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Today’s 5 Best Airbrushes For Painting Miniatures

By Rob Baer | February 7th, 2020 | Categories: Airbrushing, Hobby Hacks, Hobby Products

airbrush top wal

It can get a little difficult trying to pick the right airbrush for painting miniatures today. From cheap to expensive, here is my list of the Top 5 best airbrushes over the past 10 years.

These are  5 awesome airbrushes that you really can’t go wrong with. Airbrushing are really starting to catch on for the hobby so check out these top five that we would recommend to anyone looking to paint some minis.

Top Airbrushes for Miniatures Painting

#5 Iwata HP-CS

iwata eclipseThis multi-purpose, high-paint-flow, high-detail Eclipse Series airbrush covers a wide range of uses. Commonly used to spray premixed or heavier paints, it is well suited for uses demanding precise control of spray when applying moderate-to-large amounts of paint to a variety of surfaces and to various-sized areas. This Eclipse Series brush has established a new benchmark for excellence in an all-purpose airbrush.

· Gravity-feed airbrush features a unique 0.35-mm needle and nozzle combination for fine-detail spraying, but with high-paint-flow capacity

· Generous 1/3 oz. sized cup is designed with a new funnel shape, which makes for easy clean up and more efficient paint flow

· Automotive artists, fine artists and students will appreciate how well the Eclipse CS sprays heavier acrylics and Medea Textile Colors, while maintaining high-detail spray characteristics

The Iwata HP-CS is a hobby stable that was recommended to me by Kenny Boucher at Next Level painting over eight years ago. It’s easy to obtain as it is stocked by nearly every Hobby Lobby in the country, which means you can use the 40% off coupon to lower your initial cost out the gate. Plus they also stock replacement needles, nozzles, caps etc. that you may need from time to time.

Editor’s Note: it seems that some Hobby Lobby stores have caught on to this and put the Eclipse “on sale” so you can’t use the coupon anymore.

Overall it’s a robust airbrush with average quality internal components that you really have to stay on top of to keep clean after every use. The advantage to the Iwata is that most hobbyists use it and the parts are readily accessible. The cons are that it is not quite as forgiving as some of the airbrushes below, it’s a bit clunkier, and harder to maintain overall for the casual painter.

It’s good, but there are better airbrushes out there for your hobby dollars!

#4 Badger Patriot 105

badger 105 patriot

The new Model 105-1 “Patriot” is a dual-action gravity feed airbrush; set includes an extra tip and instruction manual.

The Patriot’s innovative precision design is enjoyed by crafters, artists, and hobbyists; Dual action, internal mix, gravity feed

Badger Airbrushes are American Made. One year warranty on mfg defects with a lifetime warranty on the PTFE needle bearing and any factory labor repairs

This is an American-made airbrush that you can find on sale quite frequently it seems. It’s got a .50 mm single-needle nozzle that’s perfect for spraying most of the paints that you’d use on a model anyway. (acrylics, enamels, lacquers, glazes, watercolors, inks, etc.). This airbrush seems to get recommended by a lot of people out there and it seems like it’s been growing in popularity recently. I have used it a few times earlier in my painting career but gravitated away from it.

#3 Harder & Steenbeck Ultra

harder steenbeck ultra

Great choice to start with! High quality airbrush for an affordable price. Same self-centering nozzle used on the higher rank models (exchangeable with Evolution, Grafo, Infinity).

Harder and Steenbeck ULTRA airbrush comes with 0.2mm nozzle set and 2ml gravity cup. For additional purchase, a 0.4 nozzle and 5ml cup available.

Double action gravity feed airbrush.

Dollar for dollar this is probably one of the best airbrushes out there. I was shocked when I learned H&S had an airbrush on the market for less than $100! I reached out to Spraygunner and got a demo copy to review, and absolutely loved it. This IMHO is one of the best airbrushes at this price range on the market today.

This is the airbrush I truly wished I had learned on FIRST, as I am sure with the optional upgrades I showcase in our review video, it will last any hobbyist a very long time!

#2 Harder & Steenbeck Colani

Colani

The Colani is a multifunctional product of over 50 years experience in the production of paint sprayers. The distinctive design from Luigi Colani gives this instrument adaptable ergonomic characteristics which enable its universal use by both beginners and professionals.

Comprehensive accessories and nozzle sizes from 0.2 and 1.2 mm make the Colani particular flexible for applications ranging from fine retouching to large surface painting. The dependent double function enables particularly fine work.

