Airsoft vs Paintball – Which Extreme Sport is More Dangerous

Airsoft vs Paintball – Which Extreme Sport is More Dangerous

Airsoft and paintball share many similarities, but they are far from created equal. Despite popular assumptions, both of these extreme sports are relatively safe and a ton of fun. Compared to some other disciplines, they are a walk in the park really. Statistics show that they do not produce significantly more injuries than any other competitive sport.

However, there are some risk factors involved. You should take them into account if you are in two minds when it comes to which sport to try out.  Most of the differences revolve around guns being used and projectile that they shoot. In any event, it is highly advisable to take precautions, get familiar with risks and safety practices, use appropriate gear and airsoft accessories. Taking these safety measures goes a long way towards minimizing the chances of things going south.

Guns make a difference

Let us observe the guns first. The fire rate is the most important differentiator and when it comes to airsoft guns, it is between 300 and 400 fps. On the other hand, paintball guns rarely reach 300 fps. In fact, many paintball fields explicitly disallow players from exceeding this threshold. It may not seem like much, but make no mistake— this is a considerable difference.

Namely, paintball ammunition is designed only to inflict a small amount of pain and besides, balls are blunt and wide. Regardless, in close quarters or point blank range, they can hurt more than little. Yet, that is still nothing compared to the notorious airsoft ammunition, which is capable of piercing various objects and human skin. This is not just due to higher fps, but also the fact that its force is not distributed over a large targeted area (ammo is smaller).

Playing with fire

One other thing to note is that because of the larger projectile, paintball inflicts pain more often. It is not at all uncommon to see players ending up with welts. This takes the form of severe injury when the impact is on the eye socket or throat. But, that is easy to swallow when you think about the pain airsoft deals, especially when the projectile lands on the unprotected part of the body.

The likelihood of the injury is also linked to the field you decide to play in. Some arenas have more obstacles and cover opportunities than the other. But, if you want to steer away from pain, injuries, and danger, then paintball is a better option for you. Those who do not mind these factors and want a realistic combat experience are better off opting for airsoft.

The real deal

Furthermore, let us not forget that airsoft is one of the best military simulations there is. Many people swear by it and deem skirmishes in this extreme sport far more thrilling than tame paintball encounters. Indeed, airsoft is more realistic and this gritty appeal is not just because the guns that are used look like real firearms.

Airsoft ammo also more accurate and it can injure skin, even when it is protected by gear. Occasionally, it hits the bone and leads to more serious consequences. Most common types of injuries occur in the eye and ankle area. This is, however, true for paintball as well. The difference, though, is that paintball injuries are temporary and in airsoft, they are of a more permanent nature.

Painting a different kind of picture

Then again, paintball is not the epitome of a safe extreme sport either. After all, paintball guns can bring additional risk to the mix. In general, players are able to choose between CO2 and high-pressure air. CO2 is a cheaper option, but the problem is that it can cause damage to the guns. It is more volatile in the process of converting from gas to liquid.

What is more, this gas is more affected by temperature changes. A temperature increase of just one degree can raise the pressure inside the CO2 tank by 11 psi. By the way, everything above 800 psi of internal pressure is not considered optimal. This spike in pressure can render gun unsafe to use and cause explosions of tanks. This is why professional and semi-professional tournaments utilize air pressure guns.

Fair and square

Players who take part in these extreme sports play a vital role in preserving or undermining safety. For instance, they can play hardball or deicide to avoid situations like close-range shots. And if someone decides to be a douche and shoot at players who hoist a white flag, then the risk of serious injury is certainly much higher. This brings us to an important point: how intensely do people want to engage in combat?

Ideally, all participants should have an open conversation about this beforehand. They need to grasp elements like muzzle velocity and optimal range. Individual play styles determine how exposed someone is to risk. It makes a huge difference if you decide to leave the protection of the cover and run across the battlefield in an attempt to pull a Rambo on the opposing team. So, do you want to play it safe or come charging and gun blazing?

On the safe side

As you can see, there are many different factors that shape the dangers and risks involved in two extreme sports. That being said, airsoft is generally a bit more intimidating, largely thanks to the type of guns and ammo used. Of course, this is precisely why so many people think paintball battles cannot match the experience it has to offer.

Wearing protective gear is an absolute-must in both sports, but the truth is that there is no way to completely eliminate the risks of suffering injuries. It always looms over you, which is part of the charm and appeal anyway. The decision comes down to what you crave for: a sense of realism or a safe and fun activity? Well, if you ask me, there is no need to throw caution to the win just to experience thrills.

Sean Lockwood

Sean is a programmer with a passion for extreme sports. Favourite extreme sports discipline is biathlon. Started this blog because of the great love for nature and adrenaline which results in something extreme like Extreme Sports Lab (ESL).

  • Dewald
    Posted at 8:25 pm, October 28, 2018


    Neither airsoft nor paintball are extreme sports. The term extreme sport describes a sporting activity where a mistake can lead to life-threatening injury or death. Neither of the sports need to be labeled dangerous in the same vane as bouldering. Both are modern combat sports and are categorized under soft adventure sports.


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