How To Choose a Spray Gun

Written by: Erica Spangler
Design Specialist
(800) 375-3403

Using a Spray Gun

Spray Gun Basics

Spray guns are also known as Pneumatic spray guns.

Spray Gun Components

  • Gun - sprays the finish
  • Cup or pot - holds the finish
  • Power system - mechanism to atomize the air and the substance
No matter the style, all spray guns essentially work the same. Where the container is located determines the style of spray gun. All spray guns connect to an air compressor.

Choose the Right Air Compressor

When purchasing an air compressor, make sure to look at the volume and pressure instead of the horsepower. Air compressors are rated by the number cfm at a psi. Below you will find which compressor goes with each type of sray gun.

Common Spray Gun Types

General Purpose Guns

General Purpose Spray Gun


  • Adaptable to a wide range of applications
  • Can be converted from non-bleeder to bleeder style, which allows more air to pass
  • Great to hook up to tankless air compressors
  • Can be used with a paint tank or remote canister
  • The spray quality is not the best


2.0 Average SCFM Requirement at 40 PSI
Hyundai Air Compressor HPC6060

Pressure-Feed Guns

Pressure-Feed Air Gun


  • Air is pressurized to force fluid through the gun
  • Pressure helps spray thicker and heavier materials
  • These guns are lighter and easier to maneuver
  • These systems need the most clean up
  • Higher equipment cost than other options


3.5 - 5 SCFM at 40 PSI
Powermate PLA1982712

Siphon-Feed Guns

Siphon-Feed Gun


  • Material is located below the gun
  • Compressed air enters creating a vacuum
  • Pressure of air leaving siphons the air up
  • Siphon option is the least powerful
  • Great for dyes, stains, lacquers, acrylics and enamels
  • Must be held up right so maneuverability is limited


4.2 SCFM at 40 PSI
4.2 SCFM at 40 Air Compressor

Gravity-Feed Guns

Gravity-Feed Air Gun


  • Similar to a siphon-feed but the material is above the gun
  • Gravity assists the fluid to pressurize
  • More affordable option
  • As the container empties there is less over spray or 'sputtering' than other options


5.9 SCFM at 40 PSI
5.9 SCFM at 40 Air Compressor

HVLP Spray Guns versus LVLP Spray Guns

An HVLP or High Volume Low Pressure Spray Gun requires a higher amount of air volume with low pressure to make the prefect spray. These differ from a standard or general spray gun what is a LVLP or Low Volume Low Pressure Spray Gun. Make sure that your HVLP Spray gun uses the proper ratio. It should use at least 8 cubic feet per minute to at least 5 horsepower output. You will want to choose a HVLP air sprayer for cosmetic projects, such as automotive painting, artistic use and any other project to have a sleek and great looking paint job.

HVLP Spray Gun
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