Airsoft vs Paintball [A Definitive Guide]

Airsoft vs Paintball FI

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Airsoft vs Paintball Overview

Are you confused between airsoft and paintball? That’s fine. 

They kind of look the same. Both paintball and airsoft players go around with what look like real guns and then shoot at each other. Both games are played in teams too. To win, you need to eliminate opponents as much as you can.

They’re both considered combat simulations.

But in a nutshell…

The main difference between the paintball game and the airsoft game is the equipment that you use – especially the type of gun and ammunition – and the rules or gameplay.

But if you’re looking for a better answer than that, you’ve come to the right place! Because in this guide, we will detail out:

  • The pros and cons of paintball and airsoft as compared to each other;
  • The differences between the equipment, ammunition, and accessories used in both sports;
  • What’s more painful, more popular, etc.; and

Lots more!

Once all’s been written and read in this article, we’ll tell you why we recommend airsoft over paintball.

So load up your magazines!

And we’re going in…

What is the difference between airsoft and paintball?

The long story is…

Airsoft games are more accurate representations of military warfare – from the replica firearms to costumes to the rules and regulations of the game, especially in airsoft tournaments, when all these are made to represent a particular military situation.

Because of its more realistic warfare experience, airsoft is commonly used in training. And military enthusiasts prefer airsoft more.

On the other hand…

The paintball game is more fast-paced, and it’s played mainly for fun. And the guns used in it are less realistic than the ones in airsoft. 

But the most significant difference between the two is ammunition.

We’ll get into detail about that later…


Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both games. This will help you decide which one you’ll enjoy more.

Airsoft ProsAirsoft Cons
CheaperNo hit markers
Less painAirsoft BBs may cause more
severe injuries than paintballs
Better accuracyAn unorganized set of rules
Realistic combat simulationIt relies on the honor system
Smaller gas containers for the guns
Paintball ProsPaintball Cons
Visible hit markersPaintballs hurt more than airsoft BBs
A standardized and set of rulesPaint stains
Paint splatter doesn’t cause serious injuriesBigger gas containers for the guns
More fun/less scary than airsoftMore expensive than airsoft

Related: Best Airsoft Goggles

Airsoft Gun And Paintball Gun Specs

Airsoft vs Paintball

Aside from the pros and cons, these are the most visible differences between the airsoft gun and the paintball gun, as well as their ammo.es.

Airsoft Guns
Ammunition6mm plastic BB
Power sourceBattery, gas, and spring powered
Power1-2 joules
Muzzle velocity300-500 fps
Range20-50 meters
Magazine capacity2500 airsoft BB’s
BB common price$5/1000 BBs
RealismTrue to the scale of real weapons
GameRealistic combat
Paintball Guns
Ammunition18mm paintballs
Power sourceGas
Power2-10 joules
Muzzle velocity300 fps max
Range25-30 meters
Magazine capacity50-200 paintballs
BB common price$40/1000 paintballs
RealismSmaller than the actual size of real firearms


Those specifications have significant effects on the overall experiences of either sport. In other words…

Airsoft vs. Paintball Pain

You can tell by what they wear. 

Paintball players usually wear lightweight padded armor, while airsoft players only do that when in close-quarter combat. But both games require face – or at least – eye protection.


There’s a limit to the muzzle velocity for each game. The international standard is up to 300 feet per second only. That’s what paintball usually follows.

But airsoft has its own laws. The airsoft guns have muzzle velocities between 300 to 500 feet per second. It won’t bring serious damage, but you’ll know it when the airsoft BBs hit.

Another factor…

Paintball uses – well – paintballs. But just because they’re not as solid as the airsoft BBs doesn’t mean they’re less painful. Actually, a strike from paintball pellets tends to hurt more because they’re heavier and bigger.

But more on that later. 

Airsoft vs. Paintball Accuracy

The difference between the sizes of the pellets is a massive factor in accuracy. 

Since the airsoft BB is only about a third of the size of the paintball marker, it’s less prone to wind resistance. It’s also less visible. So when it’s coming at you – or your opponent – it’s a lot harder to evade.


Airsoft ammo is generally more accurate than paintball. 

But it doesn’t mean that paintball is hard to aim. Even though paintballs are a bit large, their weight allows for accurate trajectory. And unlike small plastic pellets, paintball ammo can withstand adverse weather conditions more.

Airsoft vs. Paintball Popularity

These two sports have very different fanbases. 

Airsoft is significantly cheaper than paintball. And because of its more precise simulation of actual combat, law enforcement prefers to use airsoft in their training. 

But still, paintball is more popular.

How is that?

The general public tends to be intimidated by airsoft because of its equipment that resembles real-world firearms. The paintball play is also a lot more organized – with its rules and standardized regulations.

