A comfortable and lightweight rotary tattoo machine, the CNC CW2 operates like a pro machine…for half the price.

CNC CW2 Machine Review

*Price at time of publishing

The CNC CW2 tattoo machine is comfortable to hold and great for lining, shading, and packing. It’s become one of our favorites for practicing on fake skin.

Video Transcription: CNC CW2 Wireless Tattoo Machine Review

What is up YouTube? Look what I got in the mail today, a new machine. So I'm going to be doing a review on this CNC machine today. All right. So let's get it opened up and check it out. Come on. Before we get into this, if you're new to this channel, I'm Brandon from Tattooing 101. And make sure you like and subscribe down below if you like these review videos and would like to keep up to date on all the tattoo content we make each week. So let's get into the unboxing of this tattoo machine. All right, so let's get this opened up. And this is the machine. It looks really cool. I really like that silver gun finish over top of it. I like the blue. That's super cool. Let's check out what else comes in the box.

Okay. So this is the CW 2. So the CNC CW 2. This is a battery powered machine. So you can see it comes with two batteries, one right here, and one right here. Let's check out what else it comes with besides the directions. So it actually comes with directions on this one, which is awesome. I'm going to check that out in just a second. Cool. So it comes with the charger and a couple of little grommets and everything that goes inside the machine, which is cool to have. Let's get this box out of the way. Move you in the front. So this is what you're going to get in this box. You have some directions, registration, warranty information right there, and the machine and an extra battery and the charging cable. So let's go through here and see what all this CW 2 has to offer.

Awesome. So the stroke on this machine is a 3.5, which is awesome. It's a mid ground, which is something that I recommend whenever you are first getting into tattooing and trying out different styles. So 3.5 is a good bet for sure. Battery type, lithium. Voltage output, so nine speeds. So that's cool. The charging port is a C type, which means it's that new type of iPhone or new iPad type charging cable. The charging time per battery is 1.5 hours. So obviously if you're tattooing with this and it starts to go low, you could always have this one charging, which is dope. And the power supply does not work when charging. So that's why they sent you an extra battery as well, because you cannot just plug this one in like other machines and run it while it's plugged in.

Okay. About the buttons. So you click plus once to increase the voltage. Now, if you could see, there is no pluses or other markings on this. Yeah. Either one of them. So on the actual instructions, it shows the top one having a plus, the middle one having a zero, and the bottom one having a dash or a negative sign. But there isn't that on the actual machine. Which is fine if you know exactly how it works, you really don't need those. But press and hold O which is the middle button for two seconds. One, two. And it turns on.

Right like that. You can see it blinking. It shows that the battery is fully charged. So it does come charged, which is awesome. And then pressing the top button will increase the voltage. So it jumps up 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. So the different numbers mean different things. One is five volt. So it's very misleading when it comes to that. That's something I'll have to get used to is knowing exactly what they mean. So one is five. Two is 5.8, three is 6.6, four is 7.4 volts. Five is 8.2, 6 is 8.9, 7 is 9.6, 8 is 10.3 and 9 is 11. Now you probably will never use 9. I'm probably going to stick between 6 and 7. So I'm going to set it to 6 right now. And then obviously it runs by a magnet. There's no unscrewing needed. You just slap it in there. And you could just have these wrapped up and throw in there to change out the batteries, which is super cool. Right like that.

And it does say that the damaged O ring will cause a violent shake to the machine. Please stop using the machine and replace the O ring if that happens. So what they mean is this little thing in here. If this is damaged by any means, it's going to vibrate the machine and you should probably replace it. And then it shows the battery percentage. So four dashes is a hundred percent, three dashes 75%, two 50. And then one obviously is 25%. You see, you should probably switch out the batteries.If it gets down that low. Now holding this machine, it really does feel like it is a quality machine. I really like the weight of it. It feels really nice. It goes in my hand kind of like the Cheyenne SOL Nova with the battery packs, but the Cheyenne you have to unscrew things. So I honestly like this setup a little bit more. You could just switch them on and go with this magnet setup, which is awesome. I'm excited to try out this machine.

