Once you find the type of tattoo machine that suits your style of art, you’ll probably stick with it.
But we hope you become familiar with both of the main types: coil and rotary.
Today we’ll review the best rotary tattoo machines. They’re ideal for lining, shading, and color packing.
Our goal is to help you find one that suits your style and meet your needs as an artist.
- What’s the Difference Between Rotary Tattoo Machines and Coil?
- What Brand of Rotary Tattoo Machine Is Best?
- Bishop Authentic Rotary Tattoo Machine
- Bishop Micro Angelo Rotary Tattoo Machine
- STIGMA Professional Rotary Slider M625-4
- Stigma Complete Tattoo Kit MK648
- Stigma Tattoo Kit Rotary Tattoo Machine Pen EM125KITPRB20-8-US
- Cheyenne Hawk Pen
- Cheyenne Hawk Authentic Tattoo Power Supply PU
- Ego Rotary Tattoo Machine Switch Pen Style Machine
- Dragonfly Authentic X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine
- Solong Tattoo Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine & Permanent Makeup Pen EM108-1
- FK Irons Spectra Xion Tattoo Machine
- Rogue Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine
- Redscorpion Rotary Tattoo Machine Gun for Liner and Shader
- Dragonhawk Mast Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine 1013-10
- Dragonhawk Rotary Tattoo Machine for Tattoo Artists Coloring
- Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine
- YILONG ‘L’ Rotary Tattoo Machine Tattoo Gun Tattoo Liner Shader Gun
- Dragonhawk Raven Rotary Tattoo Machine Q555
- Dragonhawk Extreme X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine Brass Frame
- Gabes Pen Style Rotary Tattoo Machine
What’s the Difference Between Rotary Tattoo Machines and Coil?
First, artists recommend having at least two tattoo machines on hand in the studio, whether you have two of one type or one of each kind.
Next, coil tattoo machines are louder, usually heavier, and they vibrate or buzz. This vibration tires hands and arms. Their hammer-like action tends to be more painful than the smooth action of a rotary machine.
Moreover, usually, you’ll need one coil machine solely for lining and another for shading.
But rotary tattoo machines can line and shade. They are lightweight, and some have a pen-like shape that’s very easy to hold and control.
Their quiet operation has a smooth needle movement that stings less than a coil machine.
In either case, when you’re drawing lines, you’ll want a short stroke machine. For shading, you’ll need longer strokes. Or get a rotary machine with interchangeable strokers that can do both types of work (1).
What Brand of Rotary Tattoo Machine Is Best?
Asking which brand of rotary tattoo machine is best is like asking which brand of car is best. The problem is that it depends on personal preference, not just the quality of the machine.
If you’re just beginning to learn about tattooing, the best rotary tattoo machines for beginners cost less than $100. Many decent models cost under $50.
Experienced artists, on the other hand, might pay $400 and up for a rotary tattoo machine.
As you shop, don’t look at the price tag until you’ve looked at the specifications.
Now let’s look at the top rotary tattoo machines, so you get a feel for what you want.
Bishop Authentic Rotary Tattoo Machine
If you are in the market for a premium rotary tattoo machine, consider this one.
Bishop assembles and polishes each machine by hand. They use aircraft aluminum and Swiss MAXON motors for maximum durability. In fact, they offer a lifetime guarantee.
Another highlight is that this tattoo machine weighs under a quarter of a pound – just 3.8 ounces. It runs so quietly and smoothly that you can work for hours without getting tired.
Instead of using a rubber band to put force on the needle, this design has a needle clip so that the needle doesn’t move sideways at all. In other words, this is the perfect rotary tattoo machine for inking precision details.
The recommended settings are 7.5-8.5 volts for shading and color packing, or 8-9 volts for lining. And this machine is so gentle that your clients will love it and they’ll heal faster.
Bishop Micro Angelo Rotary Tattoo Machine
Another offering from Bishop is the Microangelo with interchangeable 3.5 mm and 4.2 mm magnetic cams. It’s one of the best direct drive rotary tattoo machines in the world.
Like the machine above, it’s crafted from aircraft aluminum with a Swiss MAXON motor. It’s suitable for both shading and lining work.
