Welcome to the new world where the hammer is let’s face it, so last century! What you need is power! Whether you go for corded or cordless, the best nail guns will help you to make short work of all those major DIY projects from building a home extension to a loft conversion or putting down new decking and hardwood flooring. We’d argue that the best nail guns are nothing short of an essential part of any self-respecting DIY’ers toolkit. Knowing which to go for though requires a high level of expertise. From Roofing to Flooring, Finishing to Brad Nailers. Just where do you start? Right here that’s where! We’ve got it nailed for you in our Best Nail Guns review.
The Best Nail Gun
First up we’ve hand-picked a Framing Nailer from NuMax, their SFR2190 model which is a 21-degree pneumatic style nail gun perfect for professionals as well as home DIY enthusiasts. It features depth adjustment and a no-mar tip so it can be used on a host of surfaces. It’s durably constructed and designed to tough and dependable with an easy to load interchangeable trigger for either single subsequent shot to quick-fire release. There are heaps of features which is why we’ve awarded it our Best Choice including nonslip teeth, a 360-degree adjustable air exhaust which can be strategically positioned to blow debris away from your workspace and an air filter / anti-dust cap to protect and keep your tool clean. Keep it always handy in your tool bag.
21-degree Framing Nailer
Customized Depth Adjust
Ergonomic Grip Handle
- Weight8.6 pounds
We’re looking at a popular Brad Nailer next from Hitachi, the NT50AE2 which at only 2.2 lbs is lightweight and well balanced and great for helping get into those more difficult spaces. With just a simple flip of a switch, you can change that actuation mode to fire in either bump or contact mode, and there’s only an adjustable depth drive. It’s easy to operate, maintain and clean and it features an ergonomic elastomer non-slip grip for both your comfort and protection. As with the NuMax we just reviewed, this cost-effective and highly responsive 18-gauge nailer features a 360-degree adjustable exhaust vent as well as a no-mar nose cap. It’s quite literally nailed it when it comes to features. Be sure to also check out our list of the best hedge trimmers for more great items like this.
18-gauge Brad Nailer
Tool-less Depth Adjust
Lightweight Ergonomic Design
No Mar Nose Cap
- Weight2.2 pounds
We’re sticking with Brad Nailers next and taking a look at what Ryobi has to offer with their P320 cordless power tool. It’s a versatile nailer to have for all kinds of jobs around the home from reinforcing joints to installing roofing tools. The depth can be adjusted via an onboard dial which is a super convenient feature, especially if you do want to multi-task and it means that you don’t have the hassle or expense of having to fiddle with other tools. Ryobi has even included a built-in LED light so that you can get a better view of what you’re working on even in a dimly lit space and when you’re not using your nailer, you can attach to your tool belt via the clip included. Just one simple charge of the 4 amp battery is sufficient to fire off up to 700 nails which is pretty impressive stuff. Our handy guide to the best torque wrenches features more great products like this.
18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Brad Nailer
Multi-tasking Power Tool
Built-in LED Light
Handy Belt Clip Attachment
Fire up to 700 nails from one charge
- Weight6 pounds
Dewalt is a well respected and popular brand when it comes to power tools, and this DWFP12231 2-inch Brad Nailer is no exception and certainly won’t disappoint. It has a long life, maintenance-free motor and a unique jam release mechanism for tool-free removal of trapped nails. There’s a removable non-mar tip plus a sequential style trigger so you can control both the firing mode but also the depth you require. A rear exhaust works to keep contaminants away from you and your workspace, and it features a 100 capacity 100 magazine so you won’t have to keep continually reloading your air nail gun. It conveniently comes supplied with 500 1-1/4” nails as well as a carrying case to keep your purchase both safe when not in use but also making it easy to transport to your next work location. Love this product? Check out our review of the best portable workbenches for our top picks.
