Airsoft VS Paintball – The ultimate comparison


Whenever I hear someone talking about airsoft vs paintball, they start praising the side they are on. Airsoft players say that paintball could never come close in terms of fun and the same response awaits you from the other side, coming from paintball guys.

In order to give you a good old objective comparison We decided to give you a comparison guide between these too, going as unbiased as we could into the comparison.

This is an Airsoft site, we understand that but nevertheless We do not choose sides when it comes to truth and if we can guide you towards the paintball, We will gladly do that.

It is about having fun and everyone agree on that when it comes to such sports where the main point is to experience fun.

Should you play airsoft or paintball?

We say that Airsoft has more advantages to the group of people who like tactical games, being able to choose between a stealth approach and a rambo approach as well with enjoying playing roles.

Paintball, however offers some good old classic crossfire action which easily gets messy.

There are many factors that you should consider before you start inviting your friends to play with you, joining the nearby club or purchasing the gear.

So, pay attention to what sounds like fun to you and follow it!

I have collected a number of various questions that people ask and I have answered them trying to be as unbiased as possible.

What is more popular,worldwide?

Airsoft VS Paintball worldwide popularity chart
Airsoft is more popular but paintball follows it closely

What is more popular in the USA?

Airsoft VS Paintball USA popularity chart
In the USA, paintball is getting more popular these days but the results vary
Airsoft VS Paintball popularity chart per states
Some states prefer airsoft, some paintball

Which is more expensive, paintball or airsoft?

Being light on pocket certainly is not fun for any of us, but sometimes it is the reality, I had that problem and when I checked the prices for both sports I almost quitted.

The prices may seem to be too much for most beginners who are on budget, but worry not It is not as it seems!

Most of the gear that you can find, You do not actually need! At least not immediately when you are just starting out. All the gear you may need is a gun and ammo and a good eye protection.

In Airsoft that is what you will need at beginning, just a gun, BBs and eye protection.

To get a realistic estimate of how much money you need to begin your airsoft career, check my financial guide on how much airsoft really costs at the beginning.

In Paintball you may also get a gun, ammo and a helmet but you will be more likely renting it if you want to play it just once in a while just like with airsoft. For high end gear with high end guns you will have to spend over 1000$ in both sports, upgrades in long term may make airsoft cost you a bit more.

However, it is not what makes or breaks the game. The big factor in terms of money is the ammo.

Paintball case of paint costs up to 60$ for 2000 balls while a container of airsoft BBs costs only 10$ for 2000 pieces. This explains it all, sum it up and there you go. Some paintball fields add the margins if you buy directly from them, so it can cost up to 90$ instead of regular 60$.

A good beginner budget in paintball is 250$ plus paint (40-60$) per case.

A good beginner budget in airsoft is also around 250$ but the BBs do not add up that much.

Entry for fields is pretty much the same (around 20$). If you do not plan to play often either sport, just rent the gear occasionally and go to the fields, if you would like to spend more time playing, then invest into something that is going to serve you in long terms.

What is more realistic?

Airsoft wins here by a far and it is the biggest advantage that airsoft has over paintball.

Some things may be subjective, but realism is an objective fact.

Airsoft offers the variety of guns that can be furthermore upgraded and put on another level in terms of efficiency, usability or just for the pure looks.

Almost any real gun that you see can be found as an airsoft replica. The replicas depend on the manufacturer and you can find realistic ones and cheaper less detailed ones.

It is really difficult to tell a part some airsoft guns from the real guns and this is what makes it both awesome and dangerous in some scenarios.

Sometimes the only way to tell it a part is to observe the top of the gun and see what the muzzle looks like. People who have not seen many real guns, especially in close, will not be able to tell the difference.

There are blowback guns that even mimic the recoil with the sliding mechanism added into the gun.

 This is a great thing about airsoft overall, allowing you to immerse yourself into the game and even become a collector.

