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The Ultimate Guide to Selecting a Massage Gun

Before you invest several hundred dollars in a massage gun, look out for these 8 key factors to make sure you’re choosing the best one for your needs.

We’ve compiled these based on thousands of pieces of customer feedback, and on our own observations from long-term testing of dozens of different massage guns.

The 8 factors to look out for fall into three buckets:

Effectiveness:

Will the massage be strong enough for my needs?

1. Strength

2. Range

User experience:

Will the massage gun deliver a pleasant and convenient user experience, so I’ll enjoy and use it frequently?

3. Noise- and vibration- control

4. Battery life

5. Ergonomics

6. User interface

Durability:

Am I getting a high-quality device that’s been built to last?

7. Build quality

8. Post-purchase protection

We’ll also explore how the Hydragun measures up across these 8 factors, compared to top-of-the-line models from premium brands (specifically, the Theragun G4 Pro and the Hypervolt Plus), and cheaper generic-brand devices from places like Walmart or Amazon.

Effectiveness

Perhaps the biggest challenge is choosing a massage gun with the right strength or intensity levels to effectively meet your needs.

The two key factors here are strength and range. We’ll explain and summarise both with the help of this chart:

1. Strength

The first consideration for any massage gun is that it should be strong enough to provide effective percussive therapy.

Percussive therapy was designed to provide massages of enough strength and depth that they can effect deep-tissue release in the muscles and fascia. A massage gun that’s too weak and shallow will not be able to go deep enough to deliver these key benefits. However, this should not be an issue as long as you’re purchasing your massage gun from a trusted brand that specialises in percussive therapy.

If you do intend to buy a cheaper generic-brand device, be aware that for the most part, you get what you pay for. Cheap massage gun manufacturers almost always use inferior motors to help keep costs down, since the motor is the most expensive part of a massage gun. Also watch out for product listings that are not “true to specs”. This often occurs in crowded marketplaces like Amazon, where manufacturers exaggerate product specs such as power, speed, battery life, and so on, in order to one-up their rivals.

2. Range

Once past the first “strong enough to be effective” hurdle, the second consideration is to find a massage gun with the right range for your needs.

If you’re an elite athlete with a very intense training regimen, you may require a massage gun in the “Extremely strong” range, such as the Theragun Pro, which is the strongest massage gun on the market.

However, for most users (including many elite athletes!), the massage guns we’ve classified under “Strong” to “Very Strong” should be more than sufficient. (We know this because many Hydragun users are elite athletes— including Olympic gold medalists and World Champions, powerlifters and bodybuilders, and endurance athletes like marathoners and triathletes.)

Hydragun users Bronte Campbell (2x Olympic Gold Medalist, 4x Freestyle World Champion), John Wayne Parr (10x Muay Thai World Champion), and Mark Robinson (fitness coach and Bodybuilding World Champion)

In addition to choosing a strong massage gun, we also suggest choosing a massage gun with a wide range of intensity settings. This gives you the flexibility to treat more muscle groups comfortably — using the lower settings on more delicate areas like the neck (which is susceptible to injury if massaged too roughly), and higher settings on larger muscle groups like the glutes and thighs.

The Hydragun has fantastic range, with six speed settings ranging from 1,300 to 3,200 RPM. It can thus cater to a broad spectrum of needs, with massages that go from comfortable on setting 1, to very strong on setting 6.

However, the Theragun Pro offers a much narrower range of just 1,750 to 2,400 RPM— 3x less than the Hydragun.

Winner - Effectiveness:

  • Theragun Pro if you are an elite athlete or are very sure that you need the strongest massage gun on the market

  • Hydragun for most users (including elite athletes), and for those who prefer a wide range of massage intensities

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User Experience

User experience decides whether you’ll use your massage gun regularly, or leave it to gather dust in the back of a closet. Read on for the four factors that affect this most.

3. Noise- and vibration- dampening

If you haven’t tried many massage guns in person, you may be surprised at how loud some of them are. Some earlier models of the Theragun operated at over 100 decibels— literally as loud as a drill or a chainsaw!

Theragun advertises that its latest models are much quieter, which is true. However, the new models are still extremely loud. The Theragun G4 Pro clocks in at 65-75dB — as loud as a vacuum cleaner (the other models aren’t much better, at around 60-70dB). This is over a hundred times louder than the Hydragun, which comes in at just 30-50dB. This can seriously interrupt your ability to relax, especially if you are massaging areas close to your head, such as the shoulders and neck.