18-gauge 2-Inch Brad Nailer
Maintenance Free Motor
Tool-Free Jam Release
Sequential Style Trigger
Removable Non-Mar Nose Tip
- Weight5.4 pounds
Our Premium Value choice sure has nailed the competition! If you are looking for a fast charge, then this is quicker than a Cowboy drawing his gun at the OK Corral! It can fire up to 1300 nails per charge and is fully cordless. The Porter Cable PCC790LA is an exceptional battery powered nail gun that certainly has a lot going for it besides that 20V Max Lithium battery. One magazine can hold 100 nails so you won’t be continually refilling your magazine and weighing 5.9 lbs it’s sturdy, but it’s easy to manage. There are plenty of essential tool-free features that you will appreciate like the stall release lever, the jam release function as well as the depth adjustment wheel. All that and it features LED lights too! What more could you possibly ask for from an electric nail gun? Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best screwdriver sets.
20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Brad Nailer
Tool Free Release Functions
Built-in LED Light
Consistent & Adjustable Driving Depth
Fire up to 1300 nails from one charge
- Weight5.9 pounds
It’s certainly distinguishable with its iconic and bold yellow and black color scheme, but this Stanley TRE55OZ is also outstanding on the power front too, especially given its budget-friendly price point. This is an electric powered nail gun that comes with a longer length 8-foot lead, so you have plenty of room for maneuvering around that project area. It’s been designed for use on both hard and soft material and as such is fitted with a dual power lever for high and low. If you’re in the game for a top powered nail gun that’s easy to use, flexible and also comes with a limited lifetime warranty, then this Stanley Brad Nail Gun could well be the one to complete your tool kit and your tool box.
Electric Power Brad Nail Gun
Flexible Driving Power
Unique Dual Lever Hi/Low Control
Quick Jam Release Mechanism
Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Weight1.44 ounces
Our next option today is a Roofing Nailer from Bostitch which features a patented side load canister for quick and easy one-step nail loading. This is known as a coil delivery system as opposed to the staple style that some of the other models we’ve so far reviewed deploy. The Bostitch RN45 comes with a secure safety feature which prevents the gun from firing when empty and it also has fully adjustable depth pressure and a soft-grip ergonomic handle. It has an adjustable shingle guide for quick shingle spacing and delivers an aggressive and reliable performance whether you are working on roofing, drywall or even fiber cement applications. The contact tip can deliver up to 100 nails per minute and is powerful and accurate. With five different settings, your Bostitch Roofing Nailer can be fully adjusted to suit the job, so where your are flush mount driving, shallow driving or countersinking, you can achieve them all with this tool free adjustable nailer. You may also like to check our guide to the best tape measures.
Coil Loading Roofing Nailer
Tool-Free Depth Adjustments with 5 Depth Settings
Patented Single Action Side Load Canister
Drives up to 100 Nails Per Minute
Zero Nail Lock-Out Feature
- Weight5.8 pounds
We’re pulling out the big guns so to speak next with our review of the powerful Dewalt DCN689B Brad Nailer. With an LED indicator on board which communicates the battery life status, you should always be powered up and ready to tackle your next DIY assignment. Featuring a micro nose, this helps to improve the user’s line of vision and ensure more accurate and professional style results. It’s 100% battery powered which means you don’t have the hassle of using gas, compressor, and hose which for some people is just an inconvenience. The brushless designed motor ensures maximum runtime and efficiency from that 20V max battery and an automatic shut/off function protects the battery life when the brad nailer is not in use. If you are looking to upgrade your tools, then make sure you read our infrared thermometers review.
20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Brad Nailer
Tool Free Release Functions
LED Light Indicator communicates battery life status
Consistent & Adjustable Driving Depth
Automatic Shut Off Protects Battery Life
- Weight5.91 pounds
Up next for your consideration we’ve picked out a nailer from the extensive range of power tools from Makita, and we’re taking a look at the Makita AF505N Brad Nailer. This tool is ideal for trim work, crown molding installation as well as general woodwork and flooring because it features narrow nose design for practical and flexible application even in tighter spaces. It comes with tool-less quick release cam-lock so that you can quickly clear any nail jams as well as depth adjustment so that you can work on a wide variety of finish applications. There’s a soft rubberized grip for maximum comfort and support while operating and a multi-directional exhaust port which rotates a full 360 degrees to direct exhaust air away from the user. Safety goggles, as well as a storage case for your nail gun, are also included with your purchase from Makita. If you are a passionate DIYer check out our guide to the best cordless drills.
