First let me say I was extremely excited to see this loader. I really wanted it to succeed. I love dealing with Valken and Valken products so my view might be slightly biased toward Valken. With that being said, we got 3 of these loaders earlier this week and I have had a few hours to tinker with one.
I will jump right in with the most discussed feature (possibly flaw) of the loader, the sensor in the feedtube. Anyone who has used a Ricochet hopper is familiar with the "Tab" sensor; the VMax works in a much similar, but slightly more reliable, way. Rather than having a tab the VMax has a 4-point "ninja star" type roller switch that has almost no resistance to it. When paint rolls past it the loader runs the agitator to feed about 5 more balls past it. It keeps spinning, therefore it keeps feeding paint, until empty.
It sounds pretty good in theory, but most of the criticism that has come down on the new loader is that if you shoot the loader dry it will stop feeding. Luckily this is not entirely true; the feed tube is designed in a way where gravity will reliably carry those first few rounds down the feed tube when dumping a pod into an empty or nearly empty hopper even with the agitator not spinning.
In my bench testing the hopper almost always starts feeding again when paint is added. If the loader doesn't the power button also doubles as a "Prime" button; where when pushed will run the agitator for about one second to get the loader feeding aging. Fortunately I only needed to prime the loader once during testing and that was when I was testing the very old, left-in-the-sun clumps stuck together paint. Despite all the criticism the sensor works pretty well in bench testing.
In short: You do NOT have to prime it when you add paint! Try it before you criticize and don't listen to anusgear.
Picture of the 4 point sensor wheel:
Shells & Weight:
With that out of the way, one of the first things you will notice about the loader is how light it is. Almost 0.4 pounds lighter than the Dye Rotor when empty (with batteries installed). It reminds me a lot of a Revy in terms of weight and balance. The weight does come at a cost, the shells are half the thickness of a Rotor and just feel a bit cheap. I don't think it would survive a propane torch or 10ft drop without falling apart like the Rotor does. Someday I will test this.
Here are the actual weights with Energy Paintball batteries.
VMAX: 0.995 lbs
Rotor: 1.355 lbs
Eggy 4: 1.105 lbs
Revy: 0.830 lbs
Again, much like the Rotor the top shell pops off using a thumb tab under the lid and hinges off a tab in the front. Looking deeper inside the loader the tray on the bottom is not angled at all. It sits, more or less, perfectly flat above the recessed agitator tray. The last 20 rounds or so need to be rolled down into the recess and will not fall in on their own if the loader is held level. This is a minor gripe but if the tray was angled I suppose the capacity would be lessened. At the cost of this loader I would expect a simple pop-up ramp or something. I shouldn't have to shake or rock a $130 loader.
Here you can see the feedneck is made up of 2 parts. The outer is much thinner than the Rotor's one piece feedneck. Fortunately it is one molded piece. I dont see this breaking too easily like a halo or revy.
The Paint Tray
takes a little bending to get it to pop out of its tabs and isn't held in place incredibly well. I don't really see it going anywhere unless you drop the loader. However you really need to make sure it is locked in place when re-installing. Again there are no flexible tabs, you just have to bend the tray into place. The agitator cup, motor, sensor and feed tube assembly come out as one piece by turning a tab and disconnecting a cable to the main board. You do, however need a screwdriver to remove the mainboard from the bottom shell, making this not entirely tool less. I see no real reason to remove the mainboard for normal cleaning or maintenance, but still, not completely tool less.
Here we have the trey removed. We can see the mainboard bolted down and the flexible paddles. Below is another look at the paint tray.
is pretty neat, however it opens a little high, about an inch longer than a standard lid. As a snake player this is a little frustrating. Luckily Valken does say the speed feeds are on the way. The neat part is how you can remove the lid without tools. The pin that holds it in place collapses (Much like a mini TP roll holder) and the lid, spring, and pin all come out in one piece. No more lost lid springs, and makes switching between a lid and a speed feed very easy. The lid can be removed easily with a small screwdriver or fingernail.
VMax open lid height versus Rotor & Revy:
The Battery Door
works, it holds energy 9 volts well without excess force needed to close it. It slides out and folds down on small metal hinges I see them getting broken off easily, but not in game, just if enough force is used when changing batteries. The door is held shut with a small phillips screw, we are told this is optional and the door stay shut well enough with out one. I would still recommend using the screw but it takes away from the "Toolless" design. Currently I have no data on battery life from field testing or Valken...
Closer look at the metal hinges
Surprisingly there is no force feed here. Nothing, no springs, no winding, no load on the paint stack at all. Just a very flexible agitator. The surprising thing is that it actually works pretty well. The agitator is recessed in a cup shaped tray with the feed tube out the front. The spinning of the agitator lines the paint up in the trey and throws it down the tube. It feeds pretty consistently on a marker and works perfectly for today's 12.5 BPS tournament speeds. Valken claims 30+BPS drop speed, which is probably true in bursts. Since most will measure how long it takes to fill a pod this is an AVERAGE feed and for me came out to an average feed of 25BPS. Still very solid and faster than you will ever need to shoot. The best part is how simple this feed system is; no springs, no magnets, no parts turning inside each other to jam up,(I'm looking at you Dye) it just w-o-r-k-s. Valken kept it simple.
How the paint is lined up in the agitator and a closer look at the agitator tray.
This loader is great for what it's designed for; being light, simple, easy to clean. It is simpler to take apart than a rotor and feeds just as well. For today's tournament speeds I see it having no problem at all with an on-gun speed of 20bps. What I like most about it is that it WILL NOT jam, even with sun soaked stuck together paint I could not get it to completely stop up. Also worth noting, there is nothing holding the paint back while the loader is off; the feed tube is still open. This means even if your batteries die or something fails the loader will STILL FEED via gravity, UNLIKE the rotor, prophecy and egg4 where if it fails, you are stuck.
One of the best feeding, simplest loaders you can buy in its price range. As a front player I would prefer this over my Revy, Rotor or Prophecy.
Drop test videos are still being edited and voiceover'ed. I will have those up hopefully this weekend.
Thanks for reading!