Airsoft vs. Paintball : Which Hurts More And Why?

Airsoft Vs. Paintball Pain Comparison

After talking to many different airsoft and paintball players, I assessed which sport had more pain associated with getting shot.

What I found:  paintballs hurt more than airsoft BBs.

Actually a LOT more.

Both airsoft and paintball guns shoot around 300-400 fps. However, the main difference is the weight of what is being shot.

The typical airsoft BB weighs .20 grams. This releases .84 Joules of energy. The typical paintball weighs around 3 grams. This releases 12.5 Joules of energy.





That is a HUGE difference in kinetic energy. This means that paintballs have more than 10 times the energy that airsoft BBs carry. So you should understand that paintballs are going to hurt a lot more when compared to airsoft BBs.

To take this further, understand that paintballs have way more surface area than a 6mm BB. This means that paintballs are going to leave bigger welts, as opposed to the smaller concentrated red marks from airsoft BBs.


Best Protection For Paintball

To first start off on minimizing the amount of pain you feel, you will need some type of body armor and protective gear.

Here is a great kit that will keep new players safe in paintball. This starter pack comes with a padded chest protector, neck protector, and padded gloves.

Most of the time you will not feel anything, as the shots will just bounce off of you. The same applies if you wear a helmet. Except you will feel like a juggernaut when you take shots.

This is the most important aspect when trying to protect yourself. What you wear can significantly reduce the pain, or prevent it all together when you get hit.

For newer players, you should wear loose and thick clothing during airsoft or paintball. I would recommend some old sweatpants and a sweatshirt. This offers a nice thick layer of protection that you probably already have in your wardrobe.


The Most Painful Places to get shot in Airsoft / Paintball

  • Eyes  (wear a mask or goggles!)                                  
  • Teeth (wear a protective mesh mask!)
  • Ears
  • Hands and fingers (wear padded gloves!)
  • Lips
  • Crotch

To avoid permanent eye damage, it is important to wear a mask or goggles that are impact rated ANZI 87.1.

For paintballers: My veteran friend recommends this mask. It will do a great job protecting your eyes and your face from high impact paintballs.

For airsofters: I personally recommend these goggles if you are just starting, or even if you are a serious player. These are great quality for the price and I even still have my original pair from 6 years ago.


What Affects Pain in Airsoft And Paintball:

To summarize all the factors that determine the pain, here is the list:

  • the distance from the shooter
  • the wind conditions
  • the FPS rating of the weapon used
  • the mass of the projectile
  • the amount of clothing shielding you from the impact.
  • objects that absorb the impact before hitting the target


How Distance Affects Pain in Airsoft & Paintball

The speed of the BB or paintball heavily relies on distance. This is because the BB starts to drop off in velocity after a certain point.

For example, if someone is shooting at you from 150 feet, then you may not even feel your hit! For the pain at that distance, it can be a lot like throwing a BB at someone with your hands. So always be aware of your distance in regards to your opponent. It may save you a lot of pain!. Always try to keep your engagements to more than 50-feet to stay safe.

Also, take advantage of this knowledge and always try to double-tap people if they are at further distances —they are a lot more likely to feel your second shot than your first.


How the Wind Will Affect Your Shots

If you are a new player, then you may have not even thought about the wind’s effect on your shots. It actually matters quite a bit. Especially if the field you play at is an outdoor one. However, if you are an indoor player, then this is nothing to worry about (unless you have a plane engine running inside the arena).

Keep in mind that the wind mostly affects airsoft players, as paintball players are often engaging at really close distances.

When shooting against the wind, your BBs are going to struggle more to reach your target. This is because the speed of your BBs decreases.

Now when these forces act upon each other they cancel out a little bit.

Think of it as a game of tug of war. Your projectile is pulling on one side, and the wind is pulling on the other.

This means that if you are shooting with the wind, the opposite is true.

Your BB is going to travel faster, but it will also curve depending on the direction of the wind.Airsoft Wind

This makes the wind a tricky variable in the airsoft pain equation since it can go both ways.

