The Best MIG Welder Options For 2017
Most cowboys wouldn’t leave home without their trusty sidearm. In fact, 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?
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 an MIG and other welders is the gas shield that keeps contaminates out of the metal while we weld.
A tank is attached to the welder and it provides 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 cloud of gas around the arc as you weld. Kind of like a forcefield.
MIG is actually a fairly popular welder. And you can set one up in your garage with minimal effort.
But, you probably knew all of 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 the best MIG welder.
If you’re in the market for a high-performance welder, you’re going to want something that pays itself off with faster welds and more efficient joints with clean seams.
You want the thickness of the joined metals increased without having to sacrifice 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 different power categories: 110V, 220V, and Multi-Volt. Power is important 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.
It’s important that an MIG welder is easy enough for an amateur to operate in their own garage.
You should be able to load up 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 the price tag.
A high-performance MIG welder worth its salt should hold up to the value you’re paying. And it should be backed with a 3-5 year warranty at least.
1. 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.
Really, 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 an 115V standard house circuit.
And despite it plugging into such a low voltage plug, it will weld anything from your car parts, your farm machinery, and your 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 aluminium.
Its system is a cast aluminium drive. The work clamp is heavy duty. With these features, you’re getting an industrial performance package in a little body.
It comes with a five-year warranty, so you’ll know that this welder is designed to last.
2. Lincoln Electric K2185-1
This the best MIG welder under $400.
It’s an 110V MIG welder. And it can weld thick material with just the 110.
It works great 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 of 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 out with. And it comes with everything you need.
Included in the package are the cable assembly and gun, the clamp and work table, the gas nozzle, regulator, and hose. Also, a spool of solid wire, contact tips, and hand shield with lens and filter plate are included.
All you really need after buying this welder is a cylinder of shielding gas.
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.
3. Best MIG Welder “Gasless”: Forney 299
What Is Gasless?
Some MIG welders don’t use gas.
What? Can it be an MIG welder if it doesn’t use gas?
It can. And we kind of lied when we said it doesn’t use gas. It really 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 compound reacts to the arc releasing the gas that protects the weld pool.
It’s an “inside-out stick electrode” if you will.
This actually reduces some of the problems you might encounter with a normal MIG welder. This helps especially if you’re just starting out.
One of the major problems with traditional MIG welders is wind. If you want to weld outside, you have to have some sort of wind shielding.
If not, the wind blows the gas away and you get contaminates in your weld.
A flux lets the welding process be more forgiving.
The Forney 299 Flux Core Welder
If you’re looking for a fairly 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 when it comes to 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 2 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 added bonus.
Again, as we said before, this welder gives you great 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 great 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 defect.
While there might be dozens of MIG welders out there. We’ve pulled the best and most popular MIG welders for your perusal.
Really, The Hobart is the best MIG welder with it’s longer 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.