If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But what if you literally have a bunch of nails? That must be the best time for a hammer, right? Well, not quite. Instead, you might want to invest in a nail gun. While hammers are absolutely essential for around the house tasks, they’re not ideal for applying a lot of nails in quick succession. Nail guns allow you to quickly and evenly add fasteners, without the time and effort that would go into using a hammer.
What to Consider Before Buying a Nail Gun
The adage about everything looking like a nail should serve as a reminder that you can’t just indiscriminately apply one tool for every problem, and the same goes for nail guns. There are a lot of different kinds of nail guns, and they apply different kinds of fasteners to wood. You likely don’t want to buy a bunch of nail guns before tackling a project, so it’s important to consider what kind of job you’ll be doing.
Some of the most common kinds include brad nailers, finish nail guns and framing nailers. Brad and finish nail guns both use small fasteners. Finish nail guns have a lower gauge than brads (lower gauge means thicker). That means finish nails have more holding power, but they may be too big for delicate trims and moldings. In that case, you may want to use a brad nailer. Framing nailers are powerful, heavy-duty tools for carpentry and construction.
Nail guns are available in either electric or pneumatic. Electric nail guns work like your average cordless drill, but pneumatic guns are a little more complicated. These rely on a connection to an air compressor to power them. Pneumatic guns are more powerful, making them the choice of professionals, but DIYers might appreciate the convenience of an electric nail gun.
How We Chose the Best Nail Guns
We decided to focus primarily on brad nailers and finish nail guns, as these are the most versatile tools for DIYers. However, some big projects require framing nailers, so we included options in that category as well. We didn’t include roofing or flooring nailers; these are specialty tools that serve specific purposes. We turned to trusted brands such as Dewalt, Bostitch and Porter-Cable to look for the best nail guns. Plus, we included pneumatic and battery-powered options, so you can find the one that best suits your needs.
1. DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit
If you’re looking for a reliable and economical brad nailer, this option from Dewalt is a great one to get. It’s designed for 18 gauge nails, and can accommodate sizes between 5/8″ to 2″. It is a pneumatic tool, so you’ll need to invest in an air compressor. Jams can be cleared without the use of tools, making it easy to remove a jammed nail and keep working.
Pros: Works for 18 gauge nails in different lengths. Jams can be cleared without the use of a tool.
Cons: Pneumatic can be less convenient depending on your needs.
2. BOSTITCH Framing Nailer
If you need a more powerful framing nailer, this option from Bostitch is a good one to get. It has a powerful driving force of 1,050-inch-pounds, and it can hold nails of varying lengths, between 1/2 inch to 3 1/2 inch. The adjustable guide makes it easy to find the appropriate depth for your project. An additional nosepiece is included, which allows you to swap it for connecting metal.
Pros: Adjustable guide for different depths. Additional nosepiece for connecting metal.
Cons: Heavyweight tool that can be tiresome to use.
3. Makita AF601 16 Gauge, 2-1/2″ Straight Finish Nailer,
If you’re looking for a finish nailer, this option from Makita is a good one to get. It’s a pneumatic nailer for 16 gauge finishing nails. The tool-less depth adjustment makes for easy control while working. Plus, a built-in air duster automatically clears your working area, while the multidirectional exhaust port angles air away from you. The convenient magazine is easy to load.
Pros: Lightweight magnesium build. Built-in air duster to clear your working area. Multidirectional exhaust port.
Cons: Some options may be more economical.
4. WEN Pneumatic Brad Nailer
This brad nailer from WEN is an impressive value. In addition to the pneumatic nailer, 2,000 nails are included. It’s designed to work with 18 gauge brads ranging 3/8″ to 2″ in length. The latch is designed to release quickly to clear jams. The exhaust port can be angled in different ways to be more comfortable while using. The magazine holds up to 106 brad nails.
Pros: Lightweight build. Rotatable exhaust to angle it away from you.
Cons: No case included.
5. PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Brad Nailer
If you want a cordless brad nailer, this convenient option from Porter-Cable relies on battery power to drive 18 gauge brads. A tool-free release allows you to quickly clear jams and keep working. There’s an integrated hook to easily attach the nailer to your belt. Convenient LED lights allow you to illuminate your workspace, for accurate results every time. The battery and charging pack are included.
Pros: Battery and charging pack included. 100 nail magazine capacity. Lightweight for longer and more comfortable working time.
Cons: No case included.