The Best Rotary Tattoo Machine that Will Convince You to Make the Switch

Patrick Belk
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Though it seems like there is a tattoo parlor on every corner here in the U.S., the number of people who regularly get custom ink is small compared to the number of people who say they “might” or “someday” get one.

If you’re part of the tattoo-shy majority, rotary tattoo machines are a fantastic option. These machines make it easy to get the crispest, most detailed outlines with the most professional looking “hand-drawn” tattoo.

Unlike handstyles, rotary tattoo machines are actually just another tool in your tattoo arsenal. But I believe that rotary is the best tattoo machine for those who are dedicated to, and focused on, raising the bar on their tattoo craft. Why? Because rotary machines allow tattoo artists to work faster, more accurately, and with more consistency. First impressions are everything.

With rotary you get none of the idiosyncrasies that give handstyles their personality. They provide unparalleled consistency, and eliminate the mess and guesswork that are part and parcel of ink-brushes.

While there are benefits to both practice styles, rotary tattoo machines are the best tattoo machines for professionals.

Read on to find out why, and the best rotary tattoo machines on the market today.

NameCategoryProduct
FK Irons Spectra Direkt2 Tattoo MachineBest OverallFK Irons Spectra Direkt2 Tattoo Machine
Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine Carbon Steel MachineBudget PickDragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine Carbon Steel Machine
Cheyenne Hawk PenUpgrade PickCheyenne Hawk Pen

1. FK Irons Spectra Direkt2 Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 9 / 10

FK Irons Spectra Direkt2 Tattoo Machine

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FK has been a popular but lesser well-known brand compared to its counterparts in the industry, but that is changing. Their products are gaining in popularity and quality each year.

This particular model benefits from experienced engineers and artists, making the best machines in the market.

Their sleek finish proves that they have everything as high-condition from inside out. The machining is quite complex but highly refined making it look beautiful while delivering the best performance. The machine is also designed keeping ergonomics in mind.

2. Dragonhawk Mast Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine Power Supply 20Pcs Wjx Cartridges Needles Foot Pedal

Our rating: 8 / 10

Dragonhawk Mast Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine Power Supply 20Pcs Wjx Cartridges Needles Foot Pedal

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Pros:

  • Fits a wide range of tubes and needles including disposable tubes and needles
  • Powerful rotary motor with a smooth action
  • Easy to replace parts
  • Comes with a small carrying case
  • Flexible power source
  • The foot pedal is wireless

Cons:

  • No turbo function which, for big pieces, can cause the machine to slow down and lose power
  • No holding bracket

The Dragonhawk is a rotary tattoo machine that’s created for professional use. The unit is a perfect choice for those with limited space or for those just beginning their careers.

This tattoo machine comes with high quality parts that you already know you can count on. The 20pcs set includes one power supply, a foot pedal (which is wireless), one machine and 19 different needles and tubes.

This tattoo machine has good torque and speed. The manufacturer also claims that it’s the first tattoo machine in the world to feature a wireless foot pedal. The tattoo machine can fit tubes from 0.35 to 1.0, as well as ordinary disposable tubes from 0.30 to 0.50.

3. Dragonhawk Atom Rotary Pen Tattoo Machine Japan Motor

Our rating: 8 / 10

Dragonhawk Atom Rotary Pen Tattoo Machine Japan Motor

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Pros:

  • 10 needle lengths and 5 rotational speeds
  • Stainless steel body
  • 1 year warranty
  • LED light system
  • Oil-proof, acid-proof

Cons:

  • A bit pricey
  • No instructions included
  • Setup is a bit complicated
  • No grip included
  • Slight delay in vibration

What’s so great about this tattoo machine is its ability to offer 10 needle lengths and 5 rotational speeds.

The range for needle lengths is from 0.25mm to 3mm, and from 1x to 7x rotations. Combine this with the ability to choose between a high or low rotation, and you’ve got all of your bases covered.

