8 Best Nail Guns – Reviews & Buying Guide
While a traditional hammer is always handy when you want to drive in a few nails, it is out of its depth when you have a lot of nailing to do or when working on a huge project.
Where there are many nails to drive, a nail gun is your most reliable tool as it makes the task easier, faster and more efficient.
Nail guns are time-saving and very convenient power tools that will not only help you finish your projects faster but also ensure you drive nails more accurately and without smashing your fingers.
From installing hardwood floors to fixing roof shingles and securing trim or molding, a nail gun will be a very useful tool.
What makes nailers ideal for all these applications is that they come in various types that will differ in everything from the size and power source to the size and types of fasteners that they shoot.
And although there are still a few other types, the most common nail guns are framing nailer, brad nailer, finish nailer, palm nailer, flooring nailer, roofing nailer, pin nailer and siding nailer.
Understanding the applications of each of these nailers and what sets it apart from the rest will help you pick the right one to add to your toolkit.
8 Best Nail Gun Types
Nail Gauge, Size
2.8 mm, up to 3-1/2 inches
Framing houses, heavy construction, building decks, fencing, wooden siding
18 or 23-gauge, 5/8 to 2 inches
Trim work, attaching thin wood pieces, interior molding, small-scale crafts
15 and 16, 2-1/2 inches
Cabinetry, furniture building, nailing molding and trim
1-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches (light duty models), 2 to 6 inches (heavy-duty models)
Framing, fencing, building decks, general remodeling and flooring
15 to 16-gauge, 1 to 2 inches
Installing hardwood flooring
3/4 to 1-3/4 inches
Roofing shingles, installing underlayments, siding
23-gauge, Up to 2-inch long pins
Attaching delicate trim pieces and molding, cabinetry and furniture building, holding pieces for the glue to dry
1-1/4 to 2-1/2 inches nails
Attaching siding and thin material to a wooden surface
#1. Framing Nailer
When doing any heavy duty nailing the framing nailer is always your best option. And it is also quite a versatile nailer that will be handy for various projects.
Framing nailers will shoot 2.8 mm nails that are up to 3-1/2 inches long and they are famous for their incredible holding power. You can use these nailers on all types of wood including beams and posts.
Overall, there are two framing nailer types which are the clipped head and round head nailers. Clipped head framing nailers will hold more nails to reduce the frequency of reloading, but the building code in most jurisdictions will not allow their use.
The best nail gun for framing is the round head type, and this is not only because it is legal but also thanks to the incredible holding power that the nails will provide.
As their name suggests, the framing nailers’ main purpose is putting frames together and other large pieces of material.
Framing nailers are useful for heavy construction, building decks, fencing, and sub-flooring.
Best Framing Nailer: Bostitch F21PL
The magnesium housing on the Bostitch F21PL makes it light enough for use all day with minimal hand fatigue and it weighs just 8.1 pounds.
With a driving power of 1,050 inches per pound, it will make driving nails into even the hardest wood faster and easier.
The nailer will shoot nails that are between 1-1/2 and 3-1/2 inches long which makes it quite versatile. And it has a nail capacity of 60 nails.
With this nail gun, you also get two nailers in one as it comes with a couple of quick-change nosepieces that make it possible to convert it from framing to metal connector applications.
Another great feature about this nailer is that it lets you adjust the nail depth at the push of a button.
#2. Brad Nailer
Brad nailers will use high gauge nails with a gauge of between 18 and 23 and between 5/8 and 2 inches in length.
The nails that the brad nailer drives are extremely small and it would be pretty hard to drive them using a regular hammer. But, the small size also makes this nailer great when dealing with thin and delicate materials.
Also, the holes that this nailer leaves behind are tiny and almost invisible to the eye which means that they will not require any filling since staining or painting is enough to cover them completely.
Brad nailers are an essential tool when doing home renovations or upholstering furniture. But they are also suitable for various other applications such as doing trim work, attaching thin pieces of wood and also for small-scale crafts.
