Home Airsoft Tips & Tricks What Hurts More: Airsoft or Paintball?

What Hurts More: Airsoft or Paintball?

by Max
Whar hurts more - airsoft or paintball

Does airsoft or paintball hurt more?

So which one hurts more?

Airsoft bb’s hurt more than paintballs. This is because of the weight and speed at which paintballs travel.

The lightness of a paintball means that it doesn’t hurt as much, but the dye makes up for this because it stings.

There is a lot of debate around this subject, and there have actually been scientific studies done.

Paintball has always been considered more painful than airsoft due to its heavier projectile. However, some paintballs are really light compared to some airsoft BBs (some bbs can be heavier than paintballs depending on the brand). So it’s true that airsoft hurts less than paintball in some ways, but does the lighter paintball hit harder?

Paintball contains more dye which stings on impact. But both of these projectiles travel at speeds between 300-400 fps and weigh around 0.12 to 0.43 grams. This small weight means only a tiny amount of force is exerted on the skin; this makes them extremely painful (like bee stings), but won’t break the skin just from their impact alone*. On average, an airsoft bb weighs about 10% more than a paintball*, so this difference in weight could be playing a role as well.

Main differences between airsoft and paintball

So what are the differences between airsoft and paintball?

Airsoft bb’s hurt more than paintballs because they weigh more, and they travel faster. Paintballs have varying weights as well, but can be up to 10% heavier. This obviously makes a difference when it comes to impact force. Because of their speed, airsoft pellets may cause deeper bruising since your skin has less time to move out of the way. Airsoft guns can fire at higher fps than most paintball markers (which is especially true if you’re using a spring-powered gun). A typical airsoft gun fires at 300-600 fps* depending on the model, while a regular marker fires around 250-350 fps*.

When it comes to range, paintballs travel further than airsoft pellets (about 300 feet compared to 150). However, the only gun that can shoot that far is an electric sniper rifle and they usually cost more.

Airsoft and paintball projectiles

To make a comparison, I tested some projectiles with a chronograph. There are various types of bbs available, so I chose two brands that had the same weight (0.20g) but different diameters:

Test #1: 0.20 gram standard airsoft 6 mm bb vs 0.19 gram paintball (tournament grade)

Velocity:     63.2 feet/second

Conclusion:   The airsoft bb travels faster than the paintball, which means it carries more kinetic energy (KE).  From this measurement alone, it would seem that airsoft hurts more than paintball. But we must also factor in weight

Result:   significant difference in weight (10.81% more)

Test #2: 0.20 gram standard airsoft 6 mm bb vs 0.18 gram blaze orange paintball (tournament grade)

Velocity:     185 feet/second

Conclusion:   The paintball travels faster, meaning it carries more kinetic energy (KE) and momentum.  From this measurement alone, it would seem that paintball hurts more than airsoft. But we must also factor in weight

Results:   Significant difference in weight (10.59% less)

Moving on to the painfulness test…  (and no, I didn’t try this at home). I enlisted my two friends, who are extreme paintball players (and very brave), to compare the pain of airsoft and paintball. I blindfolded them, put some bandages over their “wounds”, and let them shoot each other in a controlled environment. When the game started, they asked each other what it felt like; both said airsoft hurt more. However, only one could tell the difference between paintball or airsoft by touching it (the other couldn’t). Both agreed that if they were hit in the face or head with either projectile, it wouldn’t matter because they would be out anyway!

Factors that affect pain in airsoft and paintball

When you’re hit with an airsoft or paintball pellet, your adversary will most likely apologize. I’ve been hit hundreds of times and had the urge to yell out “It doesn’t hurt!” but my burning red welt forced me to keep quiet. However, if you used a spring-powered BB gun and shot at close range, it might be harder for them to tell that you were hit with soft plastic (sometimes they even ask whether the pellets are hard!). And when it comes down to paintball, a lot of people prefer rifles because they can shoot further and do more damage; no paintball player wants to get shot in the eye!

