Recently, more and more people have searched for the best rotary tattoo machine to replace their noisy coil one when it comes to lining and shading tasks. It makes sense because rotary models are known for the quiet and smooth operation. Thus, if you have similar purposes, keep reading the rotary tattoo machine reviews down below.
What Is a Rotary Tattoo Machine?
Introduced in the 1970s by Manfred Kohrs of Germany, the first rotary tattoo machine was to make the job smoother and quieter. Until now, the rotary machines have improved a lot – but the principle is kept unchanged.
Accordingly, these machines are often powered by a small motor spinning in a vertical circle to move the needle up and down.
The Advantages of Rotary Tattoo Machines
You might compare the benefits of a rotary tattoo machine with the traditional coil machine and come up with three main advantages.
1. Lighter Weight
A magnetic coil tattoo tool often features two coils and iron rods, which are heavy. For that reason, users often suffer from hand fatigue after long hours of handling the machine.
That time, you will thank us for knowing that a rotary machine is simplified with a small motor and a needle, as seen above. Such a lightweight nature allows keeping focused on a single sitting with no worries about cramps on your hands and fingers.
2. Quieter Operation
A coil machine uses an electromagnetic current through the coils to turn on/off the magnets and create up-or-down motions. When the armature bar taps the needle into your skin, it ends up with an endless buzzing sound.
The sound, more or less, distracts you from your tattoo tasks, and you might make mistakes, particularly if you are a first-time user.
A rotary model is much quieter on the other side. Every movement of the needle is supposed to be smooth and noise-free. In the end, the more you can focus on the tattooing task, the better and less painful they are.
3. Versatile Usages
There is a limit to the coil machine since it fails to create both lines or shades at a time. Supposing that you are working on a complicated design, you will have to double your time – each for lining or shading.
Having a 2-in-1 rotary tool sounds better. You can choose different needles to draw lines and shades as you wish. The machine is less customizable but easy to use.
Top 9 Best Rotary Tattoo Machines Of 2022 – TOP RATED
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1. Hawink CNC-Q1 Rotary Tattoo Machine – Best Overall
The first on the list is the Hawink CNC-Q1 – one of the most commonly-used rotary tattoo machines by professionals.
The quality of this machine is unbeatable. It is made in Germany and with the premium aluminum alloy – the same material used for airplane making. As a result, you can expect the CNC-Q1 to last for years.
This manufacturer uses almost all patented parts and stays back up to their quality standards.
Secondly, the design is unique and thoughtful, making the tool as versatile as a tattoo pen and a rotary machine.
The pen-like construction makes it lightweight and comfortable to hold the machine in your hand and work for hours. Meanwhile, the powerful motor ensures a smooth and quiet operation.
Together, the Hawink CNC-Q1 is super stable. It will not get hot quickly, even after an extended running period.
If there is a thing to improve, then it is the wrong information about the stroke with protrusion. It is 3.3 mm rather than 3.5 mm as in the description. Consequently, there is a lack of punch for medium to large tattoo projects.
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- Quality and durable build
- Versatile as a pen and a rotary machine
- Powerful motors with different voltages
- Smooth and quiet operation
- Not cheap
- Shorter stroke than advertised
2. Dragonhawk Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine – Best Budget
While Hawink is known for its quality tattoo machines in a high-priced category, Dragonhawk provides budget models.
You cannot expect the machines at Hawink’s level, but the quality is still beyond our expectations. Take the Dragonhawk Extreme – the best cheap rotary tattoo machine, for example.
At a glance, the machine features the classic design of a carbon steel frame, along with a color packing. It feels ultra-lightweight and ergonomic design on our hand.
On running, this small tool turns out to be unexpectedly powerful and versatile. You can use it for shading and coloring at 7.5 or 8.5 volts or increase the power to 9 volts for lining projects.
The small size, on the other hand, can also not be preferred by those with big hands. You might find it hard to move your wrist. Not to mention, the vibration is somehow annoying.
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- Extremely cheap
- Lightweight and ergonomic
- Possibly used for different projects
- Compatible with many needles and cartridges
- Not for big hands
- Too much vibration
3. Dragonhawk Atom Rotary Pen Tattoo Machine – Best Ease of Use
If you fall for the pen-style tattoo machine of Hawink, then you are happy to know that Dragonhawk also has an affordable Atom Pen Machine under your fingertips.
