Difference Between Single-Action and Double-Action Airbrush

Single-Action and Double-Action AirbrushSo, you’ve decided you want to get a little crafty. You’ve done a bit of research and decided you were going to give airbrushing a shot. After all, there is a lot of different types of art you can make with airbrushes. After browsing through Amazon for a bit you quickly begin to realize that you have a long road ahead of you. One question pops in mind, what is the difference between a single-action and double-action airbrush compressor?

Generally, airbrush triggers are broken into two categories – single-action and double-action. The categories are actually not as convoluted as they might seem. The distinction between the two is quite simple, and each has its own use.


To keep it simple, a single-action airbrush compressor basically has an on/off switch or trigger that produces the mixture of air and paint that sprays from the compressor. What this means is that you really have no control over how much paint comes out in relation to how much air is sprayed out. It’s an automatic mixture.

This might seem like it has a pretty large disadvantage because the whole idea of airbrushing is taking something difficult, like a spray, and creating beautiful art with it. And while you may not be able to be super pinpoint accurate with a single-action compressor, it does have its uses.

For instance, you can usually widen or narrow the focus of the spray to actually be pretty accurate. Where the single-action compressors shine is in more general applications where you need a broad and thick layer of paint. This means that it’s really good for spraying an area that needs to be filled with a solid color or coat. Tanning sprays come to mind as a good use, as well as tattoo paints, paints for hobbyists, and even decorating baked goods.


Double-action air compressors have a much more complex trigger system. This provides it with much greater flexibility. In essence, the double-action compressor gives the operator a lot more control over the paint flow that is produced by the compressor. It uses a push and pull trigger control were pressing down the trigger releases the air and pulling it back releases the color. The key here is that the color is gradually released – the further back you pull the trigger, the more color comes out.

If you pull on the trigger very lightly then you get very thin and very fine lines that offer incredible precision. When you pull it back further the area of spray widens – giving you the same use as a single-action compressor. With the versatility of a double-action compressor, you can be a lot more creative by being able to blend and fade easier.

You can use a double-action compressor for just about any occasion, as shown above. However, they are typically more expensive than regular single-action. With this in mind, you’re more likely to see an artist or craftsman have a good quality double-action compressor because it fits their needs better, whereas you might find more single-action compressors in a typical garage because of their lower cost and general uses.

Make sure you browse our reviews, we have a description in detail a mix of a single action and double action airbrushes.

About Joey

Check Also

Components of an Airbrush Compressor Kit | Best Airbrush Kit

An airbrush kit is a small tool that allows one to spray different types of …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.