Piercing Gun VS Needle: The Definitive End to This Ongoing Debate

Ear piercing with needle
Ear piercing with needle

The ongoing debate in the piercing community these days: Which is better the piercing gun or needle?

More to the point, is the piercing gun safe at all?

Most professional piercers will answer this question straight away with a big fat NO!

The majority of shopping malls pierce their client’s ears using a piercing gun. So does Claire’s Accessories and well, basically most non-specialised places which perform ear piercings (usually just the lobe).

It makes you wonder; why would they use a piercing gun if it is not safe? Also, if the gun really is that unsafe, surely there would be a lot more complaints from the clients.

To be honest, these questions I can’t answer. I’m just as baffled about it as the next person.

What I can do is tell you exactly why it is so much safer to pierce with a needle rather than a gun.

Hopefully I can help to put an end to the “piercing gun VS needle” debate once and for all.

Insufficient training

In order to work in a piercing studio as a certified piercer, there are a lot of hoops to jump through and years worth of training to be done.

This includes but is not limited to taking a piercing apprenticeship, doing health and safety training which involves studying bloodborne pathogens and spending a bare minimum of three months as an observer where you cannot perform any piercing without watching it be done first.

The ear piercers in shopping malls and department stores are only required to do two weeks of training before they are let loose with their piercing gun.

Lack of proper sterilization

Mall ear piercing stalls reuse one piercing gun over and over again without proper sterilization in between.

Ear piercing gun
Ear piercing gun

Piercing guns are commonly made from plastic which is not safe for autoclaving. So therefore cannot be sterilized properly.

Although they do wipe the gun over with alcohol in between piercings this simply does not sterilize it. All alcohol does is remove dirt. It does not kill off viruses or deadly bacteria which could have got on the gun through tiny amounts of blood splattering.

This not meet the sterilization standards of the APP (Association of Professional Piercers).

Even microscopic amounts of blood splattered onto the gun create a risk of cross-contamination.

In a professional piercing environment any equipment which cannot be cleaned using an autoclave will be disposed of after one use.

Lower quality of jewelry

When you get a piercing done in a mall or other non-professional piercer the jewelry they will sell you after will be of lower quality materials. This increases the chance of your piercing becoming irritated or infected.

The jewelry you buy in a piercing studio is typically made of surgical grade stainless steel or titanium (which contains virtually no nickel).

Ball Closure Ring (BCR)
Ball Closure Ring (BCR)

These higher quality metals drastically decrease your chance of getting an infection and help the piercing to heal quickly and cleanly.

In professional piecing studios ball closure rings are used in new piercings to allow for a clean and painless healing process.

The round edges and closed shape of this type of jewelry prevent the ring from getting caught in the hair or clothing. Making it a much safer choice for healing piercings. Also allows for easy removal of dirt.

Use of brute force

The jewelry which is placed in the gun is relatively blunt. Therefore the only way that it can penetrate the skin is through brute force.

Piercing Needle
Piercing needles are very sharp and hollow

A blunt piece of jewelry being forced through the skin can cause all sorts of problems. It has actually been known to shatter cartilage.

A professional piercing needle is hollow and extremely sharp. This means that instead of just pushing the skin to the side, it slices through the skin and acts like a hole puncher. This actually creates a comfortable amount of space for the jewelry.

This actually results in the needle hurting less than the gun too.


So the winning side of the piercing gun VS needle debate is…

The piercing needle!

Without a shadow of a doubt the needle is much safer, cleaner and low risk.

I know it’s tempting to just pop into Claire’s accessories or the mall and get yourself a quick and cheap ear piercing.

To be honest, it’s just not worth the risk.

You’re better off spending that little bit of extra cash to get your piercing done by someone who actually know what they’re doing!

On the grand scheme of things, the extra money it will cost you to get the job done properly is just pennies.

In years to come you will not be saying to yourself “I wish I saved that tenner and took the risk of getting an infected piercing.” Trust me.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

6 Comments on Piercing Gun VS Needle: The Definitive End to This Ongoing Debate

  1. Good post. Safety, proper training, proper hygiene, and sterilization. These factors appear to strongly favor the piercing needle.

    • Hi Ronn,

      Yes the needle certainly has more positives.

      To be honest the gun doesn’t really have anything going for it at all. That’s why I don’t even think it should really be used.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. No matter which way, I’m scared of both. There is a reason why I don’t have piercings. But this is really helpful can getting rid of the the nerves and questions I originally have about needles and piercings. I think for those who are doing it, this is a great site for people. Good job.

  3. Wow… I did not know this. It’s so funny because I use to get on to people for using needles… which btw they weren’t using “Piercing Needles” but still I always thought the piercing guns were better and safer.

    What you have in this article clearly makes since to me. I will definitely not be going back to Claire’s to get a piercing. What about children and babies? Most people who take their kids to get piercing will go to the mall. What is your suggestion on that?

    • Hey Tanya.

      Some piercing studios will do ear piercings for children, although not all of them will. This would also cost more than going to Claire’s but would be much safer.

      There are doctors who will perform medical ear piercing in their clinic, particularly in the USA. Although medical ear piercing is not so common in the UK, there are doctors who can pierce children’s or babies ears. If not, they can point you in the right direction for where you can go to get your child’s ears pierced safely.

      Hope this helps and thanks for reading!


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