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Ricochet Sniper AK
By Bill Mills - March 2005

One thing often ignored in loader design is sound – the sound of paintballs rattling around inside, as well as the motor spin on agitating loaders.  Realistically the motor typically isn’t a worry, because the “Pop! Pop! Pop!” of the paintgun shooting at the same time tends to be more of a givaway to a player’s position.  The sound of rattling pint can be an issue though, especially for scenario and woods players who make stealth a big part of their game.

In the later 1980s when hoppers were still a fairly new feature in the sport, some players addressed hopper noise by cutting many holes in the body of their plastic hopper, so it became more of a cage than a resonating chamber.  The trouble with this approach was that the paint was more exposed to splatter and moisture.  Another approach was to cover the hopper in neoprene.  While this is still done by some today, many fields will not allow it, saying it is unfair padding designed to keep paintballs from breaking on the hopper.

Ricochet Development has dampened the sound from their AK loader in a different way – by padding the inside.  The Ricochet Sniper is a Ricochet AK 9volt motorized loader with a rubbery molded interior liner.  The black liner serves to protect against the sounds of rattling paint.

To see just what effect the rubber had on sound, Ricochet Sniper used for review was compared to a standard Ricochet AK for sound output.  Three sound level readings were taken at a distance of 12 inches from each loader with the loader running from full to empty into a pod, and with the loader simply rocked from front to back.  For each trial, the highest sound level through the entire cycle was recorded.

First, the standard loader.  While emptying, it consistently produced 77 dB as its loudest level.  While rocking back and forth – an action more typical to where noise can be an issue for stealth oriented players – it produced 68, 68 and 70 dB peak sound levels, for an average of 68.7dB.  The sniper on the other hand, produced 74, 73, and 74 peak dB readings while emptying, for an average of 73.7dB.  While being rocked, its peak readings were 57, 53, and 54 dB.  This was an average peak output of 54.7 dB.

While operating, the Sniper was, on average 3 decibels quieter than its stock counterpart, a not very significant difference.  When rattling from movement, such as when a player is moving into position however, the Stealth was quieter by an average of more than an order of magnitude – fourteen decibels.

The cost for this quieter movement does come with a price, however.  The liner eats up a little of the loader’s interior space, decreasing the amount of paint that can be carried.  The amount, however is so slight that it was unnoticed during testing.

The Ricochet Sniper hopper took the 9-volt powered loader operation of the Ricochet AK, and successfully made it stealthier for players on the prowl.
 


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