What Hurts More Paintball Or Airsoft?

Because both sports are so comparable, it isn’t strange for players to ask “What hurts more paintball or airsoft?” Although paintball and airsoft are similar player vs player combat games that use gun-style equipment, their tools look different and the style of gameplay is also dissimilar.

Let’s begin with the fundamentals. Paintball is a short, fast-paced game of elimination played with guns typically called ‘markers’. The ammunition used, called capsules, splatter on contact and spread a water-soluble, non-toxic substance containing polyethylene glycol and dye. The weapon uses high pressured air to propel the large ammo across the field to hit targets. On the other hand, airsoft is a mock-military simulation game of elimination played with replica guns that shoot steel or plastic BBs. This game attracts many military enthusiasts and reenactors because the combat style and objectives matter as much as the elimination.

Paintball Facts Airsoft Facts


Game style Speedball Military simulation
Ammo size 18mm 6mm
Ammo cost per 1000 rounds $40 $5
Gun velocity 300 FPS 200 – 600 FPS
Gun energy 12 joules 2 joules
Gun power Gas Spring, gas, electric
Typical range 25 – 30 meters 20 – 50 meters
Accuracy Medium High

Which Hurts More And Why?

After getting asked what hurts more paintball or airsoft many times, we assessed both sports and asked players some questions to determine which had more pain when players got shot. What did we find? Paintball hurts considerably more than airsoft. In both games, the weapons typically shoot at around 300 to 600 FPS but the size of ammunition and energy at which they shoot is a big difference.

A normal 18mm paintball can weigh 3g and release over 12 joules of energy when shot, whereas, a 6mm airsoft BB can weigh 0.20g and only release 1 to 2 joules of energy when shot. Putting all of this into consideration, it is clear to see that a paintball can leave a large painful welt as compared to the small red marks from airsoft BBs.

Because of the considerable difference in the size of ammunition for each sport, paintball hits tend to be more painful than airsoft strikes. Paintballs have a higher impact that leads professionals to always wear a full mask for protection and some body armor. Airsoft players also pad up but mostly for close quarters games. However, full face protection is always recommended no matter the style of the game.

What Determines Pain In Paintball And Airsoft?

Wind Conditions

If you are playing outdoors, wind matters a lot. It matters more to airsoft players because most paintball games are played in close quarters. If you are shooting with the wind, your BBs will fly faster and have a greater impact than if you are shooting against the wind. The wind can also curve your BBs in a different direction so you must factor that in too.

Distance from Shooter

Distance affects the speed of ammunition. Your ammo drops in velocity before it hits a mark so the further away you are from the mark, the lesser the final impact. Someone will barely feel your shot from 150 feet away but they will if it is closer. For safety reasons, try not to shoot someone closer than 50 feet.

Mass of Projectile

A heavier projectile has the potential to carry more energy. In airsoft, if you get shot with a .20g BB, it will hurt less than if you get shot with a .30g BB. This is the same explanation we gave earlier to explain why paintball shots are more painful than airsoft shots.

FPS Rating of Weapon

The higher the FPS of your gun, the faster your ammo will fly and the harder it will hit. Just like a car traveling at 30 miles per hour will have less damage if it crashes than a car traveling 100 miles per hour; so your shots will hurt more if traveling at a higher FPS.

Objects Absorbing Impact

When playing on a field, bushes, branches, and trees can significantly reduce the impact of shots fired. Although you can shoot through these objects, they absorb part of the impact and greatly reduce the energy and therefore the pain of impact. When playing in a field, you can use these objects as cover.

Which Places Hurt The Most When You Get Shot?

Whether you’re playing paintball or airsoft, the most painful places to get hit are the following:

  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Lips
  • Teeth
  • Hands
  • Fingers
  • Crotch

These areas are the same for both sports because ‘bullets’ are being shot out in both cases and they could meet any part of your body. To avoid eye damage, it is extremely important to wear goggles, a mask, or some form of face protection while playing. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, invest in good face protection gear and wear it for every game.

Best Protection Gear

For your safety, make sure to always wear protective gear when playing either of these sports.

For Paintball

You will need protective body armor to help reduce the pain of paintballs hitting you from all sides. A good starter pack for beginners will have a neck protector, padded chest protector, and padded hand gloves. Make sure to have a paintball mask to shield your facial features from damage. You should always opt for loose-fitting, thick sweatshirts and sweatpants for your games. This will offer a nice layer of protection. If you don’t mind the extra bulk, you can also wear a helmet.

For Airsoft

When playing airsoft, you need proper face protection to cover your eyes, ears, and jaw. For this, you can get a full mask shield or eye goggles paired with a mesh face shield. There are different high-end and cheap versions in the market so you will find a good deal no matter your budget. As for clothing, you can scout for good battle dress uniforms. They are great for flexible movement and yet made from durable materials that will protect you from hits. To complete your ensemble, throw on some gloves and a tactical scarf.

How To Minimize Exposure And Stay Safe

To reduce the number of times you get shot, you have to be very aware of your surroundings. Poke your head out too many times and you will surely get shot. To minimize exposure, use the following tips:

  • Take the longer route. It is always less crowded.
  • Stay quiet. Your opponent is listening to get your location.
  • Watch your flanks. Your opponents will like to sneak on you.
  • Be patient. It is better to have the opponent come to you.
  • Watch your teammates and listen to their cues. They can tell you when to advise or duck.
  • Beware of your exposure. Always consider how much cover you have and where you can move to next.

Another precaution to getting hit is following the rules and staying safe. It will do you good to remember the following rules because they will protect you:

  • Don’t put your finger on the trigger unless you’re going to shoot.
  • Don’t load your weapon when you’re off the field.
  • Unload your magazine before leaving the field.
  • Ensure your chamber is clear before storing your weapon.
  • Put on a barrel sock when you’re not playing.
  • Store your weapon in a case, especially while transporting.
  • If your weapon is not in use, have an orange flash rider on it.


If you’re looking for an engaging team sport with some shooting action involved, paintball or airsoft are great options for you. When it comes to the question of which sport hurts ore when you get shot, it is definitely paintball. Both sports are very enjoyable and they come with advantages and disadvantages. Some people prefer one to the other while many adventure seekers will play either one. Whatever your drive for the sport, it is good to know that a paintball will hurt more than an airsoft BB when you get shot at on the field. Regardless of this, we always advice players to wear correct protective gear and follow safety rules when playing ither sport.

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