ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Paintball - All About Hoppers & Loaders

Updated on February 15, 2012

What they are, what they do

Ah, hoppers. Or loaders. Those ugly plastic balloons that sit all awkwardly on top of our markers. What's up with that?

Hoppers & loaders hold paintballs and feed them directly to the marker. They come in various shapes, sizes & brands, and different features & abilities.

Now the basic terminology - hopper & loader. Generally, it doesn't matter which you call them. But if you want to get technical, a hopper is just a hopper; very plain, very simple, gravity does most of the work. A loader is a hopper with some sort of mechanism that moves the paintballs, to boost the rate of feeding. Really just a lesson in semantics, some knowledge for idiot savants, but it's worth putting that out there. And it helps with these next few sections.

Mixed bag of gravity-feds (except the one in the top left is electronic - Ricochet AK, uses a bend sensor).
Mixed bag of gravity-feds (except the one in the top left is electronic - Ricochet AK, uses a bend sensor).

Hoppers (the plain ones)

So, yes, hoppers. Gravity does all the work with these puppies. They're nothing more than hollow plastic balloons in various designs, but in the end they all do the same thing. Cheap & simple, but slow feeding & need occasional shakes as balls often get crowded around the feedneck.

Hoppers come in various sizes. Like these!

  • Feed tubes: 10-15 rd (round) tubes, usually used on some pump markers.
  • Pocket hoppers: 40-50 rd, again most often used on some pump markers.
  • Standard hoppers: 200 rd ones seen on rentals, beginner packages, etc.
  • Uncommon hoppers: other sizes exist, but are largely rare to see, since not everone knows about them these days (like APP's 300 rd loader from the late 1980s).

Collection of loaders: Vlocitys on either side (force-fed, vision), Revlution on top (agitating, vision), and Halo B on bottom (force-fed, originally vision but upgraded to sound-activation).
Collection of loaders: Vlocitys on either side (force-fed, vision), Revlution on top (agitating, vision), and Halo B on bottom (force-fed, originally vision but upgraded to sound-activation).

Loaders (the fancy ones)

Loaders are hoppers that have a little something extra to enhance their performance. Usually, this enhancement is in the form of some electronics. But there are some rather unique ones that involve springs, which i'll cover in the last section. For now, let's cover the main types of loaders, the electronic ones. All have one thing in common: battery-powered motor controlled by a circuit board.

  • Agitating: the most rudimentary of loaders. The motor spins a simplistic impeller, and this impeller stirs up the paintballs to prevent them from bottle-necking. Some agitate constantly while the loader is on, others only operate only at certain times (which i'll explain soon).
  • Force-fed: the motor is beefier & the impeller is more complex; designed not to agitate, but to purposefully hold and move rows of paintballs straight down the feedneck. Some even have spring-loaded impellers that maintain a certain amount of pressure on the stack of balls in the feedneck.

Within these types of loaders, there are 4 ways that activate their operation (listed in order of complexity).

  • Constant: flip the switch, and the impeller spins forever, or as batter power allows (or until you turn it off). Only used in the cheapest of agitating loaders, and really aren't worth owning. Being constantly spinning, there's a lot of noise, and it drains the battery(ies) fairly quickly. Sometimes the force at which they spin can crush paintballs, if they catch a crappy ball at the wrong angle.
  • Bend sensor: a plastic or metal tab sits near the top of the feedneck. The tab has a sensor connected to the board. When the tab is bent, it means there's a ball there, and the loader is at rest; when the tab is no longer bent, it means a ball has moved, so the loader knows to spin to get another ball in place. Pretty reliable & no-nonsense, but the tab can get worn out over time.
  • Vision: a pair (or 2 pairs) of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are connected to the board, commonly called "eyes." When the eyes "see" a ball, the loader is at rest; when they don't, the loader knows to spin. This is the first sensor system to be used in force-fed loaders.
  • Sound: a sort of microphone picks up certain sounds, like the ones most associated with the marker firing. But to more understand how that works, you should understand how sound works - a series of vibrations that our brains translate. So really these loaders sense the vibrations of the marker firing, so not just any sound activates it.

Spring-loaded stick feed mounted on an Empire Trracer.
Spring-loaded stick feed mounted on an Empire Trracer.
Pod from the QLoader system.  I've never owned a warp feed, so got no pic of one.
Pod from the QLoader system. I've never owned a warp feed, so got no pic of one.

The Oddballs

There are some oddball loaders that don't use electronics, but they aren't gravity-fed. And here they are:

  • Spring-loaded feed tubes: most common example right now is the stick loader made by Empire/BT, usually used on either the Empire Trracer pump or BT SA-17 pistol. There's a small plate with a spring behind it; when loaded, the spring-backed plate moves paintballs towards the feedneck as you shoot. Found in other feed tubes as well, usually paintball pistols. Some people even make their own.
  • Warp Feed: old school, made by AirGun Designs (AGD). It's a small plastic box w/ a motor & force-fed impeller inside, essentially, with a flexible hose that leads to a marker's feedneck. It requires the use of an electronic loader to load the box with paintballs while the box mechanism boosts the speed and feeds the balls through the hose. It was a bulky assembly, but some people preferred that to having a plastic balloon sitting on top of the marker. Not seen or used much anymore, but some old school ballers love to sport the classics, occasionally.
  • Q-Loader: like the Warp Feed, it's a system that replaces traditional hoppers or loaders by mounting elsewhere on the marker and feeding through a flexible hose. But this system is unique, in the fact that it's not only electronic-free, but also uses proprietary pods. The pods are spring-loaded, similar to spring-loaded stick loaders, but the size of regular pods, and you "plug" them into an attachment mounted underneath the marker's barrel (or wherever you want). Once locked in, the pods release the spring, and the balls zoom up the hose.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      TwistedFate2057 

      6 years ago

      Interesting. I've been playing paintball for years and I've never heard of/seen some of these.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)