What Is The Difference Between Paintball And Airsoft?

People often confuse themselves between Airsoft and Paintball and consider them the same. These two games might be referred to as one type of sport but are two different games played with some intensity and fun. Paintball is more popular amongst the two, where small balls of paint are shot at enemy troops through air-powered guns. On the other hand, Airsoft is more like a combat-simulation game that uses life-like gun replicas that fire plastic pellets. 

Difference between paintball and airsoft

Just like that, many more differences make these two games stand apart from one another. However, the two games are considered similar since both use combat-style harmless guns. To help understand both of these games, this guide puts some practical differences on the table. Follow this guide to know what the difference between paintball and Airsoft is. 

Equipment Differences between Paintball and Airsoft

Both paintball and Airsoft are combat simulation games that use replica guns. These games aim to eliminate the opponent team members by hitting them with harmless bullets. Apart from this particular end goal, the gears, rules, and equipment vary for these games. Here are some of the equipment-wise differences! 


Even though this guide has already stated the possible differences between guns, there is still more to it that you must know. Airsoft makes use of real-like gun replicas. The plastic pellets for airsoft guns are loaded in a real gun like a magazine. The loading and firing action is the same as that of real guns. 

The air gun is loaded with paintballs in the Paintball game. It is done with the help of a bulky hopper. The gun remains upright while the person loads paintballs for the game round. It is easy for a service person to reload the paintball guns in this position. 


The Airsoft ammunition fits into a magazine comparable to a real gun. With these plastic pellets, the gun becomes light in weight, making it easy for the players to carry. On the other hand, Paintball ammunition helps spot the person you shot, as the paintball leaves a mark. Hence, that makes it easy for people to identify who is still in the game and who is not. 

But, in the case of Airsoft bullets, it is easy for people to cheat in the game. There will be no visual indication of whether the bullet has hit the target or not. Therefore, ammunition usage becomes a loophole for Airsoft games. 

Masks & Goggles

Airsoft players have to wear goggles to protect their eyes from being hit by the pellets during the game. But the paintball players are recommended to wear full face masks to prevent being hit by paintball colors. In either case, the goggles and masks are preferable for preventing serious injuries. 

Equipment Cost

The cost of paintballs is more than that of plastic pellets. Most of the airsoft guns used within the game are either spring-loaded or run with rechargeable batteries. Therefore, airsoft equipment is cheaper in comparison to paintball equipment. 

Player Role Differences between Paintball and Airsoft Games

The roles of players within the airsoft game are based on weaponry! Airsoft has sniper guns, grenades, rifles, shotguns, and other variants, just like a real war zone. Therefore, the players are assigned roles according to the gun they pick. The snipers use the long rifles in the team, the assault troops use rifles & grenades, and the shotguns are used for closing the corners or breaching the doors. The Airsoft game also has autocannons that are preferable for heavy weapons specialists. If there are any long-term matches, there are medics. 

The paintball players get the roles based upon their preferences and experience. All of the players get the same type of weapons. Depending upon the experience, people will take up definite spots on the ground. Different sports have different vulnerabilities of being seen! One with the right experience can dodge around easier than the rookies. Therefore, the knowledgeable player needs to lead the team by staying upfront. Similarly, some people might also hide within the available spots to make a surprise attack. Hence, it entirely depends upon individual choices. 

Paintball technology is highly preferred by the military forces, para-military, law enforcement, and other security firms to control riots, support military-level training, and suppress dangerous suspects in a non-lethal manner. Therefore, it has a bit more popularity! 

Pain Factor in Paintball and Airsoft Games

It is one of the crucial things that the new players would search for! They would want to know what game would cause them more pain. Therefore, here is a brief comparison between the pain factors of Airsoft and paintball games. 

Pain in Airsoft Games

Some people might count on experiencing more pain in airsoft games than that of paintball. Airsoft uses more realistic guns, and playing feels more realistic. But it is not the case, as the tiny plastic bullets are not likely to give you extreme pain every time it hits you. The pain intensity depends on where the plastic pellets hit you and what distances. 

For instance, if someone has hit you with an airsoft gun and bullet from a nearby distance upon your neck, then there would be far more pain than if a person is shot in the neck from a far distance. Therefore, every shot in the airsoft game will put up a different definition of pain. But you must know that the bullets are harmless, and the pain would last only for a couple of minutes. 

