Sparmax MAX 4 – the daily driver for the working modelerDN Models
Sparmax is a company that will surprise you if you get to look at their history. For many, this company became popular only the last 10-15 years ago but they are around long long before that. Actually, the company was founded in 1978, nearly 40 years ago and quickly became recognizable manufacturer among the big brands. Sparmax comes from Taiwan and for those of you who weren’t around 4 decades ago, that meant quality and decent prices back then. There were no China in the game as we know it today and now when they are here, the quality of the products is far from comparable. Made in Taiwan meant reliability most of all and this is valid to this day.
Sparmax became popular with their airbrushes in the last decade but they constantly improved over the years with refining the designs and implementing nice decisions, making them among the leaders in the business. Their airbrushes are comparable with Iwata and Harder & Steenbeck and the label “cheap but decent airbrush” is no longer valid. Actually, their airbrushes are still very affordable, but are no cheap or at least not in the bad way of the meaning. As for quality, they are a lot more than decent. And I can vouch for that from experience and from the fact that I know quite a few modelers who got into Sparmax by first acquiring one: “For primers and eventually varnishes” but now are using the Sparmax airbrushes for every stage of the painting process. Also known as – the daily drivers.
MAX 4 is one of the two airbrushes in the Sparmax’s MAX line, the other one being labeled “Three”. MAX 3 and MAX 4 are pretty much similar in appearance, the difference being – as you might’ve guessed – the needle/nozzle set for each of them. The “Three” has .3mm nozzle and MAX 4 is respectively with .4mm. Both have 7ml color cup.
As a concept, they are designed to be a workhorse, tough and fitting within most of the budgets. The overall look, feel and qualities though, puts them in another category.
The Packing and The Box:
Sparmax MAX 4 comes nicely wrapped in a cardboard box, which holds a plastic clamshell with the orange logo of the company on it. The cardboard is black and sturdy, minimalistic in appearance but just enough to protect the airbrush from damages while in transportation. on the side of it, you can find the description of the exact model /both MAX 3 and MAX 4 are described/ as well as glossy Sparmax logo and airbrush picture embedded in the cardboard on the top. There are bonuses like single-action transformer, cleaning brush and crown cap for this set, which are described properly all over.
The clamshell is made from transparent material, showing the airbrush and the instructions included in the set. It is sturdy but made with finesse and it has a small plastic O-ring hanger on one of its ends. It also features a plastic clasp, guaranteeing your airbrush will stay in the box if you hang it on the wall.
The box is not a big one, definitely smaller compared to Iwata or H&S plastic boxes and with that comes the only budget appearance of the Sparmax MAX 4. The fact that it is smaller and it has a hanger is a great advantage for airbrush storage, especially in case like mine – I do have few of them and one box over the other doesn’t cut the deal. Sometimes, you have to remove the whole pile to get to the airbrush that might be sitting in the bottom.
Sparmax MAX 4 has many qualities, but the most important one for me and the first one I noticed was its balance. The airbrush sits in my hand properly, fits just like a glove. Or, it is a continuation of my arm to be more proper. The weight is right, the trigger is not too light, everything works for me just fine.
Depending on the size of your hands and your overall feel for airbrushes this might be different for you. However, fellow modelers with different approaches towards spraying and of course – different size hands found the MAX 4 to be quite a balanced and comfy spray gun to work with. So it is probably the airbrush here, not me.
The nozzle size is also a thing to be taken into account. Super-fine airbrushes never worked for me. Too small needle/nozzle combos, like .15 or .2 quite often bumped my work for being either too slow for my style or need cleaning of the needle tip too often within an airbrushing session. This of course eliminates the option for spraying varnishes or – God forbid! – primers. It simply takes too much of your time.
Above .3 is suitable for everything, or at least my experience tells me so. MAX 4 has .4 nozzle, which is pretty well suited with its needle and even smallest lines are not a problem. For larger applications it is pretty much self explanatory. The bigger nozzle wins. I do work mostly in 32nd scale aircraft, 35th armor and the rest is 48th. I believe that MAX 4 can include all this within the range of its working force.
Another feature not typical for budget airbrushes is the tail stopper. It is a screw that you unscrew to leave your trigger it’s full motion, or, screw-in to limit the back and forth action and limit the paint respectively. This is something that is absent on the mid- and low-range airbrushes where the tip of the tail is just rounded, nothing more. Here we have the full nine yards. Very useful add-on for those who tend to overspray.
One very important thing is the airbrush coating. MAX 4 is a descendant of the Sparmax DH line and I haven’t seen damages over those, even being used for years. The coating here is superb, the feel is great and the polished look will help you maintain the MAX 4 with ease. Every drop of paint or primer stuck there will be removed easily. Fingerprints disappear quite straight forward too. All this is due to the proper coat.
Compared with matt-coated airbrushes, color coated or even non-metal ones /yes, there are some of those!/ this is pretty much the best possible option. The quality of the outer layer is comparable with Iwata and I believe this is no coincidence.
The add-ons included:
With MAX 4 comes three important goodies, being added as a bonus in the set. Those are the crown cap, the cleaning brush and the single-action transforming part.
The crown cap is my favorite, since I trust in spraying without the cap and only with the needle sticking out. This is risky, but it’s worth the risk. Finer lines are easily achievable. The other possible solution to this is what H&S added in Infinity, a twin horn cap, which is clearing the air around the needle, but doesn’t protect it enough.
Here we have a proper crown, allowing the proper spray to be achieved without too much of a risk. The needle is still protected from all sides, however the air is free to leave around the curves.
The cleaning brush is for those who bought this for a first or eventually their second airbrush. There is no way on Earth that you will have no cleaning tools if you are familiar with airbrushes and are working constantly with them. It is a must to have cleaning tools and this is the end of this story. So if you are a beginner, Sparmax gave a helping hand.
The single-action transformer makes this airbrush very suitable for slightly different purposes. Maybe you will want to use it for primer that way, or eventually – varnish. Or tricky-for-some: metalizer paints. Those are the options where you need steady flow without playing on the trigger unconsciously or even knowingly. It isn’t something for everyday use, especially when you have such a dual-action airbrush as Sparmax MAX 4, but it is good addition to the whole set indeed. At least it gives you the option.
The working modeler needs something reliable, affordable and once used to it – long lasting. In other words, the daily driver – the one we use the most – has to be battle proven airbrush, with good spare parts availability, no defects and with defined decent qualities. With Sparmax MAX 4, we have this and more. It is affordable and even packed within a minimalistic box – manufactured with finesse and precision.
The spare parts are cheap and available in almost all of the respected and popular airbrush supply stores. The airbrush is spraying more than accurately, the maintenance is straight-forward. You can transform it in a single-action gun easily and there is a crown cap included in this set.
If this does not sums it up as the perfect daily driver, I have no clue what does. The way the MAX 4 sits in the hand is pleasant, balanced and the trigger is not flimsy but smooth. The gun is a proven workhorse for many and since I tested it extensively last couple of days, I will make it my daily driver from now on for sure.
If you haven’t got the pleasure of using Sparmax – try it. MAX 4 is among their best airbrushes and I can assure you: you will be surprised how many qualities that airbrush holds once you get to use it. With that price, MAX 4 has no competition on the market. Or, if you are willing to pay twice the price for the same quality, well, be my guest! You won’t be getting anything different than what we have here.