The GI Sportz LVL, or should I say the Machine Gear II. The LVL loader is quite simply a better version of the Machine Gear. The Gear was released about 2 ½ years ago by Machine Paintball the same company known for making the Machine Vapor paintball guns.
The Machine Gear was terrible: it turned off randomly, was very loud, did not feed consistently and the build quality was dreadful.
The Gear was never a bad design, it was just very poorly executed. It seems that Machine tried to make the Gear for as cheap as possible; by using very cheap parts and shoddy manufacturing. I understand this move, Machine is a small company and don’t have the funds to invest in tens of thousands of units and high-quality parts.
Now that GI Sportz has acquired the rights to the design, will it work? Did they throw enough money at it to fix the problems that the Machine Gear had?
The shells of the LVL are made from very strong and durable plastic. No one is ever going to break them during normal use. If you have ever felt or played with a Dye Rotor think very near that level or durability and strength. Zero issues here.
Just like all high-end hoppers on the market, the LVL doesn’t require tools for disassembly. At first, it was a little tricky to get used to how the LVL came apart, but after a few tries it was simple and quick. A lever on the back is pushed up, below that a button is pushed in, the back pops up, the front is unhooked and the top shell is off (like the original rotor). The internal tray comes right out, once the top shell is removed, and is easily set back in place.
Thankfully there is also a normal power button! The Machine Gear used a stupid proximity sensor for its power button. You had to place your finger over the sensor for three seconds to block any light then the loader would turn on or off.
The LVL uses a unique feed system. A rotating rubber ring funnels paintballs, to an arm that directs paintballs into the feed tube. The rubber ring sits unattached on the inside of the hopper and rides along a smooth surface with teeth on the opposite side. Those teeth attach to another gear that is connected to a motor. If the LVL is going to give people trouble down the road this is going to be the culprit. The rubber is soft which is great for gripping paintballs and gripping the internal gear surface, but not for durability. Just like the Spire over long periods of use the rubber may wear down and feeding may become compromised. The rubber is thick and this problem may never arise, only time will tell. The rubber being unattached may also present a problem. The only thing holding the ring in place is friction. If you, for instance, break paint in the hopper the backside of the ring may become slick. Resulting in the ring slipping and not feeding correctly.
Other than the rings possible problems. I like the way the internals work. The tray is large, feeds brittle paint and is easy to clean. Through our testing, it fed consistently and reliably.
While the shells are made from super durable plastic, the internals are not. The internals doesn’t use the same material as the shells, the tray uses a cheaper and more brittle feeling plastic. While the plastics may be less resilient than the shells, I don’t think internal parts breaking should be a problem. Everything is pretty well held in place and should stand up to abuse.
My biggest concern, with the internals, is the way that the batteries are held in place. The LVL uses four AA batteries that are held in a battery pack, that slides into a compartment at the rear of the tray. The battery pack is soldered to two wires that plug into the back of the board. I could see the wires coming loose from replacing the batteries or dropping the battery pack and the wires pulling off. The battery pack is held in the tray by a very small plastic tab, that could also break with use. If this tab broke, the batteries would probably still stay in place due to the lower shell holding them snug.
The LVL comes with three different feed speeds. To test how fast it would feed we grabbed a Geo 3.5 put it in ramp and set the cap at 30 BPS. In mode 1 (the slowest mode) the Geo shot consistent at 13.5 BPS. Mode 2 was a bit faster and the LVL was able to feed 16 BPS. Mode 3 as expected was the fastest at 18 BPS. Depending on the situation you could set the modes accordingly. For example, many of the teams playing in the NXL are using the loader in mode 1.
It should also be said that this puppy is loud. The sound level does change a lot when in different modes. While in mode 1 the LVL is about average and you wouldn’t think of it being loud. Mode 2 is louder and about on par with a Dye Rotor, loud but not to crazy. Mode 3 is the loudest and Mode 3 makes the LVL the loudest loader on the market. For some player, this might matter, for me not sure much. I play in NXL mode all the time so my gun never shoots over 10.5 BPS, mode 1 works fine for me.
After playing all day and shooting about two cases of Valken Redemption pro I had zero issues.
Well did GI make a better Gear? Most definitely, yes.
I always liked the way the Gear was designed, Machine just didn’t execute.
The LVL is a great loader. Overall the LVL is a good buy, it is well built, reliable and feeds consistently. The best part about the LVL has nothing to do with performance and everything to do with price. The LVL is a good loader because of its price. At $154.95 USD The LVL is hitting the market at a price point under every other high-end loader. It is nearly $50 cheaper than every high-end loader out there. The LVL also comes with a speedfeed, If you take this into account its $75 less then most high-end loaders with a speedfeed.
From a pure product standpoint, the LVL is not the best loader on the market, it is not the fastest, lightest, smallest, etc. But it does fill a void in pricing.
When it comes down to it you are buying a $150 loader, when something like the Halo Too for $75 can get the job done. If you are that value-conscious it is likely you would pick an even cheaper option, like the Halo Too. If you are thinking to get a high-end hopper just spend the extra $50 and get a Spire III.
|Virtue Spire III Electronic Paintball Loaders/Hoppers - Black||$199.95||Buy on Amazon|
GI Sportz LVL Gallery
GI Sportz LVL Video Review