Airsoft vs Paintball

The Basics:

While Airsoft and Paintball involved player versus player “combat” using firearm styled taggers, they differ in the look and style of both the equipment and gameplay.

Airsoft is a military inspired sport in which participants eliminate opponents during games that offer mock-military style combat and objectives.  Airsoft guns fire a small lightweight BB which is make of compresses plastic or bio-material.
When playing in Airsoft tournaments, the clothing and equipment are often as realistic and historically accurate to a specific military conflict or era as possible. For this reason Airsoft attracts a lot of military re-enactors and enthusiasts.
Airsoft rifles and pistols are made to replicate as accurately as possible the real firearms upon which they are based.

Paintball is a sport in which usual involves very short, fast paced games of elimination. The projectiles used splatter when they hit a player and contain polyethylene glycol, other non-toxic and water-soluble substances, and dye allowing competitors to see when they (or other players) have been hit. This is also the reason why paintball guns are referred to as “Markers”
Markers use compressed gas (High pressure air) as a power source. Paintball markers have a higher energy rating than Airsoft guns as they need more energy to propel the larger paintballs across the field.

Gun Power, Ammo & Accuracy

Both Airsoft and paintball fields limit the the maximum allowable muzzle velocity for safety.  Paintball is usually sub-300 fps (feet per second) which is an international standard. Airsoft fields set their own limits but most guns fire at between 300-500 fps.

Don’t let the higher fps of an Airsoft gun scare you though. The Airsoft BB’s are much smaller and lighter than Paintballs meaning that although the Airsoft guns fire “faster”, the BB’s have a lot less energy than paintballs. (Airsoft uses small 6mm BB’s whereas Paintball uses large 17-18mm Pellets).

One benefit of the higher Airsoft fps is that the guns can be tuned to be more accurate over a long distance than paintball guns. This is crucial for the larger field play that Airsoft involves. Paintball markers are manufactured for speed, as it is a much faster-paced game on smaller fields.

Airsoft magazines hold, on average, 400 BB’s whereas Paintball hoppers tend to hold less than 200 due to the larger Paintballs. Hoppers attached to the top of the marker allowing gravity to feed them into the firing mechanism. Airsoft manufacturers mimic real life guns by incorporating BB’s into the gun magazine which requires a spring to feed them up into the firing mechanism.

Which hurts more?

As there is a considerable difference in the sizes of ammunition Airsoft strikes hurt less than Paintball hits.

Due to the higher impact rate of paintballs, you will often see professional paintballer wear lightweight armour similar to motorcross armour and always sporting full-face protection.

Airsoft players wear safety glasses at minimum but tend to “pad up” only for close quarters games where a hit from a nearby player may sting. Full face protection is still recommended as regardless of gun power, a BB to the face will hurt.

Paint vs Honour

Both Airsoft and Paintball are played within a predetermined area with an even number of opposing players or teams.  The scoring of both sports requires the tagging of your opponents with your gun.

The major difference between both codes is that while Paintballs leave a spatter mark , Airsoft BB’s do not. This means that Airsoft players have to detect the strike and call out that they have been hit. With no “proof” there is an opportunity for dishonest players to cheat. This is a very seriously frowned upon and may result in dishonest player being banned from a game.

Airsoft Gun & Sport Facts:

Ammunition: 6mm Plastic BB

Powered by: Battery, Gas, Spring

Gun Power: 1-2 Joules

Gun Velocity: 250-600 fps

Effective Range: 20-50 metres

Accuracy: High

Magazine Capacity: 50-2500 BB’s

Average BB Cost: $5 per 1,000

Gun Realism: High (scale replicas)

Game Style: Military Simulation

Paintball Gun & Sport Facts:

Ammunition: 17-18mm Paint Capsule

Powered by: Gas only

Gun Power: 2-10 Joules

Gun Velocity: Sub 300 fps

Effective Range: 25-30 metres

Accuracy: Medium

Magazine Capacity: 50-200 Paintballs

Average BB Cost: $40 per 1,000

Gun Realism: Low (few non-scale replica options)

Game Style: Speedball