Airsoft vs. Paintball. Which is Better?

Any airsoft fan will be quick to tell you that airsoft is the best military simulation sport available and is second to none. But is this all just hyperbole? Airsoft and paintball may appear to be very similar on the surface, but dig down and you’ll discover that they are in fact quite different.

Paintball and airsoft are both tactical combat scenario experiences that rely on teamwork, tactics and firearms. Objectives vary from capture the flag to classic team deathmatch, but they broadly involve teams of players out-manoeuvring and out-gunning each other.

What’s the difference?


Airsoft prides itself on using authentically replicated firearms to provide as real an experience as possible. There are thousands of firearms available, each with its own range, weight and rate of fire. Part of the tactical element of airsoft comes down to the choice of loadouts and ensuring that all your options are covered.

Conversely, paintball guns are almost universally identical. You can get larger hoppers or different sized CO2 tanks, but for the most part, paintball guns are the same. You can choose from a range of coloured paintballs, though.

The ammo is different too. Airsoft uses BBs, that are far more accurate than the much larger paintball pellets.


Paintball has been losing out to other outdoor sports, like airsoft. For the last few years there has been little growth in the market. For a long time, paintball was the old dog – expensive and unsatisfying. But today it’s making something of a comeback.

Despite paintball’s comeback airsoft is, on average, still the cheaper option. The guns are cheaper and less expensive to maintain and the BB ammo can be up to five times cheaper than paintballs.


Airsoft fanatics will tell you that squad tactics are far more important than they are in paintball. The realism of the guns encourages the use of detailed tactics, while paintballing is just a fire fight where the last man standing wins. In reality, if you want to win a simulated combat scenario, you need to use tactics and use them well. The casual nature appeal of paintball may result in sloppier tactics and people mucking around, but those who use strategy will always win the day.

Which hurts more?

If you’ve ever been paintballing, you know that it hurts. The reason for this is physics: Impact = Mass x Velocity. While BBs travel slightly faster than paintballs, the superior mass of paintballs results in significantly bigger impacts. This is why unlucky paintball players end up with bodies looking like join the dot puzzles, covered in round bruises.

Which is better for new players?

Paintballing is a known quantity and a popular activity for stag dos, parties and the like. But if you’re a new player looking to start a new outdoor hobby to get fit, have fun and meet new people, airsoft is the better option. For new players it’s cheaper than paintballing and offers a great deal of depth to explore and enjoy from the guns to the roles to the tactics. There’s a lot to get your teeth into when it comes to airsoft.

If you’re thinking of starting airsoft, whether alone or with your friends, visit Socom. Our friendly and approachable staff can run you through everything you need to know about airsoft. Our store also has everything you need to get started. Visit us today!

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