You’re curious about the best tattoo machine brands.
That’s why we compiled this review about the top irons for inking and the companies that make them.
Take a few minutes to browse it and become familiar with some of the best tattoo machines for beginners and professionals.
But first, let’s discuss how to pick the best tattoo machines regardless of brands.
- How to Choose the Best Tattoo Machine for Yourself
- Baltimore Street Irons
- Borg Design
- CTPS Saveria
- EGO Tattoo
- FK (Fallen King) Irons
- Hildbrandt Tattoo
- Ink Machines
How to Choose the Best Tattoo Machine for Yourself
There are lots of tattoo machines on the market. You’ll find as many rave reviews about budget irons as you will about premium ones. So how can you narrow it down?
- First, you really need to consider the size and shape of the tattoo machine.
You’re going to be holding it for hours on end. If it’s awkward or heavy, it’s going to impact your art negatively.
It’s ideal if you can hold the iron before you buy it. Of course, that’s not always possible when you shop online. Therefore, pay attention to the specifications like weight and size.
- Second, remember that you need different tattoo machines for different tasks, or you need the ability to make adjustments on the iron (1).
Coil machines are generally for either lining or shading, not both.
Meanwhile, rotary machines may serve both purposes, especially if you can adjust the stroke length.
- Third, it’s never a bad idea to buy better quality material.
Premium irons are made of durable materials and come with a decent warranty. Ask which machines experienced artists use and how well those machines hold up in the studio.
- Fourth, and most important, get the tattoo machine that suits your personal style.
We’re not talking about what it looks like, although we can appreciate that this matters to a lot of people.
What we mean is that you’re going to have to experiment with a variety of tattoo irons to find the ones that match the way you ink.
Okay, here are the reviews of the top tattoo machine brands in alphabetical order. We hope they help you find the best tools for your trade.
Baltimore Street Irons
Baltimore Street Irons is an American company that started in 2007. It was established by the artist “Trey” Charles Freeland.
Trey began crafting handmade tattoo machines in the late 1990s. And his business today continues to handcraft custom machines from bronze, steel, and cast iron.
One of the high points is that they personally test each product they make.
Modified Walker Tattoo Machine — Baltimore Street Irons
The Modified Walker is a liner machine that runs a little slow on purpose. The lower speed allows for greater control.
The hardware is brass on a silver-brazed steel frame. Everything is hand-polished and oil-dipped, down to the wingnut rear binder and thumbscrew.
Also, the feeler gauge screw is hand-cut from one piece of metal.
Bishop was started by veteran tattoo artist Franco Vescovi in 2008. Their machines are made in the USA and backed by a 1-year warranty. They do their own in-house repairs if something goes wrong with your gun.
Bishop machines feature Swiss motors, German bearings, and aircraft aluminum frames.
Bishop Authentic Rotary Tattoo Machine
This is one of the best examples of a premium rotary tattoo machine. It weighs only 3.8 ounces and runs super quietly and smoothly.
Not only will you appreciate it, but your clients will be glad you’re using this machine. It’s positively delicate on the skin so that they heal faster.
It’s hand-assembled and polished from a Swiss Maxon motor and aircraft aluminum.
Moreover, it’s extra precise because of the needle clip. Instead of looking a rubber band over the top to hold the needle, there’s a clip that ensures that there is no lateral movement.
As for the appropriate power supply, you’ll need 7.5-8.5 V for shading and packing color. Then, between 8-9 V is best for lining.
Bishop Micro Angelo Rotary Tattoo Machine
We can’t skip mentioning the Bishop 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.
The frame is hand-crafted from aircraft aluminum, and it sports a Swiss MAXON motor. It’s suitable for both shading and lining work.
Borg Design is based in Hudson, Massachusetts. They make both coil and rotary tattoo machines from aluminum and steel.
But here’s the kicker: they only sell to professional artists. If you buy directly from the company, you have to show credentials.
But pros love Borg tattoo machines because they are balanced and lightweight. They hand-make coils and mill their own frames.
Even better, they can hand-tune a tattoo machine to your needs. They can set liners to run slower or faster or adjust them for soft shading or hard color packing.
