The 8 Best Tattoo Machines 2021 with Really Amazing Features

3 214
Buying Guide 7 min read Last updated on June 9, 2021

When preparing this piece, we came across tons of reviews with words like "my tattoo machine hates me". This is not a joke, a large number of tattoo guns are very noisy, turn off at high loads, splash out ink, are unstable, and generally weigh as much as a barbell. Many people - both beginners and professionals - make plenty of mistakes when buying tattoo equipment.

We don't want to upset you, but there is no such thing as the "best" tattoo machines on the market, it's all a matter of personal habits and preferences. Objectively, quality can be evaluated in terms of the product design. Weight, balance, size, needle stroke, grip length, and size are all subjective. Understanding which device is the best for you comes with practice.

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 good news is that if you have 2 minutes to read this review, we will help you choose the best tattoo machine. Take a look at our TOP 7 good tattoo machines, all of which are of a very high quality, both in manufacturing and the materials used.

This rating is based upon these criteria:

  • Tattoo machine reliability is the primary criterion, which means that each of the tattoo machines on this list will last a very long time and guarantee high quality build.
  • Intuitive operation, that is, how long you will need to get used to running the machine and understand the peculiarities of how it works.
  • Safety in use: possibility to barrier, autoclave, disinfect, etc.; particularly, pen-style tattoo machines lose much to other tattoo machine designs in this respect.
  • Availability of consumables and tattoo machine components. Is it easy to find and buy affordable grips, can you use cartridges, etc.?
  • Ergonomics. How comfortable it is to hold the machine in the palm of your hand, weight distribution, overall weight, and other external design features were taken into account.
  • Industrial design, that is, the attention is paid not only to external ergonomics and design, but also to the beauty and functionality of the internal assembly of the tattoo machine.
  • As far as the tattoo gun has become epochal (so some of the products in the review may be a bit obsolete, but they are still relevant because of their incredible versatility and functionality).
  • Price. Although this is a subjective criterion, however, we tried to assess how much the cost of the machine is justified in the context of its advantages over other devices available on the market.
  • Each of these incredible and modern tattoo machines has its own special advantages and features.

Best tattoo guns on the market

Editor's Choise
CNC Q2 Best Cheap Tattoo Gun.
Read our review
Our Score 10 Out of 10
Best Overall
Cheyenne hawk thunder really powerful tattoo gun.
Read our review
Our Score 9.9 Out of 10
Best Value
Fk irons spektra halo 2 best overall.
Read our review
Our Score 9.8 Out of 10
InkJecta Flite Nano Ultra Lite The Lightest Option.
Read our review
Our Score 9.6 Out of 10
Thomas Custom Tattoo Gun – Best Coil Tattoo Gun.
Read our review
Our Score 9.5 Out of 10
Vlad Blad pro liners best liner for professionals.
Read our review
Our Score 9.5 Out of 10
The DragonHawk Mast Pen.
Read our review
Our Score 9.4 Out of 10

CNC Q2 HAWINK
best cheap tattoo gun

200$ it is much more manageable and reasonable than six hundred plus dollars for like a Cheyenne or FK Irons or whatnot. So, that's pretty much why this CNC Q2 tattoo machine is in this review.

Inside the box, there is a manual you can check out, an O-ring, and a tiny Allen wrench. Another box holds a clip-cord and the machine itself. At first, let us note that the kit comes with a very thin clip-cord. It certainly works, but it is hardly possible to say with assurance how well or how long it will work.

It’s really tiny. Although it is a bit thicker than the Cheyenne, for example, the CNC Q2 is very short. This is especially handy if you plan to work with wireless power. By inserting a wireless power supply into this short machine, the device will not be too long and heavy.

User experience

It's really tiny. Although it is a bit thicker than the Cheyenne, the CNC Q2 is very short. This is especially handy if you plan to work with wireless power. By inserting a wireless power supply into this short machine, the device will not be too long and heavy.

The device is easy to disassemble, so there should be no problem with repairing it. You can easily unscrew the body and see the internal mechanism.