Before the game begins, the officials request the individuals to wear thick clothing. It will cushion the bullet blow and help you experience less pain. If the pellet hits thin clothing or bare skin, then there is a chance that you might experience a more painful outcome. 

Pain in Paintball Games

Paintball is a popular sport in comparison to Airsoft. But the pain factor is more serious in this game. Paintball guns cause a lot more pain than Airsoft guns. The primary reason the paintballs will be more painful is their size! The bullets for this game are large and have a great impact when they hit someone, anywhere on the body. 

The size of the ball is also responsible for affecting the surface area with a blow. If you are not wearing any protective gear and are playing paintball, you will probably get bruises by the end of your game. Wearing proper clothes is the only way to reduce the bruising and pain concerns. Moreover, you will also need safety equipment to ensure that vulnerable areas don’t get hurt. 

Range Differences between Airsoft and Paintball Guns

The range of guns used in both these games varies, as the bullets used in them are different. Many people have a query upon whether they can shoot better with paintball or Airsoft guns. 

Most of the fields and sites used to play the paintball and airsoft games usually limit the paintball guns to sub-300FPS (Feet per Second) and limit the airsoft guns from 300FPS to 500FPS. The airsoft guns are light in weight, and the bullets are also light in weight, which allows you to shoot faster with them. But the impact will be less in comparison to that of paintball guns and bullets. 

If the actual built-in range of the guns is compared between the two sports, Airsoft guns have a better range. Therefore, one of the biggest benefits of using Airsoft guns is that the owners can fine-tune them. With fine-tuning, the owners can take more accurate shots from a far distance. 

For paintball guns, the range is not as large. The reason is evident, as the paintballs are heavy compared to pellets, the gravity acts upon them. There are fine-tuning capabilities with paintball guns, but the range capabilities cannot be altered much.  

Fun Considerations Between Airsoft and Paintball

So, are you willing to decide upon what is more fun to play, Airsoft or paintball? If yes, apart from just the differences above, you need to count on many other things associated with these games. So, to decide what is going to be more fun for you, here are the important factors:

  • Experience: Both Airsoft and Paintball are fun, but when it comes to which one is more fun, it depends upon what you want to experience! Whether you want to color your friends and team members with paints or want to take a tactical combat-like approach with airsoft guns and gears, it depends upon you. It is your definition of fun that you can experience with the games. 
  • Cost: You cannot neglect the cost, which is a prime concern for starting with all the fun. If you want to go with a game that costs less, then Airsoft is the one you should go for. Airsoft guns are cheaper than paintball equipment. Some of the safety gears are common in both games, while some are unique for Airsoft. Airsoft gear tends to be cheap. Even though there is no direct impact of cost upon fun, it becomes the prime consideration before starting any game. 
  • Skill Level: Every sport requires skills and a good understanding of the game.  However, Airsoft demands more skills than that of paintball! It is not easy to line up a shot with an Airsoft gun. Hence, you will need a lot of practice beforehand to obtain adequate skills to take on the game. Paintball guns are more fun in this perspective, as it demands less skill to take the shots. And the color splashes upon hitting the targets make it a more exciting game. 
  • Ease of Play: Paintball is a more fun game involving colors and has a playful concept. But when you talk about gameplay, the paintball guns are heavier than the Airsoft guns. Airsoft comes with a magazine-style reloading concept that makes it easy for you to reload your gun immediately. You won’t need many reloading accessories while on the playing field. 
  • Clean-up: Paintball will cover you in paint, and you will have to go for a deep clean-up after the game. You might also have bruises around your body if you didn’t wear thick clothes. Some people might find it a real hassle, as they have to clean themselves every time they enjoy a game. It is not the same with Airsoft, as you don’t get dirty due to the pellet shots. But yes, cleaning is essential for the gears of both sports before they can be used in the next game. 

Paintball Vs. Airsoft: Differences Compared

Even though with all of the descriptive differences, here is a detailed table for giving you an impactful understanding of the differences. The table is as follows: 

