Last summer, my feed was inundated with a buttload of ads about a brand new handheld airbrush; it looked super cheezy and it was filled with lies. Naturally, I had to buy one.
So at some point last year, there’s a ton of ads that started appearing for a handheld cordless airbrush and compressor. The ad was ludicrous and filled with obvious lies. Here’s some I could find with a quick search:
Things like easier to clean than an airbrush, or won’t clog like an airbrush… I mean… this is an airbrush. It will clog and clean exactly like any other airbrush.
So, I did what any reasonable person would do. I told myself: “This is such garbage, I can’t believe someone would believe any of these lies”, as I entered my payment information on the sketchy website.
And here we are today.
Handheld Cordless Airbrush Review
I will admit that I was fully expecting to get scammed, because at the time it was only available directly from manufacturers in China, so I was not really counting on the thing actually showing up. But it did, and now you can find these on Amazon.
I would tell you which brand this is, but I have no idea, I looked into the ones offered online, and they are all mostly the same as far as I can tell.
So, just by showing up, it exceeded my expectations.
Let’s break it down real quick, because the ads and product description are not crystal clear, I think their marketing is really aimed at clueless people so they use cryptic and vague terms to talk about their products.
But this is neither voodoo nor witchcraft, it’s pretty simple. Basically, you get a small compressor that acts as your handle, and an airbrush that screws directly into the handle, so no hose required.
The compressor is battery powered, and you get this USB charging cable.
Using the handheld airbrush
This part really exceeds my expectations, because it is working out pretty well, and the pressure is a lot more decent than I expected. I assumed it would be pretty low and that paint that was somewhat thick would have a hard time spraying, but no.
Again, my expectations were insanely low.
The compressor does run all the time it’s powered on, but it’s pretty quiet. There is also not much vibration from it, which was my main concern since you have to hold the thing.
The airbrush itself is similar to all the cheap unbranded airbrushes you have on Amazon. So nothing really impressive, but it gets the job done.
Now, most of the time I saw this online it was asked about as a way to get into airbrushing. So let’s compare the handheld version with one of my favorite airbrush starter kit and look at the pros and cons.
Let’s look at some of the pros first:
Really great if you don’t have a lot of space.
An airbrush setup is not the bulkiest thing. The main space you need being the spray area/spray booth, and that’s the same no matter what you get. Still, the handheld really doesn’t take any space like a compressor does and you won’t have a hose tangling around.
As one YouTube viewer pointed-out, this is a great tool to paint on the go, for that ‘classic’ night before a tournament hotel bathroom painting sesh.
Again, unless you have a clunky old airbrush, sound is not a big issue as hobby-oriented compressors tend to be on the quiet side. Still, the handheld is quieter than the generic brand.
The handheld is a little over half the price of a Compressor & Airbrush starter set; which are not the most expensive sets to begin with. Now mind you, we are talking strictly about the cost here, not the value of each kit.
You pay less, sure; but do you get your money’s worth?
Well, let’s look at the cons column.
The first rule of tools, after “finish the job with the same number of fingers you started with”, is: never buy battery-powered tools unless there is a specific reason for it to be battery powered.
Let me assure that there is no reason a compressor needs to be.
Now it’s first on the list because obviously you could make the argument of just leaving it plugged in the usb all the time. But, much like a foam cutter or a rotary tool, plugs over batteries.
One Size does not fit all.
This is the biggest issue for me, and what makes it far inferior to the starter set. The beauty of the Starter Set, which will get its own video soon enough, is that it contains everything you need to start at an affordable price, and you can upgrade pieces as you go.
Not with the handheld.
The compressor and airbrush included is built with the fittings reversed from the industry standard.
Usually, both the compressor and the airbrush have a male fitting, and the hose has female fittings. But because this set has no hose, the airbrush has a female fitting. This is a big drawback.
And now, as soon as you are ready to take the next step in your airbrusher’s journey, you are shit out of luck because you can’t upgrade with just any airbrush, you have to actively look for reverse fitting or reverse adapters, which are not in the o-so-precious adapter set.
Even if you have no intention of upgrading to a better airbrush down the line. Just the fact that airbrushes break sometimes, and that parts need replacing is enough to turn me down from this product.
I like being able to quickly change things up and not have a puzzle to figure out every time I try to swap pieces. Specially on a tool meant for beginners and, as the lying ad said, is easy to use.
Are handheld airbrushes the end-all be-all of airbrushing, probably not. But they are more than meets the eye and offer a few very practical uses.