Spray applicators come in many different shapes, sizes, and configurations. The main categories are defined by their size (HVLP, Mini HVLP, Airbrush, Etc.) how the coating or paint is feed into the nozzle (gravity feed vs siphon feed), and how the flow is controlled (single action or dual action).
Mini HVLP sprayers are smaller versions of the high volume low pressure spray guns used for painting cars, bikes, etc. Mini HVLP are commonly used for smaller, detail type work. These types of sprayers can work great for Cerakote and/or DuraCoat type applications.
Airbrushes are much smaller than HVLP but work in a similar way. They are typically about the size of a pen and great for smaller projects, detail work, and artistic applications.
Siphon feed sprayers use the air flowing through the gun to create a vacuum with which to draw the paint or coating into the nozzle. These are easily identifiable as the supply will be attached below the sprayer. Most of siphon feeds draw from reservoirs that are quick and easy to change which can be advantageous for projects requiring color changes.
As the name implies, gravity feed sprayers use gravity to force the product into the sprayer. The supply reservoir on these types of sprayers sits on top of the sprayer. Reservoirs can be fixed, or removable. These are typically more efficient.
Single stage and dual stage refers to the mechanism of action. When the trigger is activated on a single stage sprayer, the air will flow and the coating or paint will be dispensed. Air flow or application pattern are set from other locations. When in use, a single action (activating the trigger) operates the device. These types of sprayers do not require a lot of skill to operate making them great for beginners.
Dual stage sprayers require two functions to flow product. Pressing the trigger activates the air flow, and pulling the trigger aft, opens up the tip to allow the paint or coating to flow. The operator has full control over both actions meaning they can go as little or as much of either as they like depending on their desired results. This type requires a lot of practice and skill but is great for artistic applications and allows the user to achieve beautiful details.
Now that we have covered the basic categories of sprayers available, let's give you our 4 favorite spray guns for Cerakote and DuraCoat applications.
The Central Pneumatic Mini Detail Spray Gun is easy to operate, maintain, and clean, making it a very beginner friendly tool. It is a single action, gravity feed sprayer and features a 4 oz. detachable metal reservoir for easy cleaning and maintenance, as well as adjustable pattern control. It has a 1/4 air inlet which we recommend using with a flexible 1/4 air hose and Quick Detachable Couplings. Its also extremely durable. We have been pretty hard on some of these over the years and they just keep working! These spray guns are very inexpensive which is a huge plus. You will definitely get more than your moneys worth out of them. They are perfect for beginners, but also a true workhorse for applicators doing volume work. We recommend this Mini HVLP sprayer for fast results on mid size projects where fine detail is not required such as base coats, or single color projects.
Like the Central Pneumatics Mini, The Paasche HG-08 Detail Spray Gun is also a single action gravity feed sprayer with a detachable reservoir. It is equally easy to operate, clean, and maintain. The 1" to 7" variable pattern makes it great for base coats or single color use on most projects such as stocks, receivers, frames, tumblers, etc. The inline detachable reservoir is narrow enough to seat nicely on most standard HVLP holders, but not to narrow that its difficult to clean inside. The Paasche HG-08 is a high quality design from a well respected brand. If you are looking for a professional grade Mini HVLP, this is the one!
The Single Action Airbrush is very simple to operate, inexpensive, and durable. Its a siphon feed airbrush that comes with 2 glass jar reservoirs that attach underneath the airbrush. The jars are great for coatings that require mixing like Cerakote, Duracoat, etc. because you can do it right in the jars. Cleaning and maintenance of the airbrush is also simple as their are really only 2 pieces on the brush itself that need to be cleaned. The simplicity of the design makes it hard to kill. You will be surprised at what it will spray, and how long they will last! We highly recommend the Single Action Airbrush for any and all utility work in smaller locations or where more control is required than a Mini HVLP can offer. The 1/4" to 2" pattern versatility means you can use it effectively to lay base coats on medium sized projects like receivers, stocks, tumblers, ammo cans, etc., but also spray finer areas and smaller details like the shadow elements of patterns like Riptile Camouflage.
The Iwata Eclipse HP CS is the go to "artistic" airbrush. The clean, well thought out design makes cleaning and maintenance much simpler than similar brushes. The Iwata Eclipse is a gravity feed, fixed reservoir, double action (depressing the trigger to get airflow, manipulating the trigger laterally to flow product) airbrush which takes much more skill and does add a learning curve, but the artistic capabilities are well worth it! It is capable of patterns from hairline to 2". This airbrush can achieve fine details even with thicker products such as DuraCoat and Cerakote. If you are painting detailed projects, the Iwata Eclipse HP CS is the airbrush to get.