The Dragonhawk is also designed with an LED light system, which makes it easier to see in dimly lit areas. There’s also a blue light indicator to let you know that the machine is running.

4. YILONG 'L' Rotary Tattoo Machine Tattoo Gun Tattoo Liner Shader Gun

Our rating: 8 / 10

YILONG 'L' Rotary Tattoo Machine Tattoo Gun Tattoo Liner Shader Gun

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Pros:

  • All metal machine
  • Comes with two versatile needles
  • Long-lasting and convenient
  • 25-year manufacturers warranty
  • Strong power
  • Easy to maintain
  • Chinese stable performance
  • Comes with a special blade clip
  • Affordable pricing
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • The machine may be a little top heavy
  • The tattoo needles may break easily
  • It doesn’t come with a power cord
  • The instructions need a little work
  • It’s not ideal for large batches of tattoos

Some customers say this machine is a bit top heavy. You can get around that by leaning your elbow on something-your tattooing arm, a leg, a prop-whichever you are most comfortable with.

The tattoo needles may break easily if you’re not careful. Make sure that as you’re putting in the needle you sharpen it. It’ll make it easier to use.

It’s not ideal for large batches of tattoos. If you're looking to tattoo a lot, you wouldn’t be able to tattoo as quickly and you may have to take longer.

5. Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine Carbon Steel Machine

Our rating: 8 / 10

Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine Carbon Steel Machine

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Pros:

  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Simple to use
  • Can be used at home or in a professional shop
  • Features a HUGE coil spring
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver, customizable for different hand sizes
  • Comes with a cheap instructional DVD for beginners and up
  • 2-year warranty

Cons:

  • The power source can be a bit heavy, weighing about 1lb
  • It was designed for professionals, so beginners may find it a bit complex
  • There are only 3 tattoo designs on the DVD, so it may not be enough for beginners

First of all, this machine looks awesome! It comes compact with dense quality. The hand grip is comfortable and you shouldn’t have a hard time using it at all. The power source is actually not as heavy as people make it sound – it weighs around 1lb. It’s actually quite the opposite! It’s lighter than other, more powerful rotary machines.

It’s easy to use with very few steps needed. All you need to do is put in the needle bar, put in the needle, put in the grips and you’re good to go.

6. FK Irons Spectra Direkt2 Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 8 / 10

FK Irons Spectra Direkt2 Tattoo Machine

Check Price on Amazon

FK has been a popular but lesser well-known brand compared to its counterparts in the industry, but that is changing. Their products are gaining in popularity and quality each year.

This particular model benefits from experienced engineers and artists, making the best machines in the market.

Their sleek finish proves that they have everything as high-condition from inside out. The machining is quite complex but highly refined making it look beautiful while delivering the best performance. The machine is also designed keeping ergonomics in mind.

7. Dragonhawk Atom Rotary Pen Tattoo Machine Japan Motor

Our rating: 8 / 10

Dragonhawk Atom Rotary Pen Tattoo Machine Japan Motor

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Pros:

  • Light but still provide a lot of torque
  • Heavier parts mean that it’s less likely that the arm will move
  • Doesn’t require a lot of maintenance
  • Motor is strong and durable

Cons:

  • The arm is not “super-heavy duty” as described
  • Cups are not included
  • Comes with a simple, unattractive stand

Rotary tattoo machines have a lot to offer: they don’t need a foot pedal, they’re a lot easier to clean, and they’re much easier to use when compared to the traditional machines.

But what rotary tattoo machine is best for you?

A good place to start is by looking at a few of the top brands. These are brands that have been around for some time now and their equipment is known to be reliable and high-quality.

