The Right Tools for a Beautiful Trade: Choosing the Best Tattoo Machines

Patrick Belk
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Tattooing holds a powerful appeal to people of all walks of life. Tattoos can be aesthetically pleasing, symbolize personal significance, help you stand out from the crowd, and more.

Tattoo artists were once among the most isolated artists, forced to work in their own space. Now, tattoos are almost mainstream. There has been a rise in people aspiring to become tattoo artists.

To become a tattoo artist, you must be, first and foremost, a skilled artist. You have to have a passion for tattooing and have a style you can be proud of. The next step is to get the right equipment or tools

For your home tattoo studio.

Tattoo machines come in a variety of sizes, shapes and designs and can be an overwhelming task to choose the right one. You can get a broad idea about the different tattoo machines available on the market.

We put together this guide on how to choose the best tattoo machine for your home studio. With this guide, you can be rest assured that you will have an outstanding tattoo machine in your hand when you are ready to start your tattooing career.

NameCategoryProduct
Dragonhawk Essence Tattoo Pen Rotary Tattoo MachineBest OverallDragonhawk Essence Tattoo Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine
Dragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils Tattoo Machine Straight Shader Circle LinerBudget PickDragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils Tattoo Machine Straight Shader Circle Liner
Cheyenne Tattoo Machine Hawk Thunder Tattoo MachineUpgrade PickCheyenne Tattoo Machine Hawk Thunder Tattoo Machine

1. Dragonhawk Essence Tattoo Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 9 / 10

Dragonhawk Essence Tattoo Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine

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Pros:

  • Easy setup
  • Durable material
  • Good price
  • Cord and power supply are well packaged
  • Will be suitable in both personal and professional use
  • Inks are of high quality
  • Machine has a sensible weight

Cons:

  • No case included
  • Doesn’t have a beginner setting

The Dragonhawk Essence is a good quality tattoo machine at an affordable price. The weight of the machine is just right, neither too light nor too heavy. Unlike other cheaper machines it feels much better and the design is much nicer. The design is simple yet elegant. The machine weighs at 5.2 ounces and carries a power requirement of 110V.

When it comes to the looks, this machine has a lot going for it. First of all, it has a smooth and sleek design. The solid metal casing gives it a modern look, while the extra weight of the mechanism is a sign of durability. The advantage of the Dragonhawk Essence is that it doesn’t feel like a cheap machine.

Read more about the Dragonhawk Essence Tattoo Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine

2. BRONC Premium Quality Rotary Cartridge Tattoo Machine Gun Kit Pen Type

Our rating: 8 / 10

BRONC Premium Quality Rotary Cartridge Tattoo Machine Gun Kit Pen Type

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If you’re at the beginner stages of getting your permanent ink on, you might find this to be the best tattoo machine. It certainly provides an outstanding value for money, and can be used for both shading and lining.

It’s perfect for beginners to learn the traditional tribal styles and techniques. With a ton of different needle points to choose from, it’s easy to personalize your art.

Read more about the BRONC Premium Quality Rotary Cartridge Tattoo Machine Gun Kit Pen Type

3. Cheyenne Tattoo Machine Hawk Thunder Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 8 / 10

Cheyenne Tattoo Machine Hawk Thunder Tattoo Machine

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Pros:

  • Extremely durable; engineered to last a lifetime
  • Noisy – gets the jobs done quickly
  • Brilliant designs, colored inks, and fine points that give much detailing
  • Four machine sizes
  • The tip is hollow, which makes for a more realistic tattoo
  • Cheap, and you’ll get your money’s worth
  • Ideal for puncturing skin and are light-weight and easy to use
  • You can save a lot of money and still get an excellent tattoo
  • Easily disposable without much hassle
  • Works well with all tattoo inks, even the waterproof and toxic ones

4. BRONC Premium Quality Rotary Cartridge Tattoo Machine Gun Kit Pen Type

Our rating: 8 / 10

BRONC Premium Quality Rotary Cartridge Tattoo Machine Gun Kit Pen Type

Check Price on Amazon

If you’re at the beginner stages of getting your permanent ink on, you might find this to be the best tattoo machine. It certainly provides an outstanding value for money, and can be used for both shading and lining.

It’s perfect for beginners to learn the traditional tribal styles and techniques. With a ton of different needle points to choose from, it’s easy to personalize your art.

