Airbrushing is an art form. As with any art, some are born with it in their blood, some need to develop certain skills and gain experience to be competitive. In scale modeling, those skills are mandatory, if one wants to become a master.
Not everybody love airbrushing. Some even doesn’t like it. Modelers, that are very good in super-detailing and pay a lot attention to the building process, quite often resent the paint process, which includes work mostly with an airbrush tool. To ease up life of those that aren’t born with that art in their blood, there is light in the end of the tunnel.
Pistol grip airbrushes were mentioned to me 7 years ago, by a master modeler, who tend to use them as a main tool for mottling and Luftwaffe complex camo patterns. The main motive for using a pistol grip airbrush is the control. Controlling everything is the key to successful airbrushing, and while proper paint preparation is essential, without a tool that fits your hand you will be more or less in trouble.
Pistol grip airbrush gives more effortless operation, for those that does not have steady hands. It also provides easier control over the paint and air mixture, by offering a trigger that works in one direction only. With the standard dual action airbrush, we have a trigger that goes down for air and back for paint. Here, we have only back-front movement.
Otherwise, the idea is the same. It isn’t a single-action airbrush if that comes to your mind reading the above. It also features a tail stopper and good balance, despite the larger appearance.
It is – all in all – based on the idea of ergonomics and simplicity of working process.
What’s in the box:
Sparmax GP-35 comes in the plastic clamshell, placed in a cardboard holder. The packing is similar to most of the Sparmax airbrushes, however we have bigger size of everything here. The cardboard boxing is with 21.5cm width, 12cm height and 5cm thickness. The clamshell – just a bit smaller.
The packing includes foaming material sealing everything and preventing airbrush from moving unnecessary in the plastic box. It is rather tightly attached inside, due to the fact that the box have hanger which you can use to hang your airbrush to the wall for easier access and space conservation.
The fact that the plastic is translucent adds to the idea here, allowing you to see all your Sparmax airbrushes that are hanging on the wall and have quick access to any of them.
Inside, we have two color cups, both made from metal. One is 7ml capacity, the other one is 15ml. The fitting of the GP-35 is standard – 1/8 and as its name suggests, it comes equipped with .35mm nozzle.
We have a wrench, a cleaning brush, and a hose connector, braided and designed to be used with a simple hose without any connection. Thus, any pneumatic line from your local hardware store should do the job. Of course the airbrush users are equipped with either quick-connect pieces or with hoses with 1/8 fitting, which by design does to the bottom of the airbrush.
The airbrush is with side-feed, which allows for clean view of the painted surface and comes equipped with a handle. I know that GREX and NEO by Iwata come with a handle set too, but couple of years ago, my Revolution TR-1 wasn’t offering one so I had to buy it. Same goes for other brands that offer pistol grips. Some are used to use the moisture trap for a grip, but quite often holding that messes the thread connected to the airbrush so I would suggest you to avoid that and stick to the good old grip handle. The best way in my opinion is to have a moisture trap right before the handle and then once again before the compressor. Latter one, especially if you are going for long spray sessions with bigger nozzle settings.
Pulling the trigger will start the air action in the first part of the motion. Progressing backwards, the paint will come too. This is more or less, how pistol grip airbrushes work. Sparmax GP-35 is no exception here.
The weight of the airbrush without a cup is 170 grams and with the small cup is 200 grams exactly. That makes it very suitable for long working sessions and the fact that the paint cups are screwed in to the main body of the GP-35 guarantees additional safety.
Aiming at the surface that is about to be painted is easy with pistol-grip airbrush. Side-feed adds to that, allowing the painted object to be clearly visible without any obstructions of your view /gravity feed paint cup for example/.
Trigger isn’t light, but if you press it at its tip the force required is more than acceptable, as well as the movement is controllable only with index or middle finger. Myself personally, at the end of longer spray sessions, either change in between them or use both.
Fine lines are easy job and GP-35 holds itself pretty much like every other airbrush with this nozzle range: .3, .35 or .4, providing satisfactory experience. The nozzle size allows for both fine lines and primer or varnish applications, which makes the tool very versatile. Pretty much the same as with Sparmax SP-35C or MAX3 and MAX 4. Here, in pistol-like appearance of course.
Pistol grip and how it fits your palm:
The fact that the handle is included in the set is of great importance. Without it, it would’ve been not such an easy experience. It will be easier compared to a regular airbrush, no doubt about it, but with the black ergonomic handle, everything comes into place.
Even if one’s hands are very large, it will still be nice to grab on, even though the handle will accommodate lesser number of fingers. I am mentioning that, because for those same guys, smaller airbrushes are a torture. And we are talking the standard pen-line tools, widely used all over the World. Pistol type of airbrush with that handle is the perfect solution for those.
Quality, price, competitors:
Let’s start with competitors that are available for sale. Among those are Iwata Revolution TR series /one of which I have proudly used for couple of years/, GREX Tritium, NEO by Iwata, Mr.Hobby Procon and Zoukei-Mura’s PM-C pistol grip airbrushes. All of those are good and reliable tools, based on the very same principle.
Actually, one modeler explored NEO by Iwata in depth and found out that it is quite similar to the Sparmax airbrush in more than one way. Knowing that Sparmax produces airbrushes for other brands, it will be no surprise if we discover at some point that ZM’s airbrush is too their creation.
Of course some of the others differ in appearance slightly. Some are top feed, GREX show a bit different appearance in terms of colors and grip features, some does not feature handle or additional cups. Above all of course, the needle and nozzles combo are different.
In terms of pricing, they are very close one to another. Iwata is pricy as one might expect and Mr. Procon and Zoukei-Mura are tough to get. All in all, it depends on your personal preference and what is available as maintenance and support. Sparmax offer good support, and I cannot complain by their customer service by no means, so I would stick with them.
Quality on all of those airbrushes is very good. Probably due to the slightly higher /overall/ price asked, or maybe the engineering of the whole tool. I cannot tell. But they are all quite nice tools one can get. Only Chinese cheapo copies might offer inferior quality, but that is something that you must be aware of already.
In case you are not born with airbrushing art in your blood and want to ease up the paint process, this Sparmax is a nice airbrush to have. The bigger size and the fact that it sits like a small pistol inside your palm adds to the ergonomics as a whole. Almost James Bond style!
Thin lines, mottling, free-hand camouflage patters are all a breeze while using GP-35. Cleaning is also a straight forward process, especially if you flush it regularly. In case you have a cleaning solution that is cheap /I use window cleaners with ammonia all the time/ and spray one or two full large cups with higher pressure, you will have no issues. Only to pull out the needle and wipe it clean from time to time and that’s it!
Silver Bullet moisture trap is a good add-on for this airbrush, since it allows for safe longer spray sessions and that is good way to guarantee no accidents with moisture trapped inside the hose will happen. That goes for all airbrushes with either bigger paint cups or larger nozzles, or both.
Sparmax GP-35 offers a good combo that will suit most of your modeling needs in terms of nozzle size and cup volume. If you maintain it properly, which is quite easy, you will have one reliable and fine airbrush in your toolbox. For those that want to ease up their airbrushing process and minimize the chance of any type of accident, this is the solution!
Very highly recommended!