Differences Between Airsoft & Paintball

Airsoft players use variants of real-world weapons.

Extreme sports fans have a variety of combat simulation games from which to choose. Players don camouflage outfits, padded vests and select from any number of available imitation firearms in these games. Paintball and airsoft represent two of the most popular combat simulation games and share many similarities as well as striking differences.


Paintball ammunition comes in a variety of striking colors.

Players of the two sports fire at each other with imitation firearms, but the differences between the two types of weapon mark the largest difference between them. Paintball guns, known as markers, fire gelatinous balls of paint which then splatter on opponents creating a clear indication of a hit. Airsoft weapons fire plastic pellets and players recognize the hit through the sharp feel of the impact upon their bodies. Markers typically use a form of compressed gas to power their shots, while airsoft guns rely on electric or spring-powered mechanisms. Airsoft gun designs come from real-world weaponry, and their rates of fire and appearance mimic those of real guns. Paintball marker designers make weapons specifically for the sport and do not adhere to the appearance of any real-world guns.


Inflatable bunkers provide cover to paintball players.

Paintball players typically prefer padded body armor, typically made of machine-washable cloth, in colors ranging from striking orange to subdued hues of black and gray. Airsoft participants also use padded body armor, though natural and urban camouflage colors prevail. Airsoft players may carry an extra battery pack or springs for their weapons, whereas paintballers may refill their gas tanks after each match from a SCUBA center or paintball refill area. Both sports make use of natural terrain, but the inflatable bunkers used in paintball cannot stand up to powerful airsoft shots.


Airsoft snipers must blend in with their terrain.

Both sports stress team play and squad dynamics. Paintballers typically bring the same weaponry to a match and determine their team roles based on experience and personal preference. An airsoft player’s role on his team is determined by his armament. Airsoft snipers use long rifles, assault troops use assault rifles and grenades and shotgunners breach doors and close corners with airsoft variants of the real-world weapon. Airsoft also has additional roles not found on a paintball team. These include heavy weapons specialists that employ auto-cannons and pistoleers who often fulfill the role of team medic in longer scenario battles.