Your Guide to Buying Paintball Hoppers and Loaders



With there being so many paintball hoppers available now days whare are the Top 8 Paintball Hoppers? We decided to put together a non biased Top 8 Paintball Hoppers list and break each hopper down to you to show you why you should be one over another or why you should stay as far away as you can from another.

1) 3Skull Paintball Premium Hopper | 2) Virtue Spire Electronic Paintball Hoppers | 3) Virtue Spire Electronic Hoppers | 4) Empire Paintball Prophecy Z2 Gun Loader | 5) Black Paintball Hopper | 6) Virtue Spire III Electronic Paintball Loaders | 7) Empire Halo Too Loader | 8) DYE LT-R Electronic Paintball Loader |

Paintball hoppers (or loaders) are the devices that store paintballs and load them into the firing chamber of a paintball marker. The advantage of buying your own hopper, rather than renting one from a paintball field, is that you can shoot faster and more consistently without the inconvenience of a low-quality loader chopping your paint and creating a mess inside your marker.

Feed Rate

Feed rate is the speed at which a paintball hopper can feed balls into the paintball marker’s firing chamber. This rate is measured in balls per second (bps). Depending upon the loading mechanism, the feed rate can vary considerably, from just eight bps for the most basic, gravity-feed hopper to up to 50 bps for the most advanced high-end hoppers.

Beginner Gravity-Feed Hoppers

Most beginner hoppers are gravity fed, meaning they rely solely on gravity to draw the paintballs down into the chamber. Many companies manufacture basic 200- round gravity – feed hoppers, and performance difference between brands is essentially negligible. Their design is simple; the hopper consists of a curved 200-round container with a lid.

As gravity is the only mechanism loading the balls into the chamber, the feed rate of these hoppers is the slowest, at just eight bps. This low feed rate can sometimes cause the balls to become jammed inside the hopper.

The solution to these jams is easy; just shake the hopper to dislodge the stuck paintballs. However, the time it takes to shake the hopper is time that could have been spent aiming and firing, so there is an obvious disadvantage to gravity-feed hoppers.

Gravity-feed hoppers are designed for use with mechanical hoppers, and should not be used in electronic or electropneumatic markers, as these markers’ rate of fire typically exceeds a gravity-feed hopper’s low feed rate. When this happens, the marker’s bolt moves faster than the hopper can load paintballs, and the paintballs can get pinched in between the feed neck and the bolt, causing the ball to be chopped.

However, these hoppers do have the advantage of being lightweight, as they do not require batteries or have a motor, and they are the quietest hoppers available for this same reason.

Beginner Electronic Hoppers

Simple electronic – feed hoppers have electronic agitators that can increase the feed rate to a range of 10 to 15 bps. This is a sufficient feed rate for all mechanical markers and most inexpensive electronic markers. Basic electronic hoppers are good options for those wanting an inexpensive hopper that will work with an electronic marker.

Brands such as Tippmann, Extreme Rage, and Viewloader Force offer electronic hoppers that usually sell for less than $100, as of 2012. Electronic hoppers do require a power source, typically in the form of a 9-volt battery.

They also have a few drawbacks, such as noisiness and constant agitation, meaning that once it’s turned on, the hopper runs continuously, which can drain the battery much more quickly than higher quality loaders with sensor-activated feed systems.

Mid-Level Loaders

For those wanting to spend a little more for better performance, there are mid-level loaders with a feed rate of 15 to 25 bps. These loaders typically have an agitating feeding system that is activated by a sensor, usually either a sound sensor or an electric eye. Since the feed motor is only working when activated, these types of loaders are much more battery efficient and are typically more quiet.

Sound-Activated Feed

Loaders with sound – activated feed typically contain a basic microphone that detects the sound of the paintball marker firing and switches on the feed motor, supplying the marker with paint for as long as it is firing. This mechanism was designed when paintball markers were always noisy enough to activate it.

Some newer markers, like the Invert Mini or the Dangerous Power G4, however, can have such silent operation that the hopper’s microphone won’t be able to pick up enough noise to activate the feed motor. Examples of loaders that use a sound-activated feed include the Extreme Rage Sonic DB and Empire Reloader B.

Eye-Activated Feed

With an eye-activated feed, a loader can sense whether the feed tube has a paintball in it, and when the feed tube is full, the motor shuts off. The Invert Halo Too, Viewloader Evolution 3 and 4, and Spyder Fasta loaders all have eye-activated feed systems.

Both sound and eye activated feed mechanisms are great options for mid-level loaders, as they prolong battery life and reduce chop. For those looking for consistency and reliability in a loader, mid-level, sensor activated loaders are the best option.

Cyclone Feeding System

However, the Cyclone Feeding System by Tippmann constitutes a third category of mid-level loader: the pneumatically-powered loader. The Cyclone Feeding System channels gas from the marker through the loader to agitate the feeding mechanism without the need for batteries.

As the agitator is powered by the gas expelled during firing, the loader and marker operate in sync with each other, so breakage and jamming are minimized. These loaders feed at 15 bps.

High-End Loaders

For ultimate, tournament-level performance, there are high-end loaders that provide feed rates that can exceed 50 bps. The most expensive paintball loaders have a force-feed mechanism that uses an impeller to snag paintballs from inside the hopper and force them into the marker. As these mechanisms rely on mechanical force rather than gravity to feed the paint into the marker, force feed loaders are able to attain the fastest feed rates of any loader.

At 25 to 50 bps, these loaders will provide paint faster than most markers can fire it. However, for the highest-end, tournament-grade markers, only force-feed loaders can provide paint fast enough. Models can range in price and feed rate.

The Halo B, which boasts a 23-bps feed rate, is available for $40 to $70 in 2012. It boasts a belt drive system and spring-loaded drive cone that work together to reduce ball breakage, and is upgradeable to 35 bps with the V 35 upgrade board.

The brand Viewloader also offers a high-end force feed hopper, the VLocity, which features flexible blades that are gentler on paint and reduce the risk of paintballs being chopped in the feed neck. They also allow control of the force that the loader places on the paintballs, based on the type of paintball being used. They typically are very affordable, available for under $60, and provide a feed rate of 25 bps.

The Pinokio Loader features a removable nose piece, which stores 200 paintballs in addition to the 200 stored in the main loader. This versatility and capacity, combined with a 30-bps feed rate, makes the Pinokio one of the most sought after high-end loaders. They are usually available in the $50 to 60 price range.

For the ultimate in loader speed and efficiency, the Dye Rotor can offer a feed rate of 50 bps, exceeding the requirement for the highest-end markers. Running on three AA batteries, it can provide more than 50,000 shots before draining the batteries. This high performance comes at a cost, though; Dye Rotors are typically much more expensive than other brands, selling for around $150 as of 2012.

Photo Gallery of the Your Guide to Buying Paintball Hoppers and Loaders

Sport Reviewer