Numerous factors can influence how much a tattoo machine will cost. Depending on where the machine was made, what’s included in the kit, the brand name, and the format of the gun, pricing can range anywhere from $50 to $1000. In this helpful guide, we give you a rough idea of tattoo machine cost with recommendations.
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Tattoo Kit Cost
Tattoo kits are generally a cheap way to get a complete set up all in one go. In that same vein, you can get expert tattoo kits from popular brands that range closer to $1000. Some things you need to consider with a kit is that some of the additional components may receive bad reviews while the machine itself is praised; this will require an additional monetary investment.
Our favorite kit is the Dragonhawk Cartridge Atom Pen Tattoo Machine Kit. It’s only around $75 dollars and creates superb work.
For other kits we love, check out our article, The 8 Best Tattoo Kits For Every Budget.
Tattoo Gun Cost
There’s no need to splurge extraordinary amounts to get a high-quality tattoo gun, but the more you pay, the better gun you’ll have in your toolbelt. Expensive guns are generally smoother, quieter, easier to set up, and simpler to sanitize. In general, tattoo guns can range from $200 to $1000.
Our favorite tattoo gun is the FK Irons Spektra Halo 2 Crossover, but it sits at a hefty $700.
For all our other favorite guns, check out our article, The Best Tattoo Guns On The Market - Our Review Guide.
Coil vs. Rotary Guns
In general, coil guns can actually be quite cheap. Some start at just around $30. Coil guns require a different gun that is set up to do different design work, such as lining or shading, so you will need more than one. They also tend to be difficult to use and require patience and practice. In addition, they may require maintenance and adjustments, so it’s important to learn the components of coil guns.
Our favorite coil gun is the Thomas Custom Tattoo Gun and it’s only $70 for two guns; that’s $35 a piece.
For more information on the difference between coil and rotary machines, check out our article, Rotary Vs. Coil Tattoo Machines - Which Is The Best Tattoo Machine For You?
Along with the machine or gun itself, there are numerous other costs you need to consider.
- Needles - These are a one-time use and a frequent expense you have to keep in mind. And with so many needles doing various work, you may have to stock up on various types. Needles cost an average of $15 for 100 pieces. Have a look at The 5 Best Tattoo Needles On The Market - Our Top Rated Reviews.
- Power Supply - A power source is what runs your machine. Without it, unless you have an all-in-one tattoo pen, you won’t have a gun that works. These are usually under $200. Have a look at our list of The 6 Best Tattoo Power Supply - Our Ultimate Review Guide.
- Tattoo Ink - Tattoo ink comes in packs and the price varies depending on brand, potency, and the origin from where it is made. On average, single black ink bottles range around $15-$25, and packs of inks can be around $60 and up. Check out our review of The Best Tattoo Ink Brands In The Industry - Our Complete Review Guide.
- Cleaning Materials - Sanitation is essential to tattooing, and the licensing and certification you will have to get to do this professionally binds you to a commitment to cleanliness. Cleaning materials must be potent, high-quality commercial cleaners. You will also need to invest in gloves, paper towels, and cling wrap. Don’t forget all the sanitation material that will be used for the client, as well, including razors, wraps, and tape.
How to Save Money on a Tattoo Machine
Our first recommendation to you is that you never buy a machine used, no matter how much money you may be saving. Not only could there be extreme contamination that you are unaware about creating a large sanitation issue, but there is almost no guarantee that this machine will run for long, and you could be stranded, mid-session with a client. There are other ways to save money.
Look for a Sale
Not even the tattooing equipment industry is immune to Black Friday and Boxing Day sales! The best way to get a deal is to keep an eye out for any sales on your favorite kits, guns, or equipment. Even major brands have a sale at least once a year.
Buy in Bulk
Items like needles, tubes, cleaning supplies, and ink are often sold in bulk offering you an excellent deal on equipment. You could always speak to other artists and ask if they’d like to partake in the bulk buy, splitting the cost and the lot of items.
Think Long Term
Cheap machines and equipment will need replacing much faster than making a large one-time financial investment in a high-quality machine. You should consider how the quality outweighs the cost and how much better it is to save for a better machine than to run through multiple machines, over time.
Our Final Thoughts
Along with the cost of apprenticeship, tattoo equipment is quite expensive, and getting into this career is not a cheap venture. Overall, investing in higher quality brands and items will result in more cost-saving over time, and longer-lasting machines.