The Complete Guide to CS:GO Skins

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What are CSGO skins? Depends on who you ask. Some people do not care about CSGO skins at all. For others, they are just a fun little addition to the game that is a welcome change in the monotony that can get to you after hundreds of hours of the same maps, loadouts, and strategies. There are also those that live and breathe CSGO skins – they are either collectors or veteran traders. For them, CSGO skins are a good investment treated as a serious, and often very profitable, business.

Skinwallet cares as much for the cool artwork as for the pure interest in gaming and knowledge of veteran skin traders. We want to be your best source of information about CSGO skins, skin trading, as well as some other topics related to either CSGO skins or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive itself. 

This post will be entirely devoted to the topic of CSGO skins with all their intricacies, important characteristics, terminology, and everything else that should appear in a complete CSGO skins guide. So, without further ado, let’s jump into it

This post will be entirely devoted to the topic of CSGO skins with all their intricacies, important characteristics, nomenclature, and everything else that should appear in a complete CSGO skins guide. So, without further ado, let’s jump into it.

CSGO Skins Rarity

CSGO skins rarity is one of the most important qualities or features that every skin has. Skin rarity, also known as skin grade is arbitrarily prescribed to a given skin by Valve’s team. The grade has an impact on the statistical chance of dropping or uncasing a weapon skin, knife, or gloves, thus rendering higher grade skins much rarer than the lower grade CSGO skins.

There are currently eight rarity grades in CSGO. Each of these rarity grades has its general price range as well as some well-known skins of that rarity grade. In the context of CSGO skins rarity, usually the rarer the skin the more expensive it gets.  .

Consumer Grade (White)

The most common and widespread skins. You can usually drop the as the random drop after a game of CSGO. Most of the Common CSGO skins cost just a few cents. Good for Trade Up contracts.

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Industrial Grade (Light blue)

A bit rarer than Consumer Grade, but still quite common. Likewise, they are often dropped as random weekly rewards after matches.  They usually cost a couple of cents up to couple dollars.

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Mil-Spec (Blue)

The first grade that drops from any Weapon Case. There is a lot of them on the market. Alternatively, Blue skins can be easily obtained through Trade Up contracts and are often used in Trade Up contracts themselves. They usually const few dollars at most, but can reach dozens or even a $100.

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Restricted (Purple)

Much more difficult to get, usually a fruit of Weapon Case opening or Trade Up contracts. This is the most numerous rarity grade that still has some interesting weapon skins. Their prices can differ from a few dollars up to a couple of hundreds. Restricted skins are often considered a sweet spot in CSGO skins trading and investing. 

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Classified (Pink)

Very rare and quite expensive. Many interesting skins are part of the Classified rarity grade. Due to their rarity and average prices, Restricted skins are often considered a sweet spot in CSGO skins trading and investing. 

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Covert (Red)

The rarest weapon skins. Most of them are assault rifle and CSGO knife skins, with some AWPs and pistols. They can get extremely expensive, depending on their style and exterior quality.

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Contraband (Orange)

Reserved for CSGO skins that were available to drop at some point in-game, but, for different reasons, were removed from the roster. Currently, there is only one Contraband grade skin in CSGO: M4A4 | Howl. 

Extraordinary (Gold)

This category includes all CSGO gloves. Every item from this category is considered an “exceedingly rare” item. Depending on the item or skin, they can cost a couple hundred up to a couple of thousands of green, American dollars. 

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If you’re eager to learn more details about skin quality and rarity, read our dedicated article on that topic.

Why are CSGO skins popular now?

Maybe it’s too early to expect the best CSGO skins to be featured in prime time TV advertisements, but you can see the consciousness of CSGO items imprinted more strongly within the common media user. Surely, the historical trades like the car-worth AWP | Dragon Lore help to spread rumors, but cornerstones alone won’t do the trick.

It would be a safe bet to say that the breaking point was when Counter-Strike: Global Offensive switched to a free-to-play distribution. Previously, the skin trade was limited mostly to people who bought the game. Now even casual players without Prime status can easily obtain several skins a week and start trading them in the global marketplace. This also enabled people to consider buying certain digital products as an investment for the future.

On a side note, in its several years of existence, CSGO has accumulated a big selection of weapon skins, gloves, agents skins, and stickers that make it much more easier and interesting to customize your loadout and outfit ingame. After all, Counter-Strike is entertainment, and personalized entertainment is always on top, but we’ll look at that in a moment.

