Cordless and Cool: A Simple History of Graco Cordless Handheld Sprayers

handheld sprayer

No pulse. But very alive.

ProShot Cordless Family Tree

Todd and Scott have been testing, reviewing and downright using/abusing Graco handheld sprayers since their inception in 2010, when the original, first generation ProShot came out. What has been interesting to us about this family of handheld sprayers is that they challenge the user to modify his or her spray technique, and also to know their products. ProShots are larger and heavier guns than most of us are accustomed to, requiring a unique approach to pace and distance from target.

Some people confused the ProShot with the old Wagner buzz guns. Others assumed that because it had a quart cup attached to a gun, that it must be hvlp. Wrong on both counts.

ProShot First Gen and Fine Finish Era

[Click here to read our 2010 ProShot I Review as it appeared in print publication in APC magazine]

AND:

[Click here to read our 2011 ProShot I Review as it appeared in print publication in Tools of the Trade magazine]

Paint tool Review

Scott taking the ProShot I cabinet grade in 2010 testing.

We enjoyed the same type of developmental phase relationship with the ProShot Fine Finish prior to it’s 2011 launch, and we were most definitely encouraged and excited to see that Graco acted upon some of the feedback from our previously published critiques of the first gen ProShots.

One of the biggest suggestions we made in the first ProShot generation testing was that the handheld genre would benefit greatly from the integration of a pressure control system.

When the Fine Finish prototype came through our shop for pre-launch scrub down, we were very excited that while there was less power overall (1500 psi), we would now be able to control it.

The introduction of Pro Control system would significantly change the nature of handheld sprayers going forward, by increasing the range of product viscosities that can be sprayed and allowing the user to control transfer efficiency to reduce overspray on a product by product basis.

 

[Click here to read our 2011 ProShot Fine Finish Review as it appeared in print publication in APC magazine]

New Generation ProShot II: Best of Both Worlds

cordless airless

The new Graco ProShot II in action.

We began testing the ProShot II in May of 2012, which was many months prior to it’s public release. In our opinion, the ProShot II combines all of the best attributes of the previous first generation ProShot and the Fine Finish version.

The ProShot II rolled in with 2000 psi, but sporting the ProControl pressure control system that we came to know and love on the Fine Finish. Graco also bumped up the battery to a 20v LI pack. And this would be the most directionally functional ProShot yet, due to a complete suction tube redesign, which also shaved another minute or so off the overall post use clean up time. Overall, it’s a pleasing fusion of the best of the original ProShot, with the refinement of the Fine Finish.

We are very excited, as always, to share our tool testing experiences with the readers of the greatest paint publication on the planet, American Painting Contractor magazine.

Check out our ProShot II Review at paintmag.com via this link:

[Click here to read our 2013 ProShot II Review as it appears in print publication in APC magazine]

We are also testing the Graco TrueCoat line of handheld sprayers.

This most recent ProShot review in APC is titled “Cordless Evolution”, and that is an apt description of how we would summarize the current state of the art of cordless handheld sprayers.

Any ProShot II users in the house? Please Leave a Reply below.  

Thinking of getting one? Ask away. We shoot straight around here…

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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  1. Phil Chiswick says:

    Really interesting to read your review. I have been spraying for around 20 years now and am well accustomed to hvlp and airless, both of which have pro’s and con’s. I bought the pro shot 2 having spent alot of time doing research and I trust the graco brand implicitly. The first thing to point out is that tips and guards cannot be interchanged. This has proved more expensive than necessary when needing a new tip. The gun is hugely temperamental with temperature and will often take alot of priming to warm the unit up which completely obliterates any life in the battery while spraying and stopping to change the battery is hugely annoying and detrimental to my work so in hindsight the mains unit may have been a better purchase. It definitely does spit. A cure for this is to start spraying about a foot away from the surface you intend to paint so by the time you get to the object it should be atomising. I have tried everything in my power to avoid this including discarding a tip after just a litre and buying another, changing pressure, and even going through several tip sizes on a scrap of board. I’d definitely point someone who just wants a diy machine in the direction of the pro shot but if you’re a time served expert like myself who constantly agonises over standard of finish, go with hvlp off a compresser and follow the tried and tested techniques. Good effort graco but really needs alot of work this one!

  2. travis says:

    sorry they are true coat 2 models not pro shoot

  3. travis says:

    what is the diff. between the 2 electric graco handheld guns they are both called proshot 2 all I see is one comes with a case and has a longer cord and it says can spray up to 50 gallon a year were the other say only 10 the cost is either 259 or 349 are you truly paying 90 dollars extra for longer cord and case both at menards and is it better to buy from menards or some were else for quailty

  4. Jon says:

    Hi. Thanks for taking the time and effort to distribute your expertise and information! Quick question about Proshot II. I am more of sawdust type. But being a carpenter/woodworker I am definitely aware of the importance of finish on my projects. Have been thinking for a while about getting a handheld sprayer for quickly finishing and pre-priming trim and smaller projects. Right now have to apply oil red label Penofin to the ceiling of a new exposed-frame porch roof. About 750 sf of bandsawn pine rafters and t&g sheathing. Would this sprayer be a good bet for that task? If not, what tool/technique would you recommend for best quality and efficiency? Thanks!

