Best Air Compressor for Nail Guns: Portable, Working Power

If you own any pneumatically powered tools, then you know the importance of a dependable, and portable, air compressor. This is particularly true for use with a nail gun, as nail guns may be offered as both electric and air-pressure powered, those looking for constant power often choose from the more varied pneumatic model options.

When using a nail gun you need a highly portable compressor in order to be as mobile as possible. Moving through the job at hand or even working within a room requires a degree of mobility and sound control. The best air compressor for a nail gun can provide both the power and the ease of use you need for efficiency in these situations. Some of the best choices you can buy for homeowner nail gun use are reviewed below.

5 Air Compressors for Nail Gun Comparison

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageBOSTITCH BTFP02012-WPK 6-Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor Kit
  • Weight: 29lbs
  • Size: 6 gallon
  • Warranty: 1 year
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byb2-table__imagePORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
  • Weight: 34lbs
  • Size: 6 gallon
  • Warranty: 1 year
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byb2-table__imageDEWALT D55140 1-Gallon 135 PSI Max Trim Compressor
  • Weight: 24lbs
  • Size: 1 gallon
  • Warranty: 1 year
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byb2-table__imageExcell U256PPE 6 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor
  • Weight: 35lbs
  • Size: 6 gallon
  • Warranty: 1 year
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byb2-table__imageMakita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
  • Weight: 77 lbs
  • Size: 4.2-gallon twin stacked
  • Warranty: 1 year
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How an Air Compressor Powers a Nail Gun

An air compressor uses an engine to convert power into potential energy stored as pressurized air via a pump. As air is pumped into a storage tank it raises the pressure, which can then be controlled through a release to provide power elsewhere – such as to a pneumatic nail gun.

Building contractor worker with a air nail gun nailer working on the corner of the top plate of the first floor walls on a new home construciton project

Compressors can use either an electric or gas powered engine and can come in a wide variety of sizes to use for various jobs. They can be large and require a permanent mount, or small and be easily portable. Obviously, for the purpose of using a compressor with a nail gun, you will most likely need a more portable design as tools are much easier to bring the project rather than the project to the tool.

Portable Air Compressor Styles

There are many different styles of portable air compressors to choose from. Differences in design, size, and how they run are all details to pay attention to when deciding what might be best for your needs. Below are some of the most common differences in popular, portable styles for you to consider for nail gun use.

Design

There are a few main styles of portable compressors that are most popular with consumers. These provide various compact designs in sizes made to be more easily brought from one work area to the next. They also provide different strengths of pressurized air.

Many Air compressors pressure pumps closeup photo

Pancake Compressor

These 4 to 6-gallon tanks are named such due to their rounded, flat bottom shape. They are amongst the most popular portable compressors available.

Pontoon Compressor

These long, horizontal, cylinder-shaped tanks can hold 2 to 3 gallons and are also considered highly portable for a wide variety of jobs.

Trim Compressor

Compact and highly portable, these compressors hold one 1 to 2-gallon tanks protected by a frame. These are popular for small, quick jobs.

Twin-Stack Compressor

Aptly named, these are often larger compressors built onto wheels to allow for easy portability, greater air capacity, and greater pressurized power

Single vs Two Stage Air Compressors

Since an air compressor requires a pump to draw in natural air to store under pressure in the tank, you need to know the difference between single and two stage compressors. Before these are defined, you need to understand what PSI and CFM stand for.

industrial barometer in blue air compressors,white background

PSI: stands for pounds per square inch. All pneumatic tools have a PSI rating in order to ensure the correct pressure is available to work correctly. On average, most nailers have a 90 PSI rating.

CFM: this is the cubic feet per minute rating and defines the overall power capacity of the compressor. It also helps determine how many tools you can run off each compressor as each tool has its own requirements.

The difference between a single and two stage compressor refers to how much pressure is available for use, with single stage commonly capable of 155 PSI with CFM ratings generally under 100 PSI. Two-stage compressors are often capable of 175 PSI output, with CFM ratings over 100 PSI.

Oil vs Oilless

Some compressors need oil to lubricate the engine, while others do not. Machines that require oil often weigh more overall than those that do not, plus oilless versions are often much more compact overall as well. Be sure to determine what maintenance is needed in your choice to keep your machine running as it should.

Benefits of Pneumatic Tools

Compared to many other energy sources, compressed air is one of the most convenient and powerful to use with many different tools. The use of air tools is long and varied, and the benefits often far outperform compatible products. Air tools generally offer:

Young female carpenter using a nail gun while working in a workshop

  • Torque control and range of speed
  • Longer lasting life compared to conventional tools
  • Operate at lower temperatures and do not generate heat
  • Do not pose a fire hazard or electrical shock
  • Are environmentally friendly
  • Provide superior power in proportion to their weight
  • Provide consistency in power for a wide variety of jobs

Top 5 Air Compressors for Nail Gun Reviews

The following compressors are considered some of the best for use with nail guns. They are highly portable, hold plenty of air for continual powered work, and are some of the most popular for both home and small professional jobs.

BOSTITCH BTFP02012-WPK 6-Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor Kit

BOSTITCH BTFP02012-WPK 6-Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor Kit
  • Weight: 29lbs
  • Size: 6 gallon
  • Max PSI: 150 PSI
  • Noise Level: 80 dB
  • Warranty: 1 year
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Bostitch is a leading brand name in the nail gun industry, so it only figures they would provide a dependable compressor for their tools. This 6-gallon capacity machine is considered a pancake style and provides a max 150 PSI output for powerful needs. Weighing in at only 29 lbs, the overall design includes an easy grip handle for fast portability, and a drain allow for easy condensed water drainage.

