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As a tattoo artist, your machine is the most essential piece of equipment you need so it makes sense that you’ll want to select the right one. When it comes to rotary tattoo machines, you’ll have a wide range to choose from. To help you, we asked tattoo artists what they think the best rotary tattoo machine in 2023 is.
These industry experts shared with us which machines you should spend your money on. Remember, we’re talking about the tool of your trade here—something you’ll have to work with for hours on end. For this reason, buying the best rotary tattoo machine you can is vitally important if you want to do quality work without any mechanical hassles.
But before we jump into the top rotary tattoo machines and their reviews, let’s discuss the question on everyone’s lips: Are rotary tattoo machines better than their coil cousins?
Rotary Versus Coil Machines
There are three main reasons why some tattoo artists believe a rotary tattoo machine is superior.
- It’s lightweight and easy to handle. Add to that the fact that it doesn’t vibrate and you can comfortably tattoo for hours.
- A rotary tattoo machine doesn’t require constant adjustment. You can also use it for both lining and shading.
- These kinds of machines do less damage to the skin. This means tattoos hurt less and heals faster.
In the end, what matters most is what machine is better for your art. Some enjoy working with coil tattoo machines more and if that is the case, then by all means use it to follow your passion.
Of course, you’ll never know which kind of machine you like most if you don’t try both kinds out first. If you do happen to find that you have more control with a rotary tattoo machine, here is a list of the 5 best rotary tattoo machines in 2023.
1. Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine: Best for Shading and Coloring
If you’re looking for a machine that excels at shading and coloring, then look no further. The Dragonhawk Rotary Tattoo Machine is one of the best available. Not only is it versatile and reliable, but it also has a very affordable price tag.
With its lightweight and ergonomic design, you don’t have to worry about a painful wrist or hand at the end of a long day of tattooing. Made from high-quality materials, this versatile rotary machine is ready for any task—color-packing, shading, and even for heavy inking like blackout tattoos.
Some other notable features include adjustable needle depth, which makes delicate shading a breeze. Furthermore, the speed setting ensures precision time and time again.
It’s worth mentioning that the spring doesn’t last very long. On the flip side, they do send a spare in the box.
- Ergonomic design
- Virtually weightless
- Varying voltage levels
- Not as durable
2. Cheyenne Hawk Pen Style Sol Nova: Top of The Range
This is the big-daddy of rotary tattoo machines. Not only does it come jam-packed with a lot of neat features, but it’s also powered by rechargeable batteries. This means you’ll be able to tattoo no matter what and there won’t be any cords in your way! Of course, you can expect to pay a pretty penny for all these elements. The Cheyenne Hawk Pen Style Sol Nova is the most expensive rotary machine on our list.
Not sure that you want to spend so much? Here are a few more reasons why saving up for this machine is worth it.
Its ergonomic design means you’ll hardly feel its weight in your hand and you’ll be able to tattoo for longer stretches at a time. Whatsmore, its pen-style form makes it easy to travel with. The Cheyenne is carefully crafted with all the features you need to practice your craft.
In fact, it may just become one of your favorites after you experience its solid performance.
Equipped with a steady mode and active and responsive modes, you’ll be able to produce your best work yet.
Also, if you owned the previous model, you’ll know that it only offered black ink. Well, the Sol Nova offers six colors plus multiple line options making this rotary machine truly all you need to tattoo your clients.
- Solid design
- Limited vibrations
- Motor is tough and quiet at the same time
- Somewhat awkward to set up
3. Stigma Premium Quality Rotary Tattoo Machine Pen: Best Value
This rotary tattoo machine packs a punch for its lightweight design. It’s excellent for color packing and lining but what gives it an extra edge is that it is battery operated, which gives you more freedom when you’re tattooing. Compared to number two on our list, which is also battery-operated, the Stigma rotary tattoo machine is much more affordable. Of course, the price drop does affect some of the quality—the inner charging port isn’t as sturdy as we’d like it to be. That being said, the other features of this machine make up for any defects.
The battery lasts for between seven and eight hours without missing a hit. When you do have to charge your Stigma, you won’t have to wait for too long—it charges at more than a percent per minute! The display shows voltage, remaining power, and boot time. You can easily adjust the voltage by pressing the plus or minus on the screen.
All in all, this machine is of phenomenal value.
- Sturdy frame
- Stable during use
- Minimal vibration
- Good looking
- Not suitable for inexperienced artist
4. FK Iron Spektra Xion Tattoo Machine: Autoclave Safe
If you’re someone who likes minimalist design, then the FK Iron Spektra Tattoo Machine is for you. This rotary machine is no-fuss when it comes to its looks but its heavy-duty build is impressive. Add to that the fact that its grip is autoclave safe and you may not be too bothered that the price is a little on the high side.
When it comes to its mechanics, you won’t be disappointed. It has an adjustable stroke length, which means crisp and flawless lines are a given with this rotary tattoo machine. It lines 14rl like a boss, color-packs like a dream, and can saturate even the toughest of colors. Shading? You can expect smoothness like you’ve never seen before. This machine is an all-rounder that will take your craft to the next level.
Whatsmore, it comes in 11 different colors for those who like their tattoo machine to make a statement—you can choose anything from bubblegum right through to tangerine.
- Compatible with other brands’ items
- Powerful and consistent
- No need for lubrication
- Not suitable for newbie tattoo artists
5. YILONG ‘L’ Rotary Tattoo Machine: Most Quiet
If this rotary tattoo machine shows us one thing it is that affordability does not mean low quality.
This is the most reasonably-priced rotary machine on our list but it delivers the same convenience and excellent results. Not only is it one of the most versatile machines available, it’s so quiet you may even forget you’re holding a tattoo gun all together. You don’t have to sacrifice any power for its silence as it still houses a motor that operates on 6-9 volts.
Best yet, it is a liner and shader in one, which means you can perform your most loved tattoo styles and techniques using only one machine.
- Light and sturdy frame
- Compact dimensions
- Compatible with needles and cartridges of all kinds
- Super quiet
- Expensive to upgrade
As you can see, there are a lot of great rotary tattoo machines on the market. Obviously, this makes choosing one all the more difficult. To help you out, here are some tips to help make things a little easier for you.
- Prioritize quality. Do your research and find out which machines have the most durable motors. In general, Swiss motors have been proven to be the best time and time again.
- Choose a machine that fits your handling preferences. Remember, you’re going to work with this machine a lot; if it doesn’t feel comfortable to work with, you’ll soon be looking to buy another variety.
- Don’t be fooled by product marketing. You want to know what the professionals have to say, not the company that sells the machine. So, read peer-written reviews to make sure you don’t fall for marketing tricks.
There you have it: The top five best rotary tattoo machines in 2023! Time to get your hands on one to start decorating some skin!