Best Airbrush for Miniatures and Models (Top 10 Reviewed)

What is the best airbrush to paint miniatures? The best airbrush for miniature painting will allow you to spray acrylic model paints consistently, reliably, and with precision. The ideal airbrush will also be easy to clean and maintain, with replacement spare parts available from multiple sources. This means you’ll want an respectable branded airbrush with robust company support. Whether you’re a professional or casual hobbyist looking for an airbrush, the idea is the same. Get the best tool you can afford to do the job.

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In this article, I review the top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models.

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - recommended airbrushes for beginners and experienced miniature painters - best airbrush for models - model painting airbrush for warhammer and tabletop wargames - vertical feature image

In a Hurry? Check Out the Top 3 Airbrush Picks! 🏆

  1. Badger Patriot 105 Airbrush (Best overall)
  2. Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1 Airbrush (Professional)
  3. Iwata HP-CS (Most popular)
infinity tag painted with airbrush and acrylic model paints - best airbrushes for painting miniatures
You can paint some cool stuff with an airbrush!

Is Airbrushing Worth It for Painting Miniatures?

Airbrushes are a fantastic way to change up your painting style and approach. Airbrushes add paint techniques that a regular brush can’t match. If you’re on the fence about getting an airbrush, check out this airbrushing versus regular brush comparison article for miniature painting.

But, an airbrush for miniatures can also add an element of difficulty to the hobby and, if you’re not prepared, a sore point of frustration. Is airbrushing hard? Maybe. But is it worth it? Absolutely, yes (if you put int he time to use one).

Must-Know 7 Features About Airbrushes

All tools fill a need that is unique to the user. In other words, finding the best airbrush for YOU is a personal decision. Here is a complete guide about airbrushing miniatures, including tips for best airbrush practice, use technique, and airbrush care.


Based on my experience, there are features you may want to consider when shopping for a new airbrush or when looking for an upgrade.

Here are 7 features you need to know about airbrushes for miniature painting:

  1. Airbrush type
  2. Paint feed
  3. Paint cup size
  4. Brand
  5. Nozzle and needle size
  6. Ergonomics
  7. Cost

1. Airbrush Type

There are two types of airbrushes: single or double-action airbrushes. A single action airbrush has a trigger that only lets you control the air flow. This makes the airbrush simple to use and easy to maintain. However, a single action airbrush doesn’t provide sufficient control over your paint spray for acceptable small scale miniature painting.

For airbrushing miniatures, you’ll want to invest in a double-action airbrush. A double action airbrush has a trigger that has two actions to control air flow and paint volume in the spray. This gives you very fine control over your spray resolution, allowing you to paint at low air pressures.

This is the single most important reason why the best airbrushes for any advanced or beginner airbrushing techniques on miniatures are double-action airbrushes. All the airbrushes for beginners or experienced miniature painters in the review below are double-action airbrushes.

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2. Paint Feed

There are three ways you can load paint into an airbrush. You can use a bottom-feed, an side-cup feed, or a gravity feed airbrush. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. For more details about the types of ways you can feed paint into your airbrush, check out this airbrushing guide.

Briefly, a bottom-feed or siphon feed airbrush loads paint into the airbrush through a jar or bottle attached to the bottom of the airbrush. This is great for high volume, large surface spraying. A limitation is the inability to airbrush at lower pressures necessary for finer detail spraying.

A side-feed airbrush gives you good visibility of the working surface, but also requires a bit more air pressure to function properly, which limits its the side-feed airbrush utility for painting miniatures.

The best airbrush for painting miniatures is a gravity-feed, double action airbrush. With a gravity feed airbrush you can operate the airbrush a very low air pressure.

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Additionally, you can use a larger variety of paint thickness in a gravity feed airbrush, which makes these airbrushes more versatile across a range of miniature painting needs. Make sure you use a suitable air compressor that can regulate air flow consistently at low pressures.

3. Paint Cup Size

What is the best paint cup size in a gravity feed airbrush? This is an important consideration because in a double-action airbrush, the paint cup is usually integrated into the airbrush body. You’re stuck with the paint cup size you buy with the airbrush. Of course, Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes (like the Infinity) have the option of different cup sizes. But, this airbrush alone for this feature costs twice as much as other airbrushes.

The standard paint cup size in a gravity feed airbrush is about 3ml. A 3ml sized paint cup will be the most versatile balance of paint volume to line-of-sight visibility over the airbrush. If you know that you want more visibility for fine detail painting, a smaller cup would be a better choice. A common recommendation is to get a larger sized paint cup (1/3 ounce or 10ml) if you want a more versatile miniature painting setup.

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Badger Renegade Series Airbrush Sets
from: Blick Art Materials

4. Nozzle and Needle Size

An airbrush nozzle size refers to the opening diameter at the tip of a nozzle in millimeters (ml). The standard nozzle sizes you’ll find on airbrushes are between 0.2mm and 0.5mm. The most common and versatile nozzle and needle size is 0.3mm.