STIGMA Professional Rotary Slider M625-4
If you peeked at the price tag on the two guns above, you soon realized that they’re professional-grade. But pros and beginners alike appreciate the Stigma M625-4. It comes in a kit with adjustment tools and a power cable.
The body of the machine is made of CNC-machined zinc and aluminum alloy. It weighs just under half a pound. Also, you can choose from four different colors.
The stroke length is 3 mm, and the machine is compatible with traditional tattoo needles.
Stigma Complete Tattoo Kit MK648
Stigma’s MK648 kit is a budget option for the budding tattoo artist. It includes a rotary tattoo machine with a 10 W motor, twenty needles in assorted sizes, disposable silicon grips, practice accessories, and five inks.
The frame of the machine is CNC-machined from aircraft aluminum alloy. The tattoo machine is CE-certified and comes with a one-year warranty.
Stigma Tattoo Kit Rotary Tattoo Machine Pen EM125KITPRB20-8-US
Enjoy freedom of motion with a cordless rotary tattoo machine. This kit from Stigma includes a battery-powered pen. It comes with two rechargeable batteries so that you can use one while the other is charging.
The pen itself weighs just 2 ounces. It provides between 4.5 and 10.5 V. There are five power settings to choose from with an LED indicator that confirms the level you’re using.
On a full charge, it runs between three to six hours, depending on the setting.
The pen is made from aluminum with a Japanese motor. Additionally, the kit includes pre-sterilized cartridge needles and grip tape.
Cheyenne Hawk Pen
The Cheyenne Hawk rotary tattoo machine is finely-crafted and lightweight. This one runs on other power supplies besides its own brand and comes with a power cable. The machine works with either a 21 mm or a 25 mm grip (included).
The stroke length is 3.5 mm. Just use the Cheyenne cartridge system with it. The company recommends their own cartridges just because knockoffs may leak and wreck your machine.
Cheyenne Hawk Authentic Tattoo Power Supply PU
Even though you can run the Cheyenne Hawk on other brands of power supply, this is the official unit. It has a digital readout for quick and easy adjustments.
On the downside, it doesn’t come with a foot pedal, but you can purchase one separately.
It outputs between five to twelve volts. And it’s covered by a twenty-four-month warranty.
Ego Rotary Tattoo Machine Switch Pen Style Machine
Ego’s tattoo machine was created by the famous tattoo artist Bez of England. It’s very lightweight and well-balanced, so it feels like an actual pen in the hand. You also won’t need a foot pedal to control it as it has a built-in on/off switch.
It comes with a DragonHawk power supply with continuous output that’s a perfect match for this machine.
Use this rotary tattoo machine for black and gray realistic designs, shading, color packing, lining, and fine dot work. It’s compatible with most brands and all sizes of cartridges on the market.
Dragonfly Authentic X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine
The Dragonfly is made by a Swedish company called Ink Machines. It has a Swiss X2 motor that’s very efficient and quiet.
It’s compatible with all types of standard and cartridge needles, and it has adjustable stroke lengths. Set it for 2.6, 3.7, or 4.5mm with the turn of a screw and a pin.
Also, choose from one of five colors like Demonic Blue or Seductive Pink.
Solong Tattoo Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine & Permanent Makeup Pen EM108-1
Solong Tattoo makes budget-friendly tattoo machines that offer a lot of bang for the buck. This pen does body art and permanent cosmetics, too. It’s easy to switch from inking a tat to tattooing an eyebrow.
It has a machined aluminum body that doesn’t get hot in your hand. Plus, it’s compatible with pretty much any power supply with 7-12V.
The only downside is the fixed stroke length of 3.5mm.
FK Irons Spectra Xion Tattoo Machine
FK (Fallen Kings) Irons started small with a couple of artists who began making machines for friends. Now they’re used worldwide.
The Spektra Xion stands out for its pen style and adjustable stroke depth. It comes with 3.5 and 3.7mm and stroke wheels.
It’s available in eight colors and comes with an adjustable grip that fits all needles.
Rogue Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine
Are you looking for an inexpensive pen rotary machine?
The Rogue Pen has adjustable needle depth that’s handy for shading. It only takes a twist of the grip to alter the length.