These guns can also be used as props for film makers, the only thing the film makers have to add on is the fire effect after a shot.

Paintball uses paintball markers that do not have any resemblance with real guns at all. They may look cool to you though and are going to get the job done besides the way they look.

Talking about team strategies in-game, airsoft offers additional roles and tactics that are not found in paintball, although if your paintball team desires so, you can abandon the traditional paintball game where the primary goal is to rifle down the opposite member and take a more strategic approach by planning and calculating objectives.

How bad does paintball hurt compared to airsoft?

The pain is always subjective, they say. I have played both and can surely say that there is a difference.

Paintball hurts way more, especially when hit at close range. Paintball markers may have less power in terms of FPS, but the paint ball ammo hurts terribly when connected on certain body parts.

When I played my first Paintball match everything was great, I had a great strategy and managed to approach the opposite team from behind, shooting at their bottoms for the sake of fun.

Some players accidentally got a shot in the more sensitive part when they spinned around to counter fire at me, and guess they were the guys.

They complained a bit about it and I did not understand what is a big deal about getting hit by a small ball from not so powerful marker gun.

Very next half of the match I realized it on my own, when I got rifled down by multiple members of the opposite team all over my back.

Pro tip: Use some ice when you arrive at home, it helped me.

Airsoft is softer when it comes to pain, but it is still going to hurt as hell if not protected properly and shoot from some closer range.

If you care about getting hit and the pain, then airsoft is a smarter option.

I have written on how painful it is to get hit by the airsoft BB, so you can see the common injuries and how serious it is.

This however, is more applicable to kids then to adults, I suppose that a kid would be more sensitive when it comes to being multiply shoot, but I have seen kids going through some scary stuff better than some adults.

Paintball guys posing for the photo in the forest
A photo of me and the boys playing paintball

Is Airsoft more accurate than paintball?

In terms of pure accuracy, airsoft gun is more accurate, being able to go much further with greater precision.

Paintball guns are meant to be used more in close to mid-range combat scenarios and it is a reason that you have probably never heard of a paintball sniper guy.

This question comes from the people that want to know the power of guns and their potential in both sports.

Airsoft offers far better variety of guns and we can mention everything from a hand gun to a shotgun and a sniper rifle to many other replicas like different types of SMGs, long rifles and lots of upgrades that easily add up and increase the accuracy of the gun furthermore. (just imagine all these red dots that you can upgrade and feel like special ops guy)

In Paintball you have a lesser variety of weapons to deal with, they are all called paintball markers and have a big resemblance, the only difference may be the different model coming from a different brand.

Airsoft guns are powered by gas, electric batteries or by spring motion. Airsoft BB has a standard size of 6 mm, while the paintball ball has a size of 17.3 mm.

This makes it obvious that shooting a heavier ammo has different properties than shooting a smaller and lighter ammo, especially when the guns do not have a huge difference in overall power production.

As a matter of fact, most paintball guns have lesser power than airsoft guns but the difference is not huge, it may calculate between 50-100 fps in difference per average.

What shoots faster airsoft or paintball guns?

Airsoft guns may vary in the power from 250 FPS all the way to 550 FPS, but on average they go around 350 FPS with a standard BB of 0.20 grams.

Most paintball makers shoot a ball at around 300 FPS but it is also important to mention that a paintball ammo ball is heavier at least 2.8 grams than the airsoft BB.

This results in paintball markers having harder time to shoot a target at longer distances, being slower and more predictable for dodging.

At the close distance it will be extremely difficult to dodge anything, even if I throw a rock at you with a bear hand, but at 40 feet it is possible to dodge incoming BBs and balls if you choose the right direction.

The only difference here is that you can not spot a small 6mm BB coming at you with great velocity while you may have easier time spotting a big, heavy ball of paint rolling towards you.

Rules in the games

When it comes to the rules It always depends on what game mod you are playing, whether it is about an objective oriented game, last man standing or a zombie acopalypse where the goal is to survive, secure and kill.

