Paintball is an amazing outdoor activity, and it’s an even better game if you’re someone who loves adventure, adrenaline and strategy. However, at its core, it’s just a game— and that means that there are losers and there are winners.
I haven’t met a single person who loves being a loser.
But people still lose all the same. You definitely wouldn’t want that, so what do you do? Well, the first rule of combat is not to bring a knife to a gunfight. If you want to win at paintball, you’ll be needing the best equipment money can buy. If not, you’ll probably just continue losing.
So what are the best types of equipment that money can buy? Well, good thing that I have a list of the best paintball hoppers right here.
We’ll be looking at the best paintball hoppers on the market, reviewing their strengths, weaknesses and prices. Hopefully, this guide helps you choose the best paintball hopper for you.
Dye Proto Primo Paintball Hopper / Loader
Our top hopper on this list is the Proto Primo hopper. The unassuming hopper is really cheap (costs just about $20), comes in four colours and is a lesson in simplicity. It has a 200 ball capacity and delivers a very consistent vertical feed.
- The hopper comes with a two hundred ball capacity so you never have to run out of bullets while playing (except, of course, in the unlikely situation that you exhaust 200 balls)
- The loader comes with a clear spring-loaded lid which makes it easy to reload.
- The hopper has a positive shelf that helps to relieve the pressure off paintballs and makes gaming easier for you.
- The loader helps shooters to sort and funnel the balls as they shoot. This helps to create a consistent vertical feed.
- This hopper has a flaw that, unfortunately, all hoped share: It just won’t fit some paintball guns. A good example is the brass eagle raptor.
- The hopper tends to pop open if you jump and slam it into the ground. You need to be extra careful when using it.
Dye LT-R Electronic Paintball Loader
The second hopper on this list is yet another product from Dye. It is an electronic loader and as such, it is far more expensive than the traditional gravity-fed hopper types. It costs about $90 and weighs about a pound.
- The hopper comes with patented DYE loader technology that allows the hopper to produce astonishing feed rates (30 balls per second) and still maintain high-level functionality.
- A lot of electric type hoppers usually have problems with power, but the LT-R loader has managed to evade that problem completely. It sets the standard for battery efficiency, even though it is powered by only 3AA batteries. This allows the loader to have an 80,000+ balls shot count.
- The hopper comes with adjustable feed tension and an inbuilt anti-jam sharkfin release trigger that ensures that the constant feed hopper can handle any paint in any condition.
- The LT-R loader has a 200 balls capacity.
- It comes with an interchangeable spring/carrier lid that allows an easy change between lid and optional DYE quick feeds.
- At $99, the LT-R hopper is one of the most expensive brands on the market. Not too many people would be willing to splash over a hundred dollars on paintball gun parts. However, it’s even less expensive than the R1 or R2 rotors.
- Unlike other electronic brands, the LT-R doesn’t beep to let you know when you run out of paint.
Virtue Spire Electronic Paintball Loaders/Hoppers
The Spire has been hailed by some as the best loader in its class, and it comes third here. Interesting fact: The Spire series has won more professional championships than any other loader in its class. That is some major flex.
Being the second Spire hopper (the first being the Spire 200/260), the Spire IR is packed with the same classic features that made the original Spire great. It is lighter, not prone to jamming and even easier to use than the first model.
- One of the big advantages of the Spire IR is that it is smaller than other loaders in its class and thus won’t be undue baggage for players.
- It has proactive feeding, so players never have to worry about the paint. It’s sensors guarantee a constant stream of paint.
- It doesn’t pulse or jam and is quiet and efficient.
- It comes with flexible rubber fingers that ensure that players experience no breakage in paint feed
- It is quite durable as well, as it has a strong nylon back shell that can endure intense wear and tear.
- At over a hundred dollars, this hopper may prove too expensive for some.
- Some of the older versions of the hopper come with a software update that isn’t quite Do It Yourself. You may have to send it back to Virtue to get it done and then returned.
Empire Paintball Halo Too Loader, Matte Black
Fourth on this list is the Halo Too Loader. This loader takes top marks for being ultra-quiet with a belt drive that feeds your marker over 20 balls per second. It comes with a freeway anti-jam that makes sure that the loader doesn’t jam. It has a new matte black polycarbonate shell that is capable of withstanding any hit and can fit up to 180 paintballs. That’s not all— it comes with an onboard computer that allows you to program things like motor speed, feed stack monitoring and microphone sensitivity. All these costs just about $67.
