Airsoft vs Paintball – What You Need to Know About Both Games

The two most popular shooting sports right now are paintball and airsoft. Both games have got their own similarities and differences. However, many people ask that which one is the best and why should one choose paintball or airsoft.

So, to clear all such worries and doubt, I am here with a detailed comparison between airsoft and paintball. I will discuss each and everything between both games so that all things may get cleared in front of you.

As an introduction, airsoft is a realistic shooting game in which different players shoot each other via pellets to knock them out. Paintball, on the other hand, uses paintball pellets to mark an opponent while you are playing the game.

Both games have got many similarities and differences. So, let’s get into detailed discussion of both sports without any further ado:

Some Basic Differences Between Airsoft and Paintball:

Some of the major differences between paintball and that of airsoft are as follows:

1. Definition:


Airsoft is a shooting game in which players use replica guns in order to shoot non-metallic pellets. The bullets which airsoft guns use can cause pain and will hurt you for a short period of time. This game is more realistic as compared to paintball.


Paintball is yet another shooting game in which either individuals or team members have got paintball guns through which they are able to shoot paintball pellets towards their opponent. The paintballs have got a specific color and it will mark your opponent once you shoot them.

2. Equipment Differences:

There are equipment differences in both paintball and airsoft as well. We will later discuss them in details as well.


In airsoft, an airsoft gun along with eye protection is needed to get started. In fact, some professionals will also recommend you to put on a full face mask before starting the game. The pellets most commonly used in airsoft are BBs. Those were the important accessories that you just need to play airsoft. Anything you get apart from these accessories will be optional.


You will need a paintball gun, a paintball mask, and paintball pellets to get started. Paintball professionals will also recommend you to wear many layers of clothes in order to keep yourself as protective and safe as possible. However, the basic equipment will only consist of a paintball marker along with a paintball mask.

3. Guns Used:

Different type of guns are used for airsoft and paintball. The details are as follows:


Airsoft mostly uses full imitation firearms approved by the US and UK Airsoft law. However, some people also use 51% 2-tone guns in order to compete with their opponents. 2-tones are used by many people as they are cheaper than other firearms used in airsoft. Furthermore, they are also approved by US and UK airsoft laws. That being said, the guns used in airsoft are powered by CO2 tanks and or springs. Some high-quality guns have also got rechargeable batteries.


In paintball, the most common guns used are hand pump guns that come with a hopper and tank. Hand Pump guns mostly work as a shotgun as you will have to pump it like a shotgun every time you fire with it. However, the advanced versions of paintball guns use CO2 or other gases to shoot in an ideal manner. Electric paintball guns, on the other hand, have got more complex mechanism and they work on chips and rechargeable batteries.

4. Accessories:

Accessories used in airsoft are different than that of paintball. Airsoft sport uses a little bit fewer accessories than paintball. Well, let’s have a look at them:


You will need BBs pellets, and magazines along with a plate carrier to play the game with efficiency. However, you will also need a proper face mask for safety purposes. Talking about the clothing, army shirts and trousers are recommended in which one can easily move.


As far as paintball is concerned, you will need a lot of accessories in this regard. Some of the important things that you will need are paintball mask, paintball gloves, proper clothing suits, proper footwear, protective chest wearing, and paintball pellets. Hoppers are also needed to play the game effectively. Some players will use it over the top of their guns and some on the side according to their will and wish.

5. Usability:

Usability differences are also there. Airsoft is a bit more difficult to play as compared to paintball. However, the detailed differences are as follows:


You will need a good amount of time to load your airsoft gun with bullets. The magazines cannot be loaded easily. In fact, there is a good chance that you might get hit from the opposite side while loading your gun.


That is not the case with paintball. Paintball guns can easily be reloaded with the help of pods. Pods are usually containers in which paintballs are arranged either vertically or horizontally. By attaching the pods to your gun, it can begin to shoot again without any time wastage.

6. Cost Differences:

Airsoft is relatively cheaper than paintball when it comes to cost ranges. The contrast, in this case, is as follows:


Airsoft game is cheaper in the sense that the bullets you purchase for this game will cost you only a few bucks. That is, you will have to spend only 5 to 110 dollars in order to get almost 5000 BBs. Not only that, but the cost of airsoft guns along with the face protection is also very low.


Paintball will cost you more no matter what accessory you are about to purchase. As far as a paintball gun is concerned, you can get a mechanical paintball gun by spending around 150 bucks. Paintball pellets will cost you 30 bucks per pack of 2000. The face masks are also expensive and are something around 50 to 60 bucks. So, as an overall view, paintball is expensive as compared to airsoft.

