- Free Plans and Projects
- Furniture Projects
- Jigs And Fixtures Projects
- Shop Projects
- SketchUp Models
- Shop Storage
- Free Woodworking Downloads From Lee Valley
- Premium Streaming Video Site
- Experts Guide to Gluing & Clamping Wood
- Mastering Built-In Furniture
- Simple Live-Edge Slab Table
- CNC – Designed for Woodworkers
- Milling Your Own Lumber
- Advanced Bandsaw Techniques
- I Can Do That! – Simple Woodworking Projects
- Woodwright’s Shop with Roy Underhill
- Tricks of the Trade
My AccountWe independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products-learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
- Popular Woodworking Magazine
- Digital Editions
- Give A Gift
- Woodworking Magazine Reprints
- Premium Streaming Video
Speed Up Your DIY Projects With the Best Nail Guns
The hammer has been around forever as the most basic tool for building and repairing. To this day, it’s one of the easiest and quickest ways to pound down a nail or two for day-to-day DIY tasks like hanging a picture or building a table. While useful, hammers are somewhat outdated. This tool has been replaced by electric and air-powered pneumatic tools, such as the mighty nail gun!
A nail gun is an effortless way to carry out even the heaviest-duty nailing tasks like roof tacking, framing a home, and installing a baseboard. Even if you’re not a pro, it still pays to have a nail gun in your toolkit to make DIY projects easier. If you’re used to using a hammer, you might not know much about nailers. But don’t worry, that’s exactly why we’ve put together this well-researched list of our favorite nail guns of 2023. Let’s take a look!Show contentsComparing the Best Nails Guns for 2023
Buying Guide: Nail Gun
Nail guns come in a variety of shapes, types, sizes, and power ratings, which are all designed for a specific demographic of users. For professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike, a nail gun shaves off a lot of time and effort required to get things done. Contrary to popular belief, it’s also very safe to use as long as you’re practicing nail gun safety guidelines, especially if the tool is equipped with specialized features for additional protection.
In this buyer’s guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make it easier for you to navigate the market and make an informed purchase decision. Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned pro, keeping the following factors in mind will help you spend your money in the right place. Let’s take a look!
What Are the Types and Designs of Nail Guns?
Let’s start with nail gun types and designs. You’ll find a variety of options to choose from, with the most common ones being brad, finish, and framing nailers. Here’s a brief rundown of each of them.
Brad nail guns
If you generally work on detailed wood-like trims, brad nailers are your best bet. This type of nail gun is the go-to choice for professionals who work on cabinetry, moldings, and similar tasks. As you can tell by the name, this category of nail guns is designed for firing brad nails, which are meant to be especially thin and light, making them suitable for intricate projects. They’re made out of small-diameter steel wire, often between the 18 to 20-gauge range and up to 2 inches in length.
Unless you’ve got super heavy-duty projects to worry about, these nailers are versatile enough to handle all your home or yard repair needs, as well as some light furniture building and construction.
Finish nail guns
Like brad nailers, a finish nail gun also uses thin and light nails which do not damage those finely detailed pieces of wood and trims. These nail guns aren’t just limited to these fine nails. They can also handle larger-diameter nails if you ever have to work with large logs or thicker planks of wood.
This type of nail gun is versatile, which makes it an ideal choice for a wide range of carpentry work. You can easily perform crown molding and install baseboards using no other power tool besides a finish nail gun. That’s because you can fire 15 or 16-gauge finish nails with it, ranging up to 2.5 inches in length.
Framing nail guns
Framing nailers are specially built to handle all your heavy-duty building and repair needs. You can easily build fences, fasten wood pieces, and construct bigger pieces of components for large-scale projects. If you’re a casual DIY hobbyist, then you don’t necessarily need to invest in a framing nail gun as you probably won’t be able to take advantage of its maximum potential.
These nail guns are designed to fire thick and long, 3.5-inch nails, which are commonly referred to as 16-penny nails by carpenters and woodworkers. Professionals use this type of nail gun to secure tar paper, shingles, and insulation boards, and only a framing nailer can handle that sort of workload. So, if you plan on building a new room altogether, framing your deck, or fencing the house, this is the one for you!
What To Know When Choosing a Nail Gun
You can find two common power sources in nail guns, pneumatic and battery. The former involves the use of an air compressor to continuously fire nails, as long as you’ve loaded them inside the tool. These nail guns are often less expensive and more powerful, but they rely on an external air compressor to function. This means they’re more difficult to use than their battery-powered alternatives.
If you can’t deal with the additional set-up time and effort required in air-powered pneumatic nail guns and don’t care for their additional power either, we recommend choosing a battery-powered nailer. This is an ideal choice for casual DIY-ers as they don’t need heavy-duty specifications, but an easy-to-use tool that gets the job done. It’s cordless and doesn’t rely on a hefty air compressor attachment, which means it’s way more mobile. Keep in mind that this type of nail gun is considerably more expensive than a more powerful air-powered counterpart.
Nail guns also differ in terms of the firing modes they offer. Some don’t have any options to choose from, while advanced ones allow you to customize everything about the tool. Some models have the option to fire nails just by bumping the gun’s nose, while others are equipped with safety features like having to engage its tip before you can pull the trigger.
Depending on whether you’re a professional or a casual hobbyist, you also have to consider the nail capacity of your new handheld power tool. There’s no right answer here, as it mostly depends on the level of workload you usually have, and whether or not you mind having to reload your gun after frustratingly short intervals.
If you’re looking for a nailer for occasional repair jobs around the house, nail capacity shouldn’t matter since you’ll only use the tool for a few nails every time.
