If you are a paintball player looking for advice on what kind of hopper to choose? You must already know what purpose they serve.
But if you are new to it, just trying to get an introduction, let us give you all the details you may want to know.
Hopper is a device that sits on a paintball gun, or marker, whatever you prefer to call it, and feeds the gun with paintballs.
Hoppers are also known as feeders and loaders. And their basic function is to hold the paintballs above a gun and feed it. There are two main categories you can divide them into.
- Gravity Hoppers
- Electronic Hoppers
There are many sub-categories of these main two types, but let us discuss the main difference first.
Gravity Feed Paintball Hoppers
As the name suggests, this type of hopper depends on gravity to feed the gun. They are shaped so that the paintballs automatically fall into the feed neck of the gun. Relying solely on Physics and the agitation from your arms these hoppers can send around 5 to 8 balls per second (bps) to your gun.
These old fashioned hoppers are lightweight and cost friendly. And, with the advancement in technology, these hoppers are designed in different ways for a better output.
- The most popular design is a bar or shelf above the feed neck of the gun that evenly distributes the paintballs inside the hopper and eliminates the chance of the rounds getting stuck in the neck’s opening.
- For others, the bottom of the hopper has guidelines to direct the balls in a more disciplined way to the feed neck.
Electronic Paintball Hoppers
These are the new rivals of gravity hoppers. Also called force-fed or agitated hoppers are battery operated. These hoppers usually work through an agitator installed in them that can pass anywhere from 15 to 30 paintballs to the feed neck, depending on the model you choose to buy.
These loaders can cost you a lot more than gravity hoppers. There are different designs in these hoppers as well.
- In some hoppers, the agitator works continuously to force the rounds into the gun. This can be more battery consuming than some others.
- Another type uses sound as its guide and works only when the gun is shooting.
- The third type of mechanism is called “eye-operated” where the hopper sees inside the tube and works only if more paintballs need to be moved to the gun.
Below is a quick comparison between both of these Paintball hoppers, through table.
|Gravity Feed Hoppers
|Electronic Feed Hoppers
|Balls Per Second (BPS) Rate
|5 to 8
|15 to 35
|Starting from 6 dollars
|Starting from 50 dollars
|Super Easy to Maintain and Clean
|A Bit Fragile and Difficult to Maintain
|The Most Durable
|Can Get Damaged
|Solely Dependent on Gravity
|Battery Operated/ May get you in Trouble if you run out of Battery on the field.
|Compatible with any gun, be it a pump, mechanical, or electronic marker.
|Compatible with mechanical and electronic guns
Which One to Choose?
After reading the introduction to both, you must be wondering which type is the best. Do you want to know the answer?
Let us make it clear to you, there is NO true answer to this question. It all depends on your requirements.
Both categories have their own importance. And both have got some advantages and disadvantages.
Here is a list of things you need to consider while making a choice between the two.
Level of the Player
The first thing you need to consider is the “level” of the player you need it for. If you are just beginning as a paintball player, it is always better to start with a gravity feed hopper. Why? Well… because you still do not know how far you are going to get into the game.
Maybe you don’t want to continue playing after the first few games, then why waste the money on a 50-dollar electric hopper when you can use a 6-Dollar one?
Secondly, if you are only a beginner, you are going to need a lot of practice before you actually know what you are doing. You do not need to speed up the process with an electric hopper if you are not going to utilize it while shooting.
Lastly, if you are deciding it for your 9-year-old kid who has just caught the frenzy of playing paintball, better buy him a gravity-feed one because that child is not yet ready to take care of an electric one.
But, if you need a hopper for a seasoned player, an electronic hopper cannot go wrong. That becomes almost a necessity for a professional player. You cannot go back to a gravity hopper once you have started using an electric one.
Electric hoppers are in the market for their promise of speed. You need to consider the games you want to play before you choose which one is best for you.
