Which are the best coil tattoo machines on the market?
It changes from time to time as new tattoo irons appear, and new brands become popular.
It also depends on whether you’re seeking a professional coil tattoo machine or one for a beginner.
The reviews below will introduce you to a selection of the market’s best tattoo machines.
How to decide if a coil tattoo machine is worth your money
If you’ve already spent some time searching online, you know that there are many imported tattoo machines.
If you are a beginning artist, these are the cheapest option.
Not everyone has the funds to start with Baltimore, Bishop, or FK Irons.
The problem is knowing whether a budget-priced tattoo machine is worth the money.
To do so, you need to look at all the parts carefully.
First, consider the frame.
Aluminum and zinc frames are lightweight, but heavy brass and iron vibrate less (1).
But no matter the material, the frame needs to be correctly aligned. This is something you won’t be able to check until you hold it in your hands.
Frame alignment will impact your accuracy as an artist. And it’s not something you can correct by replacing parts.
Therefore, I’d recommend purchasing cheap tattoo irons only if they have a return policy.
Second, look at the wire wraps on the coils. Are there enough wraps for the speed and downward force you require for your work?
Also, are there gaps? If it’s a badly-done wrapping job, you’ll want to replace the coil.
Now, what about the capacitor?
Does the manufacturer specify which type they use? High numbers, like 47 µF, are slow circuits with more power for lining.
A lower number like 22 µF could indicate a shader as it works faster and exerts and less downward force.
Finally, consider the spring. If you have experience with tattoo machines, you can see the difference between liners and shaders by looking at the spring.
Shaders have a longer spring. Meanwhile, liners have short front springs (2).
You’ll want to have at least one of each type of machine.
Best Coil Tattoo Machines in 2023
With that introduction, let’s dive into the reviews. We’ll begin with less expensive coil machines for those on a budget.
Dragonhawk 2pcs Brass Coils Tattoo Machines
Dragonhawk is a brand based in Hong Kong. They provide tattoo equipment at economical prices.
This set of two coil tattoo machines includes a single liner and one shader. Both feature a CNC-milled billet brass frame.
The liner has coils with 8 wraps, and the shader has 10 wraps. Both run at 7 to 8 volts.
Reviewers say that the machines are a good value, but may come with incorrect setups. Therefore, price aside, they may not be the best choice for absolute beginners.
On the other hand, if you’re able to make adjustments, they could save you money. Plus, they come with a satisfaction guarantee.
1TattooWorld Coils Tattoo Machine OTW-M703
This dual-purpose machine can line and shade. The coils have 10 wraps.
I was a little concerned when I saw that the description emphasized its “beautiful appearance” as looks aren’t everything.
Also, you’ll need to adjust the machine each time you switch between lining and shading. That’s why most artists have two machines, not just one.
The frame is low-carbon steel to dampen vibrations. Meanwhile, the armature bar is iron, while the binding posts are brass.
The machine runs at 6 to 8 V.
For best results, some owners suggest swapping the springs for something better.
Coil Tattoo Machine, ATOMUS 10 Wraps Coil Tattoo Liner & Shader Kit
This kit includes a liner and a shader that operate at 6 to 9 V. They have coils with 10 wraps.
What’s concerning is that part of the description says the frame is zinc alloy, while later, it says the frame is made of iron. There’s a world of difference in weight and stability between the two metals.
Redscorpion Coil Tattoo Machine Set
Here’s another set with a liner and a shader.
The liner has coils with 8 wraps, and the shader has 10.
Both have “alloy” frames. The alloy isn’t specified, but the care instructions recommend oiling them to prevent rust.
They operate between 6 and 8 V.
The manufacturer offers a 3-month warranty for quality-related issues.
Professional Tattoo Coil Machine Handmade by TAONE
There are benefits to paying a little more for a better coil tattoo machine.
For example, here’s a liner where you can see the 10 coil wraps. They’re not hidden under pretty decorations.
Next, the frame is CNC-milled brass with a smooth ombre finish. It gives it a pleasant heft as it weighs 240 grams total, or just over half a pound.
At 4 to 8 V, the operating voltage won’t run up your electric bill. The manufacturer also says this is a low-noise and low-heat iron. The maximum speed is 3000 r/m.
One reviewer commented that it “hums like an angel.”
HAWINK Tattoo Machine Traditional Handmade Shader M310
HAWINK offers three choices: liner, shader, or a set of both machines. To help you distinguish between them at a glance, they have different frame colors.
I selected the shader for review as it’s appropriate for intermediate artists.
The carbon steel frame is powder-coated to protect it from rust and scratches. Meanwhile, the binding posts and fittings are brass. It’s compatible with all grips on the market.
The sturdy armature bar can handle needles up to 18 RL. But with impact-absorbing springs to dampen vibration, it lays down soft blends.
At the same time, the iron sports 12-wrap coils and a 47 µF capacitor. The coils have 24-gauge enamel-coated wire protected inside transparent covers.
Reviewers are generally enthusiastic about this tattoo machine compared to cheaper models. After minor adjustments, it’s ready to go.
Moreover, the manufacturer offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Solong Tattoo Complete Tattoo Kit TK453
If you’re a beginner, one of the cheapest ways to get tattoo machines is to purchase them in a kit like this one.
You’ll get four machines, ink, a power supply, and other accessories for the price you might pay for just a single machine.
The listing describes both shaders and liners, each one with 10 wrap coils. Then, the digital power supply comes with a foot controller. On the downside, you can only connect one iron at a time to it.
