Best Tattoo Machines of 2021 – The Ultimate Buying Guide & Reviews

3 214
Buying Guide 7 min read Last updated on December 10, 2020

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 machine, 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 travel, 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 an 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 9 machines, all of which are of a very high quality, both in manufacturing and the materials used.

Best Tattoo Machines 2021

Product Image Type Purpose Made in Material Weight Power Source Warranty Price

FK Irons Spektra Direkt2 – Best Overall.
Rotary for lining, shading and coloring USA Aircraft-grade aluminum 56,7g 5V–9.5V lifetime warranty


img



The DragonHawk Mast Pen.
Rotary for shading China Aluminum frame 120g 6V–9V Amazon's 30-day return policy


img






FK Irons Spectra Direkt2 Tattoo Machine (Black).

Rotary for lining, shading and coloring Australia Super lightweight carbon fiber 45g 4.5v to 18v Manufacturer warranty for one year


img





YILONG 'L' Rotary Tattoo Gun – Best Price.

Rotary for shading and lining China Space Aluminum frame 115g 6V–9V Within 30 days after you receive the goods, the manufacturer supports return and exchange


img



Cheyenne Hawk Sol Nova Unlimited – Best Wireless Choice.

Rotary for lining and shading Germany Anodized aluminum 184g (incl. battery) 5-12.6V Manufacturer warranty for one year


img




Thomas Custom Tattoo Gun – Best Coil Tattoo Gun.

Coil Liner&Shader China Brass Liner – 229g: Shader – 247g 6-8V 30 Days Money Back Guarantee for Any Reason: 6 Months Warranty for Quality-Related Issues


img



Compass Dragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils.

Coil Liner&Shader China Brass each gun around 200g 7-8V Lifetime Guarantee


img



HM Deno Powerful Liner Coil Tattoo Machine Best Coil Liner for Professionals with Unique and Rare Design.

Coil Liner Spain 7075 Aircraft Aluminum, brass, or top quality iron 363g 7-8V


img



Dragonhawk  Complete  Tattoo Machine Kit – Best Budget Pick.

Coil for lining, shading and coloring China steel frame and copper coil 170g 6 - 12V 1 year warranty


img



Solong Complete Starter Tattoo Kit Best for Practicing.

Coil Liner&Shader China Cast Iron frame with Temper treatment 250g 6 - 12V 1-year warranty


img

Best Rotary Tattoo Machines

FK Irons Spektra Direkt2 – Best Overall

FK Irons Spektra Direkt2 tattoo machine is a must-have if you are looking for a rotary tattoo machine. It is one of the most attractive tattoo machines available, particularly due to its compactness. Aside from its aesthetic appeal, this beast is pre-packed with awesome features and specifications, and an amazing device that transfers those creative designs from the artist’s mind straight onto his client’s flesh perfectly. This machine is the best on the market for lining, shading and coloring.

Many people might be wondering what voltage is suitable for working with this device; the Spektra Direkt2 operates with a minimum voltage of 4 volts. For line tattooing, the manufacturer recommends 8.5-9.5 volts. However, do not take these parameters as a rule; each tattooist may choose his own parameters if he feels more comfortable working at another voltage.

Features

The Spektra direkt2 accepts any standard needles and cartridge grips, so you don’t need to purchase specific adapters only for it. This feature makes this machine truly unique.

It runs smoothly and noiselessly, even with low voltages, and is compatible with any standard needle.

This machine doesn’t require any lubrication, so it’s super easy to use and maintain.

The Spektra Direkt2 is reinforced with aircraft-grade aluminum and anodized for ultimate durability.

It also has three interchangeable stroke caps, so changing the stroke adjustment is also very simple.

The adjustable needle tensioner facilitates adjusting; you no longer not need any rubber bands because you can use your fingers.

The machine uses a hex drive motor bolt system, which is compatible with other devices. Those who like to change machines in the process will find this feature very useful.

What is in the box, except the tattoo machine?
  • The 2-stroke apps
  • Stroke removal tool
  • Spare screws and spiro rings
Pros
  • 3 different stroke caps
  • Air-craft grade aluminium
  • Durable
  • No lubrication is required
  • Comfortable and very easy to use
  • Classy design
  • Extremely lightwell
Cons
  • It doesn’t come with needles
  • The price is above average

Conclusion

This product is highly recommended as it is exceptionally functional, and its only flaw is the absence of needles, which can be easily acquired from any tattoo shop.

Dragonhawk Mast Pen Rotary Machine - Best for Beginners

The Dragonhawk Mast pen tattoo machine is a powerful tool to create solid tattoos. It comes in a new, improved design, providing a pen-style machine that fits excellently in hands. It is considerably light, quiet, and gives minimal vibrations when operated at high power. This tool has a stable motor and easy adjustment of the cartridge holder.

Dragonhawk pen is great; it copes well with the lines. Dragonhawk is quite reasonable for its price, so it is best for beginners, but not more; professional tattooists need something more serious than this device.