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Jon, yes, the handheld sprayers work well for that type of task. I would recommend turning the pressure down to about half, and be sure to wear a respirator. And clean the sprayer thoroughly when done.

  5. PistolPete says:

    Big fan of yours Scott but I’ve got to say the PS2 is total garbage.

    I purchased one 2 weeks ago and it’s given me nothing but downtime and a very bad reputation. Last episode came yesterday when I tried to shoot a front door/frame on a very expensive house using 213 tip and full gloss waterborne enamel. Runs galore. So bad I had to get a bucket of water and sponge and wipe all the paint off. I lost an entire day with all the mess this thing made.

    Before anyone accuses me of not using it properly I tried everything, eg pressure, distance, speed, diff tips. If I held my hand any further back from the substrate I would have been spraying from the footpath.

    My advice – don’t fall for it people. Looks nice but it does not do what it’s marketed to do. It’s a production and reputation killer.

  6. Kristen says:

    Hi! I have the TrueCoat II Plus and it sprays paint perfectly but when I tried to spray clear gloss polycrylic, its either too splotchy (misty) or too runny. Any suggestions on maybe what control setting to put it on? Thanks!

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Kristen, generally on thin viscosity material like that you can turn things right down. Your pace and distance from target become more important at that point. Thats a big variable. Also, what tip sizes are you experimenting with?

      • Kristenam23 says:

        I was using the one that came with it the 515. I have been doing some research and found out I need a smaller tip and a fine finish optimizer so I’ll see how that works. They don’t sell them at my Home Depot or lowes. Any suggestions where to get a fine finish optimizer?

  7. Laura says:

    Hi guys, I have a stained oak kitchen that I am going to paint black. The cabinets are currently a light red oak color (stain called Mellow). They are 6 years old and in excellent condition.

    I have a few questions for you:
    1. What kind of prep is needed to get my stained cabinets ready for paint?
    2. Should I go with an airless or hvlp gun. Why? And which one? Ideally, I’d like to spend under $500 for a gun.
    3.. What are the key differences and applications for the airless and hvlp?

    • Laura says:

      Sorry about the huge picture file.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Laura, thanks for commenting, and questioning.

      1. Prep on kitchen cabinets includes a healthy scrub down with a scotchbrite pads or sponges and a good kitchen style cleaner/degreaser. Then, you have to scuff sand at about 100-120 grit. Clean up the dust really well. Then you are ready for primer.

      2. Ideally, HVLP is the best choice for cabinets. It is hard to find one in that price range that is up to the task (quality). That starts to swing the vote more toward the handheld cordless sprayers, which are technically airless, but more convenient to use than traditional airless. If you go that right, any of the Graco fine finish units would be good choices.

      3. Here is an article that might help you to understand the difference between HVLP and airless: http://topcoatreview.com/2012/01/graco-edge-gun/

      And here is another I wrote that walks you through my own decision making process on a similar task/choice: http://topcoatreview.com/2011/08/9-5-turboforce-hvlp/

      And here is a video that shows my own decision making process between handheld units: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh6dolFxQC0&feature=c4-overview&list=UUZrmTJXikFhCqogcMBzhgnQ

      Come back with questions!

      • Laura says:

        Thanks for the quick response and the information! I think I’m leaning towards the Graco True Coat Pro Fine Finish Cordless Handheld Airless Sprayer (16H240). What is your opinion on using that one for cabinet doors and trim?

        I read on the Graco website that for latex paints, the psi should be 2000+, although with the Fine Finish, the max working pressure is 1700, with an adjustable from 500-1500. I had planned on spraying latex paint for the trim and mouldings in my house.

        • Scott Burt says:

          Laura, that would be a good choice. You would want to strain and thin your paint a touch, with water, and use a 312 tip minimum. It does work. We have sprayed latex paints with that unit. If you get it, be sure to experiment alot with it before going on real pieces. And, be sure that you clean it really well every time. If you don’t there is a small inlet valve inside that can stick. I think Graco provides thorough info on setup, usage and cleaning. Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to help.

          • Laura says:

            Wow, you are on the ball. Thanks again for your help. Have a splendid day!

            • Scott Burt says:

              Thanks Laura, I was a morning person today – not always the case! Keep me posted on your project. Post up some progress pics when you get into it.