Okay. So first all this is how you're going to change your depth. So I'm just checking out how this is working. It seems to be working really nicely. Let's try to unscrew this. This piece, okay. So the full bottom piece comes off instead of the grips just coming off. This whole bottom area comes off completely. So this isn't something that you're going to be able to have disposable grips for which is an issue for me. I'm honestly not sure how this would even hold up to the autoclave, just because there's quite a few things in here. There's actually lubrication in here because of it going onto the spin wheel or the cam. So yeah, this would be an issue when it comes to using this machine on actual clients. If you are first starting out by all means, pick it up for doing on fake skins only, but this isn't something I would recommend for using on clients just because I'm pretty sure, yeah there's...

I don't want to ruin it or anything. It doesn't seem like there's any way that I could be able to take this part off and where the cartridge actually goes into the machine is a part of this piece. So there's no way you would be able to just replace that one part to be able to have it sterile. And it definitely doesn't look like you're going to be able to put this in an autoclave. So one thing to think about if you're getting this machine, I'm sure it will work great for practice skins, but don't use it on actual people or yourself because there's no way to actually sterilize it. Even if you wrap it with a bag it's still not good for bloodborne pathogens and things like that. So make sure you're only using this machine on fake skins. Other than that, let's turn it on and try it out. Okay. So you could see I'm running it on eight right now. It's very minimum when it comes to shaking. The volume is quite a bit louder than my Cheyenne SOL Nova. We'll turn it down to 7, 6.

Okay. So one, this would be a five volt. This is what you would use for stemple shading, something like that. And it sounds like it's pretty consistent, which is awesome. But I would be running it on a 7. So I'm going to turn it up to there. Yeah. It seems to feel really good in the hand. I like it so far. Let's get into trying it out with some actual fake skins.

Okay. Let's get into the review. So what I'm going to be using today is some police cartridges by CNC. I have a seven round liner tight, so that's a bug pin or a double zero. I have a non round shader. I'm going to use this one to line to get a traditional feel for it. And an 11 curved mag. So these are the three I'm going to use for this design. First thing we're going to want to do before getting started on this is wrapping up your machine. So I'm using a two inch bag that fits perfectly around this. These bags were made for the Cheyenne SOL Nova unlimited. Then I'm going to wrap this up exactly how I would my Cheyenne for working on fake skins.

If I was working on an actual client, I'd use a disposable grip on the end of my Cheyenne. Awesome. So I do still have access to change the depth right there. I could turn it, which is awesome. One thing I'll have to get used to. So I was turning it and it was just spinning the top battery right here, which I'm not used to that being able to spin, but that's just something I'll get used to. But yeah, I do like how it just pops off. You could switch them out mid tattoo. It took a little bit longer on your fake skin, if you are first learning and trying some different stuff out. Has the ability to do that really efficiently. Awesome. So let's get it turned on. Cool.

So that is it on all wrapped up, ready to go. Let's try some cartridges in it. So we'll start out with the nine round shader. Let's see how it is clicking in. So it actually clicks in really nice. Some machines have a really hard time clicking in correctly. Let's turn it on and see how good it stays in there. Because some machines they'll fly out and have issues with that.

Awesome. So yeah, even with the cartridge in it's a little bit louder, but it's still not absolutely terrible. Other machines could be pretty loud. So for a pen style machine, this is pretty normal. So yeah, at least you're not hearing a traditional style tattoo machine, which is super, super loud. And for me it could be annoying because I like to talk to my clients, things like that.

So awesome. Let's try out this machine. I also like how you could just hit that button to turn it off. Really easy to do. Okay. So I'm running it on an 8, which is 10.3 volts. I'm actually going to turn it down to a 7, which is 9.6. I run my machine, my Cheyenne SOL Nova about at 9.5. So the 9.6 will work out perfectly for how I tattoo. So we have it set to 7. Let's get into trying the tattoo. Now I did check my depth before starting. You could see, I let my needle hang out a little bit and to change the depth all you got to do is turn it right here and you could see the needle go in and out. All right. First line with this machine.