Borg Liner Tattoo Machine with Blue Aluminum Frame
The Borg liner machine weighs 5.5 ounces and has eight handmade wrap coils with sterling silver contact screws.
It’s set up with 0.018 front and rear springs plus a 33 µF capacitor.
It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee plus a lifetime warranty on material and workmanship.
Cheyenne is a German company established in 2007. They collaborate with tattoo artists to create innovative tattoo machines and equipment.
Besides machines, they also make grips, needle cartridges in various configurations, and other accessories. This makes sense as they have experience with medical technology and place a lot of value on safety and hygiene.
For example, they invented the 1st single-use cartridges for rotary tattoo machines. And they hold the patent for the Cheyenne Safety Membrane that keeps fluids away from the machine.
Cheyenne Hawk Pen
The Cheyenne Hawk rotary tattoo machine is an industry favorite. It’s well-crafted and lightweight.
The iron can run off most power supplies and comes with its own power cable. The package also includes a 25 mm grip.
The stroke length on the pen is 3.5 mm. You’ll need to use the Cheyenne cartridge system with it.
CTPS Saveria has been building tattoo machines in Argentina for almost four decades. They make them by hand at an average of 8 hours per machine.
Have you ever heard of the Toro Loco, the side-by-side coil tattoo machine? This company made it.
They also build micro and standard liners, shaders, micro, and standard painters, and both coil and rotary tattoo machines.
LEFTY #2 RICK SAVERIAS Tattoo Machine for SHADING for Left Handers by CTPS Saveria
If you’re left-handed, you understand exactly why it matters that you have the right tattoo machine. This one is a shader with an iron frame and brass fittings. It’s handmade in Argentina.
Specifics include eight wrap long coils and a 9.5 nucleus. It’s good for up to 15 grouping needles.
Dragonhawk was founded in Hong Kong in 2001 by two tattoo artists. They registered their trademark in 2004 and built up to selling worldwide.
One of their goals is to provide inexpensive tattoo products. But they offer a 100% money-back guarantee.
Gabe Shum appears in much of their promotional literature (2).
Dragonhawk Raven Rotary Tattoo Machine Q555
The Raven weighs only 3.1 ounces because it has an injection-molded ABS plastic frame with a stainless steel grip. It’s fast and very easy to maneuver, causing little trauma to delicate skin like the face.
You can use this machine with either traditional needles or cartridges. It features a clip like that found on Bishop tattoo machines. That means you don’t need a rubber band to secure the needle.
DragonHawk Complete Tattoo Kit with 4 Machines
This is one of the best tattoo kits for beginners. It includes four coil machines: a conventional liner, a power liner, a color packer, and a soft shader.
Additionally, it comes with a digital power supply, 50 pre-sterilized needles, 10 Immortal brand tattoo inks, a carrying case, and practice skin. There are also instructional DVDs to help you learn to use the equipment.
Bez, tattoo artist from the United Kingdom (3), inspired EGO Rotary in developing a pen-style machine. Bez also designed their unique power triangle system.
These triangles are mounted on a rotary machine, but they serve a function as the front and back spring system in a coil machine. In other words, you can swap the different colored rubber triangles to configure your rotary machine for either lining or shading.
EGO Rotary products are assembled in the United Kingdom and come with a 12-month warranty.
Ego Rotary Tattoo Machine Switch Pen Style Machine
Ego’s tattoo machine pen doesn’t vibrate, and it’s very lightweight and well-balanced, so it feels like you’re drawing with a marker in your hand.
Even better, you won’t need a foot pedal to control it as it has a built-in on/off switch. Its package includes a DragonHawk power supply with continuous output.
This rotary tattoo machine is made for black and gray realistic designs, shading, color packing, lining, and dot work. Plus, it’s compatible with most brands and all sizes of cartridges on the market.
FK (Fallen King) Irons
Fallen King Irons started in the USA in 2007 when tattoo artist Gaston Siciliano built his 1st tattoo machine. He designed it to vibrate less and make less noise than the typical coil machine. It was also more comfortable to hold.
