Piercing Needles vs Piercing Gun: Which Is Safer?

Which Is Better for Piercing: A Gun or a Needle?

The quick answer: A piercing needle is much better than a piercing gun, for many reasons. Needles are generally cleaner, more accurate, and less painful than guns. Below, you’ll find the pros and cons for both piercing guns and piercing needles. Read them. Study them. Make the decision that you think is best. When it comes to your body (or your child’s!), you don’t want to make a bad decision.

Since piercings are common among people of all ages—parents get their babies and young children’s ears pierced, and many adults add additional piercings as they mature—many people want to know which piercing method is best. No matter who you are, you’ll want the fastest, safest, cleanest, and most pain-free piercing method.

(Note: When it comes to the method used for the piercing—needles or piercing gun— the technique is as important as the aftercare techniques that follow. Of course, there is risk with any piercing, but with proper technique and aftercare, most people can heal a new piercing with minimal complications. However, not all people can successfully heal a piercing, even if the techniques are perfect and aftercare methods were solid.)

The Pros and Cons of Piercing Guns


  • Most places use guns since it’s easier to train someone to use them, so if you’re looking for a place that uses a gun, it’ll probably be easier than if you’re trying to find a place that uses needles.
  • It’s convenient to get your ears pierced while at the mall shopping.
  • It’s sometimes cheaper to get a piercing at the mall or at a booth versus a qualified piercer. There’s less skill and training required, so they can charge less.
  • It’s over fast, with one quick pull of the trigger.


  • There can be major tissue trauma when a piercing is performed with a gun. The piercing guns hold blunt studs, and when these studs are forced through the tissues, it literally rips the tissue in order to make room for the jewelry. Especially if your piercing will go through the cartilage it can shatter with blunt force.
  • When the blunt stud is shot through your skin, it can get messy. A wipe of an alcohol or antiseptic pad is not going to remove all those blood particles, however, and piercing guns cannot be properly sterilized. They get a lot of use and come into contact with bodily fluid… however, a simple swipe of an alcohol swab between uses is not enough to sterilize the instrument. Some claim that the instrument never comes into contact with the skin, but the piercer’s hands do, and they’re touching the potentially contaminated gun and are further contaminating it with your blood.
  • Mall employees and booth workers generally undergo a whopping two-week course on how to use a piercing gun. That’s not a lot of time to teach proper techniques for infection control or healing.
  • Piercing guns use blunt studs that have butterfly backs. These can easily harbor bacteria and gunk, which can infect a new piercing. The studs are sometimes made of a low-grade material which cause allergic reaction, scarring, and infection.
  • The gun pinches the back of the jewelry snugly into place, which doesn’t allow any room for the piercing to breathe and heal properly. Because the butterfly backing is going to be put on way too tight, you will experience increased swelling (it will swell naturally as part of the healing process, but it will swell worse if it doesn’t have room to swell).
  • Although these guns were designed only for piercing earlobes, mall employees also typically offer cartilage piercings and noes piercings with the same instrument. Cartilage can easily shatter with the pressure and force of a piercing gun.
  • Piercing guns are loud, which can scare younger children more than anything. If the child jumps, the stud can easily get stuck half-way through, which means it must be removed. The gun will have to be recocked and the stud shot back through the tissue, causing more tenderness, bleeding, and risk of complications.
  • Piercing guns are hard to aim properly and so the piercing is more likely to be crooked or inaccurate. If the employee doesn’t have it just right, the stud can go through at an awkward angle or in at a bad placement, which may cause your body to reject the jewelry.
  • Most stores in the mall and booths that are certified for piercings will tell you that you need to turn your piercing a couple of times a day. This may sound like it makes sense, but it reality all it does is irritate the new piercing and introduce bacteria, which will cause infection.

Summary: The cons outweigh and outnumber the pros. There are many people who never experience any problems when getting piercings with piercing guns at the mall, but do you really want to take that chance?

The Pros and Cons of Piercing Needles


  • The needles are one-use-only, so you don’t have risk of someone else’s bodily fluids on your needle.
  • Piercing instruments can be easily and properly cleaned in an autoclave that uses high pressured steam to thoroughly sterilize the entire instrument. Used needles are properly discarded, but jewelry and hemostats are sterilized thoroughly in the autoclave.
  • Professional body piercers receive extensive training that includes proper piercing techniques, infection control, and healing practices. They will also learn how the body reacts to new piercings and how to avoid hitting nerves (which will reduce the pain the customer feels when getting a new piercing). They also learn proper sterilization techniques.
  • There is less pain when piercing needles are used. The needle is hollow and extremely sharp so that it slices through the skin, which pushes the tissues aside to make room for the jewelry. Even though it sounds rough, it’s a really quick process.
  • The jewelry for a needle piercing is designed to allow dirt and bacteria to be easily removed. Generally, captive bead rings (CBRs) and barbells are used for new piercings; both allow the jewelry to move so that the bacteria doesn’t just sit on the new piercing. Plus, they’re made of metals that are proven to help reduce reaction.
  • Most piercing jewelry is made of a high-grade stainless steel or titanium, which gives the the best chance at not developing a reaction or infection during healing.
  • You can use a needle to pierce almost anything—areas with cartilage or without.


  • It can be an inconvenience to go out of your way to find a reputable tattoo shop that offers needle piercings.