What Hurts More; Paintball Or Airsoft?

Every cursory search will perhaps lead you to the debate about which of the two sports has the superior value as well as the highest pain impact.

Airsoft vs Paintball debates are reflected not just in their distinct geographical popularity and history, but also in the fans belief of which sport is more cost effective, enjoyable, and fun driven.

With two sports that share very similar attributes as well as show clear distinctions at the same time, it is not unusual to have these comparisons.

What Hurts More; Paintball Or Airsoft?

What Is Paintball?

Paintball is a combat-like, shooting sport that is played by declaring a player winner in a game through elimination. Players are cast as opponents who try to shoot each other with spherical shaped paintballs that splatter on players when there is impact.

Paintball players who are impacted easily call in and surrender and the opponent who makes the shot wins. The game can be played by individual players or as a team which is the most common way of playing.

The sport can only be played on fields where players have a wide cover of land to do their ducks or tactical covers, make runs, jump, dive, among other things.

The field could be an indoor or outdoor one, but the hack is to have enough space for defense and attack.

The game makes use of equipment like paintball guns or markers which is what players use when shooting at opponents.

There are the paintballs, the term from which the game is named.

They also have protective masks to ward off the impact of the paintballs and they also other clothing wears and protective gears to ensure maximum safety. 

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What Is Airsoft?

Like paintball, airsoft is also a strategic, mock-military, shooting sport, where competing teams are engaged in the fun-war of sporting elimination.

They also make use of guns called the airsoft guns and those send out projectiles that are spherical like paintballs, too, and are made of plastic.

Airsoft is like a replica of the paintball game, predicated upon the same gameplay and methodology, game rules and concept.

A significant difference between the two, perhaps, is the honor code or system that drives their gameplay.

Airsoft projectiles do not splash the way paintballs do, so the game relies on player’s honesty to own up or call in if they have been hit. The difference and similarities will be discussed in broader details later.

That Said, Do They Really Hurt?

Many times, players answer this question from two ends depending on conformity to certain variables and factors. That answer is Yes and No.

Yes, the sports hurt, and no, they don’t, too, especially to the degree that certain rules and tips are followed. However, the fact is that both games hurt.

People get hurt because of the force and velocity of either the paintballs or projectiles used in either sport and that impact can be pretty nasty, ugly, and overwhelming.

When paintball hits a player in an exposed, naked flesh or skin, for example, players feel the sting of the hurt the same way airsoft pellets from an airsoft gun inflicts pain.

What both sports and players of the sports have been able to do is to evolve a respectable distance rule at shooting and other additional things to keep the game expected fun and safe. 

For instance, players are encouraged to put on protective gears. This helps the players in no small measure. To this end, the degree to which a paintball or airsoft pellet hurts is dependent on whether players have enough padded, protective wears to evade the impact of these shots.

You are encouraged to wear full, long pants as well as shirts that are long sleeves. You must put on the protective mask as keeping the face covered and safe is key.

Even other important clothing equipment are gloves and other head protection gears. There are people who also take quite a great pleasure in using vests, too.

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Now, there are times this is often a subject of debate, too, on the relevant use or not. It is relevant.

That experienced, professional players resist or desist from wearing, doesn’t make it any less important or necessary.

If a player feels comfortable in it, either as a beginner or pro, they are encouraged to, as they qualify as one of the safety precautionary measures that the players need.

The painful fact is that if you are hit in an open, revealing skin, whether is it is the welt from the paintball gun or airsoft pellets from the airsoft gun you will feel the painful impact and possibly squint in pain. 

Beyond flesh contact and taking precautions, most pain impact or horrible injuries — and there are many online pictures to show for that — that come from shooting sports are mostly done in the safe space.

The range players see as the safe outlet, many times refer to as the “Dead Zone” or “Staging Area” as with paintballs, allow players to stay off being shot at.

If a player is hit at about anything from 270 feet per seconds, the impact of such shot will really be brutal. Ugly, screech-looking bruises come from shots fired at very close contacts. The value of distance is vital.

Now, this is not often a thing of evasive reference as anyone who plays the game big time knows this. This also ties into the conversation about the feet per second rating of the kind of paintball guns or airsoft gun used.

There are guns with very high feet per second rating and that will tell the speed of velocity at which the balls fired from both the airsoft guns and paintball guns will travel, also giving a sense of the level of impact. 

Aside distance, there is also the weather condition. First, there is a time of the year when stings and bites hit deeper into the body. It is as though the harsh realities of the weather conspire with pains to get you uncomfortable. That’s a thing, a big one when you are hit by certain balls.

