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What is the Difference Between a Single-Action and Double-Action Airbrush?

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Question: What is the Difference Between a Single-Action and Double-Action Airbrush?
Airbrushing is a painting technique using a special tool called an airbrush which sprays a mixture of air and paint. RC vehicle bodies are often airbrushed. Single-action or double-action airbrush refers to what type of triggering system is used for the airbrush tool.
Answer: With an airbrush you pull the trigger/press the button and a mixture of paint and air sprays out. The big difference between single-action and double-action airbrush systems is how they mix the air and liquid and the control you have over how much comes out as you spray.

External vs. Internal Mixing

Airbrushes work by mixing air with liquid (such as paint or glaze) so that the paint is applied in a light, even layer. Air is supplied via a compressor or with cans of compressed air (for short spurts of painting). The liquid (usually paint) is in a bottle or jar attached to the airbrush.

With single action airbrushes the mixing of paint and air occurs externally, outside the tip. They are less likely to clog when using heavier paints. In (most) double-action systems the air and liquid are mixed inside the airbrush. The liquid may need to be thinned more to prevent clogging but this internal mixing produces a finer spray of paint than external mixing.

Single-Action Airbrush

The basic model airbrush systems are usually single action and generally less expensive. The paint comes out at a pre-set rate when you press the trigger. Release the trigger and the paint flow stops. Single-action airbrushes tend to have the least amount of control of air flow and volume of paint dispensed at a specific time or amount. However, they are perfectly suitable for a wide range of applications (including painting RC vehicle bodies) such as crafts, murals, and using stencils.

Double-Action Airbrush

Dual-action airbrushes have a trigger system that provide the user with much more control over paint flow. The trigger system has separate controls over both air and paint amount to be mixed before they are dispensed. It allows for greater control of the width of the spray of paint, opacity and gradation, and provides a finer spray.

The double-action airbrush is more commonly used by intermediate to expert artists but this doesn't exclude the beginner. They allow for greater precision detail work. Double-action airbrushes also are usually more pricey than the single-action basic airbrush.

Find Single-Action Airbrushes

Compare PricesGrex Genesis.XA Single Action Top Gravity Airbrush, 0.3mm Nozzle, 7ml Cup

Single Action Airbrushes from Paasche.

Badger Model 350 Single Action Airbrush at Blick Art Supplies.

Find Double-Action Airbrushes

Compare PricesPaasche Professional DOUBLE-Action Airbrush Set, Model# VL-SET is just the airbrush (along with tips, bottle, and lessons).

Compare PricesPaasche Airbrush & Compressor Package: TG3F, D500SR, & AC7 is a double-action system with compressor.

Compare PricesIwata (IWA4201) Eclipse HP-BCS Bottom-Feed Airbrush Kit # 4201 is just the airbrush plus accessories.

Double Action Airbrushes from Paasche.

Badger Model 150 Double Action Airbrush at Blick Art Supplies.

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