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Best Nail Gun: Choices for a Job Well Done

Whether you are a seasoned construction veteran, or are simply working on your own home improvement, you’ve most likely perused the aisles of your local building supply store and considered the use of the many products offered. Power tools, in particular, are a handy item to have for most building projects, with favored items well know by even the greenest of builders. But are you aware of the convenience a nail gun can lend to your projects? If you have ever pondered the purchase of a nailer, and are considering what these products can provide, then look no further as we review some of the top rated nail guns below.

5 Best Nail Gun Comparisons

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageNuMax
  • Type: Framing
  • Firing Method: single or full sequential
  • Nail type: strip-style
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byb2-table__imageHitachi
  • Type: Roofing
  • Firing Method: contact or single sequential
  • Nail type: Coil-style
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byb2-table__imageBOSTITCH
  • Type: Finisher
  • Firing Method:contact or single sequential
  • Nail type: strip-style
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byb2-table__imageDEWALT
  • Type: Brad nailer
  • Firing Method: single sequential
  • Nail type: strip-style
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byb2-table__imagePORTER-CABLE
  • Type: Pin Nailer
  • Firing Method: auctuation
  • Nail type: strip-style
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What is a Nail Gun?

A nail gun, or nailer, is type of power tool that provides the power to drive nails into wood or other material using a pressurized force. These are extremely helpful in most building or construction projects, and are incredibly efficient in how well they save on time and labor cost. They also are very accurate, and some can drive nails specifically to a certain depth, which can be very important depending on the type of material you are working with.

Electric vs Pneumatic Nailers

Electric Nail Gun

Pneumatic Nail Gun

The two most often used types of nail guns are electric and pneumatic powered. Both corded and cordless version of electric nailers exist, both with their own sets of pros and cons. A corded gun requires an extension cord able to reach to the job you are working on, and a cordless version has you at the mercy of battery charge times. They do have their advantages though in that they are convenient, more lightweight, and very portable. Pneumatic nailers require compressed air for use, meaning you must have the hoses and air compressor, as well as the extension cords to run power to the compressor. These are generally very powerful tools, however, and provide excellent dependability for larger jobs.

Nail Gun Firing Methods

Obviously, not all nail guns are made the same, and there are different firing methods to consider when looking over various models. It is important to know how your nail gun works for safety reasons when working with them to avoid accidental discharge or a marring of your work surface.

Contact

Contact or bump firing the gun allows you to drive nails. This happens with each bump of the safety tip against a surface while you are holding down the trigger. This is a fast and easy way to get a large job done, but does require precision and control on behalf of the user.

Single Sequential

This type of gun requires the sequential order of the safety tip pressed against a surface, and then the pull of the trigger to fire. However, you can leave the safety tip against the material you are working on and move it as you fire. This is a bit more safe than a bump firing gun, and still provides quick use of it.

Auctuation

Similar to a single sequential model, this allows you to bump fire the first nail and then move through your job with the safety tip in contact with your surface.

Full Sequential

Although this gun will not work as quickly as the others, it is the safest and keeps from accidental discharge. This gun requires the safety tip to be first activated, then the trigger to shoot. The safety tip must then be disengaged, and engaged before pulling the trigger again.

Types of Nail Guns

The best kind of nail guns are those that work specifically for the project you are attempting. There are two main types of nailers: coil-style and strip-style. A coil-style gun uses long, flexible strings of nails joined together by a fine wire that then coils up and sits within a space within the gun that feeds the nails through the safety tip. A strip-style gun arranged nails in a long strip that slides into a magazine on the gun. They can be held together by plastic, paper, or even wire. The nails are then fed through the safety tip when fired. These types of guns often have better balance, but may not hold as many nails as a coil-style.

Framing Nailers

Framing nailers are best for heavy construction, such as deck building, building framing, and other industrial-sized jobs that require a powerful, long lasting gun.

Roofing Nailers

These types of nailers usually contain a depth drive adjustment and are made specifically to address the nailing down of asphalt roofing shingles and other roofing materials.

Finishing Nailers

These are a very good all around gun, and can handle a variety of different types of jobs, flooring, cabinetry, trim, and fencing are examples of the types of jobs they handle.