What are the ways of obtaining CSGO Skins?

Generally speaking, skins of almost all grades can be found in the game in one way or another. However, the precise method, availability, and probability depend on the precise rarity grade and quality of those CSGO skins. Mind, that some very specific items aren’t available anymore.

White and light blue items are easiest to find as random drops after the match. All grades higher than these two can also theoretically drop randomly but are more likely to be achieved through case opening. And that means keys. As of now, most keys cost around $2,50 and, quite obviously, you need to match the key to the case you want to open. Keys are officially distributed by Valve. Even though they could be traded between accounts, in the last update Valve blocked the ability to trade all CSGO keys bought after the update. 

If you’re not into surprise mechanics and investing in your skins in the form of keys, you may be interested in Trade Up contracts. It is an in-game mechanics in which you can choose 12 skins of one rarity grade and change them into one of the higher grades. There are some hidden mechanics based on luck, but they are generally considered a high-risk, high-reward method that can either give you a rare and pricey item or something very common and boring. 

It is important to know which skins and weapon cases can still be dropped. That’s because older cases and skins often stop being dropped which automatically raises their price and lowers their availability on the market in the long run. 

How much do CSGO skins cost?

Unfortunately, there is no one, clear-cut answer to that question. However, there are different ways to approach it. In general, normal rules of free market apply here, so we can say that CSGO skins cost as much as the buyer is willing to pay for them. But that isn’t very specific, is it?

Luckily, we can learn a lot by looking at how the veteran traders evaluate CSGO skins. You see, even though some low-grade skins drop as the random drops, most of the skins come from weapon cases. To open any case you need a case key, which are sold solely by the Valve through the Steam platform. The cost of all keys is fixed on $2,50, we can use it to evaluate the theoretical cost of a CSGO skin or the potential basic value. You just need to take the $2,50 and multiply it by the average number of keys you will have to use to have the statistical certainty to drop that particular skin. Add all elements like different rarity grades, exterior quality (Battle-Scarred and Factory New are the least common), and special qualities such as StatTrak technology which there’s only a 10% chance for each rarity grade. 

That is why, the more historical data you have about the average drop rates, the more precise the evaluation will be. However, it is important to remember that this method only suggests a price and there are many other factors that will ultimately change the final evaluation. Quite obviously, some skins are much more liked than the other skins. Naturally, the fans’ favorites will be more expensive. This can be observed quite well when it comes to knives which are all exceedingly rare items and the prices can still vary a lot between different models and finishes.

There is also the case of Souvenir skins. These skins come from the Souvenir packages that are awarded during major tournaments to a small number of people watching official streams. The skins that come from these packages have already applied stickers related to that particular tournament teams and players. Depending on how the tournament goes, who wins and who is the MVP the price of the skin may rise a lot. A combination of a very rare skin with rare stickers of top players may raise the potential price to very absurd amounts. After all, such skins are one of a kind. 

How does the exterior quality of skin influence your skin value?

The exterior quality of the CSGO skins is a feature that imitates the wear and tear weapons undergo in battlefield situations. Scratches, washouts, missing components, darkened colors – there’s a lot of different effects. The exterior quality of the skin is also an element that can influence the skin rarity. By influencing the rarity it ultimately has an impact on the final price

Exterior quality is represented as a float number, from 0 to 1. It is a value randomly given to a skin when it is uncrated or dropped for the first time. The weapon quality does not degrade over time and cannot be changed by any means. There are five levels of wear a skin can have:

  • Factory New (0.00 – 0.07)
  • Minimal Wear (0.07 – 0.15)
  • Field-Tested (0.15 – 0.38)
  • Well-Worn (0.38 – 0.45)
  • Battle-Scarred (0.45 – 1.00)

Keep in mind that the quality attribution can be represented as a bell curve, thus, the edge values (Factory New and Battle-Scarred) are much less common than the Minimal Wear or Field-Tested pieces. Some skins don’t have some of the wear levels, leaving them with Minimal Wear as the top quality or Field-Tested as the bottom one. In general, Factory New skins are much more expensive than their more worn out counterparts with jumping up in price by the factor of two, three, or even more in relation to Minimal Wear. A good example is AK-47 | Asiimov which costs around $50 at Minimal Wear. Factory New, however, costs almost $200. If we add StatTrak to the equation, the differences will be even more extreme. The same Minimal Wear AK-47 | Asiimov with StatTrak can cost up to $150, whereas Factory New reaches almost $900. 