The German Faulhaber Motor inside gives us a reliable and powerful machine. The manufacturer recommends working on 5.5V-9V, warning that it is better not to work on 9 volts for a long time without interruptions.

Note, don't run it higher than 10 volts, or you'll overheat the motor and cause mechanical wear.

Pros
  • Comparable in quality to more expensive pens
  • Simple design
  • Lightweight and tiny
  • Best value for money
  • Quiet
  • Easy to disassemble
  • Handy to use with wireless power supply
Cons
  • Thin clip-cord included
  • There are reviews that the machine often breaks after a short period of use
  • Short needle stroke (3.3 mm)

Verdict

Not to say that it does an amazing job, but it does far better than most Chinese tattoo machines available on the market. It is decent for perfect lining.

FK Irons Spektra Halo 2
best rotary tattoo gun Overall

Spektra Halo 2 offers even more efficiency and even less vibration. It is an improved version of its predecessor with new features that allow you to optimize operation depending on the tattoo artist's preferences.

Two eccentrics are included with the tattoo machine. Both standard needles and the cartridges are compatible with this tattoo machine. You can use different brands of grips and most are compatible. Spektra Halo 2 is equipped with adjustable impact, its work can be made softer and harder depending on the preferences of the tattoo artist and the style of his/her tattooing. It is not the quietest device available today because of its design, but it is comfortable to work with and the sound does not interfere even during several hours of work in a row.

Powerful motor MAXON 6W will provide stability for many years of your tattooing activity. The machine is perfectly constructed: durable metal, all parts fit together very accurately and clearly, nothing interferes with the operation of such a tattoo machine. It is not a new device on the market for a long time, nevertheless, this tattoo machine holds the leadership for several years, thanks to its reliability and very variable operation character. We sincerely recommend it as your main and best tattoo machine, it will be easy for you to give your clients the best tattoo quality and faster healing.

Pros
  • Powerful motor
  • Adjustable hardness/softness of stroke
  • Durable design
  • Perfect ergonomics and weight balance
  • Consumables and grips available
  • Comfortable and very easy to use
  • Classy design
  • Extremely lightwell
Cons
  • Not the quietest

Cheyenne Hawk Thunder
best tattoo gun brand

The Cheyenne Hawk Thunder has been popular for years, and many top tattoo artists still use this one. It should be noted that Cheyenne began to instill in tattoo artists a love of working with cartridges right with this device. That is the machine became epochal in a sense and raised the whole generation of cool world tattoo artists.

The pluses of this awesome tattoo machine are its awesome quality and ease of use. Once you get your hands on it, it's very clear and intuitive to get started.

Inside is a very reliable and powerful motor, so the machine is "wicked" and really, powerful. That is why it's only disadvantage is that it is quite painful for your client. It works extremely quietly and with minimal vibration, which is typical for Cheyenne devices in general.

We especially recommend Thunder for those who like powerful and rigid performance with their tattoo equipment. Remember to buy the grips separately, because they are not included.

Pros
  • Powerful and reliable motor
  • Different body colors are available to choose from
  • High working power
  • User friendly
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Quiet and with minimum vibration
  • German quality of construction and design
Cons
  • Painful for the client

InkJecta Flite Nano Ultra Lite
the lightest option

It is impossible to list the best tattoo machines without including the lightest tattoo device available in 2021. 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.

Features

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, pen-styled. Since it can be disassembled, the bars and other parts of the device can be sterilized and autoclaved.

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

Conclusion

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 Tattoo Gun
best coil tattoo machines

This is an inexpensive tattoo gun from Thomas Tattoo Supply company that looks very vintage, thanks to its beautiful brass color. It is one of the best cheap Chinese coils and one of the best coil machines overall. You'll be paying only 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.

If the price tags on the previous items made you fret, don't worry because this is a budget-friendly option.

Features:

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 than other coils

Conclusion

It’s worth the money and ideal for both beginners and professionals tattooists.

Vlad Blad pro liner
best liner for professionals

Vlad Blad is a custom manufacturer that provides different types of tattoo machines. Vlad Blad’s coil tattoo machines are really exclusive and perfect designed tools for various styles.