Best Brad Nailer: Bostitch BTFP12233
The relatively affordable Bostitch BTFP12233 18-gauge brad nailer will offer you great value for money as it is a highly dependable nail gun that will be helpful for various projects.
One of its most outstanding features is the smart point technology that gives it a smaller nose than most brad nailers to make nail placement easy and also better reach into tight spaces.
And you never have to worry about ruining your crafts as it provides an oil-free operation. Also, this brad nailer offers tool-free jam release for simple nail removal and selectable trigger that lets you pick between sequential and contact operation.
#3. Finish Nailer
Finish nailers use high-gauge fasteners like the brad nailer. However, the nails that finish nailers use are bigger than what the brad nailers use.
A typical finish nailer will use16-gauge nails but there are also many models that shoot the 15-gauge nails.
What makes the finish nailers great is that they shoot large enough nails to offer significant hold power to large pieces of wood and also do not leave very big holes behind.
Finish nailers are an essential tool to add to your collection if you are into building furniture and for the occasional home remodeling.
If you plan to be using your nail gun inside the home most of the time, a finish nail gun will be a wise buy for you.
With the best nail guns for finishing you can complete projects like nailing molding and trim, cabinetry and also make cupboards and all sorts of furniture.
Best Finish Nailer: Hitachi NT65MA4
At a total weight of just 4.2 pounds, the Hitachi NT65MA4 is one of the lightest in our nail gun reviews. It is as light as finish nailers can get and you will never have to worry about hand fatigue when using it.
This finish nailer has a tool-free depth of drive adjustment that allows for quick adjustment of the depth of drive according to the thickness of the wood for more control and for a professional finish.
Nail jams are also easy to clear during use and you will not need any tools for this. The selective actuation feature allows for both contact and sequential nailing and the 34-degree angled magazine makes it easy to reach corners and other tight spaces.
#4. Palm Nailer
When you want a small and compact nailer for your projects that is also comfortable to hold and handle the palm nailer is always the best option.
As its name suggests, it is a small nail gun type designed to fit into your palm.
The light-duty palm nailers will drive nails that are between 1-1/2 and 3-1/2 inches long while some heavy-duty ones can drive fasteners that are up to 6 inches long.
These nailers are quite handy to have in the workshop, and this is what makes them very popular with both DIYers and pro woodworkers. They will fit into some small and tight spaces where the traditional hammer or conventional mail guns would not fit.
Whether you are nailing a ceiling or driving nails in places where it is impossible to swing a hammer and other nailers will not fit, the palm nailer will be very useful.
And instead of the usual strips that you get on most nail guns, the palm nailer uses regular nails that you can buy in bulk but you have to feed one at a time into the gun.
The palm nailer will be great for various applications from building decks, fencing, framing and also for general home remodeling and flooring
Best Palm Nailer: Bostitch PN100K
The compact and ergonomic design of the PN100K nailer makes it one of the handiest nail guns that you can have in your toolkit.
It is also a highly versatile nailer that you can use for everything from putting up some simple metal connectors to building decks and doing some framing.
And despite the small size, it is still a powerful nailer that can drive nails that are up to 5 inches long. This nailer also has a magnetic nose with a recessed slot and it will help keep the nails in place tightly.
This nailer will come with standard, finish nail and large bore noses and also a leather glove for comfortable operation. And it is one of the best nailers that you can get for use in tight spaces.
#5. Flooring Nailer
The flooring nailer is one of the most important and reliable tools that you need when installing some hardwood floors.
And although it might not be as versatile as other nail guns, it is a specialized nailer that will do what it is designed to do perfectly.
Flooring nailers will come in two common versions which are pneumatic and manual nailers. The manual ones are the cheaper of the two versions but you have to physically drive the nailer when flooring.
Pneumatic flooring nailers, on the other hand, rely on air pressure to generate the large force needed for nailing. The pneumatic type are the most popular types as they make the tasks easier and quicker than the manual ones.
With most types of flooring nailers, you can drive the fasteners into both soft and hardwood with ease.
Best Flooring Nailer: NuMax SFL618
The NuMax SFL618 3-in-1 makes hardwood flooring look easy and it will inspire you to tackle your own flooring project.