These numbers refer to the diameter of the nozzle opening at the tip of the airbrush. Other terms for nozzle and needle sizes, include “fine”, “medium” or “coarse”. A needle that inserts into the nozzle to open/close the nozzle opening is also sized to fit the nozzle diameter size. When you purchase replacement parts, remember to also purchase the appropriately paired needle.

The size of an airbrush nozzle diameter determines how fine you can spray

The smaller the nozzle size, the finer detail spraying you can do. With nozzles less than 0.3mm, you can operate with thinner paints or ink at lower air pressure. With the lower air pressure, you have a lot of control over where the airbrush spray goes on your miniature. However, with a smaller nozzle size, you are more likely to risk clogging your airbrush.

A Smaller Nozzle is not better for airbrushing miniatures

With a smaller nozzle, you will be forced to use thinner paint. Thinner paint has poorer single-pass coverage compared with undiluted, thicker paints. Suffice it to say, a smaller nozzle in any airbrush will not be ideal for priming or base coating models. Both priming and base coating works best with thicker paint (e.g., more pigment) and sprayed at higher air pressure.

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models -  recommended airbrushes for beginners and experienced miniature painters - best airbrush for models - model painting airbrush for warhammer and tabletop wargames - best nozzle and needle size for airbrushes for painting minis
The most common airbrush nozzle and needle sizes for painting miniatures are 0.2mm, 0.3mm, and 0.5mm. For most work, a 0.3mm will your best nozzle/needle size.

When choosing the best nozzle and needle size for your airbrush you need to ask yourself what you’ll be painting most of the time.

Best Nozzle Size for every Miniature Airbrush

My recommendation for airbrush priming and base coating is to use a larger nozzle (0.3mm or greater). With a 0.5mm nozzle size, you can spray any surface primer (see this article for the airbrush-ready primers) undiluted at higher pressure (30-40 PSI) without fear of clogging.

For an all-purpose use nozzle size, choose a 0.3mm nozzle size. With a 0.3mm nozzle size, you can perform any airbrush miniature painting technique. You can base coat models, apply glazes and inks, and cover large surfaces on models with most art media, e.g., water-based varnishes. With a 0.3mm sized nozzle in my Badger Patriot 105 Airbrush, I can paint terrain, small unit troops, and even airbrush stencil special effects.

5. Airbrush Brand

There are three major airbrush brands that are particularly popular among miniature painters and fine-scale hobbyists. In the following section, I’ll discuss these brands and my thoughts about their defining characteristics, including engineering design, look and feel, and function.

  • Badger (American)
  • Iwata (Japanese)
  • Harder & Steenbeck (German)


Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrush - Badger airbrush for painting minis and scale models

Badger airbrushes are American-made airbrushes and associated with a hefty, weighted feel. is the heaviest airbrush. Many airbrush painters prefer the solid and heavier Badger airbrush build over lighter airbrushes for its stability. As an airbrush for scale models or miniatures, the weight of the airbrush gives you a planted feeling when spraying. Although airbrushes don’t have noticeable recoil with low air pressure use, the heavier tool often helps keep things steady.

Another notable hallmark of Badger airbrushes is the simplicity of their construction. For example, the nozzle doesn’t use a screw in attachment. The reduces the risk for cross-threading or breakage during assembly/disassembly. Quick tip: don’t disassemble an airbrush over a sink otherwise you may lose parts as they slip out. Importantly, this likely helps reduce the cost of replacing parts because they aren’t complex to make. Suffice it to say, in my experience, Badger airbrushes are the most durable airbrushes in their price range.


Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrush - Iwata airbrushes for painting miniatures and models

IWATA airbrushes are classics. They are beautiful machines. Disney animators painted with Iwatas and were the favored airbrushes of analog cartoon artists before digital came along. The older models of the Iwata HP line are no longer in production. But, the new versions are available. My first professional airbrush for painting miniatures was an IWATA HP-C.

The Iwata design is decades old, which is great because Iwatas are tried and tested technology. All Iwata airbrushes use high quality materials with an exterior chrome plating. These are some of the most beautiful airbrushes you can buy. All internal parts are machined to very high tolerances. Fit and finish are spectacular in all Iwata airbrushes, even their budget model. Because of these reasons, legacy, quality, and brand, Iwata airbrushes are some of the most expensive airbrushes on the market.

If you’re looking for a professional airbrush for miniature painting, look no further than an Iwata. Be prepared to pay for it, however, as even the budget model exceeds the $150 threshold.

Harder & Steenbeck

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Harder & Steenbeck (H&S) is a German airbrush company and their airbrushes are highly-regarded in the miniature painting community. The notable characteristic of H&S airbrushes is the modular design. Many of the functional parts on a Harder & Steenbeck airbrush are interchangeable. For example, do you need a larger paint cup? You can remove the small cup on an H&S airbrush and attach a larger one. If you want to change the nose cap to a closed design, you can do that, too.

