Best Card Sleeves for Magic the Gathering MTG TCG

When you play a Trading Card Game (TCG) like Magic: the Gathering you’re not just buying a game. Many Magic cards are expensive, sometimes exceptionally so, and many increase in value over time. You need the best card sleeves to protect your investment during shuffling and play!

What are TCG sleeves?

If you’re a new player, you may be asking “What are TCG sleeves?” They are special card sleeves that you slide your cards into before playing with them. Their purpose is to protect your deck during shuffling, play, clean up, and transport.

Dragon Shield Rayalda - Constellations - Brushed Art Sleeves - Standard Size. Dragon shield offers some of the best card sleeves for magic.

What to look for when purchasing MTG card sleeves:

When purchasing Magic: the Gathering card sleeves to protect your Magic card decks, there are several things to be considered. Size and Fit, Material and Durability, Finish, and Design are all essential factors in your card sleeve purchase.

What size sleeves do I need for Magic the Gathering cards?

Standard Magic: The Gathering card size is 63 x 88 mm. This is a standard size for many popular trading card games including Pokemon. 

Purple sleeved Pokémon cards
Standard Sleeved Pokemon Cards

There are other card games such as Yu-Gi-Oh! that are different sizes and require different-sized sleeves. If you’re not playing Magic, check the right size for your game before purchasing sleeves.

Yu-Gi-Oh! sleeves
Mini size Yu-Gi-Oh! sleeves

What does sleeve Fit mean?

Sleeve Fit refers to how secure your cards will be inside the sleeve. Loose sleeves can lead to cards falling out at inopportune times, such as during transport or shuffling, and result in damage.

What materials are MTG sleeves made from?

Sleeves for trading card games generally come in one of 2 varieties; Polypropylene or Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).

Polypropylene: This is the most common material used for card sleeves. It’s a type of thermoplastic polymer that’s known for its durability, clarity, and flexibility. Polypropylene is resistant to water and most oils and solvents, making it a good choice for protecting cards from spills and stains. However, it can become scratched or scuffed with heavy use.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): Some card sleeves are made from PVC, another type of thermoplastic. PVC sleeves are often softer and more flexible than polypropylene sleeves, but they can have a strong smell and may contain chemicals that can potentially damage cards over time.

What is TCG sleeve durability?

Durability in sleeves typically refers to the thickness of the plastic and describes how hard the sleeves are to damage, and how long they take to wear out during normal play.

Worn-out sleeves may do anything from split at the seems to fray at the corners, or even have the finish or artwork flake and strip off.

Orange matte dragon shield sleeves, hand holding one that is torn
Split Dragon Shield Sleeves, credit Reddit

What is a card sleeve Finish?

The finish refers to the gloss or matte of the card sleeve. 

Glossy sleeves have a clear, shiny finish that makes the colors of the card’s artwork pop, providing a high-clarity view of the card. The backs are often a solid color.

Some players find that glossy sleeves are a bit more slippery, which can make them, new card sleeves especially, harder to handle and shuffle. However, this also depends on the specific brand and quality of the sleeves.

Glossy sleeves can sometimes show scratches and scuffs more readily than matte sleeves. 

Ultra pro blue glossy sleeves
Ultra Pro Standard Gloss Sleeves Pack

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Matte sleeves have a frosted or non-glossy finish. This can slightly dull the card’s colors but can reduce glare, making it easier to read the card under bright lights.

Matte sleeves often provide a better grip, making them easier to shuffle and handle compared to glossy sleeves.

Matte sleeves can sometimes be more resistant to showing scratches, scuffs, and fingerprints. Many players regard this syle as the best card sleeves.

Dragon Shield Jet black sleeves
Dragon Shield Matte Sleeves Pack

What is the Design of a Magic card sleeve?

The design of a sleeve usually refers to the outside of the sleeve that is on the card’s back. Some sleeves are simply clear. Other sleeves are solid colors so that you cannot see the back of the actual cards. Some sleeves have artwork on the back, and some sleeves may have pictures or even risque depictions on the back. These are called art sleeves.

Ultra Pro MTG sleeves with colored mana symbols and artwork

What are the different types of sleeves for Magic the Gathering cards and decks?

When someone says they sleeved their deck they are saying they put the contents of their 40-card limited format deck, 60-card standard/modern (etc.) deck, or 100-card Commander deck (EDH deck) into at least single sleeves to protect it during play. This is done by purchasing packs of sleeves either at their local game store or online.

It’s also a good idea to have a few extra sleeves on hand in case any split or get damaged. If this were to happen during tournament play and the sleeves were not changed you may get accused of having marked cards.

