Paintball Loader Buyer's Guide
Paintball Loader Buyer's Guide!
Choose the Best Paintball Loader for You!
Spend all the money you want on a high-end, ultra-low-pressure, reliable, accurate and fast paintball gun. But if you don’t feed it paintballs from a loader capable of keeping up, you’ll only be as strong as your weakest link, and that link may just be the wrong hopper for your paintball gun. A paintball loader or paintball hopper plays an important role (for everyone except mag-fed players) on the paintball field, tasked with feeding paintballs into a paintball gun for firing without jamming, blending delicate paintballs designed to break when they hit something, and doing that all day in all kinds of weather. That means that before a player steps on the field to fire their first paintball, a big chunk of how their day’s going to go is going to depend on the loader they twist into their paintball gun’s feed neck. But which one is right for you?
Gravity Fed Hoppers
For most basic, blow-back style paintball guns like the Valken Blackhawk, that don’t fire more than a few shots per second, a paintball player will be able to play game after game, weekend after weekend with little more than a simple, gravity fed paintball hopper like a simple Valken 200 round paintball loader or a GXG 200 round paintball hopper. These are basically a hollow plastic shell with a flip lid at the top allowing for fast reloads and a feed neck that will press into the “elbow” or feed neck of most paintball guns like the Valken Blackhawk or Tippmann 98 Custom paintball gun, and feed 5-7 paintballs per second using nothing more than gravity.
Why wouldn’t that be enough for everyone, you say? Because if you’ve played paintball more than five minutes you’ve played the “shake and bake” game on the paintball field, where you’ve filled your hopper to the brim with paintballs and crammed the lid shut, only to get on the paintball field, line up a target, pull the trigger and nothing comes out but air and embarrassment. So you shake the jammed loader to try and make paintballs feed, and when that doesn’t work, open the lid, spill a few paintballs out, shake it again and get back to the business of trying to shoot your opponents before they shoot you. Basic paintball hoppers are just that – basic. They feed as fast as gravity will allow and are susceptible to jams caused by over-filling, odd-shaped paintballs or soft paintballs when the weather’s hot. Players looking to shoot more than a few shots at a time, or more than a few shots per second like serious players, tournament players or scenario players, need something more.
Electronic Paintball Loaders
Players with mid-to-high-level mechanical paintball guns or more affordable electronic paintball guns like the Eclipse Etha2, the GOG eNMEy Pro, the Eclipse M170R, the Eclipse EMek100 or an Empire Axe will need more than a basic hopper will be able to feed to take full advantage of the capabilities of their paintball gun, as they’re capable of shooting up to, or more than, ten paintballs per second. This is where a solid electronic paintball loader comes in. These loaders, like the Protoyz Speedster, the Pinokio, the Valken V-Max, or the JT Revolution loader match the ability to feed paintballs at ten shots per second or more with rugged construction and affordability. Using a motor, some type of feed neck sensor and an agitator that keeps paintballs from jamming while feeding, electronic loaders enable players to shoot faster than gravity, while keeping enough money in their wallets to actually still be able to afford paintballs! Electronic paintball hoppers like these generally are powered by nine-volt or AA batteries.
High-End Tournament Paintball Loaders
Competitive tournament paintball players all the way up to the pro level need a paintball loader able to consistently feed even the most brittle tournament paintballs consistently into their paintball guns for firing well in excess of ten shots per second, game after game, for days at a time. Money becomes less of an object at this point because tournament-level paintball guns cost hundreds to well-over a thousand dollars and often, when competitive paintball players take the field, there’s money and prizes on the line. High-end paintball loaders often utilize force-feed technology and sensors to feed paintballs consistently without breaking and are powered by AA batteries to provide extended battery life and consistent power. Some of these tournament paintball loaders can even be programmed with various settings designed to optimize feed rates and performance with different types of paintballs and different models of paintball guns! High end loaders like the Dye Rotor R2 and Dye LT-R loader, the Bunkerkings CTRL paintball loader or the Virtue Spire come apart into various pieces for quick repairs, cleaning and maintenance, often without tools, and allow the easy installation of Speed Feed or Quick Feeds that replace their flip-lids, allowing fast reloads in the heat of battle.
Players willing to spend top dollar on their paintball equipment, especially their paintball guns, need not try to save a buck or two when it comes to their peripherals like their compressed air tank and paintball loader that they’ll trust with feeding their paintball gun with paintballs and air. A paintball gun matched with the improper loader will never perform to its full potential, while even a mid-range paintball gun paired with a high-quality, high-performance paintball loader will shoot faster, shoot more consistently, break fewer paintballs and simply provide its owner with a better chance to shoot opponents, hang flags, and win games!