How Long Do Paintballs Last & How To Make Them Last Longer

If you’re just getting into paintball, you might be wondering how long your paintballs will last. Well, on average, paintballs will last 4-8 months before expiring. But, like a lot of things, it really depends on your specific situation.

Factors like humidity, temperature, and sunlight can change all affect shelf life of your paintballs.

Thankfully, if you follow some simple steps, you can avoid these common paintball-killers and enjoy rounds that last for an entire year. Here’s what you should know:

Two Major Factors That Affect How Long Your Paintballs Will Last

how long do paintballs last in storage


The shell holding a paintball’s paint is mostly made from gelatin, and the interior paint is usually made from polyethylene glycol. Both substances are water-soluble, meaning contact with moisture will lead to deterioration.

That brings us to the first major concern for paintball storage: Humidity.

Paintballs need to stay dry, so you should store them in a sealed, dry container. Generally, paintballs will come from the store in a plastic container with a lid.

These are usually a good storage setup when it comes to avoiding water, but some will have ill-fitting lids that let in moisture from the air.

If that’s the case with your container, you should find a new one with a secure, tight lid. If you live in a particularly humid climate, you might want to consider purchasing a container with a rubber seal for extra protection. 

Sun Damage 

Just like your skin, the sun will damage paintballs. That’s because the sun’s ultraviolet rays will break down each round’s shell over time, potentially leading to thinner shells that break in your paintball gun’s barrel.

You might also end up with brittle shells due to dehydration. That’s right, paintballs can’t get too wet or too dry. But don’t worry; simply storing your rounds in a cabinet or closet can help avoid sun exposure.

You should also note that using dried paintballs can be dangerous.

Dried shells are often misshapen and hard, potentially leading to serious injuries should your paintball gun seize up. If your paintballs are dried out, it’s best to dispose of them and buy new ones.

What Temperature Should Paintballs Be Stored At?

How do you keep paintballs fresh

Because of their chemical composition, paintballs are impacted by their surrounding temperatures. If too cold, the rounds will become brittle and stiff. If too warm, the rounds might become softer and misshaped. 

To avoid these risks, store paintballs at temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If those temperatures are too low to easily maintain, don’t opt for keeping your rounds in a refrigerator. Instead, find a shaded area in your home, such as a cabinet. 

Paintballs Expiration Dates

do paintballs expire

Now that you know how to store paintballs, you may be wondering what that expiration date on your new batch means.

Generally, paintball manufacturers will give their products a three-month expiration date. But as mentioned, proper storage techniques can help lengthen that shelf life. 

However, paintballs aren’t just impacted by the temperature, sunlight, and humidity.

They’re also impacted by gravity. Because of their spherical shape, paintball rounds will flatten over time, especially if they’re trapped at the bottom of your paintball barrel. 

Following the previously discussed storage practices will help your paintballs’ shells remain durable, but the flattening effect will still be an issue.

To reduce gravity’s impact, try purchasing enough rounds to be used within six months. If you can’t use them within that timeline, try using rounds from the bottom of your storage container.

This helps use up the most at-risk paintballs before they flatten and become unusable.

So is it even safe to use paintballs after they have expired? It depends (again). While it’s generally a good idea to focus on using fresh rounds, you may find yourself with a pack of 2,000 paintballs that expired a couple of months ago.

If that’s the case, there are a few things you should look for before loading up your rounds and shooting:


When paintballs get old, they might start dimpling. This means they end up with indentations on the shell’s surface, making them ineffective rounds. Usually, this dimpling is caused by humidity.

When the shell’s water content gets too high, the surface becomes weaker and can crease or dent. 

But heat can also play a role in dimpling. While paintballs aren’t likely to melt in typical heat conditions, warm temperatures can cause the shell to weaken, resulting in dimpling.

If you stored your paintballs properly and they still end up dimpled, they’re probably too old. Paintballs won’t last forever, and even the most careful storage will inevitably result in decay eventually. 


Similar to dimpling, paintballs with flat edges are often the result of humidity or heat.

And just like other paintball flaws, flattening can be due to age or poor storage. If a paintball has been stored properly but is still flattened, it’s probably just too old. 


Cracked paintballs are one of the most common indicators of age when it comes to storage in dry climates.

If you store your rounds properly in a region with low humidity, the paintballs are likely to dry out over time instead of becoming too wet. 

If your paintballs are cracked, you should dispose of them. Dry paintballs are likely to damage your gun and require time-consuming cleaning.

If the dried rounds make it through your barrel in one piece, you might end up with injured opponents due to the harder surface area. 

But What If They’re In Good Condition? 

As discussed, expired paintballs can have many flaws that make them unusable. But if your paintballs are past their best-by date while remaining in good condition, you should be good to go.

Ultimately, paintballs are only “expired” if their condition makes them unusable or dangerous. 

Paintballs Warnings And Care

how long do paintballs last unopened

Besides proper storage, taking time to ensure good paintball conditions, and avoiding craked paintballs, there are a few other things you should know about keeping yourself and your paintballs safe.

1. Never use frozen paintballs.

Although it may sound harmless, using frozen paintballs can be extremely dangerous.

In sub-freezing temperatures, paintballs will become hard like a rock. Shooting them in this condition can lead to shattered glass, bruised skin, and even broken bones. 

2. Use a zip lock bag.

Storing your paintballs in a hard container is a good way to avoid crushing them, but it might not be the best option when it comes to avoiding humidity.

If you don’t have a replacement for your paintballs’ original barrel, place your rounds in a zip lock plastic bag then put them back in the container.

3. Rotate your paintballs (even if you aren’t using them).

It’s always a good idea to use the paintballs at the bottom of your container first to avoid misshaped rounds. But if you aren’t using your paintballs for a while, you should still rotate them to reduce pressure on the bottom layer. 

What Happens If You Use Expired/Damaged Paintballs?

can i use old paintballs

While it may be tempting to save money and use paintballs that are in poor condition instead of buying new ones, it’s just not worth it. Here’s what may happen if you use damaged paintballs.

Paintball Gun Malfunctions & Damage 

If you use a damaged paintball, it may explode in your gun.

This isn’t a big deal when you just get a little pain in your barrel, but it becomes a time-consuming and potentially expensive problem when the paint and shell interfere with your gun’s internal functions.

In fact, it might end up costing you more to repair a damaged gun than to simply buy new paintballs. If you’re using a magazine with your gun, you could also damage your equipment before a round even reaches the barrel.

Because of their spring system, magazines apply force on your paintballs as they wait to be fired. This force might break already weak rounds and lead to debris throughout your magazine. 

Hurt Players

Paintball is fun until someone gets seriously injured. A damaged paintball can lead to bruises, broken bones, and shattered glass. This is a particularly big concern when it comes to frozen or dry paintballs.

In some cases, a damaged paintball might break your opponent’s protective mask, leading to serious injury. 

The Final Word

All these warnings might seem overwhelming, but don’t get scared off. Paintball is a great way to socialize, stay active, and have fun. Taking simple steps to keep you and your equipment safe means you can play for years to come.

So remember, keep your paintballs dry, cool, and out of direct sunlight. And no matter what, don’t use damaged rounds. The cost of repairs and the potential damage they might cause just isn’t worth it. Have fun and stay safe! 

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