Recently I got a question from a young modeler who found me through my YouTube channel. He eventually watched one or some of my airbrush reviews and it got him thinking – which airbrush to get for himself. The line of airbrushes he has a chance to choose from is not a narrow one, but this obviously created some more confusion and added to the frustration.
It is a common problem. I had it myself not so long ago /or maybe it was a long time ago!?/ and I know many who encounter problems in that regard. And I am not saying that this article will end them. It might add to them. But it might help you decide too.
Choosing airbrush is a burden, simply because psychologically, the investment is two – three or more times higher than what you get to pay for a scale model kit. Depending on the scale mostly of course. Anyhow, good airbrush is one of the most important investments that you will have to make during your modeling career and is not to be omitted easily. So I will try to explain the basics that I got from using several airbrushes and testing most of the brands during my modeling journey.
There are many brands, many designs, many options. So to narrow them down to the possible minimum, I would go with three options:
Iwata, Harder & Steenbeck, scale modeling companies own brands. Then it goes down to Trigger Style or standard airbrush.
We are talking dual-action guns here, bear that in mind.
So if you want to buy decent airbrush, you should check scale modeling companies guns and get the idea about the price from them. Gunze-Sangyo, Tamiya, Revell, MENG Models, they do have their offerings. Most of the options are .2 and .3mm needle-nozzle combo, which is pretty much the standard.
So in order to get things correctly, I will narrow my comments to those sizes. In my opinion, .3 is the perfect one. Not too big, nor to small. Enough for the finest details and probably the most widely used. .2 is not bad either, but here we have some airbrushes with limited cup size. So .3.
Then, we have the Iwata Eclipse and High Performance airbrushes, H&S Ultra and Evolution, and of course again – companies own airbrushes. But since those are not exactly Worldwide available, H&S and Iwata stays for this article.
Ultra 2 in 1 features 2 nozzles, .2 and .4. Not exactly what I said above, but pretty close. The airbrush features great precision and that’s why .4 is acceptable substitute for the .3 that I advised for above.
Iwata Eclipse is the main competitor to that. .35 and with pretty much the same qualities as the H&S Ultra. There is no tail regulation of the trigger movement for both of the guns, but you will quickly learn your way around that. Also, the price is pretty much similar.
Then the other two choices are H&S Silverline 2 in 1 and Iwata HP-C Plus. Needle/nozzle combo on H&S is .4 and .2 and those are completely interchangeable with the Ultra. There is a regulation on the movement of the trigger on the tail and the gun is very light and pleasant to work with.
The HP-C Plus is .3 – the perfect nozzle for myself – with control at the tail and Japanese precision. It is slightly heavier and heavier trigger. The parts are not exactly the same, so you should bear that in mind.
In between those 4 guns, there are more similarities than differences. The price for the first pair as for the second one is very close. In between pairs, the price is close too. So here, it will depend solely on your personal preference.
I can assure you that those 4 brushes are one of the most used ones and you have the closest thing to a guarantee for a success if you stick to that.
So if you are still wondering, to conclude:
H&S are more light on the trigger movement. It didn’t fit my style per se. But for most they are just perfect. Parts are interchangeable. Needle, nozzle and so on. Coating is great, they are tough brushes, good workhorses.
Iwata on the other hand, gives you more heavy trigger and airbrush overall. That means more control. Once you stick to one of those brands this will be it most likely. That probably won’t be your last airbrush. You will buy others, trust me. But once you get the feel for one of those two, it will determine the style you are applying and the brands you will be choosing from.
So let’s conclude: If you are not buying from your favorite model brand, you will most likely consider H&S and Iwata. I prefer the latter but it is only my opinion. I’ve tested most of the H&S and they are lovely airbrushes too. However, if you stick to those four listed above, Iwata or H&S it wouldn’t matter. The price is close and not high considering the fact that they do have great warranty and wonderful spare parts network all around the globe.
So if you are still wondering which airbrush, go try out one of these four or all of them. If you manage to like any of them just get it, and within a short period of time you will be able to master it and use it for years to come.
If you go for another brand it might be just fine too. But these here are almost everywhere and used a lot. Not a lot complaints and troubles. So I hope this will help you if you are struggling with this choice.
Maybe, just maybe, I spared you some hours searching, which you can use test spraying! Let me know! I would be happy to answer some questions on the airbrush subject!