How To Load A Paintball Gun? A Step-By-Step Tutorial

By Tavish Archer
Posted On

I still remember clear as day the time I was handed a paintball gun for the first time. One of the first thoughts that rushed to my mind was, “Well, that’s a bulky hopper. Are you seriously supposed to take it off to refill each time it’s empty?”

But here’s the thing – refilling a marker with paintballs is a BREEZE, even for someone completely new to the game. If you’re here to learn how to load a paintball gun, whether it’s a hopper, magazine, or compressed gas tank, you’re about to discover just how easy it really is. Let’s get started.

How To Load A Paintball Gun

So, How To Load Your Paintball Gun?

Most paintball markers use one of TWO loading mechanisms, depending on their design:

Top-loaded hopper

Bottom-fed magazines

The top-loaded hopper is common in speedball guns, while magazines are primarily used with woodsball guns. In this section, I will explain the loading process for both. Let’s get started.

A. Loading Top-Fed Paintball Hopper

Assuming that your paintball gun uses a standard top-fed loader or hopper, the reloading process is pretty quick and straightforward. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Step 1: Before a match, scoop the paintballs up using paint pods. The number of pods you need depends on the duration and type of game, which I have discussed later in this article.
  • Step 2: Now, you can use this step for both loading the first time and reloading during the match. To proceed, press the PUSH SAFE button on your paintball gun – you don’t want it accidentally discharging and hitting someone while you reload.
  • Step 3: The hopper should have a lid on the top – locate it and open it. This shouldn’t be hard since the lid is pretty big, though it might be colored the same as the rest of the hopper.
  • Step 4: Pour the paint balls directly into the loader, according to its capacity.
  • Step 5: Shut the hopper’s lid, set aside the empty pods, and shut their lids as well (optional). You are now ready to start paintballing again.
Paintball gun with top-loaded hopper

B. How To Reload A Paintball Magazine?

Now, while the steps I just described apply to reloading most paintball guns, those with spring-powered magazines like the Tippmann TMC are an exception. These mags are realistic and feed pellets into the marker from underneath, mimicking a real automatic weapon.

Common Problems Faced

Reloading these magazines requires a bit more effort – you have to wind down the spring-powered system manually with your finger and push in the paintballs. Care must be taken during reloading to avoid dimpling the spherical balls due to the tension from the spring.

Having used a Tippmann TMC myself, I must admit that reloading these magazines is time-consuming and can become quite tiresome, especially because they hold only about 20 rounds at most. I used to carry 10-15 of these magazines with me so that I could swap them quickly in the heat of battle. However, this also meant that I had to wind down and refill those mags manually.

Solution: Simplified Loading Process

The good news, though, is that Tippmann came up with a very handy tool to help in this regard – a TMC Magazine Reloader. I happened to be one of its early adopters, and it was really WORTH THE MONEY. Let me give you a quick overview of how it works.

At first glance, the Tippmann paintball reloader may seem a bit bulky. However, this is because it comes with a reservoir large enough to hold around 375 rounds. To put this into perspective, that’s more than enough ammo to fill 18 20-round magazines. Here is what you have to do:

To use the reloader, all you have to do is open the lid on top of its reservoir and pour the paintballs in. You’ll find two winders – they are connected to cranking mechanisms inside. While one is used to wind the magazine, the other loads it with paint pellets.

To reload your paintball magazine, now you need to attach it to the outlet and start turning the winder to wind down the spring as much as possible.

Once the magazine winder feels tight and nice, hold the reloader upright and start turning the other winder. Keep feeding pellets into the magazine until you hear a clicking sound. Detach the magazine from the reloader and plug it back under your marker.

Reloading paintball pistol magazine

How Many Paintballs Do You Need, And How Long Will They Last?

The number of pellets you need depends on several factors, such as the hopper capacity, game mode, the type of paintball gun and its firing rate, your playing style, and more.

In a typical WOODSBALL match, you’d typically need 100 to 150 paintballs per hour. Sometimes, when playing with a high rate of fire, I often end up using as many as 200 pellets an hour. On the other hand, if you’re playing SPEEDBALL, you will need more paintballs, as much as 1000-1500 rounds per hour.

Now, markers with a bottom-fed magazine have a much smaller capacity and can only hold a maximum of 20 paintballs. However, since sharpshooters and snipers usually use these magazines in woodsball, the ammo usage is relatively lower.

You’ll need at least 5 to 10 of these magazines for an hour of paintball games without reloading.

Also Read: What Are Paintballs Made Of?

Paintball is a fun sport

How To Load A Compressed Gas Tank And Cartridge In A Paintball Gun (Or Pistol)?

