Counter-Strike is known for its skin market almost as much as the game itself, but what is the most expensive CS:GO skin? And why are they so expensive in the first place?
CS:GO is not only an iconic FPS, but is also known for its expansive trading markets for skins and other in-game items. From weapons and knives to character cosmetics, badges, cases, and even stickers, there is an array of customization options that players can flaunt in the server.
With so many skins, and some eye-watering prices, it might be confusing at first to a new player what makes a skin valuable, and why people are willing to pay so much. So let’s break it down before we look at the most expensive skins in the game.
Counter-Strike skins have no inherent value: they are simply worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them – and it just so happens that people are willing to pay a lot. But why?
There is a number of different reasons, but most skins get their value from the following: Rarity, pattern type, wear level, or unique characteristics. Check out the most expensive CS:GO skins, knives, stickers and more below, as well as what makes these items so expensive.
9. AWP Gungnir: $4,000 – $12,000
One of the newer skins on this list, the Gungnir was added to CS:GO in 2019, as part of the Norse collection.
Even a battle-scarred version of this skin will set you back thousands, but for a Factory New version, it will cost upwards of $8,000, with some listed for over $11,000 at the time of writing.
The Gungnir has firmly replaced the Desert Hydra as the second most expensive AWP skin – see below for the number one AWP skin.
8. Karambit / Butterfly Knife: Sapphire – $8,000+
Due to the different phases of doppler knives, some can be much less expensive. But, if you want a ruby or sapphire knife, you’ll need to be prepared to drop some serious cash.
Typically Karambit and Buttlerfly Knives in Sapphire will fetch the highest price tags, sometimes over $10,000.
7. Factory New Crimson Web knives: $10,000+
Like Doppler knives, many Crimson Web knives can sell for over $10,000, if they are Factory New, StatTrak, and with the right pattern. As well as Karambits, M9 Bayonet Crimson Webs have sold for over $14,000.
The pattern is also important for these skins because of the placement of the webs. Factory New Crimson Webs are very rare too, and mean that very little of the red coloring is scratched off.
While Karambits are the most sought-after blade, the clean-cut M9 Bayonet is more to some people’s taste. At least, for one person, who forked out almost $15k for this Factory New, Crimson Web iteration of the knife.
6. Sport Gloves: Vice / Pandora’s Box: $2,000 – $20,000
Sport Gloves were among the original 17 gloves added to CS:GO in the Glove Case update. In terms of gloves, the most valuable are the colorful Sport Gloves. Vice gloves will often fetch the highest price, with the purple Pandora’s box not far behind.
A Factory New pair of these gloves can even reach prices as high as $20,000, but worse wear levels typically will range between $1,000-$6,000.
This is because although it is possible to get these gloves in Factory New, it is incredibly rare to do so.
5. Souvenir AWP Dragon Lore: $10,000 – $20,000+
Although there are many pricey AWP skins, the Dragon Lore is typically the most expensive.
The most expensive is the Souvenir versions, which can fetch more than $20,000 – usually when Factory New. These Souvenir versions will commemorate a particular esports match, and features gold stickers with the teams and event.
4. AK-47 Case Hardened (661): $30,000+
Similar to Case Hardened knives, Case Hardened AK skins can also sell for exorbitant prices, depending on the pattern. Although any AK-47 Case Hardened will be expensive ($1,000+), the best pattern is number 661 – which has an estimated value of around $30,000-$35,000.
This particular pattern means that much of the visible area of the weapon is that same ‘blue gem’ appearance, making it highly coveted.
If this AK also has Titan stickers applied (see below), it can inflate the price to over $100,000.
3. Katowice 2014 Stickers (Holo): $10,000 – $40,000+
Although we’ve mentioned various knives and weapon skins here, there is one item in CS:GO that is perhaps the most eye-popping when it comes to price, and that is rare stickers. In particular, we’re talking about the holo stickers for two teams that competed at IEM Katowice 2014: Titan and iBuyPower.
Although other team stickers from the event, such as Dignitas or LDLC, can also fetch a high price, these two are the top dogs. iBuyPower was the team that infamously got exposed for match-fixing, but the reason the stickers became so expensive is actually pretty simple.
They are incredibly rare, especially unapplied, so it’s really a straightforward supply + demand issue. With so few of these stickers in circulation, their near-mythical status, and the fact they just look good, all means you’ll likely have to pay upwards of $40,000 for one of these stickers. Yes, stickers. In a video game.
