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Old 11-25-2012, 03:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Paintball: What is the true cost of entertainment?

So we all know that paintball is a luxury sport and in order to play, you have to have some financial means.

That's pretty much a given for our sport of choice.

So I made it to Buffalo, NY and I decided to google paintball and see if there are any stores nearby that I can browse around inside.

Anywho, one of the nearest "paintball" related results kicked out an airsoft store.

Now, we can say whatever we want about airsoft, but it gave a pretty interesting breakdown of the cost of paintball and the costs of airsoft.

So from the website:
Long-term costs to play: Airsoft vs. Paintball

Okay... let's do a long-term comparison of the costs to play both airsoft and paintball.

Our demonstration player:We're going to create a fictional player that plays both sports. Our imaginary player (we'll call him "Harry") lives in the Northeast US and will play from March through October of the year. He has good equipment for both sports; not low-end, but not top-of-the-line either. Solid, brand-name gear, firmly in the middle of the price spectrum. He does know enough to use premium ammo in his guns, and will be diligent about maintenance on his weaponry.

Playing habits:Harry is an active player who plays every weekend throughout the season. He attends a skirmish or scrimmage three times a month, and one tournament or operation per month. Harry is a front-line player, who positions himself in the thick of the action, and as a good teammate, lays down good cover fire for his fellow players. On average, Harry will fire 4000 shots during a day-long skirmish, and 10000 shots during a weekend-long tournament.

Equipment purchases:Harry needs to get geared up first before starting to play. He's going to buy his paintball equipment from Tippmann, and his airsoft equipment from The War Store. Harry is going to stick with solid, "bread-and-butter" guns; proven performers in a mid-priced, affordable range.

We will not consider shipping charges or sales tax during this discussion.

He goes to Tippmann's website and looks for a Tippmann A-5 Flatline package that includes the gun, hopper and 20 oz. air tank. The Tippmann A-5 Basic Package #002 has those components, and costs $360. He will also shoot top-quality paint and chooses PMI Marballizer paintballs priced at $55 for one case of 2000 shots to use throughout the season.

Harry stops into The War Store for his airsoft needs. He chooses a G&G GR16 A3 Carbine (M4 with a full stock) for $260. It comes with one 450-round magazine. He purchases an 8.4V 3800mah rechargeable battery for $38 and a smart fast charger for $30. Harry will shoot top-quality BB's and chooses G&G premium seamless polished ammo priced at $16 for one bag of 5000 rounds to use through out the season.

Both sports will require eye/face protection and uniforms, but the costs for those items for either sport are about the same.

Maintenance:Paintball guns require a fair amount of maintenance and cleaning. Harry will spend about one hour after each game cleaning and lubing his paintball gun. Airsoft guns require far less maintenance. Roughly 10 minutes of cleaning and lubing after each game, and a once-per-year inspection of the internals of the gearbox which takes about two hours.

Harry will play a total of 32 games in each sport throughout the season.

CO2 vs. battery costs:I called several places in my area and filling a 20 oz. CO2 tank averaged $4. Shots per tank vary depending on firing habits and outside temperature, but for our purposes we'll figure a high estimate of 1000 shots per full 20 oz. tank.

A rechargeable 8.4V 3800mah NiMH battery requires 3.8 amps of electricity to charge. 3.8 amps times 120V (standard wall outlet power) equals 456 Watts of power. Residential electricity rates in New York State are the third highest in the nation. Electricity costs about 14 cents per kilowatt hour. The cost to charge our airsoft battery each time will be 6.38 cents. Shots per charge will vary with firing habits, but for our purposes we'll figure a high estimate of 7500 shots per fully charged battery.

Total ammo usage:22000 shots per month times 8 months equals 176,000 total rounds. That's (88) 2000 count cases of paintballs at $55 each, or (35.2) 5000 count bags of BB's at $16 each.

(Remember, this is assuming that you could play paintball at a field that allows you to bring your own paint; unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Field paint typically costs 1.5 to 2 times what store-bought paintballs do.)

CO2 fills vs. battery recharges: 176,000 rounds will require Harry's CO2 tank to be refilled 176 times at $4 each. Harry's airsoft battery will need to be recharged 23.46 times at 6.38 cents each.

At this point, I think we have enough information to tabulate the annual costs of both airsoft and paintball. Let's make a chart and see how much it cost Harry to purchase his gear, and play each sport for eight months.


Paintballs cost 8.59 times more than airsoft BB's.

CO2 propellant is 472.48 times more expensive than the electricity needed to charge an airsoft battery.

Overall, paintball financially costs 6.61 times more than airsoft to play.

Paintball requires 4.36 times more labor than airsoft in equipment maintenance.


I found that writeup to be very interesting and a bit more eye opening for a somewhat outside look into paintball.

Paintball sure costs a ton, but have do we truly spent that "much" in comparison to other hobbies/sports/entertainment?
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