Last Updated On December 27th, 2021
Airbrushes can be used for many different types of art projects because they allow you to paint on a myriad of surfaces. Airbrushing has become common for use with cake decorating, body painting, nail art, painting miniatures, models, detailing automobiles, murals, and painting on paper as well. The wide range of versatility associated with airbrushes also means they come in a wide variety of options that can make choosing the best airbrush seem like a daunting task. However, with our help, we can make finding a great airbrush fun, informative, and dare we say, easy too.
We did the research and refined the results, now all you have to do is read through our top 10 picks and buyer’s guide to learn everything you need to know about airbrushing and find out which airbrush will be joining your collection of art supplies and tools.
Best Airbrush Reviews – Top 10 Picks
Harder & Steenbeck’s Ultra D airbrush is next up on our best airbrush list. Harder and Steenbeck is another highly reputable brand when it comes to airbrushes and the Ultra D doesn’t disappoint with its smooth spray action and top quality German craftsmanship.
The Ultra D by Harder & Steenbeck is a dual-action airbrush that is gravity fed. It has an integrated 2ml cup and also comes with a 5ml plug-in cup for additional paint. The design of this gravity-fed airbrush also allows you to connect paint bottles directly to the suction connection so you can cover large areas without having to pause and refill the paint cup frequently.
Harder & Steenbeck include a 0.2mm and a 0.4mm needle nozzle combination with the Ultra D airbrush to facilitate a paint spray pattern suitable for fine details, model painting, and more. For added convenience, the airbrush also features a quick connect and release function and comes with a convenient carry case to keep all of the parts in order.
You may experience less traction on the Ultra D airbrush’s trigger leading to the possibility for less control when your hands are wet. Other cons include the larger paint cup featuring a drop-in attachment style making it less secure, and a slightly less ergonomic design that may twist or lean forward in your hand and feel less balanced.
Our top luxury option is the Iwata Eclipse HP-CS airbrush gun. It features the high-quality craftsmanship consumers have come to expect from Iwata products and makes a great choice for anyone who paints with heavier acrylics and Textile colours.
The Iwata Eclipse HP-CS airbrush has a dual-action push-down trigger design with a gravity feed. Iwata products are known for their responsive controls and with the Eclipse HP-CS, you may begin to understand why. It comes with a permanently attached 1/3 oz funnel-shaped feed cup on the top of the airbrush that creates better flow and easier cleaning. It has a wider opening that makes it better suited to denser paint and comes with a screw-on cap to prevent possible paint spills.
The Eclipse HP-CS features a 0.35mm needle and nozzle combination that produces a fine to medium paint spray pattern. It has a drop-in nozzle that is self-centring for easier use, even if you aren’t an experienced airbrush artist. This Iwata spray gun is made with chrome plating and brass parts, hence our previous nod to its high-quality build.
Possible drawbacks to the Iwata Eclipse HP-CS design include a longer cleaning process due to the lengthier disassembly and reassembly process and the solid build results in a bit of added weight which may make it more uncomfortable to hold for longer periods of time. Also, other models may be better at producing fine lines and fine details.
If you’re looking for the best budget airbrush available, the Ganzton SP180K airbrush kit could be just what you need. It comes with everything you need to get started, minus the power source, and comes in a convenient art case to keep all of its parts organised and easy to access.
The Ganzton SP180K airbrush gun features a double-action push-down trigger and a gravity feed cup with a 9cc capacity. The paint cup also comes with a screw-on lid for better paint containment and easier mixing. To enable multiple paint spray pattern thicknesses, including fine details, this airbrush comes with 0.2mm, 0.3mm, and 0.5mm stainless steel needles. The gun is constructed using durable copper.
Included in the Ganzton airbrush kit you will get a braided fabric hose that has a 1/4 inch connection and a removable 1/2 inch adapter with a quick-release connector for fast and easy operation when paired with a compressor limited to 15-50 PSI of pressure.
The kit also comes with a paint dropper for a precise internal mix, a wrench, and an oil-water separator. It features an easy disassembly process that makes cleaning easy as well.
Be aware, the reason for great value on this kit may become apparent when using the lower quality needle nozzles that come included. However, they can easily be upgraded if you think it is necessary. Additionally, we do not recommend this airbrush kit for professional use, and it doesn’t excel when it comes to thinner spray patterns with fine detail.
The Badger Patriot 105 is our top choice for an airbrush with a top-quality stainless steel build. It also does an excellent job producing a consistent medium paint spray pattern suitable for all types of artists.
The Badger Patriot 105 airbrush has a responsive dual-action push-down trigger and a gravity feed paint cup. The cup comes with a spillproof paint cap that also allows an internal mix and has a 1/3 oz capacity. The Patriot has a comfortable design and weight that is ergonomically balanced so you can use it for extended periods of time without tiring too easily.