Electric Powered Brad Nailer
Easy Tool Less Depth Adjustment
Non-Marring Rubber Nose
Quick Release Cam Lock
Dual Nail Reload Indicator Window
- Weight6.83 pounds
A superb cost effective choice from WEN, their 18-Gauge Brad Nailer is lightweight to operate and also comfortable to hold with a rubber grip handle that provides plenty of grip. With a staple style sliding magazine, the WEN 61720 can hold up to 100 brads at once and has a quick release mechanism in case of any nail jams. Your purchase additionally comes with oil, a couple of adjustment wrenches as well as a convenient and portable storage case. It operates from 60 to 100 PSI. All you need to do is plug in your favorite air compressor, and you are armed and hopefully not dangerous but certainly ready to get nailing!
18-gauge 2-Inch Brad Nailer
Rubber Grip Handle
Jam Clearing Quick Release
Spacious Magazine Holds 100 Brad Nails
- Weight5.2 pounds
Nail Gun Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In Nail Guns
Power Source - When it comes to power sources, you have three different options which are pneumatic along with fuel and battery-operated. We’ll go on in the FAQ section to look at the key differences between pneumatic and cordless but let’s quickly establish their merits and differentiating features for you right now.
Pneumatic - Powered by compressed air and therefore require an air compressor to operate. They tend to be on the loud side, but they are durable and have fewer parts to wear out. They’re also typically inexpensive compared to other types of nail guns.
Fuel-Powered - A cordless style toll which works on the basis of combustion and therefore requires a replacement gas cartridge as well as a battery to operate. They make an excellent choice for heavy duty installation work and also offer a good amount of mobility, but they do need plenty of fuel to be effective.
Battery-Powered - Fitted with some form of rechargeable battery, these styles of nail guns are both quieter and more practical than their counterparts on account of their mobility. They’re better suited to fit into smaller spaces and are generally lighter weight, but they do need to be regularly charged.
Loading Styles - For those loading styles you have two options; either strip or coil. With the strip-style gun, long strips of nails are held together with either paper, plastic or wire and are slid onto a magazine somewhat like when you fill up a stapler. They remain there until the nail gun is fired and offer a balanced load because of the way in which the nails are more evenly distributed. With the coil-style, strips of nails are held together by wire and are kept in a coiled position, rolled around the magazine. They will typically hold more nails and are smaller sized units so provide more accessibility to get into hard to reach spaces.
Firing Modes & Triggers - In order to successfully and safely shoot your nail gun, you need two basic controls; the finger trigger and the contact safety tip. Variations in the firming modes available to you will be determined by whether the trigger can be held in a squeezed position and discharge several nails at once or whether you need to compress and release each time. The control activation also comes into play.
Let’s quickly take a look at the different types of triggers, your nail gun may be capable of deploying.
Contact Trigger - Requires both the safety contact and the trigger to be activated before a nail can be released.
Full Sequential Trigger - Your nail gun must be activated in a specific sequence to work. The safety tip has to be pushed into the surface you’re about to nail before the trigger is then squeezed before a nail can be released.
Single Actuation Trigger - Similar to the contact trigger, firing requires both the safety contact and trigger to be activated in any order, but multiple rather than just singular firing of nails is possible.
Single Sequential Trigger - As with the full sequential trigger, a nail can only be fired off when the safety contact is pushed, however, once in operation if you wish to fire a subsequent nail then, you only need to release the trigger again, and the safety contact can remain in connection with the surface.
Materials - Go for something that is both lightweight so not going to create user fatigue but which is durable and long-lasting.
Ergonomics - If you know you are going to be holding your nail gun for prolonged periods, then look for something that has an ergonomic grip or rubberized non-slip handle which will be more comfortable to operate and provide you with greater confidence when handling too.
Features And Extras
Below is a list of just some of the myriad of features and additional extras that you can realistically expect to find in today’s best nail guns. You may find it useful to create a priority list for yourself of the features that are important for you so that you can begin to narrow down your selection.
Depth Adjustment - A really convenient feature if you want to be able to control precisely how deep your nail goes into the surface you’re connecting with.
