With tattoo technology an ever-evolving beast, it’s hard to know what to look for in the best tattoo machines. Your machine becomes an extension of you, so you’ll want to make sure you get something that matches your style, quality and labour intensity; it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all type of purchase!
But where to start?!!!
To help with your research, from coil tattoo machines to rotary machines, we’ve picked out a few showstoppers from across our full range of tattoo machines.
So whether you’re a tattooing veteran or new to the industry, here’s our run through of the top 11 machines – for 2022 at least!
Cheyenne Sol Luna and Sol Terra
Developing and producing products since 2007, Cheyenne Professional Tattoo Equipment are the innovators of the tattoo industry! Further upping the game for angled tattoo machines in 2019, Cheyenne have created an unrivalled tattooing experience with their two new machines, the Sol Luna and Sol Terra.
Both feature Cheyenne’s new innovative SensiDrive® technology, offering two completely different settings: ‘Hard’ for a responsive and reactive hit, and ‘Sensi’ for a more steady and constant hit.
Two of the quietest machines in the industry, they are also vibration free and live up to the high-quality workmanship Cheyenne are so well-known for.
Find out more about each machine in detail below.
Cheyenne Sol Luna
Featuring a 2.5mm stroke length, the Cheyenne Sol Luna operates from 25 cycles per second (hertz) in the lower frequency range up to a mighty 150 cycles per second. Although similar in strength and stroke to the well regarded Cheyenne Hawk Spirit tattoo machine, the Sol Luna is capable of running at a much lower speed, providing more give and making colour a lot smoother, whilst remaining powerful and gentle on the skin.
Its features culminate in the Sol Luna being perfect for filling and shading, leading the way for realism and black & grey.
The best rotary tattoo machine for filling, shading, realism and black & grey work.
Cheyenne Sol Terra
The colour packer and liner of the two, the Sol Terra is THE machine for crisp, saturated lines and unreal colour packing. Operating on the same frequency range as the Sol Luna but with a 4mm stroke length, it remains powerful but gentle on the skin, meaning you can switch between the machine’s techniques easily and work for longer whilst causing less trauma.
The best rotary tattoo machine for crisp lines and colour packing.
Cheyenne Sol Nova
Designed for expert precision, the Cheyenne Sol Nova Tattoo Pen packs a serious punch with a versatile 3.5mm stroke length, operating between 25 and 150 cycles per second (hertz). This power, combined with the Sol Nova’s lightweight, ergonomic and balanced design means that it’s great for a wide range of tattooing styles; anything from dotwork or bold lines to colour realism. The Sol Nova Tattoo Pen’s strong design is compatible with a variety of cartridge needles, grips and sleeves, although we recommend pairing with the Cheyenne Craft Cartridges for the ultimate set up.
Cheyenne SOL Nova Unlimited
The SOL Nova Unlimited is the cable free version of the Cheyenne SOL Nova. It is motion controlled with the help of a single button, so you can adjust the speed by holding the button and tilting the machine without losing any focus. It offers two operating modes that we already know from the Cheyenne SOL Terra and Luna: “Steady Mode” provides constant power while “Responsive Mode” reacts to the needle movement by adjusting the hit and frequency, thus acting like a brush.
Because of the pen-style-design, the machine can be easily covered with a machine or bottle bag. It doesn’t get any faster to cover a machine than with the Cheyenne SOL Nova Unlimited and Cheyenne Disposable Grips.
Cheyenne claims that one battery allows for a minimum of 5 hours of tattooing, while charging is as fast as 3 hours. This means you can run this machine continuously with the two batteries and a charger included with the machine and a protective case.
The best all-round rotary tattoo machine for soft shading and precise lining.
FK Irons Spektra Xion
The comfortable and lightweight design of the Xion allows for ultimate manoeuvrability, with an incremental dial for needle adjustment and interchangeable stroke length. The complete control it offers means this machine really can work for you, accommodating all tattoo styles.
Aesthetically FK Irons are also storming ahead with some of the most stunning colour options available across the rotary tattoo machine market. The Cosmic Storm, Nebula and Urban Camo Spektra Xions are spectacles to behold, with each one created through a multi-step masking process for a truly unique machine every time.
These colours are all limited edition though so don’t miss out!
The best all-round rotary tattoo machine with a colour flare!
FK Irons Spektra Flux
The Spektra Flux by FK Irons is the cable-free update of the incredibly popular Spektra Xion. It comes with a 4mm stroke and weighs in at only 178 grams. Like the FK Irons/Darklab LightningBolt, it features a battery capacity and voltage indicator, is easy to adjust, is Bluetooth enabled to pair with the Darklab Hover and Darklab app for future updates. It is capable to be operated with a wireless footswitch and has an interchangeable battery to keep the machine ready to go at any time. Available in Stealth and Chromium, the Flux is one of the best wireless tattoo machines.