7. Contact Rules:

Contact rules are different for both games. The comparison and contrast is as follows:


The two major contact rules in airsoft game are Knife and bang Rule. On a very close contact, a player who is about to get shoot can say Bang in order to avoid injury. Knives made up of foam and plastics are also used to mark players. The game becomes more fun in this way.


There is no such rule for paintball. However, many fields will allow physical contact and marking by the gun’s barrel, fake sword and or sabers. That being said, a mercy rule is also present, but this is only applicable for players who are 5 feet away from each other. This is how things work in paintball.

8. Venues:

Both airsoft and paintball are played in different places. The differences are as follows:


Airsoft can be played anywhere like RAF bases, in the shopping malls or woodland areas. However, it is more fun to play this game in forests where there is more competition stamina and agility wise. The essence of airsoft can be felt when it is played in woody areas where you have to face other challenges along with the danger of your opponent shooting you.


Paintball can also be played in woody areas. In fact, there is now paintball business open which allows you to play this game in their own farmlands. You will be provided proper setup of the game. The fee is not very much and you can play with full competition in these places as well.

9. Pyrotechnics:

Airsoft and paintball both differ when it comes to displaying of firework in order to lure the opponent. The major differences are as follows:


In airsoft, you are allowed to use BB grenades, smoke grenades, and flash-bangs so as to create a mess for their opponent. However, restrictions are applied in special scenarios by different playing sites in order to increase the competition.


Pyrotechnics are also used in paintball. You can use paintball rockets, paintball grenades, and smoke grenades. You can use these distractions to hunt down your enemy with ease. However, keep in mind that not every field will allow you to use fireworks because of the competition level.

10. Realism Level:

Realism level is almost same in both airsoft and paintball. However, there are still some differences as follows:


Airsoft is based on realistic gun shooting. The guns used for airsoft are replicas of the original guns used by the army to fight in a battle or war. Not only that, but airsoft pellets also hurt a lot and one has to keep himself protective against the shots coming from his opponent. The behavior is realistic and practical. Your team can only win the game if you are with a proper strategy.


Paintball is also realistic to some extent. It is realistic in a manner that you have to mark your opponent with proper strategy. Team tactics are also used which makes the game more competitive and fun. However, paintball guns are not realistic. On the other hand, the pellets used are colorful which gives a fun impression rather than being realistic. That’s why many beginners prefer to play paintball rather than airsoft.

11. Events for Players:

Both Airsoft and paintball provide different events for hardcore players, the details of which are as follows:


Airsoft tournaments are organized all around the world where there are knockout games as well as team games in which you have to win with the cooperation of your team. The winning team is either awarded with a trophy, cash or both in some cases.


Paintball is more popular when it comes to laying tournaments. Different organizers of paintball invest a lot of money in different tournaments so that different players can enjoy the competition that paintball provides. The winning money is also high in paintball. Tournaments can also increase the level of competition. For instance, you have to play only with mechanical guns throughout a specific tournament. There might be restrictions related to using the pyrotechnics as well. All such features make paintball more popular as compared to airsoft.

12. Players Age:

Airsoft and paintball can be played by people of different age ranges. The main difference depends upon being elder which is as follows:


Airsoft can be played by teenagers aged 10 and above. The thing here to consider is, from 10 and above, the people of any age range can play this game without any worries. Older people are also able to play airsoft as they are more fond of realistic army battle games.


Paintball is usually played by the age group (10 to 30). Many players you will see playing paintball will have age from 16 years to 30 years. Older people don’t like paintball too much as it requires a good competition and they have to focus a lot on the shots coming down from their opponents.

13. Hardware Upgrade:

Airsoft and paintball need a proper upgrade from time to time. You will need to upgrade your equipment no matter which game you are playing. The major contrast is as follows:


Upgradation of airsoft guns is necessary from time to time. You will not be able to compete with your opponents if your gun is not upgraded according to the tournament rules. An upgraded gun can also give you an upper hand while you are playing airsoft. However, this is also a fact that airsoft guns can break easily. Therefore, one should use it with proper care if they want to make use of airsoft guns for a long period of time.


You will also need to upgrade your gear in paintball, but the margin is low. Once you have invested in the best paintball gun (either mechanical or electric), you can easily use the same gun for different competitions for a long period of time. Same goes for paintball masks and gloves etc. Paintball is expensive in a sense that it requires one-time investment. After you are done with the initial investment, it will take almost a year or two before you make an upgradation in your paintball gear.

Short Summary:

This was an overview of two of the most popular games i.e. Airsoft and Paintball. The differences are not so high, but these differences make both games unique in their own way.

