Best tattoo guns - Buyer's Guide [UPDATED 2021]

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Buying Guide 7 min read Last updated on March 24, 2021

Whether you're a novice tattoo artist or an experienced professional in the tattoo industry, you definitely need to keep up with the new tattoo equipment that comes out regularly.

We made the ultimate guide for you about buying the best tattoo gun for both beginners and professionals. Here you will find universal tattoo guns, rotaries, and coils, as well as good and complete kits for tattoo artists of different skills. As well as you can find out other interesting tricks of modern tattoo equipment, about which, probably, you have not heard before.

So your task is to find something that will work for you. If you like to tattoo with a coil machine, you are likely to be willing to accept the typical noise. Ready to invest money to buy a rotary device? You'll have to deal with their typical stroke and balance. Some tattooists would rather handle a weightless tattoo pen while others need to "hold a handful". Every artist chooses his own tool. You need to study the gun parts, how they interact with one another, how the machine is designed, and so on. As a tattooist, the tattoo machine is your extension, so it must be of a high quality.

The criteria we used to choose the best tattoo guns:

  • Performance
  • Lining, shading, and coloring quality
  • Durability
  • Warranty terms
  • Weight (for rotaries and coil individually)
  • User-friendly operation of the device
  • Durability

We have included in our list only those products which satisfied these minimum necessary characteristics for quality tattoo making. So whatever you choose to buy off this top-rated products list, you will not go wrong in your choice.

Best tattoo guns on the market

Editor's Choise
Bishop MicroAngelo Rotary Tattoo Machine.
Read our review
Our Score 9.8 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Best Overall
InkJecta Flite Nano Ultra Lite.
Read our review
Our Score 9.7 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Best Value
Thomas Custom Tattoo Gun – Best Coil Tattoo Gun.
Read our review
Our Score 9.4 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine Carbon Steel Machine for Tattoo Artists.
Read our review
Our Score 9.1 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Cheyenne Tattoo Machine Hawk Pen - Black.
Read our review
Our Score 8.9 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Grinder Tattoo Kit by Pirate Face Tattoo.
Read our review
Our Score 8.7 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com

Bishop Microangelo
best tattoo gun overall for professionals and beginners

One excellent product of real commercial value is the MicroAngelo Rotary Machine produced by Bishop Rotary. Made of polished aluminum, this machine operates more like a seam reeling neat linings and stitches, Making tattooing experience more simple and more accessible.

Its magnetic coil is stunning, and also comes along with multiple oil filer, which enables Tattoo artists to shade effectively. This little tattoo gun has high efficiency, and excellent puncturing frequency, making neat linings, shadings, and colorings on your client's body. It's easy to use; both experts and beginners would find this machine simple to operate.

User Experience

Quality oil filers. It comes with a refillable ink tube. Designers now have the privilege of using multiple inks anytime.

Interchangeable Magnetic Cams. It has an interchangeable Cam slot, and its rotary motor can be replaced periodically, thereby enhancing efficiency.

Dual Ball Bearings. It has an advanced, Ball Bearings with a smooth drilling set that enables tattooing easier and faster.

Durable Needle cartridges. Its needle cartridges are excellently designed, smoothly styled for easy puncturing.

Small tattoo gun. Microangelo is really lightweight and small in size. Its perfect sizes make it easy to operate and to tattoo impressive and complex pictures on the skin.

Pros
  • Smooth and Fast Operation
  • User-Friendly
  • Safety and User Protection
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • A quality Swiss Maxon direct drive motor is inside the body
  • Revolutionary stroke control system
Cons
  • The stroke system takes time to get used to working with it

Verdict

Its innovation, lightness, and capacity make this professional tattoo gun one of the best. Being slightly cheaper than its counterparts in the top range, it is therefore deservedly able to attract more of your attention. It has a great warranty, is USA-made, and generally considered to be one of the best products on the tattoo equipment market.

