Badger Sotar

Ever since I saw this airbrush, I wanted to try one. But thank to out lovely Badger distributors (can you hear the sarcasm in my voice), we will never see it. This one was on loan to be by a fellow forum member called Flycatcher who bought it off Amazon for something ridiculous like $80 or somewhere there. It was a saving of about 80%. The problem was that a week later he busted up the nozzle and had to fork out half the price of the complete gun to get two more nozzles with shipping.

The Sotar, which stands for “State Of The Art Results”, was created to take on the big boy from Iwata, namely the Micron. They even tried to match the price. It does not even have any mention of Badger anywhere on the gun or the box. Maybe it is because of the same reason Ford and Toyota does not make luxury sedans. Surely they can but no one will buy an expensive Ford or Toyota. That is why they have Jaguar and Lexus respectively. The same goes for Sotar. In one interview with Ken Schlotfeldt, he mentioned that they can sell the Sotar cheaper, but it will not be taken seriously as a high quality precision tool (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVGCHlutCS4). To be honest, this looks just like the Badger 100G with an upgraded head, needle and handle. A matter of fact, if you Google “Sotar Airbrush”, none of them have this shape cup.

Packaging
I must restate that I did receive this in second hand condition. But that does not make a difference in the quality of what you would expect from a product of this price. The box is just a black cardboard gift box with very un inspiring stickers on the lid. I think the warning- and the address labels could have been moved to the bottom and bit more detail and colours. But then again, it’s just a box and how many times will you look at it right, right.

The inside is lined with a velvet covered layer of foam which has cut-aways for the gun, extra needle and nozzle, head spanner and hex key for the plastic grip.

sotar boxed

Appearance
I don’t think the black is everybody’s cup of tea. At least not mine. It looks plastic like the 250 and 350. And how long will it last? Not long if you take it out of the cushy studio and into a workshop.

The protective cap is very primitive and I think over board. It does an amazing job and I’m sure it will break the head off before it allows any damage to come to the needle. I just think the rubber one on the cheaper models are better.

Now how does compare physically to the Micron. From tip the needle to the end of the limiter it is basically the same length. It’s just the protruding needle that makes it longer. I was surprised to see that the trigger was closer to the tip then the Micron even with it being a gravity feed. Weight wise it comes in 76gr. That is 19gr lighter then the Micron. This was weighed with the cup on the Micron but without any quick disconnect couplings on both.

sotar vs micron

What I don’t like and maybe it is just this model, is that if you screw the handle all the way in, the cut-away is not square with the body. They could have added a small o-ring that would have solved this problem. This is also true for the needle limiter line. They obviously wanted that to end up square with the body regardless of how off the handle is. But they also missed this with a few degrees.

sotar handle

Another piece that does not line up is the nozzle cap/needle cap/needle guards whatever it is called. I’m sure with the pronged cap it is near impossible to get all of the guns produced to line up square with the body. But maybe I was just too scared to turn it further. The thread in the head is extremely fine and you can easily cross thread them.

sotar needle cap

Feel
Holding it, it feels very well balanced. The little plastic grip around the air intake did not do it for me though. I don’t hold the gun the way most people do so the grip was in the way of a good hold. I could see that it was held in place by a grub screw. I did not take it off so I don’t know from what it is made. If metal then I hope it is not damaging the black finish. I sure hope it is a plastic or nylon of some sorts.

The trigger is also quite tall. If you asked me 4 months ago I would have loved it and would even have liked it a bit taller, but I changed my grip and now I want them shorter. The trigger disk is huge and you get a good grip. With the traditional way of holding an airbrush, it felt like the trigger was a bit too close to the cup. The tip of the finger will touch the edge of the cup.

Working
The way the Sotar works is where the magic comes in. The trigger movement both down and back is very smooth. This is due to a “glide coat” finish that the trigger and back lever is coated in. The trigger down has the normal gradual Badger feel.

I normally just do some lines with some paint that I have used before so I know what to expect. This gun sprays nice, very nice. Paint response in instant and you can really go fine. Fades are nice and smooth and you can cover quite a big area with one pass. The protecting prongs could have been a little bit shorter to get just a tad closer.

The cup size is fine seeing that his is for detail and you will be using very little paint. the problem though is the size of the well in the body. You need quite a bit of paint to fill the well high enough to make it to the level of the needle in order to get out. This is not a problem if you work at an angle with the gun pointing down.

Needle limiter works great but the measurements are out. All the way screwed in, it is on mark 4. I would say it must be on 0 because you get zero line width. This can be rectified by just re-aligning the collet.

I personally think the needle protruding from the back is a “not so wise” idea. Now if you want to remove the handle, you have to remove the needle. And everybody knows that if you do that while there is paint in the cup and you remove the needle, you will flood the gun. Also, the owner has already dropped it on the back which made the needle punch through the nozzle. First thing I will do is to trim the needle about 20mm.

Likes and Not-so-likes
Not-so-likes
· Tall trigger*
· Grip*
· Metal cap
· Needle protruding
· Handle not lining up
· Limiter line
· Small thread in head
· Big cavity
· Head line up
· Possible grip screw damage
· Colour

Likes
· Needle guard
· Detail
· Smooth trigger
· Tall trigger*
· Quality feel
· Price
· Grip*
· Quick trigger response

Conclusion

If you are on a budget and really have to have a detail gun, get the Sotar. If you are an artist that good that you need finer detail, you most probably make money from your art and can afford a Micron.

* It is the new way I hold an airbrush that makes me dislike it.

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