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Published Sep 25, 2022 12:24 PM

Massage guns, like all other ground-breaking inventions, were born out of necessity. Following a motorcycle accident, chiropractor Jason Wersland created the world’s first massage gun. In short, reciprocating saw, plus rubber head, equals immediate muscular pain relief. Since then, many amazing offerings have emerged on the market. There’s a portable massage device for every person, and I’m here to help you find the best massage guns for your needs. 

Best Overall

It’s hard to beat Bob and Brad C2 Deep Tissue massage gun. Between the price, the specs, and the simple design, it is pretty clear that it offers almost as much as higher-priced competitors. Does it have a super ergonomic design? No. Does it have app connectivity? No. Does it really need that stuff? I’d argue, no.

This massage gun is “good enough” with a price that makes it the most sensible for the average person. Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck, the creators of the C2, have a combined 60-plus years of physical therapy experience. While that really does not mean much in the way of research and development, one would hope that they aren’t just slapping their name on any old product. Luckily, even if that was the case, you get a 30-day return window and 12 months of warranty to put your mind at ease.

For a fraction of the price of titans in the industry, with a comparable performance output, the C2 is a serious contender and my pick for overall best.

Product Specs
  • Weight: 1 pound 8 ounces
  • Decibels: 60
  • Frequency: 3,200 rpm
  • Speed: 5 settings
  • Battery life: 3-4 hours
Why It Made The Cut
  • The Bob and Brad C2 massage gun offers great performance for a great price. Bob and Brad brought out its A-game to offer an unlikely winner in a market dominated by titans.
PROS

Inexpensive

Quiet for a massage gun

30-day return window

12-month warranty

CONS

Not the most technologically-advanced

Not the best ergonomics

Coming in at literally a fraction (<1/3) of the cost of most of the other products on this list, the Taotronics massage gun is the pound-for-pound champ of affordable massage guns. It’s not the sleekest or most aesthetic choice, but its performance-to-price ratio is pretty impressive. With a 10-hour battery, you’d be hard-pressed to find any $40 massage guns that can do as much as the Taotronics Percussion Massager. It also has a screen that helps you adjust between the 20 (yes, 20) different speed settings. It’s hard to imagine how a massage gun that’s so good on paper could only run up a $40 bill. There has got to be a compromise somewhere, right? Let Taotronics’ 30-day return policy and 12-month warranty give you some peace of mind. Between the low price tag and decent customer support, the stakes are pretty low. Best case: You score a gem. Worst case: You send it back and get a new one.

Product Specs
  • Weight: 1 pound 11 ounces
  • Decibels: 35
  • Frequency: 3,200 rpm
  • Speed: 20 settings
  • Battery life: 10 hours
Why It Made The Cut
  • For 40 greenbacks, you get the Taotronics Percussion massage gun, which offers 20 speed settings and six different massage heads in a package that weighs less than two pounds.
PROS

Affordable

Variable speed settings offer immense adjustability

10-hour battery life

CONS

One color

Not the best ergonomics

Best Covert

The Recoverfun Mini massage gun is perfect for more casual massage gun users. It’s not as sporty or robust as others, however, it is very quiet and very affordable. If you’re looking for a more subtle offering that does not draw too many eyes, this is the one for you. It’s great for aches and pains and light to moderate use. However, if you’re looking for something to smoothen out any muscle knots or loosen you up, it might be best to look elsewhere.

The main appeal of this massage gun is that it’s very quiet. The 30-decibel rating is about the sound level of a whisper, so if for whatever reason you need or want a surreptitious massage gun, this is your best bet. Plus, it comes with four heads. For around $80, this is a fairly budget option (aka low stakes).