What is in the box?
  • 1 custom mast pen
  • 1 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
  • Causes minimal skin damage
Cons
  • Not very durable
  • Lining is more difficult
  • Full strokes are needed to complete a rotary motion

Conclusion

We highly recommend this product to all beginner tattooists. And it is still very available for purchase as it’s production is not discontinued by Dragonhawk.

InkJecta Flite Nano Ultra Lite – The Lightest 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.

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, 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
  • Availible in four colors (black, white, olive green and blue tongue)
  • Flexible adjustment is possible thanks to a set of bars of different stiffnesses
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not compatible with all cartridges available on the market
  • Needs constant 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.

YILONG 'L' Rotary Tattoo Gun – Best Price

Yilong is a Chinese manufacturer of tattoo equipment for professionals and beginners. This gun can be your go-to tool for entering the industry because of its super affordable price with quality comparable to some machines that cost $100 or more. Therefore, this product rightfully ranks at the top of our list.

Features:

The Direct Drive design is very compact and conveniently constructed. Although some elements of the body contain plastic, the machine is still pleasant to use and almost feels like a pen in your hand.

Yilong "L" is suitable for all types of tattooing, both for lining and shading, allowing you to practice different styles with it.

It's quiet enough in operation and has a slight vibration that you get used to after a short while. Even though it's far from the most silent gun, it is worth the money.

This machine has a powerful motor that provides smooth operation and power for up to 8 hours of work. Therefore, long sessions and large tattoos can be safely performed using Yilong "L" model. The only thing can cause a little discomfort is the few seconds delay at the beginning of the device's operation.

Check out the colors of the case available for purchase. In addition to the classic gray and black, if you're a fan of bright and unusual designs, you can buy a red, green, or blue machine.

Pros
  • Stable and powerful motor
  • Low cost
  • Quality comparable to some more expensive products
  • Available in different colors
  • Quiet operation with minimal vibration
  • Not heavy
Cons
  • Has a delay when starting up
  • Thin and flimsy cord included
  • No instruction manual included

Conclusion

This is the right and best choice if you are on a tight budget or a beginner since it has an outstanding quality given its price. However, it is not the best option for professionals.

Cheyenne Hawk Sol Nova Unlimited – Best Wireless Choice

This is a relatively new version of the Cheyenne machine, a respected German brand in the tattoo world. It is essential to understand that it is a modified but already existing device, called Sol Nova. But the name Unlimited was added and a wireless control system with batteries developed.

This pen is quite thick, just like its parent Sol Nova, but longer, making the weight more centered. It comes with several manuals, a battery charger, an extra battery, a Cheyenne protective case, and a zippered travel box.

Features:

Cordless tattoo machines are a recent trend. The batteries in this machine are of the conventional type, that is, you can buy them in any store. The machine keeps the power up to the last, meaning a low charge does not imply a loss of power. The minimum battery life is 5 hours.

The machine operation is pretty impressive because it relies on an accelerometer. There is only one button and two LEDs on the control panel. To turn on the machine, you need to press this one button. If you want it to turn faster, you need to press the button and tilt the machine up. Similarly, if you want it to turn slower, you need to press the button and tilt the machine down (this is all explained in the detailed manual).

The tool has two modes, Steady and Responsive. When Responsive mode is turned on, the needle slightly changes the impact energy and "softens" its stroke. Many who have used these modes with other Cheyenne devices have said that this adaptation of the machine helps tattooing exactly the right contour without unnecessary traumatization.

Indication: The lower LED indicates the degree of charge, and the upper LED indicates the enabled mode.

Pros
  • 2 modes
  • User-friendly operation
  • Easy to use
  • Stylish cool design
  • Wireless
  • Well centered weight
  • Very quiet
  • Minimal vibration
  • Comes with a travel box for transportation
Cons
  • Above-average weight
  • Expensive
  • You need to understand and get used to the operation

Conclusion

If you are comfortable paying just over $1000 for this modern and technologically advanced device, then you should try this machine at least once. It is a very interesting experience, easy operation, and no wires, just what you need in today's tattooing world. But it's definitely not for you if you're conservatively devoted to old-school wires and pedal operation. Everyone chooses what they're more comfortable with!

Best Coil Tattoo Machines – InkedWay’s Top Rated Products

Thomas Custom Tattoo Gun – Best Coil Tattoo Gun

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.

Compass Dragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils – Best For Beginners

Another stylish brass gun kit is Liner and Shader by Chinese manufacturer Dragonhawk. So, it's another option when buying tattoo equipment at an economical price.

These guns have lower voltages than the Thomas, but they are a bit lighter. Considering that these devices already weigh over 200 grams, even a little lightness is worth the thought; it will be more comfortable to use for long hours. Like all coils, these are a little harder to set up than the rotor, but with a little effort, even a beginner should be able to handle it.