Okay. So the first line ran really, really smooth. I tattooed the same hand speed as I normally would with my Cheyenne. And it's a little bit lighter. I'm going to go down here and do the next line. I slowed down my hand speed a little bit and that made a perfect line. So I'm just going a little bit slower than I normally would with my Cheyenne. And I am really happy with how it's actually pulling these lines in here. They look great so far. So far so good with this machine.

I really like the way this fits in your hand because of the grip has those line marks that really fits comfortably in your hand, which I really like. The Cheyenne's just perfectly circular. So it could be a little bit awkward, but this feels perfect. Especially with the police cartridges, because it has that little notch right there for your finger. So yeah, I really like the feel of this machine. Yeah. Even with my Cheyenne, which I use all of the time, it could be a little bit awkward sometimes to kind of hold and go around areas. But this one, I honestly like the feel of this one more than the machine I use all the time, which is crazy to say.

Yeah, so far this is an awesome machine. We're going to also check out how it lines with small liners and shaders. So I'm going to fast forward all these thick lines real quick so we can get onto the other steps.

All right. So there we go with the thick outline and this machine held up great. I really like how I was able to get those thick lines in there. No issue at all. I didn't have to fight with the machine, which is awesome. So let's see how it can do with the seven round liner. Obviously I'm going to turn down to about a 5, which means it will be running on a 8.2 and go through and do some of these thin lines for different line weights. With this machine, you're able to hold it really naturally in the hand, which makes it able to really get in there and do really elegant, crisp lines even with a really small liner just because you're not fighting with your machine, trying to get it stable. It just fits in your hand really great. So I would highly recommend this machine if you are first starting out, getting a feel for how to hold a machine and everything, because this one's just super natural. I love it. Yeah. So it is powering through these areas with the seven round liner, no problems at all.

I'm able to comfortably and confidently go through and do these really long lines without needing to stop and start again just because it just feels really great in the hand. And you can get really comfortable using this machine fairly quickly as well.

Change back to my nine round shader. So I'm going to go through and do some shading on the actual blood drops down below. I'm going to clean it off real quick so we can check out our line work. So with lining, this machine worked awesome. I'm very surprised how great this machine actually worked. I use my Cheyenne SOL Nova all of the time, pretty much every video on here just because it's quiet and it doesn't affect my audio, but this is an awesome machine. I'm definitely excited to see how it does with shading, because if it does great, just like the other things, then this is a machine I'm definitely going to incorporate in with my videos.

Okay. We'll switch over to our mag. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to run this on a 5. Actually I'm going to run this on the 7, which is 9.6 and I'd be running it on about that for doing some really quick pepper shading when it comes to traditional, something like that. Or when I'm doing my neotraditional color, things like that. And then I'm going to turn it down for more of a black and gray. So we're going to check out how it works with that. So we turned it up.

Let's do some more traditional type whip shading real quick. Yeah, it is working great for that. So this is definitely a machine that I could use for traditional designs in the future without any issue. All right. Traditional pepper shading. It works. So let's turn it down to about, let's say a 4. That's 7.5. Let's see if we could get some smooth transitions with this. I'm going to dip in some gray wash and just do some pendulum shading down. This is a very awesome, well-rounded machine. I'm super pumped of how it's working so far. Yeah. I'm not having any issues. I'm tattooing exactly how I would with my Cheyenne and it's running pretty much exactly the same, which is crazy.

All right. So we went through and did all of the shading and it worked great. Yeah. So I know it sounds like I'm bragging on this machine a ton, but I just can't believe for what it is, coming from CNC how great that this is working. I would say that it's holding up exactly how my Cheyenne SOL Nova unlimited would, and that machine's obviously $1,000 to $1,200 new.

So for half the price you are getting a machine that could run exactly the same and it has a digital readout and an extra battery just with a magnet you could switch off instead of unscrewing the top and having to carry around an extra charger. These chargers are readily available anywhere. So you can get this machine for around $400 straight from CNC. So less than half price for this. And it runs exactly the same as a Cheyenne. So I'm going to dip in here and let's see how it can do and hold up with some color. I do a lot of color tattoos, so I'm really excited to see how this works out.

