The 5 Best Rotary Tattoo Machines – Reviews 2018

The explosion of body art in recent years has completely changed the status of the tattoo in modern society. Once seen as the preserve of sailors and those belonging to updated versions of tribes, today they adorn the bodies of everyone from police officers to teachers.

Tattoo design has moved on exponentially, with incredibly detailed graphic images almost defying belief.

The technology in producing these extraordinary designs has, among other things, produced the rotary tattoo machine. This has changed the experience of tattooing and being tattooed. If you're in the market for one, here is our guide to the best rotary tattoo machines.

Quick Look On The Rotary Tattoo Machines We Chose

The explosion of body art in recent years has completely changed the status of the tattoo in modern society. Once seen as the preserve of sailors and those belonging to updated versions of tribes, today they adorn the bodies of everyone from police officers to teachers.


Tattoo design has moved on exponentially, with incredibly detailed graphic images almost defying belief. The technology in producing these extraordinary designs has, among other things, produced the rotary tattoo machine. This has changed the experience of tattooing and being tattooed.


If you're in the market for one, here is our guide to the best rotary tattoo machines.

Our Picks Of 5 Best Rotary Tattoo Machines 2018 Reviews

1. Eyepower Rotary Tattoo Kit 3 Gun Tattoo Machoine Kit Complete with Tattoo Power Supply

This comprehensive kit by Eyepower has everything a beginner tattoo artist should need. It is divided into three different applicators; one rotary, one for lining and one for shading.

This should simplify the process for those new to the concepts of tattooing. There is a DVD included to take you through the different processes.

Particularly useful will be the practice skin, to prepare the user for the actual experience of using tattoo guns.

Particularly useful will be the practice skin, to prepare the user for the actual experience of using tattoo guns.

Rotary Tattoo Kit 3 Gun Tattoo Machoine Kit Complete with Tattoo Power Supply

Check More Photos & Price at: amazon.com

There is also a starter pack of seven colored inks, some of which will run out a lot quicker than others. The kit comes with eight stainless steel needle grips in four sizes each for round and flat needles.

This gives a reasonable range of lining and shading needles, which will be ample for the beginner. The power system is compatible with 100v and 220v, and there is a foot pedal to start and stop the machine.

There is also a starter pack of seven colored inks, some of which will run out a lot quicker than others.


The kit comes with eight stainless steel needle grips in four sizes each for round and flat needles. This gives a reasonable range of lining and shading needles, which will be ample for the beginner. The power system is compatible with 100v and 220v, and there is a foot pedal to start and stop the machine.

2. Dragonhawk Cartridge Tattoo Machine Kit Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine

From Dragonhawk comes this comprehensive kit which easily covers the bases for those looking to get into tattooing using rotary technology.

Well designed and manufactured, this kit which will accommodate all cartridge needles. The grip is made to be as close to a pen as possible, giving great visibility when applying the ink.

It is extremely quiet, vibration is barely noticeable, and the gun is light enough not to tire your thumb and forefinger. 

From Dragonhawk comes this comprehensive kit which easily covers the bases for those looking to get into tattooing using rotary technology. Well designed and manufactured, this kit which will accommodate all cartridge needles. The grip is made to be as close to a pen as possible, giving great visibility when applying the ink.


It is extremely quiet, vibration is barely noticeable, and the gun is light enough not to tire your thumb and forefinger. Again, this helps with control of the needle as you can trust the feel of both your hand and the skin you're tattooing. It also means you can keep going for longer, which helps with larger designs.

Dragonhawk Cartridge Tattoo Machine Kit Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine

Check More Photos & Price at: amazon.com

Again, this helps with control of the needle as you can trust the feel of both your hand and the skin you're tattooing. It also means you can keep going for longer, which helps with larger designs. This is the best rotary tattoo kits according to my personal experience.

There are five each round liner and shader cartridges, giving an impressive range of widths. There is a frequency switch box which handles power between 55 and 165 Hz. This control and the direct current give a consistent power delivery.

