The Best Airbrush for Miniatures in 2023 – 2 New Winners This Year

If you’re new to the site, welcome!  My name is Rich and I use my airbrushes a lot for miniature painting and modeling.  I’ve done some Gundam work too, with more on the horizon. 

I’ve been using an airbrush since 2018, and painted hundreds of miniatures and models.

I wanted to lend my experience on the topic of the Best Airbrush for Miniatures and Models.  Based on what I have personally used, what the community as a whole tends to value, and basic principles like performance, cost and value.

The TableTopDash Best Airbrush for Miniature and Model Painting was determined by the following criteria:

  • Widely available for purchase (nothing exotic, discontinued or custom made)
  • Used and tested by Miniature Painters over a period of no less than 1 year
  • A significant number of reviews of the Airbrush by verified users
  • My Personal experience using airbrushes for miniature painting over the years 
  • Objective specifications that make Miniature and Model Painting easier

The Best Airbrush For Miniatures & Models in 2023

Rather than just saying “it depends” we have broken this down by what is most important to users. If you’re brand new to airbrushing, the beginners pick might be for you. If you’re looking for a great all around airbrush, or something versatile or high end, we’ve got you covered. Here then are my top picks for the best airbrush for miniatures in 2023 based on my years of using airbrushes on miniatures and models:

The Best Airbrush for Miniature Painting Beginners: Badger Patriot 105 Airbrush

The Best All Around Airbrush for Miniatures and Model in 2023: Iwata Eclipse HP CS

The Best High End and Fine Detail Airbrush for Miniatures in 2023: Cult of Paint Infinity CR+ or the Infinity CR+ 2 in 1

The Most Versatile Airbrush for Miniature and Model Painting in 2023: Paasche TG-3AS

The Top Pistol Grip Airbrush for Miniature and Model Painting in 2023: Grex Tritium TG3 / Grex Tritium TG5

And now for the detailed breakdowns…

#1 Badger Patriot 105

The Best Airbrush for Beginners and Everyday Use – Your Go To Airbrush

Rich’s Take:  The Badger Patriot 105 is my favorite airbrush for so many reasons.  It was the first one I bought, still does a great job for me every day after years of heavy use.  It balances functionality and simplicity with important features.  Only giving me what I need:  reliable performance.  For the price, it’s easily my top pick for Beginners and everyday use.  

Badger Patriot 105 Key Features and Specs

Needle and Nozzle Sizes: The Badger airbrush has a .5 needle size

Paint Feed:  Gravity Feed Airbrush with 1/3 oz Cup

Trigger Action:  Dual Action Trigger

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 Pricing:

The Badger Patriot 105 Airbrush is Currently in the  $126.00 range.  Prices often fluctuate.

The Badger airbrush kit is my value pick and best airbrush for beginners. If you’re looking for a less expensive airbrush kit you can try the Master Airbrush Kit I recommend, but only if you are on a tight budget.

Badger Patriot 105 Likes and Dislikes

What I like: The Patriot 105 is the GOAT for miniature painting airbrushes. It’s by far my most commonly used airbrush. I have it on a splitter hose so I always have 2 available, but I never remove the Badger Patriot 105.

  • Solid construction, extremely durable
  • Modular design allows for easy swapping of parts if needed
  • Larger nozzle size doesn’t clog often, even with heavy work load
  • Easy to get any replacement parts
  • Lower price point than many other quality airbrushes
  • Ideally suited for most common miniature painting tasks like: Priming, base coats, varnishing, terrain painting

What I dislike: While I love this airbrush, there are things I would change on it. First would be the spray regulator, or the very tip of the airbrush where the needle comes out. When I clean my airbrush I backflow the air, to do that you have to cover the tip. On the Badger you can’t do that with your finger because the needle goes past the guard. They give you a plastic cap to plug it but I’d rather just use my finger.

I want the same regulator as on my Iwata eclipse airbrush, the HP-CS. That one has a guard on it that you can just put your finger or a wet wipe over and backflow.

The trigger could be a bit smoother, although I wouldn’t trade durability for a better feel on this trigger. The final thing is the airbrush hose fitting is different than most compressor hoses, so you need to buy an adaptor for it.

Beyond that though, there isn’t much I’d change.

  • Spray Regulator cap is short and you can’t cover the needle without the plastic cap Badger gives you.
  • Trigger could be smoother and have more spring to it.
  • Airbrush hose is not the same as most fittings, you need an adaptor for it.

My in depth review of the Badger Patriot 105 is also worth checking out if you’re still unsure.

#2 Iwata Eclipse HP-CS

The Best All around Airbrush for Miniature and Model Painting

Rich’s Take:  If I had to pick one airbrush to use for the rest of my miniature painting, this would be the one.  It’s a great all around performer that can handle heavy tasks like priming and varnishing, but also gives you all the precision you’ll need for fine details and highlights.  It is smooth, accurate, well made and easy to use.  My desk has this airbrush and the Badger 105 on it at all times.  