This fantastic pneumatic flooring nailer allows you to switch between T-cleats, L-cleats, and staples with ease which makes a highly versatile flooring nailer.
The magazine on this nailer is 2 inches longer than the standard flooring nailer magazine which is a significant advantage as it increases its capacity so that you can work for longer before having to reload.
And with its die-cast aluminum body and rubber O-rings you can be sure that you will have one of the best nail guns for flooring and it will last for a long time.
#6. Roofing Nailer
The roofing nailer is a specialized nail gun for installing shingles and under layments to houses. And so unless you plan to do some roofing, these nailers might not be suitable for anything else.
Roofing nailers use shorter nails with larger heads to hold the shingles. These nails are typically between 3/4 and 1-3/4 inches long. The nails will in most instances come in a coil as it holds lots fasteners to minimize the reloading downtimes.
Thee nailers will drive the fasteners into various materials including asphalt and fiberglass.
Best Roofing Nailer: Bostitch RN46-1
Bostitch makes their RN46 with the needs of the average roofer in mind. The nailer has a 120-nail magazine capacity that reduces the reload frequency.
It will use fasteners that are between 3/4 and 1-3/4 inches which gives it great variability and also makes suitable for most roofing projects.
And with a total weight of just 4.9 pounds, this is a highly portable roofing nailer that you can use for an extended period with minimal hand fatigue.
The RN46 is also a highly durable nail gun thanks to the magnesium body and carbide tips.
Also, this nailer has some special features that help to improve its performance and they include a single action side load canister, adjustable depth control, and adjustable shingle guide.
#7. Pin Nailer
Nail guns are meant to make life easier for woodworkers. And while you might not use some like the pin nailer as often as others, they can still be handy in certain situations.
Pin nailers use some extremely thin pins with barely noticeable heads which means that they will not need any filling to hide the nail holes.
When you want to attach delicate trim or molding pieces the pin nailer is always the perfect nail gun to use.
Also, sometimes you might just want to attach to pieces as the glue sets. And when this is the case a pin nailer is also handy as the pins are easy to remove afterward without leaving any significant nail holes.
Best Pin Nailer: Hitachi NP35A
If you hate having to fill nail holes after finishing your projects, the Hitachi NP35A pin nailer is for you.
It might not provide the same hold power as the framing or finishing nailers but the 23-gauge headless pins will never leave any visible nail holes.
This pin nailer comes with a side-loading magazine with a capacity of 150 pins that ensure that you can use it for long with minimal reload times. And the magazine will also adjust to different fastener lengths to make this a highly versatile nailer.
Other features that make this an amazing pin nailer include the dual trigger that provides accurate placement of fasteners, depth adjustment, reload indicator and a removable nose plate.
#8. Siding Nailer
Siding nailers are also a specialized nail gun whose main application is attaching siding. It is one of those that you might not necessarily need to have in your toolkit if you do not do a lot of siding projects.
These nailers will use nails that are between 1-1/4 and 2-1/2 inches long. Also some models will be designed specifically for use with aluminum nails and for attaching aluminum siding.
Although it is still possible to use framing nailers to attach siding it is always a much better idea to use siding nailers as they produce much better results.
And besides, from their core function of mounting siding, these nailers are the best when you need to attach thin wood and non-wooden piece to wooden surfaces
Best Siding Nailer: Bostitch N66C-1
Bostitch N66C-1 comes ready to work with all siding material and it is lightweight enough for easy handling for extended periods of time.
This fantastic siding nailer provides a driving power of 515 inches/pound and so it can handle any siding application or material including softwoods and the tough stuff like cement and clapboard.
The lightweight and durable aluminum housing makes it a great choice for everyday use as it can the typical job site wear and tear.
Adjusting the nail drive depth is also simple thanks to the depth guide sets that make the adjustment quick and convenient.
And it has a 350-nail magazine that will ensure that you can do lots of work on a single load.
How to Determine the Best Nail Gun
A nailer is an essential part of many woodworking projects and if you have to drive in lots if nails, you will be better off having the right nail gun for that particular project.
