by: Mitko Nikitov [ ]
Intro Airbrushing is not an easy job. Most definitely, it is not suited for everyone. It requires certain talents and artistic approach. We are not all born with those, and many of us struggle through this particular process during modeling.
With time, one of two things usually happens to those who are not into airbrushing. Either slowly and steadily master the airbrushing to some degree, or – begin to hate it and often neglect the process.
Happily, there is a solution for most of those who struggle and are not into perfecting their way of spraying. It comes in a form of pistol-grip airbrushes, many of which you are familiar with. Iwata, Grex, Sparmax and Gunze offer such tools, each one with its own specific qualities. Here, we will take a quick look at Sparmax GP-50, one of the three available from the series GP. The other two are GP-35 and GP-70 and they differ by the nozzle size as you probably have guessed.
The Box Sparmax GP-50 comes in the well-known black wrapping that the company uses for their airbrushes. That is a cardboard case, opened on both of its sides, covering the translucent plastic clamshell that holds the airbrush itself.
The cardboard shows semi-matt appearance, with information about the product inside on the sides. There are pictures of the airbrush and the color cups available for each model and a marking of the one that you have wrapped.
Beneath it, the translucent plastic holds a foaming material, that holds the airbrush tightly into place. There is a hanger on one of the sides, providing you with the option to hang the box on the wall and save same space, while in the same time making your airbrush visible at all times.
Instructions The sheet is placed on the bottom of the box, beneath the foaming, and includes most of the necessary information to start up even if this is your first airbrush. There is part description and schematics of the assembly of the pistol-grip airbrush.
In addition to that, there is a cleaning advices and tips that will help you find your way through this if you are not used to such tools.
With it there is a troubleshooting guide, which covers most of the issues that you might encounter.
All of that is particularly useful even if you know your way around airbrushing, but you have never tried a pistol-grip before.
Included in the set Besides the GP-50 itself, in the box we have few more things. The mandatory wrench for disassembly, the two color cups are there. 15ml and 7ml. It is the same with the GP-35, but the third one from the series – GP-70 – features plastic 80ml bottle instead of 7ml & 15ml metal cups. The wrench it is slightly thicker than the ones we know from the conventional airbrushes. It has a hole on its tail for hanging.
There is a metal hose connect, braided to stay stuck into the plastic body of the hose. It has a o-ring for better seal and that allows for using pneumatic hose available in any supply store. Other than that, fitting of the airbrush is the standard 1/8.
There is a cleaning brush, blue in color, which I have seen in all Sparmax airbrushes that I have seen so far. It is a nice add-on, especially for those who gets it as their first tool. The brush itself is comfy, flexible synthetic hairs, and a softi-ish handle.
Most important thing for me was the fact that the plastic handle of the airbrush is included in this set. Some other brands doesn’t offer that as a bonus, but you rather buy one additionally, which costs like 10-15% of the price of the airbrush itself. So good bonus from Sparmax here.
How does it work Sparmax GP-50 is a typical pistol grip airbrush. Those work differently and the trick is in the trigger. In the standard dual-action airbrush you have trigger movement that is up-down for air and back-forth for paint. Both can be used separate one from another. At least – theoretically. Here, we have one direction only. Trigger style. At first, the air starts, and then the paint, right about after 40% of the trigger movement.
That eases up the paint process and makes unwanted accidents less probable. What you need to set up is the proper air pressure, eventually limiting your trigger through the pre-set handle, especially for mottling and post-shading sessions.
In general that almost turns the airbrush into single-action high-precision tool, keeping only the positive sides of the single-action airbrushes. That, combined with the handle, which gives you additional confidence with its ergonomic grip is a more than a good start for those who have issues while airbrushing.
Bigger nozzle than what is considered as a standard / .2mm - .35mm/ isn’t a sign for less precision here. The good balance of the airbrush, combined with the fact that it sits in your palm for steady grip widens the perspective.
Truly, it can work easily for large areas, including clear coats, priming and big scale models painting, but it can also shoot precisely. Fine lines are not an issue and clogging is not that annoying. The large nozzle allows for more air to pass and with that all the benefits of it.
Proper dilution of the paint is vital if you want to do fine spots, lines and all kinds of tricks though.
That is the reason why we have two color cups. 15 ml one is for longer spray session with greater coverage, while 7ml cup is what we can use for finer work.
Cleaning and maintenance
Contrary to my expectations, cleaning a pistol-grip airbrush is an easier process compared with the conventional ones. It is not the complexity of the tool, but its design. My first pistol grip had extended limited warranty if not disassembled, which limited the cleaning possibilities. So for the first 5 years of its service, I only flushed it with 2 or 3 large cups of cleaner at high PSI settings, around 2.5-3 bars.
Once the warranty passed I allowed myself to open it and for my surprise it was in almost-perfect condition. Actually, that was the moment when I fell in love with pistol-grip airbrushes. Of course, not all of them are limited like my first tool was, and it was from a different brand too.
Sparmax can be cleaned of course and I suggest you to do it, with the fact in mind, that flushing it regularly will give you a certain degree of confidence that you have a well maintained tool. With that said, I always open it and often lube it every couple of sessions.
The instruction sheet provides pretty clear sight of what everything looks like set apart, so you will have enough knowledge to deal with it from the first try. Overall pleasant to clean, with only a sole note:
The side-feed color cup entry into the airbrush requires additional attention when cleaning. I noted some paint residue there even after thorough flush, which cleaned all the system but that area. Not a big deal, only a couple of cotton buds needed, soaked in cleaner.
This is a superb airbrush for those who struggle airbrushing with the conventional tools. It is an all-around airbrush, offering versatility, reliability and comfort. For large-scale modelers it offers easier and quicker solution to clear coats, primers and single-tone camouflages, without loosing its ability to shoot precisely. The two color cups and the pre-set handle gives you even wider perspective of airbrushing. If you don’t like it in general, the Sparmax GP-50 can change your perception of that particular phase of the hobby.
Pre-set handle, two color cups, handle included in the set, while for some other brands it is add-on sold separately. Large nozzle with wide range of abilities. Good balance. Reliable brand at a very decent price. Easy cleaning.
Cleaning the area where color cups enters the airbrush might require additional efforts. Larger nozzle will beg for powerful compressor when spraying clear coats at higher pressure over large-scale models, especially ships.
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