Tattoo Needles & Codes | Painful Pleasures Community

Tattoo Needles & Codes

Our new Precision Tattoo Needles labeling system makes it so much simpler to find the exact combination of tattoo needle qualities you want. We break down each component of our new labeling system in this Tattoo Needles & Codes article so you can start shopping for the perfect tattoo needles for your next project with confidence.
by PainfulPleasures Last Updated: May 14, 2021

Tattoo Needles & Codes

In our blog post, Understanding Tattoo Needles, we explained the traditional tattoo needle coding system, which utilizes a format like this: 1207RL. The first 2 digits represent the diameter of the tattoo needles in the grouping, the second 2 digits represent the number of needles in the grouping, and the letters at the end describe the type of needle grouping. So, in our 1207RL example, we’re talking about a group of 7 #12-diameter (0.35mm) tattoo needles in a round liner grouping. This product might be called #12 7-Round Liner Tattoo Needles.

With the traditional method of labeling tattoo needles, you have to think a bit about what you’re looking at when faced with a list of codes–you have to decipher each piece of information and make sure you’re getting exactly the combination of qualities you want. Plus, traditional codes don’t include everything you might want to know about a tattoo needle grouping, like whether or not the needles are textured and how long their tapers are. You’d have to go digging through a product description to find that information most of the time.

We decided it was high past time to come up with a clearer, more informative labeling system for tattoo needles, so we did just that for our our Precision Tattoo Needles line. Our new labeling system makes it so much simpler to find the exact combination of tattoo needle qualities you want at a glance. You can view a larger version of our new tattoo needle labeling system graphic by clicking on the image below, or read the explanation of each component of our new system that follows.


Precision Tattoo Needles Labeling System


Tattoo Needle Diameter

Our Precision Tattoo Needles are available in 5 diameter options, as listed below. The higher the number, the wider the diameter will be. The wider diameter of the needles in a group are, the heavier/faster ink will flow through them. The thinner the diameter, the slower and more controlled the ink flow will be.

  • #13 – These tattoo needles are 0.40mm in diameter and offer the fastest ink flow–perfect for filling in large areas.
  • #12 – These needles have a 0.35mm diameter, and they’re the most popular size tattoo needle overall.
  • #10 – These needles have a 0.30mm diameter, and they’re the most popular size for lining work.
  • #8 – These needles are 0.25mm in diameter, and they offer a finer, more controlled ink flow.
  • #6 – These needles have a 0.20mm diameter and offer the most control and finest ink flow.


Tattoo Needle Points

“Points” refer to the number of needles in a grouping. We offer everything from 1 to 100 needles, or points, in a group. The most popular tattoo needle groupings purchased contain 3, 5, 7, 9, 13, or 15 points.


Type of Tattoo Needle Grouping

The following list of abbreviations represents the different needle grouping types you’ll find in our Precision Tattoo Needle line. An explanation of what each set of letters stands for and what that type of needle grouping is typically used for follows each abbreviation.

  • RS = Round Shader needles are used for shading.
  • RL = Round Liner needles are used for lining.
  • RLXT = Super Tight Round Liner tattoo needles are used for creating finer lines and/or working in tighter spaces.
  • RLXP = Extra Super Tight Round Liner tattoo needles are used for doing the finest line work.
  • F = Flat tattoo needles are often used for filling and shading. They’re especially popular for geometric tattoos and some avant-garde styles, like Trash Polka tattoos.
  • M1 = Magnums are typically used for filling large spaces, blending and shading.
  • M1C = Curved Magnums are gentler on the skin, so they can be better for filling, blending and shading in delicate areas. Some artists just prefer the angle that a curved magnum grouping provides, regardless of where on the body they’re tattooing.
  • M2 = Stacked Magnum tattoo needles allow you to fill in, blend and/or shade larger areas much more quickly than standard magnums.


Needle Taper

The length of the taper on each tattoo needle in a grouping also impacts ink flow and control. We offer 6 taper length options which provide progressively higher levels of control while yielding finer streams of ink:

  • S = Standard Taper (1.5mm)
  • LT = Long Taper (2mm long)
  • DLT = Double Long Taper (2.5mm long)
  • ELT = Extra Long Taper (3.5mm long)
  • SLT = Super Long Taper (5.5mm long)
  • ESLT = Extra Super Long Taper (8mm)


Other Info in Our New Labeling System

In addition to the information detailed above, we also include details about whether or not the enclosed needles are textured and recommend the best size and type of tube/tip to use with them. If the enclosed needles are textured, there will be a *T in the “Textured” box and a check mark below it; otherwise, there will be an X where the check mark would normally be.

As for our “Tube/Tip” recommendations, we provide a suggestion on the style and size tube/tip you should use with a particular needle grouping. If you see “VT” and a black diamond shape, it means you should use a diamond tip. If you see “RT” and a black circle, it means you should use a round tip. “FT” and a black rectangle indicate that you should use a flat tip. The suggested tube size will be listed as a number next to VT, RT or FT.

All of the information detailed here will either be listed in boxes, as shown in the top-left quadrant of the new Precision Tattoo Needle Label System image above, or it will be listed in a format like this: 12,9,M1C,S,*T,FT9. If you were to see the latter, you’d know you were getting a box of #12-diameter 9-curved magnum standard-tip textured tattoo needles that should be paired with a #9 flat tip tube/tip.


For more information about tattoo needle codes and what they tell you about the tattoo needles you’re getting, read our Understanding Tattoo Needles blog post. You may also be interested in taking a closer look at the following Tip Compatibility Chart.

Tip Compatibility Chart

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