CS:GO Skins: A Beginner’s Guide For New CS:GO Players

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO as it’s more commonly known, gave a much-needed refresh the Counter-Strike series nearly a decade ago. Launching in July 2012, CS:GO has gained critical acclaim and high popularity.

In fact, it’s one of the only games that continue to have an excellent competitive balance and continuous growth over time. Monthly peak players have repeatedly hit more than 1 million players since March 2020 and stayed there.

Why the popularity? Aside from that the game is just built well, CS:GO skins are actually great and add fun to the game.

What are CS:GO skins? If you’re new to CS:GO (which you probably are) you’ve probably wondered things about cases and keys, and how to get your hands on some snazzy gear.

Keep reading to get briefed.

CS:GO Skins: Basic Training

For those that are brand new to skins, CS:GO, or both, a little primer on skins may be in order.

In CS:GO, skins are received by through three methods. You can get a random drop, you can get it through a case (requiring a key), or through CSGO trading on the Steam Community Market.

Weapon cases are randomized and you’ll get plenty of them. The key to opening them, however, is $2.50 each for a matching key to your case series. After a recent update, key swapping for new keys isn’t possible.

In Trade Up contracts, you can choose 12 skins of the same rarity to obtain one of a higher rarity. It’s a large reward that comes with quite a bit of risk, the higher in rarity you go.

Skins in cases that no longer drop instantly rise in value on the market as supply dwindles and demand remains the same or grows (in the case of collectors).

CS:GO skins come in three flavors:

  • Normal
  • StatTrak
  • Souvenir

This is about as simple as the whole CS:GO skin system gets. From here, it starts to get complicated.

CS:GO Skin Quality or “Wear”

These skins are further separated by “wear.” It’s exactly as it sounds, and denotes the visible wear and tear on a skin. This value never goes up or down and remains exactly where it is when you get it. There are some invisible values to the skin the game uses to know what to display.

For us mere humans, we instead use specific titles to denote the wear level. The range is pretty much what you would expect.

  • Factory New
  • Minimal Wear
  • Field-Tested
  • Well-Worn
  • Battle-Scarred

Even these “grades” of wear have variation, keeping skins a little more unique than in most other games.

Factory New and Battle-Scarred are the two rarest versions of a skin. Factory New is a fresh, spotless coat of paint or texture, where Battle-Scarred has pits, scratches, and general wear marks. These gain a higher price due to higher scarcity.

Field-Tested is generally the most common, giving it a lower price than the rest. Followed by Minimal Wear and Well-Worn qualities. As you can guess, it follows a bell-curve of scarcity.

Notice, we are using the word scarcity here, so you’re not confused with our next section, “rarity”. These are two separate qualities.

CS:GO Skin Rarity

In yet another way to categorize skins and set them apart, there’re also skin rarity rankings.

  • White or “Consumer Grade”
  • Light blue or “Industrial Grade”
  • Blue or “Mil-Spec”
  • Purple or “Restricted”
  • Pink or “Classified”
  • Red or “Covert”
  • Gold or “Legendary”
  • Orange or “Contraband”

The skins are in the order of rarity, with only one contraband skin known, the “M4A4 | Howl”. Contraband rarity is reserved for skins that are removed from the roster for one reason or another. The Howls skin’s artwork was stolen, so Steam “froze” it in this method.

Normal skins are pretty much obtained by general means and affect only the appearance. They’re most often received as part of a random drop in the White to Blue rarities. As you might guess, the rarer something is the less likely it is to drop.

To get purple and higher requires a “trade up” or opening a lot of weapon cases, or buying one in a Steam Community Market trade. Generally, the higher the rarity level, the higher the price.

Knife skins and glove skins are only found in the Legendary category. They’re considered to be the rarest, with the exception of the Howl skin.


StatTrak weapon skins have an LED display or an etched number on the side of the weapon. This LED displays the number of kills while having the weapon skin active. Aside from the LED, these weapon skins look identical to normal skins on CS:GO.

This kill count excludes bot kills. It’s also worth mention that you can only get StatTrak weapon skins through cases or trading. You also have only a 10% chance of receiving one for a given skin in a case.

Although, trading these can be a bit disappointing for both parties. It also only displays the kill count of the original owner. If it’s wielded by anyone else it will read “ERROR” or “UNKNWN USER.”

A StatTrak Swap Tool was later brought to the market to port stats from one StatTrak weapon skin to another of the same weapon type, so you don’t lose your record.

A related StatTrak variant is the Music Kits. These track the number of MVP awards a player gets in their matches, where the music kit has been played.

Souvenir Skins

It’s time to link your Steam and Twitch accounts if you haven’t already. Any time you’re watching special event matches, there’s a chance of a randomized drop among the audience members.

Souvenir skins will drop depending on who wins a tournament, who the MVP of a match is, and more. These are one-of-a-kind skins and stickers that catch a high payoff for those willing to part with them.

Operation “SKIN”: Briefing Concluded

CS:GO skins are turning into quite an investment tool on the Steam Community Market. If you’re into the game, but never gave a thought to skins, you might be surprised by what you can end up making on the market. That is, as long as you have some know-how, thanks to this article.

Now that you’re locked-n’-loaded with CS:GO weapon skins, make sure to check out what other offerings we have on tap at OnHax. From games to tech, business to digital marketing, we have you covered on anything you need.

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