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As a tattoo artist, your machine is probably your most valued piece of equipment. It is, after all, the tool you use to create elaborate and beautiful works of art on skin. Think of it as your brush and your client’s skin the canvas. The right machine has the ability to take your talent and skill to the next level.
Finding the right machine, however, can be a daunting task. Not only do you have to choose between coil tattoo machines and rotary tattoo machines, but you also have to wade through brand after brand trying to figure out who makes the best tattoo machines.
Thankfully, articles like these can help narrow the field somewhat. After reading this expert’s guide on the best tattoo machines on the market, you’ll have a better idea of the top players in the industry and the best tattoo machines they have to offer.
But before we jump into that, here’s a quick summary of the types of tattoo machines available, so that we can all start on the same page.
What are Rotary tattoo machines?
Rotary tattoo machines are revolutionizing the industry. They come equipped with electric motors and are smaller, lighter, and quiet than coil tattoo machines.
You also get a lot of versatility—one machine can line, shade, and color pack. It’s recommended that beginners start with rotary tattoo guns as they’re less finicky and don’t require major adjustments to perfect the hit. Think of these machines as plug-and-tattoo.
What are Coil tattoo machines?
Coil tattoo machines need a lot more skill, especially if you attempt to adjust the machine by ear. These machines have coils that create electromagnetic energy that drives the needle up and down.
They tend to be on the heavy side, and they’re also known for the loud noise they make, as well as high vibrations. The weight, size, and vibrations can make it difficult to control the machine and to get clean, crisp lines.
But coil machines aren’t all bad.
In fact, old-school tattoo artists refuse to pick up a rotary gun; they prefer the freedom of tweaking and adjusting the coil tattoo machine until it works how they want it to. Coil traditionalists even miss the loud noise and vibrations as soon as they pick up a rotary machine.
What are pneumatic tattoo machines?
Then there’s pneumatic tattoo machines. They’re fairly new on the market and the most expensive option out of all the types of tattoo machines. That being said, they are highly effective.
They work with compressed air that moves the needle up and down. If you do have the budget to buy this type of tattoo machine, you should go for it! However, since it is so costly and not considered a widespread choice, we will cover them in a separate article.
Okay, it’s time to narrow it all down to the four best tattoo machines on the market.
4 best tattoo machines in 2023 overviewTable could not be displayed.
4 best tattoo machines in 2023
1. Bronc Pen: Long-Running Tattoo Machine
This tattoo pen will set you back over $200, but it will be worth every cent. If you spend the better part of your day tattooing, then you should consider investing in the Bronc pen.
It can run for long periods at a time and your sanity will stay intact thanks to the tattoo pen’s no-noise technology. This machine’s versatility as a liner and shader also makes the high price-point worth it.
One of the main reasons why the Bronc comes highly recommended is its lightweight and compact design. Owning this tattoo machine opens up a world of possibility—how about becoming a travelling tattoo artist?
Of course, if you already jump from one studio to another as a guest artist, then you know how frustrating it can get to lug around a huge tattoo kit that houses a huge tattoo gun and all its bits and bobs. With the Bronc, you have your mobility back.
Equipped with an aluminum chassis, accidental falls and bumps shouldn’t cause too much damage. More good news for tattoo artists who plan on putting this tattoo machine through its paces on the regular.
When it comes to the inner workings of the Bronc tattoo pen, it is driven by a multi-faceted motor of Swiss origin. It’s powerful and efficient and doesn’t display any surge-centric issues when tested on the different power supply modes.
Included with the pen you get a machine tray and O-rings of various sizes. This makes it possible for you to modify the speed of the machine to meet your requirements.
Why invest in the Bronc pen?
- It’s super lightweight and portable.
- It doubles as a liner and shader.
- It runs for a long time without getting hot.
- It makes no noise and has no vibrations.
2. Cheyenne Hawk Pen: Premium Option in Tattoo Machines
The brand Cheyenne needs no introduction. This Berlin-based manufacturer has been at the forefront of tattoo machine innovation since 2006. It was with the Cheyenne Hawk series that they revolutionized the rotary machine market.
Yes, the price point of this tattoo pen might not work for some budgets, but the control, accuracy, and comfort offered by the Hawk pen are unmatched.
Apart from that, the absence of any vibration and noise is impressive and music to our (and your) ears. You don’t have to pollute the peaceful atmosphere of your premium tattoo shop with buzzing but can instead focus on creating art in peace and quiet
As with all other Cheyenne tattoo machines, you can expect solid performance. The Hawk tattoo pen has a 3.5mm stroke that is perfect for filling and shading. But don’t put any limitations on this tattoo machine; the voltage regulation support makes the Hawk pen multipurpose.
The Cheyenne Hawk pen is most definitely worth the money. It is perfect for a busy tattoo artist who can recoup their investment quickly.
Why splurge on the Cheyenne Hawk pen?
- It’s easy to use.
- It is multipurpose.
- It is light.
- It is noise and vibration-free.
3. Stigma Hyper V3: Most Cost-Effective Tattoo Machine
If you want to take away some of the pain that goes with getting tattoos, then the Stigma Hyper V3 is the tattoo machine for you. This machine comes with a rare feature: an adjustable needle stabilizer. Take this innovation and pair it with rotary technology, and you have a machine that doesn’t rupture the skin as much as other machines do. Return customers guaranteed, don’t you think?
When Stigma says this is one of the softest tattoo machines on the market, you best believe them. Tattoo artists the world over have tested their claims and they wholeheartedly agree. The fact that the Swiss motor allows you to adjust the machine’s stroke depth and lining capabilities also contribute to its gentleness.
If we compare this Stigma Hyper V3 to the Bronc and Cheyenne Hawk, we get the same commercial presence but in a tattoo kit format that makes sense for beginners.
Although this tattoo machine has a durable aluminum alloy body, it does have a lot of plastic parts which might make it look flimsy. Still, how it performs makes up for any design flaws.
Why buy the Stigma Hyper V3?
- It’s gentle on the skin.
- It has an adjustable needle stabilizer.
- It’s versatile.
- It’s beginner friendly.
4. Redscorpion Liner: Best Tattoo Liner
I felt it was a good idea to throw a tattoo liner into the mix of best tattoo machines since owning a quality liner can make or break any tattoo design. The Redscorpion’s accuracy is unmatched and that is why it is a great investment to make.
Another reason why it made it onto the list was its ability to run for up to eight hours without overheating. That is unheard of when it comes to coil tattoo machines.
This machine is also easier to use compared to other coil tattoo guns due to its light weight. Considering this, it can be seen as a beginner-friendly option as far as coil tattoo machines go.
Other than that, this tattoo liner has a cast-iron chassis that speaks to its durability.
Why choose the Redscoprion liner?
- It has excellent accuracy.
- It doesn’t overheat.
- Easy to use and beginner-friendly.
The tattoo machines on this list each cater to a specific type of tattoo artist. Only you will know which machine suits your needs best but one thing is sure, it doesn’t matter which one you choose, they’re the best of the best tattoo machines on the market.
These machines are made to be your go-to tattoo machine. They’re manufactured with only the best materials by brands that strive for innovation and tattoo perfection.
When buying a tattoo machine, do your research. If you’re a beginner, a tattoo gun that forms part of a tattoo kit will work just fine. However, if you’re a tattoo professional who spends eight or more hours a day putting ink on skin, then you will need to up your game and invest in a top-of-the-range tattoo gun.
Durability, precision, quality, and innovation are words you should think of when shopping around for the best tattoo machine on the market.