I would place Badger Airbrush in top ten best airbrush brands of the world, well at least from what I’ve heard about this brand. But I have never tried or even seen one for real – until now. When I’ve got the opportunity I knew that another review in my “airbrush reviews” category will follow very soon. And I’m pleased that I got something like Badger Renegade line of quality airbrushes in my hands. Badger’s website informs us that this line is especially for “the proven elite artist“. So, let’s see if they are right. As I looked on the web I found some info about them and some reviews as well and one of them was from modeler who claimed, that “they are dead wrong and that these airbrushes are only for the modelers, no matter what skill level they at, but who wants a quality, double action airbrush and for reasonable price“.
Since I had painted with Iwata, I naturally considered their CM-C custom micron. I also considered the H & S airbrushes from Germany, but they all were quite expensive.
I’ve never even considered looking at the Badger products, but a friend of mine showed me a promotional flyer advertising their three new airbrushes, the Renegade line. I’ve also read few posts in airbrush forums.
Renegade range comes in around $150 and has three models in this series where every model has its name – Velocity, Spirit, Rage. All three airbrushes are dual action / internal mix airbrushes. All airbrushes are capable to become single action airbrush because they have stop set trigger control similar to previously reviewed Iwata Custom Micron C+ or Harder and Steenbeck Infinity that can be tuned to set how far the trigger can go, so you can preset the amount of paint that comes into the airbrush. Every model of the Renegade line has different paint delivery system but not all of them have different sizes of the nozzle and needle.
Please note that the airbrushes photographed in this review are Special Edition Black finish (black electroplated brass).
So, what’s inside of Extreme Set?
- Velocity airbrush
- Spirit airbrush
- Rage airbrush
- 2 attachable jars
- 2 side-feed color cups
- 2 caps
- 2 additional regulators
- Iwata hose adapter
Gravity feed airbrush with ultra-fine tip (0.21mm). Paint cup in this model is integrated on top of the airbrush body (1/4 oz). Gravity feed means that this airbrush will require less air pressure compared to other feed systems (the paint does not need to be pulled into the body – read more).
Actually Badger’s Renegade Series of airbrushes are not that new as they have been out for few years already. All they’ve done is that they just revised them a little. If you are already familiar with the Renegade series all of this will be more like a revision.
Badger described the Renegade line as the ultimate fine detail tool. Their target is car airbrush artists. But I would say it could be good tool for fine art or modelers too. Basic difference between Renegades and any other Badger airbrushes is the paint tip and needle. The nozzle is tiny (less than half of the size of their regular ones). Other things as threadless and self-centering are standard. The needle has a very sharp cut to the tip and it’s carbide polished.
The cup has tapered shape. Really surprising is use of Teflon bearing that is user replaceable (just this fact makes you look at airbrush as it is high quality gun).
When most of us – “Fine Art Artists” think “in detail” in terms of airbrushing, we mean a fine, tight line. With the right air pressure, paint and some patience true artist can spray fine line out of any decent airbrush.
When I started some experiments with Velocity my first impression was that something is not right because I had to pull the trigger far back to get at least some paint flow. So I fired up my computer and went to Google the problem. Turns out that the “Renegade’s head assembly is more restricting to the air” and just extra 5 psi to your usual working pressure is all you need to deal with “this kind of problem”. So, in my case with working pressure around 25 psi I’ve got to test the fine lines (but I’ve heard that about 12 to 15 psi should be enough for gravity and side feed and a bit more for the bottom feed). I have to admit I was shocked as results were very impressive. I was painting not only very fine lines, but I was doing it consistently. Even after half an hour of consistent work the Velocity’s head was still clean and lines were still fine.
The action of the trigger is really smooth but the tension was a bit tight (set at the factory) – this is however fully adjustable.
Don’t mess with the Teflon bearing and its setscrew if you don’t have to. It can take you a while to get it right.
While the black finish makes the airbrush look very cool, I would appreciate if they’ve left the cup inside silver because it is better for cleaning.
I can say that this airbrush is very good for fine art, especially for free-hand. But I cannot recommend it as a first or the only gun. It is too fine for clears or base coats (any larger surfaces).
The second airbrush of the Renegade line is the Spirit with side feed and ultra fine tip (0.21mm). Here the cup can be attached to the right or left side of the airbrush. The paint flows from the cup through a small pipe into the body of airbrush. This allows the paint cup to be rotated from horizontal to vertical so that the brush can be held even vertically without spilling out the paint.
The third model is Rage with bottom feed, or siphon feed, with a fine tip ( 0.33 mm). This model has paint cup mounted under the airbrush and the paint is drawn up into the body of the brush as a result of air pressure differential resulting from the airflow. The bottom feed allows the user to switch between colors when more than one color cup is used. The paint will not leak from the siphon feed paint cup when sitting on the workbench.
My Experience with Renegade Airbrushes
For these couple of weeks that I’ve had these airbrushes in my possession I can say that for fine art I would take the Velocity (gravity feed one). As I have found, the Velocity is easiest to clean out after use, because there is nothing special to worry about while cleaning it.
Other note about paint cups as on the Velocity (gravity feed), and the Spirit (side feed) are small (1/4 ounce). Larger cup on gravity feed airbrush causes issues: larger cup makes the airbrush unbalanced so, you have to hold airbrush tight or it may slip over. Renegade line thanks to the smaller cups seems to be balanced. The size is really enough for fine art.
Paint tip on Velocity (gravity) and Spirit (side feed) is “ultra fine” at .21mm. The Rage (bottom feed) is fine at 0.33mm. While you’ll be able to easy achieve fine lines with the ultra fine tip, the fine tip makes soft-pencil thick lines.
Always be careful when handling the needle while cleaning and especially when re-inserting the needle into the body.
While painting I found the control of trigger (for air and paint flow) to be excellent. Control seemed to be very easy.
Do not let looks or some of the plastic parts fool you, as this is not cheaply made airbrush. I think that Badger made a smart move when they put their money exactly where it counts (tip, needle, trigger). All these parts were made with precision for greatest performance.
I am satisfied with the fine lines that this airbrush delivers. In this area it performs as good as Iwata CM-C, (but for much different cost).
Just to point something out, one of the artists (Monnie Criss) had ordered Badger airbrush but he got it delivered with bent needle. So he shared his experience with their customer service:
Badger has proven to me that they offer customer service and a genuine concern for customer satisfaction that is second to none. My satisfaction with my new Renegade airbrush, and the customer service I received after the sale have compelled me to let the public know what a great company Badger is to deal with.
Airbrush is much like a car. When you choose the one you like, you are unlikely to switch to another brand. If you are using a single action airbrush and consider to go to a double action, I would recommend Badger Renegade Velocity to be first for your consideration. To buy the Renegade line Extreme Set is probably a choice for someone more advanced.