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Do Paintballs Go Bad? – Yes, They Can Expire

Paintballs’ structure consists of gelatin that can degrade over time, and this process accelerates by exposure to heat, humidity, and sunlight. As the paintballs break down, they become less spherical and more brittle, and this can cause them to break inside the marker upon firing. Paintballs may also dry out and become stiff and not shatter on impact. In either case, paintballs that are past their expiration date are not reliable.

Do Paintballs Expire and Go Out of Date?

Paintballs do expire, but they have a different shelf life than most other products. The expiration date on a paintball is when the manufacturer guarantees the ball will break on impact. After that date, the ball may or may not break on impact. However, most high-quality paintballs will not go bad and will continue to be usable many years after the expiration date. Softer paintballs may have a shorter shelf life than harder paintballs, but both types of balls will eventually expire (read more about paintballs)

How Long Does a Paintball Last?

Most paintballs will last 2-3 years if stored in a cool, dry place. Paintballs consist of biodegradable material, are non-toxic, and have an expiry date, but if stored properly, they can last much longer. 

How To Properly Store Paintballs to Increase the Shelf Life of Your Paintballs

To ensure that your paintballs do not deform, you must store them properly. Paintballs have a finite life span, meaning they will break down over time. The storage instructions for paintballs are simple: keep them dry and cool. Paintballs are made of gelatin and absorb moisture from the air, which will cause them to swell and become unusable. A plastic bag will help protect them from the humid air but should not be airtight as this can cause the paintballs to soften. If you are storing paintballs for a tournament, keeping them in a cool, dry place is best for optimal longevity.

What Temperature Should Paintballs Be Stored?

The best way to store paintballs at roughly room temperature is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 to 21 degrees Celcius. If the temperature is too low, the paintballs will become brittle and may break when fired. If the temperature is too high, the paintballs will become softer and may not break upon impact.

Factors that Affect the Shelf Life of a Paintball

The shelf life of a paintball depends on many factors, such as the paint used and how you store them. For example, if you keep your paintballs in a cool, dry place, they will last much longer than if you keep them in a hot, humid place. When you bring your paintballs to the field, avoid direct sunlight since that could make the gelatin or dye melt quickly and become unusable. Keep them in a bag or container in the shade away from direct sun exposure, ultraviolet rays, or in a temperature-controlled room if it’s scorching that day. And you better not leave them in a car on a sunny day.

It is essential to store paintballs in proper containers for several reasons:

  1. It keeps the paintballs from drying out and becoming brittle.
  2. It prevents the paintballs from absorbing moisture from the air, which can cause them to swell and become less accurate.
  3. It protects the paintballs from damage caused by light or heat exposure.

Generally speaking, paintballs should be discarded if they have expired, do not break on impact, or cracks in the barrel and jams up your paintball marker.

Can Paintballs Oxidate?

Paintballs may contain water-soluble dye and a petroleum-based lubricant. If there is oil in the paintballs, it can cause them to oxidize and become hard. If this happens, the paintballs will not break when they hit your opponent, will not leave a mark, and are useless in a paintball game.

How to Tell if Your Paintballs Have Gone Bad

You can tell if paintballs are bad by looking for dimples or oblong shapes on the ball’s surface. If the paintball is misshapen, it’s probably no good. Another way to tell is to do a drop test. Drop the ball from about waist height onto a hard surface. If the ball bounces more than a few inches off the ground, or if it cracks or shatters, it’s time to discard it.

Can You Use Old and Expired Paintballs?

Old paintballs can swell up inside the marker because they have become brittle and absorbed moisture from the air. You should not have this issue if your paintballs are appropriately stored. However, if you store your paintballs in humid conditions, they will become incredibly soft and fragile. As a result, it may break in the paintball firing chamber.

If you use expired or damaged paintballs, they may not break upon impact and could cause injury, or they could get stuck in your paintball gun and cause a lot of mess. If the paintballs are misshaped, they may not shoot straight. It is best to use new paintballs to ensure they will break and be safe.

How Paintballs Degrade Over Time

Paintballs’ delicate shells can degrade over time, especially if they are old; they can swell and become unusable. Old paintballs can also absorb moisture from the air, which weakens them and makes them less accurate. Their velocity can also decrease over time, making it more challenging to hit targets. Paintballs with dimples shot at close range can also cause problems with precision. Most paintballs are biodegradable, eventually breaking down in the environment.