Best Coil Tattoo Machines of 2021

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Buying Guide 4 min read Last updated on April 32, 2021

You don't think coil tattoo guns are old-school and everyone uses only rotors now, do you? No, you shouldn't think that.

Rather, review the information about the best coil tattoo machines on the market to buy a quality device and create impressive tattoos!

Best coil tattoo machines on the market

Editor's Choise
Thomas Custom Tattoo Gun – Best Coil Tattoo Gun.
Read our review
Our Score 9.9 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Best Overall
Compass dragonhawk 2pcs brass coils – best liner tattoo machines.
Read our review
Our Score 9.7 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Best Value
Redscorpion best tattoo coil machines.
Read our review
Our Score 9.6 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Hawink traditional tattoo coil machine handmade shader.
Read our review
Our Score 9.4 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Vlad Blad pro liners best liner for professionals.
Read our review
Our Score 9.4 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
HM Deno Powerful Liner Coil Tattoo Machine Best Coil Liner for Professionals with Unique and Rare Design.
Read our review
Our Score 9.3 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Our Score 9.1 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com

Thomas custom
best coil tattoo guns

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, robber 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 than other coils

Verdict

The Hawink CNC-M-WE is highly recommended because of its rich, crisp, and accurate performance. It is the best option available on the market. There are some nuances to using it, but they are minor. The main thing is that a tattoo with Hawink will turn out really impressive because the device is suitable for all types of tattooing.

Compass Dragonhawk 2pcs brass
best liner tattoo machines

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. These devices weigh over 200 grams each but 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.

The main thing that makes this device different from many others is the lifetime warranty. This set is extremely stable, but even if you happen to have a problem with one of the components, the manufacturer offers excellent service and will send you the replacement part or replace the product.

It has 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

Verdict

It’s really worth the money and beginners will absolutely love it.

Redscorpion set
best tattoo coil machines

You will hardly find anything better for the money value among the tattoo equipment. These are reliable, stable and solidly made devices that will not let you down in your operation. Both tools are great for their purposes: the liner creates clear and smooth lines; the shader creates even coloring and shades.

They have a sturdy frame and a stylish, versatile black design. Users note that the machines practically do not heat up, even with very long sessions. This is a great quality for a tattoo gun that you can sometimes even use all day.

The guns require fine-tuning, so beginners, for whom these tools are best for, may have a little trouble with this. It should only take you 10-15 minutes to adjust the spring tension and contact screw to your liking, and then you can get to work right away.

Pros
  • Low Noise
  • Stable operation for hours
  • Without Any Heat Within 8 Hours
  • The cheapest, 2 for the price of 1
  • Liner for smooth lines, shader for even coloration
Cons
  • Moving the tube in and out is not easy, they often get stuck
  • Requires further adjustments in order to work

Verdict

With a few settings and modifications you will have two machines to work with different tattoo styles.

Hawink traditional handmade
best shader tattoo machine

This is a great choice for beginners and intermediate level tattoo artists who prefer to work in black and white tattoo styles. It is a quality made and reliably working device that makes it possible for the artist to make very soft shades.

If you are looking for a Liner&Shader kit from this brand – check it on Amazon.

This shader works very delicately with both B&W artwork and soft color transitions. It lets you quickly and without big 'dots' make both tiny portraits with small magnums or RS, and large areas with black gradients with needles up to 19 magnums.

The Hawink Shader is very lightweight indeed. The frame is made with the latest technology, so it doesn't overload your hand during long hours of work. The low heat and vibration levels also contribute to easy and comfortable working with this tool.

12 wraps of pure copper coils provide the best conductivity; and a special balance of springs allows the maximum amount of pigment to be left under the skin with minimal trauma.

Pros
  • Perfect shades and coloring
  • Lightweight
  • Stable and consistent performance
  • Vivid, catchy color
  • Compatible with all grips and needles
  • Minimizes skin trauma
  • Better conductivity
Cons
  • There can be difficulties with the settings
  • The key has an uneven bottom

Verdict

It''s the choice of many entry-level and intermediate artists. This is one of the best shaders on the market. This tool produces perfect shades and dense coloring.

