10 Great Airbrushes for Painting Miniatures and Models

Are you looking for an airbrush to paint miniatures? Keep it simple! Take a look at this list that compares several widely-respected airbrushes in the miniature painting community.

Continue reading, or skip ahead with the links below.

The following are my recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models.

  1. Badger Patriot 105
  2. Badger Renegade Velocity
  3. Badger Krome
  4. Iwata HP-CS
  5. Badger Sotar 20/20
  6. Harder & Steenbeck Evolution 2-in-1
  7. Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1
  8. Grex Genesis XSi3 Side Feed
  9. Badger Renegade Spirit Side Feed
  10. Badger Patriot Xtreme

In this article, I share a brief overview (pros and cons) of my top 10 recommended airbrushes for painting miniatures and models, e.g., Warhammer 40k, Warmachine/Hordes, Age of Sigmar, and other miniature hobby games.


10 Best Airbrushes for Painting Miniatures and Scale Models

I’ve operated many airbrushes over the years as a commissioned miniature painter. I admit I spent way too much money on tools I didn’t need.

But, of course, I didn’t really know what I liked about each tool until I tried them (eBay has been a close friend). Here’s what my experience taught me about airbrushes.

I list 10 of my favorite airbrushes below.


1. Badger Patriot 105

  • The Patriot 105 is my favorite do-it-all airbrush
  • This is my first recommendation for anyone who isn’t sure they want to invest a lot into the hobby.
  • This airbrush will handle almost any job you throw at it, except for more detailed airbrushing
  • Easily Spray acrylics, varnishes, and primers
  • This is my top recommendation for a starter airbrush for beginners
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - badger patriot 105

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • Best starting airbrush for beginners that will grow with you
  • Badger is a great company
  • Replacement parts are widely available
  • Build quality is excellent
  • Nozzle/needle assembly is modular

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Disassembly/reassembly requires instruction
  • Spray atomization is coarse

2. Badger Renegade Velocity

  • The Badger Renegade Velocity is an upgrade to the Patriot 105
  • This airbrush has a finer needle and nozzle assembly (0.2mm size)
  • More suited for fine-detail painting
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - badger renegade velocity

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • Similar to the Patriot 105 airbrush, but produces a finer spray
  • Different ergonomic balance than the Patriot 105
  • Easy maintenance
  • Nozzle easily changed for other sizes
  • Still inexpensive

Cons

  • Not as versatile as the Patriot 105
  • More prone to clogging
  • Parts are not widely available (mostly online)

3. Badger Krome Airbrush

  • The Badger Krome Airbrush is Badger’s flagship airbrush model
  • The Badger Krome has a set-screw for limiting the needle pull, a more advanced feature (not recommended for use in miniature painting)
  • Build quality is excellent
  • The Krome has a softer trigger pull than the Patriot 105
  • Removable ergonomic finger rest
  • The Krome is a 2-in-1 kit that comes with two nozzle/needle assemblies: a fine (0.3mm) and an ultra-fine (0.2mm)
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - badger krome

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • Flagship airbrush model for Badger
  • Successfully competes with higher end airbrushes from Iwata
  • Perfect setup for painting miniatures and models
  • Ergonomics for long-term painting
  • Upkeep, replacement parts are generally less costly than other brands of airbrushes

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Large paint cup may obscure visibility
  • Open needle design may be a risk for damage for less experienced airbrush users

4. Iwata HP-CS Airbrush

  • The Iwata HP-CS is the modern version of my first airbrush
  • A classic starter for any airbrushing enthusiast
  • A direct competitor with the Badger Krome, but more refined quality (and more expensive)
  • Stainless steel is the major build material, instead of the cheaper brass in lower end airbrush
  • The standard 0.35mm sized nozzle is versatile for painting miniatures, e.g., detail and large surface spraying
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - iwata hp-cs airbrush

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • The Iwata HP-CS is the best value airbrush
  • The standard 0.35mm nozzle does it all
  • High quality stainless construction
  • Low maintenance
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Replacement parts are more expensive, but longer-lasting
  • The paint cup size is large for most miniature painting
  • Expensive

5. Badger Sotar 20/20 Airbrush

  • The Badger Sotar 20/20 is my second favorite airbrush for professional miniature painting
  • This Sotar 2020 model has a nozzle/needle (0.2mm nozzle) assembly that is great for detail
  • Ergonomic feel is excellent for fine motor control
  • I don’t recommend the Sotar 2020 as a starter airbrush to new miniature painters, e.g., fragile, exposed needle
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - badger sotar 2020

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • The extra fine nozzle/needle (0.2mm) creates a smooth fine spray
  • Excellent trigger control and handling
  • Good visibility with a small paint cup
  • Easy access to clean the needle tip without disassembly
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • The brush may feel “twitchy” due to forward balance
  • Ideal mostly for detail

6. Harder & Steenbeck Evolution 2-in-1 Airbrush

  • The Harder & Steenbeck Evolution 2-in-1 Airbrush is an average airbrush in terms of cost-to-feature value
  • The Evolution has a 2-in-1 system
  • Switch between 2 and 5ml paint cups
  • Sold with parts for a 0.2mm or a 0.4mm needle/nozzle setup
  • Scale modelers will love the flexibility of the modular design
  • For a slightly higher cost, you may want to consider the Infinity (#7)
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - harder & steenbeck evolution (H&S)