Whereas playing airsoft in different sites may also mean a different set of rules.

Airsoft vs. Paintball Games

As mentioned…

Paintball has better organization than airsoft. Aside from the standardized set of rules, paintball has a way of making sure that players are honest about their status. None other than… the paintballs made of colorful paint.

Once you get hit, you can never lie about it!

On the other hand…

It’s not the same for the other one. Airsoft relies mainly on the integrity of the airsoft players. Liars get kicked out of the game, or even banned from airsoft itself – if they get caught. 

But these games have similarities too.

They’re both played by even teams. Both have tournaments with prizes. And those events go as large a scale as 300 players to 5000 draftings.

Paintball vs. Airsoft Comparisons

Airsoft vs Paintball

If you look at the ammo used for each sport, it’s pretty easy to see that airsoft and paintball are so different from each other. Airsoft BB’s are made of plastic, while paintball rounds are capsules that contain non-toxic and water-based dye or paint. 


The difference between paintball and airsoft is a lot more obvious than you think.

If we compare the other elements…

  • Gun Types

Airsoft has realistic imitation firearms. 

Usually, manufacturers put an orange tip on the airsoft guns to distinguish them from real firearms. These are powered by rechargeable batteries, gas, and spring. The firing mechanism involves high-pressure air, causing your pellets to fly at high speed.

Airsoft guns are relatively cheaper than paintball guns.


There’s a broader range of guns to choose from in airsoft. You can opt for sniper rifles or pistols. This privilege is not in the other game.

Paintball guns, or often also called paintball markers, are usually accompanied by paintball hoppers. They’re powered by gas, preferably HPA rather than CO2. The compressed gas would propel the paintballs where you aimed them.

Paintball guns are not up to scale with a real firearm, but it tends to be more expensive than airsoft guns.

  • Equipment

For both sports, head protection is of the utmost importance, especially for the eyes.


When playing paintball or airsoft, one must wear headgear in the form of a mask, helmet, or goggles.

As for the other things…

Airsoft requires only plastic pellets. While in paintball, you’ll need paintballs or pods and a gas tank.

  • Accessories

Aside from the equipment mentioned earlier, you’ll need a magazine for your airsoft gun and a large hopper for paintball.

  • Usability

Airsoft ammunition is a little difficult to load in a magazine. You’ll have to wind it over and over again because of the spring. But there’s no problem with the way you maneuver and carry it around.


Paintball markers are much easier to load. You can even buy pods with elastics so you can eject them faster. But the bulky hopper can be an inconvenience to the paintball player.

  • Pyrotechnics

Depending on the airsoft field, you may use BB or smoke grenades or flashbangs. While on the paintball fields, players carry paint grenades, rockets, and sometimes smoke grenades too.

This is probably the coolest part of the game…

Why you should Choose Airsoft Over Paintball

Considering everything we’ve said…

We recommend airsoft fields over paintball.

Here’s why…

Playing airsoft is a lot cheaper. You can buy the same number of airsoft pellets for less than a fourth of the price. Plus, entry fees to airsoft games cost lower too. 

And even though it’s less organized, you’ll find a lot more game sites and events.


It’s not just the pain that took off points from paintball for us. There’s also the mess. You’ll have to quickly wash off the paint from your clothes or wear a new one each time you play. 

Sometimes, old stains get mistaken for new tags, and that’s not something a paintball player wants to be bothered with.

In airsoft, you don’t have that problem!


It doesn’t hurt that the true-to-life combat simulation of airsoft adds more flavor to the adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Is airsoft better than paintball?

Paintball is more popular than airsoft. But we still recommend airsoft, especially for military enthusiasts. It’s a lot cheaper to get an airsoft gun, and its accurate simulation of military combat is a lot more fun. 

What hurts more, airsoft or paintball?

Paintballs hurt more than BBs because they’re bigger and heavier.

Is Airsoft more dangerous than paintball?

The ammunition used in airsoft is more prone to causing injuries – but not so much that it’s more dangerous to play than paintball.

CONCLUSION: Airsoft vs Paintball

Airsoft vs Paintball

If you’ve ever played airsoft before, chances are you’ve tried paintball too. Or the other way around.

And you probably can’t decide which one is the best!

Both sports are enjoyable and educational.


Always remember safety first! Both sports also have their dangers, so you better come prepared. Be sure to have the right gear and the proper ammo for the type of game you chose.

You don’t want to show up in a paintball match with airsoft rifles and BBs, right?


I’m glad you made it ‘til the end, comrade! But I won’t keep you any longer. There’s a great airsoft field out there, waiting to be conquered – by you!

So I’ll see you in the next battle!

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