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Airsoft vs. Paintball: Difference & Compare from Cost to Realism

Updated: Jun 23

Airsoft vs. Paintball: Which is Which?

When it comes to choosing between airsoft and paintball, many people are left scratching their heads. While these two activities share some similarities, there are a number of differences between the two. In this article, we'll explore the origins of airsoft and paintball, the differences between them, and help you determine which one is right for you as a recreational sport.

What is Airsoft?

Airsoft is a combat simulation sport that originated in Japan in the 1970s. It is played with replica firearms that shoot plastic BBs. The sport has grown in popularity worldwide and has developed into a highly competitive and tactical activity. The game is played in various formats such as team deathmatch, capture the flag, and scenario-based games.

What is Paintball?

Paintball, on the other hand, is a combat simulation sport that originated in the United States in the 1980s. It is played with paintball guns that shoot gelatin capsules filled with paint. The sport has also grown in popularity worldwide and has developed into a highly competitive and tactical activity. The game is played in various formats as well and often confused with airsoft. One of the easiest ways to tell the two apart is to look at the guns.

Airsoft Guns vs. Paintball Guns

The Difference Between Airsoft and Paint Ball
The Difference Between Airsoft and Paint Ball

The most significant difference between airsoft and paintball is the type of gun used. Airsoft guns are replicas of real firearms, while paintball guns are designed specifically for the sport. In other words, an airsoft gun looks almost like a real gun. A paintball gun will have a plastic pouch for ammo sitting right on top of the gun. However, airsoft guns are typically made of plastic, and they shoot small plastic BBs. Paintball guns can be made of metal or plastic, and they shoot gelatin capsules filled with paint.

Comparison of Airsoft Guns and Paintball Guns


Airsoft Guns

Paintball Guns


Replica of real firearms

Specifically designed for sport


Spring-powered, gas-powered, or electric-powered

Compressed air or CO2 powered


Realistic features such as blowback, recoil, and hop-up

Limited features such as adjustable velocity, firing mode, and hopper capacity

Ammunition Used

Airsoft guns use small plastic BBs as ammunition, while paintball guns use gelatin capsules filled with paint. The BBs used in airsoft are typically less expensive than paintballs, making airsoft less expensive overall.

What’s The Difference Between Airsoft And Paintball Games?

While airsoft and paintball share some similarities, they have some fundamental differences. Here are some of the differences between airsoft and paintball:

Airsoft vs. Paintball Pros and Cons




Realistic guns and gear

Exciting and visually striking


More tactical and strategic gameplay

Painful and messy

Overall Cost

Less expensive ammunition

More expensive equipment

Airsoft vs. Paintball: Costs and Price

When it comes to pricing, airsoft and paintball guns differ significantly. Airsoft guns are generally less expensive than paintball guns. One of the main reasons for this difference is that airsoft guns use BBs as ammunition, which is relatively inexpensive. In contrast, paintball guns use paintballs, which can be quite expensive, especially if you are using high-quality ones. Additionally, paintball guns have more complex mechanisms, which adds to their cost. Another factor that affects the price difference is the types of guns available. Airsoft guns are available in a wider range of models, from basic spring-powered pistols to advanced electric rifles. Paintball guns, on the other hand, are generally more limited in their range of models. Finally, the cost of playing airsoft or paintball can also vary, depending on the location and the equipment used. Airsoft games usually require less gear and have lower entry fees than paintball games, making airsoft a more cost-effective option.

Airsoft vs. Paintball: Realism and Battle Style

Airsoft battles tend to be more realistic and tactical, with players using cover, flanking maneuvers, and communication to outmaneuver their opponents. What makes airsoft battles more realistic is that players usually use 1:1-sized replica guns, which look and shape a lot like a real gun, adding a more real-time military vibe and warfare experience to the games.

Paintball battles, on the other hand, are more fast-paced and chaotic, with players often running around and shooting at anything that moves. If you pursue a more realistic and authentic military experience, the airsoft would be a better choice for you over paintball games.

Airsoft Vs. Paintball: Pain Level

When it comes to getting hit by a BB or paintball, there are some differences in the amount of pain felt. Due to popular requests, we had to answer the question: “Does airsoft hurt more than paintball?” So, here is a comparison chart to help better understand the pain level in both airsoft and paintball:



Smaller, lighter BBs

Larger, heavier paintballs

Slower speeds

Higher speeds

Can sting, but less likely to cause significant pain or bruising

Can leave significant welt or bruise

More intense pain if shot at close range

More intense pain overall

Safety precautions necessary

Safety precautions necessary

In a nutshell, airsoft BBs are smaller and lighter, so they typically hurt less than paintballs. However, airsoft guns can shoot at higher velocities, which can result in more pain if hit at close range. Paintballs are larger and heavier, so they typically hurt more than airsoft BBs. It is recommended to wear appropriate safety gear for both airsoft and paintball to avoid injuries.

Airsoft vs. Paintball: Range And Accuracy

One of the most significant differences between airsoft and paintball is range and accuracy. Airsoft guns tend to have a longer range and greater accuracy than paintball guns due to their smaller ammunition and more precise design. In airsoft, players can engage targets from a distance, making sniping a popular playstyle. In contrast, paintball guns are more suited to close-quarters combat due to their larger ammunition, which is more prone to deviation from its intended path.