DefinitionAirsoft is a tactical and strategy game where people shoot non-metallic pellets. Paintball is accountable as the sport where players are eliminated by tagging them with the capsules of color. 
EquipmentAirsoft guns, eye protection, and plastic pellets are the equipment you need in this game. Paintball guns, full face mask, hopper, and tank are necessary equipment for this game. 
AccessoriesYou will need BB bullets and magazines to use the guns for this game. You will need paintballs and a hopper that you can attach either on the gun’s top, middle, or side.
GunsIt makes use of full imitation firearms or uses 2-tone guns. The 2-tone guns are cheap practice guns. These guns consist of tanks and hoppers. The paintball guns come up with a nose for lining up the aim for a shot. 
UsabilityAirsoft guns are difficult to reload, as the magazines need to be constantly winded. It is easy to load as they are loaded with pods. The players need to carry the pod packs for loading them at ease. 
CostThe cost is cheaper than that of a paintball game. It will cost you around $10 to $20 per 5000 plastic pellets or BBs.The paintballs are sold in cases that have around 2000 paintballs. The price for the sport is around $30 for an average consumer. 
VenueIt can be played almost anywhere, such as RAF bases, woodland areas, and shopping malls.Paintball can be played anywhere, especially on a speedball field or within the woodland areas, with few farmyard buildings. 
ContactThis game also comes with ‘Bang’ and ‘Knife’ rules which allows you to shout ‘Bang’ instead of shooting at them. It shows that you aren’t willing to harm them, but you eliminate them from the game. Most of the fields where paintball is played allow physical contact. It is a game that triggers the necessity of tagging opponents with a fake sword, barrel, lightsaber, etc. There is a mercy rule for players sitting 5 feet away from one another. 
RealismPlayers can either rent equipment from the game organizers or buy their own equipment.  Some Airsoft game events demand realistic equipment, clothing, behavior, and load-outs. The game scenarios with paintball come with realistic objectives, but anyone can play this game without expertise. 
PyrotechnicsSome pyrotechnics such as flashbangs, BB grenades, smoke grenades, and others might be used depending upon different sites. There are paint grenades, smoke grenades, and rockets. But usage varies depending upon the site. 
Player AgeEverybody over ten years of age can play Airsoft The age guidelines allow individuals above ten years of age to play this game. But most of the players who play this game are around 16 to 30 years of age. 
HardwareAirsoft guns need upgrades over time to work efficiently. It is because airsoft guns break easily. Paintball guns are durable and last for a long time without maintenance. 

Pros & Cons of Airsoft and Paintball Games

With all of the considerations, here are some pros & cons of both of these games. Knowing them will help you decide which game you could try without second thoughts. 

Pros & Cons for Airsoft

  • These games are not at all messy on the field. 

  • This game is really very inexpensive, as they use plastic pellets as ammo. 

  • The guns replicate the look of real firearms. 
  • It is difficult to determine when someone gets hit.

  •  It is hard to observe the bullets flying out of the gun barrels. 

  • Airsoft guns have more technicality than paintball guns, which is difficult to understand.

  • Pros & Cons for Paintball

  • The paint marks a player who is hit or eliminated. 

  • The balls are large and follow a predictable trajectory, and hence they’re easily tracked after they are out of the barrel.

  •  Low impact paintballs are now being used to minimize pain.
  • Players will get dirty with paint & dirt throughout the game. 

  • Paintballs are expensive when you purchase more ammo. 

  • Equipment doesn’t seem realistic like Airsoft

  • Similarities between Airsoft and Paintball

    Now that you understand the differences between airsoft and paintball sports, it is time to take note of some of the similarities between them. So, here they are:

    1. The risk of getting injured when playing without gear is about the same for both games. As long you wear the gear and follow the rules, you shouldn’t get hurt in either game. 
    2. You need to play tactically and with strategies for both games. It is because you need to dodge the incoming bullets and eliminate your opponent simultaneously. The goal of both games is to eliminate the opponent team. 
    3. The necessity of wearing protective gear such as knee pads, elbow pads, face masks, chest protection, and others is common for both games. 
    4. You can wear war-kind outfits to get a feeling like you are entering the war zone. It applies to both games, but Airsoft gives this idea a more realistic feel, as the guns look similar to real ones.

    Final Thoughts

    So, these are the basic differences between Airsoft and paintball games. If you haven’t participated in any of such games, you probably have the urge to be part of it someday. But with the proper knowledge, you can channelize your interest towards starting with one.

    A genuine suggestion for you is to try both at one point to realize your taste of on-field combat games. Both are harmless games if you are wearing the right protective gear, and there will be professionals to guide you that. 

    Hence, get together with your friends and take on paintball and Airsoft battles to find out who’s the strongest and smartest amongst you. Irrespective of whether you want to explore the fun or showcase your strategic mindset in the game, you can get into these games right away. Keep in mind the positives and negatives of both Airsoft and paintball games to invest your money wisely in these fun games. 


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