Airsoft Vs Paintball – A Comparison

Airsoft Vs Paintball – A Comparison

Airsoft vs paintball is a consistent discussion between players of the games, and people trying to get into the two activities. At their core they are very similar, requiring you to shoot enemies to knock them out of the game. This is an over-simplification as there are various game modes for both activities where shooting the opposition becomes a secondary objective. Read on to find out how the two games compare in every aspect, answering the big question: Is airsoft better than paintball?

What equipment do you need for airsoft and paintball?

The equipment for the two sports is slightly different in design, cost and requirements for playing.


Airsoft guns are either spring loaded, electric powered (called AEGs) or gas powered to shoot the bbs, paintball markers are exclusively gas powered. Airsoft guns typically try to replicate existing weapons being created as Replica Imitation Firearms (RIF), which are designed to be replicas of originals, and Imitation Firearms (IFs) which are two-toned in colour and intended for beginners, and compliant with specific UK law. Paintball weapons are called markers and have a clunkier design due to the larger paintball hopper required to refill the chamber.

Both paintball and airsoft have customisation options for their guns, but airsoft has a wider market and more options in attempts at true replication. Guns at a lower level are similarly priced but as both get more complicated and customized the price goes up respectively. Airsoft guns can be sniper rifles to grenade launchers, as well as fictional designs like laser rifles from video games, for example.


The ammunition for airsoft is a small plastic 6mm BB pellet and paintballs are larger balls of water based paint. The key difference between the two is that paintball is more expensive, for example an average 500 paintballs could cost £15, but for less than that you could get 5000 BB pellets. The guns in airsoft are loaded through a traditional gun style magazine system to increase the realism. Paintballs are loaded through a hopper that sits on top of the gun and the user pours the balls into the gun. Both are not easy to load on the first instance but airsoft requires less fiddling during the game where paintballs are likely to spill and fall on the ground.

Clothing and Gear

Camouflage is a player favourite among both games, but the dress code can vary widely depending upon the game modes at play. For intense military simulation (milsim) airsoft game modes, the clothing will be strict variants of the military units you are replicating. In addition, the gear will be military standard so you can only carry as much as a true soldier would be able to.

Paintball gear is typically a full face mask, overalls and the rest is up to you. Airsoft will have similar overalls and advises boots due to the muddy terrains, the only difference being the use of goggles and not a full mask. The face gear is not needed in airsoft as there is no risk of paint exploding into the mouth.

For any new players to either game, old clothes and some footwear you don’t mind getting dirty is all that is needed, the rest is typically provided for rental at your local site.

What roles do people play in airsoft and paintball?

For both games there will be marshals. These people are external to the teams of the games and are there to provide support and keep the games as fair as possible. They are often in brightly coloured clothing so that they don’t get shot during the heat of the game.

Roles will often be more of a prominent feature in airsoft as opposed to paintball due to the more regulated nature of the game. Milsim games are more commonly found in airsoft but law enforcement groups have been known to use paintball as a supplement to training situations, like hostages and instances of terrorism.

Airsoft is more common to find the role of team medic who can revive and bring back players in the game. This isn’t common in paintball as the pace is intentionally quicker and the games are intended to be shorter to get as much variety as possible. Snipers are not often found in paintball due to the gun construction, but in airsoft it is common to find someone hiding in camouflage 60 feet away from your position.

Is airsoft cheaper than paintball?

As mentioned above, the ammunition is significantly cheaper for airsoft players than their paintball counterparts. The guns and their attachments range in both, it depends on how extravagant you are creating your weapon of choice. The advantage to airsoft is that guns from anything you’ve seen are more than likely available, this includes; real life army, video games, films and tv.

Costings for a day of airsoft and paintball will vary per site. But on average, paintball will cost more to play than airsoft, however, it is more accessible with more sites of paintball in the UK than airsoft. It is also worth noting that UK airsoft sites are considered the peak of the sport globally, therefore you are getting the most premium quality for your money.

Does airsoft hurt more than paintball?

This question is asked all the time. From personal experience and every player who has played both, the answer is that airsoft bbs hurt a lot less than paintballs. Paintballs leave the swelling bruised lumps that sometimes bleed depending on the range from where you were hit. Airsoft bbs feel closer to an elastic band being pinged at your body and leave only a small stinging red mark, which goes away after a matter of seconds. The guns when hitting an opponent will hurt more close range in paintball than airsoft, although both games encourage a mercy option so you don’t have to get shot within 5 feet, for example, to reduce the pain.

What’s the difference between airsoft and paintball?

In terms of the industry, paintball receives more sponsorship and tournaments are a bigger deal for the sport. This is not reflective of airsoft in any way, as airsoft has lots of similar opportunities, it is just not as widely known as paintball. Paintball is a faster-paced game less focused on objectives and game modes. Airsoft allows for a wider variety of play with more gun and gear customisation with an immersive experience suitable for all levels and players’ abilities.

Is airsoft better than paintball?

If you are looking for an experience that allows you to indulge in film and game fantasies, with realistic guns, ammunition and combat, airsoft is for you. They can be imitated military scenarios in milsim, or more relaxed and just let you play out being soldier for a while. Paintball is more painful, more expensive but it does offer a faster pace for all players, if you’re one for a wild Sunday once every 6 months, give it a go. Either way getting in touch with your local site will reveal what type of game and battlefield combat you can get involved with.

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