Best liner tattoo machine

Vlad Blad pro
best liner for professionals

...and other custom liners by this manufacturer.

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 vintage look of the surface is created by mechanical or chemical treatment of the metal. The images on the other color custom models are printed on a high-quality laser printer and laminated with a durable film.

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
  • Expensive
  • Available in small quantities

Verdict

If you've had problems with contouring, you'll throw out your old contouring machines and only use Liners from Vlad Blad.

Hm deno
best liner coil tattoo machines

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.

Besides 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

Verdict

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

Alloy
shader and liner tattoo machine

This is a single versatile device that can be used both as a shader and as a liner. It works softly, steadily and quickly. So you'll have no problem working with this tool, whether you need soft shadows, strict lines, or fine points and details.

You won't need multiple devices to do different kinds of tattoo. It makes you mobile, so it's easier and more comfortable to tattoo. But that still doesn't mean that you won't need to buy separate devices for more complex and specialized artpieces.

The frame is made of alloy. It is a very strong and reliable frame that will last for years. It is ergonomic, balanced, not heavy, comfortably shaped. Because of this design, it is comfortable to hold for many hours of session. Moreover, it does not make too loud noises and does not overheat.

Pros
  • All-in-one device
  • Durable
  • Smooth operation
  • Ergonomic design
  • Affordable pricee
Cons
  • Not suitable for professionals
  • No warranty information

Verdict

For soft and fast tattooing when you have no reason to change device - liner or shader.

Buyer’s Guide

A universal tattoo machine is a very relative concept. Although rotary machines are considered versatile, they lose out artistically and price-wise.

The coil tattoo machine market is huge nowadays, and for a tattoo artist with little experience it is quite difficult to understand which one to buy. We will help you to make the right choice!

A professional will be able to reconfigure the coil machine to their needs, but for beginners this option will be more difficult. If the budget allows, it is worth buying several coil guns that will meet different needs: one for contours, the second - for shading. Let's talk about the types of coil guns and what to look for when choosing one.

Liner Tattoo Machine

The Liner is designed to create clear contours:

  • It is designed to inject the paint under the skin as quickly as possible and to prevent it spreading
  • Short and stiff stroke
  • Quick needle return and rapid penetration under the skin
  • Liners have a small number of coils
  • The contact spring is shorter and stiffer

Shader Tattoo Machine

Shaders are used to quickly shade large skin areas as well as to create shadows. Because of the longer time the needle stays under the skin, the device allows you to achieve dense blocking and quality coloring. As a rule, shaders are heavier than liners and they hurt the skin less than liners. Many tattooists like to use coil and rotary into their works for lining and shading or vice versa.

Shader Tattoo Machine.

How we picked the coil tattoo guns

Besides the types of performance for which you plan to buy a coil tattoo machine, you should also look at weight, the metal from which the gun is made, the operating voltage, sound volume, duty, warranty, service conditions.

Frequency is the parameter that determines the speed of the tattoo needle swing. It is the highest value for the liner, the lowest for the shader.

The frame of the coil gun can be made of different metals: brass, steel, aluminum, zinc. The first two options, on the one hand, are stronger, but heavier; the second two options, on the other hand, are lighter, but with more vibration. The main thing is for the frame to be strong and durable.

Operating voltage is the range in which the tattoo machine will operate stably and give the best results.

Volume. The sounds of coils are such an integral part of the tattoo experience. It does sound more aggressive than a rotary tattoo machine for sure. Some say that it is a favorite sound, others call this noise “a warning of the impending pain”. Anyway coils sound really loudly, aggressive, and even eerily so it’s better to choose not the loudest of them.

Duty. The higher the Duty, the stronger, more productive, clearer and therefore more painful the tattoo machine hits. Coil tattoo machines with high Duty are not recommended for beginners, because they do not allow mistakes and can be very traumatic at inexperienced hands.

Weight. Although the coils are not light in weight themselves, you should still pay attention to their amount of grams so that you don't choose one that is too heavy for your hand.

Warranty. Do you want your coil to last a long time? Choose manufacturers that offer a product warranty and quality service.

As you can see, coil tattoo guns have many variables in how they're built. Thus, these tools are adjustable to fit how you like to tattoo.

