Badger Patriot 105 Airbrush Review – 2023 (The Reason it’s Still On Top)

The Badger Line of Airbrushes has been around for quite a while.  The Patriot 105 delivers the quality and reliability users want in a workhorse airbrush.  

The Badger line up is quite popular in the miniature painting world.  Few come more recommended than the Patriot 105.  It really sets the bar for what entry level airbrushes should be: a high quality product that is reliable, has a dual action trigger, internal mix and easily replaced parts.  

It’s often mentioned as a beginner airbrush and I do agree with that, but it’s also much more.  I’ve had my 105 for over 5 years now and it’s still by far my most often used airbrush.  Don’t mistake the beginner rating for something you’ll outgrow in a few months.  All I really mean by beginner is it’s affordable and easy to use.

The Badger Air-Brush Company has been around since it was founded in 1964.  Back then it was all about servicing other manufacturers airbrushes.  Now they make their own, and I’m glad they do.  

There’s a good deal to cover so let’s get into TableTopDash‘s Badger Patriot 105 review.

Pros:

  • The precision made body is durable and easy to clean, making this airbrush very easy to work with and maintain
  • The Patriot has a .5mm needle/nozzle which is fairly large for this class of airbrush.  With a wider opening you wont get as many clogs.
  • Parts are very easy to find in the US, and globally.  Needles, trigger springs, any fittings you might wear out can be swapped for very low cost.
  • Perfect specs for the most common airbrushing tasks in miniature painting, hobbying and crafting:  base coats, priming and varnishing / sealing.  
  • A great price point for an airbrush of this quality and ability.
  • The simple design adds to the durability.  There are simply less things that can break on it.
  • Steady even spray pattern

Cons:

  • While it can handle most tasks, It’s not ideal for very fine detail work due to the larger needle/nozzle.
  • I prefer needle caps that extend past the needle itself.  Makes it easier to cover it when you need to clean the airbrush.  It also leaves the needle tip more exposed.

Specs

  • Airbrush Body:   dual-action, gravity-feed, internal mix 
  • Nozzle and Needle: 0.5mm needle and nozzle combination. 
  • Paint Capacity: 1/3 fluid ounce (9.8 ml).
  • Trigger Control: dual-action trigger mechanism
  • Construction: precision-machined metalic body
  • Recommended PSI Ranges:  10-15 up to 30+ PSI
  • Hose Connection:  M5 .05mm (You will need an adapter for the most compressor hoses which are ⅛ BST connections)
  • Manufactured in: USA

Badger Patriot 105 Review: Airbrush Overview

The Patriot 105 has long been a favorite of mine and currently sits at number one on our list of best airbrushes for miniatures.  It was my first airbrush and I still use it every time I paint.  

The best tools are the ones you pick up over and over, and never have to think about.  The Patriot 105 is reliable, meaning it does what I need it to do every time.  Clogs are rare, spray pattern is even and the trigger works well.  

Badger Patriot 105 Airbrush is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  It’s the best mix of features, price, reliability and ease of use.  While I do have other airbrushes that I use, this gets the most work. 

The .5 mm needle is much more forgiving than airbrushes designed for more precise work.  If you use an airbrush on a miniature  you just 3D printed for example, the primer might be a little on the thicker side.  In a smaller opening that might easily clog or lead to uneven spray.  

The trigger is dual action, which is exactly what you want.  Press down to start air flow, pull back for paint flow.  I would not call the trigger especially smooth or incredibly precise.  Solid is the best way I can describe it to you.  It works well, and it feels like it will always work well.  

The gravity feed paint cup is part of the airbrush body.  The solid construction makes it more durable, but some people prefer removable paint cups.  Removable cups theoretically make it easier to clean the paint out from time to time.  I find the Badger 105 to be very easy to clean, so it’s not anything I think about.  

Speaking of cleaning, it’s very easy to simply unscrew the needle chuck and remove the needle.  I like to wipe it with a baby wipe for a quick clean.  