Nail Size Adjustment - Again, an advantageous feature if you know that you are going to be working on different projects that will require a variety of different sized nails. Otherwise, you’re faced with the alternative which is buying a different nail gun for every occasion which will work out more expensive in the long run.
Swivel Air Connector - A feature to look out for in pneumatic nail guns only. This will help stop your hose from becoming tangled which can be a real nuisance.
Jam Clearing - It’s an inevitable part of using a nail gun. They will jam at some point no matter how adept an operator you might have become! So look out for a nail gun that has a built-in jam-clearing system if you want to make the job of maintenance that bit easier for yourself.
Dry Fire Lockout - A handy safety feature to look out for which will prevent your nail gun from firing when it’s run out of nails or fasteners.
LED Light - It’s always useful to get a little bit of extra light on the situation, especially if you plan to work in small, hard to reach or dimly lit area.
Air Duster - A useful additional function that will allow you to periodically clear away any dust and debris using air from the compressor to bypass the nailing function and expel air from a hole in the front of the nailer instead.
Rafter Hooks - Handy if you want to be able to safely hang your power tool where it’s secure, and you can access it when needed.
Directional Exhaust - Great if you want to be able to control the tool’s exhaust and angle it away from yourself.
Protective Case - A great idea if you want to be able to take your nail gun with you to a project site that you are working at but also to just generally store safely and securely in your workshop when it’s not in use.
Types Of Nail Guns
There is a wide range of varying nail guns each with their own specific niche use. Whether you are a professional carpenter, craftsmen or just a bit of a serial DIY’er, there will be the right nail gun for you bit for heavy duty construction work or something more detailed and craft oriented. Let’s take a quick look at the most popular types of nail guns.
Framing Nailers - Useful for more substantial work such as building decks, adding on room additions to your home or even creating a house frame. This is ideal for use on medium to large sized projects and structures and can be used with any type of wood included beams and posts which is why they’re so popular for extensions.
Brad Nailers - These type of nailers are particularly useful if you’re working on an intricate and more detailed woodworking task. They’re an excellent choice for those crafting projects or for doing trim work including tasks like furniture reupholstering and renovations. Brad nails are tiny and almost invisible to the naked eye so operating one of these nailers requires a level of skill and expertise.
Finish Nailers - As its name suggests, this is the tool you use to finish off that latest cabinet installation or furniture making project. Lighter weight than a framing nail gun they provide more flexibility to work on detailed and smaller projects and are an essential tool in the arsenal of anyone carrying out home remodeling or furniture restoration projects.
Palm Nailers - These are small, you guessed it, handheld nailers that conveniently fit into the palm of your hand and provide the user with plenty of flexibility to work in tight spots and difficult angled spaces. They can be used on a multitude of projects from decking and fencing to framing and flooring.
Pin Nailers - Perhaps one of the least popular and underutilized type of nailers, the pin nailer uses exceptionally thin nails that have virtually no head meaning they are great for delicate projects like trimming and molding as they will require next to no additional concealment afterward.
Flooring Nailers - If you’re laying down new wooden flooring at home, then you’re going to need a flooring nailer to do the job precisely and to achieve that expert professional finish. Whether you are working with hardwood or softwood with a flooring nailer, you can get a wide surface area of work completed quickly and efficiently. You can get either manual or pneumatic flooring nailers with the majority these days being of the pneumatic variety.
Siding Nailers - A very specialist nailer, this option is used, unsurprisingly, for attaching a siding to a house.
Roofing Nailers - A tool specifically designed to meet the requirements of the roofing industry and for working with the installation of shingles.
Nail Guns: Safety Measures
It’s imperative that if you do own a nail gun, you learn how to operate it correctly and that you take all the necessary safety measures, following any manufacturers guidelines provided on how best to use your gun. While these handy tools can be time-saving, they can also be dangerous too in the wrong or inexperienced hands.
Getting overconfident and bypassing vital safety mechanisms and procedures is never a good idea, and many an accident has been caused through awkward positioning, double firing, unintended discharge of a nail or even an accident caused from a nail ricocheting off a hard surface. What you don’t want to happen is to learn the hard and unfortunately painful way about nail gun safety.
