’s the difference between airsoft and paintball. Looking from the outside in, they would appear to be similar games. But in reality, they’re very different. 

What we are not doing in this article is talking about which is better: airsoft or paintball, or even give you our opinion? These decisions are subjective and different people enjoy different games. Which is great for both, that they each have their own loyal followers.

So, let’s examine airsoft vs paintball and talk about the major differences, equipment, guns, ammunition, costs, and the dynamics of the games.

The Difference Between Paintball And Airsoft

Airsoft Versus Paintball

Of the two games, airsoft is the slower-paced. It has more to do with patience and strategy within the group of players, and those players immersing themselves into the game.

Paintball is typically more of a sport, played fast and dynamically. It’s very much about tactics and individual prowess.

There are more differences between paintball and airsoft, though. While airsoft is still a game it’s been deliberately modeled on real soldiering, with conventional military weapons, tactics and mission types.

As we mentioned players deem paintball to be a sport. It’s not trying to look realistic about anything. It’s played for the sake of playing. They make the rules more competitive, the markers/guns’ fire paintballs, not to emulate actual military weapons.


Airsoft Guns vs Paintball Guns

In both games, the most vital piece of equipment is the guns. But there are major differences between paintball and airsoft guns, including the accessories they require.

Paintball uses a loader or hopper to load ammunition into the gun. There are obviously bulky because they need to contain as many .50 to .68 caliber paintballs as possible. Good quality hoppers force-feed the balls into the gun for firing, by battery power, and contain between 200 and 250 paintballs.

The paintballs ensure the accuracy of their trajectory, not being affected by wind or even small branches, because of their weight. They use compressed gas to expel the paintballs which also gives a decent range. But to generate power, the compressed gas containers are quite large.

The paintball’s size enables players to see the exact trajectory they are firing on and can adapt if they are too low or high.

If you compare airsoft BB guns to paintball guns, the differences are immediately obvious. Airsoft guns’ fire small round plastic ‘bullets’ that are only 8mm in diameter. Unlike paintball guns that can easily jam because of cut paintballs, the airsoft BB gun has no such problem.

Spring-powered BB guns and ammunition are much cheaper to buy, making the sport easier to get into. However, once you go to the high-end paintball and airsoft guns, their costs become similar.

Plastic ‘bullets’ load into the gun in the same way real guns load, and that’s by using a magazine. They weigh less and are much easier to carry around in the game. Loading is so much simpler, snap out the empty mag and replace with a fully loaded one. No trying to pour paintballs into an empty hopper in the middle of a game.

It’s not so easy to track the airsoft ammunition. The small size of the plastic ‘bullet’ and low weight also makes them vulnerable to head and side winds.

Which Hurts More Airsoft Or Paintball Ammunition?

One question that new players to either game want to know the answer to is does airsoft or paintball hurt more? Well, we answer that for you now.

As we mentioned there is a big difference in the size and weight of the ammunition. Airsoft being the smaller and lighter ammo will hurt less than paintball hits.

This is why protective gear is different in the two games. Most paintball players will wear light-weight armor and full-face protection.

Airsoft players pad up for close-quarter games, but full face protection is recommended because plastic ‘bullets’ fired close enough will hurt if they hit.

To be exact, if you’re hit by either ammunition, it can hurt. However, it’s going to depend on how far away your assailant was when he fired the shot. What level of pain you can withstand and how thick your clothing is. 

How badly do airsoft guns hurt? Not bad unless it’s close and hits you on bare skin. Does airsoft or paintball hurt more is a question that’s impossible to answer with any accuracy?


Airsofters VS Paintballers: Honor vs Paint

They play both games in a pre-defined area by the same number of players on each side. Both sets of players are out of the game if they are hit or tagged by an opposing player’s shot.

In paintball, it’s easy to see the strike because the hit explodes the ball and splatters the player with paint. In airsoft that doesn’t happen. The player taking the hit declares he’s hit. There’s no visual proof, only a player’s honesty. This can lead to the game being spoiled by dishonest players. The game’s organizers will frown on any player caught cheating.

Paintball Or Airsoft Which Is More Dangerous?

Typically, players from both sports can sustain eye and ankle injuries. If you’re running around on the uneven ground or in woodland areas, it’s very easy to turn an ankle. Trip over some unseen debris or catch your foot in a tree root, and that’s more than enough.

Eye injuries are another matter. If a player takes a hit to an eye, there will be damage. When a paintball strikes an eye the damage more often than not is temporary, but a smaller, harder plastic ‘bullet’ in the eye can cause permanent damage.

In either case, it’s irresponsible not to wear eye protective gear. Experienced players will never take this risk when playing whichever game.


In summary, the difference between paintball and airsoft is not so great. They are both combat-oriented games, played by groups of people.

The equipment may differ, so might the rules and techniques, but the aim is to have as much fun as possible.

Which is why we say airsoft vs paintball comes down to personal preference every time.