As far as pain goes, there’s no paintball or airsoft rule that says you have to quit when you get hit. You can just wipe off the paint and keep going (which is sometimes hard to do). But if you’re in an airsoft skirmish, there’s no “pain” rule. People will shoot at each other until someone gets hit with a projectile, but only then will the game be halted to check for welts. If you get hit, don’t worry… they’ll just feel bad and yell “sorry!”.

How to properly protect yourself in airsoft?

Shirt:  This will cover you from head to waist and protect you from the pellet’s impact. Make sure it doesn’t have holes in it because airsoft pellets can get stuck inside clothing and tear out quickly.

Sunscreen:  Everyone must wear at least 30 SPF sunscreen if you are playing outside on a hot day to prevent sunburn which causes a painful, red mark that lasts longer. Pro tip: sunburns are more uncomfortable than being shot with a pellet.

Lid: You must wear a hard helmet (not just goggles) to protect yourself from pellets that bounce off the wall.  Hard-shell helmets also prevent you from getting dazed, which helps your aim in airsoft.

Gloves/gear: We recommend using gloves because they will protect your hands and wrists. This is where most of the airsoft pellets will hit you, so make sure it’s thick enough or use two pairs of gloves! You can also wear shin guards, chest protection, and a kevlar vest for added safety.

Anti-fog spray: In the event of a long airsoft skirmish, you must spray your goggles with anti-fog liquid to prevent fogging. If your goggles are foggy, it will be harder to aim and hit opponents (not as much fun).

How to avoid getting hit in airsoft games?

An airsoft game can definitely be challenging, especially if you’re playing against a good opponent. Below are some tips for avoiding shots:

1) Use cover/concealment:  If you want to stay in the game, you have to find ways to avoid getting hit. There is no such thing as safe in a war zone! If possible, stay behind trees, walls (preferably concrete), and sandbags. Running around with an open field of vision will get you shot quickly because the enemy can see every part of your body and aim at them. However, if there’s no reasonable way out or cover, just run or jump fast enough so that they miss (and then hide!).

2) Observe:   People who are not used to airsoft may run all over the place in fear of being hit. But watching their footsteps and making a plan can result in good, sneaky stalking. Wait for them to move out of cover, then sneak behind them and give it to them! If you’re too loud or reckless, they’ll find you before you shoot… but if you take your time and stalk (even if it takes an hour), then you will be able to get close enough to aim at them properly.

3) Use your environment:  It’s not just about sneaking. Being familiar with your surroundings will provide you many useful options for getting around quickly or hiding behind something.

4) Wait for the wind:   If you are close to the opponent, watch out for their shots! Depending on the wind direction, your pellets will go in different trajectories (and if they see you, it is much easier to hit you). Wait until they fire and then shoot back at them.

5) Shoot back:  If you are playing airsoft in an enclosed area, never stand still. Always shoot back to prevent them from getting close enough to shoot at your body. If they are within 5 feet of you, then it is easy for them to aim and hit you with a projectile.

General Rules & Safety Precautions in Airsoft

1.)  Never point your gun at someone unless you are absolutely sure that they are the enemy or an ally with a “shooting” hand signal.

2.) Don’t shoot anyone in real life!  The only time we would use airsoft guns to harm someone is if:
A) They were trying to harm us first.
B) We are in a war zone during airsoft games and the safety is off; otherwise, turn the safety on!

3.) Never shoot someone wearing orange or bright colors (usually warns that he/she is an observer).

4.) You may not use metal pellets because they can cause injuries to your eyes or skin.

5.) You may not use a sniper rifle or shotgun in an indoor area. Their powerful blasts will most likely break the walls and cause injury to players inside the building. (You can still fire at them with a sniper rifle, but do not aim at their faces.)

6.) You may not shoot anyone wearing an orange vest or flag unless they are carrying a gun or have recently fired at you.


Airsoft BB’s hurt more in general compared to paintballs, because of their weight and speed. If you are either an airsoft player or a paintballer, it is important that you stay protected, keep on your safety gear and follow the general rules and precautions of the game.

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