This TOP features a powerful liner that doesn't require you to run the contour twice. The inertia, the clarity and sharpness of the stroke, and the frequency of the needle movement cause the device to leave the maximum possible amount of pigment in the skin in one stroke. The contours are perfectly clear and correct! Just what you need especially for fine portrait details, thin lines, dotwork.

As a result, besides a quality tattoo, you get fast healing, because less needle penetration under the skin leads to less trauma.

The frame - the machine's base - is securely protected! It is made of aluminum and weighs only 30.5g. Thanks to the durable, chemical-resistant polyester powder coating, it is corrosion-resistant and electrically insulating. The images on the color custom models are printed on a high-quality laser printer and laminated with a durable film.

If you've had problems with lining, you'll throw out your old liner tattoo machine and only use Liners from Vlad Blad.

Pros
  • Impressive and highly original custom designs
  • Perfect and precise contour the first time
  • Lightweight
  • 25-year warranty on the frame
  • Handmade
  • Minimizes skin trauma
  • Sturdy frame with durable and resistant coating
Cons
  • Available in small quantities
  • For lining only

Dragonhawk Mast
best as starter tattoo machine

The Dragonhawk Mast pen tattoo machine is the same as the Dragonhawk Atom, but Mast is lighter and has a differently shaped body. The rest of these machines' characteristics are very similar; you just have to choose which shape of grip suits you better. The Mast has a slightly thicker grip but with smoother ribs for your fingers.

It comes in a new, improved design so this pen-style machine lies better in your hand. It is considerably light, quiet, and gives minimal vibrations when operated at high power. This tool has a stable motor and an easy adjustment of the cartridge holder.

Dragonhawk is quite reasonable for its price, so it is good for beginners, but not more. Professional tattooists need something more serious than this device.

What is in the box?

  • One custom mast pen
  • One tattoo power supply
  • 20 Wjx cartridges
  • 1-foot pedal
  • The big case it’s all packed in.
Pros
  • Quiet
  • Easy to use
  • Consistent, cyclical needle motion
  • Runs smoothly
  • Usable for line and shading
  • It causes minimal skin damage
Cons
  • Not very durable
  • The lining is more difficult
  • Full stroke needed to complete rotary motion

Verdict

This product is highly recommended for all beginner tattoo artists. It is still very available for purchase as it's production has not been discontinued by Dragonhawk.

What is the best tattoo machine?

CNC Q2 Hawink is the best tattoo machine on the market. This machine is quality, cheap and versatile. So you will be able to tattoo great and impressive tattoos for your clients.

Buyer’s guide

This section will inform you which “things you should look out for when selecting the best tattoo machine”. So let’s get straight into it.

Requirements

It is important that you get the machine that best suits your requirements. Do not buy a machine simply because your favorite artist used it or because the advertisement was great.

The machine might be technological and feature-packed but may not meet your requirements. For example, if you tattoo linework and Dotwork styles, you would prefer a specialized lining machine. If so, the Spectra Direkt2 by FK Irons is a better choice than the Dragonhawk Mast. If you are a girl and your hand is not used to the weight yet, choose a lighter machine such as the Flite Nano Ultra Lite by InkJecta. However, if you have not previously held a tattoo machine in your hand but want to learn to tattoo, we suggest you choose the most versatile one.

Purpose

Before you buy a tattoo machine, you must know the purpose of the machine’s purpose and compare it with the one you require. If you are buying the machine for learning or personal use, get a cheap one to improve your hand. But if you are buying it for a commercial purpose, it should be of high quality.

Quality and material

Before buying a tattoo machine, check its quality. Always buy it from a reputable brand. Always buy a machine produced from high-quality metal like aluminum alloy or brass.

Please stay away from machines that are not durable since they do not refine your art.

Price

Some tattoo machines cost about $1000, but it depends on how much you are willing to spend. To practice and get started will be okay with even a cheap tool that costs under $100. Professional tattoo equipment costs about $500. It's up to you, but we wouldn't recommend saving money on a commercial device. There is no use in buying useless stuff.

