Most cowboys wouldn’t leave home without their trusty sidearm. An unarmed cowboy is a dead cowboy unless they’re the great-grandfather of McGuyver.
A welder is no different. Except our sidearm is our welder. And our shootouts are welding competitions.
But, suffice it to say, our welder is our boon companion. And we want the best working right there in our hands.
We’re going to be talking about the best MIG welders today. And the best MIG welder is one that gets the job done.
What Is A MIG Welder?
A MIG welder is a welding machine that uses an electrode wire to create an electrical arc between the metal workpiece and the welding torch.
The heat from the arc melts the metal, which allows the two pieces to be joined together.
MIG welders are popular because they are easy to use and can be used on various metals, including aluminum and stainless steel.
They are also less likely to produce welding fumes than other welders.
If you’re new to welding, you’re probably asking yourself, “What is a “MIG” Welder?”
MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas.
A MIG welder is pretty easy to operate. But amateurs and experts alike use the machine for their work.
The main difference between a MIG and other welders is the gas shield that keeps contaminants out of the metal while we weld.
A tank is attached to the welder, providing a gas mixture that won’t react to the metal while you weld.
The gas runs through your welding cable and the out the same nozzle where your wire is fed.
This creates a protective gas cloud around the arc as you weld—like a forcefield.
MIG is a reasonably popular welder. And you can set one up in your garage with minimal effort.
But you probably knew all that anyway, so let’s get on to the reviews.
What Makes A MIG Welder The Best?
Before diving into our reviews, we need to know what makes the best MIG welder.
If you’re in the market for a high-performance welder, you will want something that pays itself off with faster welds and more efficient joints with clean seams.
You want the joined metals’ thickness increased without sacrificing precision.
It should lessen the amount of scrap discarded. And it should keep you from having to rework your welds.
In essence, the best MIG welder builds a joint you can trust.
What Are The Features Of The Best MIG Welder?
Tim, The Toolman Taylor, would be proud of us for evaluating this.
But MIG welders have three power categories: 110V, 220V, and Multi-Volt. Power is essential for any job, even small ones.
A good MIG welder will have the flexibility to do large and small jobs.
You want a welder that can stand the test. And the best MIG welder has a 60-80% power cycle.
While of course, the quality of a weld is based on both the welder machine and skill.
A MIG welder must be easy enough for an amateur to operate in their garage.
You should be able to load the MIG welder into your truck and drive down to a site.
It shouldn’t be a hassle to do so, either.
We want value for the price.
You might get a welder with loads of features. But beware of the price tag.
A high-performance MIG welder worth it’s salt should hold up to the value you’re paying. And it should be backed with a 3-5 year warranty.
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Introduction to MIG Welders
MIG welders are a popular choice for welding thanks to their versatility and ease of use.
If you’re new to MIG welding, this guide will introduce you to the basics of MIG welders and help you choose the best option for your needs.
MIG welders use an electrode wire fed through a contact tip and into the welding arc. The contact tip is connected to a power source, which provides the heat needed to melt the electrode wire and create a weld bead.
MIG welders can be used for various applications, including metal fabrication, auto body repair, and even home projects. When choosing a MIG welder, it’s essential to consider the material you’ll be welding, the thickness of the material, and the required duty cycle.
Check out our top picks below if you’re looking for an affordable and easy-to-use MIG welder.
How Does a MIG Welder Work?
A MIG welder, or Metal Inert Gas welder, is a welding machine that uses an electrode wire and an inert gas to weld metal pieces together.
The electrode wire is fed through a welding gun and out the tip, where it makes contact with the metal pieces to be joined.
The gun also emits a stream of inert gas, usually argon or carbon dioxide, which surrounds the metal and protects it from oxidation as it heats up.
When the electrode touches the metal, and an electrical current is passed through, the metals heat up and melt. The molten metal from both pieces mixes and creates a weld joint.
MIG welding is commonly used for joining thin metal sheets but can also be used on thicker pieces if necessary.
MIG welding machines are relatively simple to use, which is why they are so popular among hobbyists and DIYers.
There is no need for a complex setup like with other welding methods, and MIG welders can be used on various materials, including aluminum, steel, and stainless steel.
Types of MIG Welders
When choosing a MIG welder, there are a few different types. The most common type of MIG welder is the gas-powered welder.
These welders use a shielding gas to protect the weld from oxygen and other contaminants in the air. Gas-powered welders are available in both portable and stationary models.