8. HAWINK Rotary Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 7 / 10

HAWINK Rotary Tattoo Machine

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Pros:

  • Ultra thin lineless design – The extra weight is concentrated in the head, allowing you to comfortably use this for long periods of time.
  • Lightweight but durable – the German motor is integrated into the machine.
  • The pen is stainless steel, which also means that you get to avoid corrosion.
  • Has a wide range of speed and power
  • Lifetime Warranty

Cons:

  • The kit is missing a few basic elements, including a plug
  • There’s no instruction manual, which can make it a bit difficult to figure things out.
  • The default grounding cable is fairly short, which means that you might have to rearrange your set-up.
  • Variable speed dial is located at the top of the handle, which can lead to accidental changes in power.
  • The acrylic case is quite short.

9. YILONG 'L' Rotary Tattoo Machine Tattoo Gun Tattoo Liner Shader Gun

Our rating: 7 / 10

YILONG 'L' Rotary Tattoo Machine Tattoo Gun Tattoo Liner Shader Gun

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Pros:

  • Multiple power settings
  • Clean, powerful ink lines
  • Sharp needles and removable tips
  • Powerful and adjustable gun
  • Excellent customer service
  • Very affordable

Cons:

  • A bit heavier compared to coil machines
  • Requires an adaptor for most outlets
  • Not for professional tattoo artists

For a safe ‘cut-off’, the YILONG has an emergency stop button on the trigger, making it safe to use. When needed, you can adjust the voltage to your preference – this is done by turning the control knob on the bottom of the grip.

Featuring high quality coil thread, great ergonomics, and a durable design, this is a powerful, powerful that’s surprisingly quiet, which makes it perfect for someone doing a lot of patients. For a BEGINNER looking for a powerful and inexpensive rotary tattoo machine, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better product than this one.

10. Cheyenne Tattoo Machine Hawk Spirit Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 6 / 10

Cheyenne Tattoo Machine Hawk Spirit Tattoo Machine

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11. Cheyenne Hawk Pen

Our rating: 6 / 10

Cheyenne Hawk Pen

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Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Smooth
  • Perfect for small touch ups
  • Great quality for the price
  • Reliable
  • Easy to hold and use
  • High quality parts
  • Easily customizable
  • All of you necessary accessories are included
  • Able to use on small and medium sized work

Cons:

  • The design takes some getting used to
  • The power button can be a challenge to work with
  • The cords can get tangled
  • Takes a few seconds to heat up
  • It’s made for professionals

12. LUBANF Tattoo Rotary Tattoo Machine Guns Stigma Hyper V3 Style Shader Liner Silver Colour Aluminum Tattoo Gun Strong and Quiet Motor Body Art

Our rating: 6 / 10

LUBANF Tattoo Rotary Tattoo Machine Guns Stigma Hyper V3 Style Shader Liner Silver Colour Aluminum Tattoo Gun Strong and Quiet Motor Body Art

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Pros:

  • Excellent quality and highly durable
  • Easy to operate
  • Suitable for a variety of body areas including the face, triceps, thigh, calf
  • Safe and sterile operation

Cons:

  • The cable of the foot pedal is a bit short
  • Fairly expensive
  • In addition, some users have complained about the quality of the hairs
  • However, the machine is generally compatible with most replacement hairs

The LUBANF tattoo rotary machine comes with a foot pedal for easier operation and comes in a variety of beautiful colors with glitters to match.

If you’re not familiar with rotary machines, they basically make creating a tattoo much easier from start to finish. While you’ll still need to put in the time and effort, halving the time needed to create your image is nothing to scoff at.

The LUBANF tattoo machine is extraordinarily strong and silent, and there is zero vibration of the needle. If you want to offer your clients a more comfortable experience, you’ll want to invest in such a tool.