Detailed Analysis – Airsoft vs Softball:

After a short overview of some basic differences, we will do a detailed analysis of airsoft and paintball.

So, let’s dive right in without any further ado:

The difference in Equipment:

Both paintball and airsoft are combat simulation games played either individually or with teaming. The aim and objective are to take down the enemy. In airsoft, BBs pellets are used to mark the opponent while paintball has colorful pellets for this purpose.

Even with the same motives, there is a big difference in equipment between both games. The guns are different, protective gear is different, pellets are different, and the cost is also different.

Let’s have a look at main equipment differences of airsoft vs softball:

1. Guns:

The major difference in airsoft vs softball is that of guns. You will see different guns for both games.

Let’s talk about the guns used in airsoft first;

Airsoft Guns:


Airsoft guns are more realistic when you compare them with modern battle guns. They are exact replicas of real-life guns and they use the same shooting mechanism as well. You will see sniper rifles, short-range rifles and tactical shotguns in airsoft game just like practical guns.

The replica guns shoot BB pellets with great velocity in order to take down the opponent. based on how they work, there are three different types of airsoft guns as follows:

1. Spring Airsoft Guns:

These airsoft guns have got a spring mechanism and they have relatively low velocity as compared to the later gun types.

Spring airsoft guns are mostly used by beginners and people who are low on budget. The guns are also cheaper and can be availed by spending only a few bucks.

With low velocity and projectile motion, they have a close shooting range and are not ideal for long-range shots.

2. Gas Airsoft Guns:

Gas airsoft guns are the perfect alternative of electric and spring airsoft guns. They work by using the compressed gas which helps the BB to move faster and hit the opponent with a great force.

Such airsoft guns are commonly used by professional airsoft players who want to enjoy the competition. They have got a high velocity than spring guns and are easy to use as well.

However, they will need refilling after a specific period of time and you will have to refill them either with CO2 or other compressed gases so that they can work in an ideal manner.

3. Electric Airsoft Guns:

Electric Airsoft guns are the most advanced guns available in the market and they run on electric chips.

With a higher velocity than that of spring and mechanical guns, they are mostly used by professional players. Some tournaments won’t allow you to play the game with such guns in order to retain the competition.



Paintball markers or guns have got a unique design and they are not as realistic as airsoft guns. They work on a completely different mechanism and use paintball pellets to shoot opponents to take them down.

However, paintball guns are more durable as compared to airsoft guns. In fact, you have to invest only one time in the best paintball gun to use it for many years to come.

The three types of paintball guns are as follows:

  1. Hand Pump Paintball Guns:

The oldest and cheaper paintball markers type are hand pump guns. They work on the mechanism of a shotgun and you have to pump the gun again and again so that it can shoot with better efficiency.

However, such guns have a low speed and impact as compared to mechanical and electrical paintball guns. They are mostly used by beginners who want to practice on their aim and focus while playing the game.

In contrast, some professional level tournaments also organize events in which you can only use hand pump guns to enhance the level of competition.

  1. Mechanical Paintball Guns:

The commonly used guns available in the market are mechanical paintball guns. They work on compressed gas which provides enough pressure to the pellet. Hence, the pellet can easily mark the player even at long range.

Mechanical guns are used by professionals and they are often used in hardcore gaming events as well. You will have to refill the gas in the tank of such guns to keep them workable.

Even with high-efficiency rate, they have got less velocity as compared to electric guns.

  1. Electrical Paintball Guns:

Electrical paintball guns work on advanced technologies and they have got a long range shooting ability with high speed as well.

Special electric chips are used in such guns which allow the players to shoot in any direction they want. However, they are not used on a large scale because the game becomes less competitive with electrical guns.

Therefore, many professionals will simply prefer using mechanical guns as compared to electrical ones.

Short Summary:

Airsoft guns are close to realism and they provide a realistic shooting experience. However, they are not so durable. In contrast, paintball guns have got their own unique design and they are durable as well, but not so cheaper.

2. Ammunition Differences:

Both airsoft and paintball guns have got different constructions. As a result, there is a difference in ammunition of both games.

Let’s have a look at the ammunition used in both sports one by one:


Airsoft guns mostly use BBs pellets that are arranged in magazines. The pellets are smaller in size and have got a higher velocity than that of paintballs. Small pellets size makes it easier for an airsoft player to move with these pellets. For convenience, many payers load their magazines with BBs before the start of the game. In this way, they can easily load the magazine without any time wastage.


