CS2 Skin Rarity Explained

Highlights
  • The CS2 rarity tiers are: Consumer Grade, Industrial Grade, Mil-Spec, Restricted, Classified, Covert, and Contraband.
  • Not all skins can be found in cases; some can only be dropped through ingame events and operation collections that are no longer dropping.
  • Factors such as the specific pattern and wear value also influence the rarity of a skin.
  • Items such as agents, stickers, and music kits have their own rarity systems and ways of obtaining them.

In CS2, the rarity of a skin has a big effect on its value. Common skins that get dropped all the time will obviously be less valuable than skins that only get unboxed every couple of months. It’s quite simply the law of supply and demand. In this article, we’ll go over the different CS2 skin rarity tiers and we’ll expand on the factors that can influence a skin’s rarity.

What Is CS2 Skin Rarity?


In CS2, skins can be acquired in a variety of ways. You can get drops in your weekly care package, you can open cases, you can get skins in operations when they’re happening, or you can even craft skins yourself using a Trade Up contract. There’s also trading of course, but that’s not pertinent to this article so we’ll leave that aspect of the scene to the side.

To put it simply, CS2 skin rarity simply indicates how difficult it is to get a certain skin. There are eight tiers of skin rarity in CS2:

  • Consumer Grade (grey/white)
  • Industrial Grade (light blue)
  • Mil-Spec (blue)
  • Restricted (purple)
  • Classified (pink)
  • Covert (red)
  • Contraband (yellow)

Consumer grade skins are the most common skins, and covert skins are the rarest.

Note that knives and gloves fall under covert skins, but they are in their own tier within those covert skins. Unboxing a knife in a case is rarer than unboxing a Covert gun skin.

CS2 Skin Rarity Tiers

Contraband: The Exception

The contraband tier is technically a skin rarity tier, but it only houses one skin (the M4A4 Howl) and it’s highly unlikely that Valve will add more contraband weapons to the game. If you want to learn more about the Howl, you can read an in-depth article on the history of the Howl on CS.Money.

CS2 Case Odds


In 2017, Valve had to disclose case odds in order to comply with Chinese laws. They are as follows:

Mil-Spec (Blue)79.92%
Restricted (Purple)15.98%
Classified (Pink)3.2%
Covert (Red)0.64%
Special Item (Knife, Gloves)0.26%

Note that cases do not contain Consumer Grade skins or Industrial Grade skins.

StatTrak

Each time a weapon gets unboxed from a case, it has a 10% chance of being StatTrak. A StatTrak weapon simply counts the kills (on human players; bots don’t count) that you make with the weapon. On guns, this is done in the form a little digital module that’s added to the weapon. On knives, the kills made with the weapon are scratched into the blade.

StatTrak weapons have no ingame advantages over non-StatTrak weapons. However, they are a lot rarer than regular skins so they’re almost always more expensive. A notable exception can be knives, since people don’t like to see scratches on their knife finish. As a consequence, StatTrak knives are generally not that much more expensive than their regular counterparts. They are harder to trade, however, as they’re not very desired.

Souvenir Skins and Map Collection Packages


When a Major tournament is going on, players can acquire Souvenir Packages. These contain skins with stickers from the teams and maps that were being played at that time. The only way to acquire Souvenir skins is by opening up a Souvenir Package, making them quite rare. Souvenir Packages contain map-specific collection skins, and do not contain knives or gloves.

Since the release of Anubis, Valve has also released regular Collection Packages. These can be bought in store (even when there’s no Major going on) and contain skins from the map’s collection. In the past, map-specific collection items could not be opened directly from cases and had to be obtained during operations or by opening Souvenir Packages.

Packages in CS2 can be opened without a key, which means that they’re technically cheaper to open than cases. The odds of getting a rare skin in packages are even lower than in regular cases, however. The exact percentage isn’t known, but a Covert collection skin is a lot rarer than a Covert case skin.

Collection Skins


Some skins are part of collections that only dropped during specific ingame operations or are/were otherwise time-limited. These skins have never been part of Packages or cases. These skins are naturally a lot rarer and thus vastly more expensive.