Here are a couple of top tips we recommend you follow if you are the owner of a nail gun.
- Get to really know and understand your nail gun and in particular its trigger mechanism
- Make sure you are always very aware of the placement of your hand versus the nail target
- Check first that the surface you are attempting to nail can physically be penetrated
- Always wear your safety goggles or any other recommended gear
- Using the sequential trigger method may take more time, but it is safer and more precise
- Try your best to aim on target and not to miss your intended surface
- Use your common sense at all times and do not modify or bypass any of the safety features
- Do not fire your nail gun if another person is directly in the line of fire
- Always switch off the power before clearing any jams
- Never under any circumstances leave your nail gun attended and don’t let children use it
Nail Gun FAQ
Q: What is a Nail Gun?
A: A nail gun is basically a powered device used to drive an assortment of nails into a variety of materials, most commonly wood. They can be driven either by compressed air (pneumatic style) or maybe electric powered or feature a rechargeable battery.
Q: What are the most common uses of Nail Guns?
A: You can purchase a wide variety of different nail guns all of which have their own specific purpose. A Framing Nailer, for example, is commonly used to build decks, rooms, homes, fences, and wood siding whereas a Brad Nailer is used on baseboards, crown molding and all kinds of trim working such as doors and window casings.
Q: How to use a Nail Gun?
A: A nail gun could be a deadly weapon left in the wrong hands! Seriously! While you don’t need a University degree to operate you certainly do require plenty of common sense and a practical approach. There’s always a right and a wrong way to operate any DIY equipment, and we very much want to ensure that you manage your nail gun the correct and safe way.
You’re going to want to start by discounted the power from the source and loading up your nails. Grab those safety goggles and get ready to power up that gun!
- As with all things in life, it’s true what they say. Practice really does make perfect so don’t shoot your load until you’re sure you’ve got the technique down to a tee! Have a go first on some spare bits of wood before you tackle your actual project.
- Get ready to position that gun and ensure that you are holding it steadily and firmly with both hands.
- Add some gentle not forceful pressure to the object you intend to nail, release your index finger off the trigger and go ahead, aim and fire!
- Give your handiwork a thorough review to check that the nail is correctly and firmly seated. If not, just adjust and try again.
- Once you’re happy that your work is completed, disconnect your nail gun, clear up any jams, carry out some routine maintenance and clean up after yourself before stowing your nail gun safely away.
Q: Pneumatic vs. Cordless Nail Gun?
A: If the budget allows, the answer is, of course, both! There are relative pros and cons of both pneumatic and cordless nail guns, and they both offer excellent performance. You’re going to get more flexibility to move around with the cordless option of course, and there’s next to no setup or take downtime involved. You do however need to recharge those batteries, and they tend to be more expensive. Both versions can offer excellent ergonomics, depending upon the design the manufacturer has gone for. Larger jobs lend themselves to a pneumatic whereas cordless can be more practical for finishing off work or tackling smaller tasks that you want to get done quickly. The choice really is yours and will come down to budget and personal preference when handling.
Q: Which type of Nail Guns is right for me?
A: It’s difficult to say which will be the best nail gun for you without knowing the size and type of the projects that you are going to be working on. Whether you are Framing, Roofing, Flooring or Finished there are specific nail guns created to help you achieve a professional finish, plus more besides. If you refer back to the section in this Guide which covers off the different types of nail guns, that should provide better clarification on their name difference and uses so that you can select the one which best suits your requirements.
Q: How should I maintain my Nail Gun?
A: As with all power tools, if you are investing money in a piece of machinery, you want to maintain it in good working order for as long as possible, so routine maintenance and aftercare are of course important. A nail gun is no different in that respect, and the more you look after it, the better it will serve you for years to come. Here are a couple of recommendations of essential maintenance to carry out.
- Use oil to ensure your nail gun is properly lubricated
- Tighten up all the bolts and screws at least monthly
- Make sure that you routinely clean the feed system, especially if you have a pneumatic nail gun to remove any debris that might be stuck in the system
- If you have a cordless nail gun, inspect the battery every couple of months
- If your nail gun comes with a protective carrying case, we recommend that you store your nail gun away when not in use.