Airsoft vs Paintball Which is Better?

Airsoft vs Paintball

Paintball or airsoft ? This is a difficult decision to make. Why? This is because they are both interesting, fun and challenging games. They are military or combat types of games played either for fun,competition or used for military training. Choosing either, is a personal decision based on interest, expense or hobby. However, it is important to know the similarities and difference that exist between the two games.    


Do you understand what makes the difference between airsoft and paintball? Which of the two should you opt for? To help you differentiate the two and for you to come to a smart conclusion, we’ll first define these two sports.


Airsoft refers to the sport that involves the participants shooting rounds of non-metallic pellets on each other. The pellets are launched with the use of replica firearms, also called airsoft airguns. Essentially, the mode of play is non-restrictive and there aren’t many rules or standard mode of playing when it comes to airsoft.


Paintball, on the other hand, refers to the outdoor (occasionally takes place indoors) sport in which the players involved compete as teams (or individually) against each other. To eliminate the competition/ opponents, a player needs to tag their opponent with a capsule that contains a dye that is water-soluble. The dye, which comes in different colors, is encased in a gelatin shell – this is the paintball. The paintball would then be propelled using a device referred to as a paintball marker.


One of the biggest differences between airsoft and paintball, besides their definition is the type of guns used. Essentially, airsoft involves the use of full/ complete imitation firearms called airsoft guns. If you are not up to the imitation firearms, you could opt for the 51% two-tone and brightly colored guns. Often, this second option of the brightly colored 51% guns, is the cheaper option, with the two-tone guns often used as practice guns for interested individuals. These cheap, brightly colored guns are also recommended because of legal matters and the general direction of the law. For more information about the right guns to use in the airsoft field, you may want to be acquainted with the state/ federal government’s laws regarding airsoft.

Often, the airsoft guns are powered, and they use the rechargeable batteries. The airsoft guns could also be gas-powered, where they make use of CO2. Others use green gas. Some of these airsoft guns use springs.

On the other hand, the guns used for paintball are less powerful, and they feature a tank plus a hopper. With the design of the paintball guns, aiming involves lining up your nose with the gun’s barrel. You have to be very careful with this lining up because the ‘sights’ for the paintball guns don’t do much, and they are more or less useless. Regarding their powering, these guns are HPA or CO2 powered. In most cases, however, the HPA-powered paintball guns are preferred.


The other huge difference between airsoft and paintball lies in the sports’ mechanisms. For example, you’d be surprised to learn that the guns used in airsoft and the ones used in paintball have been designed differently. For starters, the airsoft guns have been curated exclusively out of the existing firearms, meaning that you are dealing with and handling replicas. These replicas come with internal mechanisms that have been curated to match the form of the original firearm. The paintball markers/ guns, on the other hand, are totally opposite from the airsoft guns in that their forms are completely different from what you’d see in a firearm. To be specific, the only similarities between the airsoft guns and the paintball markers are that they both have the smoothbore barrel.

The airsoft guns make use of hard ammunition, and the standard spring-loaded magazines work just fine. Paintball differs from the airsoft gun in that the paintball marker makes use of the soft and fragile ammo stored right above the paintball gun in the hopper, from where the ammo is fed into the chamber by gravity. Note, however, that the modern paintball markers make use of modern, high-quality magazines to increase their realism. The only catch is that even with the increased realism, the markers have a limited capacity, with some players finding these realistic markers to be rather impractical.

But even with the exterior differences, the internal mechanism of the paintball markers is more or less like that of an actual firearm, in comparison to the airsoft guns. The reason for this is that the markers feature a high-functioning bolt. This bolt is a unique feature that’s limited to the bolt-action sniper rifles seen in airsoft.

In the paintball markers, the bolt has a refillable air tank that’s connected remotely or built-in. So, after every bolt cycle, there will be a new paintball falling into the chamber. The significance of this setup is that it allows for the malfunctioning that’s only unique to the paintballs, a malfunction that results in the chopped balls. Also, this is the reason for the pain.  But what it essentially means is that when the paintball isn’t fed to the chamber when pulling the trigger, the marker’s bolt will chop that paintball into two, resulting in the smearing of all the paintball’s contents inside the barrel. Now, although the snake barrel would clean up this mess in seconds, the chopped paintballs are quite irritating.

Besides the mechanism of action of the guns, it’s important to note that the paintball players, specifically the ones that play out in the CQB fields, will wear cleats and runners for a boost in maneuverability. The airsoft players, on the other hand, tend to stock to combat and hiking boots.


Given the differences in the shape of the paintball markers and the airsoft guns, these sporting equipment tend to portray themselves differently.

On one hand, you have the airsoft guns, which are better known for their realism to the extent that these guns are regarded as guns that are LARPing with guns.

Then you have the paintball markers/ guns which are seen to meet aesthetics more, and they drive a specific sports aesthetic with their vibrant colors, while the paintballing community takes things up a notch with their team jerseys as they drive towards a mass acceptance by society. The only detriment to the vibrant colors in paintball is that the players cannot wear glow and bright colors, especially when they are playing woodball because concealment is key.