Brad Nailers

Probably the most versatile of all the nailers, these are a true all purpose pick, and can handle the occasional heavy woodworking job, but still be able to tack in your trim without overkill.

Pin Nailers

Perfect for multi use, small DIY woodworking crafts and upholstery projects- pin nailers are lightweight and easy to use.

How to Choose a Nail Gun

Obviously, when choosing a nail gun you need to look first for what is best for the job you have in mind, and not the best looking nail gun. Then you can begin to narrow them down according to more personal preference surrounding coil and strip feed styles, as well as firing and power source methods. Not all types of nailers are offered in all styles, so it is best not to get your heart set on a cordless roofing nailer that has a coil style feed- as it may not exist. Instead, look to what is needed, what you feel you can handle, and what fits within your budget. Of those choices find what best fits you and your preference. If you are unsure of the features offered on the models, you can always read up on reviews (such as these) or speak with a friend who has experience with them and may be able to let you handle different kinds prior to purchase.

An important consideration as well is your power source. Many guns are made to hook up to an air compressor which requires you to have the capabilities of running one. This means air hoses and extension cords will be part of your overall cost as well if you are considering one of these models.

Top 5 Nail Gun Reviews

There are many different nailers available to consider, but the following reviews help showcase some of the best-made nail guns for your needs and highlight the features of each to better allow you an understanding of how they work before making your own decision. If you have been wondering what is the best for your job, read on below for some marked differences in makes and models.

NuMax 21 Degree Framing Nailer

Quick Info

  • Type: Framing
  • Firing Method: single or full sequential
  • Nail type: strip-style
  • Warranty: 1 year
The NuMax framing nailer has a dual mode single or sequential firing method to set for easy use, or personal preference while working. It also has depth adjustment capabilities, making it an excellent choice for various jobs to keep from maring work surfaces. This gun used a 21 degree, flat head nail ranging in size from 2 to 3.5 inches. Powered by compressed air, this is a dependable model that is powerful enough for heavy duty work, but has the control to handle finishing jobs, such as flooring, wood fences, sheathing, and more. With a 360 degree air exhaust you can keep it away from your face while you work. Also, an anti-dry fire is activated with 5 nails left in the chamber, ensuring no damage occurs to the product when empty.

Pros

  • Dual firing control is helpful
  • Very well built and durable
  • Solid performance with no misfires

Cons

  • Heavy for its size
  • Accuracy not as good as pro models
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Pro tip

This is a good nailer for heavy construction and building jobs. It also can serve your needs in more than just framing, but also the finishing of certain jobs due to the control you have with nail depth and firing methods.

Hitachi 7/8-Inch to 1-3/4-Inch Coil Roofing Nailer

Quick Info

  • Type: Roofing
  • Firing Method: contact or single sequential
  • Nail type: Coil-style
  • Warranty: 5 year limited
The Hitachi Coil-Style Roofing nail gun has a contact or single sequential (optional addition) firing choices, as well as depth firing settings to ensure you can use it with a variety of roofing options without causing damage. Like most roofing nailers it is powered by air compression and uses a coil feed for quick and easy side reloading when on the job. 120 – 7/8th to 1 ¾ th inch nails can be accepted by the system to drive at a 16-degree angle, and the lightweight 5.5lbs of the product make it easy to maneuver with. It also has a rubber side so you can place it down on a pitched roof and not worry about it sliding.

Pros

  • Easy knob style nail depth adjustment
  • Great for both hot and cold temperatures
  • Well balanced and lightweight

Cons

  • 7/8th inch nails may not drive straight
  • Single sequential choice must be sent away for
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Pro tip

This is a tool made specifically for roofing and is designed to work with the common roofing materials found in construction. This model is made to be long lasting and easy to work with to keep from slowing you down on the job.

BOSTITCH 15-Gauge 1 1/4-Inch to 2-1/2-Inch Angled Finish Nailer

Quick Info

  • Type: Finisher
  • Firing Method:contact or single sequential
  • Nail type: strip-style
  • Warranty: 7 year limited

The Bostitch 15 gauge angled finishing nailer is smaller than their 16 gauge model but drives a heavier nail. With the ability to use it as a contact or single-sequential firing method, this is a popular choice for finishing detail work within your home or other visible areas. As an air compression model, it is considered a dependable choice and has a tool-less angled magazine that can hold up to 130 nails between 1 ¼th to 2 ½ inches in length.

