How Long Do Paintballs Last and How to Store Them Properly

How long do paintballs last

Do you have an old bag of paintballs lying around that you’re not sure if they’re still good or not? Or maybe you just bought a box of paintballs at your local field and now you’re wondering what’s the best way to store them?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

The average shelf life of paintballs is 3-6 months, but they can last up to a year or longer if properly stored. However, there are many different types of paintballs on the market, with each brand/type having a different shelf life than the next. This is due to variation in ingredients, shell thickness/hardness, and paint consistency. 

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell exactly how long a bag or box of paintballs will last until you test it out for yourself. And in some cases, you may even buy two boxes of the same kind of paint, just to have one box expire long before the other. This can be dependant on many different factors, some of which are completely out of your control. 

Now, there are some steps you can take to extend the shelf life of your paintballs, and thereby save you money in the process. And it’s extremely important that you take good care of your paintballs as there is nothing worse than having a ball break in your marker, loader, or barrel. 

Continue reading to learn how to extend the shelf life of paintballs, how to tell if paintballs are bad, and what to do with old/broken paintballs that are no longer good.

Do Paintballs Expire?

While it’s obvious that paintballs are going to get worse over time, do they actually expire?

Yes, paintballs are going to expire over a certain period of time. How long that period of time is going to be will vary from paintball to paintball. Like I said before, every single paintball is going to be made differently, so they’re all going to have a different shelf life.

While most paintballs are going to start to go bad after around 3-6 months, some paintballs can last up to a year or longer and still perform great in most markers. Some players even report paintballs shooting fine when they’re up to 2 years old, although I can’t deny or confirm these reports.

How to Tell If Paintballs Are Bad 

Being able to tell if paintballs are bad or not is essential in the sport of paintball. After all, you don’t want your paintballs flying all over the place, or even worse break in your marker, loader, or barrel.

Below are some of the obvious signs that a paintball has gone bad.

  • Soft spots
  • Dimples
  • Oblong shape (no longer a sphere)
  • Hard as a rock
  • Close to a year old or older
  • Left out of bag
  • Left in extreme weather conditions (hot, cold, or humid)

Now if a paintball doesn’t have any of the qualities listed above, then the last test you can perform to see if a paintball is good or not is to perform the drop test. The drop test is when you drop a paintball from around elbow height on an average person and if it breaks on the first or second test then the paint should be good to go.

Read More: What to Wear for Paintball

However, there are some paintballs (such as Graffiti) that are purposely designed to be hard to work better for magfed paintball. Now if you’re not playing magfed paintball, then you may want to opt for slightly more brittle paint. Otherwise, you’re risking bounces for no reason.

How to Store Paintballs for Longevity

To understand how to properly store paintballs for longevity, you first need to learn what a paintball is made of and how those ingredients react with the environment. For starters, the shell of a paintball is made of both gelatin and glycerin. And when these two ingredients are exposed to extreme weather conditions, a lot of changes can take place. 

For example, if paintballs are stored in hot and humid weather, the shell can eventually soften, change shape (flat spots and dimples), and even absorb water (swell up). Whereas in extremely cold weather conditions the air is typically dry and will pull water out of the shell, forcing the paintball to become brittle and crack at the slightest touch. So unless you want to be constantly cleaning the internals of your loader, marker, and/or barrel, you may want to keep your paintballs from being exposed to temperatures of 15° – 30°F or lower.

Bonus Tip: Winter paintballs are made with a thicker shell and are perfect for cold weather play.

Now the best way to store paintballs long-term would be under the conditions below.

Optimal conditions for paintballs:

  • Temperature range of 60° – 85°F
  • 40% – 50% maximum humidity 
  • Stored in an airtight container
  • Not exposed to UV lights

This means no storing paintballs in your garage people. Either store them under your bed, in your closet, or anywhere else they can be kept under the optimal conditions listed above. And if you’re worried about your paintballs being exposed to the air after you open a bag, you may want to invest some of your hard-earned money in an airtight container such as a paintball caddy (find on Amazon.com).

A paintball caddy is extremely useful because it almost completely blocks out oxygen and humidity from reaching your paintballs, thereby extending the lifespan of your paint as long as possible. 

How to Store Paintballs During a Game

You may also want to consider how you store your paintballs during a day of play. 

If the weather is exceedingly hot outside (over 85°F), then you may want to avoid leaving your paintballs sitting on the table outside in the heat. However, it’s also not a good idea to leave your paintballs sitting out in a hot car all day either. While the inside of a hot car may not be extremely humid, it can get up to 45°F hotter than the already hot temperature outside the car.

So what do you do?

If you want to keep your paintballs in great condition then you need to either turn your AC on as much as possible during the day to keep the temperature from exceeding 85°F, or freeze some ice-packs (find them on Amazon.com) the night before game-day and place those in a cooler with your unopened or closed paintball bags.

Now if the weather is exceptionally cold outside then you want to do the opposite. Either leave your paintballs in the car with your heater on so they don’t succumb to temperatures below 60°F, or place heat packs in a cooler with your unopened or closed bags of paintballs. If you do use the cooler idea, then I would keep the bags of paintballs from directly touching the cold or heat packs just to be safe.

How to Discard Old and Broken Paintballs

If the worst has come true and your paintballs have gone bad, then (depending on how bad they’ve gone) you either want to use them for messing around in the backyard, or you want to simply discard them and save yourself the pain of having to clean your loader, barrel, or marker after a paintball breaks inside. 

But how should you discard them?

If for some reason you don’t want to just throw them in the trash, you can always pour all of your paintballs into something along the lines of a 5-gallon bucket and soak them in water until they’ve completely dissolved. Once they’re dissolved, just pour out the gelatin/dye-infused liquid out in the yard somewhere (preferably away from nice plants and trees) and wash out your bucket afterward.

Read More: Paintball Safety Rules and Regulations

Don’t worry about damaging the environment either, as paintballs are made out of non-toxic and biodegradable materials. After all, paintballs were originally used to mark trees and cattle, so you should be fine discarding them in your yard. However, I wouldn’t recommend just tossing them out in the yard if you can avoid doing so. They could take a fairly long time to dissolve on their own, and you certainly don’t want some neighbor kid playing around with giant water-filled paintballs outside of your house.

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Woodsball player, magfed player, automag owner, paintball sniper. Have played woodsball and scenario paintball (on and off) since 2007 and still loving the game!

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