Paintballs aren’t the only thing that needs to be loaded into a marker. From time to time, the gun will run out of compressed gas (CO2, Green Gas, or HPA), and you’ll have to get it reloaded.

Now, refilling a paintball tank is the easy part since you don’t necessarily have to do it yourself. You’ll have to take the cylinder to a paintball venue or a hobby store, and in both cases, the folks there would handle the refilling.

What I’m going to teach you, though, is how to load the tank or cartridge to your paintball gun once it’s filled. So, let’s get started.

Loading A Compressed Gas Tank

Although HPA, Green Gas, and CO2 tanks differ slightly, the loading process is generally the same for all. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. First, carefully inspect your gun’s O-rings. They are crucial for preventing leaks, so a defective O-ring could cause the tank to lose gas. Also, ensure that the paintball gun isn’t cocked – keep the gun turned off to prevent accidental discharge.
  2. Check the Compressed Gas tank for any signs of defects, just like you did with the marker. Check both the gun and the tank’s threads to ensure they are clean and undamaged.
  3. Gently position the tank, aligning its nozzle with the gun’s inlet and interlocking the threads.
  4. Begin screwing the tank into the gun, but do it gently and evenly. One common mistake beginners make is over-tightening the tank, which can potentially damage the threading or the inlet.
  5. As you turn the tank and screw it into the gun, pay attention to the thread. You should feel the tank engaging with the gun as the tank connects fully and the gun becomes pressurized.
  6. Pull the tank gently to test the seal. It should be completely secure, with no wobbling.

Now your paintball marker is loaded and ready to fire – step into the arena and start showing your opponents who the boss is!

Reloading A CO2 Cartridge

While most paintball guns use the regular HPA or CO2 tanks, they’re just too bulky for the pistols. It doesn’t really make any sense to have a tank that’s larger than the gun, right? Instead, paintball pistols use CO2 cartridges, which are essentially tiny tanks that fit inside a magazine.

  • Paintball pistols have a magazine inside the gun’s handle that’s inserted from underneath, just like real firearms. The first step is to get the magazine out and remove the base cap. However, Some guns don’t have a detachable magazine, which means you just need to take off the base cap and slide out the cartridge.
  • Now, place your new CO2 cartridge in the designated chamber in the magazine, aligning it with the puncture mechanism at the top. The puncture mechanism is typically a small pin or cap designed to pierce the top of the cartridge.
  • The next step is to secure the cartridge in place. A lot of paintball pistols come with their own built-in mechanisms. In case yours doesn’t have one, it’d be a good idea to get an EMG mag pick.
  • Next, keep tightening the cartridge until you hear a hissing sound. This indicates that the puncture mechanism has punctured the cartridge, and gas is now flowing into your gun. Once again, be careful not to over-tighten.
  • Lastly, close the magazine with the base cap and slide it back into your gun. Make sure it’s secure before you start playing – you don’t want the magazine to drop out in the middle of a battle!

Also Read: Parts Of A Paintball Gun

Tips To Get Your Marker Ready For The Next Match

So, you’ve just finished an exciting and intense paintball game with your friends. How do you make sure that the next match is going to be just as fun? Well, by getting your paintball gun ready for it. Before I wrap up this guide, I’m going to drop a few quick tips for you.

Never compromise on the quality of the hopper. I vividly remember my early paintball days when I used fancy cheap loaders that created issues like jamming, damaged pellets, and even breaking from the neck. So, always opt for the best paintball hopper when preparing for the next match.

Reload your hopper or magazines BETWEEN the matches. Loading in the middle of a match is really hard unless you have teammates covering you. Even then, spending a minute reloading your paintball gun means being unavailable for a minute – which can turn the course of the game.

If you can, quickly wipe and clean the inside of the barrel after a match. This will keep residues from building up and potentially causing a blockage.

You don’t have to refill the HPA or CO2 cylinder if you start with a full tank. Even a 12 oz tank holds enough gas to fire around 600 rounds. However, if you have already fired about 400 rounds since the last refill, I’d advise checking how much gas is left and refilling the tank if needed.

Well, now that you know how to load a marker, what are you waiting for? Get a good-quality paintball gun, put ammo, and head to the arena! Whether you use a regular hopper-equipped paintball gun, a mag-fed marker, or a pistol that uses a small CO2 cartridge, you should now be able to load it easily.

In case you would like to see a video guide explaining the right process of loading a paintball gun, here is my recommendation:

If you have any more doubts, ask me in the comments.

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Tavish Archer

Tavish Archer

Tavish Archer is a Recreational Gamer, Author, and Co-Founder of ThrilloGaming. He holds a degree in Sports Management from Mississippi College (MC), United States. His experience and proficiency in the field allow him to provide winning strategies, creative ideas, and expert advice.

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