The other condition is the wind. When the wind conditions blow at a rather ferocious, windy pace, it can assist the impact of hurt on the body.

Although many times the distance of engagement by both sports vary, so, this will hit differently.

Paintball is played at closer distance or contact among players. Meaning that the factor of wind will be a little different for them as compared to airsoft which thrives on shooting from longer distances.

What this means, therefore, is that when you shoot an airsoft pellet, the wind can carry your hit at a very different and faster speed that can have an unsavory effect on your opponent than you envisaged.

The flip side of the coin here is that the same wind could also disrupt you from hitting your target. You perhaps have to devise an onsite game plan to avoid missing your targets possibly by finding ways to get closer to your opponent rather than shoot afar off. 

The Anatomy Of The Balls — Airsoft vs Paintball

You can’t talk about the degree of hurt from both impact sport without understanding how the ball works.

When the airsoft pellets or paintballs are released, their speeds rely on the distance meant to cover.

Naturally, the paintball’s speed or velocity begins to drop off at certain point while moving on.

There are scales at which pain hits in different forms at the players of both sports. Consider this at the average estimation for highest impacts: 

Airsoft pellets = 0.20 grams – 0.28 grams (at 450 feet per second)

Paintballs = 3.5 grams (295 feet per second)

The airsoft gun is loaded with pellets that are very minute in shape and look like a tiny tablets.

These plastic-shaped projectiles weigh about 6 millimetres, raging form between 0.20 – 0.28 grams at maximum speed cap, that’s less than a gram, and travel at about an average of 400 feet per second.

Paintballs, on the other hand, have very much bigger balls compared to those of airsoft, and weigh about 3.5 grams that are fired from the markers between 290-300 feet per second, that’s at an average of 295 feet per second.

The implication is that paintballs have bigger shapes compared to the tiny airsoft pellets, and so, they are invariably slower in their velocity in comparison to the airsoft pellets. 

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Therefore, if you fire an airsoft and paintball at the same distance, maybe 50 feet or a little more (although that might sound like a death sentence) the weight of the paintball’s force means that you will feel the impact much more than the pellet.

That means that if an airsoft impact hits at about 1.5 and 3.8 j, that of the paintball will be about fifteen times of that.

The reason, again, is simple. The balls are heavier and larger. Mathematically, the paintball appears to be able to inflict more direct hurt at players at the same distance in comparison to airsoft pellets.

In other words, the paintball’s traceable welt is potentially about 12 to 15 times more painful one than the airsoft pellet.

However, it must be quickly added here that how hurt is domesticated and interpreted by victims of impact might be different. Skin reactions to impact can be more than the size of bruises by the feeling of pain.

Like a popular player of both sports once explained, landing a paintball on yourself is like taking a boxing blow to the body. While landing an airsoft pellet on a bare skin is like a sizzling, wincing pinch on the skin.

So, one could end up creating an illusion of heavy impact, whereas the other leaves more prolonged pain eating them up at the core layers of the skin.  

Besides, the mathematics of weight and travel is also the place of impact. Imagine a paintball or an airsoft pellet hitting you at the top end of your hand, just by the finger rows. A pinch and heavy knock might feel differently on that end.

This is why the most vulnerable parts of your body like the eyes, lips the (fore)head, ears, groin, neck, hands (and by extension, all the fingers) are very sensitive parts that react to different kinds of pain differently, but all leaving a feeling as though one has been stung by a bee.

Another point to note here about how hurting the airsoft pellets can be is that the pain they cause is, in fact, directly connected to the kinetic energy they possess. Which means that impact is not a soft gun or a mushy, landing place.


The pain matrix is a difficult answer to project, as both sports operate on an almost equal pain release and definitely at different pain processing by those who play the sports.

The science behind their hurt impact is a pretty interesting one with clear or obvious projections, which suggests that they both hit at different levels of pain.

It might be a fairly debatable conclusion still that paintballs are generally agreed to be more hurting than airsoft pellets. But more importantly is sounding the note of protection and staying safe.

This Airsoft vs Paintball debate can be passionate, rallying argument for all who are loyal adherents to individual sports, what remains loyal to no one is the effect of the pain that can be caused from hurt.

So, sensitive parts like the ear, eye, hand, legs, neck, and others must be adequately protected and shielded from devastating pain that can render you hurting.

That said, ensure to enjoy the game and take the spirit of the fun to it. If in the line of that, anyone gets hurt because of you, be genuinely sorry and move on.

If it is you and the pain is serious, seek medical intervention. In all, see the fun and treat the lives engaged in it with respect.

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