lot of airbrushes

23 Best Airbrush Reviews (with MUST read Buying Guide!)

Disclaimer: I may receive an affiliate commission for any links you click. This does not cost you anything but it helps me so I can make more content like this article to share.

We have actually used and tested the best airbrushes and have created these comprehensive reviews and a complete buying guide to help save you time and money for your airbrush purchase!!

If you are in a hurry, here are our recommendations and a quick review of the best airbrushes at three price points:

 

 

There are hundreds of uses for airbrushes. It is a great tool for artists, hobbyists, professionals, and craftspeople. 

In fact, we think it is indispensable in certain applications. Nothing but an airbrush can give you seamless blending between two or more colors. 

Once done properly, there are no brush strokes, no splatters, and no lumps. The ability to quickly and professionally cover many items or a large surface is a major reason to consider using an airbrush.  

There are a couple of tragically bad airbrushes out there, but by and large, they all fall into the  “pretty decent to fantastic”  airbrush category.  Thankfully, they are available for all price points and for many different applications.  We’re hoping here at VeryCreate that we can cut down on the research time for you and organize it so that you can make your best informed purchase.  

handsprayingtrees
Even mother nature looks airbrushed in the fall!

Also consider our recommendation of the best airbrush kit by Paasche Airbrush kit TG- 300R:

We thought we’d also include this mid-price point kit because it’s one of our favorite airbrushes.  This airbrush is made in the USA, whahoo! and includes most of what you need to get right to painting.

One of the reasons this kit is a really good buy is because it includes a compatible air compressor with a tank, hose and cleaning brushes.

You need to have a compressor and hose etc. in order to make any airbrush work. See our companion article on compressors for all the reasons why this compressor is a beautiful option.

Here’s our favorite feature from this airbrush kit –> it is super quiet with very low decibel noise so we can use it while our family watches tv or sleeps with no problems at all. We also love that tank!  It means the compressor isn’t going to turn on after 2 minutes of use to repressurize, or worse, heat up and turn OFF. (Major frustration!)

In addition, we love that the airbrush has multiple tips for versatility and is so highly rated by users.)

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Here is our unboxing video of the Paasche Airbrush kit TG- 300R:

>>unboxing video<<

You will notice that we do not include any of the dirt cheap knock off airbrushes until the very last section of our reviews here.  That’s because they are so unpredictable in quality and we’re not really a fan.

The milling of the components varies from one batch to the other, from one manufacturer to another and moreover the reviews from customers are really dicey.

What you may run into is poorly milled metals that have burrs and uneven surfaces in the interior of the gun that paint catches on and creates splatters,  rickety finger buttons or triggers that do not have smooth action, poorly fitting connectors or parts that don’t last and a plethora of other issues.

If you are content to spend $20 or less into the pot and try an airbrush out, or if you just need one to spray your kid’s science project with,  then, by all means, give one a try!  You might get lucky, but then again, you might get a brush that needs to get filed in the file can #13 after a week or so.

piggie bank unpslash
Ever regret a bargain purchase? We’ve done that so many times!  Our piggy bank is giving us the look that says “Well, what did you EXPECT would happen?”

For our money, pitch in another $30 and you can get a really nice quality dependable airbrush with reliable customer service and parts that will give you years of service.

Ya get what ya pay for for sure, and in the wisdom of older age (ahem), I can say that I “ain’t got time for that”.  I want dependable quality from the outset.

If you are like us, you want to really get the dirt before you invest your very hard-earned cash into something that can be a once in a lifetime purchase. 

We are only reviewing airbrushes that are readily available online (Amazon Prime is fantastic!) and are widely used.   So what to buy???   There is a bit to cover still, so read on.   

 

Top 23 Airbrush Reviews

Based on our research and the availability online for easy purchase, here are our findings. It was very hard to decide between the top 5 of so airbrushes. They are all very good for a fair price.