2. M4A4 Howl: $2,000 – $100,000+
The M4A4 Howl is the only ‘Contraband’ grade skin in CS:GO, due to the controversy over ownership of the artwork. Because of this, it is exceedingly rare.
Although some more worn models without stickers can be bought for under $5,000, if it is a Factory New version, StatTrak, especially with the right stickers applied, can sell for over $100,000.
A StatTrak Factory New Howl with 4 iBuyPower Holo stickers sold for this amount in 2020, and is likely worth even more today.
1. Karambit Case Hardened (Blue Gem): $1.5 million+
This exact Case Hardened Karambit, Factory new, pattern 387, is an almost mythical skin. It was bought in 2016 for a little over $100,000, but is now valued considerably higher.
Although it hasn’t been sold yet, the owner turned down an offer of €1.2m (around $1.5m USD at the time) – suggesting that for someone to be able to acquire it, they would have to pay more than $1.5 million USD.
Part of the reason for this is that the chance of opening the same knife from cases is roughly 1 in 371 million.
Whether or not something can be deemed a ‘collector’s item’ or not, initially depends on skin rarity. This is categorized by tiers, of which there are eight levels. The most common grade of skin is ‘Consumer’ and the rarest is ‘Contraband’ (only one skin has been assigned this exclusive grading).
- Consumer (White)
- Indsutrial (Light blue)
- Mil-Spec (Blue)
- Restricted (Purple)
- Classified (Pink)
- Covert (Red)
- Contraband (Orange)
- Extraordinary (Gold)
The only Contraband skin is the M4A4 Howl. It was originally a Covert skin, but after turmoil surrounding the skin’s artwork, or more specifically, theft of someone’s artwork, Valve inadvertently created one of the rarest cosmetics in CS:GO history.
The original design (called Howling Dawn) was plagiarized by a Steam member. After catching the poacher red-handed, Valve reworked the design and bumped up the rarity to an entirely new classification, which they aptly named Contraband.
But what makes this skin even rarer, is that Valve stopped rolling out stock of the skin beyond what was already available in players’ inventories. Meaning that the weapon’s finish became more sought-after than ever before.
Skin float value (wear)
Another variable to consider is the wear of a weapon skin, which is measured by its ‘float value’. Floats can range from 0.00-1.00, with 0.00 being the best, most pristine version of a skin, while 1.00 is the most worn version. This is essentially how CS:GO cosmetics are assessed for their ‘condition.’
To help, they’re divided into five distinct categories, each representing a certain degree of wear. These are summarized below.
It’s worthwhile noting that not every skin has the full range of float value. Take the AWP Asiimov, for example, which is only available between values 0.18 (Field-Tested) and 1.00 (Battle-Scarred).
Typically, the better (lower) the float, the more expensive the skin will be, because not only is it rarer, but it also looks better in-game, with less scratching, color missing, or faded appearance.
The next aspect to consider is a skin’s exact pattern. In CS:GO, just because two weapons have the same skin, doesn’t mean that skin will be applied exactly the same. There is up to 999 patterns for various skins, and the type can influence the value.
For example, on Fade skins, different patterns will have a higher percentage of Fade – essentially meaning more of the gun or knife is covered with the Fade coloring.
Pattern is particularly important for Case Hardened skins, as some Case Hardened patterns will have more blue on them than others – if a Case Hardened skin has a lot of blue, then it is considered a “blue gem” – extremely rare, and extremely expensive.
There are other specific skin variations that alter value. For example, the Doppler skin for knives has an abundance of patterns that determine the price. Below are each of the phases that a Doppler knife can have, with Phase 1-4 being the most common (Mythical).
Each of the true Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald variations are considered ‘Legendary’ and have 100% marbleized sapphire, ruby or emerald running through their respective patterns. The Black Pearl is the only ‘Ancient’ knife in CS:GO and is arguably the rarest knife pattern in the game, with a 100% pure black pattern phase and speckles of purple and blue running through it, rendering it almost impossible to bag one for your inventory.
The final variable that tends to bump up price, is a StatTrak™ variation of a specific weapon/knife skin. As you’d assume, a StatTrak™ weapon or knife clocks the number of kills earned by its owner. This can sometimes even double the price compared to the non-StatTrak version.
That rounds up the most expensive skins in CS:GO. But, the market is always changing – and prices are often on the rise, so who knows what these numbers will look like a few years from now.