Another type of MIG welder is the flux-cored welder. These welders do not use a shielding gas but rely on a flux-cored wire to shield the weld from oxygen and other contaminants. Flux-cored welders are available in both portable and stationary models.
The last type of MIG welder is the plasma cutter. Plasma cutters use an electric arc to cut through metal, making them perfect for cutting thicker materials or making intricate cuts.
Plasma cutters are available in both portable and stationary models.
Read Next – A Guide to MIG Welder Maintenance
Best MIG Welder Brands
There are a lot of excellent MIG welder brands on the market, but which one is the best for you? It depends on your needs and budget.
For example, Miller or Lincoln might be the best option if you need a welder that can handle heavy-duty projects.
However, if you’re looking for a more affordable welder that’s still good quality, Hobart or ESAB could be better choices.
- Miller: Miller is one of the leading manufacturers of MIG welders. Their welders are known for being durable and reliable. They offer a wide range of products to suit different budgets and needs. Here’s a closer look at some of the best MIG welder brands:
- Lincoln: Lincoln is another top brand when it comes to MIG welders. Their welders are easy to use and produce high-quality results. They offer both entry-level and professional models.
- Hobart: Hobart is an excellent choice for those who want an affordable MIG welder that’s still good quality. Their welders are user-friendly and offer excellent value for money.
- ESAB: ESAB is another excellent option for an affordable MIG welder. Their welders are known for being reliable and easy to use.
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Buying a MIG Welder
There are a few factors to consider when purchasing a MIG welder. The first is the duty cycle, the number of minutes out of 10 that the welder can be used continuously before it needs a break to cool down.
The second is the amperage range, which indicates the maximum and minimum current that the welder can produce. Third is wire feed speed, which determines how fast the wire will be fed through the welder. And finally, you’ll want to consider price and warranty before purchasing.
When it comes to duty cycle, you’ll want to choose a welder with a duty cycle that suits your needs. You’ll need a higher duty cycle if you use the welder for extended periods. But a lower-duty process will suffice if you only plan on using it for smaller projects.
As for the amperage range, you’ll want to choose a welder that can handle the projects you have in mind. If you’re planning on welding thicker materials, you’ll need a welder with a higher amperage range.
And if you’re only planning on welding thinner materials, a lower amperage range will do just fine.
As for wire feed speed, this is determined by how fast the wire will be fed through the welder.
The faster the wire feed speed, the quicker the weld will be completed. However, remember that higher wire feed speeds can cause more spatter and heat build-up, so you’ll want to find a balance that suits your needs.
And finally, when it comes to price and warranty, you’ll want to choose a welder that fits your budget and offers a good warranty.
The Best MIG Welder: Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder
Not only is it the best seller on Amazon. It’s also the most popular MIG welder out there.
There’s nothing it can’t do.
It’s a plug-and-go welder. And you need no extra kit.
It’s versatile and portable. And it operates on a 115V standard house circuit.
And despite plugging into such a low voltage plug, it will weld anything from your car parts, farm machinery, and household components.
It features a voltage control selector. This allows you to fine-tune your welding stability. And really, any first-time welder can tweak this machine to their needs.
Do you want something for fast, quick welds? This is your machine.
It won’t be for the long-winded projects you have on the table. But at a 20% cycle, it hits 90 amps. And that’s about what someone would need for a shorter job.
It welds mild steel. You’re looking at 24 gauge to 1/4 inch steel. And it can weld aluminum.
The work clamp is heavy-duty. Its system is a cast aluminum drive. With these features, you’re getting an industrial performance package in a little body.
It has a five-year warranty, so you’ll know that this welder is designed to last.
Lincoln Electric K2185-1
This is the best MIG welder under $400.
It’s a 110V MIG welder. And it can weld thick material with just the 110.
It works excellent for 18-gauge sheet metal.
This is a surprising result for such a small welder.
This welder is no joke. And it’s not just for amateurs.
It has plenty of power. And it is versatile enough to handle all your household and hobby projects.
It comes with four settings. So you can’t dial it up infinitely.
But there is most likely a setting on the dial that will be perfect for whatever you need.
This setting allows you to weld mild steel from 1/8inch thick to 24 gauge. And it features a continuous wire feed speed adjustment.
It’s also easy to start with. And it comes with everything you need.
The package includes the cable assembly and gun, the clamp and work table, the gas nozzle, the regulator, and the hose. Also, a spool of solid wire, contact tips, and a hand shield with lens and filter plate are included.