On the other hand, if you make and repair furniture for a living, you need a tool with the maximum amount of nail capacity so that you can get through your work day with the least amount of reloading interruptions.
Not every nailer is built on the same type of firing mechanism. They can be divided into two broad categories: sequential firing and contact or bump firing.
Sequentially fired nailers require the user to activate the trigger for every nail. This might slow you down, but it’s considered to be safer than contact or bump firing since there’s a much lower chance of accidentally firing a nail. This is a significant advantage considering nail guns are responsible for about 37,000 visits to the emergency room annually.
Comparing the Best Nails Guns for 20231
BOSTITCH Nail Gun– Best OverallBuy on AmazonCheck On Walmart
The BOSTITCH Nail Gun is one of the highest-rated tools you can find on the online marketplace. This nail gun is designed to fire 18-gauge nails with a length of up to 2.5 inches. It has thoughtful features built into it like a tool-free nail removal through a jam-release mechanism as well as a pencil sharpener to make sure you’re always ready to take your markings.
With complete dial-a-depth controls, a customizable trigger system, and a sequential firing mechanism, this nail gun is a breeze to use. It’s also backed by an impressive seven year warranty, which makes this nail gun the best option on our list.Pros
- Very easy to use
- Long warranty coverage
- Features an oil-free operation
- Has a plastic build
Dewalt Nail Gun– Most LightweightBuy on Amazon
No one wants to carry around a hefty nail gun just to drive some brads into a DIY project because even a hammer is more convenient to use than that. That’s why this Dewalt Nail Gun is one of our top picks, being the lightest-weight option listed here at just 2.65 pounds. It’s also light on your pocket thanks to its affordable price, which is impressive for its feature set and quality.
This nail gun is sturdily built out of magnesium, with grippy rubber handles for optimal ergonomics. It’s also pretty safe to use since it’s a sequential style option.Pros
- Lightweight yet sturdy build
- Affordable yet high-quality
- Features tool-free drive depth adjustment
- Works with an air compressor and hose
NEU MASTER Nail Gun– Best QualityBuy on Amazon
If you’re after top-notch build quality, then it doesn’t get much better than the NEU MASTER Nail Gun. This nail gun is the only one on this list featuring an all-metal build, which means it has superior durability and enhanced stability. This nailer also features oilless functioning, which adds to its longevity since you don’t have to worry about timely maintenance and regular oiling.
Coming with 1,000 brad nails and staples divided into different sizes, this nail gun also comes with a pair of safety glasses, two allen wrenches, and a case to safely carry it in.Pros
- Covered by a one-year warranty
- All-metal, highly sturdy build quality
- Adjustable pressure between 60 to 120 PSI
- The warranty term could be longer
Wen Nail Gun– Best ValueBuy on Amazon
The Wen Nail Gun is a great buy for value-seekers and casual DIY enthusiasts. This nail gun is the only option on this list that’s under $50, yet it’s still on par with most other options on this list from a performance standpoint. This nail gun can comfortably drive 18-gauge brad nails that are ⅜ to 2 inches in length. Plus, you can conveniently select your preferred depth using an adjustable wheel on top.
This nailer also features a quick-release magazine with an impressive capacity of 106 nails, as well as a nose latch for hassle-free jam removal.Pros
- Can hold up to 106 nails
- Easy to use with user-friendly features
- Features a strong, metal magazine
- Relatively heavy at 5.72 pounds
PORTER-CABLE Nail Gun– Best Battery-poweredBuy on Amazon
If you only need a nail gun for occasional maintenance and repair work around the house, then it should be portable and mobile. The PORTER-CABLE Nail Gun fits this description perfectly! Since it’s not a pneumatic air-powered tool, this nail gun is completely cordless, which means you never have to worry about cable management or whether there’s a socket near your project.
Say goodbye to those gas cartridges, hoses, and hefty air compressor set-ups — just make sure you keep this nailer charged and ready to go! One charge cycle of this 20V nail gun can drive up to 1,300 nails, so battery life certainly won’t be an issue.Pros
- Covered by a three-year warranty
- Cordless design for maximum convenience
- Long-lasting battery
- More expensive than others
People Also AskedQ: Do I need to use an air compressor with my nail gun?
A: Not all nail guns require an air compressor to function, but if you have an air-powered pneumatic nailing tool, then yes. Such nail guns require a certain amount of pressure and air volume for optimal operation, and you need an air compressor that’s powerful enough to deliver it.Q: Is using a nail gun dangerous?
A: Yes, nail guns can potentially cause serious injuries, especially in case of accidentally firing nails or brads through an automatic trigger nailer, also referred to as a bump or contact firing tool. Major risk factors to avoid are operating the tool without adequate prior training, working in a hurry, and squeezing the trigger when you’re not nailing.Q: How much air pressure do I need for my nail gun?
A: If you have a pneumatic nail gun, then you can find its particular air pressure needs in its user manual, usually detailed as a figure in pounds per square inch (PSI) unit. The average nailer needs about 70 to 90 PSI for proper functioning.Q: How much volume of air is sufficient for my nail gun?
A: Most nail guns need between 0.5 and 4 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) of air to function, but you can find the exact requirements on its product description page or in the user manual. This can vary with environmental factors like humidity level, ambient temperature, and atmospheric pressure.The Pop Wood Review Team’s product reviews and comprehensive guides are here to help you select the best gear and tools to efficiently complete top-quality woodworking projects. The content is created by The Pop Wood Review Team. Popular Woodworking’s editorial staff is not involved. Popular Woodworking is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.