Whether you’re considering putting together your own shop or planning to tattoo in a personal studio, you want to make sure you have the best equipment on hand.
A high-quality tattoo gun not only allows you to create fantastic and long-lasting pieces, but they provide comfort for the artist for long sessions, and are easy to clean and care for.
We’ve rounded up a list of the best tattoo guns on the market:
- FK Irons Spektra Halo 2 Crossover - Our Pick!
- Cheyenne Sol Nova Gun - Pen Style
- Thomas Custom Tattoo Gun
- Inkjecta Flite Nano Ultra Lite
- Infinite Irons Roller Rotary
- FK Irons AL 13 Exactor III
Table of Contents (clickable)
- 1 Best Tattoo Guns Reviewed
- 2 Our Pick - FK Irons Spektra Halo 2 Crossover
- 3 What We Consider When Selecting The Best Tattoo Guns
- 4 Variety of Machines
- 5 Our Final Thoughts
Best Tattoo Guns Reviewed
FK Irons Spektra Halo 2 Crossover - Our Pick!
We love rotary machines like the Halo 2 for a multitude of reasons; they’re low maintenance, work efficiently with a variety of needles, cause less damage to your skin, and are a convenient tool for apprentice artists as well as professionals.
The Halo 2 has an incredible, long-lasting motor packed within a gorgeous, high-quality aluminum design. It’s manufactured to provide a comfortable grip that allows artists to press as hard or as soft as they need for their particular piece. This gun is easily adjusted for needle switching mid-session, and offers minimal vibration for clean and crisp lines.
Bryndon Shepherd, who owns his own private studio in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, loves rotary guns like Halo 2, as they allow him to tattoo carefully in sensitive areas while ensuring his gun can capture his dotwork detailing.
- Light, ergonomic aluminum design
- Powerful MAXON Swiss motor
- Durable and long-lasting
- Great for various needle work
- Minimal skin damage
- Quite expensive
Cheyenne has numerous tattoo guns in their line, but the Sol Nova pen came out on top for us. Tattooing with this gun, which has an ergonomic pen design, is a unique experience. It moves over skin smoothly and with minimal vibration, allowing for a more comfortable tattooing session for both the artist and the client.
Ideal for sharp lines or dot work but adaptable for shading and thick details, this small gun packs a powerful punch, and comes with a variety of add-ons that make the experience more enjoyable for the artist, such as grips and sleeves. You can even use cord-free adapters with this pen which is excellent for smaller sessions that need careful attention.
Inna Marculescu, a tattoo apprentice at Dark Umoya Studio in Paris, France, loves tattoo pens like the Sol Nova because it allows her to easily focus and master her delicate line work.
- Strong power
- Soft handling
- Ergonomic, easy-to-use design
- Great for a variety of line work
- Many add-ons available
- Can be cordless
- Delicate on skin
- Quite expensive
- Cordless option not ideal for long sessions (max 200 minutes)
- Pen design is sometimes not comfortable for long sessions
If the price of this tattoo gun doesn’t blow you away, then the features will. The Thomas Custom Tattoo Gun is a coil gun which means the coils provide the current when the machine is powered, which gives this tool more force than rotary machines. While this makes the guns more prone to needing maintenance, it also allows for long-lasting, high-quality tattooing.
The Thomas Custom comes with handmade coils and a brass, antique finish that leads to a comfortable grip with a stylish design. This gun is loved by both beginners and professionals, especially since it can be altered and upgraded with ease. By switching the coils, artists have compared this gun to pricier equipment on the market, saying, “With hand wrapped coils, new springs, and quality caps, these machines run like $400 irons. ”
This two-pack package allows you to switch machines for lining and for shading, offering very precise intensities for your artistry needs.
- Very durable
- Easily upgraded
- Amazing vintage design
- Smooth machine
- Intense ink distribution
- Extremely cheap
- Heavy equipment
- Can be loud
- May need frequent maintenance
The Inkjecta Flite Nano Ultra Lite might be the lightest tattoo gun on the market right now. This is obviously a plus for long sessions and wrist comfort, but may be a con for artists who like a little weight to help them better determine what pressure to exude on their client’s skin.
This gun has a full carbon fiber body and needle bar, which means it will last you a very long time with very little maintenance needed. It can be adjusted depending on the needle being used, and runs with a smooth application of ink. It’s also extremely quiet as it uses a custom nanotechnology motor.
- Extremely light
- Carbon fiber design
- Little maintenance required
- Adjustable for all needles
- Quiet and ergonomic
- Custom motor
- Quite expensive
- Only compatible with a select few needle cartridges
- Requires lubrication
The Roller Rotary gun from Infinite Irons is definitely a go-to machine when it comes to line work. It can be adjusted to provide high-quality results for shading, but it’s the gun you want in your back pocket for intricate details and outlines.
