The paintball hopper, or loader, is the part of the gun that stores the ammo and feeds it into the chamber. The hopper type will greatly affect the speed, reliability and weight of the marker. Although there is a wide variety of paintball hoppers available on the market, they fall broadly into four main categories: force fed, agitating, gravity fed and stick fed.This article will highlight the differences between the types.
1. The Force- Feed Paint Hopper
These mechanized hoppers use a sophisticated spring-loaded or belt powered system to force the paintballs into the gun. They are mostly used by professional players because these innovative systems can keep up with the speed of play at this level.
Some have digital displays to show how many paintballs are left in the hopper. Others use wireless systems to continue feeding the paintballs before the gun’s pneumatic system has begun the next shot cycle. This system increases the loader’s speed and virtually eliminates misfeeds. Battery life is, therefore, extended as the gun doesn’t have to work so hard.
2. The Agitating Paintball Hopper
These hoppers have a propeller inside the container and the small fan blades stop the ammo from blocking the neck of the gun. As with the force-feed hopper, the agitating hopper has a quicker firing pace than a gravity hopper. However, if these loaders come into contact with moisture, their more sophisticated systems can falter and fail to perform properly.
3. The Gravity-Feed Paintball Hopper
These hoppers are ideal for someone wanting a cheap, easy to use hopper for their gun. They have a large container as well as a feed tube. They are able to feed more than eight balls per second, but not necessarily reliably or consistently. They can jam up markers and cause paintballs to pile up above the feed tube, which is placed at the bottom.
4. The Stick-Feed Loader
These are generally used on pump action guns. Their simple tubes can hold about 24 paintballs and run parallel to the gun barrel. You load the paintball by rocking the marker forward. Some stick feeds are vertical to enable gravity feeding, but due to their unreliability, the horizontal types are more popular with stock paintball players.
The paintball hopper is continually evolving and advancing, particularly the more complex types favoured by tournament playing paintballers. Anything from 40 to 300 paintballs can be held by different loaders. There is a hopper out there for every type of player at any level of paintball.