Double sleeving is another way to sleeve a deck that has become more common, especially with more valuable decks. This involves putting the card in a thin “inner sleeve” usually upside down, and then into the main single outer sleeve right side up. Many times the inner sleeve may be a penny sleeve.

Ultimate Guard Katana inner sleeves
Ultimate Guard Inner Sleeves

Double sleeving can be a great idea for the best protection during play as it offers an additional layer of protection. Some players may find it more difficult to play with and shuffle double-sleeved cards as they do cause the deck to be thicker and not bend as easily. It will however generally keep played cards in good condition.

Best Card Sleeve brands for MTG

There are many different manufacturers and brands of sleeves, offered by large and small companies. Some of the best options and most commonly found brands include:

Ultra Pro: Ultra Pro is one of the most widely recognized and used brands in the card game community. Most of the MTG cards I use are in Ultra Pro sleeves because they work and they’re easy to find. They’re a great choice. They offer a variety of sleeve types with different finishes (matte, glossy, etc.), and also provide many options for printed or art sleeves. Some players find their basic sleeves to be less durable compared to other brands, but they are generally affordable and readily available. The Ultra Pro Eclipse sleeves series, however, is highly regarded for its quality, shuffle feel, and durability. Ultra Pro products will tend to be available at your local game store.

Ultra Pro website screenshot showing some available sleeves
UltraPro.com Magic Sleeves

**Disclaimer – As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. monocolormagic.com is a participant in the GoAffPro Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to the partner site. Through other affiliate relationships, any links that direct you somewhere else to make a purchase may result in this website making a small commission.**

Dragon Shield (click here to see the latest MTG sleeves from Dragon Shield!): Dragon Shield sleeves are often praised for their durability and have been referred to as the best quality. Their sleeves are known to be thicker and tougher than many competitors, which makes them a good choice for valuable cards or decks.

While Dragon Shield makes a great card sleeve, their main drawback is they can cost more than other brands. They offer both clear and matte varieties, and Dragon Shield mattes in particular are often lauded for their shuffle feel. Dragon Shield also offers art sleeves and perfect fit inner sleeves for double sleeving, instead of using penny sleeves for your inner sleeves. Dragon Shield also offers custom sleeves where you can have them add your artwork to the back.

Dragon Shield website screenshot
DragonShield.com Products

BCW (Brodart Company of Wilsonville): BCW offers a range of card protection products. Their sleeves are often seen as a budget-friendly option and may be the best value. While they might not have the high-end feel of some other brands, they provide basic protection and are usually quite affordable, making them a good choice for less-used decks, large collections, or less valuable cards.

BCW website screenshot
BCWSupplies.com Sleeves

Ultimate Guard (Click here to check the latest Ultimate Guard sleeves at Star City Games!): Ultimate Guard is another well-known brand for its quality. They offer a variety of sleeve types, including the Ultimate Guard Katana sleeves, which are highly praised for their durability, great protection, and smooth shuffle feel. They also offer perfect fit sleeves. Some Magic: the Gathering players find them to be a bit on the pricier side compared to other brands, but they are often seen as worth the cost for the quality provided.

Ultimate Guard website screenshot
UltimateGuard.com Sleeves

Mayday Games: Mayday Games offers a wide variety of sleeve sizes to accommodate different card games, which is appreciated by players of less mainstream games. However, their sleeves are often considered to be a little bit on the thinner side, which might make them less durable compared to the others. They are typically more affordable, and some players find them perfectly satisfactory for games that aren’t handled as roughly as Magic: The Gathering. You’ll have to judge for yourself if they offer enough protection for your needs, you may find them a great deal!

Mayday Games website screenshot
MaydayGames.com Sleeves

Legion Supplies: Legion also offers a range of art sleeves with various designs. Legion sleeves are generally found to be durable, with good shuffling feel and consistent sizing. The colors on their sleeves are also typically vibrant and don’t easily fade with use.

Legion website screenshot
LegionSupplies.com Sleeves

Some other honorable mentions would be Titanshield sleeves or KMC Sleeves such as KMC Perfect Fit may be the right sleeves for your decks. 

Other Considerations for MTG Magic card Protection

Sleeving your deck with some of the best card sleeves is great, and helps protect your cards during use, but you’ll need storage and transportation accessories as well.

Deck Boxes

Deck boxes are specifically designed to store a single deck of cards (usually around 60-100 cards). They come in a variety of materials, from plastic to leather to metal, and may have additional features such as magnetic closures, compartments for dice and counters, or spaces for sideboards. Some deck boxes are large enough to accommodate double-sleeved cards. Popular brands include Ultra ProBCW, and Ultimate Guard. Check out current deck box offerings on Amazon!

