The 10 Best Nail Guns
This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in March of 2015. If you're still swinging a hammer, you're working too hard. The nail guns on this list will enable you to make short work of your next project, regardless of whether you're a DIYer or a construction professional. Our choices include battery-powered and pneumatic options, so you're sure to find one that's convenient for your needs. Always use caution when operating power tools of any kind. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
July 30, 2020:
If you're doing any serious framing, you'll have to get yourself a proper pneumatic framing gun. The DeWalt DWF83PT is an excellent option and thanks to the paper collation, it rarely jams or misses. It used to be that plastic was more convenient and that it jammed less often than paper but with some semi-modern advances, manufacturers started coating and treating the paper so that it is much more rigid, weatherproof, and so that it shears consistently. It certainly costs more but it is worth the time you save clearing jams and the frustration of broken plastic rails.
As far as brad and finishing nail guns, they are not interchangeable and you'll have to use the right one for the task at hand. If you're putting up light trim or nailing some decorative pieces together, a brad nailer like the Metabo NT50AE2 is a consistent workhorse. If you need to hang some heavy crown molding or door jambs, a finishing nail gun like the Makita XNB02Z drives up to 1000 1 to 2-1/2-inch nails on a single charge.
Nail guns are extremely dangerous and should be used with caution. Always inspect valves, seals, and welds on pressure vessels to avoid risk of injury.
June 26, 2019:
The biggest choice you'll have to make when buying a nailer is between a pneumatic or cordless option. The former tend to be much more powerful, but you'll have to lug a compressor around — not to mention deal with a long hose. The latter is extremely convenient (at least until you have to repeatedly try to drive a nail into a hard surface), but you'll need to be sure your batteries are fully charged before you begin working if you want to avoid a lot of downtime.
The Paslode 905600 is the best of the cordless options. It's compact yet incredibly powerful, and it can handle outdoor use even in inclement weather. As you might expect, though, you'll pay for that performance. If you're not wanting to drop a ton of money on a nailer, the Ryobi P320 Airstrike is almost as good, at a fraction of the price. It's likely the better choice for the user who only occasionally needs a nail gun.
The Metabo NT50AE2 is our favorite pneumatic option. It's ridiculously lightweight at just over two pounds, so you can use it all day without paying the price once you get home. It's more of a finish nailer, though, so if you need something more formidable, we recommend the Bostitch BTFP3KIT. It comes with everything a professional contractor needs — just be aware that, for DIY-ers, that means they'll have to find room to store all the things a professional contractor needs.
Primatech Edge 900A This ten-pound monster allows for vertical blind nailing, letting you get into tighter spaces than ever before. The fully-adjustable base allows you to customize the striking surface to match the walls or flooring you're dealing with. primatech.ca
Fasco 11302F Jumbo If you're working with big nails, you'll need a big nailer — and they don't come much more formidable than this model. It can take fasteners as big as 6.25 inches, and even has a side handle to let you put more "oomph" behind each drive. tts-products.com
Max HS130 PowerLite This professional-grade stick nailer has a tangle-free air fitting, allowing you to move around on the roof without fear of getting caught up in a hose at an inopportune moment. There's a magnet in the nose to hold nails in place and prevent jamming, saving you a little hassle (and a few curse words). maxusacorp.com
The Source of All Your Power
A good compressor can become the centerpiece of your work station.
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.
I know you want to go out there and nail everything in sight.
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.
In the 75 years since their commercial introduction, nail guns have only gotten lighter, more portable, and more powerful.
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.