There are five each round liner and shader cartridges, giving an impressive range of widths. There is a frequency switch box which handles power between 55 and 165 Hz. This control and the direct current give a consistent power delivery.

3. Redscorpion Rotary Tattoo Machine Gun Aluminum Alloy Frame Japan Technology Motor

This tattoo gun from Redscorpion is designed for aficionados of the rotary feel and Japanese elegance in tattooing, both for the artist and the receiver. It has the look of a well honed artists' gun and gives confidence of great workmanship.

The grip is made of aluminum alloy and is shaped with ridges to fit into the hand from the thickness of the base of your thumb to the delicate fingertip control at the business end.

The grip is made of aluminum alloy and is shaped with ridges to fit into the hand from the thickness of the base of your thumb to the delicate fingertip control at the business end.

Redscorpion Rotary Tattoo Machine Gun Aluminum Alloy Frame Japan Technology Motor

Check More Photos & Price at: amazon.com

The design gives smooth delivery of rotary technology and will work with any type and size of needle, from fine lining to bold shading.

The gun has features to help the artist at work, including the cord, which has a silicone outer shell that doesn't snag, twist or crimp. This is excellent news when working on a big, complicated design. The whole gun is made to withstand sterilization at extremely high temperatures, which is a real bonus.

The design gives smooth delivery of rotary technology and will work with any type and size of needle, from fine lining to bold shading.


The gun has features to help the artist at work, including the cord, which has a silicone outer shell that doesn't snag, twist or crimp. This is excellent news when working on a big, complicated design. The whole gun is made to withstand sterilization at extremely high temperatures, which is a real bonus.

4. YILONG 'L' Rotary Motor Tattoo Machine Liner Shader Gun Black Torture Rack

This rotary tattoo gun is a foray into the market for Yilong. As the name implies, it is aimed at those who see tattooing as a combination of pain and pleasure. Unfortunately, the pain it delivers is due to lack of attention to detail rather than well designed ink application.

The gun runs on rotary technology, which as usual is very quiet and smooth in delivery of power to the needle. It has a sleek, metallic design which is unlike other mass produced guns, and is designed to cope with needles of all widths and shapes.

This rotary tattoo gun is a foray into the market for Yilong. As the name implies, it is aimed at those who see tattooing as a combination of pain and pleasure. Unfortunately, the pain it delivers is due to lack of attention to detail rather than well designed ink application.


The gun runs on rotary technology, which as usual is very quiet and smooth in delivery of power to the needle. It has a sleek, metallic design which is unlike other mass produced guns, and is designed to cope with needles of all widths and shapes.

YILONG 'L' Rotary Motor Tattoo Machine Liner Shader Gun Black Torture Rack

Check More Photos & Price at: amazon.com

Although this particular product isn’t in the same class of design and build as others in this review, it is still more than capable of doing the job. With it being the fist product for tattooing by the manufacturer there will be some teething problems but don’t let you that put you off what is a capable and affordable machine.

Although this particular product isn’t in the same class of design and build as others in this review, it is still more than capable of doing the job. With it being the fist product for tattooing by the manufacturer there will be some teething problems but don’t let you that put you off what is a capable and affordable machine.

5. Dragonhawk Atom J2 Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine for Tattoo Artists Coloring Black

This is a Dragonhawk rotary for the confident, probably professional, tattoo artist. It is the sort of piece of kit you would expect to see in a high end tattoo parlor, where you might pop in for a discrete piece of exquisite calligraphy or elaborate floral arrangement and not feel any pain.

The gun's design is basically that of a large fountain pen. It is black with reassuring rear portion where the power is produced, and a narrower grip section with plenty of ridges for precise control of the needle. The shapely cartridge holder finishes off a very elegant tattoo gun.

The gun's design is basically that of a large fountain pen. It is black with reassuring rear portion where the power is produced, and a narrower grip section with plenty of ridges for precise control of the needle. The shapely cartridge holder finishes off a very elegant tattoo gun.

