Paintball is a widely recognized sport played by all different kinds of people and even in places such as colleges. However, within the recent years airsoft has come to emerge as a rapidly growing sport and rival to paintball. This has left the question to many aspiring players, "Which is Better?" To fully answer this question one must analyze the different aspects of each sport noting their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Cost: One of the first major differences between airsoft and paintball is the cost. In paintball the cost tends to be higher while in airsoft it's usually more moderate. A paintball gun, sometimes referred to as a "marker", can cost anywhere from $150-400 on average. An airsoft gun's average cost is somewhere between $75-300. While the initial cost of the gun is close the cost of upkeep is not. The sport of paintball uses paintballs as ammunition, these can cost 7-10 times as much as airsoft bbs do. When you take into consideration that most paintball games use up far more ammunition than airsoft, then it really starts to become apparent just how costly it can be. Spending 50 dollars for a days worth of ammo is not uncommon for paintball, airsoft players usually don't spend more than 20. Another factor to consider in the cost is maintenance: unless you use gas, electric and spring airsoft guns don't require costly CO2 canisters to function. Paintball guns also need to be cleaned and oiled regularly, although not as necessary, cleaning your airsoft gun isn't such a bad idea either.
Equipment: A typical setup for a paintball player is a marker, hopper, CO2 canister, extra paintballs, and protective gear. Paintballs being larger than airsoft bbs take up more space and require the use of larger packs to carry them into battle. This is another disadvantage for light travelers. Airsoft players have their airsoft gun, airsoft bbs, and protective gear. The guns for airsoft are also more realistic and lately manufacturers have started adding weight and metal to make them even more so. While both paintball and airsoft players use protective gear, airsoft players use lighter gear than paintball players do. This is easier on the wallet as well as encouraging for those of you allergic to pain. Yes it's true, paintball does hurt more than airsoft - the common spoken rule is welts for paintball and maybe a few marks for airsoft.
The Game Field: While paintball fields are common, airsoft is a different story. Due to paintball's popularity it is more widely supported, resulting in more areas to play. The downside is that it's also more commercialized and it is therefore uncommon to find to find free fields. Airsoft fields are often free to play at, but fewer which may require longer drives to get to. If you play airsoft often though, it can be quite economical compared to paintball. When playing airsoft you also have consider the fact that someone with a 700 dollar gun isn't going to have much of an advantage over you with your 300 dollar gun. In paintball, the gun's cost level can make big difference. A paintball field is often setup in a "speedball" layout, a square field with relatively low cover that implements fast paced action. Airsoft fields can cover more ground, are slower in action, and use less ammunition. Players in airsoft also frequently use real military gear as game wear, whereas the paintballers don't. Unlike paintball, airsoft promotes teamwork and strategy as part of the game. Scenarios such as hostage, rescue, frontline, and many others make airsoft a continually interesting sport to play.
Disadvantages: There are disadvantages in both airsoft and paintball. In paintball it's the cost and upkeep that is the main obstacle. In airsoft it's the problem of knowing when another player is out. Since airsoft bbs don't mark an opponent like paintballs do, airsoft relies more on players' honesty and integrity. Usually airsoft teams will ban a player that is caught cheating or being dishonest. That does not mean however that there is no cheating in paintball, many players have reported seeing other players "wiping paint like crazy". In paintball the heavy CO2 canisters can prevent swift movement and when combined with the top mounted hopper can be outright obstructive.
So which is better?: In comparison, airsoft can seem like a great choice for a low budgeted beginning action sport enthusiast. Then again some people prefer paintball because of it's faced paced adrenaline inducing action. The choice in the end is really up to your particular style. Although I would have to say that during this economic decline airsoft is bound to see an increase in popularity.
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