This gravity-fed airbrush comes with a mounted 0.5mm needle and nozzle combination that features a two angle needle tip for a more consistent, accurate paint spray pattern. The Patriot design also includes Badger’s patented easy access needle removal system which helps to make cleaning and reassembly as easy as possible.
Badger backs the Patriot airbrush with a 1-year craftsmanship warranty and a lifetime labour warranty which is probably one of the main reasons they have become so popular as an airbrush company. This particular model operates an air compressor at 30 PSI or lower.
Keep in mind, Badger products feature a unique hose connection, specific to Badger, that isn’t a standard size. Also, this dual-action airbrush is not ideal for fine detail work and has a highly sensitive trigger that may take some getting used to at first. However, mastering the trigger action will be worth the extra effort when you see how masterfully it allows you to manipulate the spray pattern.
The Timbertech ABPST01 is another great option on our list if you are looking for the best airbrush kit. The airbrush gun has a well-balanced weight that is comfortable to hold and allows a smooth spray pattern with an easy push and pull back trigger.
The Timbertech ABPST05 is a dual-action airbrush with a gravity feed that features smooth trigger action. The paint colour cup on top is permanently attached, has a 0.2-ounce capacity, and comes with an optional cover to prevent paint spills and speed up the mixing process.
This gravity feed airbrush kit comes with a variety of paint nozzle needle sizes that make it suitable for all types of spray paint projects, including painting miniatures and fine art. The sizes included are 0.2mm, 0.3mm, and 0.5mm.
This dual-action airbrush system comes with a 1.9-metre fabric air hose featuring an 8mm internal thread and two interchangeable adapters in a 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch size. The Timbertech airbrush also comes with a jaw spanner to make exchanging nozzles easier and four long pipettes so you can add a specific amount of paint directly to the colour cup without creating overflow. What’s more, it includes an oil-free compressor with a manometer, air pressure regulator, and air filter.
The Timbertech ABPST05 airbrush system does come with lots of small parts which can make for a lengthier cleaning process. You may also want to take note that it doesn’t feature a quick release adapter and the less durable nozzles have a tendency to break so be careful not to overtighten when screwing them in place.
Our number one Editor’s Choice is the Iwata Neo CN airbrush. Iwata is known for producing the best airbrushes available on the market today and their Neo CN makes a great choice for beginners, pros, and everyone in between.
Iwata’s Neo CN airbrush features a dual-action push-down trigger with a gravity feed. It comes with two interchangeable funnel-shaped cups in a 1/3 oz and 1/16 oz size in order to help you mix paint and apply precise amounts. The gravity feed design style is good for painting in greater detail because it can function well at lower air pressure levels. This airbrush is also fairly lightweight making it easy to hold for extended periods of time.
The Neo CN airbrush comes equipped with a 0.35mm needle and nozzle combination that enables medium-sized paint spray and finer detail spray patterns. It produces excellent quality paint spray patterns and different sized needle nozzle combos can easily be purchased and attached to create different sized spray patterns.
To operate, you will need to attach a compressor with 5-35 PSI, however, Neo recommends using compressors that are smaller and produce 20 PSI max to achieve the best possible spray results.
With the Neo CN airbrush by Iwata, you may find it easy to release too much paint with the easy-to-pull trigger at first but once you get the hang of it, you should be fine. There are also reports of the nozzle breaking easily during reassembly and the airbrush possibly clogging faster than expected so make sure to clean it regularly, and carefully.
The Abest New Professional Kit makes a great choice for artists with a beginner to intermediate airbrush skill level. We also like its unique red and silver coloured gun design that facilitates superior air pressure manipulation.
The Abest New Professional airbrush features dual push and pull trigger action and a gravity feed to hold the airbrush paint and control the paint flow. The gravity-fed cup disassembles for easier cleaning, has a 9cc capacity, and comes with a cover for optional use.
A big bonus feature incorporated into the Abest airbrush design is the additional Micro Air Control Valve on the front of the gun that enables better airflow manipulation and a more precise paint spray pattern. Combined with the included 0.2mm, 0.3mm, and 0.5mm needle nozzle combos, you can use this airbrush to paint miniatures, fine art, body art, cake decorating, and more.
The New Professional Kit also comes with a 1/8″ connection fabric hose so you can attach it to an airbrush compressor with a 15-50 PSI operating pressure. A quick coupler, nozzle wrench, a precision eyedropper, and a mini-filter complete the Abest kit’s contents.
Unfortunately, the Abest New Professional airbrush kit comes with less durable nozzles that may not be made from stainless steel, but some kind of alloy instead. Consumers also report a more fragile connector than usual and the gun having the tendency to clog more quickly than expected so make sure you clean it regularly if you decide this is the airbrush for you.