Lower Cost Airbrushes (typically the best bang for your buck in the short term)

1. Paasche TG #2L (#1 Recommendation Overall — you will be happy with this choice for most circumstances)

Dial needle stop in the rear of the handle for great beginner control.  A few more dollars than the Chinese knockoffs but made in USA with great customer service and parts.  Additional size needles for purchase at the manufacturer’s web site for even more versatility.  Very easy to clean.  PTFE parts will handle solvents without dissolving.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Dual Action Gravity Fed
  • .38mm needle
  • Needs Paasche compatible hose fittings
  • Very easy cleaning
  • Chrome-plated body
  • Optional fan head for up to 3 inch spray
  • Good detail with very fine lines
  • Dial stop in the handle to limit pullback of trigger
  • Great beginner brush
  • PTFE packing will handle solvents
  • Made in USA
  • 4 Oz. barrel cup

2. Iwata Neo (a very solid choice)

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Dual Action Gravity Fed
  • .35 mm needle
  • 1/3 Oz. barrel cup and 1/16 oz cup included
  • Good backflow capabilities for easy cleaning
  • Excellent value for the money
  • Ideal for smaller compressors running at 20 psi
  • The barrel unscrews for really tight visual access to the spray
  • 5 year warranty
  • Hose not included
  • Excellent beginner airbrush
  • Great customer service
  • Great customer reviews
  • Also available in a different model as a trigger handle release

3. Master Airbrush G233-SET (still a very solid choice)

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Lowest price point we’ll review
  • mixed reviews from great to adequate to very poor
  • Multi-needle and tip sizes included .2 mm, .3 mm, .5mm
  • Quick disconnect coupler included
  • Detail to up to 2 inches spray width
  • Difficult to clean
  • Dial stop in the handle to limit pullback of trigger
  • Inconsistent trigger release and paint action
  • Inconsistent paint flow and thickness
  • Hose not included
  • Be sure to use an airbrush cleaner for your last step of cleaning, not water.  The interior parts need to be thoroughly cleaned after each use
  • Made in China

4. Paasche H-Set Single Action Siphon Feed

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Single action for easy control
  • Spray 1/16inch to 1 1/2 inches
  • Two bottles included
  • Easiest to learn how to master
  • Three size spray heads included
  • Super easy cleanup
  • Hose included
  • 1/4-ounce metal cup, 1-ounce bottle assembly, 1-ounce storage bottle
  • Made in USA
  • External mix -paint comes out at the tip and is sprayed on by the air below
  • Capable of handling slightly thicker paints
  • Very good customer reviews

Mid-Price Range Airbrushes (great options but sort of the middle of the road due to price)

5. Iwata Eclipse HP-CS

Very good product made in Japan with 5 year warranty. Spare parts readily available with great customer service worldwide.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Hose included in this bundle
  • 1/8 inch standard fitting
  • .35 mm needle nozzle
  • Quality Japanese made
  • 1/3 oz cup
  • Gravity fed, dual-action
  • Reliable performance
  • Versatile for multiple uses
  • Will handle thicker paints like textile paint and slightly heavier acrylics
  • Easy to clean
  • Excellent customer service
  • Great customer reviews

6. Iwata Revolution

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Dual-action, internal mix
  • 1/3 oz paint barrel
  • PTFE needle packing
  • Very well constructed
  • Highly rated by customers
  • Made in Japan
  • Great customer service
  • Parts easily available
  • .5 mm needle – not the best for tiny applications
  • Great action and control
  • Chrome plated
  • Good for slightly thicker paints
  • Weighs 8.8 oz.

7. Badger Air-Brush Co.  Patriot 105

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Dual Action
  • Sleek black design
  • .5 mm needle and nozzle
  • Cleans fast
  • Not designed for detail
  • Weighs 8.8 oz
  • 1/3 oz barrel cup
  • Great action and control
  • Good long time reputation
  • Made in USA with easy to get replacement parts
  • NO needle guard makes for the fragility of the needle and can’t back bubble for cleaning
  • Two angle needle tip precisely mates with the Patriot’s cone-shaped nozzle enabling a single needle/nozzle (.50 millimeter) configuration to spray virtually any desired material, eliminating the need for various needle/nozzle sizes

8. Badger Air-Brush Co. Sotar 2020-2F

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Extra fine needle sprays a fine hair line up to 3/4 inches wide
  • Which makes the needle very fragile
  • 1/12 oz barrel cup
  •  One year warranty on mfg defects with a lifetime warranty on the PTFE needle bearing and any factory labor repairs
  • Micrometer setting allows user to preset desired spray pattern
  • Made in the USA
  • A precision dial on the rear allows for fine control
  • Best use for very fine details
  • Not the best for covering large square footage
  • Heavier weight in the hand
  • The needle can be removed from the rear end for fast cleaning
  • Weights 8 oz

9. Paasche TG-3F Talon

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

This is the airbrush that I started on and it has served me well.