If you love strategic games more than speedball, you may not need to buy an expensive electronic hopper. But if you love speedball and the games that require more speed/velocity while shooting, go for the electric hopper and you won’t regret the money you spent on it.
As mentioned before, the gravity feed hoppers are solely dependent on gravity. They are low cost in regard to buying as well as maintaining. They do not need any external force to work except for some agitation from your arms to shake the balls down.
On the other hand, electric hoppers are powered by batteries. Imagine running out of batteries right in the middle of a game. You need to be cautious to avoid such situations and change the batteries of your hopper from time to time.
And, if you are a professional player using an electric hopper, you can keep a gravity hopper as a backup plan if such a need arises.
You cannot buy something you do not have money for… such a bitter reality but always present. If you love paintball and want to buy your own gear to avoid rentals, it is a great decision.
But if you do not have money for the electric hopper maybe you should leave it for another time and go for the gravity feed hopper. Anyways, they work pretty decently.
Imagine a big tank full of balls trying to empty itself through a small tube where one ball can fit at a time. All those balls are trying to slide down and fit into the narrow tube. At some point, the balls are going to get stuck in the tube and stop sliding down.
They will require an external force to move further. This is exactly how a gravity hopper works. The paintballs get stuck in there from time to time and you need to shake your gun to get them moving again.
This act is clearly not feasible if you are on a battleground, trying to shoot your enemies. You take the aim, and you are ready to shoot, but OOOPS your paintball gun does not work because the ball is stuck in the hopper. You shake the gun to agitate it, and the chance you got to aim your enemy is missed.
But you do not have to worry about it one bit if you are using an electric hopper because it is continuously supplying you with more paintballs to shoot with as much speed as you like. There is no problem with getting your paintballs getting stuck in the middle of that crucial fight.
Gravity feed hoppers are super easy to maintain. As they work as simple vessels you use to load paintballs without any machinery involved, you do not have to do anything to keep them working except for cleaning them after each use.
You can simply open them up and wipe them clean, or you can even run some warm water over them and wash them thoroughly if you want to.
On the other hand, you need to be a bit more cautious about maintaining and cleaning an electric hopper. Though they are designed to open up and get cleaned, you have to be more careful about them as there is machinery involved in their mechanism.
But you can do that much if you really want to work with professional gear. And, it is worth the effort!
Gravity Feed Paintball Hoppers Pros & Cons
Here are the positive and negative sides of the Gravity Fed Hoppers.
- Low Cost
- Low Maintenance
- Super Durable
- Low Speed
- Balls can get stuck
Electric Paintball Hoppers Pros & Cons
Below are the positive and negative sides of Electronic Paintball Hoppers.
- Super Speedy
- Super Reliable
- Expensive to Buy and Maintain
We will conclude the subject by saying that one kind of hoppers is not superior to others. It all comes down to your needs and requirements. Technology has taken over almost all fields of life. Old technology is getting replaced by new one.
But this is NOT the case here. The gravity feed hoppers are still in demand because they have their own value in the world of paintball.
We have given you a detailed description of the advantages and disadvantages of each kind. It is up to you to decide which one suits you best. You can start with a gravity hopper and upgrade it with an electronic one if you feel like doing it.
We wish you good luck on the exciting journey of paintball.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many paintballs fit into a paintball hopper?
The capacity of hoppers differs widely. Some gravity feed hoppers can have as low a capacity as 50 balls to make them easier to carry even for little kids. But an average hopper has the capacity of 200 paintballs mostly.
Which paintball loaders are best for the kids?
Gravity feed hoppers are the ultimate choice for kids and beginners as they are low maintenance, lightweight, and cost-effective.
Do all hoppers fit on all kinds of paintball markers?
The answer is NO. Where most paintball guns accept all kinds of hoppers, there are variations that do not. In most cases, an electric marker will accept an electric hopper only and that is plain common sense. Your loader’s speed must be compatible with your marker’s speed for an ideal game.