Badger Patriot 105:  Set Up and Best Airbrush Compressor to Use

The airbrush itself comes fully assembled and ready to use.  There is no real set up for it other than unboxing, connecting to a hose and air compressor.  You will also have a rubber needle cap and a plastic paint cup cap that are removable.  

The big note here is the fittings on the 105 Patriot.  Badger Air-Brush Co is an American brand and they use what are called M5 fittings.  Most airbrush compressor and hoses use ⅛ BST connections.  So you’ll need an adapter most likely.  The good news is they are under 10 dollars typically.  

If you plan to get multiple airbrushes, you can also get this kit that has quick release connectors and the hose adapter included.  

My compressor of choice is the  Zeny Professional Airbrush Compressor.  It’s another brand and very well known model that is reliable and does the job.  There is nothing especially fancy, but it has everything you want:  adjustable pressure valve, auto shut off, air tank and a 1/5 horsepower motor.

The Zeny even comes with some teflon tape to seal connections a bit better and a hose.  

You will need to unbox and screw in a few parts to the compressor.  Then attach the hose to the compressor nozzle, and the airbrush on the opposite end.  

You can then plug in and turn on the compressor.  Check the connections to make sure they’re snug and not leaking air. 

I recommend setting the pressure gauge to right around 25 PSI and see how that feels for you.  I usually airbrush at that pressure and rarely have the need to go higher or lower.

Badger Patriot 105 Review:  Cleaning and Maintaining

A gravity feed airbrush in general is very easy to clean.  The open paint cup on top allows you to rinse it out with  water or airbrush cleaner.  It’s another reason the badger patriot 105 is one of the easier airbrushes to clean and maintain.

I fully outlined my airbrush cleaning process in an article but I’ll summarize here:

  1. Use a squeeze bottle full of water to flush out the paint cup.
  2. Dump any used paint and water out.
  3. Backfill your airbrush by adding water, covering the tip with a nozzle cap or paper towel, forcing air back into the paint cup.
  4. Use a baby wipe to give the inside of the paint cup and the needle tip a quick clean.
  5. Fill paint cup with water and spray into an airbrush cleaning pot.
  6. Loosen needle chucking nut and remove the needle.  
  7. Wipe the needle with a baby wipe or paper towel with airbrush cleaning fluid on it.
  8. Replace needle, tighten needle chucking nut.
  9. Fill paint cup with airbrush cleaning fluid and spray into airbrush cleaning pot.

You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with breaking the airbrush down and reassembling it.  It’s not a complicated process but your first time I would expect to go a bit slowly.  

The only challenge is the trigger assembly, and possibly the air valve.  The trigger assembly itself is just the trigger and a thin curved piece called a back lever.  

You’ll loosen and remove the needle, then pull out the trigger and back lever.  When reassembling just reverse it.  Lever and trigger in first, then replace the needle.

The most complicated bit is the air valve.  Fortunately this rarely needs to be looked at.  I think I’ve only disassembled it once in my 5+ years using this airbrush.  The air valve for the model 105 is made up of a spring, a screw and a plunger with a rubber O ring on it.  

You can buy the whole assembly or any of the parts.  For example if the rubber O ring fails or breaks, you can simply replace it.  

You can clean the airbrush by hand or take it apart and give it a bath of isopropyl alcohol and water, in an ultrasonic cleaner.  

Badger Airbrush Brand Quality:

Construction

This comes down to the high quality materials, the simple and effective design, and the vast experience of the company making it.  Badger has been around since the 60’s and they know airbrushes. 

It’s important to understand that the Patriot 105 is not the most basic airbrush.  There are extremely simple designs that are a bit cheaper.  The Patriot 105 is a great beginner airbrush because it uses the best features without doing too much.  

Reputation

This goes for both the brand and specifically for the Patriot 105.  Badger Air-Brush has been around for decades and has long established it’s reputation for quality.  The Patriot 105 has also been around long enough to establish it’s great reputation.

