The Best MIG Welder Around
As with any other profession, welders have specific tools they require to get their job done. This equipment should be reliable, well-made, and suited for the task at hand.
For Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welders working with high-voltage electric currents, using top-notch tools is essential. Investing in the best MIG welder is a business decision that’s absolutely critical to ensure the safety of the worker and the quality of the job.
From fire hazards to respiratory dangers, MIG welding, also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), exposes workers to a score of hazards. The good news is that modern equipment is designed to mitigate safety risks and ensure a superior final product.
The only issue? There are quite a few MIG welders on the market. How do you know which one is the best MIG welder for you?
Let’s take a look at some high-performing ones to narrow the field.
1. Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder: Best MIG Welder All Around
Whether you’re new to the MIG welding world or are an accomplished professional, this model gets our vote for the best MIG welder around. It’s Hobart’s best-selling wire-feed welder, and for good reason.
Known as the Hobart 140, it is usable with or without shielding gas, includes a flux core wire, and is MIG-ready right out of the box, no add-on kit required.
This MIG/Flux core welder runs on 115v household power and is straightforward to set up and use.
Usable with or without shielding gas, this welder, known as the Hobart 140, includes several features that make it a stand-out in this category, including:
- Versatility: Compact enough to be used on a variety of welding projects, from house and farm projects to automobile work.
- Heavy-Duty Operating Capacity: Outputs 25 –140 amps. From thin gauge steel (24 ga.) to a 1/4-inch steel plate, this unit can handle it all, even aluminum.
- Portability: The Hobart 140 is portable, allowing a wider range of use.
- Warranted: Hobart offers its trademark 5/3/1 Warranty on all of its welding products. In short, major of the tools are warranted for five years, others for three, and some ancillary pieces, such as remote controls, for one.
- Precise Voltage Control: Includes a 5-position, tapped selector that allows users greater control over the arc, adjusting it as required depending on the thickness of the metal.
- Solid Construction: Updated features include an industrial cast aluminum drive system and more durable ground clamp, both of which improve endurance and performance.
- Proven Safety Control: Wire remains electrically “cold” until the welder pulls the trigger, helping to prevent accidental burns and other hazards.
2. Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder: Best Budget Option
Like the Hobart 140, the Lincoln Handy MIG Welder is versatile and user-friendly enough that anyone, from a novice to a pro, can use it.
If you’re just dipping your toes into the MIG welding water and aren’t looking to invest too deeply in a more powerful beginner’s tool (such as the Hobart 140), this is the best MIG welder for you.
In all, the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG Welder is agile and powerful tool. It includes many of the same features as the Hobart model, including the “Cold Contractor” safety feature and amp outlet plug-in requirement (115v household power).
So where does it differ?
- Operating Capacity: Where the Hobart 140 could tackle a 1/4-inch steel plate, the most the Lincoln Handy MIG Welder can handle are sheets of up to 1/8-inch mild steel.
- Amp Output: While the Hobart 140 could handle 25 –140 amps, the Lincoln model outputs 35-88 amps.
- Voltage Output Settings: The Lincoln model offers four output voltage settings, while the Hobart 140 offers five.
- Warranty: The Lincoln welder only includes a one-year warranty on parts and labor (90 days for the cable and gun).
Looking for another low-budget, beginner’s model? Check out the LONGEVITY Migweld 140 Amp Welder.
Similar in size and scope to the Hobart 140 and Lincoln Handy MIG Welder, this option is an excellent value for the buck, and just right for beginners.
The only drawbacks to the LONGEVITY model are that you’ll have to buy your own spool gun, and some users have found that the machine’s wire feed tends to jam pretty easily. They’ve also found that leaving the parts out in the sun for a while can cause them to warp, so keep these potential issues in mind during use.
Another budget-friendly option is the Forney MIG 140. A neat feature of this model is its Euro connect torch that features Tweco-style consumables.
Start with the Lincoln Handy MIG Welder, but be sure to include the LONGEVITY and Forney models in your research as you seek to find the best MIG welder on the market.
3. Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder: Best Plug-and-Play Unit
Looking for the best MIG welder for your job, but need one that’s quick, portable, and packs a big punch into a tiny package? You’re in luck.
Designed specifically to make the MIG welding process accessible and user-friendly, the Forney Easy Weld 299 is the perfect machine for those on-the-go, who want their MIG welding tools to be anything but complicated.
Weighing in at 14 pounds, this unit is designed solely for gasless flux core welding, meaning that the wire includes a flux core that shields the weld from oxygen.
Like the Hobart 120, the Forney Easy Weld 299 can work 24 ga. to a 1/4-inch steel plate, yet this model’s amp output is only 125 while the Hobart 120 goes up to 140. Its power cord is also only six feet, compared to the standard 10 feet provided with most models.
However, what it lacks in size and capacity, this little machine more than makes up for in agility. It can easily run 10-pound spools, and can even be used on stainless steel. When you’re researching the best MIG welder, don’t pass this small-but-mighty option up.
4. Hobart Handler 190: Best High-End Option
Yep, another Hobart. We just can’t get away from their high-performing, yet incredibly agile machines.
This one features just a little more “juice,” making it the perfect option for those a little more experienced, all the way to professional welders. Here are some of the reasons why we think it’s the best MIG welder for high-end use:
Expanded Voltage Settings: Welders can pick from seven voltage settings to carefully control just how much heat is applied.
Improved Function and Strength: The Hobart Handler 190 can slice through 24 ga. up to 5/16 in. mild steel, without requiring multiple passes
Smoother Feeding: Aluminum wire welding is notorious for causing machine feeding issues. This model features an optional SpoolRunner 100 spool gun that plugs in directly to ease this problem and provide quicker, more efficient feeding.
Greater Output Capacity: The Hobart Handler outputs up to 190 amps (hence the name), with a 30% duty cycle at 130 amps.
If increasing your power and precision while reducing your headaches and frustrations sounds good to you, this may be the best MIG welder for you.
5. 2017 Everlast PowerMIG 210: Best Heavy-Duty Professional
Professional fabricators and welders will appreciate this hard-hitting industry favorite.
Overall, it’s stronger and more powerful than most of its competitors, making the best MIG welder for experienced, expert users. Let’s take a look at some of the features that make the Everlast PowerMIG 210 one of the best in its class:
Even Greater Output Capacity: This bad boy outputs up to 210 amps, with a 50% duty cycle at maximum power.
Expanded Wire Capacity: This model can accept a role of welding wire that’s up to 12 inches thick, supporting and transporting between 12 and 44 pounds of wire.
Improved Weld Quality: Does your weld quality suffer during the many starts and stops of the process? The Everlast PowerMIG 201 solves this problem with automatic preflow and postflow settings for the shielding gas.
More Timely Welds: In welding, time is always of the essence. This is especially the case in places such as fab shops, where welds must be performed quickly, yet accurately, each time. This model features handy timers that control spot welds and seam welds. After they set the controls they need, users can simply pull the trigger and watch as the machine completes the job.
Innovative Inverters: Featuring a digital Insulate Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) inverter, the Everlast PowerMIG 210 allows users to leverage controller software during the welding process for greater accuracy and efficiency.
Moving Forward: Choosing Your Model For Success
Ultimately, the best MIG welder for you will be the one that allows you to achieve your welding goals and create the end result you need.
Perhaps you’re just starting out and looking to make just a small investment in MIG welding. In this case, take a look at some of the cost-effective and beginner models we’ve shared.
Or maybe you’re an experienced welder looking to expand your craft and invest in the latest technology-driven tools on the market. If so, check out the high-end and heavy-duty machines we’ve discussed.
Regardless of where you stand on the welding spectrum, you’ve come to the right place. We’re welding gear experts with advice on everything from which welding helmet to pick to which welding gloves will best protect your hands.
Interested in learning more or want help choosing a welder? Feel free to contact us or leave a comment below, and let’s talk welding!