The best all-round rotary tattoo machine with free movement.
FK Irons EXO (with PowerBolt)
The FK Irons EXO is the newest addition to the growing stack of highly advanced tattoo machines of FK Irons. It can be operated with or without cable, using the PowerBolt as a battery power supply with a runtime of up to 10+ hours.
Bishop Rotary WAND: Shader, Packer & Liner
Started in 2008 by renowned tattooist Franco Vescovi, Bishop Rotary creates products that truly help tattoo artists reach their full potential through a mix of design and innovation.
Boasting a Shader, Liner and Packer, the long awaited WAND range is built in the USA from the MOST lightweight aircraft aluminium in an ergonomic design shaped to reduce hand fatigue.
These innovative rotary tattoo machines all come in a matte black finish, each coloured with their own distinctive metal band that defines the machine’s use.
Find out more about each machine in detail below:
Bishop WAND Shader
The Shader Bishop WAND comes with a hand polished gun metal grey band and is ideal for black & grey work and for layering tones. With a brushed Faulhaber motor and a fixed 3.5mm stroke, the Bishop Shader WAND with its custom winding creates a softer hit on the skin for reduced trauma and longer working times.
The best rotary tattoo machine for shading and black & grey work.
Bishop WAND Packer
Featuring a hand polished copper band, the Packer Bishop WAND showcases a brushless Faulhaber motor with custom winding and a fixed 4.2mm stroke; all key in its design to increase torque and speed for colour packing and realism. The brushless motor uses magnets to generate power, meaning the Packer Bishop WAND can work harder for longer without overheating.
The best rotary tattoo machine for colour packing and realism.
Bishop WAND Liner
Similar to the Packer, the Liner Bishop WAND holds the same set up but with a 5mm fixed stroke.
Built for precise and crisp lines the Liner Bishop Wand is highly capable of delicate dotwork, as well as all types of line work and traditional work. Identifiable from its hand polished black band this all-round liner is as stylish as it is accurate.
The best rotary tattoo machine for precise lining, traditional work and dotwork.
Which one would suit your style of work?
Bishop V6 Rotary
Bishop Rotary are also known for one of the machines at the backbone of the rotary tattoo industry: the V6 rotary. One of the most comfortable machines on the market, the Bishop V6 Rotary is a revolutionary classic with reduced vibration to ensure you can tattoo for longer. It’s noted as one of the best machines for artists who experience wrist pain or even carpal tunnel syndrome cramps!
The Bishop V6 utilises a Swiss Maxon Motor which adds to the machine’s light weight whilst remaining consistent and durable. It’s extremely versatile, with the ability to run between 7.5 to 8.5 volts for colour packing and shading or 8 to 9 volts making it perfect for lining too.
Even more, the V6 comes in such a wide range of colours so your tattoo machine can complement the rest of your equipment.
The best all-round rotary tattoo machine, versatile between colour packing and shading vs lining.
Ink Machines Scorpion Pen
From the talented team behind the Dragonfly and Stingray , the Scorpion Pen features a smooth contactless magnetic needle drive in its unique design to allow for smooth changes between soft or hard hits whilst dampening vibration and reducing trauma to the skin.
Equally balanced, weighing just 100grams with a disposable grip, the Scorpion Pen’s sleek design comes in a range of accented colours including Evil Black, Blazing Gold and Devilish Red. Its elegant composition housing a strong all-round machine, developed with a conversion kit so it is usable with any cartridge brand.
The best all-round rotary tattoo machine for quick cartridge changes.
Samuele Briganti Sunskin Coil Machine – Liner & Shader
In this sea of rotary tattoo machines, we cannot forget where it all started, the coil tattoo machine. Although now not as commonly used, the rotary vs coil tattoo machines debate is still very much alive so whilst we’ve only included one coil in our write-up, we’ve made sure it’s a good’n…
The Sunskin Briganti Coil Machine, is a special edition machine built in collaboration between Sunskin and legendary tattooist Samuele Briganti.
Established in 1997, Sunskin Tattoo have devoted their years to creating efficient, flexible and handmade machines to ensure every product reaches their high standards. With Sunskin and Briganti’s combined experience, the partnership has resulted in two beautiful limited-edition machines, a liner and shader, capable of impeccable traditional work and lettering styles.
Built using a brass frame, handmade coils, copper wire and high-quality carbon steel, each unmistakable machine is calibrated and tested before being numbered and given its certificate of originality. That’s not forgetting they are also pretty neat to look at!
The best coil tattoo machine for traditional work and lettering.
Want to know more about difference between Rotary and Coil tattoo machines? Check out our blog on Rotary vs Coil Tattoo Machines here.