Just like everything else. This is working out great. I'm tattooing exactly how I normally would. It's going in there, packing in really effectively the first time. I don't have to go back in and keep trying to pack it in. It's going in perfectly the first time, which it's probably because of this direct drive machine. I really like a direct drive machine when it comes to packing in color, because I like to get it really nice and saturated the first time and not have to go back. Let's check out the yellow.

So there you go. That is the CNC CW 2. Let me get this wrap off and we could check it out one more time. There we are. So we did a full tattoo and you could clearly see that we still have a full battery. So this is definitely going to last throughout a whole tattoo. Obviously this tattoo was smaller, but still full battery. And I also have that spare one ready to go if this one does run out. So for this tattoo machine, I would very much so highly recommend. I'm definitely going to be using this in the future. So if you're watching this CNC, thank you for making a quality machine that I could definitely recommend to artists first starting out.

One thing I'd like to see is a machine that has the ability to put on disposable grips. That's going to be a game changer because if this machine had that, I would definitely use this on an actual client without fret at all.

I'm pretty confident in the way that it works. So I would use this on an actual client if it had that disposable grip bottom part. But other than that, quality of the machine, I will definitely be using it again. And to everyone watching this out there, this is something to check out. For $400 you get the quality of Cheyenne SOL Nova unlimited. I actually like the batteries a lot more than the Cheyenne. And also the grip is just really nice and comfortable. And it's about the same weight when it comes to the batteries in the Cheyenne and this. So it's a little bit longer than the Cheyenne. But yeah, so I had a great time tattooing with this machine and I definitely will be doing it again. I hope this was able to help you guys out. And so you have the knowledge on if this machine is worth picking up and for sure it is Tattooing 101 approved.

As always like subscribe down below so you can keep up to date on future review videos that we make and more tattooing content coming your way each week. Thank you guys for watching. And I hope you have a wonderful day.

If you have found this video helpful and you would like to be mentored by artists like me and other mentors from Tattooing 101, I left a link underneath this video for you. Inside our artist accelerator program and the Mastermind Facebook group, we break down step by step how to tattoo from start to finish, even if you are just a beginner. So if you're tired of trying to figure out everything on your own and want to skip years of trial and error to become a professional tattoo artist, I recommend you check it out.

Our Score



Price: $399.00 (7/10)

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
The CW2 is half the price of most professional machines while still being similar to the Cheyenee Sol Nova Unlimited.

The only reason our scoring on the price isn’t higher is because there’s no way to properly sterilize the machine to use on real skin.

Quality (8/10)

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
The CW2 is one of our favorite CNC wireless tattoo machines yet. The direct drive motor and the build of the machine are both high-quality.

Handling (9/10)

Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
This machine has no issue performing any job we threw at it. If you’re new to tattooing and looking to build your confidence, this machine is easy to hold and can line, pack, and shade easily.
  • Adjustable stroke lengths
  • Easy to hold and control; no struggle to get a good grip on the machine
  • Packs color very easily
  • Cannot autoclave the grip well (due to lubricant inside) and does not come with disposable grips
  • Understanding the digital readout will take a bit of getting used to

Product Details


210g with a power pack, Power pack only: 40g


145mm (with power pack)


3.5mm stroke (you can get 3.0mm and 4.0mm cam wheels as extras)


Durable aircraft aluminum


Coreless direct drive motor


8-11V (starts at 5V)


Wireless (Battery quantity: 2)

Product Details


210g with a power pack, Power pack only: 40g


145mm (with power pack)


3.5mm stroke (you can get 3.0mm and 4.0mm cam wheels as extras)


Durable aircraft aluminum


Coreless direct drive motor


8-11V (starts at 5V)


Wireless (Battery quantity: 2)

CNC CW2 Wireless Tattoo Machine - Our Review:

The CNC CW2 at $400 is comparable to the Cheyenne Sol Nova Unlimited ($1K) in the way it feels and tattoos.

However, like most pen machines, there’s no option for disposable grips. So while we love it for fake skin, we don’t recommend actually using this machine on people (at least until a disposable grip option becomes available).

Super Comfortable Tattoo Machine

The CW2 has ridges in the grip, making it easy to hold onto. It is also lighter than other machines and fits really naturally in your hand, which makes it easier to pull long lines. It also makes it simpler to do elegant, crisp lines because you aren’t fighting to remain stable.