Airsoft vs. Paintball: Honor System

The honor system between the 2 sports are different significantly as well.

In airsoft, players are expected to call themselves out when getting hit by a BB, as there is no way for the BBs to leave a visible mark on the opponent's gear. This honor system creates a more realistic and authentic battle experience, as players must rely on their honesty and integrity to play the game. If you don’t respect this system, chances are that you might get expelled from the game for several rounds or banned from the venue.

In contrast, paintball guns shoot paintballs that leave a visible mark when they hit, so players don't need to rely on an honor system to determine when they are hit.

Airsoft vs. Paintball: Popularity

Both airsoft and paintball are popular shooting games enjoyed by players worldwide. Airsoft has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its realistic military simulation and tactical gameplay. Airsoft players tend to be more serious and dedicated to the sport, with many investing in high-quality gear and equipment to enhance their gameplay experience.

Paintball, on the other hand, is more casual and accessible, with players of all ages and skill levels enjoying the game. Paintball is also a popular team-building and corporate event activity, as it promotes teamwork, communication, and strategic thinking.

Airsoft vs. Paintball: Game Rules

The game rules for airsoft and paintball are quite similar, but there are some significant differences.

Airsoft Game Rules:

  • Players must wear eye protection at all times

  • Shots are determined by the honor system, meaning players must self-report when hit

  • Certain types of weapons and gear may not be allowed, depending on the specific rules of the game

  • Dead players are typically required to wait a certain amount of time before rejoining the game

  • Certain areas of the body, such as the head and neck, may be off-limits for shooting

Paintball Game Rules:

  • Players must wear protective gear, including a face mask and goggles

  • Hits are determined by the physical mark left by the paintball on a player's body or equipment

  • Certain types of paintball guns and equipment may not be allowed, depending on the specific rules of the game

  • Players who are hit are immediately eliminated from the game and must leave the field

  • Certain areas of the body, such as the head and neck, may be off-limits for shooting

In airsoft, players are expected to call themselves out when hit, as there is no visible marker left by the BBs. In paintball, players are eliminated when they are hit by a paintball that leaves a visible mark.

In airsoft, players are required to wear full-face protection, such as a mask or goggles, to prevent injury from BBs. In paintball, players are required to wear a mask and body armor to protect themselves from the larger, more powerful paintballs.

The Final Verdict: Airsoft or Paintball?

In the end, the choice between airsoft and paintball comes down to personal preference. If you are looking for a more realistic military simulation and tactical gameplay, airsoft may be the right choice for you. If you are looking for a more casual and accessible shooting game, paintball may be the better choice.

Regardless of which game you choose, both airsoft and paintball offer unique and exciting gameplay experiences that are sure to provide hours of fun and entertainment. So why not try both and see which one you like best?

Ultimately, if you're interested in getting started with airsoft, be sure to check out SWIT Airsoft for high-quality guns, gear, and equipment to take your gameplay to the next level. SWIT is known for high-end electric airsoft guns (AEGs) and offers a variety of different equipment catered to every level of airsoft player.


1. Do we need eyes and face protection in airsoft games?

Yes, it is highly recommended to wear eye and face protection when playing airsoft games. Airsoft BBs can cause serious injury if they hit you in the face or eyes, so it's important to wear proper protective gear.

2. How long do airsoft and paintball games last?

The duration of airsoft and paintball games can vary depending on the specific game rules and the players' preferences. Generally, airsoft games can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, while paintball games typically last between 15 and 30 minutes.

3. Is there any age limit for airsoft guns and paintball guns?

Yes, there are age limits for both airsoft guns and paintball guns. In most countries, you must be at least 18 years old to purchase airsoft guns or paintball guns. However, in some areas, there may be restrictions on the use of these guns by minors.

4. Do you rent equipment when playing airsoft guns or paintball guns?

Yes, many airsoft and paintball fields offer rental equipment for players who do not have their own gear. This can be a great option for beginners who want to try out the sport before investing in their own equipment.

5. Are airsoft guns more dangerous than paintball guns?

Both airsoft guns and paintball guns can be dangerous if not used properly, but they have different levels of potential danger. Airsoft BBs are smaller and travel at a higher velocity than paintballs, which can cause more serious injuries if they hit someone in an unprotected area. However, paintballs are larger and can cause more visible bruises and welts.

6. Can you learn tactic skills in paintball games?

Yes, paintball games can be a great way to develop tactical skills, such as teamwork, communication, and strategy. Many paintball players use the sport as a training tool for military or law enforcement careers, as it provides a realistic environment for practicing tactical skills.

1 Comment

Jul 27, 2023

I can not believe in the year 2023 there are still folks making claims that airsoft guns look more realistic than paintball. You would have to not know anything about paintball to believe that. With magfed markers being commercialy available as pistols and rifles, and tons of after market modifications available to convert markers into damn near any firearm look there is no more argument that paintball markwrs are simply the hopper fed space guns they used to be. Also with magfed comes first strike rounds. Yes they are expensive but the ability to consistently put paint on target up to 250 yards away ( with the right setup) really nukes the whole airsoft is more accurate argument.