13. 4 Color Bishop Tattoo Machine Rotary Tattoo Gun

Our rating: 4 / 10

4 Color Bishop Tattoo Machine Rotary Tattoo Gun

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Pros:

  • Guaranteed to be the best tattoo machine you can buy with traditional gear body
  • The entire hook assembly and contact screw is made from surgical steel
  • Comes in 4x2x1.4 inches
  • Uses a three pole rotary motor and a three phase transformer
  • Comes with six needles of different sizes and a socket on the top to allow damage free rotation
  • The back of the machine is a contact screw that has a treaded end with a flat for grip
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble
  • The control box requires a 110-240V electrical current
  • The contact screw and hook are all replaceable
  • Can be easily adjusted via a micro switch for speed control

14. Bishop Rotary Authentic Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 4 / 10

Bishop Rotary Authentic Tattoo Machine

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Pros:

  • Beautifully Customized Barrel
  • Effective Heavyweight
  • High End Grip
  • Easy to Use Switch With a Warranty
  • Did I mention that it comes in a beautiful Case?

Cons:

  • Clip Cord does not have a ground so it’s not recommended if you have a grounding box that’s attached to your clients body
  • Can be a bit loud for some artists

Rotary machines are used by many professionals in the tattooing industry. They offer smoother, cleaner lines when compared to coil machines.

This Bishoff Rotary Machine is used by many professionals because it offers high quality and smooth tattooing.

This Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machine from Spitfire is a mechanically sound machine. It’s very heavy which means that it feels very sturdy. The weight and sturdy feeling makes it a steady tattoo machine and it is an all round solid choice

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is a rotary tattoo machine better?

The rotary tattoo machine is most comparable to the old-fashioned way of doing them. Now, we are seeing a rise in popularity of the new methods that is very similar to the rotary machine but with micromotors in the needle instead of rotary. That still works the same as the rotary but there are many different designs and styles of the rotary makers which is not the other designs.

Which one to choose?

If you are a beginner artist than the rotary machine is your best one to start with before you go into the more expensive electric machines. If you are a professional artist looking for different designs and styles you will want to go with the rotary.

What tattoo machines do professionals use?

Professionals use rotary tattoo machines. These machines were invented in the late 1800’s and are generally preferred by professional tattoo artists and plastic surgeons. They have two advantages: the needle to transfer ink to the skin is protected inside and thus keeps it sharp. This means there’s almost no chance of dulling your machine and there’s no need to sharpen your machine mid-session.

It also prevents cross contamination, which is more common with disposable needles that have to be used and disposed.

The second advantage is that the ink will not scatter or spill with rotary machines, which is better for your client. Ink tends to create more mess when it spills while it’s getting tattooed.

Rotary machines are also great if you hate noise. They’re very quiet and the low vibration makes them a little more comfortable to hold.

What's the best tattoo machine to use?

The best tattoo machine is the one that best suits the tattoo artist and their unique style. Some studios prefer Japanese machines, digital machines, rotary and coil machines. Some artists even mix and match styles! Pick what works best for you.

What angle should I hold my tattoo machine?

Tattoo machine grips come with different angles, ranging from 45 degrees, 90 degrees, to no angle at all. 45 degrees and 90 degrees have the advantage of being able to grasp the smaller grip parts of the machine. Additionally, lifting the angle higher up the handle will allow for more pressure to be applied to the needle and permit a flow of ink into the skin.

Conclusion

There are many rotary tattoo machines out there, however based on our research, we have determined that the best tattoo machine is the Rebeltec Rotary Tattoo Machine.

The Rebeltec Rebel Machine Rotary Tattoo Machine is finely-tuned and well-balanced, with its two-speed function. You can use the Rebel Machine on designs of various sizes and thicknesses. The force performance is incredibly consistent.

The Rebelmachine proves that a rotary machine that is not too heavy can still offer power. This makes the Rotary Rebel Machine perfect for beginners.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
FK Irons Spectra Direkt2 Tattoo MachineBest OverallFK Irons Spectra Direkt2 Tattoo Machine
Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine Carbon Steel MachineBudget PickDragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine Carbon Steel Machine
Cheyenne Hawk PenUpgrade PickCheyenne Hawk Pen