The history of both paintball and airsoft are quite similar. Airsoft started in the 1970s Japan, while paintball had its roots in New Hampshire around 1974-75. Both of these guns are used recreationally today, with airsoft being more popular in east Asian countries(specifically Japan), and the United States is the most popular country for paintball.
For recreational purposes, there is little to no difference between how each gun is used, though their construction can be very different, especially on some higher-end airsoft models which contain metal components whereas some more expensive paintball markers can be made of alloys such as aluminum and magnesium.
The most common airsoft guns used for recreational purposes are spring-powered replicas, though gas and electric models exist as well. These guns cost between $20 and $300 depending on the type of gun and brand.
Paintball is a sport with many different types of markers(guns). The original paintball marker was called the Nelspot 007 which was manufactured by the Nelson Paint Company in New Hampshire during the mid to late 70s. It wasn’t until 1981 that Dave Young, cofounder of Smart Parts invented the first-ever electronic paintball marker called the ‘Shockwave’. This innovation lead to an explosion of new ideas within this industry making it more advanced than it had ever been. To this day there are many different types of paintball markers with even more being created every year by both small and large companies.
Airsoft guns, like paintball markers, can be very expensive to buy new, retailing for between $300-2000 depending on the model type.
Paintballs, while cheaper to make can cost around 50 cents each in bulk production, but when bought at a typical retailer they will be anywhere from $5-$15 per 200 paintballs making them more expensive on average than airsoft BBs which typically get bought in bulk(5000 rounds) for anywhere from $20-$40 USD.
How they are played
With airsoft, players are divided into teams, and one team will defend their objective(s) while the other team goes out to attack. Players are normally equipped with protective gear such as helmets to protect their heads, vests for torso protection, elbow pads/pads to protect elbows from damage when crawling on the ground, knee pads/pads to protect the knees, thigh plates that attach at the waistline of a player to prevent shots from hitting their thighs or shins which can hurt much more than being shot in another area of the leg because of nerve endings close together there. The last but most important piece of safety equipment is eye protection. Airsoft is played competitively throughout many countries throughout the world with tournaments taking place every weekend.
In paintball the player is equipped with a marker, a harness that has different pouches which can hold pods(small plastic containers that hold 12 or 20 paintballs) and/or CO2 cartridges, depending on the type of paintball gun being used. The player will also have their choice of other equipment such as gloves, face masks to protect their eyes and mouth in case they are accidentally shot in those areas.
The cost of playing
In paintball, the cost of playing can be much more expensive than airsoft because in order to play a person will have to buy a marker, a harness, and pods/CO2.
Paintballs are also significantly more expensive than even high-quality airsoft BBs which is mainly due to how much money goes into advertising and outreach in an effort for paintball companies to constantly draw new players into their sport. Many fields also charge an hourly fee or round fees to play. This encourages people who play paintball often at different fields around the city/country they live in, to own their own field(s) so that it creates a monopoly on where people go out and play; this adds up to more income off of customers since they no longer have anywhere to go play paintball other than the location(s) they own so in a sense it forces people who wish to keep playing paintball to keep going back to the same fields over and over again because if they do not all of their friends will follow suit and also stop going.
In airsoft, the only equipment a person needs is a gun, however, sometimes goggles are worn for extra protection when shooting from close range or when in very intense situations that may cause an accidental shot from straying too close. Airsoft sites/fields typically charge by how much time you play rather than how many rounds you shoot which makes playing more affordable for everyone since players can eventually work their way up to being able to afford better equipment.
While airsoft is cheaper over the long run than paintball, it can still be an expensive hobby to get into. It’s never too late to start though!
Which is more painful, paintball or airsoft?
While paintballs and airsoft BBs can hurt if they hit you in the right spot, it is not even remotely close to how much a paintball or airsoft pellet will hurt.
Paintballs travel at 300-400 feet per second and 120 miles per hour and with that speed comes kinetic energy which in turn means impact. When a paintball hits you, imagine being hit by a sledgehammer traveling at 100mph. This makes playing either of these games very exciting but also more dangerous for obvious reasons.
In airsoft on the other hand, most guns shoot somewhere between 280fps(the speed of the projectile/BB) to around 450fps depending on what gun get used including where it was chronographed at which can make it seem as if airsoft hurts much more than paintball because of how slow the BBs travel.
When a BB from an airsoft gun hits you, it feels like being pinched but at the same time getting punched in that area because of how quickly a BB can stop once it strikes something. Also a large amount of people have noticed that they feel pain more when being shot with an airsoft gun rather than a paintball marker, mainly due to how small and light an airsoft BB is compared to a paintball which has its mass spread out over a larger surface area making it easier for the skin to absorb without breaking or causing too much pain from impact.
So based off what has been listed so far, both airsoft and paintball can hurt but airsoft is much more light-hearted than paintball which gives it the edge. The only reason that people feel pain more from being shot with an airsoft gun rather than a paintball marker is due to how small an airsoft BB is compared to its mass whereas paintballs are larger around but lighter in weight, making them not as easy for skin to absorb without breaking or causing too much pain upon impact.
This makes using lower FPS limits on guns important because it not only ensures players safety by limiting their range of shots, it also keeps everyone having fun while playing safely since nobody wants to be shot at high speeds especially if they crawl around often like I do… Thanks Splatmaster!
So to quickly recap, paintball hurts more because of the kinetic energy it provides upon impact but airsoft hurts more if being shot with a high FPS weapon.
Paintball hurts more than airsoft.