xxx = FK Irons Xion Machine Review Fireside Technique EP 41
Today we’ll be looking at the Spektra Xion from FK Irons along with our good friend Ty Pallotta. The Xion is a pen-style tattoo machine that’s not only capable, but has some unique features compared to a lot of other pen-style machines on the market.
Throughout this review we’ll be touching on some of those unique features and comparing it a little to a Cheyenne Hawk Pen Machine.
One caveat I’d like to point out is that all points given are opinions, and only you can decide what’s best for you and your set up.
This episode was made possible thanks to:
Video By Jake Meeks —
Writing By Daniel Pushcarich -
Topics: Tattoo Machines, FK Irons, Spektra Xion, Xion S, Tattoo Machine Reviews, Rotary tattoo Machine, Rotary Machine Reviews, Dan Kubin Sidewinder, Bishop Wand Liner, Stroke Length, Tattoo machine give, Machine Hit, Needle Throw
I’d actually like to start with something that was initially a negative that, over time, became a really big positive. The one thing that seemed like a poor design choice was the shape of the grip. Every way that you turned the Xion there didn’t seem to be a very good way it would rest inside your hand, wrapping the machine several times seems to be the only way to even things out. And the options for other grip types had been limited from the start as well.
Disposable grips were also something they came late to the game with. Waiting nearly a year after release to unveil disposables and having the gorilla size as the only option, no standard or slim sizes.
Updates to their accessories and grips catalog recently have given them a better quality of selection. FK Irons has added a full range of disposable and autoclavable machine grips in classic, gorilla, and now the addition of a slim grip with the inception of the Xion S. Also, all of the autoclavable options are available in a myriad of different color options as well. Though, the only grip design to implement a more symmetrical shape is the slim option.
FK Irons has made it pretty easy to get the most out of a tattoo machine. Right out of the box they give you two stroke wheel options. The 3.2mm stroke is a good all rounder for color packing, blending, and black and grey shading. FK Irons also give you a 3.7mm stroke wheel option which might be good for smaller lines or sculpting lines but can’t really handle the bigger stuff. A “Dan Kubin Sidewinder” or a “Bishop Wand Liner” might be a better option for a dedicated liner.
Since the release of the Xion S they’ve added some extra stroke wheels to their catalog. Though this tattoo machine is geared toward Permanent Make-Up (PMU) or cosmetic tattooing the actual motor isn’t any different between the two machine options. This machine comes standard with 1.8mm and 2.5mm stroke wheel options for areas of the body like the face and head that have thinner skin. But, these stroke lengths have also been made available separately or as a set for the standard Xion machine.
Not only do you have a wide variety of stroke lengths available but the motor also allows for variable dampening options. A couple of clicks and your hit can go all the way from soft to hard. If you like a really solid hit the motor's strength allows for that, but it’ll still dampen just enough so that you can pack, blend, and shade. All these options together make this machine incredibly versatile and very efficient.
Both of these machines run pretty differently. The mechanism that runs the Xion has a lot of variability and features while the Cheyenne Hawk Pen just seems to be a one trick pony. Not to say that it’s a bad machine, but you’re probably going to need some other machines on deck to fill in the gaps.
For starters it doesn’t really line at all. It can definitely build or sculpt lines to a certain extent, but again you might want to leave that to the other more dedicated liners mentioned above.
Another negative aspect is that you don’t really have any adaptability to your current setup. It seems that the Cheyenne builders at the time of this video didn’t really want you to mix and match so a lot of parts or accessories to run the machine are proprietary. No RCA cable/clip cord adapter means that when you need to switch to another machine it takes a bit longer to break down and swap over to something else… like that liner we mentioned.
Both machines seem to be better suited for larger scale work. Almost any artist will prep multiple tattoo machines for a piece because each machine will have their function, but the Xion really seems to shine again with versatility. You might consider having multiple Xions with different configurations for your needs, but with the Hawk you’re definitely going to need to find other tattoo machine manufacturers to cover up its shortcomings.
A quick mention about grips again. Both the Xion and the Cheyenne Hawk Pen have expanded their disposable grips selection since arriving on the market. The main negatives that Ty has is the slow implementation that these machine builders have when making these variations. Both companies now make a wide variety of disposable grips.
So to wrap everything up here I’ll just hit a few extra points and give an overview list of what I thought was most important.
The Cheyenne Hawk Pen is a solid machine with a strong motor that packs color, and shades really well. Its two biggest downsides is that you only get one stroke profile and if you need to run multiple machines it can complicate your setup a bit.
Ultimately, the FK Irons Spektra Xion wins out. It’s a better all-rounder with its easy swap stroke lengths, and variable give control. You can set the Xion to feel more like a direct drive machine if you need a more solid hit or you can set it soft to get nice smooth blends. The Xion could also be a better transitionary machine for people who are hesitant to go from coils to rotary pens since it has a similar give function.
A final note, Fk Irons tattoo machines are USA made which is pretty important for a lot of people. So if you’re the type of person who likes to keep it Red, White and Blue then definitely go for FK Irons. But if that’s not super important to you then Cheyenne, which is made out of Germany, is still a great company that builds solid equipment.
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Transcript for this video can be found (here). All transcripts can be found (Here)
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