Iwata Eclipse HP-CS Key Features and Specs

Needle and Nozzle Sizes:  .35mm Nozzle

Paint Feed: Gravity Feed Airbrush with .24 oz Cup 

Trigger Action:  Dual Action Trigger

PSI Ranges:  20 to 30+ PSI

Hose Connection: BST Connection

Manufactured in: Japan

Iwata Eclipse HP-CS Pricing:

The Iwata Eclipse HP-CS typically runs over $200 in the US.  Definitely a step up in price over the Badger Patriot 105, but not so much that I would call it expensive.  The increase in cost gets you a smoother trigger, and better performance on fine detail airbrushing.  It’s a good beginner airbrush but it can also grow with you as you advance.  

Iwata Eclipse HP-CS Likes and Dislikes

What I like: In a word:  Smooth.  This airbrush just has a great feel to it when spraying.  It’s the trigger, precision in the spray and the general construction that allows for seamless painting. 

The nozzle size of .35 is a sweet spot for me too.  Big enough that it can handle big jobs like priming without clogging every 2 seconds, and narrow enough that I can do fine lines or highlights.     

This is a small thing, but the needle cap / spray regulator is great.  I can put my finger over the cap without the needle poking me.  I do that every time I clean the airbrush to change paint or put it away so it’s very common.  

  • Smooth trigger action and spray
  • Ideal nozzle size for well rounded airbrush performance
  • Love the needle cap!
  • Very well constructed

What I dislike: There are no really glaring issues with the HP-CS.  It’s smooth but could be smoother.  It doesn’t have a ton of features for the price.  So if your goal is the best airbrush that money can buy (within reason), you might pick a very high end airbrush with all the bells and whistles.  

Really that’s all I can fault it for and those are nitpicks.  

Cult of Paint Infinity CR+ | Infinity 2 in 1 CR+ : Best High End

The Best High End and Fine Detail Airbrush for Miniature and Model Painting

Rich’s Take:  Full disclosure, I really am a fan of the Cult of Paint guys.  I was lucky enough to get Andy Wardle to coach me in miniature painting.  The Infinity CR+ is a fantastic airbrush in it’s own right, and the Cult of Paint model is even better. 

The custom trigger is where the CoP version earns the top spot for Best High End Airbrush.  It gives more control in the top of the trigger push down.  That small tweak allows for a lot more control when you want really fine work. “Pulsing” your airbrush layers is very easy with this airbrush and it’s worth the money for that feature alone.

The Infinity 2 in 1 CR+ is very similar in that it is the same airbrush body and obviously the same airbrush brand. The insides are all the same as the CoP version. The difference is the 2 in 1 meaning needle sizes. You get either a .2mm and .4mm needle (my preference and what I own) or a .15mm and .4mm. The .15 is TINY and while it is capable of amazing precision with the small spray pattern, it will clog if you look at it the wrong way.

Cult of Paint Infinity CR+ Key Features and Specs

Needle and Nozzle Sizes: .4mm needle/nozzle size

Paint Feed: Gravity Feed Airbrush with 5mm Cup

Trigger Action:  Dual Action Trigger

PSI Ranges:  10-15 up to 30+ PSI

Hose Connection: BST Connection

Manufactured in: Germany

Cult of Paint Infinity CR+ Pricing:

The CoP Infinity CR+ is on the higher end of pricing but not by much.  It really comes down to your budget, but if the question is:  Is this airbrush worth the extra money I would say the answer is “Yes, when you need to do more advanced techniques”.

If you’re just doing priming, base coats, varnishing etc, then no this airbrush is overkill.  Don’t mistake what I’m saying, the Cult of Paint Infinity CR+ can absolutely do all those tasks extremely well.  It’s just that you can get the same result from an airbrush at nearly half the price.  

The CR+ really shines when you’re doing fine detail work, or light feathering of layers, or small precise highlights.  The control and accuracy is excellent and you’ll really appreciate the trigger feel when you’re doing precision work.  

Cult of Paint Infinity CR+ Likes and Dislikes

What I like: Control.  The trigger and spray on the CR+ is noticeably better than my other airbrushes.  I absolutely reach for this airbrush when doing small details and light layers.  

I also have to admit, this airbrush is beautiful.  I have both the Cult of Paint and standard version of the Infinity CR+ and they’re stunning.  I’ve heard them referred to as the Ferrari of airbrushes ha.  I do agree, they are very nice to look at. 

If you’re painting miniatures to look cool and create art, it’s fitting to have a great looking, great performing airbrush.  

