Badger recently sent the Kitmaker network a sack load of airbrushes for review. When I was offered the chance to look at two of them, I jumped at the chance.
First, I am new to airbrushing. I have a Paasche H, single action bottom feet airbrush at present, which I purchased a few months ago. Having only used spray cans and brushes up to this point in time, I had thought I could get by. The first time I used the airbrush to put a single color base coat on a model, I realized just how much better things could be. Even paint application, the ability to do better detail painting, and using paint bottles is much cheaper than rattle cans, as well as making it possible to touch up the paint with the same color.
The two airbrushes I was offered were from Badger, the Patriot model 105 and the Thayer and Chandler Omni 4000. They came in a simple brown cardboard box with an air hose, quick connect adapters on both airbrushes, and a fine detail needle for the 105.
Badger Patriot model 105...
This is a double action, gravity feed airbrush. The 1/8 oz cup is mounted on top of the brush just forward of the trigger. The needle tip extends out of the nozzle on the front end of the airbrush and is unprotected during use. A black plastic cap is included for mounting over the needle end of the airbrush, and a second black plastic lid fits over the paint cup. This has a small air hole, allowing the airbrush to be used with the cap in place. The trigger is adjustable by partially unscrewing the spring screw to lessen the spring pressure. A small, very basic booklet is included with the airbrush. Badger does offer more information at BOOKLET
which includes basic instructions, tips for learning how to use the airbrush, and parts numbers for replacement.
The first thing I did was take the airbrush apart, just to see how it worked, and familiarize myself with the parts and then put it back together. This helps remove the intimidation factor. I felt the airbrush has good balance in my hand, and the trigger was fairly easy to learn. Push and hold down for air flow, and then move the trigger back and forth to vary paint flow. I ran some air through the brush just to make sure everything was working, and then started with some paint. I chose Badger Modelflex acrylic paints, also sent for review. I played with a few patterns on a white paper plate. I figured the glossy surface on the paper plate would help simulate plastic while being very cost effective as well. I made a few patterns and lines, played with large surface coverage and played with air pressure. I found that between the time the airbrush arrived and my first use, my son had played with the exposed needle tip (I found impressions in a styrofoam cup and a piece of balsa) and the needle was bent. Off to Michael's craft store (a national chain in the US) to get a replacement and I was back in business. I sprayed more of the Modelflex paint, and added some Tamiya and Vallejo. The only problem I encountered was frequent tip dry, caused by local high temperatures and the almost total lack of humidity.
Cleaning the airbrush was fairly east. I drained the cup, wiped it out with a cotton swab, sprayed water or window cleaner through until it sprayed clear, and it was good to go. For a more thorough cleaning, I disassembled the airbrush completely, although removing the needle to wipe it off is easy enough by loosening the needle chuck and pulling the needle out. There is a ball on the end of the needle and the rear of the handle is open, allowing easy access.
The Omni 4000 was produced by Thayer and Chandler, which is now a part of Badger. This airbrush also includes the plastic cap over the needle end and a plastic lid for the attached 1/8 oz metal cup. This is also a gravity feed double action airbrush. The instruction pamphlet included is very basic, mainly covering basic airbrush tips and replacement parts. Again, I took the airbrush apart to see how it worked, and then put it to use.
The trigger action was smoother than on the Patriot 105, and the detail work was finer. The needle is protected by an air cap on that fits over the nozzle retention cap. It can be reversed to expose the needle, allowing you to get closer to your work. I again grabbed a paper plate as a target and played around with patterns. I found the airbrush could make very fine lines and provide excellent detail, although my present skill level does not represent this very well. I used Modelflex, Tamiya and Pollyscale paints, and all seemed to work well, although I still had problems with tip dry.
Both of these airbrushes are what I would consider "workhorse" models, with the ability to do a wide variety of jobs and soldier on easily. The only thing I currently lack is experience and skill. I did do some practicing on some models I had available, choosing them based on the color selection of the Modelflex paints I was given. Spraying a base coat and getting into recesses was much better because of the ability to get close in for detail. Coverage of an entire model was only a few minutes at the most.
The use of the quick connect adapter made switching back and forth between the different brushes very easy and is a feature I really liked having.
I don't know how the individual airbrushes are shipped. I have seen the Patriot 105 offered in a blister package with the airbrush and hose line. Prices on the 105 started at $79.95 US online and went up from there. The airbrush is still frequently listed as "new" although it has been out for a few years now.
The Omni 4000 was listed online starting at about $100.00 US and going up from there. It also included the Badger airline.
With both air brushes, higher prices sometimes included additional parts or options, so shop carefully to get the best deal.
Considering the Badger Patriot 105 could be had for not much more than I paid for the Paasche I started with, hindsight says I could (and should) have started with the Patriot. I would like better protection for the brush tips than I think the plastic caps will offer, but other than that, I think both air brushes will offer excellent value and years of service, and will certainly be well worth the money.