Best Tattoo Machine: A Guide for Beginners

Finding the best tattoo machine for 2020 could be an exhausting task if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for or don’t know anything about them.

If you’re new to tattoo guns, it is paramount that you have a clear idea of what you are looking at here before you go and buy one. Here is the new line of tattoo machines for 2019.

Here’s our picks for the Top 5 best rotary and coil tattoo machines to help you get the best value for your investment. Our  reviews are based on research and comparison of the available models and top brands.

Summary of our Top 5 Rated Tattoo Machines for 2019
Bishop microangelo ReviewPirat Tattoo Machine Candy
Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo MachineBishop Micro Angelo Rotary Tattoo MachineHummingbird Rotary Tattoo Machine V1Compass Tattoo Machine VictoriaPirat Tattoo Machine Candy
6.17 oz (170 g)2.0 oz (57 g)6.55 oz (185 g)7.7 oz (218 g)5.3 oz (150 g)
Lining voltage: 8-9V. Shading voltage: 7-8V. Voltage: 6v–8.5vVoltage: 4v–6vVoltage: 7v–8vVoltage: 5.5v
Carbon SteelAluminiumSteelSteelIron
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How to Buy a Tattoo Machine?

Best Tattoo Machines

First of all, here are some aspect to consider:

  1. Finding out if you want to buy a rotary, coil or pneumatic configuration.
  2. Review the most popular brands that best suits you such as Cheyenne, Bishop, Stigma, Inkjecta, FK Irons and Neuma.
  3. Check reviews from tattoo artists and people that gave only 3 stars so that you can find out their limitations.
  4. Shop from trusted sellers or trusted suppliers to find the best value in the market.

Finally, take a couple of minutes to check out some of these resources:

  • What is a rotary, coil and pneumatic tattoo machine.
  • How to set them up.
  • Tattoo designs & ideas for lining and shading.
  • Accessories to improve the performance of your tattoo gun.

If you are skilled with them or if you understand how they can help you on your DIY project, then you are ready to take a look at the wide variety available.

Considerations when Selecting the Best Tattoo Machine in 2020

The number one consideration for tattoo artists is acquiring the best tattoo machine for their work. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing one of them. A few points:

  • You only buy one machine

While beginners may start with one or two, the need to own a variety of machines becomes profound as you grow as a tattoo artist.

Mister Cartoon Limited Edition Box Set - Bishop Best tattoo Machines
Mister Cartoon Limited Edition Box Set – Bishop (Check Market Price)

Having a variety of machines enables you to produce high quality tattoos because you can use a variety of techniques that a single machine may not accomplish on its own.

  • Overall Quality

It is important that every single machine you buy is of high quality. The risk of a machine breaking down during tattooing could potentially cause great damage to a client’s skin.

Sturdiness is an important quality of tattoo machines, but by far not the only one. As a tattoo artist, you need to have efficient machines that are easy to tune, adjust, use and maintain.

  • Comfortability & Durability

A complicated machine is likely to give you a hard time as you try to figure out how to work with it in a comfortable way, especially during long sessions.

Artists should not only look for comfortability, also consider a durable machine. You need it to perform as efficiently a few years down the line as when you purchased it.

  • Performance

The performance yardstick depends on the type of machine you are using as well as the tattooing work you are doing.

The two (2) most popular types of tattoo machines are the coil tattoo machines and rotary tattoo machines. Both types have different levels of performance depending on whether you are lining, shading or coloring a tattoos.

  • Rotary and Coil Tattoo Machines

    • Coil

For a long time, coil tattoo machines were known to be the best tattoo machines. They have a high level of performance for both lining and shading.


Lauro Paolini Soul Coil tattoo machine for lining   Redscorpion Cast Iron Coil Tattoo Machine for lining   Dragonhawk Coil Tattoo Machine for shading and coloring   Welker Nomad Tattoo Machine Coil for lining

Tattoo artists have been able to create some of the most intricate and impeccable tattoos using coil tattoo machines.

One of the fundamental qualities of the coil machines is that they allow the artists to have greater control of the tattooing process. In addition, it can deliver powerful thrusts especially with large needle groupings. These are qualities that rotary tattoo machines may fall short of.

    • Rotary

Overtime there is been more inclination towards the rotary versions, which have proven to be more reliable and versatile.


EZTAT2 Bat    Cheyenne Hawk Pen rotary tattoo machine    Dragonhawk Raven tattoo machine    Dragonhawk Extreme X2

They are easy to operate, which for now, would be the best machines for beginners in the tattooing industry.

Rotary machines are also fast and this helps with filling in color while also being quieter, light in weight and causing less damage to the skin.

The disparities in performance between coil and rotary underscore the importance of owning a variety of machines. You will need different machines to accomplish different tattoo designs.

  • Material

The best tattoo guns have a strong frame made from materials such as aluminum (lightweight machine), iron, steel, brass and bronze (durable but heavier).

Dragonfly Authenitc X2
Dragonfly Authentic X2 – Check Market Price

A strong frame ensures that your machine does not breakdown more in the middle of the tattooing process.

The material of you machine definitely plays an important role on the final work since you need to consider the weight of it.

