11 most expensive CS2 skins in 2023: Knives, AK-47, AWP & more in Counter-Strike 2
CS2, which has replaced CS:GO, is a game of skill and teamwork – but it’s also a game full of skins with high prices. These are the most expensive skins in Counter-Strike 2 as of November 2023, as the skins market crashes.
CS:GO was an iconic FPS, known for tight gunplay and strategy, and also home to an expansive market for skins and other in-game items. From weapons and knives to character cosmetics, badges, cases, and stickers, players can flaunt an array of customization options.
Although CS:GO has now been replaced by Counter-Strike 2, all skins carry over to the new game, and the announcement of CS2 made skin prices go even higher. However, there has been a significant market crash following the full release of the game.
Many of these skins are too expensive to be listed on the Steam Market, with its $2,000 price cap, so if you want to buy any of these, you’ll likely need to use a third-party site like Skinport.
Although we’re only discussing knives and weapon skins here, there is another item in Counter-Strike that also has eye-popping prices: rare stickers – you can check our list of the most expensive stickers here.
With so many skins, 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 and look at the most expensive skins in the game as of November 2023.
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 are several different reasons, but most skins get their value from the following: Rarity, pattern type, wear level, or unique characteristics. Check out the most expensive CS2 skins and knives below, as well as what makes these items so expensive.
11. AK-47 Fire Serpent: $400-$5,000
The AK-47 Fire Serpent is one of the classic CS:GO weapon skins, released all the way back in 2013, with the Operation Bravo case.
Due to its classic status, and rarity, a StatTrack Factory New version of this skin is likely to cost you around $5,000. In fact, A StatTrack FN Fire Serpent is listed on Skinport for approximately $5,000 right now.
10. AK-47 Gold Arabesque (Souvenir) – $1,500 – $6,500
The Gold Arabesque is clearly one of the flashiest skins in CS2, but its price was often below $2,000 due to oversupply from Souvenir cases. However, since Dust2 was removed from the map pool, the price of Souvenir Gold Arabesques shot up.
Now, a souvenir version in Factory New will cost over $6,000 – although this is down from when they peaked at over $10,000.
9. AK-47 Wild Lotus: $2,500-$11,000
Even though it’s a fairly new skin, released in 2019, the Wild Lotus is from the St. Marc collection, and is in very short supply. There are less than 3,000 in total circulation.
On top of that, it simply looks amazing, making it very desirable. To get a Factory New version of this skin, you will need to fork out over $10,000. In March 2023, a Wild Lotus with 4 Reason Holo stickers sold for over $160,000.
8. M4A4 Howl: $3,000 – $15,000
The M4A4 Howl is the only ‘Contraband’ grade skin in Counter-Strike, due to the controversy over ownership of the artwork. Because of this, it is exceedingly rare.
Although models without stickers can be bought for under $5,000, if it is a Factory New version and StatTrak, it can fetch up to $20,000. And, with the expensive 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, with one on sale now for more than $200,000.
7. Factory New Crimson Web knives: $5,000+
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. However, right now, you can purchase one for around $6,000.
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 paint is scratched off.
6. AWP Gungnir: $6,000 – $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. There are around 3,300 in total circulation.
Even a battle-scarred version of this skin will set you back thousands, but for a Factory New version, it will cost upwards of $10,000, with some listed for over $12,000 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.
5. Karambit / Butterfly / M9 Bayonet: Emerald / Sapphire – $8,000+
Due to the different phases of Doppler knives, some will cost around $1000. But, if you want a Ruby, Emerald or Sapphire version, you’ll need to be prepared to drop some serious cash.
Typically Karambit, Butterfly Knives, and M9 Bayonets in Sapphire or Emerald will fetch the highest price tags, right now over $10,000, with Ruby’s a little cheaper. The price of these gems did reach as high as $20,000 earlier in 2023, but have fallen back down.
Ruby knives are a few thousand dollars cheaper on average, but will still cost around $9,000 for a Ruby M9 Bayonet.
4. Sport Gloves: Vice / Pandora’s Box (Factory New): $20,000 – $40,000+
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. Pandora’s Box gloves in Factory new will now cost around $50,000, while the cheapest FN Vice gloves are around $20,000.
Because it is extremely rare to get these gloves in Factory New, they are cheaper in worse wear. Field-Tested Vice Gloves are around $2,000, for example.
There are only 113 FN Vice Gloves and 29 FN Pandora’s Box Gloves in existence.
3. AK-47 Case Hardened (661): $40,000-$200,000
Similar to Case Hardened knives, Case Hardened AK skins can also sell for exorbitant prices, depending on the pattern. While most AK-47 Case Hardened skins are only a few hundred dollars, pattern 661 has an estimated value of around $50,000-$60,000, depending on the condition.
This particular pattern means that much of the visible area of the weapon is that same ‘blue gem’ appearance, making it highly coveted. This website breaks down all the blue gems in CS2 as a handy resource.
If this AK also has Titan stickers applied, it can inflate the price to over $100,000. A 661 AK-47 in StatTrak Minimal Wear with four Titan Holos was sold for $400,000. This makes it the most expensive single skin that has actually sold in CS:GO. However, this price was largely due to the stickers applied, not just the 661 AK.
A StatTrak 661 Case Hardened in Factory New has never been unboxed, but if it was, it is estimated it would be worth around $1 million.
2. Souvenir AWP Dragon Lore: $50,000 – $200,000+
Although there are many pricey AWP skins, the Dragon Lore is typically the most expensive.
The most expensive is the Souvenir version, which can fetch more than $150,000 if it is Factory New. Worse conditions will still likely cost at least $50,000. These Souvenir versions will commemorate a particular esports match, and features gold stickers with the teams and event. There are only 114 Souvenir AWP Dragon Lores in existence.
1. Karambit Case Hardened (Blue Gem): $1.5 million+
This exact Case Hardened Karambit, Factory New, pattern 387 (blue gem), 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. In 2023, the price will have only increased, and it could even be worth more than $2 million now.
Part of the reason for this is that the chance of opening the same knife from cases is roughly 1 in 371 million. It is a blue gem Karambit, the best pattern, and is the only one in Factory New condition.
In June 2023, a well-worn (not factory new) 387 Karambit sold for over $100,000.
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 was plagiarized by the uploaded. 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.
The total supply of a skin will massively affect its price. With only 114 Souvenir AWP Dragon Lore’s in the world, the price has skyrocketed, for example.
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 cosmetics are assessed for their ‘condition.’
The ‘number 1’ lowest or highest float for a skin will also fetch a higher price. So, if you have a skin with the very best condition of any in the game, you will be able to charge ‘overpay’ from collectors.
To help, they’re divided into five distinct categories, each representing a certain degree of wear. These are summarized below.
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 CS2, 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.
Other specific skin variations 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 CS2 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 CS2. 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.