There are a few things you’ll need to get used to (especially if you are already comfortable with a different style of pen machine):

Changing the Depth

To change the depth, you need to make sure you’re twisting the right part of the machine. It’s easy to accidentally twist the battery.

Digital Readout 

Instead of listing the voltage, the machine’s digital readout lists “levels” representing different voltages.

  • Level 1 = 5.0V
  • Level 2 = 5.8V
  • Level 3 = 6.6V
  • Level 4 = 7.4V
  • Level 5 = 8.2V
  • Level 6 = 8.9V
  • Level 7 = 9.6V
  • Level 8 = 10.3V
  • Level 9 = 11.0V

Lightweight Machine 

This is a very light machine. Slowing our hand speed just a bit made it easier to control and get perfectly straight lines. 

Can Only Be Used on Fake Skin Fit

We really enjoyed our experience with this CNC wireless tattoo machine, and it’s a great option for new artists who want to improve their skills on fake skin. However, we wouldn’t choose to use this in a shop because it cannot be properly sterilized.

There is lubrication in the grip (meant to help the cam wheel), which will make it hard to guarantee it’s completely sterile after going through an autoclave. And since there is no disposable grip option, you can’t use it on real skin. 

Great for Lining, Shading, and Packing

The CW2 comes with a 3.5mm set stroke, which is considered the best “all rounder” stroke, so you can do every job you need with this one machine. 

It has enough power to put in thick lines (9 RS). And because it’s so comfortable to hold, it’s easy to get detailed linework with a small liner (7 RL).

We tested both traditional pepper shading, as well as smooth shading, and the CW2 handled both perfectly, while also making it simple to pack in color on the first pass.

Who the CNC CW2 Pen Is (and Isn’t) For:

We’re big fans of the CW2 for artists who want to build up their experience on fake skin. It works exactly like a professional machine for half the price. 

However, while we would enjoy using this on real skin, there is no way to properly sterilize the grip. This is why we wouldn’t recommend it for professional artists or for advanced beginners who are getting ready to start on real skin. CNC does not currently have a disposable grip option for this machine.

Get the CNC CW2

Buy the CNC CW2:  

Other Tattoo Machine Review Videos

Become a Tattoo Artist With the Artist Accelerator Program

Having a career in tattooing is not only fulfilling, but it’s also the most stable way to make a living as an artist. However, for decades, the process to become a tattoo artist has been notoriously difficult. 

The apprenticeship process requires aspiring tattoo artists to work 50-60 hours a week without pay for 2-4 years. That, combined with the toxic culture of abusing apprentices, makes getting into the industry almost impossible for newcomers. 

That’s why we created the Artist Accelerator Program. Our online course provides a simple, structured way of learning to tattoo that has been proven to work by over 2500 successful students, with many of them having gone on to open their own shops all around the world. 

Inside the program, we’ll take you through every step of the tattooing process in 9 clear, easy-to-follow modules and support you along the way within the Tattooing 101 Mastermind online community.

In the Mastermind group, you’ll collaborate with other students, get answers to your questions, and receive personalized video feedback on your artwork and tattoos from professional tattoo artists. With this friendly community of both new and experienced tattoo artists, you’ll never be stuck again. 

When you join the Artist Accelerator Program, you’ll have instant access to the full course and the Mastermind community, as well as our 30-Day Flash Challenge and recorded interviews with tattoo artists from all over the world. 

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}



Tattoos That Last a Year

May 3, 2023

Made-to-fade tattoos are meant to help people avoid tattoo regret by lasting ...

Tattoos That Last a Year

3 Tattoo Artist Drawing Tips

October 21, 2022

Even before you pick up a tattoo machine, it is important for ...

3 Tattoo Artist Drawing Tips

How to Draw Tattoos

August 24, 2021

Some tattoos just look better than others. But why? As a beginner ...

How to Draw Tattoos

Our Community

Join the Tattooing 101 Community today and get free, instant access to tools and resources that take you behind the curtain of all things tattooing. From apprentice to shop owner, we've got you covered.