If you love paintball and are looking for the right loader for your next game, then you've come to the right place...
Speedball is a sport that requires accuracy as much as it demands strategy. However, even given those requirements we as the flawed creatures we are, still manage to empty a couple of canisters or two onto the ground in the heat of battle instead of at our targets.
This is why it’s important to search for and maintain a valuable and solidly made hopper of your own that offers a larger capacity for ammunition and is trauma resistant.
Here, to help you out along the way, we offer a list of the finest loaders (aka “hoppers”, note: I will be using these terms interchangeable in this article, I’m revering to the same thing – that black nut shaped object that feeds the paintballs into your paintball gun) on the market as of now.
The Dye Roto R2 is an expensive piece of equipment that ranges can be purchased for under $200 on amazon, depending on which color of hopper you purchase. But, that is not to say it is overpriced.
The Dye Roto R2 has an ammunition capacity ranging from 200-260 pellets due to its innovative, retractable design. It maintains for itself the achievement of being the very first loader to offer the user the ability to increase their paintball capacity without the use of any additional tools.
Located at the butt-end of the hopper is a switch that unlocks the upper half of the device to allow it to expand. The hopper is capable of loading 30 pellets per second into the chamber of your gun right out of the box, and additionally, is speed loader compatible(though it does come separately).
This is not to say the Dye Roto is slow and not worth the expense. The Dye Roto has been revered as the top hopper on the market. There is very little wrong if any that this piece will do for you on the field.
The hole at the top of the gun where you load your rounds into is 20% larger than its predecessor which reduces waste from spills. It has a Reload Alert System and a Battery Life Indicator.
Furthermore, the hopper has a jam prevention system built into the hopper to prevent your experience from becoming sodden by the tragedy of a splattered hopper.
There will be a “Shark Fin” located underneath the base of the Dye R2 which can be pressed to move any warped paintballs that would otherwise jam your marker. The hopper is powered by only 3 AA batteries.
The gun also weighs under one and-a-half pounds. The hopper will fit on any maker that has a standard feed neck. So, yes this will fit the Mini GS, AZODIN KAOS 2, and most others you’ll find on amazon.
The HK Army Pinokio Speed Hopper goes for under $100 on amazon and offers the user a simplistic piece of machinery that is easy to take care of. On top of this, it is used by one of the most prolific teams in tournament speedball (Dynasty Teams).
It offers a very condensed design to allow for a much broader perspective of the field. The material of the shell is composed of a sturdy Nylon and proved time and time again that it is one of the most trauma-resistant hoppers on the market today.
Like most electronic hoppers, the HK Army Pinokio loads about 30 paintballs per second into the chamber.
However, unlike most, the hopper has been designed with a much wider nose cone which is able to be removed with a flick of a switch which allows for easier cleaning and maintenance.
Additionally, the hopper can be easily paired with a speed feeder (though again, it comes separately). Located on the side of the hopper is the on/off button.
A downside (depending on your preference), is that the hopper requires two nine-volt batteries.
Like the Dye Roto R2, the Virtue Spire III has the functionality of expanding the body of the hopper to fit a larger amount of pellets. With its hinged-shell design, the hopper is able to fit into its sleek frame a capacity of about 200-280 paintballs depending on the user’s choice.
Additionally, the hopper can be completely disassembled without the use of any tools. Within the body lies a wonderful piece of technology called, a spring ramp. This piece slides paintballs down into the feed neck without the player having to shake his marker and serves to maintain a constant rate-of-fire when running low on ammunition.
Furthermore, the Spire III offers an alarm that alerts the user when the battery is running low. The lid of the hopper can be removed more easily than any other marker on the market and quickens the process of attaching a speed feed system onto your marker.
It has LED lights that warn the user of both dwindling ammunition and low battery life. The top of the hopper can be opened by a button located at the back and is attached to the hopper by a hinge.
The spindle responsible for sorting through and feeding all of the paintballs into the chamber of your marker is held in place by magnets which allow for easier removal and a much quicker cleanup time (though it is rare that you will ever see a virtue product jam).