Finally, in contrast to Badger and Iwata, H&S airbrushes use a smooth tapered needle with much shallower bevel. This gives the Harder & Steenbeck airbrush user more margin for finely controlling the spray output, as the paint volume won’t suddenly increase as you retract the needle.

6. Ergonomics

Ergonomics relates to the psychological and physiological principles that go into the design of a product. For airbrushing miniatures, ergonomics determines how you feel while painting. Ergonomics also relates to tactile sensations. How is the balance of the airbrush and does it handle well in your hand? Is the trigger spring too stiff or loose? Do prefer a smooth or rubbery grip?


This review describes the feeling and function of the airbrush. For example, the difference between a side feed and gravity feed airbrush are superficially similar, but ergonomically significant. Some airbrushes are hefty, others light. The balance of most airbrushes is near your index finger knuckle, but others have a front-heavy feeling. At the end of the day, only you will know what you like in an airbrush, and it takes time to learn your preferences.

7. Cost

You must be wondering: “How much should I spend on an airbrush?”. You can expect to spend no less than $100-150 for a good airbrush. If you’re spending less than this, I would question the reliability and quality of the airbrush. Cheap airbrushes suffer with poor quality parts, sub-par manufacturing (e.g., do you like air leaks?), and poor, coarse spray patterning.

Here’s the advice I take for almost all of my hobby purchases: “Pay for the quality you need”.

After collecting airbrushes over the years, I learned the hard lesson that sometimes it’s better to start with a good solid tool than try to learn with cheap tools that ultimately fail you.

There are several factors that make investing in a more expensive airbrush worthwhile. These include the quality of construction as well as the nozzle and needle airflow characteristics, which directly influence the resolution of the spray. Another critical consideration is the level of company support available. Are replacement parts easily accessible? For those new to airbrushing, opting for well-known brands can provide the invaluable support and community engagement that are especially beneficial during the learning process.

In summary, for beginners, I recommend budgeting between $200 and $250 for a complete airbrush setup, which breaks down to approximately $100-150 for the airbrush itself and about $100 for a reliable compressor. For veterans or serious hobbyists who already own a good setup, you might not need to go beyond $150-200 USD for an airbrush upgrade. You’ll find that high-end models often come with additional features that may not be essential for miniature painting.

Best Airbrush for Beginners?

There are two things you want to look for as a new airbrush miniature painter. You’ll need reliability and room to make mistakes. The best airbrushes to get when you’re starting out in the airbrushing hobby for miniatures are airbrushes with great durability.

The Patriot 105 or Renegade Velocity are very affordable airbrushes with excellent value and reliability. They are easy to use and disassemble easily for cleaning and maintenance. The Patriot 105 is a strong airbrush, machined from solid metal, and has very little exposed delicate parts.

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - my trusty Badger Patriot 105 airbrush
My decade (or more) old Badger Patriot 105 airbrush is a workhorse for all scale modeling and miniature art work.

For a first airbrush, the Patriot 105 or Renegade Velocity are practical tools that will let you make mistakes as you learn how to use it. If parts need replacing, they are inexpensive and easy to find online or in local art stores.

The Patriot 105 comes with the larger 0.5mm nozzle, whereas the Renegade Velocity comes with the 0.2mm sized nozzle. I would recommend the Patriot 105 for the casual painter, and the Renegade Velocity to the more serious hobbyist.

The Renegade Velocity will be a bit harder to use, e.g., higher risk for clogging, but the Velocity airbrush will provide you with more control and a smoother spray output (e.g., lower pressure with thinned paint).

If you’re still not sure what Badger dual action airbrush kit to get, take a look at my overview of the top 3 Badger airbrush models I recommend for new and veteran miniature painters.

Best Airbrush for Experienced Painters?

I’m going to get myself in trouble for answering this. Making a claiming about the best airbrush brush for professional or expert use is controversial on so many levels (see ergonomics).

First of all, if you’re an experienced miniature painter with a good work flow, how do you envision the addition of an airbrush? Are you looking for speed? Or, do you want to add a different technique to your miniature painting skill set?

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - Badger airbrushes for new and advanced miniature artists
My favorite airbrushes that keep the flow…

Are You a Pro?

At the end of the day, a professional airbrush is any airbrush you can use regularly with good results. That is, if you have the skill to operate an airbrush, then any airbrush will do the job you need it to do.

In high-quality, fine-art level miniature paint jobs, however, where only the smoothest paint blends are called for, then you’ll want an airbrush that can reliably spray an ultra-fine mist of paint (e.g., ultra-fine nozzle sizes 0.2mm or less).

You’ll want an airbrush with amazing paint atomization potential. This means a very well constructed nozzle, needle, and nose cap assembly.

Although I won’t get into the physics of paint atomization here, I can say that a lot engineering goes into creating an airbrush that gives its user fine control of the spray output.

