Can You Use Old Paintballs?

Paintballs usually come with an expiration date. But what happens after this expiration date expires? Are your paintballs still good to use?

old paintballs
Paintballs have an expiration date and you can’t use old paintballs.

Can you use old paintballs? No, you can’t use old paintballs. Old age can cause the paint filling to separate, which causes the shell to absorb moisture. This makes the paintballs swell, and the balls are more prone to bouncing off of targets instead of breaking and covering them in the paint. 

The rest of this article will discuss the problems old paintballs can cause, how long paintballs typically last, how to store paintballs, and how to tell if paintballs are bad.

What Problems Can Old Paintballs Cause?


When paintballs are allowed to sit for a long time, the paintball fill separates, and the shells absorb moisture over time. This causes the paintballs to swell, making them prone to get crushed easier and bounce a lot. They don’t shoot from the marker well either.

Old paintballs might be the reason for your paintballs to curve. If you want to know other reasons why paintballs would curve and how to avoid it, then read this article.

Squishiness and Brittleness

Temperature, humidity, and dryness can also affect paintballs. Hot temperatures can make them soft and squishy. Too cold and they turn brittle. And, if they experience heat and cold alternatingly, they will expand and contract, resulting in the creation of dimples or divots on the balls.

old paintballs may curve
If you don’t want your paintballs to fly everywhere but where you aim, then you shouldn’t use old paintballs. Old paintballs are less sturdy and can break in your barrel. Moreover they might not break on impact.


Paintballs that get wet in storage lose moisture and are likely becoming smaller in size. Wipe clean and test them. If they break dependably, you can use them. 

Barrel Clogs

Some brands become more fragile than others as wetted paintballs dry. These less sturdy paintballs can break in the barrel and clog the gun.


You also shouldn’t place paintballs in direct sunlight, as the UV rays can break them down. 


Not properly storing paintballs can also lead to small divots on the sides of the balls, which can increase breakage. These problems don’t prevent you from using the paintballs, but they will decrease the usefulness of the paint.

How paintballs age depends on the manufacturer, type of ball, and the batch in which they were made. 

Some paintballs will become hard and will not break when they’re shot. Others will become extremely brittle. Some will become soft and may slightly swell when stored in a humid area so that they don’t fit into a paintball marker’s firing chamber.

How Long Do Paintballs Last?

paintballs last around 3 months
Paintballs usually last longer than the retailers claim. But for that to be true you need to store them properly. Flipping them over occasionally helps also.

According to retailers who sell the product, a paintball’s shelf life is about three months.

There are paintball players who claim that they have used paintballs for nearly a year. However, they also admit that paintballs become less likely to break over time.

If properly stored, paintballs can last as long as a year.

Paintballs that are kept sealed in the original packaging and refrigerated will last for a year. This can help because refrigerated paintballs tend not to dimple. 

It is advised that you test paintballs older than three to four months for proper breaking. You can do this by shooting at a cardboard box. If the paintball you shoot doesn’t break, toss the rest in the trash.

Pro Tip: Flipping over the paintballs every few weeks also prevents the paint in the balls from settling in one place.

How To Properly Store Paintballs

If you want to assure longevity, paintballs need to be stored appropriately. When storing them, keep in mind that they are perishable. They have a life span, and they are biodegradable, so they will break down over time.

Many manufacturers of paintballs provide instructions on how to store them on the package. However, not all packages that contain paintballs have storage instructions.

A good rule of thumb is to store them in a dry, cool place and to rotate them over time. The dryness prevents them from absorbing moisture and swelling when they’re in cool temperatures (50°F to 70°F; 10°C-21°C ). Keep paintballs away from environments that have extreme temperature swings.

Note: The room’s humidity should be no more than 50 percent.

Keep stored in a plastic bag that is at least 4 millimeters thick. A moisture-barrier freezer bag would be ideal. The balls can also be stored in tubes or pods that have a snug-fitting cap. 

Keep the containers closed. The more humid the environment, the more important it is to protect the balls from moisture. As mentioned above, excess moisture can decrease their ability to break on impact. 

Keep the balls sealed, shaded from the sun, and shielded from the cold.

Too much heat can cause the gelatin shell to soften, resulting in a deformed ball. It will bounce more. In this condition, it is recommended that you don’t feed into the paintball marker.

Never leave paintballs in the direct sun or a hot trunk.

When on the field playing the game, try to keep paintballs at a temperature of 60°F to 70°F ( 15°C-21°C ). Paintballs that get too cold will deform over time, and no matter what you do, you can’t return them to their normal round shape.

Do what you can to prevent paintballs from getting much hotter than room temperature, or they’ll stick together. Paintballs that get melted together are totally unusable, as they’ve lost the round shape required to load a paintball in a gun and fire it. 

Amazon and sporting good stores offer pods that are ideal for storing paintballs. The pods are plastic containers that include a flip-open lid. They come in a variety of sizes, including 10, 80, 100, and 140-round. 

These 150 round paintball pods are among the most popular ones – Amazon Link.

Larger 140-round pods are also available and are commonly used by players who participate in tournaments. Pod packs or harnesses are used to carry the pods when a player competes.

How To Tell If Paintballs Are Bad

Inspect your new paintballs for soft spots, dimples, and shape. They should be perfectly round. If they appear pear-shaped or oblong, then they won’t launch properly from the marker.

Feel the paintballs. They should feel tough but not brittle. They need to be tough enough to shoot from the marker, but brittle enough to break when they hit an opponent. If it is too strong, it won’t break when it needs to, and if it’s too brittle, they won’t make it out of the marker.

The paintball needs to be clean to ensure accuracy. If there are contaminants like broken paint, oil, water, dirt, or other foreign substance on the shell, they will coat the barrel of the marker and cause inaccurate shots.


Don’t take the age of your paintballs for granted. Over time they may develop problems that could render them unusable.

  • Problems manifest in paintballs over time. Hot temperatures make them soft and squishy. If they get too cold, they could become brittle. If they experience alternating cold and hot temperatures, they will expand and contract, causing dimples or divots. If they lose moisture, they will shrink in size. If they absorb moisture, they will swell in size.
  • The shelf life of paintballs is three months. If they are well protected, they may last for as long as a year.
  • Paintballs should be stored in a dry and cool place with temperatures ranging between 50°F to 70°F. Store them in a plastic bag that is at least 4 millimeters thick or in a tube or paintball pod with a tight-fitting cap. Keep them away from moisture and heat, as well as from direct sunlight.
  • Inspect new paintballs to determine if they’re bad. Look for soft spots, dimples and pear or oblong shape.
  • Feel new paintballs to determine if they’re bad. They need to be tough enough to shoot from the marker, but brittle enough to break when they hit an opponent.