Dragonhawk Atom J2 Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine for Tattoo Artists Coloring Black

Check More Photos & Price at: amazon.com

Although elegant, the gun can cope with a wide range of lining and shading needles, and power delivery of between six and 10 volts. The gun and all attachments come in a chic, black box which is as well designed as the gun itself. Perfect for the tattooist on the go.

Although elegant, the gun can cope with a wide range of lining and shading needles, and power delivery of between six and 10 volts. The gun and all attachments come in a chic, black box which is as well designed as the gun itself. Perfect for the tattooist on the go.

FAQ About Rotary Tattoo Machine

What is a rotary machine?

A rotary machine works by delivering mechanical energy by means of a wheel. This can be seen in everything from windmills to motor engines. The wheel is powered either via a central axis or from friction at its circumference. It delivers mechanical power smoothly due to the ease of motion which a spinning disc provides.

Rotary tattoo machines use this principle to insert and remove a tattoo needle at high speed with a smooth rhythm which is constant and does not feel like a repeated piercing of the skin. The rotary movement is more natural and has a more soothing feel once the skin becomes accustomed to the vibration movement.

What is a rotary tattoo machine?

 A rotary tattoo machine has a wheel the back of the gun, which is powered by electricity of varying power to achieve speeds which can vary depending on the nature of the tattoo. This differs from the traditional tattoo machine in the way it moves the cartridge which holds the needle.

Non rotary tattoo machines use coils to generate a magnetic field and release it, very quickly. These electromagnetic coils mean that guns of this sort have a large, heavy top end. Rotary machines operate the needle in a continuous, circular motion more akin to that used by an acupuncturist.

What is the modern tattoo machine based on?

Tattoo machines use needles to pierce the top layer (epidermis) of the skin and leave ink the second layer, the dermis. This is stored in the fatty part of the dermis, leaving a stain which shows through the top layer.

Tattoo machines work at speeds which can pierce the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute. That's less than once a second to nearly five times a second.

Tattoo machines use needles which are sterile. Today, that usually means disposable, but stainless steel needles can be completely sterilized.

What is a liner tattoo machine?

A liner tattoo machine is designed to deliver precise lines of up to ten different widths. These lines will fade over time, as all tattoos do, but their definition is the essence of the tattoo.

They rely on the needle piercing the skin at as close to vertical (an angle of 90 degrees) as possible. This delivers the ink exactly where it is intended to stay.

Liner tattoo machines are made to do this, and supply the power for the needle. Experienced and professional tattoo artists will not need to rely on these machines, but many customers and artists do.

What kind of tattoo machine is the best?

Tattooists are artist, and all artists have their tools of choice. Rotary tattoo machines are revolutionizing the tattoo industry, but there are still plenty of artists who are “loyal to coil.” As with any new technology, it has its evangelists and those who need more convincing. The differences of opinion are mainly these:

Lining is where rotary is almost universally the winner. This is because rotary delivers consistency, as power supply and needle action are constant. This gives the artist confidence to follow their line without extra complications. Experienced artists value this as much as newcomers to the industry.

Colouring divides artists somewhat, with rotary machines still coming out the winners. This part of tattooing is more expansive and does not require as much intensity in terms of artistry or ink delivery. Colouring can be layered, which can bring out the best in both types of tattoo machine.

Shading is where traditional, coil tattooing is favoured slightly more than rotary by professional artists. This is because it relies on a build-up of ink, delivered at an angle through the top layer of skin, and needs to be judged in different ways to other inking methods.

Artists start with finer, often flat needles to begin the shading process. As with all tattooing, blood appears on the surface of the skin, and needs removing completely to judge the result of the shading. Rotary tattoo machines are designed for constituency rather than nuance.

Feel is what divides opinion between advocates of rotary tattoo machines and those who prefer traditional, coil motors. Experienced tattooists know how skin feels as it is inked, and like the immediacy of the reaction which coil powered needles produce. While this is normally the preference of “old school” tattooists, there is still a noticeable difference which some new artists appreciate.

