How Long Do Paintballs Last? Make it long Last.

Entry-level paintballs last about a year before degrading while mid-grade tournament paintballs last 2-3 years if properly stored. High-end paintballs last the longest at 3-5+ years with ideal storage conditions.

If you’ve played more than a few games of paintball, you’ve probably noticed your paintballs don’t always break on target as intended. A paintball that remains intact after a direct hit is incredibly frustrating.

While poor breaks can stem from low quality paint, often the age and storage conditions of paintballs have more influence on their performance. If you want paint that breaks reliably on target, it’s key to understand what dictates the lifespan of paintballs.

What Are Paintballs Made Of?

First, let’s look at what’s inside a paintball to understand why certain factors influence their longevity. Paintballs consist of a spherical gelatin or polyethylene glycol (PEG) shell that’s filled with a colored liquid, oil-based paint.

When fired from a paintball marker, the shell is designed to break on impact and leave a mark of paint on your target.

Mid-grade paintballs use a gelatin shell, the same material used to make pharmaceutical capsules. It’s designed to be just rigid enough to withstand firing but breakable upon impact. High-end tournament grade paintballs tend to use PEG rather than gelatin for more durability and consistent breaks. it is important to wear proper Dress while inter into battle.

The fill of a paintball can be oil-based or water-based. Oil-based fills last considerably longer over time versus water-based options. They also perform better in cold weather.

How Do Storage Conditions Affect Lifespan?

Storage conditions play a critical role in dictating how long your stock of paintballs will last before going bad. The three main factors are temperature, humidity, and exposure to light and UV rays. Here’s how each impacts the lifespan of your paint:

  • Temperature – Heat speeds up the breakdown of paintball shells and causes the fill to degrade faster. Storing paintballs in excessively hot conditions like a garage or shed during summer will rapidly shorten their lifespan. The ideal storage temperature is around 55°F. Refrigerating paint isn’t practical for most players, but trying to keep them in the coolest spot available helps.
  • Humidity – Moisture in the air causes paintball shells to soften and swell. It also degrades oil-based fills. Keep your paintballs in an area with low relative humidity around 35-45% if possible. Using an airtight storage container helps shield them from humidity.
  • Light Exposure – UV light and sunlight accelerates the breakdown of paintball shells and fills. Store paintballs in darkness whenever possible. If briefly exposed to light during a day of play, get them back into a dark storage container as soon as possible afterward.

Following proper storage guidelines can easily extend the lifespan of a case of paintballs from a few months to a few years. The payoff is money saved on buying less paint and consistent performance on the field.

How Long Do Properly Stored Paintballs Last?

Here is a table summarizing the lifespan of different grades of paintballs:

Paintball GradeExpected LifespanOverview
Entry-levelAround 1 year Very affordable, less durable
Mid-grade tournament2-3 years with ideal storageMost common recreational paintball
High-end tournament3-5+ yearsPremium paint for professionals

With ideal storage conditions, here are the general lifespan expectations based on paintball grade:

  • Entry-level paintballs – Around 1 year lifespan before quality degradation. These are very affordable but less durable than higher grades.
  • Mid-grade tournament paintballs – 2 to 3 year lifespan with ideal conditions. The most common choice for recreational play and scenario games.
  • High-end tournament paintballs – 3 to 5+ year potential lifespan. Premium formulations for top level tournament players.

Even with flawless storage, paintballs gradually become more brittle and fragile with age as the materials degrade. Older paint tends to load poorly in markers and splits in barrels more often. Check manufacture dates when buying paint. Using stock that’s more than a few years old risks poor performance, unless they are high-end paints designed for extended longevity.

For the average recreational player, buying mid-grade paintballs in bulk and maintaining proper storage can set you up with enough paint for 1-3 years of play. Avoid the constant rotation of paint that cuts down on lifespan.

Signs Your Paintballs Are Going Bad?

With time, even properly stored paintballs will eventually go bad. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Brittle or fragile shells – Older paintball shells become stiff and crack much easier. You may deal with more balls breaking in your marker’s feed ramp.
  • Separating fill – The paint fill may appear watery or separated rather than a smooth consistency inside the shell. This causes poor marking performance.
  • Issues with your marker – If your paintballs suddenly have frequent chopping or barrel breaks, brittleness from age may be the culprit.
  • Poor splatter on impact – Outdated paint often fails to fully break on target. The paint either doesn’t mark at all or leaves just a small splat rather than covering the target.

While these issues can arise from poor quality paint, if you’ve had no problems with fresh paint from a case and the issues emerge over time, age is likely the main factor.

Maximizing the Lifespan of Your Paintballs

Here are some tips to maximize the lifespan of your paintball supply:

  • Buy name brand paintballs from reputable companies like GI Sportz, Empire, and Valken. Avoid the cheapest options.
  • Purchase mid-grade paint in bulk if your budget allows. Buying a whole pallet of paint saves money per case and ensures supply.
  • Inspect boxes for manufacture date when buying. Don’t stock up on old paint.
  • Store paintballs sealed in their original box inside an airtight plastic container. Add silica gel packs to combat humidity.
  • Keep your storage area as cool as possible year round. Avoid exterior sheds or garages if they get hot.
  • Store paint out of direct sunlight and away from light sources. Keep paint somewhere dark.
  • Avoid constant back-and-forth of paint. Don’t take all your paint to the field each time if you don’t plan to use it all.
  • Check paintballs periodically for signs of deterioration like brittleness and let older paint go first.
  • Consider a temperature controlled storage unit if you have room in your budget and want to extend lifespan over 5 years.

Taking these steps allows most recreational players to buy quality paintballs in bulk for a full year or more of play. Combine proper storage with monitoring for signs of aging, and you’ll have paint that’s ready to fly straight and break on target during any paintball match.


In summary, there are several key factors that determine the lifespan of your stock of paintballs. Proper storage conditions like cool, dry, and dark environments can extend the life of mid-grade paint to 2-3 years. Even with ideal conditions, paintballs will eventually become brittle and fragile with age.

Check for signs of deterioration like splatters and barrel breaks. Buying name brand paint in bulk and minimizing temperature fluctuations saves money and ensures you have fresh paint ready for every paintball match. With the right storage and monitoring of your supply, you can keep quality paintballs on hand for seasons of competitive play.

Leave a comment