- The loader has a 20+ bps rate of fire
- It is ultra-quiet and sound-activated
- It is lightweight and weighs only about 1.45, pounds
- It comes with a low battery indicator
- Most other hoppers on this list come with a 200 paintballs capacity while the Halo Too has only a 180 paintballs capacity.
- The mic sensitivity can be an issue because if it is set too high, the hopper will hear the sounds of another marker and break a paintball in your loader.
Dye Precision Rotor Paintball Loader
Priced at $119, the Precision Rotor loader is one of the most expensive hoppers on this list. However, what the loader lacks in affordability, it makes up for in functionality. The hopper comes with a feed rate of over fifty balls per second (this exceeds professional standards) and constant feed rate is powered by the amazing combination of opposing rotation of the centre rotor arm and Rotor Loader’s Constant Feed Rotor Carousel. This makes the hopper have a dependable, smooth and rapid-fire performance.
- It comes with a patented Rotor Force Fed technology that guarantees over 50 balls per second
- Players no longer behave to worry about dismantling for maintenance because it is easy to dismantle without any special tools.
- It has a water-resistant coated board that makes the Rotor fully functional underwater for short periods.
- An adjustable torque feature ensures that you can fine-tune your torque settings manually
- Unlike other battery types, the Rotor has long battery life (that’s over a 100,000 ball.count when full) with 3 AA batteries.
- It has a black ops feature that allows you to turn the indicator LED off when playing at night
- It doesn’t come with quick feed in the box. That is sold as an additional add-on.
- At over a hundred dollars, it is really expensive. While the argument can be made that it is worth the price, the argument that there are other similar products that are cheaper is also persuasive.
Virtue Spire III Electronic Paintball Loaders/Hoppers
Number six on our list is the third instalment of the Virtue Spire series with is the Spire III. Admittedly, it is more expensive than the previous versions (it costs around $199), but it also packs more functionality than the previous versions. It is an all-encompassing upgrade and it comes with faster, and more consistent feeding, a design that is guaranteed to win (smaller, lighter, faster) and still doesn’t jam.
- A new hinged shell technology ensures that the Spire III is easier to disassemble and put together again.
- It has a faster jam-proof feeding rate than the Spire II. The drive system is 35% smaller and as such is able to feed good and bad quality paint equally without so much as a pause.
- It has an optional quick-change speed feed. This means that the lid of the hopper can be replaced with the speed feed within seconds.
- It comes with Integrated smart spring ramp that allows players to feed the hopper at any angle. Furthermore, the Spire Reloader had an indicator that automatically notifies you when you’re low on paint.
- The Spire has a new wireless programming feature that allows players to programme the hopper directly from an iPhone or Android device.
The Spire III is high tech for sure, and so is the price. Not very many people would want to go for it as there are way cheaper options on offer.
TIPPMANN SSL-200 Electronic Loader
The SSL-200 Electronic hopper is a new lightweight loader that has an approximately 200 round capacity and comes with a feed rate of 15 balls per second. Unlike other hoppers, the bend sensor of the SSL-200 only works when the marker is fired. This improves efficiency and helps conserve battery.
- It has a feed rate of about 15 balls per second
- It has a 200 round capacity
- It uses one 9v battery
- It isn’t quite complicated and has a very simple design unlike other over the top hoppers.
- It is one of the most versatile loaders and fits almost all the markers on the market.
- The loader only feeds about 15 balls per second— all other hoppers on this list feed higher than that.
Empire Paintball Prophecy Z2 Gun Loader
The Z2 gun loader is one of the most advanced loaders on the market, and it comes last on this list. The loader is made of a super durable and strong material which combines with an ultralight design that makes it almost irresistible. The Z2 is certain to bring a new dynamic to any player’s game and costs just about $79.
- The loader is quite easy to disassemble and needs no extra tools for maintenance.
- It has sound-activated force-feeding, which makes for seamless game performance.
- It has a simple design and it is light, weighing just about 1.32 pounds.
- It has a capacity for about 200 paintballs.
- It comes with a redesigned drive carrier that makes for consistent and fast feeding.
- It feeds 20+ balls per second to your marker.