The decibel scale is logarithmic, so a 10-point increase on the scale means ten times the noise level, and a 20-point increase is a hundred times louder.

The Hypervolt Plus has better noise control than the Theragun Pro, ranging from around 60dB and up. However, it suffers from poor vibration dampening. Vibration dampening affects user experience because without it, your hand starts to go numb after several minutes of use. Poor noise and vibration control are also signs of lower energy efficiency, as energy generated by the motor is lost to sound, vibration, and friction.

4. Battery Life

You’ll use your massage gun less if it’s constantly running out of power.

The Hypervolt Plus has the most issues in this area, with just 2.5 hours of battery life. The Theragun Pro also has 2.5 hours of battery life, but comes with a secondary battery pack that you can swap in when the first battery dies, giving you a decent 5 hours of battery life in total.

The Theragun Pro’s two-battery system

In contrast, the Hydragun has up to 6 hours of battery life built in, with some reviewers reporting as much as 7-8 hours.

As with all electronics, such as laptops, the battery life of a massage gun will gradually decrease over time. So we recommend opting for a longer battery life to start with wherever possible.

5. Ergonomics

The Theragun Pro has a distinctive D-shaped ergonomic handle that you can grip in several places, as well as a rotating arm which allows the gun to be positioned at four different angles. This provides great flexibility, though it does add weight and bulk to the design.

The Hydragun has a simple L-shaped form factor, with an ergonomic handle set at a 99°, rather than a 90° angle. This reduces wrist dorsiflexion (how far back your wrist needs to bend while holding it) and prevents wrist strain during use. It also provides more extension and flexibility, allowing you to more easily reach your mid-back. The Hydragun also has a slim handle wrapped in a plush anti-slip nanosilicone grip, making it easy to hold and control.

The Hypervolt Plus’s T-shaped form factor is the least ergonomic of the three. The T-shape loses some extension compared to the longer L-shape, making it slightly harder to reach the back, and the 90° handle may lead to wrist discomfort over time. The Hypervolt Plus also comes with a comfortable anti-slip grip, but note that the handle is unusually thick, which may make it less suitable for some users.

As for weight, massage guns should have a couple of pounds of heft to them, as the weight makes it much easier to apply gentle and steady pressure to the treatment area. However, at around 2.9 and 3lbs respectively, the Hypervolt Plus and Theragun Pro may be a little too heavy for some users’ comfort.

6. User Interface

The Hydragun, Hypervolt Plus, and Theragun Pro all have straightforward, user-friendly interfaces. All three brands also provide speed and battery-life indicators, as well as pressure sensor technology that can help users gauge how much force is being applied.

The biggest difference is that the Theragun Pro and Hypervolt Plus can be synced via Bluetooth to a phone app. The app provides access to massage and wellness routines that you can follow along with. As massage guns are fairly intuitive “point and click” devices, not everyone will find the guidance of an app necessary. However, having a variety of massage routines to follow can certainly enrich the experience.

Winner - User Experience:

  • Hydragun for significantly better noise and vibration control, battery life, and ergonomics

  • Theragun Pro or Hypervolt Plus if you value Bluetooth app integration over the other factors

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Durability

7. Build Quality

Internal Build Quality

A disappointing reality of many low-cost generic-brand massage guns is that manufacturers cut costs by compromising on the quality of their internal components. The result is a device that may look and feel fine at first, but that deteriorates over the next several weeks or months as they are not built to last.

Some common complaints from cheap massage gun users include:

  • attachment heads crumbling, breaking, or falling off when the massage gun is used at high speeds;

  • rattling noises as a result of internal components shaking loose;

  • the battery no longer holding a charge after several uses;

  • the device simply breaking down and failing to turn on after a time;

  • the device becoming alarmingly hot and/or producing a burnt plastic smell during use (this can be highly toxic and damaging to eye, nose, throat and lung tissue even in small amounts);

  • the battery overheating and catching fire during charging or use (some recent examples include a $60 massage gun sold by American retail giant Costco, and a $99 massage gun sold by Australian retailers Kogan and Dick Smith — resulting in costly fire damage and product recalls).