Because the Microangelo is easy to use for any level of the tattooist, that is, even the novice can easily buy, set up, and start inking with this device, it can be called the best tattoo gun for beginners. But at the same time, the tight shading and precise lining that this gun does make it better than other devices for professional tattoo artists.

InkJecta Flite Nano Ultra Lite
The Smallest and Most Lightweight Option

We cannot list the top tattoo machines without including the best lightest tattooing device available. This device comes in a plastic case. Additionally, as in all InkJecta devices, the kit includes multiple accessories, including hexes, a lubricant, various hardness bars, detailed and useful instructions.

InkJecta was once a pioneer among tattoo equipment manufacturers, in part because they were the first to produce machines based on brushless motors. Their distinctive feature is the ultra-low rpm operation. The product needs to be regularly lubricated, but the lubricant that comes in the kit is more than sufficient.

This device is compatible with FK Irons and Cheyenne grips. Other grips are not suitable because they cause the rod to bump, the needles to bounce, or the machine to rattle.

User Experience

The gun runs smoothly, gently, and without any "aggressive" movement. There is no delay in starting, as was the case with the Flite V2, for example. It also comes pre-installed with a 3.25-millimeter excenter.

It is a complete all-rounder and suitable for all tattooing styles.

The machine is well-designed, making holding and tattooing for long sessions more comfortable. And that's another feature besides the fact that it's incredibly lightweight!

In terms of safety, the Direct Drive design is much better than, for example, pens. Since it can be disassembled, the bars and other parts of the device can be sterilized and autoclaved.

Pros
  • The lightest machine
  • Broad voltage range
  • Custom nanotechnology motor
  • The device runs quietly with minimal vibration
  • Available in four colors (black, white, olive green, and bluetongue)
  • Flexible adjustment is possible thanks to bars set of different stiffnesses
Cons
  • Not compatible with all cartridges available on the market
  • Needs constant lubrication

Verdict

This is a high-tech, quality Direct Drive, which will suit novices and experts alike. It is a very comfortable design, lightweight, sturdy, with a quality Australian motor inside. Although it belongs to the higher price category, it is fully worth the cost.

Thomas Custom
best coil tattoo guns for shading and lining

These are inexpensive tattoo guns by Thomas Tattoo Supply company that look very vintage, thanks to their beautiful brass color. This set is one of the best cheap Chinese coils and one of the best coil machines overall. You'll be paying less than $50 for one coil. But if you are a mid-range, beginner, or professional tattooist, this gun will help you to practice more effectively and lead you to success. This machine will surprise you; it gives you a stable speed and helps you perfectly execute all your designs.

It comes with o-rings, rubber bands, rubber grommets and a few added wrenches.

Brass is a pretty good metal for making a tattoo machine frame. It’s a little bit heavier, but this weight is worth its durability and usability.

This device hits hard like a hammer, even only at 3-5 volts. This feature is one of the key things that distinguishes low-quality Chinese guns from high-quality ones.

Pros
  • Highly durable metal and reliably constructed frame
  • Stunning vintage design with skulls and lettering looks cool
  • Smooth running machine
  • Extremely hard-hitting
  • Comes with a nice box, so it doesn’t bit up during shipping
  • Comfortable and correct frame diameter
Cons
  • It is heavier than the others
  • It's a little louder rotaries and other coils

Verdict

The Thomas coil tattoo guns are worth the money and ideal for both beginners and professionals tattooists. It is good for beginners because of its cheap price and. But at the same time, the kit is admitted as one of the best tattoo guns for professionals due to its very precise and correct setting for certain types of tattooing.

Dragonhawk Extreme
the best cheap tattoo gun

Performance and pricing are two factors that do not tally. Getting top-notch tattoo guns at an affordable price is very rare. However, the Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Machine is a durable carbon steel machine of versatile functionality.

It's lightweight, with an excellent design body, some of its artistic operations include shading, black filling, and intricate lining. Extremely affordable and comes along with a strong clip cord and other durable accessories. Moreover, it is multifunctional, with advanced features that enable the tattoo artist, try out a lot of designs.