How to Choose the Perfect Rotary Tattoo Machine?

Choosing the best rotary will depend largely on how confident you are of using one. They are designed to be pretty much like a pen to use but putting pen to paper and inserting ink into someone's skin are different things altogether. Here are some things to think about:

Quality. As we have seen in our reviews, the popularity of rotary tattoo machines has encouraged newcomers onto the market. The difference in price the cheaper products offer should act as a warning. Tattooing is not something to be taken lightly, and the quality of the product should always be verifiable and well-reviewed.

Handiness. There are some great designs in the rotary tattoo machine line, mainly involving the weight of the gun itself and the shape of its design. These will suit beginners and professional users differently. Try to look for something which will match your skill and aspirations. A basic machine might be more use to you than a more expensive one with a sleeker design.

Compatibility. Rotary machines come with different speeds which need to be controlled properly. Kits offer adapters for various types of electrical input and control. Be sure that you will be comfortable using all parts.

How to use rotary tattoo machine

Using a rotary tattoo machine means following most of the same steps as a traditional, coil machine, but with a few subtle differences due to the way the rotary motor operates the needle gun. As always when tattooing, the priority is to make safety the first thing you think about. After that, rotary machines are simple to use and maintain.

  • Insert your needle as you would with a coil machine. When using disposable needles, gently bend the packaging so that the needle comes out easily. Carefully thread the needle through the cartridge so as not to bend or snap the point.
  • Follow the instructions and insert your cartridge into the tattoo gun. If this is a pen type design, this will differ slightly from a machine with different angle settings. Once in place, secure the nipple at the top of the cartridge ready for use.
  • When using shading needles, make sure the end of the needle is flush with the horizontal level at the tip of the gun.
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    Screw the cartridge into place inside the machine.
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    With the power turned off, attach the clip cord.
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    Make sure the power setting is correct.
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    Adjust the cord so it is out of your way and will not interfere once you start working
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    Turn on the machine and get a feel for it. This is different from traditional, coil tattoo guns as it hardly feels like it is actually switched on.
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    Make sure you have the right color ink attached to your machine.
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    If you are a beginner, or just feel the need, try the machine against some practice skin. This is very important with rotary machines.
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    Once you feel confident with the needle, ink and weight of the machine in your hand, start tattooing.
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    If you are new to rotary machines, or tattooing in general, start with a fine needle and a light color. Rotaries are excellent deliverers of ink, and this can mean they are less forgiving of mistakes.
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    If you are lining, use the thinnest needle you have. You can always go over the same line with a wider needle later.
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    Try to pace yourself. This might mean not giving up too quickly or keeping going for too long.
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    Your client will probably not complain; as rotary tattooing is much more gentle than coil. Just make sure you ask if they feel like a break.

Rotary tattoo machine voltage guide

It is extremely important to be able to control your tattooing machine in every way. This goes for the needles, ink and motor you use. How well you can control your motor depends on how you control the power, or voltage of the electricity you deliver to it. Lining uses more power than shading, but this needs to be managed properly.

The settings on the tattoo gun will start at three volts. It is vital that you use this setting when first trying out your tattoo gun. From this, you will get a feel of how the machine works with the different types of needles.

Final Note

Rotary tattoo machines are probably unknown outside of the world of body art and artists. To those in the know, they are wonderfully useful and well-loved machines. They combine technology with ancient arts in a form appreciated by users and consumers alike.

Rotary technology is quieter, more efficient and less noisy than the coil machines it is on the way to replacing. There is still room for both, of course, and one is not necessarily better than the other. Amazing results can be achieved using both.

Whatever your opinion, we hope our review on the best rotary tattoo machines will help.

David Hanley
 

I am a contractor. I love my job to the moon and back. I like to try new tools that can ease my work and satisfy my clients. I am not a blogger, am a DIY person who wants to help my fellow friends.

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