Generally, the paintballs are bigger, and these capsules carry dyes. The BBs, on the other hand, are spherical pellets. Looking at their differences in quality, the high-quality paintball capsules are made of dense materials, and the capsules are completely filled with the dye, and there is no room for air, meaning that there are no accuracy issues expected from the capsules’ interior. The low-quality paintball capsules, on the others, tend to curve upwards or they may lean one way when they are shot since they are imbalanced and inaccuracies would arise from within the capsule. Therefore, it’s clear that the accuracy of the balls is affected by their quality. This is the case with the BBs, too, where the accuracy decreases when the quality of the materials decreases. Besides quality, the other factors affecting accuracy include dents, cracks, unevenness, scratches, and low-weight.

Finally, we have the barrel length. And in both cases, if the barrel is longer, then the accuracy increases. The only catch is that long barrels would reduce processing times significantly in paintball, even as the long barrel boosts the stability of the BBs in the airsoft guns.


Airsoft and paintballs are both military types of games. They involve shooting and elimination of players. In both, players are eliminated or termed death once they are hit by the projectile.   

 In both, field covers like trenches and terrains are important. They are used by players to tactically hide from the opponent.   

 In both games, accuracy is the key. To emerge the winner, the player's skills to target the opponent matter a lot.  Rather than skills, safety precautions are essential in both games. To prevent injuries,heavy clothes, goggles and face masks are recommended.    


These games differ right from the origin. Paintball originated in United State in the year 1981. Air soft on the other hand, originated in Japan in the year 1970.    

Airsoft is a more realistic military game compared to paintball. Airsoft uses guns with realistic plastic pellets that look like the real gun bullets. The players in this game,wear military jerseys and combat boots. Paintball game is more of sport aesthetic than reality. It involve dyed capsule that break upon impact. These capsules are so different to bullets. Unlike airsoft players, paintball players wear coloured and vibrant jerseys. This diverts the viewers from a military set up.   


Both airsoft and paintball use weapons or guns to propel projectiles at the supposed enemy. However, these guns are different. Airsoft use high power guns powered by springs or charged batteries to propel plastic pellets to the opponent. Contrary, paintball uses low power markers powered by gravity or compressed carbon dioxide to shoot.    


Both airsoft and paintball use projectiles to hit and eliminate the targeted opponent. However, airsoft projectiles are tiny plastic pellets that look similar to bullets. Paintball projectiles are spherical gelatin capsules that are filled with either dye or oil.    

Airsoft projectiles are hard plastics that do not break upon hitting the targeted opponent. On the other hand, paintball use dye filled paintball capsules projectiles, that break immediately upon hitting the opponent. They leave a mark on the shot member.    

The tiny pellets in airsoft are less heavy. They have a faster velocity speed and suitable to shoot at a long distance range of 230 feet and above. These pellets, also known as BBs, weigh an average of 6 mm to 8 mm. Paintballs are much heavier than BBs and fit to play only at a close range of not more than 120 feet.    

Since paintball are heavy and played at a close range, it's impact is more painful than airsoft. While playing paintball, hard and heavy jerseys are recommended.    


Air soft guns are way cheaper than paintballs. They are powered by ordinary springs, rechargeable batteries or gas. Paintball are expensive as they use compressed carbon dioxide or nitrogen gas that are hard and expensive to acquire.    


There is always an interesting argument on the ability to cheat in airsoft and paintball games. As perceived by many, it is harder to cheat in paintball than airsoft. Why? Paintball uses spherical gelatin capsules that break upon hitting the opponent, leaving a visible mark that is easy to detect and eliminate. Contrary to airsoft, there is no detection mark. Elimination in airsoft relies on honesty.  


There are several types of airsoft and paintball games. These games are classified on methods and means of playing. Below is a list of games with similar and different titles but same method of playing. 


Elimination is the simplest and commonly played paintball game. The game involves elimination of members that are hit and marked by the dyed capsule. Team deathmatch is also the easiest and commonly played type of airsoft game. The game involves hitting the opponent with a bullet - like pellet, forcing him or her to act dead. The dead member is then eliminated from the game.   


Did you know that capture the flag is a mutual type of game in paintball and airsoft? This game entails two team of players. Each team's objective is to capture the flag from the other team and add it to their team to gain scores.    


The president is a commonly played type of game in both airsoft and paintball. In paintball, each team has a president as the main character. Along the president, each team has bodyguards. The objective of this game is to eliminate the other team's president. Unlike paintball, airsoft has one president, a team of his bodyguards and a team of his assassins. In this game,the assassins play against the bodyguard. There are two main objectives. The bodyguards emerge the winner once they protect and escort the president to his destination successfully. On the other hand,the assassins emerge the winner once they manage to kill the president.    


Despite different titles, these two games are played the same. The bomb is a paintball type of game that involves placing a box of bomb on the field. The teams are then required to fight against each other and take the box. The team that takes the box emerge the winner. Treasure hunt is an airsoft type of game that involves placing the treasure box in the field, as the team's fight against each other to take the box.    

As seen, paintball and airsoft have both similarities and differences. However, they are both fun and exciting games to play. If you are a paintball fun, it is also important to try air sport. U will love it. This applies to all air sport enthusiasts. To new players, if you are looking forward to start playing, do not rule out one. It is important to try both of the games.

  • Updated 9 months ago
Anthony Maldonado

Smith Brown is a 23-year-old Blogger from the USA. He works for the hunting and self-defense related fields. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and DIY.

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