Best.tattoo is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.
The rotary tattoo machine is the all-rounder option when it comes to tattoo machines. In pen form, these machines caused a shift in the industry. Tattoo artists couldn’t—and still can’t—help to give these easy-to-handle, lightweight, and quiet machines a go.
Many tattoo artists who are just starting out pick up pen tattoo machines as their first tattoo gun and never look back. They line, shade, colour pack, you name it without needing to tinker too much to change between the modes.
The fact of the matter is as a tattoo artist who wants to create magic, you need to use the best of the best, especially when it comes to your main tool of the trade: the tattoo machine.
Finding the best pen tattoo machine, however, is not as straightforward as you imagine. The market is flooded with options—not all equal by any means.
Before we answer what is the best tattoo pen according to the experts, here are some things to look for to make an informed decision.
Rotary Gun vs Pen
We’re not even going to discuss whether coil tattoo machines or rotary-operated machines are the best—that’s a battle for another day. However, you may be wondering what the difference is between a rotary tattoo gun and a tattoo pen.
Essentially, a tattoo pen is a rotary tattoo machine. The main differences between a normal rotary and a pen are the weight, shape and size, and freedom you get from using a pen-style machine. For example, if you travel a lot, a tattoo pen machine is an excellent choice since it is compact and versatile.
When you choose tattoo equipment of any kind, you should consider the brand’s reputation. This is particularly true when it comes to the tattoo machine you plan on buying. You’ll be using this machine for many hours a day and you want to know that you bought a reliable tattoo pen machine that was manufactured with durability in mind. FK Irons, Dragonhawk, and Cheyenne are three of the brands you can trust.
When it comes to high-quality machines that perform consistently, you may decide against buying a pen-style machine and opt for a coil machine instead since the price difference is significant. But you don’t have to give up your tattoo pen machine dreams—there are options on the market that won’t cost you an arm and a leg and offer the operational efficiency you need to create brilliant tattoos.
This brings us to the best tattoo pen machines on the market today according to the experts.
6 Best Tattoo Pen Machines OverviewTable could not be displayed.
6 Best Tattoo Pen Machines Reviewed
1. Bronc Pen: Longest Running
This tattoo pen is a long-term investment. It is one of the more expensive machines on the list with a price point of just over $200. But you’ll soon discover why this is one of the best tattoo pen machines on the market and totally worth the money.
The fact that it runs for longer than other options on the market is top on the list of reasons the Bronc stands out. Add to that the fact that it operates with no noise and it won’t take much more to convince serious tattoo artists to invest in this tattoo pen.
It has a lightweight and compact design, which gives you the freedom to travel around with your machine. This makes it easier for you to work in a different studio when you need to without having to move around a heavy kit.
The Bronc tattoo pen has an aluminum chassis, which means you don’t have to worry about accidental falls and bumps leaving visible damage.
Why splurge on this tattoo pen?
- It’s lightweight and portable.
- It’s versatile and acts as a liner and shader.
- It is noiseless.
- It’s long-running.
2. Dragonhawk Mast Pen Machine: Best Pen Tattoo Machine for Beginners
If it is your dream to do tattoos professionally, there’s no doubt that you’re an artist who likes to draw with pen on paper. The great thing about the Dragonhawk Mast Pen Machine is that it will make your transition pen to tattoo pen seamless. It feels almost exactly like holding an actual pen thanks to its lightweight build—no more than 120 grams.
Another reason why it made the list of best tattoo pen machines is its curved end. This makes it super easy to move the machine around intricate twists and turns all the while keeping a solid line. It also has a clear tip to help you see where you’re moving.
We realize that the tattoo pen machine’s small size may raise concerns about its power. We can put your mind at ease; you don’t have to worry. The motor is reliable and you can expect consistent output.
This tattoo pen machine has a low noise level and won’t vibrate your hand into a state of fatigue in a matter of minutes. This means you can comfortably tattoo for long periods at a time.
Why choose the Dragonhawk Mast Pen Machine?
- It’s great if you’re a beginner.
- It feels like you’re holding a pen.
- It’s versatile and can be used as a liner, shader, and color-packer.
- It comes with a lot of power while still being vertically noiseless and vibration-free.