              • Ian says:

                Hi Scott,

                I looking to get one of the Graco cordless models and would welcome your opinion/advice on which model to choose. I will use this myself for several upcoming homeowners projects and it will also be shared/used by a very good friend mine who is a bathroom/kitchen re-modeler for painting trim, doors and touch up. I see the TC II and PS II are now both rebuild-able so I’m having a difficult time seeing what the difference is between them. Any suggestions, thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated.

                Thanks,
                Ian

                • Scott Burt says:

                  The biggest difference between the two, as far as we can tell from testing them, is where they are sold. Sometimes tools are badged differently for different distribution channels. The best bet for your situation is indeed probably the PSII available at SW.

  8. pistolpete says:

    Hi Scott, are ProShot2 and TrueCoat2 the same machines? Can’t find anyone online selling PS2.

  9. tom says:

    hello, I am having trouble with my pro shot 2 spitting and flowing after I release trigger. I was told that I need a needle assembly kit cleaning or might need a new kit. How do you disassemble the needle for clean up. I don’t want to do any further damage to my gun. Thanks TOM

  10. Jed S. says:

    I was wondering about using the graco sprayers out in the cold. I live in the Boston area and will be painting kitchen cabinets in the December/January time frame. I don’t have a spray booth or a heated garage. I was considering spraying outside in the cool/cold, then taking the cabinet doors inside to dry/ cure. I was leaning toward the BM Advance paint for the cabinets.

    Is this doable? Or am I asking for trouble? Thanks

    • Scott Burt says:

      It doesn’t sound ideal, Jed, but could probably work on mild winter days with some kind of heat source. No sprayer (or paint products) are going to be very happy in east coast winter temps for very long though.

      • Jed S. says:

        Thanks!
        I’ll look for someplace warmer.

      • Jed S. says:

        I’ve think I’ve seen you refer to a fine finish optimizer for the sprayers other than the “fine finish” sprayers. . Will the optimizers work on my graco true coat pro II electric model?
        And would I have to buy a special tip in order to use the optimizer? I have a 515 tip and a NAR311 tip.
        Thanks again!

        • Kristenam23 says:

          Hi Kristen again, I had trouble spraying polycrylic out of my Graco truecoat plus. I switched the tip from the 515 to the 311 and still had problems. Later realized I needed a fine finish optimizer. Well I got it today and it is still spraying all splotchy but it’s also leaking pretty bad from the tip when I pull the trigger. The polycrylic just runs down onto the floor when I spray. Gettin really frustrated at this point. Any suggestions? Am I doing something wrong? I made sure the bolt was screwed on really tight. Not sure where to go from here! Thanks!

          • Scott Burt says:

            Hi Kristen, that sounds pretty frustrating. Are you able to clean it and get it to spray water? Could be a couple of things going on. One would be that the inlet valve (inside, but accessible) is sticking open. Another could be that your tip assembly is compromised. I am going to guess the former, it sounds like you are getting more fluid than the unit can atomize. See if you can clean the thing out, and run some warm water through it. Do you have pump armour? If you can get some of that going through it, it would probably help the inlet valve. These are simple things to try, if they don’t work, we can get you pointed in the direction of locating and cleaning the inlet valve manually. It does take some tinkering sometimes…keep us posted.

  11. ashly says:

    I never got around to picking up a fine finish gun, but just this week noticed the TrueCoat Pro II. I paid the cash and now realized I did get a gun with some great new features. I intend to use on small furniture projects. For color coats I have typically turned to the SW ProClassic paint. For a clear top coat I have previously brushed on MinWax Polycrylic. Looks like Graco’s smallest reversible spray tip is the NAR311 (.011). With the combination of this small tip and the ability to reduce the spray pressure do you imagine I will be able to effectively spray the polycrylic as well? Any gun setup tips? Or do I still face the need to use something like the Fine Finish Graco gun for the clear coat?

  12. Scott Montgomery says:

    How does the proshot work on ceilings? I’m just starting a big contract repairing water damage in sixty some condo units and am thinking this would save a lot of time and make it easier to blend the new paint to existing as they are not paying for entire ceiling repaints. I have a 490 that I run a 515 on for ceilings, how will the proshot compare to it? Just so I know what to expect.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Scott, the PS2 works well on ceilings. It has a fully directional suction tube and pressure control, which helps on touch ups. In your case, the 1 gal backpack system might be ideal to reduced refills as you move from space to space.

  13. Martin Guest says:

    Very interesting review – saw the ReTweet from Andy Crichton on Twitter – I’m a member of traditionalpainter.com I’m not a sprayer and am interested in learning (baby steps at the mo.)…

    Thank again

    (Scott I follow you on Twitter)

    Good stuff pal!

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks Martin, much respect for the TP gang…what you guys are doing to raise the bar is great. I see you guys on Twitter alot. You got to get into facebook and other venues as well!

  14. Thanks for the info!

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