This rotary tattoo machine is made of anodized aluminum, meaning it is not durable as the Hawink. However, we still like its lightness and simple management. The material can put up with heat, stress, and ink.
An impressive improvement is that the tool can work with needles from 0mm to 3.5 mm or even 4.5 mm stroke. You can use the Dragonhawk Atom for small to large projects, and it will always create tidy lines extremely fast.
At a low price, we are surprised that the manufacturer uses a Japanese motor, meaning that the stability is great. The motor has run for several months with very few problems – a little loud operation and increased heat after several hours.
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- Light and easy to handle
- Stable Japanese rotary motor
- Adjustable needle strokes
- A bit noisy
- Increased heat during long operation
4. Solong Tattoo Kit Rotary Machine – Best For Money
If you are a tattoo beginner, we would suggest a kit rather than an individual machine. Buy one, and you get all the necessary pieces to start your very first tattooing project out of the box.
And here comes a Solong package – one of the best rotary tattoo machine kits for beginners and also the best rotary tattoo machine under 100$
You will have a combined pen-style rotary machine, along with a foot-pedal power supply, ink in various colors, practice skin, needle cartridges, disposal gloves, grip tape, as well as a carrying case, etc.
The tattoo machine itself is made of anodized aluminum with a CE certification. In other words, it will work safely on the clients’ skin and will also be durable over time.
The motor is German-made, so you can rest assured about its quality and capability. You can connect this tattoo pen with an international DC interface and have it be ready to use.
There is even a 1-year warranty in case of any defects.
What to complain about is the ink coming along in the package. It quickly faded. Anyway, we should not be too demanding about this affordable kit.
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- A full kit of tattoo machine and accessories
- Durable anodized aluminum construction
- A german-made motor that runs smoothly
- A CE certification included
- Low-quality ink
- Tricky assembly
5. Stigma Tattoo Kit Rotary Tattoo Machine – Best for Beginners
How about the disadvantages of this best rotary pen tattoo machine for beginners? It is the motor that is not very powerful or quick-lining or shading.
Although the Solong machine is complete to get started, there are some things to improve. If you are ready to invest some more, we will suggest the Stigma Tattoo Kit as the best rotary tattoo machine for beginners then.
As you might expect from a kit, the Stigma product gathers all necessary accessories under a package, including a rose-golden pen, DC connector, two interchangeable batteries, Japanese motors, 20 pieces of cartridges, gloves, and more.
With all those parts, you are supposed to sit down and start tattooing right away.
Compared to the Solong, we appreciate that the pen is more ergonomic and stylish. Not to mention, it is ultra-lightweight and durable while using. The motor made in Japan works very quietly without any noticeable vibration.
The thing we like the most is the two batteries. In case that you are working outside with no electrical cord available, you know that the machine can work wirelessly. Although those batteries do not have an impressively extended lifespan, they are still very helpful in emergent cases.
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- Lovely rose-golden design
- Coming with a bunch of accessories
- Quiet and durable motor
- Two interchangeable batteries included
- Not very powerful
- Scratchy aluminum cover
6. Kwadron Equaliser Proton Rotary Machine – Best Rated
So far, the Kwadron Equaliser is the best rated rotary tattoo machine. It makes sense once you take a closer look at its features.
The machine is designed to be very sleek and durable so that you can use it for extended tattooing projects without suffering from tiredness or cramps. The aluminum frame is only about 130g.
Secondly, the machine is extra helpful to deal with adjustable needles from 0mm to 3.5mm and to 4.5mm. It is also possibly used with all types of cartridges.
Thirdly, the motor is powerful and also features various speeds.
Thanks to such versatility, the machine is voted as the best professional rotary tattoo machine.
However, not many people can afford this machine because the tool is very expensive.
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- Sleek and durable aluminum frame
- Adjustable needle strokes
- Powerful motor working from 7 to 11 volts
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Extremely expensive
- Not many accessories included
7. Cheyenne Sol Nova Tattoo Machine – Best for Line Work
Why is Cheyenne Sol Nova Tattoo Machine the best rotary tattoo machine for line work?
This is a combined rotary and pen-style machine that is good at creating fine lines while it causes less trauma to the clients’ skin and fastens the healing.