As a result, his friends demanded similar machines. The business grew worldwide from there. But the headquarters and production facility is still located in Miami, Florida.
FK Irons Spectra Xion Tattoo Machine
To purchase the Spektra Xion, you’re going to need to verify that you’re a professional or apprentice tattoo artist. (Or you’ll need to buy it from a distributor that’s not as picky about credentials.)
This pen style Rotary tattoo machine stands out for its adjustable stroke depth. It comes with 3.5 and 3.7mm and stroke wheels for quick tuning.
Choose from eight colors. The iron comes with an adjustable grip and a lifetime warranty.
Hildbrandt Tattoo Equipment is based in Richmond, British Columbia. The brothers David and Mark Hildbrandt began building tattoo machines in a garage in 2004.
The company offers a 6-month comprehensive warranty.
Hildbrandt Tattoo Kit Pro 3 Machine Gun + TKHPRO2 + Needle + Power Supply + Inks + Case
Get started on your career with this kit from Hildbrandt. It’s made to accompany training from the Teach Me to Tattoo site.
It includes a wrap liner, a wrap shader, a rotary shader, and a rotary liner.
There’s also a digital power supply that can run two machines at once.
Finally, you’ll also find a wide assortment of accessories in the box. These range from gloves, O-rings, bushings, rubber bands, a tuning key set, practice skin, aluminum grips, needles in 10 different groupings, disposable tubes, ink cups, and a cup holder, plus a carrying case.
Ink Machines is a Swedish company that develops tattoo products in conjunction with professional artists. As such, their machines are extensively tested.
The tattoo machines are made from aircraft quality aluminum with Swiss motors and Japanese bearings.
They offer a 12-month warranty for repairs. But they also offer manuals so that you can assemble and repair each machine yourself.
Dragonfly Authentic X2 Rotary Tattoo Machine
The Dragonfly is made by Ink Machines with a Swiss X2 motor that’s very efficient and quiet. It comes in five different colors.
This rotary machine is compatible with all types of standard and cartridge needles. It has adjustable stroke lengths between 2.6-3.7-4.5mm. Just turn the screw and pin.
Soolong strives to help artists make a positive impression on their clients. They offer everything from machines and kits to necessary supplies and accessories.
For example, they take into account details like how comfortable and easy their products are to use. And for artists in training, they create silica gel practice skin, which is superior to rubber or plastic.
The company tries to keep prices low and offers a 6-month warranty on their machines.
Solong Tattoo Complete Tattoo Kit TK453
The Solong Tattoo TK453 kit is notable for new tattoo artists because of the value it offers for the price.
It includes four tattoo machine guns that do either shading and lining. Each gun or iron has a distinctive look to avoid confusion.
It provides a digital power supply with foot pedal, as well as tips, grips, needles, and so on.
But if you are a creative soul, you’re going to love the fifty-four bottles of practice ink.
Stigma is a German company run by tattoo artists with two decades of experience running their own studios.
One of those founders is the Artemis Rosakis. He invented a quick way to adjust the “give” on rotary tattoo machines so that they hit harder or softer.
To maintain high quality, Stigma produces in small batches. They use German-made frames with motors from Switzerland. Each completed machine is thoroughly tested once it’s assembled.
Stigma Tattoo Kit Rotary Tattoo Machine Pen EM125KITPRB20-8-US
Give yourself more freedom of movement with a cordless rotary tattoo machine. Not only can you forget worrying about the power cord, this battery-powered pen weighs only 2 ounces.
This kit includes two rechargeable batteries. If you have a long day ahead, leave one battery on the charger, so it’s ready to use later. Each one lasts between 3 to 6 hours, depending on the setting.
There are five power level indicators for settings between 4.5 and 10.5 V. Choose the level appropriate to the work you’re doing, whether lining, shading or packing.
We hope you enjoyed learning about the best tattoo machine brands.
We are enthusiastic about inking, and we know you are, too. Let us know which tattoo irons are your favorites and why in the comments below.
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo_machine accessed 14 June 2019
2. https://www.instagram.com/gabeshum/?hl=en accessed 14 June 2019
3. https://www.instagram.com/bez666/?hl=en accessed 14 June 2019