Price Range: Less than $150
Summit Racing Equipment’s HVLP gun
Retail price: $32.95
At this price, you could buy 25 of these guns and still spend less than it would cost to buy one SATAjet 4000. Does that mean the SATA is 25 times better? A guy who paints cars for a living will tell you it is. So does that mean this Summit gun is 25 times worse? The answer is a typically murky: “No, it depends on how you use it.” Both the SATA and Iwata reps checked out the Summit gun noting that whoever makes it for Summit likely copied elements of older versions of each of their products. “The front end looks like Iwata,” Flagtwet says. Unscrew the air cap, and you can see some cost cutting in the fluid tip air passages. The steel tip and brass cap use an O-ring seal, and there are fewer air passages in the tip. Being mass-produced, the quality may vary from gun to gun, as well. Everyone in our panel agreed that over time, this gun will wear out producing inconsistent results.
How It Worked
Manriquez wasn’t impressed. This gun didn’t atomize the clear very well. The reps expected that to be the case, too. Pentecost told us, “Consistency of droplet size is not uniform in inexpensive paint guns. There is a lot of engineering in SATA and Iwata, and modern paints need that.” That’s not to say this gun is useless. “Any good painter could use it and get good results, you can change your technique to suit the gun,” Pentecost added. But it will be more work for him in the end—the finish will probably need lots of color-sanding to get satisfactory results.
One Last Thing
Maisano stressed the importance of a good, quality air supply (not the band). Air needs to be clean and dry or you’re asking for trouble. Compressor oil and water in your air lines can ruin a paintjob, forcing you to sand it down and start over. Also, a wall-mounted regulator is much more accurate than the ones you attach to the end of your air line. We’ve personally had those cheater valves go out of adjustment while we were painting. Like everything in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Pay attention to your air supply and you’ll be Lost in Love with your finish.
What Should You Buy
Unless you paint cars for a living, there’s no need to shell out the small fortune that the Iwata and SATA guns demand. If you are only going to paint one car per year (or one car in your lifetime), the Summit gun would be a smart buy. Expect to do some color-sanding, but you’ll be money ahead.
For our money, we’d probably buy two Summit guns (one for primer, one for the color coat, which goes on pretty easily) and one midlevel gun for the clearcoat, which is more demanding to spray. You’d have all your bases covered without spending an entire week’s pay.