The Cheyenne Sol Nova features the SensiDrive technology. It allows the motor to move through different algorithms with reduced vibration and heat generation.
The machine operates from a low-frequency range of 25 Hz to a high-frequency range of 150 Hz. Thus, you can always find a comfortable setting based on your preference.
You can choose between the “Hard” mode for lining work and the “Sensi” mode to enjoy the feeling of the traditional coil tattoo machines. It is extremely useful when you have just moved from the coil models and need some time to get used to the rotary ones.
The drawback is that the Sol Nova is bigger than many other tattoo machines. Thus, you might find it hard to maneuver the machine to some areas of the body.
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- Patented SensiDrive® technology
- Powerful and vibration-free motor
- Two operating modes available
- Durable and easy-to-clean anodization
- Not cheap at all
- A bit bulky
8. Hawink CNC-M-WE Wireless Rotary Pen Machine – Best Convenient
The next option is provided by Hawink. It is CNC-M-WE Rotary Pen Style – the best rotary tattoo machine under $300.
For your information, this machine is running wirelessly, meaning that you will not have to rely on a power cord. Instead, there is a battery pack directly connected to the machine armor.
The batteries of the CNC-M-WE are 900mAh after a 1.5-hour charge, and the energy efficiency is about 85%. Then, artists can use this machine anytime and anywhere for 3.5 to 9 hours.
A Bluetooth connection is also available at the footswitch, where you can adjust the voltage based on the tattooing projects.
On running, the Hawink CNC-M-WE is extremely quiet and comfortable in your hand.
The price is very high, though. However, when you buy this wireless machine, you might not want to go back to the clumsy wired models.
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- A small and lightweight construction
- Convenient wireless design
- Long-lasting batteries available
- Helpful 3.5-mm stroke supported
- Quicker motor required
9. YILONG ‘L’ Rotary Tattoo Machine – Best for Lining and Shading
The last on the list is YILONG ‘L’, but it is definitely not the least functional machine. In contrast, the model is the best rotary tattoo machine for lining and shading.
Just by looking, you can say that the tool is very well-built and sturdy over time. The YILONG ‘L’ is made of Space aluminum, like what you can expect from famous brands like Hawink, Solong or Stigma.
As a result, the machine stays rust-free and cool to touch no matter how long you use it.
The package has a pen, a cord, as well as a large needle cartridge to complete lines and shades with ease. The tip is well-rounded, so you can expect utmost control and accuracy during the work.
The motor is able to work with a voltage of 6 to 9 volts, and it runs quietly and smoothly as well.
It would be much better if the instruction is more comprehensive. It seems to be written by a non-native speaker.
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- Ergonomic design
- Versatile as a pen and a rotary machine
- Well-rounded needle cartridge
- Affordable pen-style machine
- Unhelpful instruction
- A bit heavy
All recommended rotary tattoo machines are divided into two styles – the traditional style and the combined pen-style. They are all durable and high-efficient.
The Hawink CNC-Q1 is the best overall, which has a balance of price and quality. It is also easy to use. Meanwhile, the Stigma Tattoo Kit Rotary Tattoo Machine is for beginners due to the availability of the durable pen-style tattoo machine and accessories.
How to Pick up The Best Rotary Tattoo Machine?
Even if you read all the reviews through, you might still be in two minds. That time, spend some minutes to further check the following buying guide.
By any chance, you should never go for cheap or inferior tattoo machines – no matter how cheap they are. Those machines can break while using and cause serious injuries for the artists and customers.
Your reputation will be charged!
Instead, we recommend machines made of conductive materials like iron, aluminum, steel, brass, bronze, or copper. These materials are durable enough to offer a long-period service. Not to mention, they are rust-free, so they will not introduce infections into the customers’ skins.
Of all, aluminum is the most lightweight and comfortable, whereas brass is the most heavily durable.
2. Weight and Length
The chosen material decides the significant weight of the rotary tattoo machine. The length and extra accessories will also affect.
Choosing a lightweight or heavy tool is up to your preference. If you have to hold the machine for an extended period, you should not choose a very heavy or big model.
Although lightweight machines are high-accurate, flexible, and productive, some artists still prefer a heavy feeling in their hands. That time, choose sturdy materials like iron or brass.
Moreover, the length of tattoo machines is another vital factor.
The standard length is around 4 inches and 1/2 inches. Longer models seem hard to reach awkward positions, making it possible to cause cramps and mistakes.
