Are Chinese spray guns any good?
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
Are China manufactured spray guns any good? Can I paint with a cheap spray gun? Are all Chinese spray guns low quality?
“So spray guns aren’t that complicated a tool, they effectively have a needle that allows paint to fall through an opening and be projected out by a rush of compressed air so that it can be transferred onto a surface.”
Are Chinese sprays guns any good?
There are 3 extremely well known spray gun manufacturers in the world who dominate the realms of professional spray painters tool boxes.
One from the UK, one from Germany and the other from Japan. There are other manufacturers of course who hail from other countries such as Italy, Spain and parts of the Far East but none have market share like the big 3.
So spray guns aren’t that complicated a tool, they effectively have a needle that allows paint to fall through an opening and be projected out by a rush of compressed air so that it can be transferred onto a surface.
All the big 3 will tell you they’ve revolutionized the design of the spray gun and created a work of art that will deliver like no other and yes in the right hands they deliver amazing results, reliably all day every day. Ask 3 pro spray painters which is the best and they will all tell you a different answer...
They also deliver that at a cost. One which if you’re not spraying for 8 hours a day can seem a little hard to justify. If you’ve decided against paying a professional tens of thousands of dollars to paint your project car then dropping $1350 on a “special deal” Sata 5500 is probably not going to happen! Particularly when you may not even paint another car after this one!
So what are your options?
You start researching, reading blogs like this, watching YouTube videos from “kustom” painters and guys who offer “unbiased” reviews on spray guns they’re given for free.....you ask mates from work who’ve painted cars, you ask uncles, you ask neighbours, you ask that panelbeater at the pub what he reckons...
And you still aren’t sure because everyone has a different opinion.
What’s mine? As a professional my choice of gun was a devilbiss, as a left hander the Sata never sat comfortably with the fan knob digging in and iwata’s were too thin and loose in my hand for my liking. The original Devilbiss GTI, GTI Pro and ProLites seemed to fit my hands perfectly so I didn’t have to worry about controlling the gun and could concentrate purely where I was putting the paint.
I have a lot of Devilbiss guns, I relied on them to put a lot of paint on consistently. I’m also the kind of painter that likes a designated gun for each type of paint. I have a Clearcoat only gun, a 2K Solid only gun, a few Basecoat guns (because panelshops are so badly managed you are always squeezing multiple colour jobs in a booth at a time) and guns devoted to wet on wet primers and blending clears, fade out thinners etc.
Now buying lots of guns from a big 3 player is not a cheap exercise. I could justify buying a top brand gun for my clears, Basecoat and 2K because my income was dependent on delivering consistent quality results. But as an honest wage earner and family provider I struggled to justify spending $600-$1500 on a gun to put an abrasive product like “Wet on wet primer” through. When doing jobs for myself at home or for friends at their places I didn’t want to take home all my gear from work. So I turned to China....
China is the factory of the world....some will say imitators but global manufacturers turn to the country to provide a service that only China can deliver.
So what did I get? I picked up a few Chinese manufactured guns modelled after my Devilbiss GTI Pro’s and let the guns and my ability do the talking. I started with a wet on wet gun and reliably put an adequate coat of wet on wet primer sealer on thousands of spray booth loads of panels and cars for over 5 years. I bought more and used them for back up basecoat colour and 2K solids when doing more than one colour at a time. My favourites have been the mini spray guns for doing touchups at home or when painting guitars. After spending $500+ on a high level mini spray gun for work and it not delivering the results it was such a relief to spend considerably less for one at home and it being more reliable! So when I see YouTubers absolutely bagging the same guns that delivered repeatable and consistent quality results to me I really have to ask is it a “quality” issue or an “operator error”. I watch videos where “custom shops” are situated in backyard tents and the guy couldn’t control a garden hose let alone lay down a decent coat of paint with the best gun in the world and he’s there offering an unbiased review on “quality”... give me a break!
So my advice? Stop looking where the gun is manufactured and start looking at the gun design and level of machining accuracy. The internet is the greatest source of information so compare what you see and don’t believe all you hear. Compare the air cap holes for alignment, compare the needle and fluid tip for machining accuracy. I see so many “Mid level” brand name guns that I wouldn’t paint a wheel barrow with just purely off the quality of the machining of the spray gun air cap. Actually clean the spray gun before you use it. I’ve opened up brand new high end spray gun boxes and had flaking plating falling off and machining oils all over them.
I have researched and tested other types of Chinese manufactured spray guns and come to my own conclusion there are cheap ancient design spray guns that might only be good for painting an old outdoor furniture set and there are really amazingly manufactured spray guns of famous designs (or similarly styled) that offer reliable consistency and performance. The real key is acquiring the knowledge to ensure any spray gun you own is maintained and setup to deliver and every gun no matter how their priced is like that. They all spray minutely differently and all require knowledge and spraying techniques to obtain the best results out of them. Cleanliness is a key to any paint job and it starts with the user and the gun. Pull it apart and clean it thoroughly before use. I laughed watching a YouTube video of a painter bagging out a fish eyed finish applied by a “pro” using a Chinese manufactured spray gun that “admittedly” wasn’t cleaned before use. Seriously that is operator error and not a quality issue. You can not expect to pull any gun out of a box and put paint in it and expect it to be right! That’s just basic spray painting common sense and I can’t believe it’s used as a basis to bad mouth a product. But again we all have our opinons! Particularly spray painters!!
So if you’re a pro painter you’ve more than likely got your favourites that you rely on. If you’re willing to look at more affordable options or a DIY person or new to spray painting I would encourage you to do your own research and not believe everything you hear! I welcome your thoughts and feedback!