Paintball has been a popular recreational activity since the 1980s in the UK. Although Airsoft first appeared in the 1990s it didn’t get the same recognition as paintball.
In recent years, a spate of Airsoft sites has popped up around the UK which recreates replicas of war-themed battlegrounds. As a consequence, Airsoft is growing in popularity and is becoming a genuine rival to paintball.
There are several similarities between the two activities. Both Airsoft and paintball replicate combat simulations in which participants are eliminated when they are hit by ammunition fired by an opponent.
Both sports also require strategy and special equipment. Moreover, they are action-packed and adrenaline-rushing activities that get the heart racing.
However, there are some significant differences you should know about. If you’re not sure whether to play paintball or try your hand at Airsoft, the differences between the two may help you to reach a decision.
Paintball vs Plastic Pellets
The ammunition in paintball dictates that the rules are followed. When participants are hit, a splash of paint appears. A judge will determine whether the hit is a kill spot.
Airsoft pellets do not leave a mark. The game relies on the honesty of participants to say whether they have been hit. The pellets are also easier to carry around with you.
A key difference is that paintballs can hurt. If you are stuck on the arms and legs it will often leave bruises. Airsoft pellets, whilst not actually soft, are not as painful.
Airsoft pellets are made from composite biodegradable material or light plastic which has a lower impact than paintballs. Having said that, they can draw blood if one hits you in an unprotected part of the body.
Weapons and Equipment
Paintball guns are specially engineered to fire paintballs which are loaded into a pod. Loading the guns is easier than Airsoft pellets which can be a little tricky at first due to the magazines.
The weapons used in Airsoft, however, have the look and feel of authentic military weapons such as AEG rifles and MK-47s. Although they have been reconfigured and won’t fire real bullets, the imitation rifles look like the real McCoy – which for some people adds to the military theme and helps to enhance the experience.
If you are up for a truly authentic military experience, head to Imperium Battlegrounds in Kent. They offer you the opportunity to drive iconic military vehicles such as a Unimog, Pinzgauer or Schützenpanzer tank.
Some Airsoft sites also offer participants a wider range of ammunition including ring pull grenades, smoke bombs, and gas. The additional weapons also help to make Airsoft look and feel more like an authentic battleground experience than paintball.
There is not a great deal of difference between the cost of paintball and Airsoft although the latter is generally less expensive. How much you spend really depends on the amount of ammunition you buy.
In general, Airsoft usually costs around £40 for admission but the games last the entire day. You can add easily spend another £20-30 buying additional ammunition, but it all depends on how involved you want to be and how life-like you want the battle to be.
Prices for a full day of paintball are between £40-50 for admission and equipment hire. You then have to purchase paintballs for around £6 per 100 Paintballs.
For a full day, you would expect to fire something like 700 paintballs, or more, if you’re pretty good at it. So it’s easy to rack up another £40.