Read more about the BRONC Premium Quality Rotary Cartridge Tattoo Machine Gun Kit Pen Type

5. Dragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils Tattoo Machine Straight Shader Circle Liner

Our rating: 8 / 10

Dragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils Tattoo Machine Straight Shader Circle Liner

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Honoring as the best tattoo gun, Dragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils Tattoo Machine Straight Shader Circle Liner Hollow Tattoo Needle Kit is a lightweight, easy to handle piece of kit. It is an economical tattoo machine and a great choice for both professional artist and the hobbyist because of its easy and reliable performance.

It’s designed with a power switch that allows you to turn it off quickly and avoid accidentality. It comes in with two grounding wires to make sure that the power supply is well protected, which is an important safety feature for any tattoo machine.

It’s constructed with high quality copper and vacuum sealed to prevent oxidation and is covered by a one-year warranty.

Read more about the Dragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils Tattoo Machine Straight Shader Circle Liner

6. HAWINK Rotary Tattoo Machine Short Pen 40pcs Cartridges Needle Supply CNC-Q2F40

Our rating: 8 / 10

HAWINK Rotary Tattoo Machine Short Pen 40pcs Cartridges Needle Supply CNC-Q2F40

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Our choice for the best tattoo machine under 100 is the HAWINK Rotary Tattoo Machine. We’re big fans of rotary machines as they’re significantly quieter than coil machines. The rotary machine are also safer to operate.

This one in particular is a corded machine with in-handle color mixing and lots of options. In fact, it’s got 3-5 times more ink channels than any other tattoo machine in the market. It’s easy to use whether you’re an amateur or professional. Specifically, there are total of 42 rotary machine needles in this kit in all the sizes you’re likely to need – including a size 0-40 needle.

The tip of the needle is very significant in the tattoo process. That’s because the tip of your needle always contacts your skin first. This means that the quality of your tip determines how soft or sharp it feels. The HAWINK needle is made with the best sterilized titanium, the surface of which is smooth like glass to make the tip comfortable.

7. 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:

  • 180 days free replacement service
  • Comes with durable, stable and quiet motor
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Using it can be very hard for beginners
  • Might be too light weight for long-time use

Maintaining a successful tattoo business requires that you ensure that all the tools that you use are the best. Getting a tattoo machine can be easy, but getting the best tattoo machine for your business can prove to be a daunting task.

Tattooists and business owners regularly ask what are the best tattoo machines to buy to ensure that they get the best value for their money.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a ‘best’ tattoo machine. This is simply because there’s no universal set of performance standards that you can compare them to. Instead, the best tattoo machines are those that one can use effectively in tattooing.

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

8. Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 6 / 10

Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machine

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Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Great for liner and black work
  • Tight spring tension – good for getting dark, solid lines
  • Variable speed – great for shading or getting a more precise line

Cons:

  • Not that great for larger area coverage
  • Beginners may find it hard to control
  • Not suitable for professional use
  • Plastic material casing

Our recommendation for the best rotary tattoo machine is the Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machine – Beatnik Purple with Screw, which is perfect for lining, shading and blackwork tattooing.

Rotary tattoo machines are unique in that unlike coil machines, the needles are set into a bar that rotates around a pivot point. This creates a circular motion of needles around the skin – similar to how a sewing machine operates. Although it’s indeed a different type of machine, rotary machines are more than capable of doing solid and dense black work.

9. Dragonfly Authenitc X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 6 / 10

Dragonfly Authenitc X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine

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Pros:

  • Can use rotary and coil on rotary versions
  • Long lasting
  • Clean lines
  • Easy to use
  • Relatively priced

Cons:

  • Requires a bit of practice for beginners
  • Plastic cap
  • Can result in inconsistent lines
  • The black caps don’t hold up well to heat

Tattoo artist-favorite machines on the market today are certainly in high demand for many reasons, including their less-than-average price range, constant ink flow, and easy-to-adjust handle. There is nothing like conducting a sensitive line piece from an extremely prominent rotary machine.

Though rotary machines may seem totally different from the coil-of-choice mechanisms, the unique design and working abilities of this machine has paved ways for many others-newer tattoos with so much creativity on each person’s part.

This review reveals the beauty of the Dragonfly Authenitc X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine (Evil Black).

Read more about the Dragonfly Authenitc X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine

10. Bishop Authentic Rotary Tattoo Machine

Our rating: 6 / 10

Bishop Authentic Rotary Tattoo Machine

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Pros:

  • Efficient, smooth and powerful V6 rotary motor
  • Long lasting Japanese carbon-steel blade
  • Comes with a standard RCA cable
  • Relatively easy to maintain
  • Exceptional customer service if anything goes wrong

Cons:

  • Some users claim the handle can get slightly warm when a high voltage is applied
  • Low quality switch
  • Not made by a well-known brand name

Many seasoned experts swear by Bishop tattoo machines, which are built using superior materials and designed to last.

