These are the handheld airless sprayers designed for small jobs and tricky things like louvre doors, etc (whether we have a full size airless or not). Graco holds many patents and to me, the long life is worth the cost for the best handheld paint sprayer today.
If you’re looking for HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) sprayers, read the HVLP sprayers post.
All accessories, articles, info on tips…just everything is all on one page.
What is the best handheld airless paint sprayer today?
For your hard-earned money, Graco is the (only) top brand of all professional sprayers, not just handheld airless sprayers. Great pumps. Great parts. Made 100% in the USA.
They make two basic levels of handheld airless paint sprayer:
- for the homeowner, which is all called “TrueCoat 360”
- and the contractor units called “Ultra”, and “TC Pro”
Low Budget Top Pick
Graco’s 360 VSP (17D889) has the most pressure control of all the low-budget guns and it’s not that much more money the it’s lesser brothers. The lowest budget guns are all corded.
The pressure is not as steady as the better guns, but really it’s fine for most DIYers.
For the Serious Only
The Graco Ultra Max Cordless (17M367) has the same new pump as the medium budget guns plus can spray flammables with it’s brushless motor. Lesser guns cannot do this.
Comes with a top-level RAC X (rack ten) tip suitable for latex, and runs on DeWalt 20v batteries (2 plus charger are included).
Yes, they all spray latex unthinned, but only the ‘top guns’ can spray flammable materials.
And yes, they all have the reversible tip to clear any clogs. (RAC).
You have to love the liner bag: no cleaning the cup after you are done.
They don’t use a siphon: they use a flex bag and flat inlet valve. This lets you spray even upside down when you are low on paint! Great invention. Graco vs Wagner? No contest.
The Best Handheld Paint Sprayer: Short-List
- The corded Graco TrueCoat 360 (16Y385) is the bottom of the best. Not for pros, but great for DIY.
- The corded Graco True Coat 360 DS (17A466) For just a tad more money, you can have a very nice gun that has a High- and Low-pressure switch which comes in handy.
- The corded True Coat 360 VSP (17D889) Not much more costly than the one above, but here you get a variable control wheel on the pressure. It’s fine but in all of the guns below (for another slight jump in price), you get a much better pump and higher, steadier pressure.
Medium Budget: These hit the sweet spot for many pros. These have a much better pump, more pressure (2000 psi) and more control. These you keep for life. Let me know how it goes.
- Graco TC Pro Corded (17N163) The lowest level handheld airless that gives you the smart pressure control, more pressure than the DIYs, and the patented Triax pump.
- Graco TC Pro Cordless (17N166) Cordless version of the same gun as the one just above (but costs more). Personally, I prefer the cord, but it does get in the way a lot.
- Graco Ultra Corded (17M359) Here you start using the RAC X (rack ten) tips which are hands down the best in the biz. Numbers 3 and 4 on this shortlist can do all the top dogs below can do, except spray flammable materials.
- Graco Ultra Cordless (17M363) Same as its corded cousin (#3 in the list), it uses the RAC X and the DeWalt 20V batteries.
- The Graco Ultra Max Cordless (17M367) Both guns here have everything from #3 and #4 in the above list, plus can spray lacquer and so on.
- The Graco TC Pro Plus (17N223) Both guns in this class come with RAC X (rack ten) tips and can do it all.
What you get in a handheld airless
There is only one really great company making the best handheld paint sprayer: airless, HVLP, everything. Graco (company website).
Pros use these:
- for quick touch-ups, indoors or out
- on intricate things like louvre doors, furniture
- for other hard to paint surfaces
- sometimes used most for small rooms, decks, fences, sheds, etc
Maximum pressure for these sprayers is on average is 2/3 of a big one, therefore handheld airless sprayers don’t have the same overspray as the big boys. Saves paint.
Big point: handheld sprayers are very easy to clean and use.
If you have a TV projector, spray Movie Screen Paint for Projectors
Here’s all the ways to Apply Movie Projector Screen Paint
Every recommended handheld sprayer on this page comes with one of the modern R-A-C (“Reverse-a-Clean”) tips. If clogged, you flip it backward, quick blast into the bucket, the flip back and keep spraying. Such a great invention.
We all use these reversible tips now.
What types of paint can be used?
Pretty much anything that the big airless can spray, except that the low- and medium-class guns cannot shoot flammables. Fine with me as we almost never use oil-based paints anymore. Some primers need to be oil- or alcohol-based, but they are better rolled anyway.
Prices? I did your homework, Biff.
I researched all the best prices online and I will update this page regularly.
Funny, Graco says “The line called “TC Pro” is one of the Home Depot paint sprayers”, but it’s also online for less money than HD. What you find on this page is better than the so-called Home Depot electric paint sprayer.
For example, when the Graco TrueCoat (17D889) goes on ‘special’ at HD, it’s still thirty more than Amazon!
Amazon has a price-changing algorithm that reacts to the competitors, so it’s always lower. The free ship is nice too.