User Experience

Top-Notch Steel Spring. Steel spring attached to the rotary system increases its stability and balance.

Carbon steel Frame. Its steel frame offers maximum protection. Strong, reliable, this gun is resistant to tear, heat, etc. If well used can last for a long time.

Advanced Oil slider. The slider reduces friction and enhances the smooth operation of the machine.

Compatible Needles and Cartridges. The cartridges are compatible with the different styles of traditional needles.

Pros
  • Long-lasting is сomparable to more expensive machines
  • Durability
  • Versatile functionality
  • Cheap and affordable
  • User Friendly
Cons
  • The device requires constant service and maintenance

Cheyenne Hawk Pen
the best pen tattoo gun

It is an epochal pen tattoo gun. The Cheyenne Hawk is the first pen-style tattoo device but still the best on the market. Let's meet it closer.

Inside the box, in addition to the pen itself, there is a clip cord, adapter to it, o-rings, a stand for the machine, a very detailed manual. By the way, the manual by the manufacturer, in addition to the rules of using the equipment, tells about its recommendations for the barrier protection of the instrument.

It comes with only one 25mm aluminum grip, but you can buy a thinner one with a diameter of 21mm.

It comes with only one 25mm aluminum grip, but you can buy a thinner one with a diameter of 21mm.

User Experience

Now let's discuss the machine in detail. It has a glossy, ergonomic body. It feels sturdy but not heavy and quite thin. The gravity center is balanced along the entire axis of the device, allowing for excellent balance. The weight of the machine does not shift and does not pull your wrist anywhere, so your hand should not get tired after long hours of work. The needle stroke is 3.5 mm, and it is easy to adjust by rotating the grip without clicking into place.

It is very powerful in operation, but at the same time gentle, running exactly as softly as necessary. That is, it is not too soft, but it does not cut the skin either. Moreover, there is enough power for different works, for contouring, shading, sketching.

The Hawk Pen has a low noise level and minimal vibration.

Keep in mind it is very possible to destroy Cheyenne with low-quality cartridges that do not have a fluid membrane, as there is a chance of fluid entering the machine system through them.

Pros
  • Modern ergonomic stylish design
  • Powerful but moderately soft
  • Perfect balancing
  • Extremely quiet and with minimal vibration
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to adjust needle stroke
  • Included Pen Tray
  • Disposable grips available
Cons
  • Only one grip included
  • The price is above average

Verdict

Cheyenne produces tattoo equipment, which is innovative, with a cool design and awesome features. Despite the existing criticisms, we are willing to put up with them precisely because the equipment is in fact merely high quality and enjoyable to use. That goes for the Hawk Pen as well.

Grinder Tattoo Kit by Pirate Face Tattoo
best tattoo gun kit

If you are looking for a high quality kit with good tattoo guns, you should consider giving this kit a shot. Upon unpacking and trying it, you will notice that it is easy to assemble. Made in the United States, this handgun comes in a wide array of colors. It has four different tattoo machines (10 wrap coils). Another feature that will snag your attention is the stainless steel tips. It has a 2-hour DVD and book that explain how to start using the gun at the drop of the hat. No doubt, a newbie would not struggle to start trying his hands at this cutting-edge tattoo gun. All these features and more earned it a spot on your list.

Pros
  • Easy to assemble
  • Versatile
  • Offers a wide range of color options
  • A good-buy for its price
  • Comes with a 6-month warranty
Cons
  • It hums like a swarm of bees
  • The power supply is unreliable

Verdict

There isn't much choice on the market nowadays for true quality tattoo kits where everything from the gun to the paints, needles, and spare parts would be of high quality. This Grinder is the best example of the combination of acceptable quality of the kit's components and affordable price. Such a kit will definitely cost less than assembling it yourself, while each product in this kit is a sufficiently high-quality material or tool for the tattoo artist to work with.

How to set up the tattoo gun?