Also, consider the design to see whether it is for right-handed or left-handed users.
A motor is the vital part of the machine to decide how strong and smoothly it will work.
Thus, make certain that you choose a quality motor by reading the customers’ reviews carefully.
If possible, we would recommend Japanese motors.
One benefit of the rotary tattoo machines is their versatility to line and shade at the same time. Excitingly enough, some versions even have a coloring option.
The more, the merrier, so you do not have to switch the buttons too often and make errors.
Based on your budget, we will suggest an individual rotary tattoo machine or a kit.
For example, a kit includes everything beginners need to start the tattoo tasks, such as needle cartridges, lubricant, wrap, gloves, inks, a carrying case, and a safety kit.
However, if you already have some parts, a rotary machine to replace the old coil model is fine.
Who Makes The Best Rotary Tattoo Machine?
As you might refer to from the reviews above, there are several brands that provide worthy tattoo tools, such as Hawink CNC, Dragonhawk, Solong, Stigma, etc.
- Hawink CNC is famous for offering machines with the best quality and classy construction. Uniqueness is their core value.
- Dragonhawk, however, focuses on both coil and rotary machines at affordable prices and for beginners. Their products often come in the form of a kit with lots of accessories.
- If you need professional machines, Solong is a good choice. Their tattoo tools come with high-quality assurance.
- Stigma models are also for entry-level users because they are affordable and easy to operate.
Tips to Use and Clean The Rotary Machines for Tattooing Properly
Now you might already have a choice for the best rotary tattoo machine. Then, take notes on the cleaning and maintaining tips to make the tool in service for years.
1. How to Use a Rotary Tattoo Machine?
The very next thing is to find out how to set it up for the next drawing task.
You should refer to the step-by-step instructions of the manufacturers and also the following guide:
- Start with cleaning your hands and around the workspace carefully. Remember to wear gloves as well.
- Fasten the holder, tube, and tip of the rotary tattoo machine together with a hexagon.
- Place the needle holder in the hole before tightening it with the screw. Meanwhile, you can adjust the needle ledge to be protruded up to 1 mm or so.
- Use a rubber band to fix the needle on the rotary tattoo machine’s body so that you can ensure a stable vibration during the work.
- Connect the machine with the power supply and set up the desired voltage. Check every part of the machine before you start using it on the customer’s skin.
2. How to Clean a Rotary Tattoo Machine?
Even the best rotary tattoo machine will inevitably suffer from tears and wear. However, proper cleaning and maintenance help minimize the damages and defects.
You can refer to the following tips:
- Buy the right cleaning methods, such as chemical cleaners, UV sterilizers, ultrasonic cleaners, or automatic cleaning machines.
- Pay attention to the signs of wear and tear on the machines to treat them timely.
- Apply proper lubricant for rust problems coming up with vulnerable areas like armature needle bars or springs.
- Strictly follow the maintenance guidelines of the providers, especially when it comes to disassemble and assemble process.
Possible Troubleshooting of a Rotary Tattoo Machine
Be careful with the voltage.
Too weak voltage can cause the machines to work under their capacity. As a result, the needle works slowly and hurts the customers’ skin.
Too high a motor, however, is also not recommended. The machine will get hot quickly, and the springs become too much tension.
To fix it, you should consider the suggested voltages and adjust the tensions on the gap of springs or the springs themselves.
Over time, your rotary tattoo machine starts losing its speed.
- It is possibly due to the lack of power.
- Or, the contact of the housing and the needle-bar pin gets loosen.
- Otherwise, the retainer can wear out or be over-tightened with the needle-bar.
In such situations, you should consider the power or maintain those parts.
Under a struggling motor for a long time, the piston becomes clogged, and the needle fails to move smoothly as it should do.
You should adjust the screw downwards to solve this troubleshooting.
The worst case is when the springs or the armature bar get crooked and the needle chews up the skin.
That time, you should check the connection between the back and the front spring. Moreover, the armature is positioned straight to the back binding post.
Frequently Asked Questions
Above are the best rotary tattoo machine reviews, along with the buying guide and FAQs. In the end, if you do not know what to choose, you can consider either the Hawink CNC-Q1 for professional usages or the Stigma Tattoo Kit Rotary Tattoo Machine for beginners.