As a professional miniature painter, you’ll want an airbrush that can operate with a wide range of air pressures, low to high, depending on your paint viscosity. It does take a lot of practice to use an airbrush for painting miniatures, especially when you want to apply paint blending techniques directly on a model.

My airbrush collection on a model paint rack display
A few of my favorite things…

As for recommended airbrushes for professional, expert miniature painting applications, the Sotar 2020 and the Harder & Steenbeck Infinity airbrushes are highly regarded for their precision and handling. The difference between these two airbrushes for professional work is mostly with ergonomics. You won’t know this until you’ve used them for a while.

10 Best Airbrushes for Painting Miniatures and Scale Models

Here are my 10 recommended best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models:

1. Badger Patriot 105

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The best all-around airbrush for painting miniatures and models for tabletop games and other crafting hobbies

The Patriot 105 is my favorite all-around airbrush. This is my first recommendation for anyone who isn’t sure they want to invest a lot into the hobby. See this full review of the Badger Patriot 105 airbrush for painting miniatures. This airbrush will handle almost any job you throw at it, except for more detailed airbrushing. For under $100, this is my top recommendation for a first, starter airbrush for beginners or veteran miniature painters.

The Patriot 105 airbrush comes stock with a 0.5mm sized nozzle, and will not be ideal for smooth paint blending on small scale models. For grunt work, however, such as priming and base coating large swath of surface area, this is a fantastic airbrush. The Patriot 105 airbrush is not prone to clogging (with careful paint thinning) and proper usage. In fact, assembly and disassembly is super easy (e.g., you shouldn’t have to do this much).

Key features and best use

  • The Patriot 105 is a great do-it-all airbrush
  • Recommended for anyone who isn’t sure they want to invest a lot into the hobby
  • Spray acrylic paints, varnishes, and primers
  • Great value airbrush

Who is this airbrush for?

The Patriot 105 airbrush is ideal for any miniature painter looking for a durable, no-hassle tool that will do the job even when your thinned paint isn’t perfect. The build quality is superb, though utilitarian, the airbrush will work for years. Replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to find.

Buy this airbrush as a beginner and it will grow with you. Veteran painters will love the practicality, affordability, and simple maintenance.

Badger Patriot 105


  • 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


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

2. Badger Renegade Velocity

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The Renegade Velocity with an open needle design for finer control

The Badger Renegade Velocity is similar to the Patriot 105, but use finer needle and nozzle combination (0.2mm size). It is a slimmer airbrush, with a narrower barrel than the Patriot 105. Some may think the Renegade Velocity airbrush has better handling, too. The exposed needle at the tip makes cleaning up “tip-dry” a lot easier. The two prongs on the nose protect the exposed fragile needle from accidental damage.

If you’re looking for a finer spray pattern for painting miniatures, I would recommend the Renegade Velocity over the Patriot 105. Just be aware that the finer needle and nozzle assembly will be more prone to clogging and a bit more fragile. As for specific features, the trigger assembly has a different feel than the Patriot 105 and is a tad more responsive (e.g., the trigger spring is stiffer). In both airbrushes, the trigger pull tension is adjustable.

Key features and best use

  • The Renegade Velocity can spray finer details than the Patriot 105
  • Well-balanced and weighted, narrower barrel
  • This airbrush uses a smaller needle and nozzle assembly (0.2mm size)
  • More suited for fine-detail painting

Who is this airbrush for?

The Badger Renegade Velocity airbrush is perfect for those looking for a practical, affordable airbrush that will let you spray with more detail-oriented tasks. As with the Patriot 105 airbrush, spare replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to source. With a strong build quality, you likely won’t need to do much fixing. Just keep the nozzle clear and the airbrush clean after every painting session and you should be good to go.

Badger Renegade Velocity


  • 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


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

3. Badger Krome Airbrush

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - badger krome
The Badger Krome Airbrush is Badger’s flagship airbrush model.

The Badger Krome Airbrush is the hybrid form of both the Renegade Velocity and Patriot 105 airbrushes. Aside from the addition of the plastic grip under the trigger (removeable), which may improve ergonomics, this airbrush has all the features of the Badger Patriot 105 and Renegade Velocity airbrushes.

The Krome has a set-screw for limiting the needle pull, which helps you control the maximum amount of paint you can spray at time. This is useful for avoiding overspray. If you’re still learning how to airbrush, you may want to first learn how to control the trigger manually without the physical limit of this set screw.

Build quality is excellent in the Badger Krome. The entire airbrush weighs close 10-12 ounces (or close to 350 grams), which is quite heavy. The internal structure is machine brass, coated in a chrome finish, as to the airbrush’s namesake. The Krome has a softer trigger pull than the Patriot 105, giving you more resolution in trigger-paint control.

The Krome is a 2-in-1 kit, which means it comes with two nozzle/needle assemblies: a fine (0.3mm) and an ultra-fine (0.2mm) sizes. This adds to the versatility of the airbrush. Overall, the Krome airbrush is certainly an upgrade to the Patriot 105 and Renegade Velocity. It has several more features that you’ll likely take advantage of as you gain experience painting miniatures with more control.