  • Needle stop dial on the rear of the handle
  • Fine lines to 3 inch spray capabilities
  • Included are three head sizes and special fan aircap (.25mm, .38mm, .66mm)
  • Hose included
  • PTFE packing for spraying any type of fluid ( I really wanted the flexibility to spray enamels for cars and helmets someday)
  • Made in USA
  • Ideal for fine detail
  • 4 oz barrel size
  • If you buy the compressor kit mentioned above, you get the three needle and nozzle sizes (.25 mm and .66 mm) plus a hose and set of cleaning brushes.
  • Dual-action gravity fed
  • Great reputation and reviews
  • Great customer service
  • Replacement parts readily available

10. Harder and Steenbeck Ultra 2 in 1

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Legendary German engineering for unsurpassed quality and machining
  • Hose not included
  • Dual-action gravity fed
  • .2 mm and .4 mm needles
  • .15 mm needle available for an extra cost
  • Dial control for pressure at the rear of airbrush
  • PTFE seals for ultimate durability with solvents and paints
  • Removable paint cups for easy cleaning-but not screwed in=can be knocked off if not careful
  • Trigger pull back action is adjustable
  • Lightweight at 4.8 oz
  • Comes with a 1/8 inch quick disconnect
  • Superior customer ratings
  • When cleaning, the front nozzle is one piece, so that when you remove it to clean, all the paint comes out=mess to contend with
  • Made in Germany, so replacement parts may be slower to arrive

11. and 12. GSI Creos Ps 270 .2mm and the GSI Creos PS 270 .3mm

>>Check Price of the 2.mm on Amazon<<

 

>>Check Price of the .3mm on Amazon<<

  • Quality Japan engineering
  • semi-easy soft button
  • Dual-action gravity fed
  • Dual air pressure adjust system for ultimate control
  • 10 cc. barrel cup with lid
  • Operates well with low pressure
  • Ideal for fine details
  • Great customer reviews
  • Standard 1/8 inch hose included
  • Solid feel in the hand

13. Paasche Vision airbrush TGX#0L

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Needs a 1/8 adapter unless you grab this package deal

  • Dual-action gravity fed
  • .2mm nozzle
  • Black chrome plating
  • USA made
  • Mixed customer reviews
  • Sloped and textured trigger button for great control and feel
  • Rubber seals, so don’t use solvents with this airbrush
  • Fine detail capabilities

14. GSI Creos Mr. ProconBoy WA Trigger Handle

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • .3mm Nozzle
  • Trigger handle for comfort and long-time use
  • Dual-action gravity fed
  • Hose included
  • Quick-release fitting included
  • Made in Japan with great quality
  • Parts available easily in USA
  • Sturdy feel in the hand

15. Sparmax SP 35

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • .35mm Nozzle
  • Gravity-fed dual action
  • 2 cc Barrel cup with lid
  • Adapter included to change it into a single action
  • Adapter included for using compressed air canister=great for travel
  • Easy to clean
  • 2 Year limited warranty
  • Very good for small air pressure use = for makeup applications
  • Good choice for multiple uses like makeup, cake decorating, hobbies and nail art
  • Excellent customer reviews and reputation
  • As of 2018 Sparmax (Originally Taiwan founded in 1978)  is now an Iwata company (Japan)
  • Very good engineering and milling
  • Atomizes well at low pressure
  • Replaceable internal PTFE solvent-proof needle packing for use with solvent-based paints 

16. Iwata Neo TRN 2 Trigger handle

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

The TRN 1 is the same model, but gravity fed with a smaller needle.

  • Side fed = very useful for painting large areas
  • .5mm needle
  • Trigger grip handle for long time use and comfort
  • Easy to control
  • Great customer reviews
  • Made in Japan with excellent milling
  • 1/4 oz. and 1/2 oz. gravity side-feed cup with a 1 oz. Iwata Big Mouth Bottle
  • Designed to work at low pressure
  • Designed to work with NEO AIR for Iwata Miniature Air Compressor
  • Slightly harder to clean than a gravity-fed

High-end Airbrushes (very expensive so we decided to show these lower down the list–although they are high quality, most users won’t need to spend this much)

If you are in the market for high-end airbrushes, you don’t like wasting learning time on less than stellar equipment, or you are probably are a professional user.