The good news is that there are nail guns for all kinds of woodworking projects and from various brands. But, to determine the best one for your project you should consider the following points when shopping.
How you intend to use the nailer or the projects that you want to do should always be the first factor to consider as different nail guns will be ideal for different projects.
There are nail guns out there for everything from simple furniture construction to other more demanding projects such as flooring, roofing, and framing.
Also, you need to determine other things such as the wood type and the size of the project.
Hence, as a woodworker, it is important to understand the suitable application of the common nailers before buying them.
But, sometimes the nail gun names will give you some idea of what they are meant to do. For example, a roofing nailer is for installing roof shingles while flooring nailers are for installing hardwood flooring.
#2. Power Source
The power source is another vital factor to take into account when choosing nailer as it determines both performance and convenience.
Nail guns use various power sources but in most instances, you will have to pick from the corded, cordless and gas powered nailers.
The corded nailers or the pneumatic nail guns are those that are attached to an air compressor. They operate between a certain range of pressure and their biggest advantages are that they are cheap.
Also, the best pneumatic nail guns are easier to maintain than other types but they are also bulky and not ideal for use in tight spaces.
Cordless nailers use a rechargeable battery and they are quieter than both the gas-powered and pneumatic types and they work well in tight and obstructed spaces. However, they are not designed for high volume nailing tasks and they require regular charging.
Gas powered nailers are also cordless and they will use combustion to drive the nails. They use a gas cartridge and a battery to provide the spark and they are the best for heavy duty nailing tasks where you need a lot of force.
The main shortcoming of gas-powered nailers is that they require plenty of fuel and a recharged battery as the absence of either renders them useless.
You should never overlook the brand when buying a nailer as there are some companies with a good track record for making reliable and long lasting nail guns.
When it comes to the brand, it is also important to note that some companies seem to make nailers that cater for the professional craftsmen while others make their nail guns with the average homeowner or DIYer in mind.
Some of the brands that make high-quality, high-performing, reliable and durable nailers are DeWalt, Hitachi, Porter-Cable, Bostitch, Milwaukee, and Makita.
Nail guns might drive the nails faster and more efficiently than hammers but they are still handheld tools that you need to hold in your hands when using. And so their weight matters a lot.
As a woodworker or hobbyists, you do not want to end up with a bulky nailer that you cannot hold for more than a few minutes without tiring. And this is more so when you are framing or doing other tasks that require you to support the nailer in a vertical position.
While a lightweight nailer always seems the best you should avoid going for something with cheap and low-quality light materials.
For a framing nailer, something that is around 7 or 8 pounds is lightweight enough to handle and most will also have some high-quality materials.
#5. Loading Style
Nail guns use magazines to hold the nails that are fed to the gun and the come in different styles. These magazine or loading styles are also an important factor to consider when buying nail guns.
The two main loadings styles are strip and coil magazines. For, the strip style magazine nailers, the nails are held together by strips of wire, plastic or paper and so they will resemble some long thin strips.
These strips will go into an oblong magazine where they stay until fired. Strip-style magazine nailers are more balanced than the coil-style as they distribute the weight of the also more evenly. However, they require more frequent reloading since they hold fewer nails.
Coil-style magazine nailers feature long strips of nails that are in most cases joined together with wire. The nails are then kept coiled in a rounded magazine.
The coil-style nailers will hold more nails than the strip-style meaning that they need less frequent reloading and they also fit into tighter places. However, the higher ail capacity also means that they are heavier than the strip-style nailers.
A nail gun is one of your most reliable assets when doing any woodworking project because almost all projects will require some nailing at some point.
Whether you are making some furniture, doing some roofing, flooring or general home improvement and renovations, there is always a nailer that is up to the task.
Choosing the right nailer gun for your project should not be a tedious task. You only need to consider things like the project you want to do, preferred power source, weight and the loading style.
Once you decide the type of nailer that you need make sure that you compare different models from the reputable brands. And you should be able to end up with a high-quality nailer for your project or to add to your toolkit.