How Many Needles Are In A Tattoo Gun – The Science Behind It

Getting a tattoo is as fascinating as painful. The permanent tattoos are done with tattoo machines. These are hand-held machines shaped as guns that are used to create permanent designs on your skin.

These days, there are more advanced tattoo needle types of tattoo machines. The Tattoo machine includes needle grouping to their armature bar. And through that needle bar, the ink flow gets out and creates designs permanently on your skin.

You will find varieties of tattoo needles with different techniques for designing. If you’re on your way to being a professional tattoo artist, it’s a must that you understand each type.

“How many needles are in a tattoo gun” is quite a commonly asked question over the internet. This is because many people get confused about identifying each tattoo needle type and its purposes.

How many needles are in a tattoo gun?

How Many Needles Are In A Tattoo Gun

The tattoo machine industry is a rapidly growing one and develops all innovative designs. Different types of tattoo guns have different numbers of tattoo needles. The basic types of needles are color shading and lining. You might need around 35 different flat shader needles for one particular tattoo.

Basics Of Tattoo Needle Codes

Basics Of Tattoo Needle Codes

A tattoo needle code is a series of numbers and letters (usually in the form of an alphanumeric code) that indicate the type and brand name of the manufacturer or distributor, as well as the needle size, gauge, and shape of a given tattoo needle.

The tattoo guns generally include code. The code mentioned how many needles are over them. The initial pair of digits of each needle code refer to their needle diameters.

For example, 1207 is a code that means the tattoo gun requires nine liner needles. Different designs of a tattoo machine require different numbers of flat needles.

Each needle code will determine different kinds of purposes. Some tattoo needles are for sanding/ lining. They also have color-shading needles. The filling tattoo needle can be anything between one to seven.

Likewise, tattoo machine needles’ color fill shading can be anything between four to nine.

The tattoo needle numbers vary regarding designs. You might have to use even 21 tattoo needles for shaders.

All needles are not used at the same time, and You need to change the needles with every use and even with every design. All these get confusing while choosing/ changing the needles.

Needle Grouping Abbreviations

Needle group abbreviations include:

  • RL – round liner
  • RS – round shader
  • T – textured round shader

Abbreviations for textures include:

  • F – flat
  • M1 – Magnum 1

Stacked magnums are created with the M suffix:

M1 (Stacked Magnum), M2 (Stacked Magnum 2), and so on.

What are the different types of needles used in a tattoo gun?

There are bunches of needles available. But the most commonly used needles or single needle tattoos are a few. Almost all tattoo artists use these needles. And generally, these needles are different by their numbers. Get a quick check over them:

Round Liner Needles

Round Liner Needles

The round liner needles are shaped in a round pattern. This needle type of round liner is generally mentioned as RL. If your design requires sharp lines, round liner needles can help to create edgy lines here. Designs like eye shape will be accurate with round liner needles.

If you want thicker lines for your designs, consider using more liner needles in the machine. These needle counts are mentioned from one to 14 numbers. The lesser the number is, the thinner the lines will be for the fewer needles. Round liner needles are mostly used for geometric and traditional designs.

Textured Round shader needles

Textured Round shader needles

Round shader needles are also perfect for creating geometric patterns and traditional artworks. Such round liners are easy to create shades.

If your design requires basic shades, soft shading, smooth lines, geometric patterns, thicker lines, and paint over, round shader needles or round liners are the perfect picks.

The round shader needle is of small size is found from one to five. And the larger sizes of round liners are located between seven to twenty-one.

Flat shader needles

Flat shader needles

Flat shader needles and larger flat needles are used for creating outlines, filling colors, draw smooth lines or shading. This needle shape can fill up the slow ink flow on the design.

The tattoo artist can create such designs in one stroke with a flat shader needle. Traditional and neo, Mandala tattoos are good to go with such needles.

Stack Magnum shader needles

Stack Magnum shader needles

The stack magnum shader needles and soft edge magnums are used for professional tattoo designs. Big size tattoos are easy to create with these double-stacks modern machines in a tattoo studio.

Even tribal tattoos, neo-traditional tattoos or Japanese tattoos design is quick to make with these curved magnum shader needles effectively by professional tattoo artists.

These soft magnums tattoo needles are suitable for pouring a lot of and faster ink flow in one shot. So, gigantic tattoos are more temporary for the tattoo artist with a double stack magnum shader.

The soft Magnums single needle, especially the double-stack magnum shader in small sizes, is found in five and is used to create intricate shades.

The medium shader stacked magnum needle will be between seven to nine. And large stack magnum shader needles are found between 11 to 17. On the top, the double-stack magnum shader is compactly filled with needle pins.


Flat shaders can be used for multipurpose use. It can do both intricate shading and blending. Flat shaders needles are mostly found in between seven to eleven. These lining needles are clustered in a straight flat row or straight line and can use more ink to line work.


Tights are the perfect needles for drawing dramatic designs. These needles are placed together in a circle shape.

Curved magnum shader needles

Curved magnum shader needles:

Curved magnum shader needles are similar to magnum double stacks or round magnums. Yet, you can use this curved magnum or weaved magnum for more complicated designs like tribal tattoos, traditional and neo or mandala tattoos.

Such curved magnum shader needles are quicker to make consistent and thick lines with just one stroke. The number of magnum needles is comparatively safer for line work and offers more constricted ink flow.

Use Safe needle

The liner needle or round needle is sensitive to using more ink to create line work, traditional and neo tattoos. You must make sure you’re disposing of a needle point after every use in a tattoo shop.

Before using, you must make sure each taper, rubber band, coil machine, and needle is individually packaged.

You should also make sure that you’re not using any needles beyond the expiry date.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will tattoo artists change their needles in between one tattoo in one machine?

Answer: Yes, tattoo machines are designed in that way. You can use different types of cartridge needles or round needles for other purposes here. So, artists might need to replace the needles on different sides of the skin to create a perfect tattoo.

What size of needle to use for a tattoo?

Answer: The size of the needle cartridges will be determined by the diameters/ numbers. The bigger the number is, the needle depth will be thicker. Similarly, the lesser number of needles will be thinner. So, which one you need to use will only depend on the design you’re getting.

What is needle grouping?

needle grouping

Answer: The grouping refers to the tattoo needle counts. Needle groupings also indicate the codes used on rotary machines associated with the armature needle bar.

It pushes tattoo ink into the skin to create bold lines, traditional and neo or Samoan tattoos. You can define the tattoo needle count by the number of pins used to create the needle groupings.

Wrap up

Tattoo needles are a pretty confusing thing to understand for beginners. But if you’re stepping into professional tattoo designing, you should learn every detail about them. It is necessary to use an assortment of standard needles in various number of needles for tattoo guns

Tattooing becomes fun if you know the appropriate tattoo needle size and which needle is required for which design.

These different needles can make the design more attractive. However, you must make sure whichever needles you’re using are safe. After All that thing is going to be in touch with your skin deeply.