This means you most likely already know which airbrush you are going to invest in, but for the sake of variety and education here at VeryCreate, we’ll include a few of the most highly regarded airbrushes for your perusal.

17. Harder & Steenbeck Infinity CR Plus 2in1 

Legendary German engineering on this superior airbrush has loyal owners and professionals highest ratings.  Flawless application of paint with smooth action.  Capable of handling solvents and urethane paints as easily as water-based paints. No clogging issues even with the smallest needle point. Interchangeable cups.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Rave reviews from professional airbrush users
  • Legendary German engineering
  • 15 mm installed nozzle set and 0.2mm additional nozzle set (needle/nozzle/air cap)
  • Precision quick- fix end piece with a numbered dial
  • Innovative, adjustable trigger mechanism for the ultimate control and customization
  • Gravity feed 2ml + 5 cups with lids
  • Sturdy storage case
  • Will last decades of use if cared for correctly
  • The triple coating of copper, nickel and high-gloss exterior chrome plating PTFE seals throughout
  • open needle cap and lever resistance that can be individually varied
  • Easy to clean
  • Replacement parts may take longer to arrive

18. GSI Creos PS 770

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • .18 mm head and needle for tight precision
  • Dual-action, gravity-fed
  • 10ml barrel cup for larger than typical amounts of paint
  • 4-part head system for precision airflow and easy cleaning
  • Japan made superior quality
  • Adjustable tension
  • Not the best for covering large areas of surface
  • Numeric needle adjustment dial for setting your own paint-flow limits
  • Air hose included
  • Excellent customer reviews and reputation
  • Spare parts easily available in USA

19. Grex Tritium.TS3

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Ergonomic double action “pull” trigger controls both air and paint
  • Interchangeable and 360 Degree adjustable side mount reservoirs
  • Patented Quick-Fit needle caps are quick and easy to set up and remove
  • Replaceable solvent proof Teflon seals
  • Side-mounted paint cups for easier viewing of the paint application
  • Includes 7mL (1/4 fl. oz) Side Cup w/ Lid, 15-ml (1/2 fl. oz) Side Cup w/ Lid, Side Siphon Attachment w/ 30-ml (1 fl. oz) Bottle
  • .3mm Needle and nozzle
  • Great 2-stage control delivers as little or as much liquid as you require and, with a narrow or wide spray
  • The needle cap is magnetic, so you can attach it to the back of the airbrush while doing super fine details, and it won’t get lost
  • Many varieties of Grex airbrushes to fit every specification needed are available
  • Great reputation and professional reviews since 1995

Super Low-End Airbrushes (Not Recommended Unless You Only Want 1 or 2 Uses)

20. Professional 0.4mm Nozzle Single Action

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

21. HUBEST New Professional 0.2mm\0.3mm\0.5mm Dual Action Airbrush Kit Spray Paint Gun Kit

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

22. Voilamart Dual Action Airbrush Kit with 0.2mm, 0.3mm, 0.5mm Nozzles

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

23. Dynamic Power Professional Airbrush set

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Best Airbrush Buyers Guide

How to use an airbrush as a beginner 

start here picture with feet
Get your feet on the ground by starting with the basics that you need to know!

If you are a beginner, the first thing you need to do is identify what you are going to use your airbrush for. Each airbrush could be tailored for a specific use. 

For example, if you are painting miniature models, you‘ll need an airbrush capable of a lot of small tight applications.   If you are painting surfboards, you’ll need a wider application and a larger paint holding capacity in the barrel or cup. 

And if you are intending to paint tee shirts for a large group of people with several different colors you’ll appreciate an airbrush that can hold bottles of paint so that you can paint a lot of things with one color then quickly swap out the paint bottles for a different color application. 

Or you may choose an airbrush that is versatile for multiple uses.

Check out some of these amazing examples of the versatility and professional results you can get with an airbrush:

airbrushed blue cake
Creating stunning cakes is easy with an airbrush for spectacular effects!

 

applying airbrush makeup1
Flawless makeup application using an airbrush and special liquid makeup created specifically for airbrush use.

 

fine art illustration airbrush
Airbrushing can create fine art and illustrations that really wow the viewer!