Among miniature painters, hobbyists, modelers, crafters and all kinds of creatives, the 105 tops a lot of lists.  

Value

 As an entry level airbrush the value proposition is very high.  You’re getting an airbrush capable of doing 90% of everything you’ll ever need to do with an airbrush, for under $100 dollars.  At least in the US.  If you’re in Europe or elsewhere check pricing first.  

What Paints Can I Use in the Badger 105?

While there are a variety of specifically thinned paints labeled “Airbrush Paint”, the short answer is, pretty much anything can work.  You can use your airbrush with virtually any liquid paint available if you thin it properly.  You don’t have to have ultra thin paints in this case.  Because of the larger needle size, the badger patriot 105 would be able to handle most paints that are even moderately thinned down.  

The most commonly used brands in miniature painting include Vallejo, Citadel, Army Painter, Pro Acryl, Scale 75, and more. 

You can use craft paint, but the results are typically not ideal.  Coverage will be an issue and they are thicker, so require some thinning.

Other Needle and Nozzle Sizes Available:

The Badger Patriot 105 typically comes with the “Fine” needle of .5mm. 

You can also get a Badger Super Fine Conversion kit that gives you a .35mm needle and nozzle.  

Finally there is a “medium” version that is roughly .7mm  

The color coding on the needles are:  Silver for Medium.  Blue for Fine.  Black for Super Fine.

Note: Do not just get a smaller airbrush needle without the associated nozzle size change.  You need both to convert it.

Best 2nd Airbrush to Pair with the Badger Patriot 105?

I wanted to make sure I covered this topic for the 105.  It’s such a good baseline airbrush that it really frees you up to get a highly specialized 2nd airbrush.  

So for example, the Patriot can be for your day to day priming, base coats and varnishing.  While a 2nd airbrush can be used for fine detail work.

Typically the more expensive airbrushes have features you wont see in the 105.  Perhaps it comes with a smaller nozzle for super fine spray.  Your second airbrush is easy to swap in and out when you need it.  Either with a quick release attachment, or a splitter on your air hose to accommodate 2 brushes.

Another feature to look for is a very smooth trigger that allows for more control.  

My choices then are:

Badger Sotar 2020:  0.2mm needle and nozzle.  A great airbrush for fine detail, it’s a good pairing with the Patriot.  You’re getting more precision, less surface coverage.  

Iwata HP-CS:  0.35mm needle and nozzle.  This is one of my favorite airbrushes, period.  The trigger is smooth, the spray is fine enough for really small details and the construction is fantastic.  I love my Iwata.  It’s always attached to my compressor along with the Badger 105.

The Badger Patriot 105 Airbrush Review:  Summing it All Up

The Badger Patriot 105 airbrush is ideal for beginners and advanced artists alike. If you want to start airbrushing or upgrade your current airbrush, the Patriot 105 is definitely worth considering.

The body of the airbrush is well-designed, with interchangeable parts that are easy to assemble and disassemble. Whether you’re using acrylic or enamel paint, the Patriot 105 is less prone to clogging compared to cheaper airbrushes on the market. Cleaning and maintenance are both simple to do on this model.

I’ve personally used this airbrush for years, and it hasnt slowed down yet. The Patriot 105 looks and feels like a high-quality airbrush, and it performs exceptionally well. Whether you need to spray fine lines or cover larger areas, the fine needle sizes available for the Patriot 105 give you the versatility to achieve both.

Another advantage of the Patriot 105 is its durability. The airbrush body is solid and can withstand long periods of use without any issues. If, by any chance, you encounter a problem, replacement parts are readily available.

In conclusion, the Badger Patriot 105 is a top-notch airbrush that’s suitable for beginners and experienced painters. If you want an airbrush that is easy to learn on but can grow with you, the Patriot 105 is definitely worth considering.

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