 

One of the hardest working most precise Airbrushes out there, in my opinion, the Colani is designed with top-notch German engineering for folks that really like the feel of a pistol airbrush handle but with a pincer style trigger on top that is adjustable for left or right artists.

The Colani also features Teflon packing insides with robust internal coatings and mechanics that haven’t let me down yet. It also features an adjustable resistance to the trigger, and larger internal area for the paint to mix more thoroughly before it sprays, allowing for some of the most precise control out there.

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You can even purchase special pipe cleaners (and a needle probe) in the exact diameters needed for cleaning the Colani, that have a looped metal head to prevent contact with the inside coatings. How they thought of that one I will never know, but it really shows the attention to detail H&S puts into their products.

#1 Harder & Steenbeck Evolution AL

evolution

Harder & Steenbeck adds a whole new meaning to the term “air brush”: The brand new Evolution ALplus is Harder & Steenbeck’s first airbrush made from aluminum, giving it an almost airy weight of only 56g, just about half as much as a traditional airbrush. And its design is striking as well, with a stylish matte black finish accentuated by chromed open needle cap, cup, lever and centre ring.

The Evolution ALplus is available as a solo model with 0.2 mm fine line nozzle set and 2 ml flow cup and as a Two in One version with an additional 0.4 mm nozzle set and 5 ml flow cup. Other than that, the Al plus has all of the Evolution CRplus models’ tried and tested ergonomics, features and functionalities

My go-to for all airbrushing needs. This baby is everything I have ever wanted in an airbrush and so much more. It weighs about half of a normal airbrush because of its Aluminum barrel and high-quality interior components that are on par with the Colani.  I have yet to actually “stain” the aluminum casing with my paints as everything seems to magically fall off under light scrubbing with a plastic bristled brush.

The spring tension is also cleverly adjustable via a screw on the back of the brush, with push on the air flow adjustable on the inside of the air hose interface at the bottom of the brush. Which reminds me, both of the tolerances of these H&S airbrushes are so tight you don’t need to use Teflon tape to maintain the air pressure when you connect your compressor air hose (quick releases or otherwise).

The small paint reservoir (that is upgradable) means I waste way less paint than before, and keeps the pot fresher with fewer clogs.  It is also adjustable, but all I have ever used on it is the .02 mm fine line nozzle that has had no issues with any paint I have loaded into it as long as it was accompanied with a little Vallejo flow improver per the norm.

It even has the same special pipe cleaners that the Colani does above that really give you an edge maintenance wise when it comes to the H&S family of airbrushes.

So that’s it, these are my top 5 airbrushes that I’ve had the pleasure of using over the last few years that range from under $100 on up. Personally, I think most folks would be okay to start with the Iwata if it’s all you have access to, or the Ultra, with the Ultra being the better value of the two.

If you want to skip to the head of the class and start at the top, then the two Harder Steenbecks beyond amazing, but be wary, so is their price.

Still want more? Well, these the Tooty and Sparmax’s TC-620x are great compressors to pair with any of these airbrushes, both of which I still use regularly myself.

Sparmax Airbrush Compressor

sparmax compressor

Sparmax Airbrush Compressor

Sparmax is a bit of an investment but believe me when I say this thing is a mule. With all of the painting I’ve done over the years, it has stuck by me and kept the air pressures on my paints exactly the way I intended. I still use this beast today! It’s got Airbrush stands on top of the casing, a protective metal shield around the entire compressor, on/off switch, and a handle to make everything easier to transport if you have to hobby on the go.

Tooty “No-Name” Airbrush Compressor

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Tooty “No-Name” Airbrush Compressor

Tired of sub-par Airbrush compressors overheating or dying on you? Check out the Tooty the no-name compressor that is far from beginner.

I think everyone will like the Tooty compressor as well. Right out of the box you can tell this little guy is different. It seems to be made with more durable coatings and has an operation volume of about 46db, which is basically ambient outside noise.  Sure it’ll be a little loud indoors, but most compressors are.

The best part is the tank is one of the largest in its class, and for the price, I think it’s a tremendous value.

So those were our picks for the top airbrushes for miniature painting on the market today.

What’s your favorite airbrush on the market? What did you start with?

Let us know in the comments of our Facebook Hobby Group, and make sure you enter the latest monthly giveaway for FREE today!

This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate Spikey Bits earn from qualifying purchases.

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About the Author: Rob Baer

Virginia Restless, Miniature Painter & Cat Dad. I blame LEGOs. There was something about those little-colored blocks that started it all... Twitter @catdaddymbg
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