Key features and best use

  • The Krome Airbrush is Badger’s flagship airbrush model
  • 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)

Who is this airbrush for?

The Badger Krome airbrush is best for those looking for a spin on their airbrush fit and feel. The Krome airbrush is a more refined version of the Badger Patriot 105, and shares some similarity for precision spraying with the Renegade Velocity. In my experience trying all of these airbrushes, I lean toward the less expensive and more practical Patriot 105 for most miniature painting projects. On the other hand, if you could only have one Badger airbrush for general and precision painting, the Krome may be your best bet.

Badger Krome Airbrush


  • 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


  • 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

hobby and starter airbrushing - iwata hp-cs airbrush
The Iwata Eclipse Hp-Cs is an amazing mid-tier, professional level airbrush for painting miniatures

The Iwata HP-CS is a chrome plated gravity fed, double-action airbrush with all the features you would want for painting miniatures. The Iwata HP-CS is a direct competitor with the Badger Krome (above), albeit a bit pricier. What you get for the cost, however, is a more refined airbrushing experience. For example, the paint cup comes with a metal cap. Badger airbrushes use a soft, cheap plastic cover.

The Iwata airbrush oozes quality, from the feel of the trigger, to the exterior chrome plating, and the integrated barrel chassis. Unfortunately, replacement parts are more expensive for Iwata airbrushes than comparable Badger components. On the other hand, if you’re someone who is careful with their equipment, an Iwata airbrush kit will return your investment with a pleasurable airbrushing experience.

The standard 0.35mm sized nozzle makes this the one of the most versatile airbrushes you can buy for painting miniatures. Not too small or big, the nozzle in this airbrush is sublime for less clogging, fine paint atomization, and permits thicker paint spray along with thin inks without splattering. This is a professional level airbrush in many ways. To get the most out of this airbrush for painting miniatures, will require you to learn the nuances of how this tool works.

Key features and best use

  • A classic starter airbrush for any miniature painting hobby enthusiast
  • A competitor with the Badger Krome, but more refined quality
  • Made of higher quality stainless steel, instead of cheap machined brass metals in budget level airbrushes
  • The standard 0.35mm sized nozzle is versatile for painting miniatures

Who is this airbrush for?

Iwata airbrush in general are a legacy brand, known for their high quality, beautiful aesthetic, and high function. I loved all my Iwata airbrushes. Not only did they paint well, they felt great in my hands. The Iwata HP-CS airbrush is the perfect model for the beginner airbrusher looking to start with an Iwata. The trigger pull and larger sized nozzle are forgiving for mistakes and learning acrylic painting techniques.

This is not to say this isn’t for professionals either. The budget minded Iwata airbrush will match the output of any more expensive airbrush on this list with practice.

Iwata HP-CS Airbrush


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


  • 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

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - hobby and starter airbrushing - badger sotar 2020
The Sotar 2020 is Badger’s direct answer for the needs of miniature painters and fine-scale modelers everywhere

The Badger Sotar 20/20 is my second favorite airbrush for professional miniature painting (i.e., the Patriot 105 is my workhorse). This is Badger airbrushes direct answer to the expensive Iwata Hi-Line series (see these here). This Sotar 2020 model includes a fine sized nozzle/needle combination (0.2mm ) that will spray a “pencil” thin line to a 1.25″ (30ml) wide spray pattern.

The paint cup is a great size for allowing visibility to your miniature or model’s surface. The cup holds 1.5 ounces or about 15ml of paint, which allows you to paint for a somewhat extended time without having to reload the paint color.

As ergonomics of the brush are similar to other Badger airbrushes. It has a hefty, solid feel, with a forward balance toward the nozzle. Note the grip is located near the paint cup and directly under the trigger. This helps give you more fine hand-motor control over the spray pattern, as it is applied to your working surface.

The exposed needle also helps with precise airbrush application. Just be careful, as with any airbrush needle exposed like this, the needle is prone to damage. There is no adapter that you can use to cover the exposed needle on the Sotar 2020. So, I don’t recommend the Sotar 2020 as a starter airbrush to new miniature painters.

Key features and best use

  • The Badger Sotar 20/20 is superb for professional, fine-detail miniature painting
  • This Sotar 2020 model comes stock with a fine sized nozzle/needle combination (0.2mm nozzle)
  • Ergonomic feel is excellent for fine motor control and handling
  • Not recommended for new airbrush miniature painters

Who is this airbrush for?

The Badger Sotar 20/20 Airbrush is my current favorite for working with detailed paint jobs where I use thin media, e.g., paint, varnishes. The lightweight feel of the Sotar 20/20 and forward grip give you a leg up when it comes to controlling how close you can bring your nozzle to the painting surface. This is a great airbrush for spraying glazes with thinner mediums, such as acrylic inks or washes. This may be a nice second airbrush to have in your stable as it fills a specialized niche.