How does a coil tattoo machine work?

Any tattoo artist who works with coils needs to understand how this mechanism works and how to set up it right to make the great tattoo without extra hurts and microtraumas.

Taking the device apart, we can see that the coil tattoo machine is merely an electrical circuit: voltage enters the positive terminals, it passes through two copper wraps; a contact occurs; the electricity runs through two metal strips to the negative terminal. Pretty simple!

The needle moves due to the force of electromagnetic interaction. When electricity flows through the copper wrap, it becomes magnetized and turns into an electromagnet. This is what happens exactly in a tattoo machine. Above the windings is a stator to which a metal rod is attached. At the end of the rod is a needle. When electricity flows through the windings, the coils become electromagnets that attract the stator with the metal rod. Through this attraction, the metal rod to which the stator is attached is lowered. As a result, the stator moves down and presses against the windings and entraps the rod, which has a needle at its end. The needle pierces the skin. This is a single puncture.

By pulling the stator down, the electromagnetic force breaks the circuit between the contact screw and the metal strip. The electric circuit is opened. The absence of electricity in the electromagnets means that the coils are demagnetized, they no longer create an electromagnetic field. The contact strip of the stator is made of extremely strong yet resilient metal, so it instantly straightens out like a spring, the needle rushes up after the metal plate.

The cycle is instantly repeated because when the needle moves up, the stator resumes the connection between the contact screw and the metal plate, restoring the electrical circuit. The coils become electromagnetic again and everything repeats over and over with dizzying speed.

The struggle between the electromagnetic force that pulls the needle down and the elastic plate that pushes it up continues to move the needle as long as the pedal is pushed.

How to set up a coil tattoo machine?

There are two types of settings:

  • Assembling and first setting of the regulators
  • Fine calibration

Assembly and basic setup includes properly connecting the power supply and pedal, assembling the holder to the tattoo machine body, tightening the screw, securing the needle bar with a rubber band, and adjusting the tension screw so that a clean sound is achieved during operation.

You can read more about these processes and how to correctly assemble a coil tattoo machine in our article.

The fine-tuning of the coil tattoo gun is expressed by changing such characteristics:

  • stroke length;
  • the force of the spring compression (sometimes, by replacing the spring);
  • by choosing the correct tension of the bandage gum;
  • setting another air gap, between front coil and bottom surface of striker (by tightening the contact screw);
  • by setting the balance point of the gap (by tightening the contact screw).

So, coils are a great tool for great results in lining and shading. But to achieve the best picture the tattooist has to optimize the geometry of the machine build, understand the mechanics, and dial in the tune for his or her method.

FAQ

What is the best tattoo machine?

Choosing the best tattoo machine depends on artists’ skills and style of tattooing. Among the best coils tattoo machines there are Thomas Custom and Compass Dragonhawk. If you are looking for the best rotary tattoo machine, FK Irons Spectra Direkt2 should be the right choice.

Best manufacturers coil tattoo machines:

  • Thomas
  • Dragonhawk
  • Vlad Blad
  • Atomus
  • HM Deno
  • FK Irons

What makes a coil tattoo machine good?

Clear and sharp contours. The needle of a coil machine spends slightly more time under the skin than a rotary needle. During these microseconds, the pigment has time to be fully distributed in the injection area, which eliminates the need to go over the contour several times.

  • Less effort to pierce the skin.
  • It is easier to work with large skin areas with fast and dense shading.
  • Cheap cost. Coils are much cheaper than rotary motors, due to their minimal number of components and parts, and they, in turn, are simple and cheap to produce.
  • Specific adjustment of needle frequency and stroke power.

Bottom Line

To sum up, the device that combines all the best features, as we see it, are the two coil tattoo guns - liner + shader kit made by Thomas - Custom Tattoo Machine. Based on weight, power, durability, price and performance, this product is the best coil tattoo machine available on the market.

If you have more specific requirements, for example, you are looking for the best liner or the most powerful machine, refer to our review, there are top devices on different criteria.

After purchase and usage, please make sure to write us in the comments to share your experience with us and your colleagues.

Enjoy tattooing!