Airsoft vs Paintball: What are the Differences?

12th May 2016

Airsoft vs Paintball: What are the Differences?

Airsoft and Paintball are two sports which are commonly compared with one another due to their many similarities and, of course, both relying on the fundamental use of guns and other munitions throughout the course of the games.

We’ve made this short blog, not to discourage you from either, but to provide an insight into their differentiating factors and help prospective players make an informed decision about which sport to begin playing.

  1. Guns

In paintball and airsoft, the weapons players use serve as an incredibly important aspect of the game, however, there are some distinct differences between the two.

In airsoft, players typically brandish guns which have a strong resemblance to real world weapons such as M16s and AK47s. These fire small plastic BB pellets and utilise either a gas powered system (GBB) or a battery operated firing mechanism (AEG) as a means of propulsion.

Paintball guns, however, usually come in more simple, proprietary models which are designed to facilitate the vertical loading of ammunition, as well as holding the rear-mounted gas bottle which powers each shot.

As expected, these guns (or ‘markers’) fire plastic capsules filled with paint at enemy players which, as long as the capsule bursts upon impact, will leave a visible mark on any surface which they hit.

  1. Game Culture

Paintball ammunition, by its very nature, makes it easy to identify players who have been hit as paint marks are left upon impact if the capsule breaks open. As a result, this makes it far more difficult for players to cheat as there is visible evidence of the strike occurring.

Contrastingly, airsoft relies absolutely on players adhering to an honour system in order to keep games fair. This system involves players admitting to being hit from an enemy player, at which point they must raise their hand in the air and begin to leave the game area.

Whilst improper playing can be found in any sport, this helps make airsoft a very respectful and mature community and the vast majority of players will be honest in the way they play by admitting to defeat when the time comes.

  1. Pain

This is a slightly more subjective topic; however, it is generally considered paintball ammunition creates more of a pain response than airsoft BBs.

This is largely due to the size of the paintballs and their velocity upon impact with skin. This can be intensified further if the paintballs do not break open as there is no reduction in the force felt by the player who has been hit.

There is no reason to be apprehensive in either sport as, with the proper safety equipment players will be able to enjoy both experiences with only minor discomfort.

  1. Choice

Airsoft allows for massive amounts of gear customization due to the array of firearms, accessories, armour and other equipment available to players.

Because of this, it’s easy for players to create a loadout which is entirely unique and sets them apart from others on the battlefield, with many of the accessories available also providing functional and tactical benefits too.

There are also many paintball guns which are akin to real-world weapons, but they are far less common than in airsoft, as most players opt for the conventional shaped weapon as shown below:

However, guns aside, there is a huge amount of clothing and armour available in both sports which can add to the experience for all players involved including helmets, boiler suits, masks, goggles, visors, gloves, custom patches and many more.

  1. Cost

Your mileage may vary depending on how heavily you invest into either sport (there are countless different guns and accessories available), however, there are definite differences between the core equipment such as ammunition, gas and weapons which should be considered.

Once you’ve purchased your weapons and armour, the main ongoing cost for players will be the ammo used within each game.

Airsoft BBs are notably cheaper than paintballs, with a quick Google search showing 3,000 paintballs for £37.50 compared with just £4.99 for 3,000 BBs.

BBs are much smaller and are a far simpler product to manufacturer which is the reason behind this huge difference, but it is a difference nonetheless.

If you’re looking to start either paintball or airsoft, we hope this blog has provided you with a good insight into the basic aspects of both sports and will help to make the decision easier.

Airsoft and paintball both have strong communities with passionate players, however, the differences in guns, ammunition and customization are three areas which should be considered before you commit to either one.

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