Badger Sotar 20/20 Airbrush


  • 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


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

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

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - harder & steenbeck evolution (H&S)
The Harder & Steenbeck Evolution is a fantastic German brand airbrush for painting miniatures.

The Harder & Steenbeck Evolution 2-in-1 Airbrush is an airbrush I would have purchased if I didn’t already have the Iwata HP-CS. Functionally, the Harder & Steenbeck Evolution is similar to the Iwata HP-CS airbrush with all the same features, except for the 2-in-1 system. The Evolution comes with a removable paint cup. Switch between 2 and 5 ml paint cups (included), depending on how much painting you plan to be doing. This also happens to make clean up for much easier than the integrated system of the Iwata or Badger airbrushes.

The Evolution airbrush comes with two nozzle assemblies: a 0.2mm or 0.4mm nozzle/needle sizes. Are you priming or base coating models, or painting big terrain pieces? Use the larger 0.4mm nozzle. For detailed miniature airbrushing, switch over to the 0.2mm nozzle for finer spray control. Scale modelers will love the flexibility of the nozzle/paint cup interchangeable feature.

Ergonomically, the Evolution balances evenly with the larger paint cup, front to back, and is very comfortable for long painting sessions. With the smaller paint cup, it has a back-weighted feel, making the airbrush feel a tad more “twitchy”. Fill your paint cup with paint and the weight shifts yet again. Overall, this is a fantastic airbrush for painting miniatures.

Key features and best use

  • The Evolution has a 2-in-1 system
  • Switch between 2 and 5 ml 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

Who is this airbrush for?

The Harder & Steenbeck Evolution 2-in-1 Airbrush is for anyone who prefers the fit and feel of a light-weight modular airbrush that doesn’t cost as much as the professional-level models. Get this airbrush if you want the functionality of the Infinity airbrush without the cost. Note that if you’re already invested in the H&S airbrush systems, many of their airbrushes have interchangeable parts between models.

Harder & Steenbeck Evolution 2-in-1 Airbrush


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


  • Relatively pricey
  • Nozzles are made of softer brass material (less durable)
  • More parts, means more things to risk losing

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

best airbrush for models - model painting airbrush for warhammer and tabletop wargames - hobby and starter airbrushing - harder & steenbeck infinity 2-in-1 (H&S)
The Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1 Airbrush is a professionally engineered airbrush for painting miniatures and scale models. Interchangeable components give this airbrush remarkable versatility for many types of painting applications.

The Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1 Airbrush is the airbrush many professional, veteran miniature painters may recommend. The design of the Infinity airbrush is similar to the Harder & Steenbeck Evolution (see above). Almost all of the internal parts are the same and interchangeable. Both airbrushes also come with parts to interchange the needle/nozzle size and the paint cup. Even the trigger assembly is the same as the Evolution.

The Infinity uses an open-needle design, which gives you a lot more spray control, as well as needle access to keep it clear of paint residue and clogs. This does expose the needle to additional damage risk. But, if you’re careful, the Infinity airbrush design is perfectly suited for airbrush painting miniatures and small scale models.

At the back of Infinity airbrush, the cutout in the rear barrel gives you access to the trigger tension screw and and needle lock nut. This gives lets you make fine adjustments to the feel of the trigger and needle without having to remove the entire barrel. It’s a quick and smart feature. The knob at the back of the airbrush limits the needle pull so you can physically prevent paint overspray.

Key features and best use

  • The Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1 Airbrush is a highly respected among professional painters
  • Similar to the Evolution airbrush, but has more smart features for painting miniatures
  • Great airbrush for painting miniatures and fine scale models

Who is this airbrush for?

The Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1 Airbrush is the big brother of the Evolution. This is the airbrush to buy if you’re an experienced miniature painter looking for the absolute best in terms of functionality and quality construction. The Infinity airbrush is also the airbrush you mistakenly buy if you’re a new painter and think spending more means you’ll level up your skills quicker. The Infinity airbrush requires some more technical upkeep for it to operate at its best. If you’re up to the challenge of taming this airbrush, you will be able to easily apply the entire gamut of spraying techniques available for painting miniatures.

Harder & Steenbeck Infinity 2-in-1 Airbrush


  • 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


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

8. Grex Genesis XSi3 Side Feed Airbrush

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - Recommended top 10 best airbrushes for painting miniatures and models - hobby and starter airbrushing - Grex genesis side feed airbrush
The Grex Genesis XSi3 Side Feed Airbrush is an innovative airbrush with flexible modular design features that let you personalize the form and function of the tool. Highly-recommended for painting miniatures.

The Grex Genesis XSi3 0.3mm Nozzle Side Feed Airbrush is a unique product on the airbrushing market for miniature painting. The Grex airbrush is constructed mostly with stainless steel components that are very durable and easily repaired or replaced. Interestingly, Grex has made some interesting and practical innovations to the ergonomics of the airbrush.