Oil-free for easy maintenance, and equipped with a high flow regulator to keep your power consistent, this is a convenient option for use both indoors and out. It also has a low operational volume for use in more confined spaces. This kit comes with a 50’ air hose and accessories for convenience.

Pros:

  • Fills quickly
  • Well built and durable
  • Very easy to move around a job site

Cons:

  • Still slightly loud despite the claims

Who Should Buy This Product
For anyone who wants a dependable product and the accessories to get started: this is an excellent option. A compressor can also be bought without the kit- but having one makes it a great compressor for those who have never had one before.

PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor

PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
  • Weight: 34lbs
  • Size: 6 gallon
  • Max PSI: 150 PSI
  • Noise Level: 103dB
  • Warranty: 1 year
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Porter-Cable is also a brand name that knows a thing or two about nail guns. They are a leading industry manufacturer of pneumatic tools, and their portable pancake compressor provides a max 150 PSI from a compact, 6-gallon tank. Weighing in at 34 lbs, it is easy to carry either one, or two-handed. Pus, it has rubberized feet to keep from marring the floor.

This oil-free design makes it ideal for moving around a job site, and the two couplers allow you to run more than one tool at a time. It is also considered ideal for cold weather work and comes complete with an extension cord and replaceable brushes. An easy access drain allows for the removal of moisture.

Pros:

  • Reaches max PSI quickly
  • Powerful and runs in cold weather well
  • Easy to transport

Cons:

  • Rather loud
  • Vibrates strongly, but stays put due to rubber feet

Who Should Buy This Product
If a compact, cold weather starting compressor is needed, this is an excellent option. Powerful enough to run two tools, this is perfect for all your DIY projects at any time of year.

DEWALT D55140 1-Gallon 135 PSI Max Trim Compressor

DEWALT D55140 1-Gallon 135 PSI Max Trim Compressor
  • Weight: 24lbs
  • Size: 1 gallon
  • Max PSI: 135 PSI
  • Noise Level: 71 dB
  • Warranty: 1 year
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A long-standing brand name in homeowner tool manufacturing, DEWALT is a popular option both in the home and professionally. This compact 1 -gallon trim compressor is the perfect size for quick DIY projects. The max 135 PSI is powerful enough to run a nail gun and is also everything you need for indoor trimming and small projects. The low 71 dBA ensures a more tolerable work volume when indoors.

Oil-free for easy placement, this model only weighs 24 lbs and is seriously easy to move and store. A quick to open ball valve drain keeps it moisture free, a cord wrap is easily accessible for even easier storage, and the high flow regulator allows you to work with consistent power.

Pros:

  • Feeds nail guns exceptionally well
  • Fairly quiet for a compressor
  • Durable air regulator (NOT plastic)

Cons:

  • Small tank dictates about 20 minutes of pressure

Who Should Buy This Product
If you have been looking for a compact, simple compressor for around the house, this is a perfect option. It is highly dependable with a long life and considered a staple product for those in need of a compressor for home use.

Excell U256PPE 6 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor

Excell U256PPE 6 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor
  • Weight: 35lbs
  • Size: 6 gallon
  • Max PSI: 150 PSI
  • Noise Level: 82 dB
  • Warranty: 1 year
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As a company, Excell has gained ground as an industry leader within the last few decades and offers a dependable line of innovative power sources. This 6-gallon pancake compressor is compact, easy to transport, and has a powerful 150 max PSI rating. At 35 lbs it is easy enough to move from place to place, but also sturdy and well balanced.

With two built-in couplers, you can easily run multiple tools for all your finishing needs. It also has a negative fahrenheit startup rating, allowing you to work out of doors no matter what season it is.

Pros:

  • The fast recovery rate for such a small machine
  • Provides plenty of power
  • Not extremely loud overall, works well in small spaces

Cons:

  • Not to be used with heavy air use tools

Who Should Buy This Product
When you need a dependable compressor for cold weather use, this is an option worth considering. With plenty of power and the ability to run two tools at once, this machine can help you get your job done in no time.

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
  • Weight: 77 lbs
  • Size: 4.2-gallon twin stacked
  • Max PSI: 130 PSI
  • Noise Level: 79dB
  • Warranty: 1 year
Check The Price

 

The Makita cast iron pump and BIg Bore twin cylinder is specifically designed to provide quick recovery for long working hours. Designed for work in extreme job sites and weather, this oil run engine puts out a maximum 130 PSI and has the ability to run two tools at once. The large style air filter coupled with 2.4 horsepower allows for greater efficiency overall.

At 77 lbs this machine is made to sit sturdy without vibration through the floor. And the double cylinder design helps reduce wear and increase pump life. Plus they can be removed for easy maintenance.

Pros:

  • Runs quiet for the size
  • Great all around use and power
  • Fast recovery time

Cons:

  • Heavy to move
  • Access components on all four sides

Who Should Buy This Product
When a job calls for a durable compressor with a long life and quick recovery, this is the tool for you. The design is made to provide greater efficiency in your job and provide the power you need for two tools.

Conclusion

An air compressor is an incredibly handy tool to have around the house for a variety of jobs that require compressed air. But when you are planning on using a nail gun, you need to have a dependable model that has the power to get the job done. Portable convenience is also well worth considering, and the above picks highlight some of the best available for ease of use for your own homeowner project.

If you have experience with any of the above models or have any questions, please let us know below. And, as always, please share!

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