Tattoo Needles Guide 2021: What you Need to Know

Tattoo needles come in different sizes and groupings and each of them is designed for a specific task.

If you are a tattoo artist, one of the key items you will need is tattoo needles. These needles are used to drive the ink into the skin.

It is necessary to ensure that you have selected the best to match with the type of tattoo work you are planning to do.

We know that it is very hard to determine the best one, especially if you have never used them before. To make your work easier, this guide will take you through the most important things you should consider before buying them.

Popular Brands & What Makes Them the Best?


If you are looking for value for money, Big Wasp are one of the best.

Big Wasp Cartridge NeedlesRead public reviews and rating

The most outstanding thing from this company is that they are made of effective and high quality materials; as a result, they are very sharp and burr-free, which makes them ideal for professionals.

You should also note that they provide more ink with just a single pass, which makes them suitable for coloring and line work.


  • ACE Needles

ACE are ideal for those who are in need of the best assorted disposable tattoo needles. They are also suitable for artists who do a wide variety of tasks.

Ace premium NeedlesRead public reviews and rating

Unlike others, these ones feature a surgical stainless steel design and are made of premium materials.

All the needles are marked with their respective lot numbers, expiry dates and sterilization dates. You can use them with most tattoo machine and are also compatible with disposable tattoo tubes.


  • Dragonhawk Silver Series

The most outstanding thing about the Dragonhawk Silver Series is that each needle contains an EO gas-proof strip indicator. This allows them to provide optimal results and maximum control.

Dragonhawk needles for lining and shadingRead public reviews and rating

  • Cheyenne Needles

Cheyenne needles are very effective since they are made of high quality materials. With these needles, you can do any tattoo artwork fast and easily.

Cheyenne Needles for rotary tattoo machinesRead public reviews and rating

In terms of quality, they provide unmatched results since they are made with the highest standards. They also provide more precision which means that they have less effect on the skin. You can use them for all your tattoo needs.


  • Infinity 

Infinity are among the best needles you should trust. They provide fantastic results at an affordable rate. The good thing is that they are available in different sizes such as 3RL, 5RL, 7RL, 5RS, 9RL, 7RS, 9RS, 9M, 7M, and 5F.

Infinity 3RL needles for tattoo gunsRead public reviews and rating

Types of Tattoo Needles


The round needles are linked to a central shaft in round patterns. They can be either shaders or liners depending on how close they are to one another.

Round models are the best for small lines and technical work. There are also loose round liners which are suitable for bold and thick outlines like the ones used on Japanese-style tattoos.

If you have technical work that requires you to pay close attention to details, these needles will give you amazing results.



The flat models are usually installed in a straight line within a needle bar. They are the best tattoo needles for outlining because they have a nice shape that allows them to provide more ink to the skin.

This means that they are able to deliver very clear and dark lines with just a single stroke. When filling in color, large flat needles will provide the best results.



These ones are the best for shading work. As compared to the round shaders, these ones have a longer taper. Tattoo artists love them because they deliver more ink which makes them the best for coloring.

Since you don’t need to pass them through the skin many times, they do less damage to the skin. Below are the most common types of magnum needles:

  • Weaved: Just like the flat needles, weaved magnum needles are soldered on alternating sides of the needle. This allows them to cover a wide area when painting.
  • Stacked: The most notable thing about stacked magnum needles is that they have double rows of needles which are closely attached to each other.
  • Round or curved: Round magnums usually have a curved or a round needle tip that arches at the center. This design enables them to run along the skin with more conformity. As a result, round needles provide better ink dispersion and they provide a more consistent line.

Here is a great chart about tattoo needle sizes and their configuration so that you can understand more about it:

Tattoo Needles sizes & configuration

Configuration - 5 liner shader magnum sizes

Configuration 9 - 11 sizes

11 to 13 - shader liner and magnum arrangments & sizes
Chart courtesy of Cheyenne Tattoo Machines

Tattoo Needles Terminology


They are simply magnum models which are made using very thin needles.

Standard needles normally have a thickness of between 0.30mm-0.35mm. However, Bugpin needles thickness is between 0.20mm and 0.25mm.

Some artists consider them the best tattoo needles for shading, while others don’t like them. You need to try them to determine whether they will work for you.


Cartridge needles

These ones are unique needles that only work with specific machines (like Bishop tattoo machines).

A good example is the Cheyenne Hawk rotary. Instead of using the normal needle set ups, these machines normally use cartridges.

The good thing about needle cartridges is that they are easier and faster to set up compared to the standard needles. However, they are a bit expensive and it is not possible to reuse them.

RS, RL and M: this means round shader, round liner and magnum respectively.

What to Consider Before Buying Tattoo Needles

Below are the most important things you should consider when buying the right needles.

  • Quality and classification

Quality is the key thing when searching for needles. If you are not sure about the quality of it, you can easily do that by comparing the solder interface.

High quality tattoo needles are properly arranged and this enables them to provide the best results.

  • Needle compatibility with your tattoo machine (cartridge or standard)

Even if the needle has the best grouping, it may not be of any help if you don’t have the necessary tools. If the needle has a standard set-up grouping, then you need to ensure that you are using a cartridge machine. 

You need to ensure that they are compatible with the tattoo machine.

  • What you want to do

Remember that the type of work you are intending to do will also determine the type of needle you should choose. Each type is suitable for a specific task. If you are searching for a needle that you can use for cuts, then you must ensure that the heal is flat or and round.

  • Needle condition before using

Before using it, you need to ensure that its top is very sharp. A dull, bent or crooked needle is very dangerous on the skin. Apart from that, dull needles don’t distribute the ink uniformly and this will have negative effect at the end of the way the tattoo looks.

  • Sterilization

They should never be reused to prevent transmission of different diseases. The best way to sterilize them (if required) is through autoclave. This method requires extreme temperatures and heat to kill any harmful living organisms like bacteria.

When buying, you should ensure they are pre-sterilized.

Pre-sterilized needles are usually packed separately and are labeled as sterile. If you are not sure about their safety or you just want to confirm whether they meet the sterilization standards, you can request the supplier to send you the sterilization certificate.

Wrap Up

Whether you are a professional tattoo artist or you are just learning, having the best tattoo needles for your work is the most important thing if you want to achieve great results.

Since there are so many, you need to be very careful when choosing since not all of them will give you the kind of results you would like to achieve.

You will also find that each type is ideal for a specific type of work. Therefore, you will need to think of the type of artwork you will be doing to ensure that you have picked the best type and size.

There you have it! It is our hope that this guide will help you to find the right tattoo needles.



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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