First, the grip section of the airbrush may be more comfortable to some who have larger hands. The larger surface area of the airbrush grip may also provide better control and stability. The airbrush is fairly light and well-balanced. Second, this Grex airbrush is a side-feed airbrush. Paint enters into the airbrush from a side-attached cup. The side-cup lets you hold the airbrush with more visibility of your working surface. See the gravity-feed version of this airbrush.

This airbrush comes with a standard sized 0.3mm nozzle assembly. However, if you prefer, you can easily upgrade this with conversion kits to nozzle sizes between 0.2mm to 0.7mm. Literally, paint anything. The needle is hidden in the nose cap, but as with other Grex airbrushes, there are different accessories you can buy to create the airbrush that works best for you. Overall, the Grex side-feed Genesis XSi3 is an innovative addition for miniature painters who are looking for a different way of doing things that work just as well (or better depending on your need).

Key features and best use

  • Ergonomic design, including rubberized grip and trigger
  • Light weight and center-balanced
  • Side-feed cup design provides better visibility (see gravity-feed version)
  • Standard sized 0.3mm nozzle assembly is versatile

Who is this airbrush for?

The Grex Genesis XSi3 Side Feed Airbrush is the general, all-purpose airbrush. In contrast to the other airbrush models on this list, the side-feed paint cup will give you more visibility to see your working surface. The best reason to choose this airbrush is whether that feature, along with the ergonomics of the grip, are valuable to you. Grex, like Badger Airbrushes, are budget friendly with spare replacement parts that are easy to find.

Grex Genesis XSi3 Side Feed Airbrush


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


  • 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

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - model painting airbrush for Warhammer and tabletop wargames - Badger renegade spirit side feed
Badger Air-Brush Co R2S Renegade Spirit Side Feed Airbrush uses the same chassis as the Badger Renegade Velocity. The overall feel of the trigger-pull and handling of the brush is the same as the Renegade Velocity.

The Badger Air-Brush Co R2S Renegade Spirit Side Feed Airbrush is essentially the side-feed version of the Badger Renegade Velocity. This airbrush uses all the same components with those advantages as the gravity feed version. The finer needle and nozzle (0.2mm size) and more solid handling give you a lot more control for finer detail airbrushing miniatures. Modelers and miniature painters who need more visibility of the their work will love the side-feed system.

Ergonomically, the weight and balance of the airbrush are similar to the Patriot 105 and Renegade Velocity. A screw-limiter at the rear of the airbrush for the trigger and needle pull will come in handy for those who are looking for a fast way to prevent overspray. The exposed needle tip also allow for cleaning and preventing paint tip-dry.

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 recommend this airbrush. As with any Badger, the Renegade Spirit is a durable airbrush that will last years with regular maintenance and care.

Key features and best use

  • The Badger R2S Renegade Spirit Side Feed Airbrush is the side-feed version of the Badger Velocity
  • Provides a fine spray pattern for painting miniatures (0.2mm nozzle and needle)
  • More visibility to the working surface
  • Solid build quality

Who is this airbrush for?

The Badger Renegade Spirit Side Feed is similar to the Renegade Velocity airbrush (shown above). This is a solid workhorse with some specialization in precision airbrush techniques. As with other side-feed airbrush models, this is best suited for the painter who is looking for more visibility to their painting surface. The ergonomics of this brush will please those who enjoy a heavier tool. As with other Badger airbrushes, I find the ergonomics are balanced in your grip with the center of gravity around your forefinger knuckle.

Badger Renegade Spirit Side Feed Airbrush


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


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

10. Badger Patriot Xtreme

Best Airbrush for Painting Miniatures and Models - recommended airbrushes for beginners and experienced miniature painters - best airbrush for models - model painting airbrush for warhammer and tabletop wargames - Badger patriot extreme xtreme airbrush
Badger Patriot Xtreme

The Badger Patriot Xtreme is a combination of the best features found on the Badger Patriot 105, the Krome, and the micro-air-valve (MAC) found on the expensive Iwata Hi-Line airbrush. The Patriot Xtreme has similar features as high-end airbrushes, but with less refinement and cost. This airbrush is designed for miniature painters who want control over their work.

A few notable features set the Patriot Xtreme from other airbrushes for painting miniatures. For example, the trigger is close to twice the height as other airbrush triggers. The longer trigger included with the Badger Patriot Xtreme allows you to more finely control airbrush paint spray. Note that you can buy this “high roller trigger” separately for other Badger airbrushes.

The MAC valve located near the nose of the airbrush is a miniature air regulator. The MAC knob functions like the valve on the Iwata Hi-line airbrushes. It controls the amount of air flows at the front of the airbrush. This tiny change in air pressure gives you even more control over your paint atomization and spray pattern. The MAC valve is a high-end feature that you may find very useful as you get better at airbrushing miniatures.

