A while ago I was sent two Badger airbrushes to review – the Patriot and the Renegade Krome. Both were unboxed samples, so I cannot comment on the standard “over the counter” contents, but mine both came with quick-release adaptors, and I got a braided hose with the quick-release socket. The package also included a “super-detail conversion” replacement needle and nozzle for the Patriot.
No sooner did I get mine, than other reviews started popping up all over the Kitmaker Network! (James had a few sets to distribute…) Roman
, Matt Flegal
, and Stephen Lawson
reviewed the Patriot, Karl Hoy
and Darren Baker
both reviewed the Krome, and Jessica Cooper
covered both brushes, so at least I don’t need to offer detailed descriptions of them here. Instead, after much head-scratching I’ve decided to do a simple shoot-off between them. As a “control sample” (going all scientific!) I’ve used my good old Premi-Air G35. Since I found I didn’t have the right adaptor to fit the new hose to my compressor (D’oh…) I dispensed with the quick-release adaptors and just screwed the brushes onto an ancient Badger hose. The QR system seems pretty handy though, so the necessary adaptor will be in the post shortly…
I wanted to know how well these new brushes could cope with my usual Tamiya acrylics, as well as some Model-Air paint I’d got in for a project. In particular, I wanted to see if they could give wider “paint hose” coverage than the G35, and tighter “pencil line” patterns for camouflage. I also wanted to know what they were like to handle, and to clean up.
My “test” was to spray some dark grey (thinned about 2:1 paint to thinner) at normal pressure around 18psi, and also stopped right down to about 5- or 6psi for fine lines. Once I was happy with each brush I sprayed onto a white test-card for comparison. I did this twice, in order to even out any learning curve. Then I did the same with the Model-Air, straight from the bottle because it is supposed to be airbrush-ready. I figured this stuff should be the right consistency, whereas my Tamiya mix might be biased towards the G35.
As my control, the G35 did exactly what I expected as far as the Tamiya paint went. Spatter wasn’t too bad, but it was a struggle to get anything much finer than a few millimetres wide. The 1mm line achieved in the test card took a very gentle touch on the trigger – something that is hard to hold steady for long. The big surprise was the amount of spatter I got with the Model-Air paint – clearly it wasn’t going to be a useful comparator after all.
Next up was the Patriot. From the start I was concerned – the trigger movement is rough and I didn’t like the exposed needle. (I jabbed my finger on it several times during the test – what other website draws blood to get a thorough review?) Worse still, the air valve is positioned further forward than on the G35, and the front barely reached the opening in my Sparmax cleaning station! It certainly did not form a seal, so all the nasty thinners shot during cleaning could escape…
The wide-open test revealed good coverage (at least 15mm), but even with Tamiya there seemed to be a lot of spatter around the edges. Cranked down, a 2-3mm line with lots of overspray spatter was the best I could get consistently. And that required a delicate touch on the trigger that the aforementioned roughness prevented. A 1mm line was possible with effort, but I couldn’t hold it consistently enough for useful painting. Model-Air was again very spattery. I then changed to the “super-detail” needle, but still found 1mm lines a struggle. (And no amount of fiddling resolved the rough trigger motion.) The new needle did however limit the maximum spray width.
Clean-up was fairly easy, thanks to that huge paint cup and the way the needle withdrew from the end without having to take off the rear body. I didn’t bother to take out the nozzle for cleaning, but when I finally did for the needle change-over it required pliers to get the nozzle securing-ring to move. One thing I noticed was the way the trigger tried to leap out as soon as the needle was withdrawn. And it wasn’t exactly self-centring on reassembly. The other warning is that the needle locking screw at the back tended to verify the constancy of gravity by falling off as soon as the needle was withdrawn!
Generally, I felt the balance wasn’t as good as my G35. And the parts had a certain roughness that I didn’t like. However, in most respects it did the same job and would be a useful replacement as a general work-horse.
This was an altogether nicer experience! For starters, the needle has a guard in the form of two prongs to keep fingers away. Then, it was long enough to fit my cleaning station! Also, the overall “feel” and balance seemed better. There was a lot less spatter (but still loads with the Model-Air – I’m in two minds about this brand of paint) and the needle-stop system meant I could adjust it to shoot only a tiny whiff of paint regardless of how much my trigger-finger twitched. With low pressure I could happily get a 1mm line all day long, and the needle guards ensured that I didn’t accidentally engrave the target while doing so. Opened up wide, it gave a solid 10-15mm stripe. The big surprise was how well it coped with the Model-Air paint, being able to get a decent 1mm line at about 10psi – I think the needle-stop was key here.
As a test I sprayed up some 1/35 scale fuel cans in alternating tan and grey – freehand. I certainly wouldn’t have even thought of doing this with my G35!
Clean-up was a bit more complicated. There is a threaded section at the bottom of the cup where the nozzle socket screws into the front of the main body, and these threads hold paint very effectively. I got round this by unscrewing the nozzle holder so I could get in from the front, but beware the tiny nozzle! I managed not to lose it, but it’s only a fraction the size of the Patriot nozzle, and my house is the main feeding-ground of the dreaded Carpet Monster. I found I had to remove it every time I cleaned the brush.
One thing I found interesting was that the only part the two brushes share seems to be the trigger button! Even the cup caps are different – a plastic one on the Patriot and a metal one on the Krome. And the lack of a metal end cover bothers me, as the rubbery one won’t last forever.
I can safely say that both the Patriot and the Krome are decent airbrushes that would be useful for 99% of my general modelling needs. The Patriot is simple to clean, and despite a sticky trigger on my sample it sprays well at most “modelling” ranges. However, the Krome is not only smoother to use – it also shoots much finer lines without fuss. I know they can be had at much less than the MSRP prices if you shop around, and either would make a decent tool, but if cost is not an issue go for the Krome!