Of course, there are sterile needles, tips, grips, and ink cups. The 54 bottles of sterilized ink allow you to experiment to your heart’s content with shading and blending.
The company also offers a free online guide to help you get started, as well as several tattoo designs.
Grinder Tattoo Kit by Pirate Face
Again, here is a set with four coil tattoo machines plus an extensive assortment of accessories. There are two liners and two shaders.
Each iron has 10-wrap coils and comes with grips, tips, and needles.
No, these are not the best tattoo machines on the market. But if you’re curious about tattooing, and not ready to invest a lot of money, they will get you started.
Furthermore, they come with a 6-month warranty.
The kit also includes a digital power supply for a single machine at a time. It has a foot pedal and clip cord.
There are only seven colors of ink, but the brand is Radiant Colors, which is made in the USA.
Besides all that, there’s practice skin, a pair of disposable gloves, tools for adjusting the machines, and a carrying case to store it all.
Finally, the other big draw here is the 2-hour educational DVD and instructional book.
Dragonhawk Complete Tattoo Kit 2-2YMX
Dragonhawk’s kit only has two tattoo machines, one shader, and one liner. But they’ve added some accessories, like stencil transfer paper, that you won’t find in other sets.
The machines have cast iron frames with 10-wrap coils. The alloy springs are designed for elasticity and durability.
The problem I’ve noticed with inexpensive imported tattoo irons is it’s hard to tell a liner from a shader with a quick glance. Normally, you can see that the spring is at a different angle on each machine. But here, the difference isn’t so clear.
However, reviewers seem generally satisfied with the machines. They recommend a thorough inspection and tuning before using them, though.
Other accessories include needles, gloves, adjustment tools, and 4 bottles of Immortal ink, which is made in the USA.
There is a digital power supply with foot pedal as well.
You can store everything in the hard shell case. If you’re not pleased with your purchase, the manufacturer offers a satisfaction guarantee.
Vlad Blad Delicate Liner Tattoo Machine
Let’s move on from beginner and intermediate irons to high-end custom coil tattoo machines.
Vlad Blad is a Russian manufacturer of eye-catching, unique models like this delicate liner.
Although advanced artists collect them as showpieces, irons like this one are in high demand for intricate work.
It pushes needles in sizes 3 to 9 for detailed portrait work like strands of hair and eyelashes.
It has a sharp hit, but plenty of inertia in the armature bar to handle the finest lines in a single pass. This prevents blowouts.
Also, the aluminum frame is very lightweight at only 30.5 grams. That’s under 2 ounces!
It comes perfectly tuned and ready to go out of the box.
HM Deno Powerful Liner Coil Tattoo Machine by HM Tools & Dye
HM Tools & Dye is based in Madrid, Spain. It was established by Roman from Tattoo Magic.
With years of experience, these experts build machines in-house from solid blocks of metal like brass, iron, or aircraft aluminum.
This particular liner is CNC-machined from iron with 6-wrap coils. It has a swing-gate tube vise.
It has plenty of power to push large needle groupings, and it hits fast and hard.
Choose from various designs like gold-plated or nickel-plated skulls inlaid with red enamel or plain brass. The machine will arrive pre-tuned.
TrueLiner ALU Coil Tattoo Machine by Right Stuff
Right Stuff was established in 2012 to create high-quality tattoo machines. The founder, Oleg, was the owner of a tattoo supply store.
He had been repairing machines from other manufacturers and was inspired to create a better product. To this day, he still does the final assembly and tuning himself.
His machines are the trusted tools of artists like Mowgli, Adam Cornish, Ildo Oh, and Julia TESL Soshkina.
This black and red coil machine is manufactured from a single piece of aluminum. It’s a power liner with a long stroke. It’s powered by 9-wrap coils made of 26mm wire.
It runs at 6.6 V and 135 Hz (unloaded) and can handle 9 to 18RL needles.
Anchor Irons Rebel Coil Tattoo Machine | Liner Tattoo Machine
Anchor Irons stands behind its products with a 5-year guarantee.
This liner is made in Connecticut from cast iron. As if that wasn’t durable enough, it’s also powder-coated black, which makes the copper fittings stand out even more.
The coils are hand-wrapped with 1.25-inch stilted core covered by black heat shielding. There’s also a 47 µF capacitor.
The armature is a speed bar with a stainless steel tip. It easily pushes tattoo needle groups from 3 to 7 RL.
Micky Sharpz #000XB Bronze Micro Dial Liner Tattoo Coil Machine
After 35 years in the business, there’s no doubt that this is one of the top brands of coil tattoo machines.
The Micky Sharpz Ultimate liner runs smooth and fast.
It has a polished bronze finish and a cut back telephone dial-type frame. It features a quick change split collet, too.
Make sure you get an authentic machine by checking the certificate and the registration number engraved on the frame.
Whether it’s your first coil tattoo machine or not, it’s crucial to get the best tattoo iron you can afford.
It’s an extension of your hand, the tool that helps you realize your art.
Spend the time you need to get the best tattoo machine for your style and goals as an artist.
1. https://thetattoonerd.blogspot.com/2014/10/coil-tattoo-machines-101.html by Jason Sorrell, published October 1, 2014, accessed August 22, 2020
2. https://tatring.com/getting-tattooed/Interested-in-Tattooing-Lesson-One by Jason Goodrow, published March 19, 2020, accessed August 21, 2020