Nail Gun Pneumatic vs Cordless
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Pneumatic vs Cordless Nail Guns: Convenient Power Choices Explained

When making an investment in power tools, you may have a preference for how you would like to manage your power sources. Nail guns, in particular, may provide you with choices didn’t know you would have to pertain to specific makes and models, and you may end up wondering which is best for you. This is especially true when trying to balance the pressured power of a pneumatic model against the convenience of a cordless.

Which is the best? Nail gun pneumatic vs cordless options are definitely worth looking over closely, but what it all comes down to are the job at hand and personal preference. These differences are described below.

Cordless Nailers


  • Highly portable
  • Easy to maintain and store
  • Surprisingly powerful


  • Limited by battery life or fuel canister
  • May not be as available compared to other options

Pneumatic Nailers


  • Powerful dependability
  • Available in a wide variety of makes and models
  • Often preferred by professionals


  • Limited by an air hose
  • Needs an air tank to provide power

What is a Cordless Nailer?

Ryobi 18V One+ Airstrike Brad Nailer

A cordless nailer is just that- a nail gun that is not dependent upon a power cord in order to be used. This makes them portable to take from job site to jobs site, and to allow you to move unhindered through your work area. These are powered by lithium-ion batteries and can be recharged to power the gun, or provide an electric charge to allow the spark plug to ignite a combustible gas. These differences are explained below.

Cordless versions are highly popular, especially amongst homeowners, and come in a wide variety of makes and models to fit specific nailing needs. Nail guns are a popular powertool addition for anyone who regularly works with wood and other building materials to help secure pieces together in an efficient, and effective manner that will last.

Types of Cordless Nail Guns

PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Brad Nailer

There are two types of cordless nail guns, both of which depend upon a rechargeable battery for driving power. Most cordless guns are spring loaded or electromagnetically charged. Spring-loaded designs depend on two rotating axles that turn a cam and pressurizes a lever that releases when you pull the trigger to drive the nail. And electromagnetic design uses the current to create a magnetic field around a wire called a solenoid. Within is a piston that is driven down to drive the nail when the solenoid is charged at the trigger pull.

The other type of cordless model is a fuel powered nailer that depends on a rechargeable battery and a replaceable fuel canister that has a combustible gas stored inside. The battery within these charges a spark plug to ignite the small amount of gas that is released during the ignition process. This, in turn, creates a small explosion that drives a piston to drive the nail.

Benefits of a Cordless Gun

DEWALT 18-Volt Cordless 20 Degree Angled Finish Nailer

Cordless nailers are highly portable, easy to maintain, and quick to store – and use when needed. With no hoses or power sources to connect to, you can literally get to work in a few quick minutes. Plus, since it isn’t limited by a hose length, you can easily move in and around your job sight without worry of pinching, pulling, or having to move an air compressor and hose.

Drawbacks of Cordless Gun


Traditionally, cordless guns are not considered as powerful as a pneumatic gun, despite the technological advances in recent years. Although you will most likely be able to find many makes and models for your needs from which to choose, there are certain jobs that may not offer a selection at all for specialized, heavy duty jobs: such as roofing and flooring. And you may also have limited framing choices as well.

The gas powered design is a very powerful choice, but is limited in its make, and not offered in a can always have a charged spare battery handy, but there will be an additional cost to have a second on hand. A battery also adds additional weight to the gun. wide variety of choices despite its dependability. You also may become somewhat limited in work time as batteries will wear down, and fuel canisters will run out, with consistent use.

What is a Pneumatic Nailer?


Pneumatic nailers were the first nail gun to be introduced to the construction scene. This sped up the work time of builders significantly and helped change the construction industry. Through the years pneumatic nailers have only increased in their use, and are used by both professionals and homeowners for a wide variety of projects. These type of nail guns are hooked up to an air compressor via an air hose. The compressor provides air pressure to the system which is what drives the nail when the trigger is pulled.

Types of Pneumatic Nailers

Pneumatic Nail Gun

All pneumatic guns work in the same manner as described above: pressurized power is the driving force behind the piston that drives the nail. But this design has become highly specialized over the years to provide models that can handle some of the heaviest building jobs imagined to small, detailed work on furniture. Framing, roofing, and flooring specialist often turn to the power of a pneumatic nailer as it is often controllable to help define the driving force to set the nail depth. These are a dependable choice when stability in construction is a must.

There are also many, many other designs, such as finishing nailers for the detailed work pertaining to trim and visible siding jobs. Brad nailers are also popular as they can handle a wide variety of finding job, as well as the smaller, detailed jobs in woodworking and furniture making.

Benefits of a Pneumatic Gun

Finish Nailer

Pneumatic nailers are constantly powerful and are considered a dependable product. Despite the growth of cordless technology, many professionals still prefer a pneumatic model. They are very versatile as described above, and can be used in just about any capacity. They are made to make your nailing job more efficient, and with many having a bump fire method, you can move through a job rapidly when needed. Many cordless are capable of this as well, just not necessarily with the same strength.

Despite having some maintenance involved with them, they are easy to keep clean and care for, and are built to last. They also are often very lightweight and provide specialized details to help you get into tight spots and reach for building purposes.

Drawbacks of a Pneumatic Gun


Pneumatic nailers are a very powerful tool that can be quite dangerous if not used correctly. This is true of cordless versions as well, of course. Nail guns are easy to use, however, and the simple design helps ensure that accidents are few and far between- and are typically associated with poor use.

You also are limited in your movements with a pneumatic model. The air hose can pinch and wrap around building site materials, and it is important to keep it clear. The compressor also needs to be charged so often and moved with your movements.


Although there are many pneumatic and cordless nailers that are comparable to one another in their use, you should always make your decision base on the job you have in mind, and then your own preferences. Cordless tools are often a staple for homeowners due to how portable and easy to maintain they have a tendency to be. Plus, the average homeowner isn’t often working on heavy building projects. Pneumatic guns have been tried and true for decades, however, and continue to be an excellent choice no matter what you need them for.

If you have any questions or comments or would like to share your preference, please let us know below! And, as always, please share!

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