Tall triggers vs Short triggers

 Which is better?

This image shows a comparison between the older short trigger on the right, and the newer taller trigger on the left. Both are in Iwata CM-SB airbrushes.

If you've searched for upgrades for your airbrush, by now you might have noticed that some companies are selling a "tall trigger upgrade." There's a lot of reasons why this might sound like a good idea.

First of all, a taller trigger gives you a greater mechanical advantage, or "leverage." In other words, you can pull the needle backwards with more force with a taller trigger.

Secondly, a taller trigger travels further to move the needle, which creates more distance or "throw" to control the paint. In theory, a greater degree of throw means a higher number of incremental movements for the needle resulting in more precision. 

However, there are two problems with this. One, extra force is not necessary when operating an airbrush trigger. There is no need to have more force, because the airbrush needle is easily moved. Two, a taller trigger travels further, requiring more distance to move the needle the same amount, which requires more work.  The movement requires the long extensor tendon which is connected to muscles in the forearm to control the trigger. This is considered a relatively gross motor movement because it lacks precision and finesse.

The image above shows movement associated with a taller trigger. Although creating detail doesn't require this much movement, the muscles used with this finger position require muscles located on the forearm which are connected to the finger by long tendons.


Instead of using a taller trigger, what if we used a shorter trigger? With a shorter throw, less work is required, and the fingertip can be utilized to control the airbrush rather than the forearm muscle. The fingertip is controlled by muscles in the palm and use a much more  precise fine motor movement.

A different finger position is possible with the shorter trigger. If the first joint of the index finger is placed over the trigger, then the tip of the finger can pivot up and down to move the needle back and forth with much greater precision than the forearm muscles.

The concept of short throw is not new. Many race cars use short throw shifters for greater efficiency when shifting. The shorter trigger enjoys greater efficiency of movement, and more control of the airbrush when held in the position above.

The potential drawback of using the short trigger with this finger position is that it cannot accommodate top-mounted cups, because the tip of the finger collides with the cup. For top-mounted airbrushes, little benefit can be gained by the shorter trigger..

Click here for an excerpt from Dru Blair's Skull  video, where he demonstrates finger position. 

I hope this post has been informative. See you next time!

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Kevin Bausch

January 28, 2017

Can the short trigger be purchased some where for the Iwata guns?

Neil Goodman

January 28, 2017

Dru, can you commission short throw triggers for purchase by your students like you did with the soft springs. I think theres enough interest now? I would buy one for sure.

Maston Parker

January 29, 2017

I find that the standard trigger with the airbrush works just fine—and that comes with the original HP series. It is just a matter of ordering the part from a vetted source — not sure why this is such a thing,

Van Laere Patrick

December 02, 2017

thanks Dru for this explanation

Greg Weaver

October 30, 2018

will the short trigger work with Eclipse HP-CS or with Micron only?


June 06, 2020

Will your short trigger work with the iwata eclipse sbs? If not, ideas where to get one?

Rosario Lao

July 16, 2020

Will the sort trigger work whith iwata Hi line hp ch or whith microm only?


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