 

airbrush mural
Mural artists can create large works of art quickly with a small amount of paint using an airbrush

 

airbrush for motorcycle unsplash
Spectacular custom effects on motor vehicles using an airbrush, masking, and expert stenciling techniques

 

man airbrushing a tee shirt twins
Airbrush artists can create custom works of art on clothing quickly and professionally!

 

airbrush body painting sfx1
SFX industry artists rely on airbrushing for out-of-this-world special effects with body paint and stencils

 

spray paint dinosaur model
Get professional blending results on models with an airbrush application of color

Here is a partial list of some of the diverse ways to use your airbrush tool:

  • Cake decorating
  • Makeup application
  • Prop making
  • Cosplay accessories and costumes
  • Fabric painting
  • Face painting
  • Fine art
  • Body painting
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Varnishing 
  • Miniature model painting
  • Fishing lures
  • Photo retouching
  • Illustration
  • Auto and motorcycle graphics
  • Taxidermy
  • Murals
  • Auto and motorcycle graphics
  • Manicured nails
  • Ceramic glazes on pottery
  • Painted leather
  • Painted shoes
  • Special effects makeup 
  • Liquid tanning
  • Scenery and backdrop  painting

We prepared a list of questions you need to consider and important points of understanding before you purchase your airbrush

We think it is better to figure out your own preferences and needs before you purchase an airbrush so that you can cut down on wasted time and money later! 

thinking woman unsplash
There are quite a few things to take into consideration when selecting the perfect airbrush for your personal needs

Each one of the points below may impact your final decision on your airbrush.

  1. How meticulous do I need to get?  Will I need fine detail?
  2. How many times will I typically change colors during a painting session?
  3. What is my budget?  Can I invest in something that will allow me to grow?
  4. How careful am I with my supplies?  Do I drop things a lot? How easily can I maintain an expensive delicate tool?
  5. How often will I use my airbrush?
  6. How long of a session will I typically be working with it?  2o minutes or all day long?
  7. Do I have hand limitations like arthritis, injuries or muscle cramping making small repetitive movements difficult or painful?
  8. Do I want to have capabilities to do wide swaths of paint (up to 3 inches)?
  9. Do I have preferences for durability, precision and finely milled craftsmanship in my airbrush?
  10. How available do I need spare parts to be?  Can I wait for several weeks for spare parts to arrive should I break something?
  11. Do I need reliable coverage with no splatters or blobs? 
  12. Do I need paint versatility?  Like moving back and forth from water-based paint like acrylics to urethane-based paints for automotive?
  13. Do I know what type of paint I will most likely use?
  14. Am I a beginner or professional?
  15. Do I need to purchase an all in one kit with a compatible compressor, hose, and airbrush set?
  16. How mechanically inclined am I ? (You’ll need to be detail oriented when you disassemble and clean the airbrush as there are quite a few super tiny pieces on some of them.) 
  17. Will I need to paint upside down (like murals on ceilings or inside large pieces of furniture or stage sets etc.)?
  18. Will I typically need to paint many things the same color and I don’t want to stop and refill the cup every couple of minutes?
  19. How patient and self-disciplined can I be to stop and clean my airbrush a few times in each session and absolutely every time I finish a painting session?
  20. How important to me is the ease of acquiring spare parts or having great customer service if I run into a problem?
stressed man on computer unsplash
Sooooo much to consider! The trick is to make a list of your must-have features and check out our comparison lists!