Let me know if you find a better deal (I doubt you will). I was not surprised that Home Depot paint sprayers don’t compete with the big boys on price. HD needs to get on the ball. They are spraying themselves in the foot.
Buy used? I would never recommend buying any kind of paint sprayer used. It’s like buying a used car: you are buying someone else’s problems. Even the best handheld paint sprayer does not last forever and needs to be treated with care. How did Sam Slick treat the one he’s selling?
Low Budget “TrueCoat” Handheld Sprayers
My advice: don’t spend under a hundred bucks. You’ll find some very inexpensive guns, but it’s really a waste of money. The small paint sprayers you see for 36 clams? They will work for 36 minutes.
See about renting or buying a small airless before you do that. I’ve said my piece. Peace.
Is it better to rent or buy? Read my analysis (very short).
All three of the TrueCoat guns in this section…
- are corded-electric (battery guns are below these)
- are both fine for interiors and exteriors
- come with .015 tip
- can all spray unthinned latex (a big plus) as well as stains and clears
- have a stainless steel piston pump (Graco is known for awesome pumps)
- come with both a narrow and a wide pattern “RAC” spray tip (just for TrueCoats–here is the link for extras)
- use either 32 oz or 42 oz. liners (you must buy the 42-oz housing if you want them (here is the link for more 32’s (yes you can re-use them)
- give 1,500 psi which is only 25% less than the medium and high-end sprayers below
- have onboard tip clip (for quick changing horses in mid-stream)
The tip that comes with them is for basic latex work but will spray thinner materials also.
Watch the sales video at the bottom of this page. Sorry about the music.
The corded Graco TrueCoat 360 (16Y385) is very inexpensive indeed.
- Only lets you spray at one speed
- You can spray latex paint, even in this low-end gun
- Only one Flexliner bag (buy more here)
- 4 lbs.
The next two handheld airless paint sprayers cost about 25% less than the lowest ‘contractor grade’.
For the increased cost above the baseline model above, you get control over the pressure, a few more liner bags and with one a carrying case. But…
While these are fine guns, for a little bit more you can have a sprayer with more controls, better pumps (my ‘medium-budget’ choices below), plus the ability to use a lot of different tips and just better quality all around. Jump to the medium budget sprayers.
Two Decent Low-Budget Sprayers
The 360 DS gives you a dual-speed switch where the 360 VSP has a variable pressure knob.
The 360 DS comes with the 32-oz cup and liner bag, the 360 VSP comes with the 42-oz.
Both are the same price.
- Both come with 2 tips (a 4- and 12- inch width fans, for latex or smaller work)
- 1,500 psi maximum
- 3 extra Flexliner bags ( with the DS) or 6 extra liner bags (VSP) (buy more bags here)
- 4 lbs
Is this the best handheld paint sprayer?
No and yes. They are fine guns by a great company, and for the money are a good deal.
But they are not the ‘best’. I highly recommend a gun from the next two sections, if affordable for you.
- The TrueCoat 360 line above is branded and marketed for box stores— it is the home depot stain sprayer, but better prices are online!
- You know that stain sprayer home depot sells? That’s an HVLP, not an airless one. Both kinds will handle small projects, but an HVLP cannot play with the big boys.
Now we make the switch to the ‘contractor grade’ handheld airless sprayers. These come with more sophisticated tips and pumps and are just better quality all-around.
Medium-Budget: Four “Contractor” Handheld Sprayers
Now the Graco cordless sprayer option appears.
- All these “Ultras” and “TC Pros” use the patented Triax pump (uses a carbide steel piston/sleeve). Graco won’t tell us much about their secret pump, but it delivers steady, powerful pressure.
- Maximum pressure is 25% more than the above guns (up to 2,000 psi).*
- Maximum tip size is a tad more: .016″ over the above sprayers’ .015″.
- Option to put in very small tips: down to the .008″
- All have a dial for low-pressure (like an HVLP or LVLP) if you have a delicate need.
*Note: The big airless spray at 3,000-3,300psi. HVLP is about 10 psi.
The TC Pro Corded is the runt of the “medium-budget litter”, but still, it is a professional airless sprayer.
The unit uses quality parts in the pump and so on, and the jump in price over the DIY guns above reflects that quality.
- Like all the guns below, this has a smart feature that keeps the pressure even: essential for spraying paint.
- Comes with tip TC Pro SwitchTip 514, which is fine for most latex paints. These are basically equivalent the FFLP tips in the highest RAC 10 level.
- 5 lbs
The Graco TC Pro Cordless comes with two DeWalt batteries, the same you use in your drills or nailguns.
- Comes with tip TC Pro SwitchTip 514, (low-pressure tip suitable for this gun and most latex paints)
- Use any DeWalt 20-volt XR Li-battery (they come with various capacities)
- Battery charge time: 35 minutes
- DeWalt batteries have LED lights indicating power left
- Spray about 1 gallon per charge
- 5 lbs
This tip was made for almost all materials like stains, enamels, interior paints, and primers. Very much like the FFLP tips in the gun just below.
