Dual Vs Single Action Airbrush

If you’re into craft painting, you’ve come across dual action and single action airbrushes.  But, what is the difference between a dual vs a single action airbrush?  What things should you consider to make sure that you get the right brush for your crafting and art work? 

Read on to discover the differences, pros and cons between a single action and a double action airbrush. 

dual vs single action airbrushes
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Dual Vs Single Action Airbrush: Quick Compare List 

Dual ActionSingle Action
Trigger Works Paint and Air FlowTrigger Works Air Flow Only
Takes a bit to get used to dual actionBeginner Friendly
Trigger adjusts paint flowMust adjust needle depth for paint flow
More consistent resultsResults might be a bit uneven

What is the Difference between a Single Action and Double Action Airbrush? 

Dual or double action airbrushes are the most popular type of craft paint sprayers.  Pushing the trigger down releases air and then pulling it backwards releases the paint flow.  The more your pull, the more paint is released.  This lets you control the amount of paint coming out of the airbrush and adjust it while painting. 

Single action airbrush triggers control the airflow only.  The paint flow is controlled independently by the needle and how deep it is.  These sort of single action airbrushes come with a screw which adjusts the needle depth so you can adjust your paint flow. 

Dual Vs Single Action Airbrushes: What Exactly is a Single Action Airbrush? 

Let’s break down exactly what a single action airbrush is and how it can greatly benefit the finish on your crafting projects. 

Beginner FriendlyHarder to Control Air and paint flow separately
CheaperDifficult to paint at angles or upside down

How do You Use a Single Action Airbrush? 

When you press down on the trigger on a single action airbrush, you are controlling the air flow only.  The harder you pull the trigger, the more air is mixed with your paint. 

The paint is fed through your gun using gravity and a needle, and the paint container sits on top of your airbrush.  You can control how much paint is flowing from the tiny cup into your gun by adjusting the depth of the needle.  This helps to make sure that the paint flow is more even but still has its downsides compared to a dual action brush. 

It can be difficult to paint upside down or at weird angles with a single action brush because the paint in the container is no longer directly up and down, flowing into your airbrush gun.  Also, if you start to run low on paint, it might start to splatter.  You have to keep an eye on your paint levels and might have to constantly adjust your needle to make sure the gun is producing the best results. 

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What is the Best Single Action Airbrush? 

Paasche Airbrush

This is a nice, but basic airbrush that offers patterns from 1/16 inch to 1.5 inches in diameter. We love that it is made in the USA.

It functions in single-action siphon feed airbrush, coming with three head sizes including .45mm, .65mm and 1.05mm. The airbrush is chrome-plated for added durability.

Comes with a 1/4oz metal cup, 1oz storage bottle, tiny wrench, 6 foot quality braided hose.  The controls are simple, but intuitive, and it can handle any water-based or solvent-based paint.

To clean after you’re done working, just run a standard paint cleaner through the airbrush and wipe it down. It’s perfect for beginners or experienced hobbyists.

Which type of airbrush is better for beginners?

Single-action airbrushes are generally easier to use and are a good choice for beginners. They are less complex and have fewer moving parts, which makes them simpler to operate. However, if you want more control over your painting, a dual-action airbrush may be a better choice.

​Dual Vs Single Action Airbrushes: Dual Action Explained 

The devil is in the details here, so why would you choose a dual over a single action airbrush and what are some of the pros of using dual vs single action for your projects. 

What is a Dual Action Airbrush? 

A dual action airbrush or a double action airbrush kit allows you to focus more on the outcome of your project.  How?  Because, the “dual action” means that the airbrush is doing 2 things at once. 

Even Paint ApplicationHarder to Learn to Use
No Needle to Worry aboutLess Control over Paint Flow

How Does a Dual Action Airbrush Work? 

When you pull the trigger on a dual action airbrush, 2 things happen, simultaneously.  The trigger activates both the paint AND the air flow for your airbrush gun.  The gun then mixes the paint with the air at a rate that YOU decide is best for your project.   

You get a consistent application of your paint material without having to worry about the amount of pressure you’re applying to the trigger or your needle depth.  You get more even, professional results when the air and paint flow are consistent.   

No more paint splatters or sore fingers from always making sure to apply the same amount of pressure to your trigger like with a single action airbrush. 

Is a dual-action airbrush more expensive than a single-action airbrush?

Yes, dual-action airbrushes are generally more expensive than single-action airbrushes because they are more complex and have more moving parts. However, the price can vary depending on the brand, model, and features of the airbrush.

Can you use the same paint with a dual-action and a single-action airbrush?

Yes, you can use the same paint with both types of airbrushes. The paint type and consistency will affect the airbrush’s performance, not the type of airbrush itself.

What is the Best Double Action Airbrush? 

Here is a dual action airbrush kit that we think you’ll love.  It’s one of the best dual action airbrush kits on the market.

Master Airbrush

This is a great little airbrush kit that gives you everything you need for your hobbies. It comes with a TC-20 air compressor, which includes a pressure regulator and air filter, so you can paint consistently.

The airbrush is a gravity-feed model, which is versatile and very forgiving to beginners. You’ll also receive an instructional booklet that is perfect for beginners.

If you’re going to be using multiple colors and need more paint containers, these ones are specially made for this machine.   This professional small paint spray system is great for ornaments and other small detailed projects.

Don’t forget to also buy caps for the containers, then you can store them without your paint drying out.

Think of this option as a good starting kit if you’ve never used a paint sprayer before.  Use their custom made cleaning kit and how to guide to clean your sprayer perfectly.

Then take the lessons learned here to more advanced spraying options.

Cleaners for Airbrush Sprayers

We recommend the Iwata-Medea Airbrush cleaner solution for cleaning your airbrush guns.


Dual Vs single action airbrushes are similar, but both have their pros and cons and are perfect for specific jobs and skill levels.  Click the button below to check out all our recommended spray guns for crafts, including a few airbrush kits.


What are the best spray paint guns for arts and crafts?

Check out our post with detailed discussion about spray guns for crafts.

What type of airbrush is best for fine detail work?

Dual-action airbrushes are best for fine detail work because they allow for precise control of the paint flow. This makes it easier to create fine lines and details, such as those found in illustrations or portraits.