Features:

A quality, solid, CNC-cut brass frame certainly becomes a staple of these devices. This is something you can be sure will last a long time and will not let you down.

A fabulous design, a bit pirate-like. Nice brown color and correct frame size. Everything about this device is well thought and ergonomic.

Pros
  • Highly durable metal
  • Reliably constructed frame
  • Cool and ergonomic design
  • Lighter than the average coils
  • Low price – absolutely worth the money
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Slightly loud
  • Low operating voltage range

Conclusion – It’s really worth the money.

HM Deno Powerful Liner Coil Tattoo Machine – Best Coil Liner for Professionals with Unique and Rare Design

This is a rare device for true connoisseurs and professionals. The liner is made of iron and cast brass "Deno Skull" side plate. Yes, it is much heavier than a standard coil, but it is the kind of object that turns into a collectible, very expensive artifact over the years. After all, only a limited number of these machines are produced.

The model is available in three colors gold, nickel, and antique patina. It has 6-wrap coils.

Features:

In addition to its cool design, this gun has cool features that will be useful for the advanced tattoo artist. The device is very powerful and fast; it is praised and loved for the ability to push a lot of needles through the skin quickly.

The HM Deno is designed to run for hours or even all day without heating up or suffering from power loss. It makes it very easy to create a smooth, even, and precise contour quickly and easily.

It's even a little awkward to talk about the high quality of such a custom piece. Of course, it lives up to all expectations: strong frame, good metal, everything is made very firmly. After all, a world-renowned tattooist is personally responsible for this device and its quality.

Pros
  • Collectible design
  • Powerful liner
  • Pushes large needles
  • Powerful
  • Different color available
  • Comes pre-tuned as for Deno
  • Fast needle movement
Cons
  • Pretty expensive
  • Heavy

Conclusion

The HM Deno is a must-have for professionals and collectors.

Dragonhawk Complete Tattoo Machine Kit – Best Budget Pick

This tattoo kit targets beginner tattooists. Extremely low price for a whole kit of four machines, ink, needles, grips, and other necessary stuff for the newbie makes DragonHawk very popular among beginners. Because it provides just about everything (but not everything) you need to practice your skills, it made it to this list.

The machines in this kit create smooth and straight lines relatively fast and are quieter than other options. The devices are built from lightweight aluminum alloy and thus feel durable. The kit has almost everything you need, but you will most likely have to buy an ink tray since the ones that come in a kit are very cheap and of poor quality and all hygienical items because you need more than gloves, and protective films are not included.

Features:
  • This kit’s versatility lies in the fact that it has 4 different machines designed for lining, shading and coloring.
  • Every one of its machines is not heavy, and you don’t have to worry about hand fatigue.
  • It comes with a carrying case for easy movement that consists of a key, a few disposable grips, and other related tattoo supplies.
  • The ergonomic design looks exceptionally functional. That's because the four devices in the kit each have their own design, which creates a nostalgic "old school" vibe.
What is in the box?
  • 4 tattoo machines
  • Digital power supply
  • 1 foot pedal
  • Fake skin
  • 10 color immortal tattoo inks
  • 50 needles
  • Grips
  • Case
  • Rubber bands and other attachments
Pros
  • Extremely low price
  • The most complete kit
  • Easy to clean
  • Runs smoothly
  • Versatile
  • It comes with a big carry case
Cons
  • The cartridge may become loose over time
  • Not the quietest machines
  • The inks in the kit are not of the best quality

Conclusion

It's the best choice if you're on a tight budget to get everything you need for practice at once. It is very easy for beginners to practice using the different machines in this box.

Solong Complete Starter Tattoo Kit – Best for Practicing

Tattoo kit by Solong is complete and suitable to start practicing right away, that is, for beginners. The kit comes with everything you need, including fake skin, inks, needles, etc. The low price and good quality of the tattoo gun give this kit its place in this ranking.

Details about the tool. This one-coil machine is for both lining and shading - you have one gun to do different kinds of artwork, which is advantageous for coils. The gun looks ordinary; it's black with no bright details or patterns. The main thing is that it feels sturdy but not very heavy when compared to other coils.

Features:

Completeness. This kit contains everything you need to start tattooing right away: on fake or real skin.

Versatility. This is certainly unusual for coils. With a single device, you can ink lines as well as color and do shadows.

Affordability. A great price doesn't always mean bad quality. Even though it's not what you get for a higher budget, this kit is definitely worth the money. A sturdy machine, good quality inks, steady power supply, aluminum grips - all this and much more for a very cheap and limited budget.

Pros
  • Complete kit of everything you need
  • Good inks
  • Universal tattoo gun
  • Low priced
  • Handy grips included
Cons
  • The size of the needles on the packaging and the needles themselves are not visible
  • No packaging for storage
  • Can be difficult to set up

Conclusion

This product is recommended for newbies or for people who need a lot of practice in tattooing.

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.

FAQ

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

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.

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.

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 guid how to set up rotary tattoo machine.