Your tattooing device must be set up properly to color tightly, make clear and even lines, and smooth shadows. How to set up your tattoo gun so that it works efficiently and helps you do all these types of work perfectly, we tell you below.

First of all, the process of setting up any tattoo device depends on the type of product - whether it is a rotor or a coil.

All rotors are very easy to set up. Many of them do not even require lubrication. So if you are a beginner, it will probably be easier for you to buy and set up a rotary tattoo gun. In short, you get an already assembled machine, consisting of several assemblies (depending on the type of mechanism inside). That is, you practically do not need to assemble anything, insert the cartridge, adjust the needle stroke, the voltage, connect the wire to the machine and the power supply, and get to work.

When it comes to setting the voltage and needle stroke, there is nothing complicated here either. The needle stroke is adjusted in different ways, depending on the particular machine. For example, pens have a turning grip in the handle area; direct-drive designs require you to change the eccentric to adjust the stroke length. The voltages for lining and shading are also set individually for each machine, so read the manufacturer's information carefully; the recommended voltages are in the instructions for each machine.

Coil tattoo guns are more difficult to assemble and set up. In most cases, coils are not versatile, they are designed for a certain type of work: contouring or tinting. That's why the basic settings that are prescribed by the manufacturer (coil winding, capacitor capacity, striker weight) should not be changed. You can read more about how to assemble your reel-to-reel tattoo gun here.

As for tuning, again, it all depends on the manufacturer of the machine and the power supply. However, there are general rules and recommendations on how to tune a tattoo machine for lining and shading:

  Hz, idling Hz, for charged guns Duty Cycle
Lining 130-150 80-110 55-65
Shading 110-120 60-75 50-60

Keep in mind, though, that you should always adjust to the specific skin, project, device, needles, and power supply in your work. You should get a feel for how your tattoo gun works in order to successfully operate it and create masterpieces.

Resources:

FAQ

How much is a tattoo gun?

Tattoo gun cost depends on its quality and manufacturer. As with many other products Chinese tattoo devices are cheap while USA-made equipment is more expensive. For example, Chinese tattoo guns will cost you an average of $40-120 depending on the type (rotor or coil) and other specifications. Whereas professional tattooing machines, which are distinguished by high quality, durability, and a large number of adjustments, on average cost $400-600. Moreover, advanced machines such as those with wireless power supplies can cost over $1000.

What is the best tattoo gun brand?

The best tattoo guns are made by these few brands:

  • Bishop
  • InkJecta
  • FK Irons
  • Cheyenne
  • DragonHawk
  • Hummingbird
  • Thomas

This list includes companies that make the best rotary tattoo guns and coils. These are brands proven by time, experience, and many hours of practice.

Why do tattoo guns have rubber bands?

Indeed, when setting up coil guns, tattoo artists pull rubber bands around the needle and frame. They do this to dampen the transverse vibration of the tattoo needle during operation. Depending on the machine, two or three rubber bands are pulled. A mechanism that performs the same function is provided by the manufacturers of most rotary machines, but some artists, in the old manner, still pull the rubber bands on them as well.

Bottom Line

This review has tried to show you the best pick of tattoo guns that will not let you down in your work and will show the highest results in the quality of skin inking and creation of dense, clear, non-traumatic drawings on the body. 

Certainly, the quality of tattoos depends more on the artist's skill, but with one of these best tattoo guns, creating professional tattoos is much easier and more comfortable. First of all, this appears as a comfort for the tattoo artist: a good quality gun does not make you get tired of the heavy device weight, loud noises, and complicated settings. Moreover, besides the user's comfort, it is worth considering the satisfaction of the client, who is important not to be unnecessarily traumatized by the needle. So if we were to choose from this list, the best choice would be the Bishop Microangelo, because it is light but powerful, quiet but durable - just what every one needs! 

How about sharing your experience with colleagues? Let us bring to your attention our TOP tattoo guns, while you, please, add/reply/change our list with your suggestions and products that you use in your daily work as a tattoo artist.

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