What’s the difference between airsoft and paintball?

Airsoft v paintball

What’s the difference between airsoft and paintball?

Originating in 1970s Japan, airsoft was invented by Ichiro Nagata and spread to the UK in the 1980s and 90s where it has now become a recreational sport with a devoted following.

Like paintball, Airsoft is a competitive shooting sport played typically in teams pitched against each other. The aim of any game or tournament is to eliminate the opponent side’s players by successfully tagging them and removing them from play. This is achieved by launching small spherical projectiles from replica equipment that resembles military hardware, known as airsoft guns.

While in terms of gameplay and concept airsoft may appear like a similar sport to paintball there are crucial differences in terms of equipment, methods of play, realism, and affordability.

A comparison of combat equipment

Paintballs are fired from a device known as a paintball marker and are composed of a gel-shelled capsule containing a dye that is water soluble, airsoft guns employ a realistic-looking weapon and fire plastic pellets.

A question of ethics

Airsoft relies on opponents being honourable as unlike in paintball battles, it is not always easy to see when someone has been hit. While they can cause a red welt on exposed skin, airsoft players that are suitably clothed and covered will find airsoft pellets leave no visible sign when they hit their mark. This means that it’s up to an individual to honourably admit when they’ve been hit.

A real sense of warfare

While paintball games may have realistic and militaristic objectives, airsoft guns, clothes and other tactical gear have the edge when it comes to an authentic look and feel. Since it was first developed, airsoft equipment has strived to appear like replicas of the real gear employed in a real-world combat zone to provide a thrilling experience for those playing the sport.

Keeping the costs down

Finally, airsoft is a far less costly sport to participate in than paintball. Airsoft ammunition is more affordable, and most guns feature spring loading or rechargeable batteries, making them cheaper than paintball markers which employ CO2 to launch their projectiles.