Best Tattoo Machine: A Guide for Beginners

Finding the best tattoo machine for 2021 could be an exhausting task if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for.

If you’re new to tattoo guns, it is fundamental 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 2021.

Here are 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 aspects you should consider:

  1. Find out if you want to buy a rotary, coil or pneumatic configuration.
  2. Review the most popular brands that you also like, such as Cheyenne, Bishop, Stigma, Inkjecta, FK Irons and Neuma.
  3. Check out reviews from professional tattoo artists and read reviews that only received 3 stars so that you can familiarize yourself with the limitations of the machines.
  4. Shop from trusted sellers or suppliers to find the best quality and value in the market.

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

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

If you are already skilled with these machines 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 Right Tattoo Gun

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


  • You only buy one machine at a time

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

Mister Cartoon Limited Edition Box Set - Bishop Best tattoo MachinesRead public reviews and rating

Having a range of machines enables you to produce high-quality tattoos because you can use a variety of techniques which a single machine may not be able to accomplish.


  • Overall Quality

It is important that each machine you purchase 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 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 but also consider a machine’s durability. You’ll want it to perform just as efficiently a few years down the line as to when you purchased it.


  • Performance

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

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

One of the fundamental qualities of the coil machines is that they allow the artist 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

Over time there has been more inclination towards the rotary versions, which have proven to be very 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 fast and this helps when filling in large areas of color. They’re also quieter, lightweight and less damaging 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 aluminium (lightweight), iron, steel, brass and bronze (durable but heavier).

Dragonfly Authenitc X2Read public reviews and rating

A strong frame ensures that your machine won’t break down in the middle of tattooing process.

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

Taking into account that you’ll be creating beautiful tattoo designs, potentially for hours, you need to ensure the machine you are using is light enough to avoid your hand or arm going 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 for tattoo artists.


  • Investing in a cheap or expensive equipment

A decent 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 be able to afford just yet, and you will also find machines which are so  cheap that the quality will be questionable.

The way to find the right one is to consider sturdiness, efficiency, durability, effectiveness in outlining or shading and of 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 who provide affordability and efficiency with a modern design to provide the best support for tattoo artists.

Last but not least, reading reviews from customers who have already purchased tattoo guns is a good way to find out which machine best suits 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
Read public reviews and rating Dragonhawk Dual Tattoo Machine Power Supply Foot Pedal

The voltage of your machine determines the quality of the outlining 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.

An 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 goes for regulated power supply although both options are more expensive. Consider your entire collection when buying a power source.

You need to buy the top power supply in order to work with both coil and rotary tattoo machines. Plus, 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 to over $400 dollars.

Before purchasing your tattoo power supply, you should read reviews from other buyers to see which one meets your specifications.

Common Mistakes made by Tattoo Machine Customers

Dragonhawk Mast Pen Kit
Dragonhawk Mast Pen Tattoo Machine Kit

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

Here are some usual mistakes that are easy to make when buying your first machine:

  • Size & Shape

The size and shape of your tattoo machine are 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 awkward angles sometimes.


  • Machine reviews and research

Buying a tattoo machine directly from the store counter or online without doing proper research and checking 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 making it easier to figure out what the disadvantages are on a specific machine.


  • Buying the wrong accessories

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

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


  • 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 it requires.

It would be a grave mistake if you purchased a tattoo power supply that falls short of the voltage capacity you need. This would mean that your machine will be underperforming and the tattoo results will not be great.


  • Hybrid machines

One big mistake beginners can be tempted to make is to buy a hybrid machine which offers the ability to do outlining, shading and coloring perfectly;

only to find 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 outlining and shaders for shading. Alternating these tasks can cause serious damage to your client’s skin if the machine is set up incorrectly.


  • Quality and Price

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

The best tattoo machine will cost more but, it’s 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.

Best Tattoo Machine Guide Wrap Up

Whether you are a beginner or an 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 of how different machines perform, their power and speed, efficiency, weight, and voltage requirements.

The most effective way to make a smart decision when buying a tattoo machine is to thoroughly research the various details and specifications so that you understand which option to buy.

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



Hi!, I'm Thomas, the driver of TMA. Tattoos are a way to express our thoughts, right? but how can we do it without the right tattoo machine? Thanks to my tattoo artist friends, I can transfer their point of view about their experiences in the industry.

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