Product Specs
  • Weight: 1 pound 1 ounce
  • Decibels: 30 to 42
  • Frequency: 1,800 to 3,200 rpm
  • Speed: 4 settings
  • Battery life: 5 hours
Why It Made The Cut
  • It’s not always tenable to jackhammer out your muscles at full blast. The Recoverfun Mini offers a quiet massage gun that only reaches an advertised 30 to 42 decibels.
PROS

Very quiet

Small and portable

Affordable

CONS

Not necessarily the best performance

Best Percussion

There’s no doubt about it, this is the pinnacle of massage gun achievement. The Theragun Pro is as good as it gets when it comes to what a percussion therapy instrument can do. Make no mistake, it doesn’t get any better than this.

It would behoove you to ensure that you absolutely NEED the features that come with this $600 package. It comes with smart app integration, virtually endless battery life with two constantly swappable lithium batteries, 60 percent deeper penetration, an LED screen, and a fully articulating arm. This ain’t your grandpa’s massage recliner. This is a designer piece of equipment designed for people who regularly push their bodies to the limit.

This massage gun is quieter than previous generations, but is still not exactly subtle. Don’t worry, though, because this is actually what you WANT. Everyone now knows you’re using the legendary Theragun PRO. After all, you are now a recovery royalty. Lording over all the plebes who put frugality over optimal muscle recovery. If $600 isn’t rich enough for your taste, you could always go ahead and purchase the 24K-plated Therabody PRO.

Product Specs
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Decibels: 71
  • Frequency: 2,400 rpm
  • Speed: Fully customizable range from 1,750 to 2,400
  • Battery life: 5 hours
Why It Made The Cut
  • Theragun’s Pro model is the king of the proverbial massage gun hill. Draped up and dripped out, it is the pinnacle of performance with a price tag to match.
PROS

Complete speed adjustability

Articulating massage arm

Stunt on these plebes

CONS

Loud

Heavy

Best Compact

Ekrin’s Bantam is the clear cut winner of the mini massage gun contest. For the same price as other competitors that rhyme with “ice” and “gun,” it offers a lot more in the way of specifications and accouterments such as massage heads and a carrying case.

It’s clear Ekrin put a lot of thought into the particular usage of a mini massage gun and went above and beyond the competition. It is lighter, stronger, and about as compact as you can make a percussive massage gun.

The Bantam features a very high (for a mini massage gun) stall force of 35 pounds, beating the Theragun Mini by 15 pounds. This means you can apply 15 more pounds of force directly into sore muscles before stalling out the motor.

Ekrin’s Bantam does not have the best oscillating range (amplitude) at 10 millimeters. However, this is a small price to pay for probably the most capable mini massage gun on the market. It is clear why this sits in the number one slot on so many lists. It’s the gold standard of mini massage guns at no extra cost.

Product Specs
  • Weight: 1 pound 1 ounce
  • Decibels: 50
  • Frequency: 3,200 rpm
  • Speed: 3 settings
  • Battery life: 6 hours
Why It Made The Cut
  • If you tend to live out of a suitcase, space can be a limiting factor. The Ekrin Bantam is a compact massage gun that packs a lot of kick.
PROS

Comes with more accouterments than other mini massage guns

Lightweight and compact

Higher stall force than other mini massage guns

CONS

Short range of motion

Best Hand-Held

Aesthetics are all about preference. Some people love HyperIce over Therabody. I am by no means a Therabody fanboy. However, it is hard to argue that the triangle design is anything other than ingenious. It makes self-therapy easier than the hairdryer-style shape. Being able to grab the handle in a variety of different ways allows you to massage out your back among other hard-to-reach areas.

The Theragun Prime lacks features of higher trim levels, but all things considered, it checks off most boxes and is backed by a reputable company. Sure, you may be losing some wireless charging, LED screens, progressive frequency, and higher stall force, but for massage gun users that have a moderate budget and aren’t looking to splurge, this is a great, aesthetic, middle-of-the-road option.

Product Specs
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Decibels: 65
  • Frequency: 1,750 to 2,400 rpm
  • Speed: 5 settings
  • Battery life: 2 hours
Why It Made The Cut
  • Great product design is one that marries utility and aesthetics, and Theragun’s triangle design is the epitome of this. It not only looks great, but it feels great, too.
PROS

Great product design

Smartphone connectivity

Five intensity settings

CONS

Heavy

Loud

No wireless charging options

Best Electric

Percussion massage guns are all the rage these days (as evidenced by the seemingly endless lists of products), but let’s not forget about the venerable foam roller. The foam roller is the king of recovery and warming up. I do it before my warm up sets and after my workout to prevent any delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that I may have earned in the gym.