The standard kit comes with the standard 0.3mm sized nozzle, which is the most versatile nozzle size for painting miniatures and scale models. The exposed open needle design is interesting on airbrush like this, but should give you some more visible control over where you are spraying. With the other moving components in this airbrush, there is some more nuanced maintenance you’ll need to consider. But, if you’ve already owned and used other Badger airbrushes, there’s not much need you will need to learn to properly maintain this airbrush.

Key features and best use

  • This is the budget-friendly professional airbrush
  • Similar features as higher-end airbrushes
  • Features the MAC valve near the nose of the airbrush, e.g., fine tune air pressure
  • Default 0.3mm sized nozzle is versatile for many miniature painting needs

Who is this airbrush for?

Take all the best features of the other Badger airbrushes, add MAC valve (and increased price) of an Iwata, and you have the Badger Patriot Xtreme. Of course, this is a heavier weighted tool as compared with its competitors. But, maybe that’s what you’re looking for. A heavier airbrush will be more stable in your hand than a lighter one, which would feel twitchy. Note that the plastic grip underneath the Xtreme can be removed if you find it uncomfortable. I would recommend this airbrush to anyone who is looking for a feature-rich airbrush for painting miniatures. Who knows, you may find them handy!

Badger Patriot Xtreme


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


  • 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

Final Word

Airbrushes come in all sorts of makes and models. The best airbrush kit you choose will depend on what you want to do with the hobby and art.

There is an airbrush that’s just right for everyone who paints miniatures. Before choosing the best airbrush for painting miniatures, ask yourself what you plan to do. If you’re just dabbling and want to base coat and prime your models faster, a starter airbrush like the Badger Patriot 105 would be a great choice.


For more advanced miniature painting, you’ll want an airbrush that can reliably spray finer details on your models. From here, you can go in many directions. But, my suggestion is to buy the airbrush you think you’ll have fun using regularly. There is no shortcut to practicing with any tool!

Thanks for reading and happy airbrushing!

Summary: My Top 10 Recommended Airbrushes for Any Miniature Painter

Image Model Features and best use
Badger-Patriot-105-best-airbrush-for-painting-miniatures Badger Patriot 105 User friendly, versatile for pros and hobbyists. Super useful for base coating and priming models.
Badger-Renegade-Airbrush-gravity-feed-best-brush Badger Renegade Velocity Fine detail painting, durable. Great for new and experienced painters.
Badger-Krome-airbrush-review-best-1 Badger Krome Professional all-around use
IWATA-HP-CS-miniatures Iwata HP-CS Mid-tier starter airbrush or professional painter
Badger-Sotar-2020-gravity-feed-airbrush-for-painting-models-and-miniatures Badger Sotar 20/20 Best value airbrush for professional, fine detail miniature painting.
Harder-Steenbeck-Evolution-Airbrush-Review Harder & Steenbeck Evolution Modular design, flexible and versatile. Great for painting a variety of miniatures.
Infinity-harder-and-steenbeck-airbrush-review-best-for-miniature-painting-1 Harder & Steenbeck Infinity Professional features with modular design
Grex-side-feed-airbrush-Genesis Grex Genesis XSi3 Ergonomic, innovative design, side-feed paint cup. Useful for painting larger models like vehicles and terrain.
Badger-Air-Brush-Co-R2S-Renegade-Spirit-Side-Feed-Airbrush-review Badger Renegade Spirit Budget friendly airbrush, side-feed paint cup, medium-fine detail miniature painting.
Badger-Patriot-Xtreme-review-best-airbrush Badger Patriot Xtreme Professional airbrush features in a budget-friendly package. Great for painting any miniatures, large or small.

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9 thoughts on “Best Airbrush for Miniatures and Models (Top 10 Reviewed)”

    1. Yeah – for the cost (upfront purchase and maintenance upkeep) you will get farther with a Badger. Iwatas are great for fine art applications and illustration.

  1. H&S Infinity may be expensive, but its the best on the market in every single way and in my opinion should be on top. Its not cheap, but in my opinion also not expensive and your set for while not needing to replace it and not needing to look for an upgrade. Should come with 5 stars

    1. Hi! I agree with you :). The airbrush order isn’t ranked by best to worst, etc. The H/S is a superb airbrush and indeed for the spec and function it’s worth the cost. I have two :). The star rank is based on overall rating, however for utility in painting minis. For the price (nearly $300), it’s been a hard sell for most miniature painters. To really know an airbrush, you’ve got to use it for a while.

  2. Pingback: Starting my airbrush adventure | The Dining Table Napoleon

  3. Pingback: Complete Guide to Airbrushing Miniatures and Models - Tangible Day

  4. When purchasing an airbrush, deciding between a gravity feed and a siphon feed airbrush is one of the most important decisions to make. There are substantial differences in pressure settings, desired project scale, and paint finishes between these popular airbrush kinds. Gravity airbrushes work at low pressures and are suitable for detailed painting; siphon feed airbrushes, on the other hand, work at high pressures.

  5. Pingback: Best Airbrush for Miniatures and Models (Top 10 Reviewed) - Toy Newz

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