Getting an Airbrush is a somewhat difficult decision. Price-wise it is on the heavy side, although with the current prices of scale models it might be considered acceptable expense, especially if you deal with larger scales. Now, getting an airbrush for beginners or your “First Airbrush” might be a challenge. On the other hand, what you will see in this article will not be only for beginners. The reason for that is that your first airbrush might be very helpful for you as a beginner’s tool, but in the same time you can buy a tool that can stick with you for quite a while. Airbrushes can last long, as long as a decade or more. Usually, a person uses an airbrush between 3 to 5 years and then either upgrade or renew some of the parts. Some people use them for 5 to 10 years, some even more, which means that the airbrush was a good choice from the get go and that it justified the investment.
The airbrushes that will be mentioned in this article are exactly those IMHO. They are tools that are not simplified for price lowering, nor are way too complex to be un-suitable for beginner and intermediate users. Those are airbrushes that can serve a long and trustworthy career on your bench and are “battle proven”. They are neither too expensive, nor clones of better tools. These are airbrushes that are affordable, reliable and can be your companion for long long time. The most important thing is that they will do all that you need, with the sole requirement from your end – to practice enough to master using them.
Number 5: Paasche Talon TG Dual-Action Gravity Feed airbrush. This is a tool that I used to begin with, when I got into more serious airbrushing. The one that I am showing here has 3 sets of nozzles. The price – considering the set – is on the lower end. I never had any issues with that airbrush, beside one time only. My paint cup cracked, where it joins to airbrush body. Extremely fast reaction from customer service, and I got a new airbrush, without the need to returning the damaged one. So lots of spare parts came as a bonus. The airbrush is good, with odd sized nozzles, but still perfect for almost everything you can think of. A bit heavy though.
Pros: Cheap, 3 sets of nozzles, tail stopper, hose included, big paint cup.
Cons: Odd nozzle sizes, a little off- in terms of balance, a bit heavy, non-standard hose attachment size.
Number 4: Badger 105 – the notorious Patriot. You can spray almost everything through the Patriot and it will never let you down. Well, it might not be never, but we are talking about a very tough tool here. The price is on the lower end and probably this is the cheapest option. It lacks the sophisticated looks as well as some tricky small add-ons that others have, but still this is a legendary airbrush. If you are on a strict budget, this is the tool for you. Some of the best modelers use it and I have mentioned that before in several other airbrush articles.
Pros: Cheap, yet reliable. Perfect for those on a budget. You can spray almost everything through it. Some of the best use it and once you get use to it, it is hardly a replaceable tool.
Cons: Large nozzle size .5mm, rugged looks, poor needle protection, non standard hose attachment.
Number 3: Harder & Steenbeck Ultra 2 in 1. This is a tricky one. The trigger is flimsy and it takes time to get use to it. Ballance-wise it is pretty much the same. You need time for adjustment /if you are a beginner/, especially with the two paint cup options. It has two needle-nozzle setups included which practically gives you two airbrushes. It is not an expensive tool, considering the brand, and the needles and nozzles can be used with the higher-end airbrushes from Harder & Steenbeck.
Pros: Nice brand, precise tool, two needles and nozzles in the pack, parts interchangeable with higher-end airbrushes from the same manufacturer.
Cons: Flimsy trigger, no tail stopper, expensive replacement parts.
Number 2: Sparmax MAX-3 Dual-Action Airbrush. This is my personal favorite. It is reliable and tough airbrush. Many use it as a main weapon of choice and the results that it can give you are astonishing. Sparmax produce airbrushes for other brands for 40 years already and they know what they are doing. This is an improvement compared to their older models and there is a lot embedded in this tool for that price. Sparmax MAX 3 and MAX 4, respectively .3mm and .4mm nozzles, are all-around airbrushes that can suit 99% of the modelers for their career.
Pros: Very comfortable, rugged, reliable and reasonably priced. It has all that you might want from an airbrush.
Cons: It is not a famous brand per se. That is its only con.
Number 1: Iwata HP-C Plus. The one and only! Yes, this is my absolute favorite. I have it, use it and trust it more than anything else. Although pretty much the same as Number 2 mentioned here, Iwata is a brand that we all love and admire. Once you get the felling of it and that will be it for the rest of your modeling career. If you want style, this is it. True, this is the highest cost you will pay compared to the others mentioned above. However, considering that this is Iwata: it is not their most expensive tool. I would’ve said to go with Eclispe series, but this is a tool that combines it all and in the same time I believe you can start with it. So High-Performane series all the way if you ask me! It will cost you the price of two, maybe three decent kits, but it will last you a lifetime if you take good care of it.
Pros: It is a famous brand, it can last you a lifetime with proper care, it is made in Japan. Precise, reliable, beautifully crafted.
Cons: Price of the tool, price of the spare parts, price of nice add-ons like crown cap, pressure regulator and such. You can get most of it if you buy Eclipse series, but still…
As a conclusion: No matter which of those five you might choose, with decent amount of training sessions, you will eventually get used to any of them. They should cover pretty much the whole range of your modeling needs, while keeping the price at a reasonable level. There are more of course, both – in terms of brands and bells & whistles. But the five mentioned above are the most popular and probably the ones that you will be able to get easily. You also get a guarantee of a steady supply of spare parts if needed and probably, some of your modeling buddies already have one of them in stash, so help will be available if needed.
So, pick one and start airbrushing!