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • High quality construction
  • Smooth chrome finish, which is easy to clean
  • Modular design
  • Reasonably priced for the features

Cons

  • Pricey
  • The Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1 (shown below) may be a better value if you can afford it
  • Close needle design is more difficult to use in miniature painting
  • Nozzles are made of softer brass material (less durable)

7. Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1 Airbrush

  • The Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1 Airbrush is a highly respected among professional painters
  • Similar to the Evolution (see #6), but has more refined features that are useful for painting miniatures
  • Uses an open-needle nozzle design, which is advantageous for painting miniatures and fine scale models
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - harder & steenbeck infinity 2-in-1 (H&S)

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • High-end features for professional use
  • Solid build quality
  • Tool-less maintenance
  • Flexible, modular design
  • Smooth, adjustable trigger pull
  • Ergonomically balanced for fine detail spraying

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not a starter airbrush
  • Requires most consistent upkeep (e.g., more moving parts)

8. Grex Genesis XSi3 Side Feed Airbrush

  • The Grex Genesis XSi3 0.3mm Nozzle Side Feed Airbrush is a unique airbrush for painting miniatures due to its side feed design
  • Mostly made of durable stainless steel
  • Ergonomic design, including rubberized grip and trigger
  • Light weight and center-balanced
  • Side-feed cup design provides better visibility (gravity-feed version)
  • Standard sized 0.3mm nozzle assembly is versatile and modular
  • Closed-nozzle design in default configuration (can be upgraded)
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - Grex genesis side feed airbrush

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • Modular design with high-end options
  • Innovative ergonomic features
  • Maintenance cost is reasonable
  • Good for airbrushing miniatures
  • Good value

Cons

  • May be more difficult to clean
  • Fewer users in the miniature painting community
  • Side-feed airbrush design requires more air pressure

9. Badger Renegade Spirit Side Feed Airbrush

  • The Badger R2S Renegade Spirit Side Feed Airbrush is the side-feed version of the Badger Velocity (#2 )
  • Provides a fine spray pattern for painting miniatures (uses 0.2mm needle/nozzle)
  • The side-feed system allows more visibility to the working surface
  • Open needle tip is useful for detail work
  • If you were looking for something that gave you more room to see what you’re doing, a bit more versatility in handling larger volumes of paint, I would recommend this airbrush
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - Badger renegade spirit side feed

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • Good visibility of painting surface
  • Excellent value
  • Can attach a siphon bottom-feed system
  • 0.2mm nozzle size is great for airbrushing fine detail

Cons

  • Upkeep and maintenance may be more involved
  • Requires higher pressure to spray thicker media
  • Prone to more clogging with low pressure operation

10. Badger Patriot Xtreme

  • The Badger Patriot Xtreme is a combination of the professional features found on the Krome and the micro-air-valve (MAC) found on the much more expensive Iwata Hi-Line airbrush (not listed)
  • This is the budget-friendly professional airbrush
  • Similar features as higher-end airbrushes, but with less refinement and cost
  • Tall roller trigger upgrade comes standard (note: you can buy this trigger upgrade for other Badger airbrushes)
  • Features the MAC valve near the nose of the airbrush, e.g., finer air regulation
  • Default 0.3mm sized nozzle is versatile for many painting applications
Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - Badger patriot extreme xtreme airbrush

Rating (out of 5)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pros

  • Upgrade for the Badger’s other airbrush lines
  • Versatile use
  • MAC air regulator
  • Excellent value
  • Professional or hobby level use

Cons

  • Lots of features that may be unnecessary for most users
  • Redundant purchase if you already own any other airbrush on this list
  • Large paint cup size may obscure visibility

RELATED: AIRBRUSHING GUIDE FOR PAINTING MINIATURES

Airbrushing Miniatures: Brush Review and Painting Guide - best airbrush for painting miniatures and models - best airbrush for new painters - tips for airbrushing miniatures

What is the best airbrush for painting miniatures?

My recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models:

Image Model Rating Key Features
Badger-Patriot-105-best-airbrush-for-painting-miniatures Badger Patriot 105 5 out of 5 User friendly, versatile for pros and hobbyists
Badger-Renegade-Airbrush-gravity-feed-best-brush Badger Renegade Velocity 4.5 out of 5 Fine detail painting, durable
Badger-Krome-airbrush-review-best-1 Badger Krome 4 out of 5 Professional all-around use
IWATA-HP-CS-miniatures Iwata HP-CS 4 out of 5 Mid-tier starter or professional painter
Badger-Sotar-2020-gravity-feed-airbrush-for-painting-models-and-miniatures Badger Sotar 20/20 4.5 out of 5 Fine detail painting
Harder-Steenbeck-Evolution-Airbrush-Review Harder & Steenbeck Evolution 3 out of 5 Modular design, flexible and versatile
Infinity-harder-and-steenbeck-airbrush-review-best-for-miniature-painting-1 Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 4 out of 5 Professional features with modular design
Grex-side-feed-airbrush-Genesis Grex Genesis XSi3 3.5 out of 5 Ergonomic, innovative design, side-feed paint cup
Badger-Air-Brush-Co-R2S-Renegade-Spirit-Side-Feed-Airbrush-review Badger Renegade Spirit 3 out of 5 Budget friendly, side-feed paint cup, medium-fine detail
Badger-Patriot-Xtreme-review-best-airbrush Badger Patriot Xtreme 3.5 out of 5 Professional features, budget-friendly package

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