All you need after buying this welder is a shielding gas cylinder.
The power cycle isn’t as great as the Hobart. It runs at 20% with 70 AMPs.
And it only comes with a one-year warranty out of Ohio. So it may not last as long as the Hobart, or it may last longer. But that’s not guaranteed.
Best MIG Welder “Gasless”: Forney 299
What Is Gasless?
Some MIG welders don’t use gas.
What? Can it be a MIG welder if it doesn’t use gas?
It can. And we lied when we said it doesn’t use gas. It just doesn’t require a tank of gas.
The Forney 299 MIG welder is a flux core welder.
This means that the gas comes from the flux compound in the wire. The mixture reacts to the arc releasing the gas that protects the weld pool.
It’s an “inside-out stick electrode,” if you will.
This reduces some problems you might encounter with a standard MIG welder. This helps, especially if you’re starting.
One of the significant problems with traditional MIG welders is wind. If you want to weld outside, you must have some wind shielding.
If not, the wind blows the gas away, and you get in your weld.
A flux lets the welding process be more forgiving.
The Forney 299 Flux Core Welder
If you’re looking for a reasonably inexpensive best MIG welder that doesn’t require gas, go for the Forney 299.
Forney’s been in business for 80 years, so they should know what they’re doing regarding the best MIG welders.
It’s called the Easy Weld for a reason. It’s a plug-and-go. And it doesn’t require a tank of gas.
It’s great for beginners and experts alike.
It’s highly portable and durable. And you can use it pretty much anywhere without worry of wind.
You should find no issue when moving it around while working.
It features extra storage for your wire spool. You can either use two or 10-pound spools.
And it comes with a spool of 2-pound flux. Which you’ll probably go through pretty fast. But it’s a great bonus.
Again, as we said before, this welder gives you an excellent bang for your buck.
It gives you a 125A output and 120V input, making it competitive in the power market.
It’s easy to keep up and easy to disassemble for cleaning.
Despite using some plastic in the build, this welder is surprisingly durable.
It will weld from 23 gauge to 1/4 inch metals.
Which is great for all the small jobs you have to do.
The only drawback of this model might be the shorter wire feeder and ground wires. It’s a bit of an inconvenience at first. But after a time, you won’t even notice.
It gives you ten speeds on its control knob. So, you have a lot of room to work with wire speed.
Again, like the welders above, it has a 20% power cycle. So it’s excellent for any semi-professional job you need it for.
Unfortunately, Forney doesn’t seem to stand by their product like some. They only offer a 6-month warranty against manufacturer defects.
Is flux core better or worse than MIG?
Flux-core welding is a type of welding that uses a wire electrode that is fed through the center of a flux-cored wire.
The heat from the arc melts the wire and the flux, which then cools to form a weld. This type of welding is often used in outdoor applications because it is less likely to be affected by wind or other factors.
On the other hand, MIG welding uses an electrode fed through the side of the torch. The heat from the arc melts the wire and the metal being welded, which then cools to form a weld. MIG welding is often used in indoor applications because it can be more easily controlled than flux core welding.
So, which type of welding is better? That depends on your needs. If you need to weld outdoors or in another location where wind might be a factor, then flux core welding might be the best option.
If you need to weld indoors or in a more controlled environment, then MIG welding might be the better option.
Do you push or pull when MIG?
When MIG welding, it is essential to know whether to push or pull the welding gun. This will depend on the machine you are using and the welded metal.
If you are using a power switch machine, pushing the welding gun will cause the engine to turn on. Pulling the welding gun will have no effect.
If you use a machine with no power switch, you will need to determine which way the current flows to know whether to push or pull the welding gun.
You must push the welding gun if the current flows from the welder to the ground. You must pull the welding gun if the wind flows from the bottom to the welder.
The type of metal being welded will also affect whether you should push or pull the welding gun. It is best to make a welding gun if you are welding aluminum.
It is best to pull the welding gun if you are welding steel. This helps prevent contamination of the weld pool. This helps prevent slag inclusion in the weld pool.
Are stick welds stronger than MIG?
MIG welds are often thought to be stronger than stick welds, but this is not always the case.
The strength of a weld depends on several factors, including the type of metal being welded, the thickness of the metal, the welding technique, and the amount of heat used.
In general, MIG welding is better suited for thinner metals and welding metals that are difficult to weld with a stick welder. Stick welding is typically used for thicker metals and for applications where a higher amount of heat is needed.