It also has an adjustable depth control to avoid damage to more delicate wood, as well as a bypass nail pusher. The extremely lightweight design is only 3.8 lbs, making it easy work with as you move your way up and around various jobs.

Pros

  • Very easy to handle
  • No nail jams
  • Handles both light and medium work well

Cons

  • Overtime may need to replace firing pin
  • Not as accurate as a 16 or 18 gauge
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Pro tip

This is a good choice for a dependable drive. The 15 gauge nail it takes is specifically for heavy hardwood and can hold them securely in place permanently to avoid having to reset your finishing in the years to come.

DEWALT Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

Quick Info

  • Type: Brad nailer
  • Firing Method: single sequential
  • Nail type: strip-style
  • Warranty: 3 year limited

DEWALT is an industry leader in power tools, and their pneumatic 18 gauge Brad Nailer is no exception and beats out other brad nailers of both pneumatic and electric models in terms of dependability and popularity. A single sequential firing method supports 18 gauge nails from ⅝ th to 2-inch lengths for accuracy whether you are securing a mid-sized building job, or finishing crown molding. Made for versatility and value, an adjustable depth control makes switching from job to job an easy one, plus the jam release helps reloading an easy task. It also is lightweight for such a durable product, and only weights 5.1 lbs to help keep you from getting fatigued as you work.

Pros

  • Very precise with no marring
  • Easy to use and comfortable to grip
  • Very versatile for many types of jobs

Cons

  • Some piston sealer ring defects, covered by warranty
  • Casing not as durable as a more pro model
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Pro tip

If you are looking to get more than one type of light to medium-type job done, this is a tool that can handle most finishing and detail work. The nail size and firing method help keep you accurate, plus you can drive up to a 2-inch nail.

PORTER-CABLE 23-Gauge Pin Nailer

Quick Info

  • Type: Pin Nailer
  • Firing Method: auctuation
  • Nail type: strip-style
  • Warranty: 3 year

Although a pin nailer may not be as strong as its more powerful relatives, it holds its purpose for more delicate woodworking- which many of the above are too strong for. The Porter-Cable 23 gauge Pin Nailer is a popular go-to for delicate finishing work and upholstery jobs. And since it is powered by and air compressor, can drive a nail up to 1 3/8th inch into solid, heavy oak. Able to hold up 130 nails of 3/4th to 1 3/8th inch size, you can work for quite some time before having to reload. The tool easily loads variable-sized nails without having to adjust each time, and the auctuation style firing keeps you working accurately and smoothly. Depth settings are also available depending on the length of the pin you are using. It also has a dry fire stop to keep from marrying your wood, and also allows you to see how many nails are left.

Pros

  • Works great on thin and fragile wood
  • Rubber tips to keep from putting too much pressure on wood
  • Works great with small compressors

Cons

  • Trigger system doesn’t stop you from shooting before setting
  • May not last under long, professional work
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Pro tip

This is exactly what you need for those easier to see, delicate jobs such as cabinet making, furniture, and mantle work. The small nail size allows to avoid splitting more delicate pieces as well and provides you the length for a durable, long-lasting hold.

Conclusion

When considering your choices, a cheap nail gun is probably not always your best bet, unless you are looking for rare, occasional use. The best -made nail guns are going to be those that hold up under the stress of work and the test of time, and the above choices fit the bill. Air compressed choices seem to be the most popular due to the strength behind the driving force, as seen in the overviews of these top picks. Since each is specific to certain jobs, you need to choose what matches best with the work you have in mind, although the DEWALT Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer has the capability to work well for everything but the heaviest or delicate of jobs and is a good homeowners-pick. If you have any experience with any of these guns or have any questions, please let us know below. And, as always, please share.

 

 

About The Author

Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod cuts a tragic figure in the High School English classroom teaching literature by day, and moonlighting as a writer and graphic artist by night. Published in a variety of travel magazines, and now a blog, Danielle enjoys coming up with home and garden projects to complete with her two young boys. A native of Michigan, she resides in Southeastern New Mexico with her variety of horses, poultry, and variable mix of rescue dogs (there’s a cat or two in there as well). In her free time she enjoys travel, art, photography, and a good book!

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