However, there are some basic rules present on most fields that must be respected in order to secure the positive experience.

The common Airsoft rules-

a) IF you get hit and you are aware of it, shout it out loud! Raise your hand and shout hit. This rule is the most common one and people sometimes break it, hopefully those people do not see the next match in future.

b) IF you see the others getting hit without calling it tell Marshall about it.

c) Do not make head-shots if you can avoid them. This is not against the rules, because you may hit someone in the head, but if done repeatedly and attentionaly you are sharing the bad vibe.

d) Respawning- After you get hit, return to the nearest re-spawn point before you re-join the game. Do not cheat it, otherwise you break the purpose of elimination.

e) There is a „BANG“ rule, it allows you to hit a target by shoting bang. This is helpful on close distances so you do not hurt them (within 10ft or 3 m).

f) There is an FPS limit on guns, bear in mind that some guns may be to powerfull on certain fields. For instance, you will not be able to use a 400+ FPS rifle on close quarter combat. The power of your gun is tested before the game starts.

Also do not attempt to remove the eye protection at any moment while you are on the field. This also applies to Paintball rules.

The common Paintball rules-

The rules in paintball are very similiar to the rules in Airsoft, however there are a few differencies.

  1. Paintball hurts more than Airsoft and you do not have to discharge the gun to score a hit, often a single one is enough.
  2. You can shoot some areas like a shoe, padded area or gear at close range to negate the pain.
  3. All guns must have FPS at 285 or under on most fields. Players get randomy checked throughout the day.
  4. You can ask your enemy to surrender on close range.

The rules are pretty much similiar but one thing that makes the biggest difference is that once you get hit, you have the color on yourself making it more obvious when you cheat.

This is the biggest advantage of paintball when you talk to people. However, Airsoft when played with right people, does not mind this problem.

What is the minimum age for airsoft and paintball?

The minimum age for Airsoft is 12 years in most occasions and the same goes for paintball as well.

However, I have heard of some mini-ball events for children aged 8 to 10. The age limit is often listed on the organization or club page.

You should visit my post on how old do you have to be to join airsoft where I talk about legal requirements and whether you can be too young or to old for airsoft games.

Playing with friends or joining an airsoft organization club is a different thing though.

Age may not be a limiting factor most of the times in game, purchasing and owning weapons is.

If you kid wants to play either of those sports it is on you to provide all the required gear and to explain them that it can be dangerous and that they must obey the rules for all the costs.

I often hear people saying that any kid should have an airsoft gun if the desire and I could not disagree with it more.

The reason behind it is that an airsoft gun of any power and especially of higher power should not be found in the kids arms without supervision.

Such guns can take an eye out and if the kid is not thought to shoot into humans and animals, which is by the way that first and mandatory rule, an accident still may happen.

If you think that I am too hard on this topic than you probably have not had such experiences seeing the kids screwing up with airsoft guns, even with the springers.

When I was little I almost shoot my mother in the eye because gun accidentally fired when I was rolling on the floor with it inside of our apartment.

Luckily, I missed and hit her eyebrow, but till that day I realized how important it is to be smart and safe about anything that may hurt anyone if the things gets out of control by simply putting the focus off for a single second.

I have also seen injuries and heard that some young players hurt the eye or missed a tooth because they thought that no protection gear is required and that they can go along with anything.

Well sometimes you do and sometimes you do not, do not take the chances that you do not have to take when it comes to the safety.

Please be responsible even with springers but especially with high power airsoft guns.

Wear proven eye protection gear, respect the rules, do not hold a finger on the trigger if not intended to shoot, keep in on locked on the safe mode and wear some additional protective gear on the field to furthermore reduce the pain and the bruisers.

If you teach these principles to your kid I believe that they will experience nothing but fun.

Are You a Beginner?

I have written a book for you. In my beginner book, you’ll find everything you must know before stepping into the field.

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