Is AC or DC better for MIG welding?
When it comes to MIG welding, there is no clear consensus on whether AC or DC power is better. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.
Ultimately, your best choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences. DC power is often seen as the more powerful option, making it better for thicker materials. AC power, on the other hand, is less likely to cause weld defects.
Is Thicker MIG wire better for thicker metal?
MIG welding is a popular method that uses an electrode wire to create an electric arc between the metal workpiece and the welding gun. This arc melts the wire, fusing the two pieces of metal.
While MIG welding can be used on various metals, it is often used on thicker materials due to its high deposition rate. When welding thicker materials, it is essential to use a thicker wire to maintain a stable arc and prevent the wire from burning through the material.
Thicker wires also have higher melting points, so they can better withstand the weld’s heat. This is especially important when welding thicker materials, as they require more heat to melt.
While there are benefits to using thicker MIG wires for thicker materials, it is essential to note that they can also be more challenging to work with. Thicker wires are more likely to jam in the welding gun and are more difficult to feed through tight spaces.
Suppose you are planning on welding thicker materials. In that case, it is essential to consult a professional welder or your local welding supply store to determine what size and type of wire will best suit your needs.
What type of welding is most in demand?
The most in-demand type of welding is MIG welding. This process is relatively easy to learn and doesn’t require as much expensive equipment as other types of welding.
MIG welding is versatile, allowing you to weld various metals, including aluminum and stainless steel.
Is gasless MIG better than gas MIG?
If you’re in the market for a MIG welder, you may wonder if gasless MIG is better than gas MIG. The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including your welding needs and preferences.
Gasless MIG welders are becoming increasingly popular as they offer several advantages over traditional gas MIG welders. Gasless MIG welders are more portable, as they don’t require an external gas tank. They’re also easier to set up and use and less likely to cause welding fumes.
However, gasless MIG welders have some disadvantages as well. They tend to be less potent than gas MIG welders, so they may not be suitable for heavy-duty welding jobs.
They also tend to produce more sparks and spatter than gas MIG welders.
So, which type of MIG welder is right for you? The best way to decide is to experiment with two kinds of welders and see which suits your needs best.
Is it better to MIG weld with gas?
The answer to this question is a bit complicated and ultimately depends on the specific application. In most cases, MIG welding with gas is the better option. This is because gas provides a more stable arc and produces less spatter.
There are some instances where MIG welding without gas might be the better option. For example, if you’re working with thin metals or want to avoid heat distortion, welding without gas can help.
Ultimately, it’s essential to experiment with both options and see what works best for your specific project.
What is the best homeowner welder?
Mig welding is one of the most popular welding processes for homeowners because it is relatively easy to learn and can be used on various materials.
You should keep a few things in mind if you are in the market for a homeowner welder.
The first thing to consider is what projects you will use the welder for. A small, portable welder will suffice if you only plan on doing occasional repairs around the house.
However, if you are interested in taking on larger projects, such as building a fence or welding together metal furniture, you will need a more powerful welder.
Another important consideration is your budget. Welders can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. It is essential to find a welder that fits your needs and budget.
Finally, make sure to do your research before purchasing a welder. Read reviews online and talk to other welders to get their recommendations.
By taking the time to find the best homeowner welder for your needs, you can be sure that your next home improvement project will go smoothly.
What welder should a beginner buy?
There are a few things to consider when purchasing your first welder. The three main types of welders are MIG, TIG, and Stick. MIG welders are the most popular type of welder because they are relatively easy to use and can be used on various materials.
TIG welders are more expensive and require more skill, but they can produce higher-quality welds. Stick welders are the least expensive and most accessible, but they are less versatile than MIG or TIG welders.
When deciding which welder is right for you, consider what materials you will be welding, what thicknesses of material you will be welding, and how much money you are willing to spend.
MIG welders can weld thin and thick materials but work best on more delicate fabrics. TIG welders can also weld thin and thick materials but work best on thicker materials. Stick welders are best suited for thicker materials.
If you’re just getting started in welding, we recommend purchasing a MIG welder. MIG welders are relatively easy to use compared to other welders, making them a good choice for beginners.
While there might be dozens of MIG welders, we’ve pulled the best and most popular ones for your perusal.
The Hobart is the best MIG welder with its extended warranty and low voltage requirements.
Whatever your small job needs, any one of the welders could be considered the best MIG welder for you.
Do you use MIG welders for your jobs? What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.