3. Stigma Tattoo Machine Kit Rotary Tattoo Machine Pen: Overall Top Pick
Created by a tattoo artist for tattoo artists, you can expect a machine that is jam-packed with awesome features. In fact, for a machine this small, it is hard to imagine how it can do everything it does.
One of the ‘wow’ features of this tattoo pen machine is the ease of adjusting between lining and shading—at the turn of a dial. It gives you complete control over the hit of the machine and you can manipulate it in a stress-free, no-fuss manner.
We do suggest you unplug the tattoo pen from the power supply before adjusting the dial just to make sure you don’t crack the RCA connector.
It has a compact build but the Stigma Spear is a little on the heavy side for beginner tattoo artists but it makes a lot of sense for professionals who honed their skill over the years. Other than that, it is durable and one of the more good-looking tattoo pens on the market with its sleek and minimalist design.
This tattoo pen machine is compatible with a diverse mix of cartridge needles, so you won’t have to search far and wide to replenish your needle stock.
Why is the Stigma Spear the best choice?
- It has a durable build.
- You can use various cartridge needles with it.
- It has an easy-to-use dial to adjust between lining and shading.
4. Dragonhawk Atom: Best Power to Price Ratio
If you’re looking for exceptional value for money, then look no further. This tattoo pen machine is one of the best to invest in. It weighs in at only 135 grams but you won’t have to sacrifice durability to accommodate this small size.
It has an RCA connector which means you can pair it with any power supply without having to worry about connectivity limitations. When it comes to power output, you can expect solid performance thanks to an insanely powerful motor. This tattoo pen machine also boasts an advanced gear system, which makes tattooing for longer sessions a reality. Pair that with a unibody chassis that limits vibrations and the only thing that will interfere with your tattoo time is your own fatigue.
All in all the Dragonhawk Atom pairs power with affordability. Now, if that isn’t a winning combination then we don’t know what is!
Why make this pen tattoo machine part of your kit?
- It comes with RCA connections.
- It has a maximum voltage of 15V, which makes it great as a liner but a powerful shader, as well.
- It’s affordable.
- It’s compatible with all types of needle cartridges.
5. Big Wasp Cartridge Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine: Most Reliable
The Big Wasp has a decent operating range, as well as a max stroke length of 5mm. This means you can adjust it to match whichever tattooing style you plan on doing the day.
It’s quick to assemble and making adjustments throughout the tattoo session is easy and hassle-free. The Big Wasp has a Japan motor and comes equipped with a swash pallet that keeps the needle drive bar flexible and mobile, assuring greater control and better performance.
The various features that come with this machine mean one thing: reliability. In fact, the manufacturer is so confident about their product, they offer a lifetime warranty on this rotary pen tattoo machine’s parts.
Why go with Big Wasp?
- You get a lifetime warranty on body parts.
- It’s a versatile machine known for its color packing.
- It’s gentle on the skin.
- It’s noise-free.
6. FK Irons Spektra Edge X Tattoo Machine: High-End Option
This is by far the most expensive tattoo pen machine on our list—it costs more than double the price of the Bronc. One of the reasons for this high price tag is the brand. FK Irons is known for its high-quality, robust, and durable tattoo machines.
What further stands out about the Spektra is its tip indentation that facilitates speedier ink saturation. You can also pair this pen tattoo machine with various power supply units, which gives you the freedom to pair components you like together.
As expected, it operates noise-free and vibrations are basically non-existent.
Furthermore, if you’re new to tattoo pens, you can rest easy. The Spektra comes with an exhaustive information guide that will help you assemble and use your new pen tattoo machine.
Why is the FK Irons Spektra Edge worth your money?
- It’s made by a trusted brand.
- Easy to use.
- Compatible with various power supply units.
- Comprehensive how-to guide included in purchase.
As a tattoo artist, the equipment you use is vitally important—you can’t get by on artistic skill only. Tattoo pen machines are perfect if you’re looking for a machine that is lightweight, compact, and precise.
The market is filled to the brim with various options. It is important that you buy a machine from a reputable and trusted brand while keeping your budget in mind. It is easy to be influenced by words like ‘high-end’ but before you spend all your money on an overly expensive tattoo pen machine, keep in mind that there are more affordable options that still offer the same top-quality performance.
This article includes tattoo pen machines that range from reasonably priced to expensive. It’s now up to you to match your needs and budget to one of these top of the range machines so that you can start inking!