Weight

The machine’s weight is also an important factor to look out for because it will have a tremendous impact on the machine’s overall performance and, subsequently, the creative side of your work.

You must ensure that your machine is lightly weighted so that it can be handled for a long time without issues.

Grip

Look out for machines that have fine gripping so it will be friendly on your finger veins. As a result, you can focus more on tattoo work.

These days most tattoo machines come in a pen shape to give you an excellent.

How do I set up a tattoo machine for beginners?

As a beginner, you should buy a starter kit, as it contains the important equipment you will ever need to get the hang of your tattoo machine. However, if you need high-end equipment, then buying them separately might be a better option.

You will also need to get small-sized screwdrivers and alley keys to set up the machine if they are not included in your starter already. It is essential to know that the parts will come separately and you will have to put them together, the same goes for the power station.

A critical aspect of setting up is sanitization. Always sanitize your hands and the various parts of the machine. After that, you can start assembling the different parts; you will most likely have a manual to guide you through the entire process.

Ensure that the needle is sharp and not blunt. Then set up the power station and try to get one with voltage regulation to have more control over the tattoo procedure.

Lastly, assemble the footswitch and make sure that it operates comfortably. Also, you can check out this detailed guide on how to set up a rotary tattoo machine.

FAQ

Which is better, Rotary or Coil tattoo machines?

Both rotaries and coils have their perks. They are different technologies and feel a bit different to use. Every tattoo artist has his preference – some prefer the coil tattoo machines, while others will go for rotary machines. Rotaries are a bit in fashion right now, but they're not better or worse than the traditional coil machines. That’s because people try to distance themselves a bit from the old school dirty tattoo image.

Coil tattoo machines are great as tattoo coils are hardly breakable; they will probably be functional for decades. Rotary machines burn too often, and even the right power supply choice can't always keep you safe from this. While the coils never burn, there is a chance that the spring breaks.

Also, when set up right, they minimize skin injuries. Although newbies may have difficulty setting up the coil, the tattoo’s faster healing and less skin damage are worth learning how to set up the coil.

In the same vein, rotary machines are great too; they are easier to handle and manage as they operate on the motor and are much lighter than coils. As a result of their weight, artists can spend more time working without causing seizures in their hands and fingers, reducing the risk of mistakes.

As a beginner, what other items do I need to purchase separately apart from practice skins and transfer paper?

It depends on how far you want to go with this. For instance, are you trying it out on yourself, or are you going to start doing it on other people?

If you will be tattooing other people, you’ll need to use more high-end stuff as you don’t want to look cheap, especially with the ink.

Besides the machine, you will need a pedal, a power supply, cartridges or traditional needles of various kinds and sizes, grips, tattoo tips, inks, a power cord, clip-cord. You’ll also need stuff like transfer gel, ink, ink caps, petroleum jelly, gloves, green soap, nitrile paper towels, medical sheets or aprons to put your things on, disposable cord sleeves, masking tape, and a stencil light board.

These should do for a start; you will get more with time.

How does the tattoo machine work?

In simple terms, it is a pen-like device that comes with a needle on its tip. When it is in use, the machine digs into the epidermis, depositing ink underneath your skin layer. The penetration is what often causes you pain and makes the tattoo permanent. Experts recommend several ways of reducing tattoo-related pains. These are drinking plenty of water, eating before going for the session, keeping your mind busy, avoiding too many movements during the session, etc. Tattoo artists also advise their customers to stick to these rules to reduce the excruciating pains of tattooing.

What is the best tattoo pen machine?

This guide has detailed some of the top-tier machines on the market. All you need to do is go through the features, pros, and cons. Still, every machine on this list stands out for one reason or another. What is that specific feature you look out for in your ideal tattoo pen-like machine? Well, go through the list to figure out the product that satisfies it.

What is the best tattoo gun for beginners?

There are loads of good, beginner-targeted tattoo machines on the market. We have reviewed some of them in this piece. To make an informed choice, you should focus on their features, pros, and cons. You should also consider the feature that distinguishes it from the rest. Lastly, most tattoo machines for beginners are affordable.