Paintball V Airsoft
Paintball and Airsoft both use replica guns to shoot safe projectiles for a combat replication sport. For the most part, that’s where the similarities end.
The broad strokes:
Airsoft guns shoot a small 6mm plastic ball from a weapon usually designed to replicate a real-world firearm. While some airsoft guns use a compressed air system, many use a spring mechanism, or a spring/electric hybrid mechanism.
Paintball guns, or markers, use compressed air to fire a gelatine sphere filled with dye from purpose-built and designed weapons.
The bare minimum you’ll need to play a round of airsoft is eye protection, an airsoft gun, and ammunition.
With paintball, you’ll need a face mask, a marker, compressed air, paintballs and a hopper.
Because paintball requires the use of larger and more complicated ammunition, more complicated weaponry, and compressed gas, the bare minimum cost of buying and maintaining equipment is higher than airsoft. One of the major reasons players switch from paintball to airsoft is the cost of paintball.
Airsoft pellets move twice as fast as paintball marker rounds but are considerably smaller, so the relative impact of the paintball causes a bit more pain. That said, if you only have eye protection and catch an airsoft pellet with your teeth, you’re going to do plenty of damage to yourself, so it’s prudent to wear a full-face mask in airsoft too.
It’s arguably much easier to cheat in airsoft. While paintball pellets leave a tell-tale mark on the player’s equipment, you’re relying on the honesty of the opposing team’s players to call their hits when they’ve been shot. There’s no shortage of videos of outraged players uploading videos of cheating players on YouTube.
Both sports have a competitive element, with players campaigning in local, national and international tournaments, each with hundreds of players taking part.
The major difference between the sports when it comes to competition play is airsoft’s greater emphasis on emulating actual military roles and strategy. This is evident in airsoft weaponry’s tendency to emulate not just the physical appearance of weapons, but the function too.
Long range rifles, short range submachine guns, and replica battle rifles are all available for purchase and are designed to safely emulate the infantry experience. The largest scale games are based around “milsim”, or military simulation – games where players will conduct competing military-style operations using appropriate tactics and gear.
This is less so with paintball. While there are elements of paintball which draw on military simulation for their play-style, many of the formalised competitions bear more resemblance to a football team with forwards, mids, and backs, than an infantry unit.
Paintball’s emphasis is more on the ‘sport’ of paintball itself, instead of simulating a military experience. While there are places like Mayhem Paintball in Essex offering some military simulation experiences to the public, this only represents a portion of paintball competition.
Have you played airsoft or paintball at a competitive level? Let us know in the comments what your experiences were like!
This is a collaborative post.