The 10 Best Rivet Guns

Updated October 09, 2017 by Sam Kraft

10 Best Rivet Guns
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 36 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Whether you’re gearing up for your next do-it-yourself project or preparing to take on a professional contracting job, you’re bound to find a rivet gun in this list that will make your work go quicker and easier. We've included both pneumatic and manual models at various price points that should work for any budget. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best rivet gun on Amazon.

10. Arrow RHT300

The Arrow RHT300 is a low-cost, serviceable option that would qualify as a smart buy for someone who will need to install rivets for the occasional project but doesn’t want to make a significant investment. It has an extended nose for hard-to-reach places.
  • twistable head turns 360 degrees
  • spring-loaded handle
  • grip strength is questionable
Brand Arrow Fastener
Model RHT300
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Tekton 6555

The Tekton 6555 is resilient and easy to handle, with a durable black wrinkle finish and a nonslip comfort grip. It comes with a 40-piece rivet set, and you’ll be able to store rivet heads and the tip change wrench in its handle to keep them from getting lost.
  • well-suited for the home user
  • includes 3 extra rivet heads
  • not strong enough for steel rivets
Model 6555
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Marson 39000

The Marson 39000 features a high-strength aluminum alloy body and a drop-forged carbon steel upper handle, so it can manage a lot of pressure without warping or breaking. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with any rivets, so you'll have to purchase your own.
  • good for small spaces
  • thick cushion-molded vinyl grips
  • some rivet shafts get stuck in it
Brand Marson
Model 39000
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Malco 2-in-1

The Malco 2-in-1 provides enough one-handed squeezing strength to set all the most popular rivets without exerting an exorbitant amount of effort. It’s easily adjustable, has replaceable jaws, and is durable enough to last for years.
  • solid mechanical leverage
  • made in the united states
  • takes some time to break in
Brand Malco
Model 2IN1
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

6. Astro 1423

If you’re accustomed to manual rivet guns, you know how much of a pain they can be. The Astro 1423 is a pleasant break from the norm, with a more compact handle that features double compound hinges for using your leverage as efficiently as possible.
  • adept at minimizing shock
  • easy to change rivet diameters
  • chrome-moly steel jaws
Brand Astro Pneumatic Tool
Model 1423
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Arksen Air Hydraulic

The Arksen Air Hydraulic would serve as a welcome addition to any sheet metal shop. It is especially effective for auto body work, recreational vehicles and snowmobiles, and it comes in a protective molded case for added security.
  • four nosepieces
  • ergonomic handle reduces fatigue
  • instructions are not in english
Model 001-AT-10016
Weight 6.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Astro PR14

Powerful and durable, the Astro PR14 is built with a quick-release air valve that permits the cylinder to return swiftly for high-speed assembly operations. It also prevents overloading, which is one less thing you’ll have to worry about.
  • can access narrow areas
  • 2400-pound pulling pressure
  • performs well at all angles
Brand Astro Pneumatic Tool
Model PR14
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Campbell Hausfeld Pop

Capable of operating much faster than most manual riveters, the Campbell Hausfeld Pop is ideal for strenuous jobs that require a powerful tool. Plus, you can hang it from your pocket, which is convenient when working on projects that require both hands.
  • compatible with swivel air connector
  • oil enhances its effectiveness
  • helpful instruction book
Brand Campbell Hausfeld
Model CL153900AV
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Dorman 743-100

A solid budget choice that can handle a variety of rivet sizes, the Dorman 743-100 features extended handles to make driving rivets easier. This is an exceptional deal on a sturdy tool that’s backed by a lifetime guarantee.
  • includes rivet starter assortment
  • ideal size for automotive work
  • usually works on first pump
Brand Dorman
Model 743-100
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

1. Sunex SX1819T

The Sunex SX1819T is a heavy-duty tool that’s suited for commercial jobs, but would certainly work for a home user as well. It features a pulling power of 3,960 pounds at 90 PSI, and a stroke length of 3/4-inch to get through the toughest and thickest materials.
  • durable storage case
  • forged aluminum handle
  • sets all structural blind rivets
Brand Sunex
Model SX1819T
Weight 8.9 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Understanding Riveting

Riveting is a method for making a permanent mechanical joint between two structures. Unlike bolts, they cannot be disassembled without breaking the rivet. The riveting process uses force to push together a rivet and a rivet head. This causes a deformation of the tail and forms a shape that is capable of firmly holding together two plates.