Paintball use colorful pellets that are bigger in size as compared to BB pellets. They are stored in a hopper of the gun which will make the player a bit slower to move. The bigger size of pellets is a hindrance in moving easily from one place to another. Pellets have got gelatin shell and the inside is filled with colorful chemicals. Because they contain colors inside, paintballs are hence bigger in size as compared to airsoft pellets.

Short Summary:

To summarize the things, ammunition used in airsoft is comparatively smaller than that of paintball. The BB pellets are easy to use and load in magazines. One can easily move from one place to another with such ammunition. However, due to the bigger size, paintball pellets are not easy to use and they will stop your agility during the game.

3. The difference in Protective Gear:

As far as protection of the body is concerned, one will need to pay more heed to airsoft as compared to paintball.

The contrasts, in this case, are as follows:


Players in airsoft prefer using goggles in order to avoid eye injuries. However, some professionals also recommend newbies to wear full face protection, because airsoft pellets are going to hurt more than paintball pellets. Thus, an ideal choice will be to use a goggle if you are a professional, and full face protection if you are just starting.


Protective face masks are used in paintball to avoid injuries to the face. Paintball pellets can cause serious pain when an opponent targets your face. Not only that, but the pellets due to their color can blind your eyes. So, it is always recommended to wear full face masks before you enter the game.

Protective gloves are also used in paintball. Such gloves will protect a player from injuries to the hand. Once you’ve been shot on bare hand, you won’t be able to hold the gun in same way and your focus will be compromised for sure. So, never forget your protective gloves before you start playing paintball.

4. Roles of Players:

Roles of players are different in airsoft and paintball. Airsoft requires many roles in teams as compared to paintball. Let’s have a look at differences in this regard:


Roles are different for different players depending upon the type of gun they have got. Airsoft also requires some additional roles which are not very common in paintball. For instance, long rifles in airsoft are used by campers and snipers. Assault troops will use grenades and normal airsoft guns. A proper medic is also available within each team in case of a serious injury. In addition, autocannons are also used by players who are experienced in using heavy weapons.


Roles of players in paintball will depend upon the kind of experience they have got and what are their preferences. The players will be given same guns and same fields to compete. However, team tactics matter a lot in paintball. Without proper team planning, the opponent can easily mark you within the blink of an eye.

Short Summary:

As I have mentioned above, the roles are different for both games. That’s because of different weaponry used in airsoft as compared to paintball. Airsoft is; thus, more realistic as compared to paintball. That’s because you have to use all your senses in order to compete with your opponents.

5. Cheating:

The probability of cheating in airsoft is higher than that of paintball. How? let’s find the answer as follows:


Airsoft has got a high probability of cheating. That’s because the pellets are not colorful. Even if they hit you, you will not be marked or anything. It will depend upon your honesty whether you accept this hit or not. If you want to cheat, you can easily remain quiet and be a part of the gameplay. However, keep in mind that opponents can claim that you’ve been hit after the game is done.


There is a very low probability of cheating in paintball. Why? Because paintball pellets are colorful. They will leave a mark on you after hitting you. You will be completely exposed in this way and won’t be able to remain the part of the game.

However, cheating is done in a sense that sometimes, the pellets won’t leave a mark even after hitting you with great force. In such a case, you can continue the game without any worries.

6. Which One is More Expensive? Airsoft vs Paintball:

Cost differences are there. Many people prefer to play airsoft as compared to paintball due to the following reasons:


Airsoft gear is cheaper than that of paintball. The guns, protective goggles, pellets, and protective gear is much cheaper than that of paintballs. Many people have shifted from paintball to airsoft just because they were unable to bear the expenses of paintball.

In addition, one can easily manage an airsoft battle in the woods without any organizer. That is, you don’t have to pay any fee to play airsoft. This makes airsoft a cheaper choice than that of paintball.


Paintball is comparatively expensive than that of airsoft. For instance, by spending 30 bucks, you will only get a pack of 2000 paintballs. If we compare it with airsoft, one can easily get a pack of 5000 BB pellets by spending only 5 bucks.

This is not the only case. Paintball guns are also expensive than that of airsoft guns. Although it will be a onetime investment, you still have to spend a lot in paintball as compared to airsoft.

The last thing which makes paintball expensive is, you have to pay for the field where you want to play a match. Different paintball businesses will cost you a different fee depending upon the resources they are providing.

Final Words:

Airsoft and paintball both are combat shooting games and require high skills in order to compete with your opponents. The contrasts are found in both games. However, it depends upon the player’s preference that which game he wants to choose. That will be all from me. Hope it helps and you can make a decision of playing either airsoft or paintball as soon as possible.

Good Luck!!

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