>
Updated November 2018

Best Nail Guns

WHY BELIEVE HOUSE METHOD?

We analyze consumer reviews to find the best products on the web. We buy products with our own money and test them in our lab. We also interview experts and conduct independent research to pick the winners. We have affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of revenue from purchases. It’s how we fund our Research Lab and bring you better reviews and comparisons. Read more.

Best Nail Guns Updated November 2018

Conclusion

Pros

Cons

Dewalt

18v Cordless
Check Price at: 1 store
Very powerful nail gun that gets the job done on trim work, siding, wainscot molding, crown molding, and light framing work.
Users don't have to worry about a compressor or dragging around a hose all day. Battery has a long life too. Strong durable case.
Only comes with one battery. Very heavy overall and front heavy as well, even with the battery weighing down the back end.

WEN

¾” to 2”, 18-gauge
Check Price at: 1 store
Professional Brad Nailer that competes on an even footing with nailers five times more expensive. Perfect DIY tool for home use.
Very lightweight, just over 5 pounds. Quick release for clearing jams. Directional exhaust and depth adjustment wheel.
Requires a 60-100 PSI air compressor to operate. Occasionally misfires and then has to be cleared. Misfires still leave a mark in the wood.

BOSTITCH

15-Gauge, Angled Finish
Check Price at: 1 store
Made in the USA, this 9-pound pneumatic nail gun is perfect for professional carpenters and home users like.
Has 4 profile tips to ensure accurate nail placement of nails up to 2-1/2 inches long, adjustable depth control, tool-less magazine replacement.
Non-Stanley nails have a tendency to jam the gun. Probably has more features than most people would use.

Freeman

Framing/Finishing Combo Kit
Check Price at: 1 store
Four nailers for less than half the cost of buying them separately, plus a handy carrying bag. Everything you need for any size project.
Each nailer in the kit delivers the quality and consistent performance you expect and demand from working tools.
The fine print on the warranty may not cover what it claims. The air pressure adjustments can be a bit finicky at times.

Numax

Pneumatic 16-Gauge 2 ½” Straight Finish
Check Price at: 1 store
Good for simple DIY projects around the house. Delivers quality consistent with the price.
Adjustable depth gauge, 360º adjustable exhaust port, quick jam release, high-capacity magazine holds 100 nails at a time.
Has an unfortunate tendency to jam. Doesn't come with a carrying case. Requires a lot of oil to function properly.

OUR PROCESS

2,738
Customer Reviews
30
Products
12.5
Hours

When it’s time for that DIY project you’ve been planning, you don’t want to get bogged down in trying to figure out which nail gun is the best one for you.  So, we’ve done all the heavy lifting on your behalf. We’ve gone out and done the comparisons, summarized customer reviews, and answered frequently asked questions about nail guns and their uses.  The end result of all that work is laid out here for your convenience and use.

Best Nail Gun Reviews Guide

Unless your name is Thor, swinging a hammer all day to drive nails probably isn’t your idea of a productive use of your time. It’s also physically demanding work that doesn’t leave you any energy for the planning and detail work needed to turn out a professional looking, high-quality job. We completely understand and agree.

Nail guns are the answer. Instead of using two hands to drive a nail (and hoping you don’t hit your thumb), you can use one hand to hold the wood steady and the other to simply place the tip of the gun where you want it and pull the trigger; voilà! instant nail. Then move on to the next spot, and the next, and the next, and the next. It really is as simple as that.

Mostly powered by air compressors, although some are battery-powered, nail guns can turn exhausting hours of pounding nails into mere minutes of trigger pulling. This is not an exaggeration by the way. If you’ve ever swung a hammer, you’ll understand. When it comes to time savings – and saving your shoulder, arm, and neck muscles – a nail gun is absolutely a must-have.

Studies have shown that nearly 12% of injuries happen to people who simply nearby when a nail gun is being used. Be careful where you're aiming it!”

How Do Nail Guns Work?

Depending on their power source, nail guns generally work in one of two ways.  The power sources can be compressor air, internal combustion, or electricity. On all three types, springs hold strips of nails in place in a magazine, pushing them forward one nail at a time as they’re ejected from the gun.  The nail strips are held together with glue. When the nail is driven into a wood surface (or thin metal one) friction heats the glue and melts it. The glue then hardens again, fusing the nail in place.

Best An all-in-one kit for your whole project from start to finish. FREEMAN FRAMING/FINISHING COMBO KIT

This kit has all four nail guns in it – framing, finishing, brad, and crown stapler – for one low price, and includes a handy carrying bag.  Putting up a new shed in the backyard? This kit has every nail gun you could possibly need to handle every phase of the construction, from heavy framing to the final piece of veneer.

Serious, even fatal injuries can occur when using nail guns, even if you're using them correctly!”

Electric Nail Guns

Whether they use electricity from a wall socket or from a battery, these nail guns use a motor to push a lever that compresses springs behind the piston in the gun.  A rotating plate first holds the springs in place, then as the plate continues to rotate, releases them. When the springs push the piston forward, a long thin hammer strikes the rear of the next nail in line.  It breaks the glue holding the nail to the one behind it and drives it into the surface – wood or thin metal – that is being nailed together. The cycle then starts over again.

Occasionally, electric nail guns will use a solenoid with an alternating current running through an electromagnet to move the piston up and down, but broadly speaking, these types don’t have much power behind them and aren’t used in any of the models we’ve looked at today.

Compressed Air Nail Guns

Pneumatic nail guns work on alternating high-pressure and low-pressure gases above and below the piston.  In the rest position, the gas pressure in the cylinder below the piston head is stronger than the pressure above it so the piston remains in the raised position.