The growing interest in CSGO skins

There are certain aspects to the CSGO skins, or game skins in general, that may suggest the sources of their high popularity. First of all, skins in CSGO have a function of visibility. Based on the notion of being better than everyone else so deeply rooted in competitive gaming, vanity items of low rarity fit nicely into that notion. This approach is also fueled further by various developers who obviously want to monetize their often free-to-play games. With the value of the skins being self-assigned and having no actual price cap, the prestige of having one of the rarest CSGO skins such as M9 Bayonet | Crimson Web with a very symmetrical pattern only grows more. 

What’s more, with low rarity comes the high price, and, for a completely digital item that has no influence on the gameplay mechanics, they tend to cost a lot of money. Sure, you will drop your skin for the round if you die and someone may pick it up. However, they will be able to only use that ultra-rare skin until the end of the game. It’s like a difference between driving a Rolls-Royce once and owning one. Additionally, with the bigger skins market, not only in CSGO but also in other games, more and more people look at CSGO skins like on a type of cryptocurrency or investment which means more money on the skins market. Lastly, we cannot forget about people that just want to own and use something they find cool, interesting, and beautiful. After all, some of the skins are small works of art with a serious design concept, hours of work, and numerous iterations behind them.

I believe this ability to attract different people for different reasons to the same CSGO skins is the best proof, as well as cause for the overall popularity of CSGO skins. 

Guide to buying CSGO skins

When it comes to buying CSGO skins there are different options, all with their pros and cons. Which one should you choose? It really depends on what you need and what you prefer.

The first place to buy CSGO skins is the Steam Community Market. Its biggest advantage is security. Because everything is automated inside the Steam environment and all accounts that trade there are thoroughly checked and have to be set up properly, you will be able to buy the skins that interest you with just a few clicks. However, to trade on the Steam Community Market, you will have to add money to your Steam Wallet. The thing is, you won’t be ever able to pay it out in any way. You can utilize it for CSGO skins, card packs, and games on Steam. Another characteristic of the Steam Community Market is that the prices there are usually higher by around 20% than on third-party marketplaces. Moreover, every transaction on the Steam Community Market has a transaction fee on top of the already high price. In case of CSGO skins, it’s 15%, and, you guessed it, it is covered by the buyer. Still, this is probably the easiest way to buy CSGO skins. 

The second option is to go for third-party marketplaces. By design, they solve some of the problems that skin traders have with Steam Community Market. Therefore, the prices are lower, the transaction fees are smaller and, in some cases, are split between the seller and the buyer. Moreover, you can use different forms of payment as well as payout any leftovers back on to your private account. However, the biggest problem with third-party markets is that they are plagued with automated scam bots, so you need to watch out. Building Skinwallet Market, we aimed at making user safety the priority. This resulted in creating a scam-proof procedure that, if followed step by step, lets you enjoy the bargain prices with no worries about compromising your account.

The third valid option is to buy them off another private trader. You can find people that wish to sell their unwanted skins through various CSGO skins trading hubs, such as Reddit subreddits, different Discord servers, forums, and Steam Trading Groups. It is worth mentioning that such trades never really include real money. That is why when you wanted to buyout some skins you’d use CSGO keys. Due to the recent changes in keys trading policy, veteran traders gravitate towards Dota 2 Arcanas instead. 

Selling CSGO Skins

You have practically the same options when selling skins. This time, however, the pros and cons will slightly differ. Steam Community Market is still the safest choice. Moreover, the highest prices on the market should satisfy you as a seller. The transaction fee is also paid fully by the buyer. The problem is, you won’t be able to pay out your money in any way, due to how Steam Wallet works. You can only spend that money on new skins, cards or Steam games. There are workarounds to this, but you will lose a lot from your initial value and the process is painful.

That’s why, if you want your money outside the Steam ecosystem, you have to go for third-party markets. Yet again, the same pros and cons: lower prices, less security, but you get the option to pay out your cash through a wide range of payout systems such as Paypal, Payoneer, Payeer, WebMoney or Skrill. If you need money ASAP, consider using SkinWallet, as it is the best paying instant-deposit, instant-payout system on the market.  

Which are the most popular CSGO skins?

Here’s a list of most popular names out of all CSGO skins. Of course, popular doesn’t mean widespread. Some of these skins are legendary and very rare, some are easily the best cheap CSGO skins, others are just incredibly expensive.