Taking into account that you would be creating a beautiful tattoo design, potentially for hours, you will need to ensure the machine you are using is light enough to avoid having you hand getting numb.

Not only this is an important factor, but also the fact that heavy machines could cause carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a common health problem on few tattoo artist.

  • Investing on a cheap or expensive tattoo machine

A quality tattoo machine is always going to cost you more. You will find high-end machines (including customized ones such as the ones created by Lauro Paolini) that you might not possible to afford (for now) and, machines that are too cheap whose quality may be questionable.

The ideal way to buy the best tattoo machines is to consider sturdiness, efficiency, durability, effectiveness in lining or shading and off course, your skill level.

An important thing to remember is that cheap does not always mean poor quality. There are now a wide range of brands, like the Dragonhawk brand that provides affordability and efficiency with a modern design to provide the best support for tattoo artists.

Last but not least, looking at reviews from customers that have already purchased tattoo guns is a good way to find out which machines best suit your requirements but more importantly, you will know its common problems.

  • Voltage & Power Source

The best tattoo machines ensure that you get the perfect balance between power and speed.

Dragonhawk Dual Tattoo Machine Power Supply Foot Pedal
Dragonhawk Dual Tattoo Machine Power Supply Foot Pedal – Check Market Price

The voltage of your tattoo machine determines the quality of the lining or shading work.

It is the power of the machine that determines how hard the needles hit the skin during tattooing.

There are various options for tattoo machine power supply. You can choose to have either a digital or analog version both of which, can be regulated or unregulated.

Unregulated power supply requires the artist to set the correct voltage for each tattooing session, whilst a digital power supply is easier to read and allows for greater accuracy.

The same case goes for regulated power supply although both options are more expensive. Consider your entire tattoo machine collection when buying a power source.

You need to buy the best power supply in order to work with both, coil and rotary tattoo machines. Besides, this will allow you to connect several devices at once for efficiency.

You can find different power source devices available from under $100 dollars all the way up to over $400 dollars. Before purchasing your tattoo power supply, you should read reviews from other buyers to see which one meets your specifications.

Usual Mistakes Committed by Tattoo Machine Buyers

Dragonhawk Mast Pen Kit
Dragonhawk Mast Pen Tattoo Machine Kit Check Market Price

Buying the best tattoo guns is a fundamental part of your tattoo trade. Your skill as a tattoo artist coupled with quality tattoo machines is what aids you in creating amazing tattoos.

Here are some usual mistakes some tattoo artist make while buying tattoo machines:

  • Size & Shape

The size and shape of your tattoo machine is important because comfort and ease of use are imperative. No matter the performance, one of the common mistakes made by tattoo buyers is getting machines that are too heavy or too big. Handling such machines becomes difficult especially when you have to do tattoo designs that require you to turn your hand in different directions.

  • Machine reviews and research

Buying a tattoo machine directly on the store counter or online without doing a proper research and checking on reviews (especially if you have never used it before) is another common mistake.

Unless you are sure about how a machine feels in your hand, it is advised to read what other people have said about their experiences so that it is easy to find what are the disadvantages of a specific machine.

  • Buying the wrong accessories

It is common for tattoo artists to purchase accessories that don’t fit with the machines they have. Coil tattoo machines, for example, use large needle groupings compared to rotary tattoo machines.

Should you use smaller needle groupings on a coil tattoo machine; it will certainly not deliver the powerful needle penetration of the machine.

  • Understanding your machine voltage

You need to understand how much power potential your tattoo machines have in order to purchase the right power supply. For instance, for coil tattoo machines, the more the coil wraps, the more voltage you will require.

It would be a significant mistake if you purchased a tattoo power supply that falls short of the voltage capacity you need. This would mean that your machine under performs resulting in not so great tattoos.

  • Hybrid machines

One big mistake that beginners can be tempted to make is to buy hybrid machines that are surported to do lining, shading and coloring perfectly; only that they do not!

  • Working with only 1 machine

The only way to ensure that you can deliver great tattoos to your clients is to get a variety of machines that can be tuned to specific settings for specific tasks.

Liners can only be used for lining and shaders for shading. Alternating these tasks would cause serious damage to your clients’ skin if the machine gets setup wrongly.

  • Quality and Price

Last but not least, another great mistake that you should be wary of making is compromising quality for price.

The best tattoo machine will cost you more but, they are going to offer you great service and the opportunity to create a reputation as a professional tattoo artist.

Tattooing for business is a huge investment and beginners might find it too expensive to get started. However, a tattoo artist should never compromise on qualities such as sturdiness and specifications of the machine that enable it to perform specific tasks.

Wrap Up

Whether you are a beginner or experienced tattoo artist, it can be overwhelming trying to buy tattoo machines and their accessories.

Beginners are especially more prone to making mistakes because they haven’t had the experience on how different machines perform, their power and speed, efficiency, weight, and voltage requirements.

The most effective way to make a smart decisions when buying a tattoo machine is to thoroughly research on the various details and specifications so that you understand the intent of buying one.

Asking around and reading reviews before making a decision will greatly help you buy only the best tattoo machine based on your needs.


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