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I use both Dragon Shield and Ultra-Pro.

The reviews and forums don't seem to have a consensus on the question, "Which brand is the best?"

But have there been any quality control tests that show statistically one brand is more reliable than the others?

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+1 for making a answerable question out of a rather subjective matter. –  rahzark Jun 26 '12 at 8:15
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2 Answers

I haven't seen any QC tests but I have been using both over the past year. I have every color of Dragon Shields (except Brown and Pink) and I have only had an issue with 1 set (some tearing on about 10 sleeves). I double sleeve my cards using Perfect Fits on the inside and I riffle shuffle. that puts a ton of stress on the sleeves

Ultra Pros are good, not as thick as Dragon Shields, but I haven't had an issue with them. However, I've seen many of an opponent tear an Ultra Pro midgame.

I always put it to my friends this way... In the lifetime of a box of sleeves you can buy one box of Dragon Shields or 3 boxes of something else.

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Is it still easy to see through the double sleeve? –  BBz Jun 26 '12 at 14:44
@BBz At most, they are just a bit more reflective than single-sleeving. –  Alex P Jun 26 '12 at 14:49
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I have not seen any independent quality assurance tests comparing the various sleeves, and I sincerely doubt there is a comprehensive one to be found. It's probably not economical for anyone involved, since QA comparisons like that can be quite expensive.

From anecdotal evidence at my local shop, which has ~80 player FNMs every week, most players seem to agree agree that:

  • KMC sleeves (matte or normal) are generally the most durable.
  • Dragon Shield will start split during shuffling.
  • Ultra-Pro Pro-Matte will become dirty fairly quickly.

These are the three most popular sleeve types at the shop.

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I've had Ultra-Pros split on me like crazy. –  Alex P Jun 26 '12 at 14:50
That's the problem with anecdotal evidence: I have a totally different experience. I agree Ultra-Pro get dirty quick, but never have I split a Dragon Shield. Their problem, for me, is the fact they start "arching". Durability wise I think they are the best. –  rahzark Jun 26 '12 at 16:20
Strangely, I've never had any trouble with anecdotal evidence! –  The Chaz 2.0 Jun 28 '12 at 15:51
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