Therabody and a few other companies have given the king a Robocop makeover. It not only technologized a cylinder of foam, but it has also outfitted it to be “optimal.” Five intensity settings, smartphone connectivity, integrated wave design (although it could be more aggressive in my opinion) — the Therabody Wave brings two amazing things and creates a recovery tool that is greater than the sum of its parts.

If you want to target larger muscle groups and are familiar with foam rolling techniques, this is for you. The Therabody Wave Roller is the perfect addition to your recovery arsenal.

Product Specs
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12 x 6 inches
  • Materials: High-density foam
  • Speed: 5 settings
  • Battery life: 3 hours
Why It Made The Cut
  • Combining the (relatively) new and old to create a product greater than the sum of its parts, the Therabody Wave Roller is without a doubt the most unique massage gun on this list.
PROS

Lighter and more compact than its competitors

Smartphone connectivity

Five intensity settings

CONS

Wave tread could be more aggressive

EVA foam not super dense

Things to consider before buying a massage gun

When you’re considering buying a massage gun, there are a few features you should pay attention to. These include the battery life, stall force, speed settings, and massage heads. 

Battery life

Good battery life for a massage gun is about two or three hours. And, more often than not, they’ll use a rechargeable battery. 

Stall force

For a massage gun, the stall force is the amount of pressure you can apply to the head before it stalls out. In other words, it’s how hard you can push it against someone before it stalls. 

Speed setting

Most massage guns have three to five speed settings, which have a speed range of about 2,000 to 3,200 RPMs. 

Massage heads

The number of massage heads probably won’t be a dealbreaker, but it’s helpful to know why they exist. According to PT Progress, the five common massage heads are for: 

  • The bullet head is for large, tight muscles and is great for deep tissue massages and target specific areas.  
  • The fork head is best for massaging large, tight muscles. It’s great for deep tissue massages and recovery. 
  • The ball head is for targeting sensitive muscle groups, but you can use it on all areas.
  • The flat round head is best for massaging medium to large muscles, and helping sore muscles recover. 
  • The soft padded head is for massaging sensitive and bony areas. 

FAQs about massage guns

Q: How much does a massage gun cost?

A: I wouldn’t seriously consider a massage gun that costs less than $80 without some serious letters of recommendation (see Taotronics). Within the low hundreds range, I’d be pretty confident in any of the selections by big-name brands. I really wouldn’t consider anything more expensive unless I knew for sure that I would use all the features that come with it.

Q: How do you use a massage gun?

A: All this talk is about which massage gun is best, but if we really get back to basics, massage guns are essentially miniature jackhammers that tenderize your muscles. According to Massage Gun Advice, a massage gun prevents delayed onset muscle soreness and helps blood flow, thereby helping with recovery. You should use it on sore muscles or even on muscle groups that just ache from time to time.

Final thoughts

The truth is, you don’t really need a massage gun for everything, but rather, you just need “something.” The trick is finding the best “something” for your applications — one that checks all the boxes you need without going overboard. There’s a reason my overall best pick isn’t the most expensive. Although I would like the Theragun Pro, it’s just not the best option for me because I don’t really need everything it offers. The Bob and Brad C2 gets the job done at a fair price. 

Methodology 

The massage gun market is well-saturated. Most people have only heard of Theragun and HyperIce. I know, at one point, those were the only two brands I was aware of. After deep-diving into countless forums, articles, blogs, and YouTube videos, I learned of many new options. I would even venture as far as to say “better.”

This list was compiled after comparing specifications, user experiences, reviews on longevity, and performance. Anything I wouldn’t buy for myself or recommend to a friend was immediately disqualified. This included any cheap rip-offs or generic, cheap rip-offs.

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