Key points to consider when you may want to buy an airbrush

  •  If you are going to use your airbrush for edible items like cake and cookie decorating, you should invest in separate airbrushes, hoses, and cups so that parts of the airbrush only come in contact with products intended for eating. The solvents and most paints used for painting and crafts are not meant for human consumption and need to be kept separate from anything that could be eaten.   
  • The cheapest Chinese knock-offs vary from reasonably adequate to very poor.  All the Chinese knock offs will have quality issues, for example, the seals will break down quickly, the triggers will catch and drag as you are spraying, the paint will flow out inconsistently with splatters and blobs.  That being said, the brushes are so inexpensive, you may want to purchase one just to get the feel of how airbrushes work or for experimenting with different techniques.   You might get lucky and be super happy with your purchase!  Just keep in mind that if you get unsatisfactory results, it will most likely be from your tool, not necessarily from your own skillset. 
  • The most expensive airbrushes are so sensitive and so precisely machined that chances are they will be ‘way too much airbrush for your needs…at least for a long while. The brushes near $400- 500 price range are intended for airbrushing use all day long by professionals, or if you are airbrushing every day for several hours and your preference is for a professional quality brush.
  • Every airbrush will splatter or blob if the airbrush isn’t cleaned often during each session or if the paints have not been thinned to perfection. If you can’t be bothered to stop what you are doing to do a few simple maintenance steps during each session, then airbrushing may not be a good fit for you. 
  • The smaller the airbrush needle, the tinier the lines you can get.  The larger the needle, the wider and quicker coverage you can get plus the airbrush can handle a little thicker paint
  • If you want to use thicker paint and cover a lot of area or use your airbrush for long periods of time, you will need a compressor that can output higher psi than a compressor needed for tiny detail, thinner paint and shorter working times.
  • There will be a learning curve with each different paint manufacturer as far as thinning the paint to a correct viscosity goes. Experiment first before you try working on your final work. 
  • For best results, use paints specifically made for airbrushing.  They are created for the least amount of clogging possible with the most coverage and pigmentation.  They are unique!  They also require tweaking how thin the paint is.  Even seasoned airbrush users have to experiment with thinning the paint right out of the jar to get it to the perfect thinness.  
  • You can ruin your airbrush if you don’t thoroughly clean it out after each use….and by cleaning,  I mean disassemble and thoroughly clean your airbrush. Never fear! We have links to great tutorials on how to do it well and fairly fast. 
  • If you intend to use automotive paint, varnishes or paints that will need to be cleaned up with solvents, then you absolutely need an airbrush that specifies that it is constructed with PTFE rings and components. (these are rings that are compatible with solvent use). If you use solvents in your airbrush without these PTFE rings and components, they will dissolve when coming in contact with solvents.  Good-bye airbrush, as some airbrush companies will not have spare parts for you to purchase. Buyer beware!
  • The availability of spare parts is a great selling feature as things wear out or are accidentally broken and you won’t want to wait three months for parts to arrive from a foreign country or a company that does not have great customer service. 
  • Every airbrush is going to clog.  After all, you are pushing paint through a very thin needle!  All airbrushes will require frequent cleaning and back bubbling to remove paint particles that start to adhere to the needle as it is being used.  The worst airbrushes are milled roughly and have less than streamlined innards that catch paint particles easily.  The better the construction, the better it will perform.  The trick is to find the best brush for your price point and your degree of impatience with the cleaning process. 

What are the 3 types of airbrushes:

The first decision you need to make is what type of airbrush.

There are three categories in general. 

1. Gravity Feed Airbrushes 

These airbrushes are used by model makers, artists and illustrators, fishing lure makers, face painters, and any other application that needs a precise touch. They are the most popular airbrush.

  • A Gravity Fed Airbrush is the most versatile.  Some models can utilize very small, medium and larger needles for maximum spray options. 
  • A small amount of paint in a barrel or cup on the top of the airbrush fed into the needle by gravity and is propelled out the front by air from an air compressor. 
  • Gravity-fed airbrushes use the least amount of pressure, so you could get away with a small portable electric compressor (there are downsides to that of course, but we’ll cover that on our article on compressors.  See the link here
  • They use the least amount of paint – a little goes a long way
  • They can have a very small needle, which translates into very fine detail
  • They are fairly lightweight, are comfortable to hold and have an elegant look to them
siphon and gravity fed airbrushes shutterstock paid
Gravity-fed airbrush with the paint cup on the top and Siphon fed airbrush with the paint jar below

2. Siphon Feed Airbrushes

This type of airbrush is ideal for custom textile artists, spray tanners, mural painters, scenery painters, custom car and cycle artists, surfboard painters or anyone wanting to cover a lot of acreage with flawless paint. They are a great choice for varnishing and base coating large surface areas.  

  • Paint is held under the airbrush in glass jars, which hold vastly larger quantities of paint than gravity-fed brushes
  • Therefore, you can spray a lot of square footage fast and evenly without stopping so often to refill the paint jars
  • They are quicker to clean up 
  • They have the ability to give you quick color change out by swapping out different jars of paint
  • The jars of paint can be sealed up with a screw-on lid to preserve paint application for another day -which is amazing if you mix your own paint colors and want to have the same mixture used over and over
  • There is a bit of a delay between the time you depress the application button and the time the paint sprays out because the paint is being sucked up out of the bottle and into the gun.  You can get used to it, but it is a factor.  
lots of syphon airbrushes
A row of siphon airbrushes for quick paint color change out waiting to used.