So here some airsoft tips to help you when playing on an outdoor field:

  • Use BB’s that are .25g or higher, since this heavier weight works better in windy conditions
  • Think which way the wind is going and adjust your shots more left or more right, depending on the direction it is traveling
  • Try to get closer to your enemy — winded shots lose power


FPS Is Important in Paintball & Airsoft (to an extent)

FPS. It seems like that is all people talk about these days. FPS this. And FPS that.

Well, FPS is super important. And don’t forget.

FPS is the almighty speed of your gun. It tells you how fast your shot is traveling in feet per second. The higher the rating this is, the more it will generally hurt when you get shot.

To understand this better, just think of a car traveling at 20 miles an hour. If this car were to crash it would hurt a lot less than a car traveling at 60 miles an hour. The higher the speed, the higher the damage.

The average FPS for most airsoft replicas is 350-400 when rated with a .20g BB. This is a good place to be for your gun since most fields require you to chronograph under 400 FPS.

Some exceptions to this choro rule are usually snipers. The higher FPS on these guns helps the bb travel faster at long engagements.

So to summarize, the higher the FPS, the more pain you will feel when getting shot.

If you want to test your weapon’s FPS, you will need something called a chronograph.




Some Quick Tips Regarding your airsoft gun’s FPS

  • Try to upgrade your FPS if you use a DMR or sniper (check with your local field’s rules). 
  • Check for consistency – you may have air big leaks if you are getting more than a +/- 10 FPS deviation.

Lastly, know that FPS does not determine accuracy! This is a huge misconception for beginners in the airsoft community.


Pain on Indoor vs. Outdoor Fields – Something to Consider

Something that most people seem to forget about is the actual arena or field you play airsoft or paintball. This is important because this will decide how close of a distance you will be getting shot at. In most indoor fields, the average engagement with the opposing team is about 25-50 feet. However, sometimes this could drastically change if you go around a corner. Your engagement could be as close as 1 foot in this situation, which could be potentially dangerous. This is why you need to be sure that you have the right padding and gear to protect yourself.

Now when comparing this to an outdoor field, the average engagement distance is about 100-150 feet. This drastically increases as most outdoor fields tend to be much larger than their indoor counterparts.

This is why I would personally play on an outdoor field before getting comfortable with an indoor, or CQB field.

Other Notes: Trees and Bushes May Absorb Your Shots

Many people that play outdoors find that their shots are not hitting their target. Usually, this is because a shot passes through a tree or bush. Although you could shoot through these objects, they do not provide the ideal conditions for shooting at targets. Branches and leaves absorb part of the shot and reduce the energy exponentially. This is a good thing to keep in mind when playing on the field as you can use natural cover to take less hits and thus have less pain and welts. If you play airsoft, be sure to check out our article on heavier bbs and why you should use them if playing outdoors.


Weights of Projectiles Explained

This is the next part of the “pain” scale equation.

It all comes back to physics.

To explain this easily, the heavier the projectile is, the more energy potential it carries. So if you get shot by a .25g BB you will feel more pain than a .20g BB. This is similar to the paintball example I gave earlier.

Be Patient and Aware

If you want to reduce the number of times that you get shot, always be aware of your surroundings. I can’t tell you how many times I poked my head out like a fool and got hit.

Here are some tips to minimize your exposure:Airsoft Ambush

  • Watch your flanks! Remember that the enemy would like to ideally sneak up on you.
  • Take the longer route. You will definitely be safer, as most people will tire out easily and take the quick route.
  • Watch and listen to what your teammates are doing. They will let you know when to move up and when to fall back.
  • Be quiet. The enemy is listening for anything to find your location.
  • Have patience. Sometimes it is better for the enemy to come to you.
  • Know your exposure. Always have an idea of just how much cover you have and where you can move.

Follow Safety Rules

As a last precaution against getting hit, you should remember to obey all field and safety rules. These are here to protect you!

  • Never have a loaded weapon off the field.Airsoft-Safety-Selector
  • Make sure your safety is off
  • Never have your finger on the trigger, unless you are ready to shoot.
  • Have a barrel-sock when you are not playing
  • Have an orange flash hider on your weapon if you are not using it
  • Keep your weapon stored in a rifle bag or case, especially when transporting it
  • Unload your magazine before leaving the field
  • Make sure your chamber is cleared when putting your weapon away

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