The Dye Proto Primo hopper offers a more mechanically inclined take on the traditional gravity hopper. Rather than relinquishing the reins to gravity in order to drop the pellets into the feed neck, Dye has created an additional, slightly-slanted floor within the hopper to prevent any tension from preventing a pellet to load the barrel.
Rather than falling into the feed neck, the paintballs will roll from one level to the other until they have slid down the tube and into your barrel. The hopper body is able to be disassembled into two halves for easy cleaning, and offers a wide, feeding hole at the top for cleaner loading.
Unlike most gravity hoppers, the Proto Primo is able to fix any jams within the hopper with a slight shake as opposed to beating it like it owed you money which makes for a serious benefit when considering how cheap it is.
The Dye LT-R hopper is similar to the Virtue Spire III in body shape but is able to be purchase for much less. Like most electronic hoppers, the Dye LT-R will load 30 paintballs per second into the feedneck of your marker.
The device can also shoot up to 100,000 paintball rounds per battery-life. Additionally, it only takes 2 AA batteries.
The Dye LT-R is, perhaps, the best introductory hopper for players who have never used an electronic hopper before or who are just getting into the sport. As a little cherry on top for newer players, the hopper can be completely disassembled without the use of any tools.
The top and bottom halves will split apart when pulled to reveal the wonder within. For a cheap price, the Dye LT-R comes with a jam-release system and a trigger at the bottom of the body to pull whenever a warped paintball gets stuck.
On top of this, the device can be paired with a “rapid reload” attachment (though it comes separately). One of the downsides of the hopper, and unlike the Spire III, is that the LT-R capacity is limited to 200 rounds and is non-adjustable.
Of course, the hopper itself is water resistant, making it suitable for outdoor play and extensive use without break in quality.
The Virtue Spire IR is one of the best, battery-powered paintball loaders on the market (especially given the price). Not only is the loader easy to disassemble for cleaning, but the material of the shell is composed of a durable nylon material that prevents weathering.
The tray within the hopper is able to slide out without the need for tools and contains infrared technology that claims to prevent jams entirely. The one detriment to the device is that it does not come with a spring ramp.
Although, since the parts required for the infrared system are considerably cheaper than that of any other anti-jam system, the price of the hopper is considerably less than most others you can find on the market.
The hopper takes 2 AA batteries and can hold up to about 200 rounds. Unlike the Virtue Spire R2, the Spire IR’s back is noticeably resistant to the wear and tear of heavy speedball play and will last you well into your speedball career.
It is also speed feed compatible, just as the Spire R2 is.
The Empire Splitter Hopper is the best, affordable choice for anyone searching for a gravity hopper. Though there isn’t much to say about it, since it is about as simplistic as a hopper can get, the Splitter is a highly durable device that will serve newer players well for their first couple of years.
The hopper comes as a singular bowl of plastic with a standard sized, loading hole and is compatible with standard feed necks.
The Empire Prophecy Z2 hopper is the fastest loading hopper on the market. Though it is limited to 200 rounds, the Z2 has a force-feeding system within the body that pushes paintballs down into the neck of your barrel.
Additionally, the Z2 offers the user an anti-jam system that prevents the force-feed from popping pellets. Located on the back end of the device is the on/off switch which makes it easy to carry off-field.
The lid on top is magnetic, as well. Although this loader is a bit difficult to disassemble, the process is not all that tedious and still offers a simplistic maintenance procedure for newer players.
By pushing on the bottom you can remove the bottom plate and separate the two halves from each other. Afterwards, the user will be able to slide the sides of the device off as well. Like most other electronic hoppers, the Z2 takes 2 AA batteries and offers countless hours of usage before it depletes entirely.
The Z2 has, perhaps, the most consistent and fastest fire-rate of any other on the market, today. Combined with its force-feeding and anti-jamming system, the Z2 is a trustworthy bit of technology to have on the field.
If you are looking for a cheap, low-profile hopper the Empire Halo Too is a great device to consider. Though it is limited to a one-hundred and eighty paintball capacity and fires at about 20 pellets per second, for just over $60 the Halo Too will serve you about as well as any other.
