The best tufting gun for beginners is the AK-I: Here’s why

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If you’re like me, you were addicted to RugTok videos for months before finally taking the plunge and making your own rug.

The good news is that it’s easier than ever for beginners to buy tufting supplies. The bad news is that it’s still difficult to know which tufting gun to actually buy, or where to buy it.

(PSA: don’t buy a tufting gun on Amazon).

That’s why I’m here to tell you that the AK-I is the best tufting gun for beginners. Keep reading to learn why, or just grab one from my favorite retailer below. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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Best tufting gun for beginners
AK-I cut-pile tufting gun

The AK-I is the tufting gun to buy for beginners. Grab yours and tuft your first rug today!

Buy Now (Etsy)

Keeping it simple

best tufting gun for beginners ak I
Say hello to my little friend. Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

It can be tempting to look at one of the shiny new cut/loop pile combination tufting machines like the Duo when shopping for your first tufting gun. More possibilities mean more fun, right?


What you need in a tufting gun for beginners is simplicity. Something that will work out of the box to help you create your first shitty rug right away.

First tufted rug
My first shitty rug. Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

The AK-I is the easiest tufting gun I’ve ever used. Even easier than the AK-II. The cut-pile gun doesn’t require as much technique, and any mistakes can be pretty easily fixed with a carver after gluing.

Troubleshooting is also easy since it’s a relatively simple machine. There are also tons of resources online, and if you buy one from the shops I recommend you can enjoy great aftermarket support and a year-long warranty.

Plus, the AK-I is generally cheaper, so if your tufting enthusiasm dies down you’re not out too much money.

I like to think of rug tufting as painting with yarn, and like painting it’s more about technique and composition than using the fanciest brushes and paints you can buy.

Trust me, you’ll be able to create more than enough incredible rugs with the AK-I and a boatload of yarn for tufting.

Room for expansion

Tuft the World tufting guns
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Once you’ve pounded out a few rugs and are ready to experiment further, the next step is a second tufting gun like the AK-II instead of a combination machine. This is the setup I personally use.


Convenience! It’s so much easier to pick up a second gun when you want to combine cut and loop pile in a single rug. Changing the settings on a combination machine takes much longer.

Plus, you’re more likely to mess something up in the process.

(It will be fixable, but again, it breaks your flow and takes extra time.)

When you’re really ready to take things to the next level, the AK-III is the combination machine to get. It’s a pneumatic tufting gun, so you’ll need an air compressor, but it can push some seriously high-pile cut and loop-pile rugs.

But it’s also very expensive and more difficult to use, which is why the AK-I is still the best tufting gun for beginners, even if you have a big budget.

Where to buy the AK-I

Rug tufting gun in front of tufting frame
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Many big tufting suppliers like Tuft the World no longer sell the AK-I in favor of combination machines, but there are still plenty of places to buy them.

I also highly recommend buying from a place with a decent warranty and support line. This is the main reason why you shouldn’t buy on Amazon, and it can be a lifesaver for beginners.

In the US, the best options I’ve found to buy the AK-I tufting gun are the Canada-based Tufting Nation and direct-from-China CPointBox. Both offer a year-long warranty and have been great in my experience.

In Europe, the best shop I’ve found is the aptly named Tuftingshop. They sell both the AK-I and AK-II, as well as a combo pack (although it isn’t any cheaper than buying both individually as of writing). CPointBox also ships to Europe so that’s another good option.

Best tufting gun for beginners
AK-I cut-pile tufting gun

The AK-I is the tufting gun to buy for beginners. Grab yours and tuft your first rug today!

Buy Now (Etsy)

What you need for your first rug

Tufting supplies for beginners
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

While you wait for your AK-I tufting gun to arrive, there are a few other supplies you’ll need for your first rug.

We have a full list of essential tufting supplies, but here’s a short shopping list for beginners:

Do you disagree that the AK-I is the best tufting gun for beginners? Let me know why in the comments below.

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