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Paintball or Airsoft. Which do I prefer?

Updated on April 8, 2016

My Introduction to Paintball and Airsoft

I played paintball for the first time in 2001 as a company outing with my office. From that moment I loved the game, but unfortunately with the lack of fields and people to play with, Paintball seemed like a passing fad. Fast forward to 2012, my son was now 15 years old and some of his friends had taken him to play paintball and he had a great time. I thought, I love the game and I want to spend more time with my son, what a great activity and now I have someone to go with. So we began to get the markers and the gear and for the next couple of years we went to play a few times a month during the summer, including some of his friends. He even started the Paintball Club at his high school in his Junior year.

During that time he was introduced to Airsoft and he brought me along as well, although it took me a few more months than him. Actually it took me to see and shoot his first airsoft gun, than I was onboard. Since then, beginning in April/May and running until October/November, we try to get out and play airsoft at least once per month. Which one do I prefer though that is a tough question and before I answer that let me take a step back and explain the two sports, although similar in nature, they do have fundamental differences.

Similarities and Differences

Both games are a played on field, usually the same field, and can be indoors or outdoors. Using a gun, in paintball they are called markers, two opposing teams meet for a simulated battle. There a varying game types such as capture the flag (name says it all) or team death match, this game is played until one team “shoots” all the members of the other team. In some games you earn points for achieving objectives. Games can last from 20 minutes up to 2 or more days, these longer games are called scenario games or operations. Both also use protective gear for your eyes and face. These are the similarities, now where they are different.

Paintball Basics - Check out the video

Paintball utilizes a paintball gun powered by compressed CO2 or air where a bottle is attached to gun or marker. The ammunition is a little plastic ball of paint that is .68 inches in diameter that when it hits you breaks apart leaving the paint to show you were hit. Once you are hit you are out of the game unless you have rules that allow you to come back in to the game after a certain time period. The paintballs are held in a “hopper”, a plastic reservoir usually located on the top of the marker, and gravity fed to the marker. The paint is biodegradable and water soluble so it does not stain clothing. Clothing can be regular street clothes, bright colorful clothes especially designed for paintball, or military style camo.

Airsoft Game Play

In Airsoft your gun can be fired by compressed air, green gas (propane with silicone oil added), or it could be electric. It fires a 6 mm plastic bb which is held in a spring loaded magazine that allows the bb to be pushed into the firing chamber and placed in front of an air/gas nozzle. With a compressed air weapon the air tank is usually carried in a backpack with an airline running to the gun. Gas operated guns have magazines that not only hold the bb’s but has a gas fill reservoir. Electric guns know as AEG (Automatic Electric Gun), uses a battery pack that operates the electronic mechanism inside the gun to compress and expel the air through a nozzle which propels the bb. Clothing can be street clothes as well but in most cases, players will wear more Military simulated clothing which may include military style chest plates and gear. Because of the size of the bb’s, Airsoft is a more honor based game of going out when you are hit.

Paint ball markers and Airsoft guns are going to be comparable in cost, the exception, large retailers such as Walmart sell spring powered and plastic electric airsoft guns for under $100. Although not the best quality and may break easier, not in every case however. The biggest cost in Paintball are the paintballs themselves. Fields in my area do not allow you bring your own paintballs due to quality issues, some paint is oil based, and a box of paintballs can run $60 or more for 2000 balls. Airsoft bb’s are usually under $20 for 2000 bb’s. With Airsoft, as you build your gear and loadout and add accessories to your gun, your cost will go up.

My Preferred Game

Now the big question, what do I prefer? Honestly both are fun but if I had to choose, Airsoft would be the pick for me. The guns are more replicas of real world weapons and in most cases what you wear is going to be real world as well. I feel this adds more to the game play and experience. Now some people believe Paintball is better and vice versa, it really is all about what you enjoy. The best thing about both is that you are outdoors getting exercise and having fun with like-minded people. I highly recommend if you have not played before, give both a try. It is a great chance to spend time with family and friends and whichever you chose as your favorite, just have fun.


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© 2016 bgigstead


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