Many people think that airsoft and paintball are dangerous, but the truth is neither one of these extreme sports produces more injuries than a common club sport (ie. basketball, football, baseball, etc). If you are thinking about joining either of these sports, all the power to you. However, while both sports are safe, airsoft is considerably more intimidating than paintball. The fire rate for airsoft guns is usually around 300-450 fps. Paintball guns rarely reach 300 fps, in fact, most paintball fields have restrictions that disallow players to have a fire rate above 300 fps.
Airsoft bb’s can pierce objects, including human skin. Paintballs are designed to inflict as small amount of pain as possible. Which is why a paintball is wider, and more blunt. Because of a paintballs large surface area, the force of a paintballs impact is distributed over a larger target area. Which causes there to be less pain in one specific area.
So while you will never receive an injury from a paintball making contact with a skin protected body part, airsoft bb’s can, and do, occasionally injure skin protected body parts. The reason for this, is because a paintball will never reach past the skin, but a bb can hit the bone. Airsoft bb’s rarely cause bone injuries, but there is documented evidence that these injuries do occur. Which does not apply to the friendly game of paintball. The most typical injuries from both sports are ankle and eye related. And for both sports, these injuries occur in the same way.
Ankle injuries cannot be avoided in any sport. If a player accidentally twists or rolls in an unnatural direction, an injury may occur. Ankle injuries happen in paintball and airsoft, but they also happen in just about every sport. Nothing we can do about these. For eye injuries, if a paintball or bb pellet contacts an unprotected eye, serious damage can be inflicted. The difference between eye injuries for airsoft and paintball is that paintball will usually leave temporary damage, but an airsoft bb in the eye will almost always cause permanent damage.
An experienced player from both sports knows that eye protection is an absolute must. And when the proper precautions are taken, both sports are very safe. That being said, airsoft will be too painful and scary for many prospective players. If the absence of danger and pain are your main criteria for airsoft vs paintball, then paintball is your best option.