The Bishop Authentic RCA Cable is one of the top-rated rotary tattoo machines out there.

No doubt that there are other tattoo machines out there that are just as good as Bishop’s. However, reviewers mentioned that this model gives you an excellent bang for your buck, especially if you’re on a strict budget.

Read more about the Bishop Authentic Rotary Tattoo Machine

11. Dragonhawk Raven Rotary Tattoo Machine Soft Hard Hit Adjuster Machine Custom Coreless Motor

Our rating: 5 / 10

Dragonhawk Raven Rotary Tattoo Machine Soft Hard Hit Adjuster Machine Custom Coreless Motor

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Pros:

  • Heavy duty and durable; it’s powered by a 0.8HP 230v Westinghouse Motor
  • Weighted for superior control and stability
  • It’s quiet too
  • It has a long life
  • Comfortable, functional grip
  • Versatile
  • Provides an excellent value for money

Cons:

  • The machine comes only with the motor and tattoo grips
  • If you use it with a foot pedal you’ll have to purchase the attachment separately

The Dragonhawk Raven is a professional tattoo machine is powered by a 0.8HP 230V motor and can be used as a fragment, shader, liner, and liner-shader machine. The Dragonhawk is compatible with ergonomic grips and fixed with a Westinghouse Motor. The operation is simple; it’s suitable for both right and left-handed artists, and works great with a foot pedal. It’s compatible with all sorts of grips, allowing you to use it in many different ways.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best professional tattoo kit to buy?

A professional tattoo machine is a critical tool if you want your tattoo to look good, but the best professional tattoo kit can vary from tattoo artist to artist. For most artists, tattoo kits come with the essentials, however, some artists opt to buy their own kits. Tattoo kits include a couple of tattoo guns, a foot pedal, and a couple of different power sources.

Tattoo guns usually come in two types, coil and coil/rotary combination. All tattoo artists use some form of the coil, but designers and airbrush stencil artists may use a coil/rotary combination as the former tends to be more precise and less painful.

The guns include an insulated barrel, a needle holder, a hand grip, and a power source. Most machines don’t include foot pedals, but they are necessary if you want to be precise in your work.

Which tattoo machine is best?

How much does a tattoo gun cost?

Finding the right tattoo machine can be tricky. You want to find the best but you don’t want to spend too much. If you are looking for the best tattoo machine at an affordable price look at magnetic or spin tattoo guns. These are the best because they come in a variety of sizes, are quiet and have a low vibration. They are totally customizable to different skin types and will last you a lifetime.

How do I choose my first tattoo machine?

The first thing you need to do is decide on the overall size of the machine you want to get. For the most part, the smaller machines are better choices for a novice tattooist than a larger one. In fact, some of the smallest are as small as a pen and are much easier to control.

You also need to determine the type of needle bar you want on your machine. They are either fixed or spring-loaded and there’s some debate in the tattoo community as to which is better. Some artists prefer fixed-bar machines when they’re doing curved or fine line work, but this is just an individual preference. For most novices, the choice is usually fixed bar anytime they are using a machine.

If you are going to be tattooing professionally, you may want to consider buying a more expensive machine that is more ergonomic and smooth. You can also choose a kit that comes with everything you need to get started.

What are the best coil tattoo machines?

The best coil tattoo machines are the single needled coil machines. These machines are easy to use, versatile, and best for color tattoos. The machines are lightweight and simple, which are both important factors in tattooing. They are also very adaptable since they can be adjusted to many different settings, in terms of the rate at which the coils vibrate.

When comparing these kinds of machines, you need to ensure that the actual machine that you select offers the highest number of revolutions per minute (RPMs). The best machines on the market offer 5000 – 6000 RPMs. This is important to ensure that the machine vibrates quickly and doesn’t burn the skin while you work.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, the right tattoo machine can make this a safer and more satisfying experience.

We’ve done the research for you.

Here are the 10 best tattoo machines rated and reviewed so you can use the most powerful and well-known ones on the market.

Hopefully, this post has helped you identify the best tattoo machine for your needs.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Dragonhawk Essence Tattoo Pen Rotary Tattoo MachineBest OverallDragonhawk Essence Tattoo Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine
Dragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils Tattoo Machine Straight Shader Circle LinerBudget PickDragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils Tattoo Machine Straight Shader Circle Liner
Cheyenne Tattoo Machine Hawk Thunder Tattoo MachineUpgrade PickCheyenne Tattoo Machine Hawk Thunder Tattoo Machine