4. Side Feed Airbrushes

These airbrushes have the paint holding barrel along the side of the airbrush.  They are the least popular style of airbrush, but their users rave about them.

  • You can actually paint while being upside down- which is a necessity for mural painting on ceilings or inside  large objects like furniture or cabinets
  • Versatile with several needle options
  • Longest cleanup time 
  • Some people claim they can see the tip of the needled better because the paint barrel is not quite so in the visual pathway as gravity-fed airbrushes

What is the airbrush action or airbrush handholds?

Ok., hopefully you have answered the above questions and you have narrowed down your preference of airbrush types.  Once you know which airbrush meets your needs in an application, you can decide HOW you want to hold the airbrush. Airbrushes come in three basic handholds.

  • Single Action 
  • Trigger Action 
  • Dual Action

Single Action Airbrushes

Pros

  • This airbrush sprays the same each time you use the brush because the options for control are limited.
  • They are reliable, easy to use and the most user-friendly for beginners because there are fewer things to control with dexterity as you paint. 
  •  Generally, you control the air pressure with a dial at the hose end of the airbrush, or sometimes just with the air compressor.  
  • Generally inexpensive and a good entry-level brush-if you don’t mind spending around $20 to try one out and being ok with setting it aside after a few weeks or months of use because you have outgrown it’s limitations
  • If hand dexterity is a challenge for you, this is a great way to segue into airbrushing

Cons

  • You might outgrow this airbrush very fast.  If you are adept a running a video game controller, you might be frustrated with this airbrush’s lack of sophistication and functional options
  • Needle size is limited so super fine details may be a challenge with this brush

Trigger Action Airbrushes

This guy looks somewhat like a water pistol.  They have a grip handle and you pull back the trigger like a gun or water spray bottle to release air pressure with paint. It’s like your garden hose sprayer! 

 Pros

  • Easiest to hold – similar to a spray gun action
  • Best for low mobility hands or hands that cramp up easily
  • Very comfortable for use for all day long applications
  • Fast to master for beginners

Cons

  • The least popular action airbrush
  • Most airbrush holders that are ‘hole’ shaped won’t’ accommodate the trigger gun. You’ll have to arrange a way to ‘hang’ the airbrush up while not spraying. 

Dual Action Airbrushes

By far the most popular airbrush action is dual.  The button to control the air pressure is the same button you use to release the paint into the airstream.   You depress the button for air and pull back on the button with your index finger to release paint into the needle chamber. If you pull back a lot, you’ll get a blast of paint.  Pull back a little and you get a finer mist of paint.  

Most of the professional airbrushers prefer a dual-action.  For our money, we chose to spend the additional learning curve time on this style of airbrush, rather than leapfrogging into it with a single action first.  The sensitivity of the button and its use varies with each manufacturer and price point, so consult our awesome product comparison chart to check the features and bugaboos of each brand before you make your final decision.   

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Sensitive and responsive
  • Most learning videos are demonstrated on dual-action and assume you are using one too
  • The higher the price point, the finer the engineering on its tooling and manufacture
  • You can depress the release button without drawing back your finger and just get a spray of pure air, no paint

Cons

  • Probably the steepest learning curve
  • More parts to clean and keep track of
  • The cheapest knock off models may have sticking button action or resistant response feel

So, you’re hopefully ready to narrow things down and peruse our chart of features for some of the world’s most popular airbrushes.  This list is based on customer reviews and our own personal experience. It’s not exhaustive though! Airbrushing is a big topic! We hope this helps you a ton.  

 

Here’s a great tutorial on first-time airbrush use:

 >>Video tutorial<<

This how-to video explains all the mechanics involved in cleaning an airbrush:

>>Video tutorial<<

Car airbrush demo for fun!

>>Video tutorial<<

Airbrush basics advice and demonstrations

>>Video tutorial<<

Airbrush masking film techniques

>>Video tutorial<<

Whichever airbrush you decide to purchase, there will be a little bit of a learning curve, so prepare to practice a bit.

Also, remember to thoroughly clean your brush after each painting session and to thin your paints every time you use them!

Most of all, have fun with your great new tool and enjoy creating something that will wow your friends and family!

Come check out our homepage for additional tutorials and product reviews for your next creation!

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