It works with all brands of cartridge needles and comes with a power cord and a 90-day warranty. Furthermore, it weighs just 4.3 ounces.
Redscorpion Rotary Tattoo Machine Gun for Liner and Shader
RedScorpion built this machine with CNC-machined aluminum alloy and a Japanese motor for energy efficiency. It requires just 3.5-5 volts and has a stroke length of 3.5mm.
It comes with a grip, a power cord, and two needle cartridges. Even with the grip onboard, it weighs only 3.53 ounces.
The manufacturer offers a 3-month warranty. But they warn that the expected lifetime of this pen is about one year–not bad considering the budget price!
Dragonhawk Mast Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine 1013-10
DragonHawk is best known for two things: their machines are reasonably priced, and they have Gabe Shum promoting their products. In case you’ve been off the grid for a couple of decades, Gabe is the artist who inked David Beckham and LeBron James.
Along with the pen, you’ll also get the digital power supply.
The machine itself is made of aluminum and has a Japanese motor. One of its main attractions is that the stroke length changes from 2.8 to 3.5mm. It’s compatible with all types of cartridge needles.
One user reported that it’s quick and easy to use and adjust, so they prefer it to other more expensive rotary machines they own.
Dragonhawk Rotary Tattoo Machine for Tattoo Artists Coloring
The DragonHawk packs color and shades well, but it’s also good for lining. It weighs 4.15 ounces as it’s made of “space aluminum.”
The stroke length is fixed at 3.5 mm. While you’re shading, run it between 8 to 10 V. But for lining it only needs 7-8.5 volts.
The company offers a satisfaction guarantee with the promise of a refund if you’re not happy.
Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine
The Extreme machine weighs a little more (6.17 ounces) because it’s made from carbon steel, not aluminum. It’s excellent for shading, color packing, and lining. Artists who have used it for heavy black filling find it easier to use than pricier machines.
It comes with a clip cord connection and needs between 7.5 and 9 V to operate.
YILONG ‘L’ Rotary Tattoo Machine Tattoo Gun Tattoo Liner Shader Gun
You may notice that this rotary tattoo machine resembles a well-known brand. It weighs about 4 ounces, and it’s made from space aluminum. You’ll need a power supply capable of 6-9 volts.
The package includes the pen, the cord, and one needle cartridge. Users say it lines and shades well.
Dragonhawk Raven Rotary Tattoo Machine Q555
The Raven is partially made of injection-molded scratch-resistant ABS plastic. That fact reduces its weight down to 3.1 ounces. But it also has a stainless steel grip.
Tattoo artists like this one for lining and packing in difficult places like on the face. It causes very little trauma and works quickly.
The machine is compatible with both traditional needles and cartridges. Its precision is partially because you don’t need to hold the needle in place with a rubber band. It has a clip to prevent lateral movement.
Dragonhawk Extreme X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine Brass Frame
Are you a fan of steam punk? Then take a look at this one that’s machined from a solid block of pure brass. Surprisingly, it weighs only 4.76 ounces.
You can adjust the stroke length from 2.5-4.2 mm and it’s compatible with standard and cartridge needles.
The Japanese coreless motor supports lining, shading, and color packing but without using a lot of power or stalling.
Another feature that artists love is the one-touch hit adjuster. Rotate the knob to change the settings– no tools needed.
Gabes Pen Style Rotary Tattoo Machine
Gabe Shum had a hand in designing this rotary tattoo machine pen. Turn the dial to adjust the stroke length between 3.2 and 3.7 mm and soft to hard. In other words, it’s user-friendly, versatile, and gentle.
You can plug this one into any standard tattoo power supply. It only needs a maximum of 9.5 volts.
It’s also compatible with all needle types.
We recommend that all beginning tattoo artists experience both coil and rotary tattoo machines to get a feel for which one best fits their style of art.
Choose a rotary tattoo machine, and you’ll benefit yourself and your clients. You won’t have to deal with vibration that tires out your hand. Your client will experience less pain and less time in the chair.
We’d love to know which of these rotary tattoo machines you’ve enjoyed using. Please leave us a comment below.
1. https://www.tattoo.com/blog/tattoo-machines-coil-or-rotary/ by MaciekV7, published 12 March 2013, accessed 13 June 2019