Purchasing a Paint Gun

So, you want a paint gun.


Before you run out and buy a gun, here are some things to think about.


HVLP is the "buzzword" in painting.  It can be right for you or it can be a big mistake.

A couple of years ago, a rule by EPA called the 6H rule was put into effect that basically banned non HVLP/non HVLP Compliant guns from any bodyshop.  At that time I recommended looking at used quality guns that were not HVLP for the hobbyist.  Or even new guns because if there is no demand, they will quit offering non HVLP guns.  I believe that non HVLP are also banned in Canada for professional use, but I do not know this for sure.  My fear was some what proved, you can't buy much for quality non HVLP/Compliant guns anymore new.

Why could a HVLP be a mistake for you if they are the answer for the professional?  AIR 

A HVLP uses up to 15 CFM of air.  A HVLP Sata 4000 will keep my 5 hp Quincy running pretty much the entire time I am spraying.  What will it do with a small 110 type oil-less compressor?  You will run out of air quickly.  This will vary by the size of the project and the size of your air storage.  Air storage being your tank and lines combined.  A HVLP gun does not work without air volume.  You will have runs, orange peel, and lots of unhappiness unless you decided to kill that 12 pack because of your frustration!  Now if you have the air, GREAT!

For a comparison, a 1/8 nozzle on a sandblaster at 70 lbs uses about the same amount of air as most HVLP guns.

So, whats wrong with a Devilibliss JGA or Binks 7 guns?  Yep it's old school.  BUT the paints you guys are probably spraying were designed when the JGA gun was the Cadillac!  So, they will spray your paint.  They will also WASTE your paint!  LOL  But, if you paint once a year.................  The Devilibliss uses about 7 cfm.  Less than half the volume of air.

So, what I am trying to say people.  Is when you decide it's time for a new gun.  Look at your compressor and airlines FIRST, gun second! 


Mini Paint Guns or Detail Guns

I have mentioned it here before on different forums, and a couple have taken up my suggestions on using a mini guns for snowmobile parts.  Sata Mini Jet was a huge recommendation, I now will add the Iwata LPH80, and for a economy gun I have had good success with a Warwick.  Yes there are others, but I am not going to recommend them, because harbor freight paint guns don't cut it in the minis in MY opinion.  If you have had good success.  GREAT!  The Sata Mini Jet uses about 4-5 CFM.  But hold the phone, the Iwata LPH uses 1.5 cfm.  Yes, 1.5 cfm.  The warwick is about 3-4 CFM.

So, for a small shop with a small compressor...............  Look at the amount of storage that you have, and the amount of air that you can produce along with how long you need to hold the trigger on the paint gun when looking at a paint gun!

For the mini guns, I recommend a 1.2 tip for most larger applications such as a snowmobile hood or tunnel.  You can get a 1.4 in the Sata Mini Jet, Not sure I am sold on that one.  A good plus for the mini guns is to use larger cups on them when available.  I use the 1.0 tip for detail work, but have found that for larger work (especially single stage and higher solid clears) I prefer the 1.2.


Full size guns. 

I will say that I am a fan of the Sata and Iwata paint guns.   If you are starved for air, AND need a full size gun, I highly recommend the Iwata.  The Iwata will also use less paint.  You say that a good paint gun costs too much?  Something to think about, a Iwata will save you about 20% in material over quality guns. (I have seen 33% with my own eyes).  I would bet they would save 40%-50% over "bargain" guns.  Average cost of paint is $60.00 a quart for affordable paint.  Add that up over a few years, the "expensive gun" might be the cheaper gun!

I like the W400 Iwata if you are on a budget.  The new Super Nova HD series are fantastic guns though.  WOW is all I can say!

Guns of honorable mention would be the Warwick line for those on a severe budget, for a bit more money, the Devilibliss Tekna (not bad for the money). CA Technologies Jaguar, Devilibliss GT plus.

Not a big fan of the Finnex or Finishline guns though.

Gun tip size is designated by your paint manufacturer.  For my paint I will be recommending about a 1.4 mm tip (can very slightly by gun and job). 



 Yes it would be nice to have one paint gun.  This can happen if you buy a gun with multiple sized tips, but I still don't recommend it. Primer is fairly abrasive and will wear a paint gun faster.  Also different needs in atomization are needed.  Generally you want to keep the primer a bit more compact for your spray pattern and keep the overspray tighter for greater paint transfer efficiency.  Most primers are in the 1.6-1.8 range.  For my 2K epoxy I recommend the 1.8 if possible, but a 1.6 will work.

Iwata LPH440 is a nice gun if you can afford it, along with the Sata Jet 100.  But for the average hobbyist type budget, they probably don't fit.  Warwick comes to play here.  A 1.6 or a 1.8 are both available.  Not a bad gun for the money.

Now back to air.  having a filter hanging right on your compressor, hooked to a hose going across a cold floor is a sure recipe for moisture in your paint!  More on this later.

A tip if your compressor is a bit small.  Install another tank for more storage.  This may help you out a lot!


Do you notice that I keep talking about Warwick paint guns?  You ask, who are they?  They are a economy paint gun that does a nice job, you can get parts for them versus just throw away like most "harbor freight" type guns.  You also have a full range of nozzle sizes available.  Not necessarily for the professional, but they also use them.  I highly recommend the Warwick line over the Astro, ATD, Harbor Freight, Finnex, FinnishLine etc guns.  A few years ago a major auto magazine actually said the "warwick was the best bang for the buck" when compared against (yes against) Sata and Iwata.


Things that I will be adding to this page.  Tip Size Explained, Gun Maintenance and gun cups.