Rivets have three main classifications, each of which can be further broken down into distinct styles. Solid rivets are the original type of rivet, but in modern times these are commonly replaced by welding or brazing. Solid rivets are available as a round head, countersunk, or oval countersunk design.

Round head rivets will form a joint that has a small round head sticking out slightly from the joined plates. Countersunk rivets create a perfectly flush joint, while oval countersunk rivets have less protrusion than round head rivets and can be used in heavier load applications than countersunk rivets.

Hollow or blind rivets are used widely in aircraft and electronics industries. They are easier to work with than solid rivets and have the fastest rate of installation. Unlike solid rivets, blind rivets can be installed from a single side. They are also available in round head or countersunk head designs.

Tubular rivets have a hole which allows a wire to be inserted through the rivet. They are often used in electrical engineering and the toy industry and are ideal for applications where metal needs to be joined with other softer materials like leather or plastic.

Rivets can be used to create lap joints or butt joints. A lap joint is used when the plates being brought together are overlapping each other. To create a lap joint, a rivet is inserted through the overlapping sections. Butt joints must be used when the plates cannot be overlapping. In this case, a cover plate of some kind is set over the two plates, which are butted up to each other.

Different Types Of Rivet Guns

A rivet gun is the tool used to drive rivets through plastic or metal plates, typically to conjoin two pieces. They are also sometimes called pneumatic hammers and come in many different shapes and sizes. Those used for structural steel applications are large and require the use of two hands, while others used in electrical engineering can be easily operated with one hand. The majority of industrial rivet guns are pneumatically powered, but there are hand powered options which can be a good choice for home use on smaller projects.

There are five main types of rivet guns commonly available; slow-hitting, fast-hitting, corner, squeeze, and pop. A slow-hitting rivet gun strikes several times as the trigger is pressed, with a standard repetition rate of somewhere around 2,000 blow per minute. Fast-hitting rivet guns are best for soft rivets and strike a high number of lightweight blows, anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 blows per minute. The quick repetition makes them harder to control and less popular than slow-hitting guns.

Corner rivet guns are designed for use in tight spaces and are generally more compact than other types. Instead of a direct drive, corner rivets are driven at a right angle. Squeeze rivet guns use an air-powered compression action rather than a continuous hitting motion, like fast and slow-hitting riveters perform. They apply pressure to the rivet from both sides and are capable of producing very uniform rivet sets. They can also be used for applications where rivets are needed close to the edge of a plate.

Pop rivet guns are handheld options that utilize the user's grip strength to set rivets instead of pneumatic power. They are only suitable for thin sheets of metal and plastic and are rarely used for industrial applications.

Tips For Proper Riveting

While proper riveting technique often depends on the type of rivets and the type of gun you are using, there are a few tips that apply to every type of riveting. Always use the proper type of rivet gun and rivets for your application. If you are riveting weight-bearing structural steel plates, not only would it be very difficult to use a handheld option, but if you were to succeed in setting any rivets, they wouldn't have the required holding power.

If you are creating rivets in something that requires wires to be passed through the plates being fastened, make sure to use tubular rivets otherwise you will wind up having to drill separate holes for the wires, creating uneccessary work. Before starting any riveting job, research the best type of gun and rivets for the intended application.

Once you've chosen a device to use, the next step is picking the right sized rivets and joint materials. It is vital to use the correct size rivets and mating joint elements. If your rivets are too thin, they won't be strong enough, and if they are too large, you will be required to drill overly large holes which can compromise the integrity of the joined plates.

The rivet length is also an important factor to take note of. Rivets should be long enough to completely pass through the joint, but no so large that they stick out overly far. If they are too short, you will not be able to close your rivets. If they are too long, the rivets will close but won't be tight enough, resulting in loosely joined plates that may slide or rattle.

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Last updated on October 09, 2017 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.

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