- It is not really user-friendly and people have complained about how hard it is to assemble when disassembled
A Simple Guide To Buying A Paintball Hopper
When you’re buying a paintball hopper, there are a few important things that you have to look at. Paintball hoppers are diverse and some are useful than others— some are even generally better for certain people than others. Here, we’ll tell you the basic things to look out for when buying a Paintball hopper.
Size and Weight
The first thing that you have to consider before purchasing a loader is the size and weight of what you’re purchasing. You should make sure that what you’re buying is not too big for your marker, or too small for it.
You have to make sure that the hopper you are about to buy or want to buy, is just the right size for the number of paintballs that you prefer to hold in your marker. While most hoppers hold more than a 100 paintballs, only a few reach the 200 paintballs mark. The average of casual paintball player should probably be satisfied with a hopper that holds only about 100 balls, but more serious players should go for hoppers that hold up to 200 balls.
The weight of the potential hopper you want to buy should also matter. I would advise that you choose lighter hoppers because they make it easier for you to manoeuvre in the field without having aching arms. Having light hoppers can significantly improve your chances of winning a match of Paintball. A good weight for hoppers is about 1.45 pounds— if you want unhampered movement, you shouldn’t go for anything that weighs more.
The Competition— Is It Difficult Or Easy?
The level of competition is also important when looking to buy a Paintball loader. If you’re a low-level player with not a lot of experience, it wouldn’t do you a world of good to buy a high-level hopper. Rather, you should start with the lower ones that are mostly for beginners. These low-level hoppers are basically easier to use than other types of hoppers and this would contribute to an enjoyable paintball experience.
For higher-level players, though, you can consider getting higher level hoppers— or professional level ones at any rate. Since many others will be using professional grade hoppers anyway, you would be better served with a hopper that reflects your level of skill. This is especially true if you’re someone who is involved in paintball competitions.
Think Of Your Marker
Before buying a loader, one thing that you must always think of its compatibility with your gun. While a lot of loaders match most paintball guns, there are still some markers that have special requirements for their loaders. If you have a gun like that, it is important to note what those requirements are and purchase only loaders that will prove compatible with your gun.
So, before buying a hopper, ask the vendor if it can fit with the marker that you’ve got at home. Or better still, you can take your marker along to where you want to purchase the loader and check it out yourself.
If you plan on purchasing your hopper online (as I would advise you to), then you need to do your research thoroughly to know whether your marker would be compatible with the loader.
Does It Match Your Style?
There isn’t a lot of variety in hoppers as regards style, but some hoppers are just better suited for some guns than others. You must take into consideration your style as a player and the style of your gun.
Though not compulsory, it is better to have a marker and hopper that suit your playing style than ones that do not.
How Fast Does It Fire?
This is yet another question that you must answer if you want to purchase a paintball hopper. You must get a hopper that will be able to feed your marker as quickly as your finger can pull the trigger.
But this mostly depends on you. If you’re still a beginner and aren’t really a fan of rapid-fire shooting, then you can get a slower hopper. However, if you’re someone who likes to shoot quickly, then a hopper with a high feed rate is the best for you.
How Long Does It Last?
You certainly wouldn’t want to purchase a hopper that would be spoilt in a week or two or even a month or two. You want something that will last and stand the test of time.
This is where reviews come in. Do you know anyone that has bought that particular brand of loader before? How long did it last with them? What do they say about it? That gives you a better idea of how long the hopper is likely to last than anything the vendor or website tells you.
However, if you cannot check trusted reviews, then you should look at the material used to make the product. For example, a hopper that is made out of clear plastic is usually way weaker than one that is not. Feel the body and material? Does it look like it was made to last? If not, move on to another brand. You certainly don’t want to waste money on something that cannot withstand the slightest drop or fall.
With A Great Hopper, You’re Almost A Champion
Like a wise old man who absolutely did not die from bringing a knife to a gunfight once said: “Do not take a knife to a gunfight kiddo, take a gun to a knife fight”.
In paintball, having the right equipment is almost half of the match. If you’ve chosen the right hopper for your game, then you really don’t have so much to do anymore. The right hopper will feed your gun suitably, won’t jam, and would make loading the easiest task in the world.
Who knows? That might be the only thing that your game is missing, and now that you’ve got it, you might just be on your way to being a champion.