The AWP Dragon Lore is probably the most famous example of this. It’s part of the Cobblestone Collection, which was only available during certain ingame events and via Cobblestone Souvenir cases. Even when it was dropping, players had to be lucky to get the Dragon Lore. Since it’s a Covert skin, the odds of it randomly dropping as an operation reward were very small.

There’s obviously no way to predict the future (Valve can re-introduce old collections at any point if they choose to) but as it stands today, Covert collection skins are among the rarest skins out there.

Agents in CS2


Agents in CS2 don’t come from cases, but rather from operations. The higher tier agents require more operation stars to obtain and are therefore rarer, but the exact odds aren’t known. Agents do have their own rarity tiers, and those are as follows:

  • Distinguished (Blue)
  • Exceptional (Purple)
  • Superior (Pink)
  • Master (Red)

Stickers in CS2


Stickers can be obtained by opening sticker capsules. These capsules randomly show up on players’ homepages for purchase and can be traded to other players. Sticker capsules don’t require a key to open.

Just like with weapon skins, stickers have different rarity tiers:

  • High-Grade (blue)
  • Remarkable (purple)
  • Exotic (pink)
  • Extraordinary (red)
  • Contraband (yellow)

The contraband tier only has one sticker: the Howling Dawn, which was based on the M4A4 Howl’s artwork.

Major Stickers

Whenever there is a Major, Valve also releases specific Major-themed sticker capsules. These contain either player autographs or team logos from the teams and players who attend said Major. These Major sticker capsules can only be bought around the time that the specific Major is happening, so once they leave the ingame store they cannot be bought any longer.

This time-limited scarcity has lead to some very high prices for certain stickers. The most notable example of this is the iBUYPOWER Holo sticker. This team only attended a couple of Majors during a time where the player base was quite low. As a consequence, their stickers are extremely rare and extremely desired by certain enthusiasts.

There’s an entire subsection of the CS2 skins scene that’s dedicated to trading skins with old Major stickers on them, with the Katowice 2014 stickers being the most desired.

Trade Ups In CS2


In CS2, players can bunch up 10 skins and trade those up for another skin. This is called a Trade Up Contract. If you trade up, you receive a skin that’s one rarity tier higher than the skins you’ve traded up for. The collection that the new skin comes from depends on which skins you’ve used as Trade Up skins, so you’re absolutely not guaranteed to get the specific skin that you want.

Using Trade Up Contracts, players can still craft skins that are no longer dropping or have become extremely rare. However, in order to craft these skins you’d need a bunch of weapons from the same collection that you want to Trade Up to. Since a lot of players are attempting Trade Ups for the rarest guns in the game, the ‘Trade Up fodder skins’ from those collections have become extremely expensive. As such, Trading Up for something like an AWP Dragon Lore is extremely risky, and a big financial risk.

Trading up for knives or gloves isn’t possible in CS2.

Other Factors


A CS2 skin’s rarity isn’t the only factor that determines how elusive and pricey it really is. Factors such as the wear condition and their specific pattern can have a big influence as well. A Factory New StatTrak version of the #1 pattern AK Case Hardened, for example, only dropped in 2024. That’s over ten years since it was first released. Naturally, this skin is valued at astronomical prices and will likely be sold for over $1,000,000.

Conclusion


Skin rarity tiers only tell a part of the story. The true rarity of a CS2 skin depends on a large number of factors, including its availability, its specific pattern, whether it’s StatTrak or not, and so on.

In order to truly determine how rare a specific skin is, you’d need to have decent knowledge on the CS2 skins market and look at the bigger picture. Even then, there are deeply specialized niche corners of the CS2 skins world. Case Hardened skins, for example, have their own rarity tiers and enthusiast scene. The same goes for skins with old tournament stickers on them.

The world of rare CS2 skins is incredibly complex and deep and really can’t be summarized in one single article, but knowing the different CS2 rarity tiers is a great place to start if you want to do a deeper dive into the world of CS2 skins.

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