This hopper is the most balanced of the bunch and rivals the sturdiness of the Primo.
Functionally, paintball loaders / hoppers are the devices through which your markers receive and hold their paintballs. Distinctively, certain loaders / hoppers operate differently than others.
If you’re scouring the internet looking for the richest, smoothest hopper that can be provided to you, you’re going to want to go for an electronically powered loader/hopper. If you are new to the game and consider the hassle of overclocking your rifle to be tedious and unnecessary, you will be more inclined to find yourself a gravity fed loader/hopper.
The difference between the two is as follows:
It is a wearisome struggle for newer players to get acclimated to the various climates of paintball. When exposed to the seemingly endless multitude of accessories they have the option of perfecting their play on the field, they often flock to the most expensive of the bunch.
It is a necessary precept to uphold as a speedball player that the most expensive option is not always the most advantageous, and that it is often necessary to start small and work your way through finding what feels right.
Whether you purchase an electronic or gravity hopper, your skill is directly proportional to your playtime and how comfortable you are with your marker. That said, if you understand that you want to play the game more intensely than if it were merely a recreational activity, your best choice would be to purchase an electronic loader/hopper.
But, really eye them out. They can make for you as much of a difference on the field as your marker does.
Simply put, no. There are acutely made paintball markers, such as those made by Tippmann, that use magazines or a proprietary feeding mechanism to load the barrel. Such markers will either have a magazine insert at the bottom or have a smaller feed neck without a clamp on the top of the barrel (but that is dependent on the manufacturer, of course).
Magazine loaded markers are not usually used in speedball (though pistol markers are an exception). Often, it is the older paintball markers that have narrower feed necks and are incompatible with a standard hopper.
If your marker was produced in the last ten years, then your best bet is that most hoppers will fit it. If not, then you would be wiser to conduct a little research on your marker and buy accordingly (especially if it isn’t a name brand, but we won’t get into that).
An electronic hopper will mechanically sort through the loaded paintballs and will work to reduce the amount of jams or breaks within the hopper and barrel. More often than not, you will come across an external battery-powered hopper, though that isn’t meant to downplay the advantages such hoppers offer.
The only difference is the hassle of going out to buy batteries for your device (which isn’t too bad if you can fit it in with groceries). An electronically-powered hopper will generally come with some sort of feeding-aid that guides the pellets into the chamber, while a gravity hopper will generally come as a plain, empty barrel.
As to whether it is more advantageous to choose one kind over the other, it all comes down to skill level and how intensely you want to play. Electronic hoppers will increase your rate-of-fire and often increase the amount of rounds you can hold, all at the cost of a hefty price tag.
On the other hand, gravity hoppers (loaders) will make for slower gameplay and are much simpler devices to maintain. Furthermore, they come cheap. So, there is that.
A hopper is utilized for two primary purposes. The first being holding ammunition. We all miss occasionally, whether it be playing baseball, basketball or, in this case, paintball.
With this in mind, a hopper offers the player a larger amount of ammunition preloaded into the gun to reduce the amount of time he/she spends reloading. There exists nothing more nasty or frustrating in recreational sport than having to stop mid-game to do some maintenance; and this applies even more so in the modern age when everything can be accessed and accomplished in the wink of an eye.
The second purpose is loading the pellets into the chamber and reducing the chance of a couple balls clogging the feed neck. For such, the same ideas apply. Less maintenance, more play. So a hopper on your marker makes the difference between consistent play, and a metered quality of competition.
Mag-fed markers come with individual magazines that will hold up to 20 paintballs, contrast that with most paintball hoppers that can contain anywhere from 200-280 rounds.
It is advised not to use mag-fed markers in tournament play due to the impracticality of carrying and reloading them during a match. It is much easier to carry individual canisters of about 200 rounds and to pour them into a large chamber than it is to have to insert paintballs manually.
Regardless, both are functional and dependent on what the user wants to use his marker for. If you participate in military roleplay, the mag-fed hoppers are the right choice. If you want to pelt down some baddies in advanced play, get yourself a hopper.