Overheating is a common and serious problem in many cheaper massage guns

There are also more subtle methods that manufacturers use to cut corners. One example of this is when manufacturers choose not to use a fixated barrel in the “head” of the massage gun. This reduces friction and initially makes a massage gun run more smoothly and quietly than it otherwise would. However, the unfixed “head” will start to become misaligned over time— leaving you with a noisy, rattly, more breakdown-prone product in the end. (The Hydragun overcomes this problem by using a fixated barrel made of seamless steel and coated in Niflon, an ultra-low-friction material, so that the massage gun “head” travels back and forth both smoothly and stably.)

External Build Quality

When it comes to external build quality, most massage guns are made of plastic to save on manufacturing costs. This includes the Theragun Pro and Hypervolt Plus, which are made of composite plastic and ABS plastic respectively.

Plastics are tough and lightweight, but have two significant downsides. The first is poor conductivity, which increases the risk of overheating, affecting motor and battery performance over time.

Some massage guns, including several generic-brand models and the Hypervolt Plus, improve their heat management by including vents in the external casing. However, this is less than ideal for cleaning and sanitization. The vents also allow the entrance of dust, dirt and grime into the interior of the device.

The second downside to plastics is their poor solvent resistance, which makes them more likely to degrade with exposure to sweat and cleaning products over time. This is especially the case with lower-quality plastics used in cheap massage guns.

To avoid these problems, the Hydragun’s casing is made of aerospace-grade aluminum, which is both tough and lightweight, and has excellent heat dissipation and solvent resistance. This means its motor, battery, and other internal components are protected from overheating without the need for vents, while its sleek, wipe-clean exterior is easy to maintain and can be fully sanitized with standard alcohol wipes. (This includes the nanosilicone grip, which is also sweat-proof and fully sanitizable.)

8. Post-purchase Protection

Premium massage guns should come with robust warranties to help protect your investment.

As befits its high price point, the Theragun Pro comes with a long 2-year warranty. However, you should be aware of the fine print in Theragun’s warranty information. Specifically, the attachment heads are only covered for 30 days, and the batteries for only 90 days. The Theragun warranty also does not cover “normal wear and tear”.

There are also important exclusions in the Hypervolt Plus’s 1-year warranty— most notably, the fact that in most territories (including the US and Australia), the warranty is voided if the device has been taken out of the country in which it was purchased.

The Hydragun has a full-coverage 1.5-year warranty which is automatically applied to all purchases made on our website, is valid worldwide, and covers all parts of the device.

Winner - Durability:

  • Hydragun for design, material, and component choices that maximize the longevity of the device; and for its robust, full-coverage warranty.

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Summary and Conclusion

The following table summarizes key differences between the Hydragun, the flagship Theragun G4 Pro and Hypervolt Plus, and generic-brand massage guns:

(Click the image below👇 to enlarge)

From this, we conclude with the following recommendations:

  • First, we do not recommend cheaper generic-brand massage guns, because the cost savings do not make up for the lower quality, poorer performance, and lack of durability.

  • Second, we recommend the Theragun Pro for those who are certain that they need the strongest massage gun on the market, and who are willing to accept the trade-offs of very high noise levels, poor battery life, and much higher price.

  • As for the Hypervolt Plus, it is a powerful and effective massage gun, but its poor vibration control, ergonomic issues, and problematic heat management system make it less comfortable to use and more difficult to maintain.

  • Finally, we believe that the Hydragun will be the best bet for most people. Here’s why:

  • We designed it with a huge range to make sure it would be highly effective for the vast majority of users, from sedentary office workers to world-class athletes.

  • It provides the best overall user experience, with best-in-class noise- and vibration-dampening, market-leading battery life, solid ergonomics, and an easy-to-maintain design.

  • It’s built to last, with no compromises on the quality of internal and external components and materials. We back that up with free 30-day returns and a generous, hassle-free 1.5-year warranty.

  • As a final bonus, the Hydragun also costs much less than its premium rivals— thanks to our direct-to-consumer business model, which eliminates middleman markups.

Of course, we may be biased— but you don’t have to take our word for it!  Read on to see what our customers and reviewers have to say.