The Watson & Webb Little Airbrush Kit is a great choice for artists who are looking to primarily decorate cakes and other food items with their airbrush. It comes with several cool accessories and is the only model airbrush kit with compressor power included on our list.
The Little Airbrush Kit has a single action push trigger and an open cup gravity feed with a 1.7ml cup capacity. It features electronic speed control and produces a wider spray that is good for covering medium-sized surfaces. The Watson & Webb single-action airbrush gun is made entirely from steel and chrome and comes with a 1-year warranty.
This single-action airbrush kit come with 13 different colours of food-grade airbrush paint that are sensitive to most food allergies and restrictions, a paint colour wheel for easier colour mixing, a carry case, a pipette for accurate paint measurements, five skyline stencils, a cleaning solution, a cleaning pot, and brushes to create a mini cleaning station. With all of these bonus accessories, you can get started right away and enjoy eating your creations as well.
The included airbrush compressor with air hose features three different speed settings, a convenient airbrush holder on the side, and a washable air filter. The single-action gun is even dishwasher safe if you choose to forgo using the included cleaning station.
This airbrush kit has an unknown needle nozzle size and is not great with fine detail. It also has a noisier compressor power source which could be a distraction for some when working on intricate projects.
The Fengda airbrush kit has everything you need to start airbrushing as it comes with an airbrush gun, compressor, test colour bottles, and other accessories.
This airbrush set has a Fengda BD 130 airbrush gun, and an FD-186 compressor. The compressor is suitable for various nozzle sizes and has a simple stop-start function. It also has adjustable pressure from 0-4 bar.
The airbrush gun has a nozzle diameter of 0.3mm, and a 7ml colour cup that is made from metal. The material is resistant to wear and solvents so should not degrade over time. Also, the BD 130 gun has a working pressure of between 1.3 – 3.5 bar.
With the kit, you also get a 1.8mm air hose, mini airbrush holder, cleaning brush set, and a range of colour droppers for testing.
Although this is a decent airbrush kit, it may have some minor issues. For example, you could find that the airbrush nozzle is over-tightened on delivery and needs adjusting. Also, the airbrush unit itself may be a little fragile. Lastly, the seals on the needle nib could eventually perish.
The Harder Steenbeck Ultra Solo airbrush features top-quality German craftsmanship and provides you with excellent spray control that permits airbrushing in greater, finer detail.
The Ultra Solo airbrush by Harder Steenbeck has a dual-action push and pull-back trigger design and a gravity feed. It features a removable 2ml cup for easier cleaning and is easy to assembly overall. The gun is constructed out of chrome which should produce long-lasting durability for years to come.
A 0.2mm needle nozzle comes with this double action gravity feed airbrush. This size needle nozzle combination is good with thinner paints and as we mentioned, airbrushing with greater detail in a smaller space. Paired with the responsive trigger, artists report experiencing good, consistent spray control with the Ultra Solo airbrush. An organising carry case is also included and of course, larger nozzles and gravity cups can be purchased if you wish to increase the gun’s versatility.
Unfortunately, only one needle nozzle combination is included when you purchase the Ultra Solo gravity feed airbrush by Harder Steenbeck and it does not feature a lid for the paint cup. Unfortunately, there are also numerous reports of the box being broken upon arrival due to poor packaging.
Choosing an Airbrush: A Buyer’s Guide
Now that you know all about our top 10 favourite airbrushes and all about their airbrushing capabilities, let’s take a closer look at how we chose the airbrushes we did, and cover some airbrush basics as well.
What to Look for in the Best Airbrushes
Alright, so now that you know what the top products available on the market today are, you may be asking yourself, how do I choose an airbrush? The following subsections explore some of the most important traits to consider when comparing airbrushes. We recommend you use these traits as a guide and prioritize them according to your own specific art and airbrushing needs.
Needle and Nozzle Combination
The needle and nozzle combination included with an airbrush may be the most important trait to look for when comparing different models. The size of the needle nozzle combo determines the amount of coverage you can expect from a spray pattern. Larger needles cover more area and smaller needles create finer detail. The most common needle sizes on our list include 0.2mm, 0.3mm, and 0.5mm.
The weight of an airbrush gun in your hand may also affect your decision. Most of the airbrushes on our list are fairly lightweight, however, some more than others. If you plan on using your airbrush for extended periods of time you may want to specifically seek one that is lightweight as it could prove to be less tiring.
All of the airbrushes on our list feature a gravity-fed paint cup. Pay attention to the size of the cup if you tend to use a lot of paint at one time. Also, whether or not a paint cup is removable can affect how easy to clean an airbrush is. We prefer removable paint cups but some people find it is just another part to keep track of and makes assembly more difficult. Would you prefer a removable gravity feed?