It’s running on a MAXON Swiss motor and boasts a runtime of 5,000 hours, and Infinite Irons guarantees the frame and hardware for life; that makes this a tool you’ll keep on your shop shelf throughout your career, without worry or money lost.
It’s made in the United States and can be customized if you contact Infinite Irons directly. With an easy-to-clean design that you know will be guaranteed for life, it is worth every penny.
- Tough and easy-to-clean design
- MAXON Swiss motor
- Frame and hardware guaranteed for life
- Can be customized by the company
- Hard-hitting and smooth
- Well priced
- Made in the USA
- Better for intricate line work
- Heavy machine
We love the quality of FK Irons machines and the AL 13 Exactor III is no different. It’s quite possibly one of the lightest coil machines on the market, with an aircraft grade aluminum body, making for a very smooth and comfortable tattooing experience.
It can be adjusted for working with different artistry needs which is rare for a coil machine, as you usually require separate coiling for shading, lining, and intricate detailing, making this machine a more versatile coil option. But bold detailing still requires the power liner edition.
- Versatile coil machine
- One of the lightest on the market
- Durable body, easy for cleaning and maintenance
- Smooth and easy to use
- Ten coil system
- Quite expensive for a coil, considering you’ll need an alternate for bold lining
- The 10V can be quite intense on skin
Our Pick - FK Irons Spektra Halo 2 Crossover
Though one of the more expensive options on our best tattoo gun list, we feel the Spektra Halo 2 Crossover is worth every penny for a variety of reasons.
- The aluminum design makes it light, comfortable, and easy-to-use, while also making it easy to clean.
- The Spektra Halo 2 is made in a way that allows artists to quickly and easily switch between cartridge setups and needle operation.
- It operates with various stroke options meaning it can be used for a variety of tattooing needs, from line work to shading. This is an extremely versatile machine.
- The motor has some of the best performance on the market. It uses a Swiss MAXON motor which has optimal performance capabilities, and is created to last longer overall.
- It requires very little maintenance over time and usage.
- It has a needle clip and a stabilizer system which ensures that the needle self-stabilizes, thus eliminating the need for rubber bands or grommets.
- It has an impressive grip handling which is praised by both apprentice tattooers and professionals alike, and any grips on the market can be used with this gun.
FK Irons is known for creating high-quality tattoo machines and the Spektra Halo 2 definitely takes the cake, handling all your usage needs while being durable and comfortable.
What We Consider When Selecting The Best Tattoo Guns
Buying a tattoo gun is an investment, and you want to make sure that you are choosing equipment that checks a lot of boxes. Here are a few factors we consider when building our list of the best tattoo guns on the market.
When we speak of build quality, we consider everything from the material used to create the gun, the hardware, and the durability of the system.
We want a tattoo gun that will make it through long five hour sessions with just as much power and efficiency as a 30 minute tattoo. We also like guns that are made of lightweight and durable material that make it comfortable to hold and powerful enough for the toughest applications, while also being easy to take apart and clean, and simple enough to adjust for maintenance or upgrades.
It’s also important that tattoo guns are built with a comfortable weight balance, so the ergonomics of the guns were extremely important to us.
Variety of Machines
We know that people have a preference when it comes to rotary or coil machines, so we made sure to give you access to our favorites with similar variety. When considering which is best for your needs, it’s helpful to note:
- The weight between coil and rotary machines differs, with coil machines being significantly heavier.
- Rotary machines are known to be quieter than coil machines.
- Rotary machines are more versatile and can be adjusted for tattooing needs, while coil machines are created to specialize in lines or shading - not both. To some artists, this makes coil machines more precise and efficient.
- The motion differs between the two machines, and some people find coil machines more painful due to the hammer-like motion they produce.
- The maintenance and upgrade of coil machines are far simpler than that of rotary machines.
- Coil machines are more highly favored by professional artists.
No matter where you are on your tattoo journey and how much you have to invest into your venture, we have an item for you on the list that is within your budget and doesn’t compromise the quality of your tattooing.
While we had a preference with one of the more expensive options, this is because we know it will last for many years of our professional work, so it’s worth the investment. When selecting for yourself, be sure to consider replacement or maintenance costs over time.
We love machines that allow for quick changing of cartridges or adjusting for needling needs without stress or complication. We also like guns that allow for versatility all in the same machine. While this sometimes cannot be achieved with coil equipment, we have a few favorites that will help you get a lot of work done with just one gun. This is especially valuable for beginners who need a multifaceted tool.
Our Final Thoughts
Finding the best gun for you and your tattooing needs is a matter of trial and error. You won’t know what works more comfortably and efficiently for your style of tattooing until you have the chance to work with the machine on skin. It may help to request an apprenticeship in shops that have a multitude of equipment available at your disposal, which allow you to find the tattoo gun that you love best for your long-term professional tattooing.