AWP | Wildfire

FAMAS | Commemoration

M4A4 | The Emperor

Five-SeveN | Angry Mob

AK-47 | Asiimov

AWP | Neo-Noir

AK-47 | Neon Rider

M4A4 | Neo-Noir

MP7 | Bloodsport

AK-47 | The Empress

AWP | Oni Taiji

Five-SeveN | Hyper Beast

AK-47 | Bloodsport

USP-S | Neo-Noir

Glock-18 | Wasteland Rebel

M4A1-S | Chantico’s Fire

R8 Revolver | Fade

AWP | Hyper Beast

AK-47 | Wasteland Rebel

P90 | Asiimov

M4A1-S | Cyrex

AWP | Asiimov

AK-47 | Fire Serpent

AWP | Lightning Strike

P90 | Death by Kitty

AWP | Dragon Lore

AUG | Akihabara Accept

AUG | Momentum

XM1014 | Incinegator

AUG | Death by Puppy

P90 | Nostalgia

R8 Revolver | Skull Crusher

MP5-SD | Phosphor

UMP-45 | Momentum

FAMAS | Eye of Athena

USP-S | Cortex

AWP | Mortis

R8 Revolver | Llama Cannon

M4A4 | Hellfire

Dual Berettas | Cobra Strike

AWP | Fever Dream

M4A1-S | Decimator

CZ75-Auto | Xiangliu

FAMAS | Mecha Industries

Sawed-Off | Wasteland Princess

M4A4 | Desolate Space

P2000 | Imperial Dragon

SCAR-20 | Bloodsport

UMP-45 | Primal Saber

Nova | Hyper Beast

P90 | Shapewood

AK-47 | Frontside Misty

Galil AR | Eco

Five-SeveN | Monkey Business

P250 | Muertos

P250 | Cartel

AWP | Corticera

P2000 | Corticera

USP-S | Caiman

USP-S | Orion

AK-47 | Redline

P90 | Trigon

AWP | Redline

P250 | Mehndi

AK-47 | Case Hardened

M4A1-S | Control Panel

M4A4 | Poseidon

M4A1-S | Hot Rod

SCAR-20 | Splash Jam

M249 | Aztec

AWP | Atheris

Desert Eagle | Light Rail

MP5-SD | Gauss

UMP-45 | Moonrise

G3SG1 | High Seas

UMP-45 | Arctic Wolf

UMP-45 | Exposure

SSG 08 | Death’s Head

P90 | Death Grip

XM1014 | Seasons

Galil AR | Crimson Tsunami

USP-S | Cyrex

Glock-18 | Weasel

MAG-7 | Petroglyph

R8 Revolver | Reboot

MAG-7 | Praetorian

PP-Bizon | Fuel Rod

M4A4 | Evil Daimyo

AWP | Worm God

P250 | Supernova

FAMAS | Pulse

M4A4 | Howl

Classic Knife | Slaughter

Classic Knife | Forest DDPAT

Talon Knife | Marble Fade

Talon Knife | Doppler

Butterfly Knife | Marble Fade

Classic Knife | Fade

Butterfly Knife | Doppler

Talon Knife | Fade

Butterfly Knife | Fade

Karambit | Fade

Karambit | Lore

Karambit | Gamma Doppler

M9 Bayonet | Lore

Stiletto Knife | Marble Fade

Classic Knife | Crimson Web

M9 Bayonet | Marble Fade

Karambit | Tiger Tooth

Butterfly Knife | Slaughter

M9 Bayonet | Case Hardened

M9 Bayonet | Crimson Web

Karambit | Case Hardened (Blue Gem)

M9 Bayonet | Freehand

Falchion Knife | Marble Fade

Bowie Knife | Crimson Web

Navaja Knife | Doppler

Navaja Knife | Fade

Falchion Knife | Tiger Tooth

Bowie Knife | Blue Steel

Ursus Knife | Stained


CSGO skins make for a complex, multilayered topic. On the surface, they are just cosmetic items, a vanity that can sometimes cost a lot of money. For some people, however, CSGO skins are a very important aspect of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, as important as gameplay mechanics and teamwork. 

This article covers all the basic concepts around CSGO skins and helps you collect, buy, and sell CSGO skins on various marketplaces. We strongly encourage you to browse our blog for more specific tips and tutorials on both CSGO gameplay and skin trading. If there’s anything you consider essential in that field of interest, don’t hesitate to write to us and we’ll gladly expand on the topic!