Cut the cord? No? This Graco Ultra Corded (17M359) is used by many pros as it costs quite a bit less than the Ultra Max top-level gun (as we’ll see).
- Comes with RAC X FF LP 514 tip (latex, stains, primers, etc)
These handheld airless sprayers will hit the sweet spot for most homeowners who want top-quality but don’t want a 2nd mortgage. Two types: corded and cordless. These use appropriate low-pressure tips in the top-of-the-line RAC X (“rack 10”) tip system.
Like it’s big brother ‘Ultra Max’ just below, this Graco Ultra Cordless uses the DeWalt 20-volt batteries used in many DeWalt tools.
- Comes with superior RAC X tip (a 514 for just about every type of sprayable material except some heavy plastic coatings, etc)
- Use any DeWalt 20-volt XR Li-battery (they come with various capacities, here is 5.0 amp-hrs)
- 5 lbs
Battery advice: I compared and settled on the DCB204-2 set. The capacity is 4.0 amp-hours. Lasts twice as long as the batteries that come with the handheld sprayer.
You can adjust the pressure to any in the pump’s range, not just high and low like lesser guns. Charges fully in 35 minutes while you spray your 2nd gallon.
Remember, the above guns cannot be used with anything flammable!
The next 2 sprayers can:
BIG DOGS: The best handheld paint sprayer today
These 2 units come with the RAC X (‘rack-ten’) low-pressure tips which are the best in the biz, plus the ability to spray flammables. Read about the Triax pump at the top of the last (medium budget) section.
The Graco Ultra Max Cordless (17M367): the ultimate handheld unit today uses the DeWalt 20-volt Li-battery (many Dewalt nail guns, drills, etc) and you can shoot about a gallon of paint/stain/clear per charge.
- both use the same brushless motor
- LED lights indicating power left
- You can spray ‘hot’ solvent materials like lacquer* but you must use the grounding wire that comes with (see the manual linked below, page 28, 30; also see photo gallery below)
That’s why it comes with 2 batteries (2.0 Amp-hrs each). Plus it uses the RAC X (“rack 10” tip system, the best). This does it all. Enjoy this. Great choice.
The biggest difference over the Ultra handhelds above:
- Comes with two tips: FFLP514 (latex, etc) and the FFLP210 (for low-pressure spraying)
- Fine-tuning control of pressure like a large airless
- Minimum pressure: 500 psi; maximum: 2000 psi
- Comes with two DeWalt 20-volt XR Li-battery: 2.0 amp-hrs (spray one gallon/charge)
- you can replace with a larger battery (spray longer on a charge)
- Here is the 4.0 Amp-hr two-pack here is the 5.0 Ah two-pack
- Storage bag (not hard shell) but gun alone is 5 lbs.
When you spend this much you can expect it to really last for many years of hard use.
The Graco TC Pro Plus (17N223): the other big dog in the race, is almost identical to the Ultra Max handheld sprayer just above, but uses different tips.
Like the unit just above, you can spray flammables. You simply use the grounding wire that comes with the gun (read about it in the manual linked below, page 28, 30 and photo gallery just below that).
- This handheld airless sprayer has everything that the unit above has, but…
- Uses superior tips (the RAC X; “rack10”) tips: TCP210 and TCP514 (These are basically equivalent to the RAC 10 FFLP.)
- Almost identical price to the above Graco handheld sprayer (17M367)
- 5 lbs.
If spending this much, I’d go with the ‘rack-ten’ tips and the brushless motor, no contest. This is the best handheld paint sprayer in the world today.
Yes, this monster is pricey but it’s built to last a lifetime.
To spray flammables you have 2 levels of safety. (Painters do cause explosions sometimes!) The motors in these are brushless, so no sparks are created, but you also need to be grounded as you work. Static is built up as the paint is transferred. A grounding wire shown in 3 images below is necessary when spraying flammables. Read in the owner’s manual about using a metal bucket and so on. This is very important.
For handheld airless sprayers, only the best Graco cordless sprayers can spray flammables.
Buying extra liners
You should never need a replacement 32 oz. cup housing, but you may want to switch to the 42 oz size. Here is the 42-cup housing with other options too. You can order the liners here:
One painter wrote to me: “I still have the Truecoat II these were produced until 2016, but these have mostly been replaced by the Truecoat 360 and the TC Pro/Ultra Lines. The TC Pro is more of a contractor model and the 360 is more of a homeowner model. I’d tell your readers to get the best they can afford to have the gun stand up for many years.”
And, “The handheld airless sprayers are ideal for small jobs and touch-ups on interiors and exteriors with the ability to spray just about all water-based and oil-based materials.”
Any comments or questions? I’ll see your comment below usually the same day. Thanks
- The larger airless DIY sprayers
- Commercial airless for pros (or serious homeowners!)
- Most sprayers arrive from the factory with some pump protecting storage fluid inside: you must flush just before you spray (more about this fluid on my sprayer accessories page.
Two videos: a sales video, and how to set up.