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Best Rotary Tattoo Machines: For Lining, Shading, and Color Packing

by  Kin Liu -  Last updated on June 7, 2021
Best Rotary Tattoo Machines

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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 in your search for the best rotary tattoo machine you can read our reviews about products that are great 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.

Quick Comparison

If you don’t want to read the full article then check out our favorite products in the table below.

20 Best Rotary Tattoo Machines in 2021

1. Bishop Authentic Rotary Tattoo Machine

If you are in the market for the best 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 for hours of working without getting tired. It has a DC power source and an RCA cord connection

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 voltage settings is 7.5-8.5 volts for shading and color packing or 8-9 volts for the lining. And this machine is so gentle on skin that your clients will love it and they’ll heal faster.

2. 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. These rotary machines are of high quality ad we feel this is one of the best rotary tattoo machines out there.

3. 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. This low maintenance tattoo machine 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, and is one of the best rotary tattoo machines you can get your hand on.

The stroke length is 3 mm, and the machine is compatible with traditional tattoo needles.

4. 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 tattoo 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.

5. 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 tattoo pen. It comes with two rechargeable batteries so that you can use one while the other is charging. We feel this is one of the best rotary tattoo machine kit out there.

The rotary tattoo pen itself weighs just 2 ounces. It will use 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. This is considered one of the best tattoo machines available out there and when it comes to best rotary tattoo machines, this surely tops the list.

6. Cheyenne Hawk Tattoo Pen

The Cheyenne Hawk tattoo pen rotary tattoo machine is finely-crafted and light. 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). It comes with a Powerful motor with an advanced gear system and a Needle bar (plunger) is 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.

7. 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 makes it easy to make any adjustments.

On the downside, it doesn’t come with a foot pedal, but you can purchase one separately and it comes with a low noise operation.

The voltage output is between five to twelve. And it’s covered by a twenty-four-month warranty.

8. Ego Rotary Tattoo Machine Switch Pen Style Machine

Ego’s tattoo machine was designed by the famous tattoo artist Bez of England. It’s very light 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.

9. Dragonfly Authentic X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine

The Dragonfly was designed 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.

10. 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.

11. FK Irons Spectra Xion Tattoo Machine

FK 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 and it comes with a needle bar. These rotary have really good customer reviews and ratings.

12. 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.

13. 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!

14. Dragonhawk Mast Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine 1013-10

DragonHawk mast 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 tattoo artist who inked David Beckham and LeBron James.

Along with the pen, you’ll also get the digital power supply.

The dragonhawk atom rotary pen tattoo 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. Since it is a rotary pen tattoo machine, it is really to use and it has an actual rotary tattoo pen feel to it.

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.

15. Dragonhawk Rotary Tattoo Machine for Tattoo Artists Coloring

The DragonHawk packs color and shades well, but it’s also great for lining and shading. 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.

16. Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine

The Extreme machine weighs a little more (6.17 ounces) because it’s made from carbon steel, not aluminum. This machine comes with a 5mm stroke length and0 is excellent for shading, color packing, and lining. Many Artists who have used it for heavy black filling find it easier to use than pricier machines. This rotary machine makes a good case for their ease of use and consistency

It comes with a clip cord connection and needs between 7.5 and 9 V to operate.

17. YILONG ‘L’ Rotary Tattoo Machine Tattoo Gun Tattoo Liner Shader Gun

You may notice that this rotary tattoo machine resembles a well-known brand. This tattoo gun 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. Apparently, people feel they have terrible customer service.

18. 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.

19. 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 needle, the stroke length from 2.5-4.2 mm and it’s compatible with standard and cartridge needles.

The Japanese coreless motor supports lining and 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.

20. 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 on the skin.

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.

What’s the Difference Between Rotary Tattoo Machines and A Coil Tattoo Machine?

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 tattoo machine solely for lining and another for shading.

But rotary tattoo machines can line and shade. Rotary tattoo machines are lightweight, and some have a pen-like shape that’s very easy to hold and control.

Rotary tattoo machines 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.

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 professional tattoo 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.

Related Reading: How Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Work?

Conclusion

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 the best rotary tattoo machine that will benefit yourself and your clients. You won’t have to deal with the 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 machine reviews you’ve enjoyed reading. Please leave us a comment below.

Resources:

1. https://www.tattoo.com/blog/tattoo-machines-coil-or-rotary/ by MaciekV7,

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