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Why a Needle Piercing is Superior to a Gun Piercing
by Lish Daelnar

1. Sterilization:

- Guns cannot be autoclaved. If put in an autoclave (sterilization device), it will melt. The only sterile part about the gun piercing is the stud itself, which is not acceptable when placed into a non-sterile environment (read: the gun itself). Guns are sanitized (not sterilized; big difference) with Windex [or other disinfectant], which will not kill Hepatitis-A, Hepatitis-C, and most of the microbes that cause infection, nor will it clean up the spray of plasma & if blood, perhaps blood-borne pathogens, from the previous customer.

- Every tool used in a 'needle pierce' is autoclaved, not just the jewelry. This includes the forceps, needle, the jewelry, ring opening/ closing pliers, the rubber band that holds the tension on the forceps, right down to the field on which the bacitracin is squeezed. (bacitracin is used as lubrication to make it easier for the needle & jewelry to go through the skin).

- Cleanliness of the piercer. To be a "pro with a gun", the "piercer" must only know how to load the gun & aim straight. This does not account for cross-contamination from touching other objects with latex gloves on, nor does it cover the occasional spray of blood from a previous piercee, from which the gun cannot be properly cleansed. Professional piercers are trained in how to prevent cross-contamination & the transmission of blood-borne pathogens & you'll see them changing their gloves every time they touch something non-autoclaved. The APP (the Association of Professional Piercers) watches over procedures & if you're being pierced by an APP-approved shop, you know the piercer has been through the classes that teach him these things. The "piercers" that work in the mall & use guns have no such organization [or training].

- The stud itself. The gun can only hold a butterfly-back stud, & if you've ever seen one, you know that they're difficult to clean properly. Dried lymph fluids (and sometimes, initially, blood) get caught in this backing & make it easier to contract infection. Initial 'needle-pierce' jewelry is generally a ring, which makes cleaning much easier due to there being nowhere for discharge, hair, dirt, & bacteria to get stuck. Studs also have a tendency to become wrapped with hair, which can imbed the hair in the piercing.

2. Trauma to the ear:

- As previously stated, the gun can only hold one type of stud, the dimensions of which happen to be 18ga, approximately 1/4" in length. This small gauge is generally inappropriate for any area of cartilage (upper ear, nostrils) for two reasons. One, it's tougher to heal a small hole than it is a large one. A dermal punched (like a big hole punch) 2ga ear cartilage piercing will heal months faster than a 18ga gun OR needle pierce in the same area of tissue, on the same person, due to the surface area involved. The second reason concerns the initial hole size. Cartilage should be pierced with a step larger needle than jewelry (14ga needle with 16ga jewelry, et cetera), as this gives the cartilage some room to grow in around the piercing. I've proven this on myself - the only cartilage piercings I'm still having trouble with were pierced with either the same size needle as jewelry or a gun.

- When a gun piercing is performed, the end of the stud is what creates the hole. This is much more traumatic for the ear, as the stud isn't nearly sharp enough to avoid compacting the tissue, leading to a longer healing period. A needle is razor-sharp & carves a cresent-shaped hole in the ear which is stretched round as the rest of the needle continues through the newly made hole. Less compacted tissue leads to quicker healing.

- The length of the stud, 1/4", is too short to allow for swelling. The piercing needs to be given room to swell so as to prevent pain & possible imbedding of the stud in the ear. Rings used as initial jewelry, which cannot be installed with a gun piercing, when sized properly, give plenty of room to swell. Rings are chosen based on the size of the person's ear to be pierced (standard is 3/8" to 5/8" in diameter). This cannot be done with a gun.

3. Pain:

- A quick push with a razor-sharp needle is less painful than an equally quick click of a dull stud tearing a hole through tissue. A good professional piercer can move a needle just as fast as the gun moves the stud.

- The ear is less sensitive when it has proper room to swell. Even my large gauge ear piercings were MUCH less sore the next day than my regular gauge gunned earlobe piercings, even though the procedure of my larger ones (pierce at 12ga, tapered stretch immediately to 6ga*) was rather traumatic to the lobe tissues. (*Initial stretching this quickly was improper. I had asked to be pierced at 10ga, which would have prevented the slight tearing I experienced along the edges of the crescent cut by the needle.)

Why a Gun Piercing is Superior to a Needle Piercing:

- Gun piercings generally run two for ten dollars. Needle piercings, including the jewelry, are normally twenty for one, depending on the chosen jewelry

- Gun piercings look less scary than needle piercings. There are less tools involved & no inch-and-a-half long needle.

Any body part other than an ear generally cannot be fit into a gun. There have been cases of nipple & navel pierces with a gun, but they can easily be torn out with such a small gauge. As well, there's no room for the body part to swell (body piercings often swell much more than earlobes.) I've covered the two major reasons cartilage shouldn't be pierced with a gun, due to the stud itself, and that doesn't even get into sterilization. Lobes can be pierced successfully at 18ga, although the stud still leaves insufficient room for swelling, as well as the evil of the butterfly backs.

I believe I've covered everything here. If you have any questions or still have any reason to doubt why needle piercing is superior to gun piercing, please let me know.