Reviews

HYDRAGUN is a direct-to-consumer brand on a mission to make world-class massage guns available at a fair price. Here’s what others are saying about the Hydragun:

"With 97% five-star reviews, most HYDRAGUN users are wildly impressed with the performance and lack of noise. “Very impressed. Love using it and love how quiet it is. Great for after training soreness [and] recovery. Would (& have) recommend to anyone.”

"weighs less than 2.3 pounds and gives you superb percussive therapy and ease of use, thanks to the ergonomic 90-degree handle that helps you reach your shoulders, neck, and back sans struggle... only 30 to 60 decibels of noise while in use (that means it’s quieter than a fridge and some laptops). It also looks damn nice with an aerospace-grade aluminum chassis and a nanosilicone-wrapped handle."

"[A] versatile tool... to speed up warm ups or to provide targeted treatment to tight and sore muscles, whether for a 10-minute light recovery or more intensive post-workout relief. Thoughtfully designed, the “head” of the Hydragun is crafted from a sleek, seamless steel barrel coated in Niflon for increased stability and reduced friction for a smoother, quieter experience."

"Compared to other muscle guns it is definitely one of the best, if not the best. It will definitely cater to almost everyone."

“Best mid-range massage gun: When it comes to mid-range value, we can't go past this one. It comes with six attachments and has a huge six-hour battery life. It's made from sturdy aluminium and the aesthetically minded will also appreciate its elegant, minimal style.”

If you’re considering a Hydragun, check out what some of our highly satisfied customers and reviewers have to say.

M

10/08/2021

Michael Moore

Actually Worth The Hype

Let me save you an enormous amount of all the time…I’ve spent countless hours using variety of models and conducted exhaustive research on a lot of massage guns. Over the last several years, I’ve wasted so much time trying to save money buying mid-tier models from a variety of manufacturers in the $175-$250 range. I’ve a dozen devices at this point, anywhere from just 3 weeks to 9 months of use. In the end, I realized there are really only three obvious models to consider, the Hydragun, Hypervolt, and the insanely expensive Theragun. At this point, you’re really getting a great gun no matter what however, the Theragun is thrown out right away due to the cost. Frankly, it’s also surprisingly noisy with their dampening attachment which is recommended for use in many of their massage routines. Then, in my mind it comes down to cost and warranty of the devices and Hydragun runs away with it at that point. Save yourself some time and just pull the trigger on this one.

R

09/03/2021

Rahul

Best Investment

"After having used a Cheap china made massage gun, i wasn't happy with the overall result. That is when i heard about the Hydragun and my trainers at the Gym were full of praise for it. Having tested it at the gym, i was convinced this is the Gun that i needed. It's light weight, no noise, comfortable to use and my muscle recovery has seen new heights. Absolute value for money, the battery lasts longer and the speed / power mode is absolutely fantastic. Great value for money and i would recommend this to anyone who is looking to invest in a massage gun."

A

02/14/2021

Andries

Excellent experience

"The whole experience was extremely positive & delivery of product as promised.

Packaging very professional & high-end. I use my Hydragun daily following running & gym training on alternative days. It’s excellent to use whether for big muscle massage or deep tissue. The battery runs very long & charges quickly. Overall very happy customer.

Before I became aware of the Hydragun I purchased the Theragun - terrible experience, waited 4 months & after many,many failed attempts & promises I cancelled my order. Luckily I paid via PayPal so refund following dispute was quickly.

Only thing better about Theragun is their aggressive marketing and then all downhill.

Hydragun comes highly recommended.

Well done to the designers & the whole Hydragun team!!!"

J

01/04/2021

Jun Xiang

Great purchase!

"Bought this for my dad for Christmas and honestly I love it better than the HyperVolt that I own. Extremely quiet and has a nice case for storage. Also has more attachment options. Will definitely recommend to friends and family!"

M

09/18/2021

Michelle

Silent yet powerful

"Have been using Hydragun on a daily basis ever since I purchased it. Having experienced Theragun before, Hydragun is way quieter. Highly recommend Hydragun to those seeking a massage gun."

B

06/17/2021

Bob Omar

Fantastic Gun

"I have tried few cheap brands and it doesn’t give me the oomph. Tried this magical baby and wow...instant relief. Of cos i got to bribe my nephew to massage my back...money well spend. My lovely mum is so afraid to use this on me :). I have recommended a friend to use this product and he loved it. Will give another colleague this as a farewell gift."

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