Airbrush query

I’m not too happy with my airbrush, it’s a Badger Patriot 105. I find the trigger pull releasing paint is not smooth, or more specific, a long pull (half way) before paint is released.

I also notice a bit of spotting/ grainy and pulses at lower paint release. To me, I think I used a lot of paint doing a base coat (⅔ of 17ml bottle). I found it difficult to control the amount of paint being released. I found I had to use it almost 3/4 to full blast, so I had to more distance from the model.

I’m spraying at 21 psi and the compressor has a tank. I field strip and clean the brush after every use (30 years in the Military does that).

Should paint start flowing sooner?


I’m no expert at AB - but - what kind of paint are you using and at what ratios paint to thinner?

I have a patriot 105 and have never liked it. I had to send it back after I bought bc it was not working right. They found a metal shard in it and just sent the same one back to me! It’s always bubbled when using. Disappointed with it since new and mostly don’t use. Surprised they didn’t stand behind it and just replace it.

Silly question - your pressing the trigger all the way down , right, to release the paint? Have you been airbrushing long? I’m a beginner. I think if there is adequate pressure, the paint should flow when the trigger is pressed down at the same time.

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Well that’s a bummer. I’ve had a Badger Patriot and a Krome, both for a long time and have been pleased with them (I spray Vallejo Model Air).

I’ve had all sort of troubles over the years but they have been mostly self inflicted, specifically, not having an absolutely clean gun tip (where the pin sticks out at the end - sorry, don’t know the technical name for this part), which leads to weak spray and eventual clogging, but that is not the problem you are having.

Maybe this, if you get into the air input mechanism (where the gun attaches to the hose), you’ll see that there is a pin, that is spring loaded (live a valve stem on an auto tire) which is activated by the trigger, regulating airflow. I wonder if it is partially stuck? thereby limiting the range of air pressure being applied from zero, and then past halfway or more? You might disassemble and clean this mechanism. Hope that sentence wasn’t so poorly constructed that it doesn’t make sense!

As far as spraying out/emptying out the paint cup quickly, I’ve found that if either I haven’t set the pin correctly in the nozzle (too far back) or if I have a fine pin in place, with a typical nozzle, (“nozzle”, not being the tip of the gun, but the smaller, cone shaped chrome piece the pin inserts into) the gun will use paint too quickly - which is fine for some things, like if painting a large surface area, but obviously not good for more focused work.

So, despite my technically inaccurate parts descriptions, maybe this will help -


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The air valve would be the circled parts


Assuming the AB needle, nozzle, and air valve are all working OK, your symptoms sound like paint-thinning issues. If the paint is a tad thick it will take more air to push it out the nozzle, so will only flow at full squeeze. And it will be grainy if it is drying in-flight. You don’t mention the paint rand, or how you thin it to spray, but try thinning it more than normal and see if it flows at less of a pull…

I have a Badger Renegade Krome as my workhorse, spraying Tamiya acrylics, and the only times it gave me trouble were my own fault not thinning the paint right.


Try spraying clean water on a paper

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The only paints I have are AMMO acrylics. They are supposed to be good to go straight from bottle to airbrush and the consistency is like skim milk. I have tried retarder as well to ensure no dry tip. Any thinner really thins it out like a wash and I’m talking a drop ~6:1 ratio (manual brushing).

The needle is straight. I have looked at the air valve assy and the travel seems correct, it’s lubed. I have not taken it apart.

Maybe I have a faulty airbrush, or maybe I’m expecting something with smoother control with less resistance?

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maybe your compressor is part of the problem? You mention pulsing.

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My compressor has a 3 litre tank and I have a single action airbrush and it doesn’t pulse.

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The paint may be OK, but test the AB with distilled water only and see if it still struggles to spray and if it still pulses. Pulsing is usually a compressor issue, but not if you have a tank in the system. I assume you’ve already stripped the AB and used powerful cleaners on all the bits? I have an old can of Badger spray cleaner (Xylene-based) that will dissolve anything! I shoot it down through the cup and watch the crud pour out the front where I’ve removed the nozzle. Then I do the same through the nozzle itself, and spray the needle too. I do this every few months just to be safe.

Another thing to watch is tightening the nozzle retainer - if it doesn’t make a good seal all around you will get air escaping, leading to bubbles in the cup and other bad behaviour. Hope this helps!


Do you tight the srew cap (50.031) for the trigger spring all the way? If yes do some tests with the cap in different positions, you might find this helpful. Also try not to have it too loose, the trigger might have some play when pulling back or pulsate.


I will try all your suggestions over the next couple of days. I may also order a NEOECO from Ali Express, hear lots of good things on them.


Good luck and let us know what happens.
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Assuming that the airbrush is clean and there’re no issues with the air flow through it, then…

Consider reducing the viscosity of the paint more. Lower air pressures and lower paint volumes (i.e. trigger / needle less open) demand thinner paint. To compensate for the reduced opacity (less pigment in the same volume of paint) and reduced volume, you move closer to the surface. Speed of application may also have to be a bit quicker to prevent puddling and spidering.

There’s a balancing act that has to be done between air pressure, paint volume and paint viscosity. All three elements must be matched for good performance. At really low air pressures and minimal paint volumes, you might find that you’re reducing the paint viscosity down to that of ink. Adding a bit of clear (either gloss, semigloss or flat) into the highly reduced (i.e. very thin) paint can help by putting more binders into the mix while still retaining the reduced opacity (if the object or goal is to spray a glaze or “filter”). This can also help improve coverage with very fine sprayed lines and small spots. (Requires testing, though, to find the “happy spot”.)

Higher pressures and greater paint flow volumes will accommodate the thinner paint (i.e. the airbrush will still spray well), getting good coverage (opacity) without putting too much paint on the surface is very difficult. Therefore, higher pressures and volume are usually matched to thicker, more opaque paint. Distance from the surface is also usually increased. Speed of application is modulated to prevent puddling, spidering, runs, etc.

You might also find that the paint you’re using needs to be strained to remove lumps and possible bits of dried paint chips from around the threads of the jar and cap. This can also create problems with the needle controlling the paint flow inside the airbrush. This is not an uncommon problem when using old paints that have been opened and closed and mixed mostly by shaking (which gets paint on the threads of the jar and inside the cap). Built up paint dries, and small chips contaminate the rest of it. Also, the thinners in the paint tend to dry out with repeated use increasing the viscosity even when it’s mixed thoroughly. The thicker the paint becomes, the more difficult it is to mix it properly by simply shaking it, also creating possible lumps of unmixed pigment and binders from the bottom of the jar.


Thanks Mike, for the in depth advice, your knowledge amazes me.

Ps. Still working on getting that book. The fellah that has it is extremely busy, but I should see him soon. I will keep you posted.


sounds like a thinning problem? When was the last time you cleaned your gun? My Talon was acting a little freaky, When I checked it out ,I found the needle guide was backing out, This was the cause of a lot of problems.

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I clean it after every use.