The 10 Best Nail Guns
10. DeWalt DWFP12231
9. Bostitch BTFP3KIT
8. Hitachi NR1890DR
7. Freeman P4FRFNCB Combo Kit
6. DeWalt DC608K
5. Ryobi P320 Airstrike
4. NuMax SFR2190
3. Hitachi NT50AE2
2. Porter-Cable PCC790LA
1. Wen 61720
The Source of All Your Power
The type of nail gun that you're going to want depends a lot on what you plan to do with it, and even the nail guns we've evaluated can be tough to compare since they fall into different categories. But let's be honest; in time, you are going to want to get your hands on an entire system.
Whether you buy that system all at once or one piece at a time is up to you, but if you're assembling your kit from scratch, you're going to want a consistent power source for all your tools.
There are three primary types of power delivery for these kinds of tools.
If you've used smaller electric tools in the past, you'll probably be familiar with battery operation and the high points and low points it presents. You get greater maneuverability and portability with battery power, but you sacrifice some driving power, and the batteries often need to be replaced part way through a job. This can cause bouts of uninterrupted crying, and you don't want to cry on your tools without a little NeverWet handy.
The more common choice among professionals is pneumatic driving, which uses air from a hose line attached to a dedicated compressor. This might serve you as a better long term investment since the compressor itself can often be used for more than just your nail guns. A good compressor can become the centerpiece of your work station. The only problem here is that the hoses can significantly reduce your mobility.
Finally, the least common system among consumers and many professionals today is the fuel driven system, which is almost like having a little combustion engine in your hands that drives pressure to your nail in much the same way your car uses its engine to deliver power to its wheels.
Whatever power system you choose, try to keep it consistent as you expand your tool kit, and you'll be better off for it.
On the Virtues of Starting Small
I know you're excited. I know you want to go out there and nail everything in sight. I don't blame you. A good nail gun puts a lot of power in your hands.
Before we go all OK Coral on the neighborhood, though, we should talk a little bit about taking this thing more slowly.
If you fall in love with the biggest baddest framing nail gun on the market, drop a pretty penny on it, and then try to hang a small shelf in your bathroom with it, all you're going to end up with is a grumpy spouse and a new peephole from the other room into your toilet.
To get a good idea of what these tools are meant to accomplish, it would behoove you to get your hands on one of the more versatile nail guns for smaller applications, since there are likely to be more of the lighter jobs to tackle around your home. This will prevent misuse, under-use, and any dangerous situations that could arise from lack of familiarity with the tools.
With a Finish Nail Gun or a Brad Nailer you can put put around the house looking for a million little jobs, from shelving to molding, that will give you the experience and confidence you really ought to have before getting into anything too intense. These guns should even accommodate you as you expand into more challenging areas.
When you find yourself up against a job that requires the longer, thicker nails and the increased power and performance that come with framing nail guns, you can revisit this page, refresh yourself on your research, and get yourself a shiny new toy.
Of course, if you already have all that experience, then it's OK Coral time!!!
Nailing Down a Date
While it's more or less accepted that the first nail gun to use air pressure the way we understand and use it today was introduced to the market in 1950, the road that lead to that innovation is pocked with mysterious holes, as though the history's nails–once driven–had been removed.
There were gravity fed nail machines dating back a while before the pneumatic nail guns of the 50s, and patent stamps on this manual nail gun by Pearson date its creation to the late 19th century.
In the 75 years since their commercial introduction, nail guns have only gotten lighter, more portable, and more powerful. Of course, with that increased power comes increased responsibility, as the CDC reports some 37,000 nail gun related emergency room visits each year in the United States alone.
There are more safety features than ever, as most nail guns won't even fire without the depression of the firing head against a surface, but proper technique will always be the best safety feature available.