What I dislike: It’s not so much a dislike as it is my preference for value.  I always pause at the higher priced items.  So yes price, but also it’s got a lot of extra features that are not really necessary (although they are nice to have!).  

This airbrush is overkill for beginners for sure, but when it comes to airbrush painting, for the extra money, it’s super nice to have.

Infinity CR+ 2 in 1 Key Features and Specs

Needle and Nozzle Sizes: .15mm and .4mm OR .2mm and .4mm needle/nozzle size

Paint Feed: Gravity Feed Airbrush with 2 Cups: .2ml and 5ml

Trigger Action:  Dual Action Trigger

PSI Ranges:  10-15 up to 30+ PSI

Hose Connection: BST Connection

Manufactured in: Germany

Infinity CR+ 2 in 1 Pricing:

Pricing on the 2 in 1 version of the Infinity CR+ ranges from high 200’s to low 300’s. It’s not cheap, but you do get an extremely high quality airbrush with multiple needles, nozzles and cups.

Infinity CR+ 2 in 1 Likes and Dislikes

What I like: If money is no object, this is the best airbrush for miniatures. If you want to paint miniatures to a very high quality, this in one of the best airbrushes period. Capable of extreme precision and control, smooth delivery, and high quality parts. I own the .2/.4 model and when it’s time for real detail this is what I reach for.

What I dislike: Cost obviously is a big sticking point here. It is worth it but only if you’ll use it for something the others can’t do. You’re not picking this up if all you’ll be doing is airbrush priming. Miniature painters buy this when they are ready to try more challenging work.

Paasche TG-3AS – Most Versatile Airbrush Kit for Miniatures and Models

The Most Versatile Airbrush for Miniature and Model Painting

Rich’s Take:  I don’t personally own this airbrush kit but I had the opportunity to use this for a few hours at an airbrushing class I took.  I was impressed by it and it made my list!  I think the big thing here is that the Paasche includes 3 different needle heads:  .25mm, .38mm & .66mm at a very reasonable price.  That’s just awesome to have out of the box.  

Now to be clear, it’s a hassle to have to swap needles and nozzles every time you want to switch.  So it’s not ideal, but you can do 90% of your airbrushing with the .38 or even .66mm head and only swap very occasionally to the .25mm.  

Paasche TG-3AS Key Features and Specs

Needle and Nozzle Sizes:  .25mm, .38mm & .66mm are included

Paint Feed: Gravity Feed Airbrush with .4 oz Cup

Trigger Action:  Dual Action Trigger

PSI Ranges:  10-15 up to 30+ PSI

Hose Connection: M5 but the set Includes 1/8″ BSP Adapter

Manufactured in: USA

Paasche TG-3AS Pricing:

The Paasche TG-3AS airbrush kit comes in at a little over $115, making it the least expensive on my list.  It’s also a set that includes a hose, tools and BST adapter making it a fantastic value.  

Paasche TG-3AS Likes and Dislikes

What I like: The Paasche airbrush kit is all about value for me.  Using it felt like my Badger Patriot 105.  Same sort of flow to it, trigger feel, build quality.  So to get that for less money and 3 heads included is a bargain.  It’s not as good as the Badger to me, but it’s pretty close.

It definitely feels like a durable, well built airbrush that will last you a long time.  I also like that it’s made in the USA.

So if you need a workhorse airbrush kit, with some versatility built in, at a great price, this is a very good option.

What I dislike: For me the biggest benefit is also a drawback.  You get 3 heads but to be swapping them out is not something I’d want to have to do.  I do a lot of airbrushing so for me I’d rather have 2 airbrushes on a splitter and pick up the right one for the job as needed.  

I would just say though, if you’re on a budget, totally worth doing!  (more money for mins 🙂 )

Grex Tritium TG3 / Grex Tritium TG5 – Best Pistol Grip Style

The top pistol grip Airbrush for miniature and model painting

Rich’s Take: This airbrush is so fun! The pistol grip is such a cool feel to it and the Grex does a great job of execution on design. It’s smooth, ergonomic and durable. I’m not personally convinced it’s the absolute best airbrush for miniatures, but it’s certainly my favorite pistol grip.

The difference between these two is simply nozzle size. TG3 is .3mm and the TG5 is .5. Your choice comes down to what you want it to do. I’d go with the TG5 if you’re going to use this for mostly priming and bigger projects. The TG3 if you’re thinking you’ll be doing fine detail as well.

I think it’s exceptional at priming and base coating especially. Two of the most common uses of an airbrush. If you’re a fan of this style of airbrush I absolutely recommend it.

Grex TG3 / TG5 Key Features and Specs

Needle and Nozzle Sizes: TG5 is a .5mm nozzle and the TG3 is a .3mm nozzle.