Ultra Pro deckbox pack of 5
Ultra Pro Deck Boxes

Binders and Pages

For particularly valuable cards, you might prefer to store them in protective pages within a binder. This allows for easy viewing and keeps the cards flat and protected. Make sure to use pages designed for trading cards, and choose a binder that offers a secure closure. Ultra Pro binder pages are commonly found in most stores that sell card games such as Walmart and Target.

TCG binders available at Target
Card Binders at Target.com

Portfolio Albums

Portfolio Albums are similar to binders, but the pages are usually built into the album itself and can’t be added or removed. This can offer a more secure and stylish presentation for your most valuable cards. Ultra ProDragon ShieldBCWUltimate Guard, and Legion all offer some form of album for this purpose. Click here to check out binders on Amazon!

Ultra Pro website screenshot showing available binders
UltraPro.com Album Style Binders Sample

Card Cases

Card Cases are usually used for transporting multiple decks or a larger number of cards. They’re typically sturdier than deck boxes, often made of hard plastic or metal, and may feature foam padding or adjustable dividers for protection and organization. Dragon Shield offers these Magic Carpet boxes that double as cases with handles. Ultra Pro is well known for their travel cases. BCW offers gaming transport items as well. Ultimate Guard lists a special gaming backpack in their store.

In addition to cases designed to transport cards, many Magic players have started using various toolboxes and parts organizers for transportation. For instance, this Deep Parts Organizer from Stanley is a hit, especially among EDH Commander players. 

Stanley Deep Parts Organizer
Stanley Deep Parts Organizer

Top Loaders and Single Display Cases

If you have valuable singles, or anything graded by a card grading agency, you’ll want to keep it more secure than just sleeves or a binder. Top loaders offer more protection than regular sleeves. They’re a harder plastic shell, and if the cards are in clear card sleeves before going in the top loader, it’s usually very well-protected and hard to dislodge on accident.

Graded and very high-value cards may be kept in a single display case. Some screw down, some are magnetic, while others snap tight, but the idea is once the card is secure, it should not be taken out. BCW offers a good selection of Display Cases.

BCW Supplies screenshot of card display options
BCWSupplies.com Display Cases

Playmats

While playmats may not sound like they fall under card protection, they in fact protect your cards from several things. A playmat can make it easier to pick cards up from the table, preventing bending and wear. A playmat can also prevent anything undesirable from being transferred from the table to the surface of the card or sleeve. The last thing anyone wants is not to see yesterday’s spilled Kool-Aid and set their deck down in it. 

There are several great playmat companies beyond the sleeve companies already mentioned, though several of them have playmats as well. Check out the playmats at Amazon here! Inked Gaming has a variety of excellent artwork, high-quality playmats.

Inked Gaming screenshot of available playmats
InkedGaming.com Playmat Sample

So What Are the Best Card Sleeves for MTG?

The short answer is the best card sleeves are the ones that work for you. Are you looking for a good storage option, an option that works for card collectors, or something to keep your cards looking creat through competitive play? Whatever your reason, sleeving your deck is a great option to get years of use out of your cards.

There are several different companies mentioned above that make great sleeves, and they’re all different. Try different brands on your different decks until you find the ones you like the best! 

For me, Ultra Pro is my top pick because of ease of access in my area, and the variety of products offered.

Be sure to share your experiences with different sleeves and card protection in the comments. If you have any great brands or tips to share that I missed, drop those in the comments as well or shoot me an email: [email protected]

Looking for sleeves, or something else as a Holiday gift? Check out our 2023 Christmas holiday MTG gift guide!

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All cards are copyright Wizards of the Coast and many above images and symbols are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC (now a subsidiary of Hasbro.)

Featured Image courtesy of Reddit Post

Bryan - MCM
Author: Bryan - MCM

Magic player since Revised in 94. Still remember opening boosters of Revised, the Dark, and Arabian Nights as a kid. Watching it be a big deal (and then let down) when Fallen Empires dropped. Then Magic got it right again and really took off. While the current state of Wizards is debatable, I still enjoy playing with friends and my kids. I don't do tournaments much these days but I've played Draft, Sealed, Standard, Extended (not a thing anymore,) Pre-Release, Grand Prix, States Qualifiers, and Teams tournaments. Though I'm not a judge, I'm the one the friends turn to when there's a rules question, and if I don't know it, I find it. Please, ask me anything, comment on posts, and share Magic with your friends and family!

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