When the trigger is pressed, it opens a valve allowing the gas in the piston to escape through the exhaust port, while simultaneously opening a second valve that allows gas from the compressor line to flow into the area above the piston head.  The change in gas pressure on either side of the piston head causes the piston to move down. A long thin hammer, or blade, strikes the back of the next nail on the strip and drives into the surface of the material being nailed.

The movement of the piston compresses the air in the cylinder and opens another valve that releases the gas above the piston.  The gas pressure above and below the piston head shifts and the piston is driven back up to its original start position, thus completing one full cycle.  All the nail guns we surveyed today, except for the first one, work this way.

Internal Combustion Nail Guns

Less frequently, some nail guns operate on internal combustion, the same as your car.  A reservoir of flammable gas feeds a small combustion chamber above the piston head where a small fan mixes it with air.  A spark plug provides the spark to ignite the mixture, driving the piston forward. The hammer, or blade, strikes the next nail on the strip and drives it into the material being nailed.

As the piston moves forward, it compresses the air in the cylinder and opens a valve to vent the gas pressure behind it, emptying the combustion chamber.  The gas pressure in the cylinder under the piston is now stronger than the pressure above it, so the piston head is forced back up to its start position, completing one full cycle.  None of the nail guns we’ve looked at today use this method of operation.

Best Nail Gun for Cost Conscious WEN ¾” TO 2”, 18-GAUGE

Using air pressure as low as 60 PSI, this nailer can get into tight spaces, hold up to 100 brads in the magazine, and is lightweight enough to use all day. Given its low price and free shipping, this brad nailer delivers professional performance at bargain basement prices.

People using contact trip or “bump nailers” have nearly double the injury rate of people using sequential trigger guns.”

Types of Nail Guns

Different types of nail guns are used for different things.  Purchasing the wrong one, or using it incorrectly will result in wasted time, money, and material.  There are four major types, or categories, of nail guns. Let’s look briefly at each one in turn.

Framing Nail Guns

These are used for the rough work of putting up the 2×4’s, 4×4’s, and 6×4’s needed for framing a house or building.  They require 3-1/2 inch nails for this purpose. Many of them will also handle smaller nails for less demanding tasks, but for framing work, big heavy nails are mandatory.  Nearly every framing nail gun in use today is powered by an air compressor since this is the only way to get the strength needed to punch a 3-1/2 inch nail all the way into the material.

Never try to use a framing gun for light, detail trim work or molding.  It has too much power and will destroy the lightweight material used in those areas.

Finishing Nail Guns

These typically use either 15-gauge or 16-gauge nails that are 1″ to 2-1/2″ in length.  Finish nailers are used for putting up sheetrock, plywood, shingles, flooring, and siding.  If you’ve ever gone past a construction site where the frame of the house is already in place and you see workers using nail guns for anything, they’ll almost always be using a finish nailer.  These are used for most of the work done in construction.

They can’t handle the longer nails required for framing, but they can be adjusted to use small nails for detail work.  Be careful to adjust the air pressure so you don’t tear up the lighter material used in those areas.

Brad Nail Guns

These use 18 gauge nails for detail work such as baseboards, crown molding, lawyer paneling, and various other moldings around cabinets, doors, etc.  The soft pine wood typically used for molding doesn’t need or require, the full power of the larger nail guns. Brad nailers also use nails that generally don’t have a head on them.  That is, the head of the nail is the same diameter as the shaft of the nail. Brad nailers are completely unsuited for framing or finishing.

Crown Stapler Nail Guns

These use 18 gauge or smaller nails in tight spaces for attaching thin strips of veneer or for delicate molding that needs to be handled gently.  These small nail guns can’t be used for anything else.

Best nail gun for use without a compressor DEWALT 18V CORDLESS -

For ease of use – without dragging around a compressor hose – this angled finisher nail gun can’t be beaten.  The batteries recharge quickly, has a contact trip locking mechanism on the trigger for safety, and handles up to 120 nails in the large capacity magazine.

Price Ranges

Price ranges for nail guns won’t tell you everything about the quality of them, but as we all know, you get what you pay for.  With that in mind, here are the price ranges for the four different types of nail guns.

  • Framing nail guns:  from $70 to $400
  • Finishing nail guns:  from $20 to $300
  • Brad nail guns: from $20 to mid $200
  • Crown Stapler nail guns: from $20 to $100

Frequently asked questions

How long will nail guns last?

It depends on the amount of use.  A gun that is being used every day by a pro will only last a couple of years.  A nail gun that is used only occasionally by a DIY enthusiast could last for 5-8 years or more.  However, nail guns that are left sitting for a long time can experience rotting of the o-rings. Even if you’re not using them you should take them out on a monthly basis and fire a few nails through them just to keep them in good shape.

What is a bump trigger?

A nail gun with a Contact Trip (bump) trigger will drive a nail whenever the trip (tool’s nose) and the trigger are depressed at the same time.  Carpenters using this device will continuously hold the trigger down and simply “bump” the trip against the material they’re nailing. This results in very fast nailing, but also a concordant increase in danger since the gun can fire unexpectedly if you accidentally bump it against something.

When should I use a crown stapler vs a brad nailer?

This is a matter of opinion, even among the experts.  Both types are intended for delicate work. Crown stapler nail guns generally tend to be smaller in size so they’re marginally better at fitting into tight spaces.

The team that worked on this review

Kealia Reynolds
Photo Editor
Rebekah Sedaca
Writer
Kelsey Roadruck
Sr. Editor
John Morgan
Producer

By continuing to browse or by clicking “OK” you agree to the storing of first- and third-party cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. Privacy Policy.

OK