Paint Feed: 

Trigger Action:  Dual Action Trigger

PSI Ranges:  10-15 up to 30+ PSI

Hose Connection: 

Manufactured in: USA

Grex TG3 / TG5 Pricing:

The Grex TG5 and TG3 is right around $200, give or take. So it’s up there with the high end airbrush kits. It is certainly a high quality airbrush and very well made.

Grex TG3 / TG5 Likes and Dislikes

What I like: I love the plastic grips on all Grex products. It’s such a good inclusion in their airbrush kits. They also stand out visually with that bright green.

This style airbrush seems like it’s really a stand out for larger surfaces. Even in the miniature painting community there are larger items to paint. Things like tanks, or terrain, dungeon tiles, large Gundams and mechs. So for bigger projects that require airbrush kits that can move a lot of paint, this is an option.

What I dislike: I sometimes question if this grip can let me do the same things I can with a standard airbrush push down trigger. The airbrush body is the same as any other, it’s really just the grip that is different here.

Ultimately though, I am sure there are users who vastly would prefer this airbrush over the others. If this grip is your preference, the Grex is the one for you. I’d also say that it’s a fantastic (although pricey) addition to any airbrush collection.

Best airbrush Nozzle/Needle size for Models and Miniatures

One important thing to understand about nozzle and needle size is that smaller size gives you a finer spray patterns. Larger gives wider spray patterns. This may seem obvious but there are other things to consider. One big factor is paint clogging.

Smaller nozzle sizes are more susceptible to clogging by their nature. Any clumps in the paint, any dried paint on the needle tip, will impact the performance.

Larger nozzle sizes also can move more paint. For big projects like terrain and tanks, you want bigger nozzles, although small can do the job, larger is easier.

Smaller nozzle sizes are much better at precision airbrush work. Airbrush face painting for example, or small highlights. Fine detail airbrushes are excellent for those projects.

The best airbrush for miniatures will let you do everything involved in miniature painting.

What type of airbrush should I get for miniatures?

The best airbrush for miniatures will be a dual action airbrush with gravity fed and a needle size of between .25 and .6mm. While there are different styles, like the Grex airbrush gun, most have the push down trigger that controls the air pressure and paint flow.

You should also know the airbrush is just the airbrush body itself in many cases. A kit may or may not include things like a hose and airbrush compressor. The airbrush compressor controls air pressure that it supplies to the airbrush body.

Popular airbrush brands include names like:

Iwata airbrush

Badger Airbrush

Infinity Airbrush

Grex Airbrush

Master airbrush

Best Airbrush for Experienced Painters?

The Infinity CR+ or Iwata eclipse HP-CS Airbrush kit. Both are included in the Best Airbrush for miniatures for a reason.

Experienced and professional airbrush painters will use multiple airbrushes typically. They’ll choose the right one for the job at hand just like you would use multiple paint brushes.

Having said that, experienced and professional airbrush painters will lean towards the higher end, smaller nozzle size options. They want fine control over air and paint flow, which comes down to the trigger mechanism.

Which airbrush is better for modeling?

The best beginner airbrush for modeling is the Badger Patriot 105.

The best airbrush for models is really the same criteria as miniature painting. Both deal with large and small surfaces. Both want smooth application of paint. Both prime, base coat and varnish their models and miniatures.

The Badger Patriot 105 covers all those bases. From there you would step up to something like an Iwata eclipse airbrush , or infinity airbrush. Iwata airbrushes are excellent options if you’re looking for something to grow with you. The smaller nozzle size is better for detailed painting.

What PSI should I use when Airbrushing Miniatures?

The most common PSI for airbrushing miniatures is between 20 and 25 PSI. This setting is regulated on the pressure gauge of your airbrush compressor. In miniature and model painting, air pressure is most often at the 25 PSI mark for airbrushing acrylic paints, primers and varnishes that are thinned for use in an airbrush.

Regardless of if you are using a full size air compressor or a portable mini air compressor, the pressure settings remain the same. You can also set the PSI higher or lower, depending on the job you’re doing.

Airbrush “spidering” will happen when the pressure is too high for the paint thickness. Airbrush sputtering or spitting is typically from clogs and low or uneven air pressure.

What is Painting Miniatures as a Hobby?

Painting miniatures is the hobby of taking small figures, vehicles, and terrain, and painting them to represent what the artist is envisioning. Sometimes it’s realism, other times fantasy or sci fi, and a wide range of styles and preferences.

Painting miniatures is about art. So there is no one standard answer to how to paint something. Just like there is no one way to produce art.

Painting miniatures is something that covers a wide range of applications, from quick and easy priming, all the way down to tiny highlights when airbrush face painting.

How am I qualified to talk about Miniature Painting and Airbrushing? I’ve put that together for you in my profile and put up a gallery of my work so you can see some examples. I’ll be adding to this over time!

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