Those new to airsoft would be forgiven for seeing a number of similarities with the popular sport paintball. Both sports can involve two teams in combat modes and typically involve shooting ammunition at one another. When playing both, you’ll usually find obstacle courses, hidden flags and even similar equipment, but that is where the similarity ends.
Airsoft and paintball are two different and distinct sports. Let’s look at some of the key differences between the two, as well as some of the similarities. After reading this article you’ll be fully prepared for your first airsoft game, and you can arrive expecting a different experience to your previous rounds of paintball.
Let’s begin by looking at the typical equipment you’ll need for both airsoft and paintball. Airsoft closely resembles military combat – so much so that many airsoft guns are actually Replica Imitation Firearms (RIF). These guns can be electric or gas powered, and are designed for ease of use. Paintball guns, contrarily, are specifically gas-powered. They’re larger and more cumbersome, since they need to accommodate a paintball chamber.
Another significant difference is the ammunition you’ll use in each sport. Hopefully we don’t have to explain that in paintball, small pellets of paint are fired from the guns. Airsoft uses small BB pellets instead, and they’re considerably cheaper than the paint-based ammunition used in paintball. While the impact of BB pellets is considerably less painful than the impact of paintballs, they can still be dangerous when fired from close range.
And that brings us nicely on to our next point: the protective equipment. In both paintball and airsoft, players will wear camouflage, combative equipment. Dress codes vary depending on the site and the game mode, but it’s always important to remember that protective equipment can be heavy. Some game modes are all about speed, and sometimes overalls are all you need to wear, depending on the temperature and conditions.
Paintball players need to wear a full-face mask. This is mostly to protect your face and your eyes from the impact of the ammunition, but it also helps to prevent paint exploding in to your mouth. In airsoft, many sites will happily let you use goggles and nothing more, but full-face masks are normally recommended.
One of the most noticeable differences between airsoft and paintball is the range of game modes. You might be surprised to learn that there are several different ways to play both sports, and that tactics, strategies and rules are more important than simply firing ammunition at one another.
Whether you’re playing airsoft or paintball, you could be playing in ‘skirmish’ mode. This is the simplest game, and involves two teams facing one another in combat. These games take place in just about any venue imaginable, and sites can be as creative as they wish to be.
Another option is ‘hide the flag’, or defending properties, zones and territories against zombies. While both games can make use of interactive and exciting props, airsoft has much more flexibility when it comes to game modes.
Since there are many different game modes with airsoft, there’s also much more opportunity to assign roles within teams. Many people see airsoft as a viable team-building exercise: communication, strategy and delegation are very important factors of successful teams.
Another important difference is the level of honesty required in airsoft, in comparison with paintball. Once you’ve been hit with a paintball, it leaves a pretty obvious mark behind. There’s no way that you can deny you’ve been ‘hit’. BB pellets will instead bounce off of the target. It’s up to the player to admit that they’ve been hit, so naturally there’s much more opportunity to cheat.
Finally, airsoft is known for being considerably cheaper than paintball. We’ve already discussed how much cheaper BB pellets are than paintballs, but there’s more to consider than the ammunition alone.
Airsoft RIFs are cheaper to purchase and to rent. Since airsoft guns will typically be electric, they can be recharged and their batteries can be replaced. Gas-fired paintball guns are more expensive to operate.
On top of that, you’ll find that a typical airsoft site will charge less for a day of games than paintball sites. Many serious paintball players will also eventually convert to airsoft, since they can’t keep up with the costs of playing the sport seriously.
One of the best ways to find out about the differences between airsoft and paintball is to come and find out for yourself! Get in touch to find out how much a day of airsoft at our Fear Masters Airsoft site in Wakefield would cost by calling our friendly team on 01924 889109.