Your cards are an investment. Aside from the countless hours of play they provide; they also appreciate in value. This means that you need to protect them in the best way possible and it doesn’t serve you to go with just any brand. So, of two of the strongest competitors, Dragon Shield and Ultra Pro, who is the best?
Dragon Shield comes out on top in providing a consistent level of protection while showing off your cards to their fullest. Ultra Pro has some perks, which we’ll go over today, but Dragon Shield was ultimately our preferred sleeve of choice.
In this article we’ll give you a breakdown of both sleeves where we compared various qualities to come to our conclusions. We’ll let you know what we tested, the outcomes, and give you a quick comparison of the pros and cons of both sleeves. Was Dragon Shield really the best? Take a peek at our testing and you can see for yourself!
Dragon Shield vs Ultra Pro
Shuffle and Feel
When it comes to shuffling, both sleeves initially started off quite nice. The Dragon Shield sleeves are the thicker of the pair but this didn’t hinder a nice shuffle and we felts that the cards were adequately protected during the process.
The Ultra Pro sleeves also shuffled well… initially. After a period of about 2 weeks, we were starting to notice a little wear and tear from the vigorous shuffling that we were giving the cards. It wasn’t so much a problem with the sleeve actually tearing, but rather they were developing a friction effect where the Ultra Pro sleeves were beginning to stick together.
This didn’t result in any damage but over time, with the cards sticking, one might accidentally end up bending cards or at least stressing them over time so we were a bit disappointed in the Ultra Pros for this.
The Dragon Shield sleeves didn’t have this problem and consistently shuffled well and so we have to give them a win in this category.
When it comes to tearing, the Dragon Shield sleeves are the more resistant of the pair. We’re not certain if they are just thicker (they feel thicker) or if it’s the addition of a logo that you also get with the Ultra Pros, but the Dragon Shields were much harder to deliberately tear.
This tested consistently across the board, with 3 of each tested, leading us to be confident that the tear-resistance of the Dragon Shield sleeves is indeed superior to that of the less expensive Ultra Pros.
Overall Durability and Look
As far as looks, Ultra Pro scored some solid points here. The Eclipse sleeves look great and Ultra Pro also offers a limited, but adequate range of colors with their sleeves that look great housing your cards. That said, the Dragon Shield sleeves do offer more color choices to go with their durability.
We were particularly fond of the Gold Matte sleeves from Dragon Shield and they not only look sharp, but they are the more durable of the pair so they STAY looking sharp. You might not notice as a casual player, but avid Magic the Gathering players will definitely notice more wear and tear over time with the Ultra Pro sleeves rather than the Dragon Shield.
Are Dragon Shield Sleeves Better Than Ultra Pro?
We felt that the Dragon Shield sleeves beat out the Ultra Pro everywhere that it counts. They provide superior protection while still allowing for a good and thorough shuffle. They are thick enough that your cards are well-protected but they are clear so you can show them off, too.
Further, they retain their durability over time. Sleeving your cards with a different brand of sleeve can be expensive, especially if you have a large collection, but re-sleeving with Dragon Shield is a good investment in that you won’t need a re-sleeving anytime soon.
They are built to last and won’t start degrading after a few weeks of vigorous play and show and that’s exactly what you need in a good sleeve.
Are Dragon Shield Sleeves the Best?
As far as the popular brands of sleeves go, Dragon Shields are arguably the best. While some collectors prefer newer brands such as Katana, Dragon Shield is a brand that you hear praise for consistently at tournaments and cons.
With so much backup by word of mouth, we feel it’s safe to say that Dragon Shield sleeves are currently the best on the market and the preferred sleeves of collectors worldwide. It’s hard to argue with so much positive feedback from actual MTG players and card collectors so until a new brand takes the MTG world by storm, Dragon Shield is the reigning champion.
Are Ultra Pro Card Sleeves Good?
Ultra Pro sleeves aren’t bad, per se. They get the job done in a pinch and they cost a little less, so they might be a good fit for beginners who do not yet have a large collection.
Personally, we would recommend saving a re-sleeve in the future by simply going with Dragon Shield now but if you don’t play often, Ultra Pros might do just fine for you. For serious collectors, you’ll want the serious protection that Dragon Shield offers. It just makes good sense.
A Detailed Breakdown of Both Sleeves
Now that we’ve addressed the most common concerns for collectors, we’d like to take a moment to breakdown some of the finer points of both sleeves. Both certainly have their perks as well as their caveats so we hope that this will give you a more complete picture in regards to both sleeving options.
Dragon Shield Matte Gold Sleeves
Dragon Shield Matte Gold sleeves were our ‘test subject’ for this article and they look great. No glare, but they are thick enough to protect and easy to comfortably shuffle once you’ve adjusted to the slightly heavier weight. Let’s break down what we liked and felt could use some improvement.
To check the current price and availability of the Dragon Shield Matte Gold Card Sleeves, click here to view them on Amazon.
What We Liked About These Sleeves
These matte sleeves are thick and this really helps to ease worries about playing some of your more expensive cards. They feel protected and isolated from incident and that’s what they are supposed to do. Other colors are available if you don’t like the gold and the clear fronts provide an excellent view of your cards.
Where We Felt They Could Use Some Improvement
That thickness is a double-edged sword, as your card feels sufficiently weightier… almost like you’ve got 2 cards in one sleeve. The corners of the sleeves are a little sharp as well, but you adjust to that over time. Aside from these items, we really couldn’t find fault with the Dragon Sleeves.
They do what they are supposed to and last a long time.
Ultra Pro Eclipse Green Sleeves
The slimmer Ultra Pro sleeves also come in matte and have a great shuffle out of the box. Your cards don’t feel as heavy, which might appeal to ‘fancy shufflers’ out there for tournament play. Let’s see how the Ultra Pros ultimately rated with a closer look.
To check the current price and availability of Ultra Pro Eclipse Sleeves, click here to view them on Amazon.
What We Liked About These Sleeves
We definitely liked the weight difference. The protective sleeves are tough and do this while staying quite slim. This makes for quick, dazzling shuffles and the smooth backing on these sleeves made that an excellent experience.
Where We Felt They Could Use Some Improvement
After a few weeks these sleeves showed to be dirt magnets, despite attempts to keep the dust at bay. As a result, they tended to stick together. We also got a bit of bending at the corners after a few weeks and that is a huge no-no when it comes to protective sleeves.
We wanted to like these but in the long run, they simply didn’t stand up to vigorous use. With the bending potential and the shuffles starting to stick after a few weeks the decision was a no-brainer.
The final verdict: Dragon Shield sleeves are still the best Today we’ve compared the leading sleeve brands of Dragon Shield and Ultra Pro in a number of tests to see which are the best investment in protecting your prized MTG cards. Dragon Shields proved the more durable of the twain.
Dragon Shields were more resistant to tearing, they have a more consistent shuffling experience, and more color options than the Ultra Pro. While we liked the lighter feel of the Ultra Pro, their tendency to quickly degrade makes us a little nervous and you simply cannot have that when it comes to sleeving your collection.
If you are looking for some sleeves that will consistently provide protection for even the most aggressive players of MTG then Dragon Shield is definitely going to be your sleeve of choice. They deliver consistent protection that won’t wear down anytime soon and keep your cards looking good. Simply put, they give you exactly what you want in quality sleeves.