The expected durability of an airbrush can often be indicated by the build quality of the gun and the nozzles. Most airbrush guns are made with copper and brass components which are highly durable and easy to clean, which we like, and most nozzles are made with stainless steel which is ideal. However, some lower quality nozzles are made from another metal material alloy making them more fragile, keep an eye for this if you don’t want to replace your needle nozzle combos frequently.
Many of the options on our list come as a kit that contains more than your basic airbrush. We think these kits are a great option for beginner to intermediate airbrush artists who may not already have some spare parts in their art supplies. We also like the airbrush kit options because they often come with multiple nozzles which enable more spray pattern manipulation so you can use them for a variety of art projects.
An air compressor is an essential component required to operate an airbrush. Only one option on our list comes with a power source for air compression so you will have to make sure you acquire one before you plan to use your new tool. If you already have an air compressor, check the recommended PSI for an airbrush before making your final decision so you know that they are compatible.
Airbrush Basics Explained
Now that you know about the most important airbrush traits, let’s go back to the basics and explore how airbrushes work, the basic types of airbrushes that can be found, and address why your artist skill level could factor into your purchasing decision as well.
Design: Airbrush Types
When it comes to airbrushes, there are several different major designs, and knowing the differences in design will help you find the best type for your specific requirements.
The type of action a gun facilitates makes a big difference in the amount of control you will have over air pressure and the addition of paint. Airbrushes have either single action, double action also known as dual-action, or trigger action designs.
These airbrushes feature one press down button that initiates the airflow and the paint. They often have a twist knob that allows you to control the paint flow. The main benefit to a single-action airbrush is that it allows you to spray the same amount at all times. However, many artists prefer something more adjustable, hence the reason there is only one single-action airbrush on our top 10 list.
These airbrushes allow greater control over the spray produced. These airbrushes feature a press down button for air that also pulls back to add paint. This way you can effectively control both with one hand. The pullback motion on a dual-action airbrush means it can also be referred to as a trigger, however, they also get their own design action category. Almost all of the options on our list are dual-action.
Trigger action airbrushes
These airbrushes feature a pull back control that doesn’t push down. The only real difference is the motion used to control the airbrush. They can be either single or dual action airbrushes.
How the paint is fed into an airbrush is another major difference in design style. The three main feed types found on airbrushes are gravity, side, or siphon. Each type has its benefits but all of the products on our list are gravity feed airbrushes.
Gravity feed airbrush
This airbrush uses gravity to pull the paint down into the air stream from above the needle. A gravity feed airbrush uses less paint and less air pressure allowing you to create finer details.
Siphon feed airbrush
This airbrush adds paint from below the needle. Pressure pulls paint up the stem with a siphon feed airbrush, which requires more air. A siphon feed airbrush does hold more paint though which could make larger projects more efficient. If you prefer a multi-gun setup, a siphon feed airbrush could be just the thing for you.
This airbrush combines both a gravity feed and a siphon feed design. Side feed airbrushes add paint on the same level as the needle. A side-feed airbrush will have more parts and a lengthier cleaning process. However, a side-feed airbrush does allow you to spray in any direction, even upside down.
Airbrushes feature either an internal mix or an external mix. The type of mix determines how the paint spray looks when it hits the desired surface. An internal mix airbrush adds paint to the centre of the air stream. An external mix airbrush adds paint to the side of the air stream resulting in a D or elongated O shape. External mix airbrushes are not ideal for finer details.
How Do You Plan to Use Your Airbrush?
You can use an airbrush for makeup, body art, cake painting, models, fabric, auto, ceramics, and more. That’s why it’s important to consider your specific plans for use in order to get the desired results.
Are you seeking coverage or detail? Finer detail is usually achieved by narrower needle nozzle combos and wider options provide more coverage. So, what is a good air brush for modelling? The best airbrush for miniatures will provide you with an option for fine detail and some wider coverage as well so we recommend an airbrush with multiple nozzle sizes.
An Airbrush for Everyone’s Needs
Thanks to all of your newly gained insight on how airbrushes work and what makes specific traits more important than others, choosing the best airbrush for you should be easier than ever.
Could our number one Editor’s Choice be the best option for your paint and artist needs? As you’ll recall, the Harder & Steenbeck Ultra D is a great choice for artists, especially beginners. It features a highly responsive dual-action trigger, is gravity fed, and comes with two interchangeable paint cups. It also includes an extra 0.40 mm nozzle aside from the integrated 0.20 mm nozzle. You can directly connect the paint bottles to the suction connection to make painting on large areas conveniently faster.
Is the Harder & Steenbeck Ultra D the ideal choice for you? Or would one of the airbrush kits for beginners better suit your specific needs? Either way, we know something on our list will suit your fancy