The 10 Best Framing & Cordless Nail Guns
Seasoned professionals and avid D.I.Y lovers understand the value of having the right tool for the job, and if you’re going to be nailing wood this means having the very best nail gun. Sure, you can try to drive nails in your project the old-fashioned way, with a hammer and nails (click here to find the right drill bits). But it’s going to take longer, require more energy, and probably involve a few smashed thumbs. That’s why, for a demanding project, there’s nothing as reliable and efficient as a high-quality nailer.
Fast and precise, a nail gun is capable of driving a large number of nails consistently and accurately – see our full guide on laser levellers. And designed to produce less impact on your work material, these low-maintenance power nailers are very simple and effective to use. Capable of sinking thousands of nails a day with no effort, a nailing gun is one of the best tools you can buy, saving you time and aggravation.
When you’re ready to buy a nail gun, there are a lot of things to consider. Reputable manufacturers like Hitachi, DEWALT, Makita, and countless other brands have great nailing models on the market. There are literally thousands of confusing reviews online. And with several distinct types of nail guns available such as framing guns, brad guns, finish guns, and pinners, figuring out which nail gun is the best tool for you can be confusing.
Luckily, we looked at all of the nailers out there and have narrowed it down to our review of the 10 best nailer guns available on the market today. After reading through our reviews, you’ll be able to decide which nailer is the best tool to add to your arsenal.
Nailer Buying Guide Questions
How to Use Nail Gun with Air Compressor?
Pneumatic nail guns require an air compressor to be operated. While this might be intimidating to some people, with a little instruction, operating one of these guns is actually very easy. And once you know how to operate a pneumatic nailer, you’ll understand why they’re regarded as the finest of all nail guns for heavy-duty projects. It is very important to practice caution with these safe practices in this study here. The first thing you’ll need to operate one of these nailers is a rubber or plastic air hose which you’ll use to connect your nail gun to the air compressor.
First, connect your nailer to the hose by attaching the tool’s ¼” NPT inlet to the hose coupling. Next, you’ll just attach the other end of the hose to the outlet on the compressor. Then flip on the power switch on your air compressor. This will allow it to run and begin building up the air pressure that will be used to operate your nailer. Most nail guns will require an operating pressure between in the range of 100 to 120 PSI to drive nails but you can check your tool’s manual for the optimal operating pressure needed for your specific model.
Once the air compressor is fully charged you should test the pressure in your nail gun by using your nailer to fire a nail into a scrap of wood that’s similar to the material you’ll be using in your project. You can adjust the level by turning the compressor’s regulator. If the nail is driven in too deep, you’ll simply lower the pressure on the regulator. If the nail doesn’t go far enough into the wood scrap, you’ll need to increase the pressure. From there, you’re ready to start using your framing or brad-firing nail gun.
While you’re driving in nails, the air pressure within the compressor will gradually diminish as each nail is fired. In order to ensure that you can continue working without the power being depleted, the compressor will turn itself back on and raise the pressure back up to your desired setting. Once you have finished operating your nailer for the day, simply turn the compressor off and open up the drain bleed valve on your compressor.
This will allow the air pressure that’s built up in the compressor’s tank to bleed out. This is also essential because it prevents moisture build-up and rust in your compressor. When the air has been totally evacuated from the compressor, you can safely (click here to read the study) detach the hose from your nail gun and pack it away until it’s time to use it again.
What is the Best Framing Nail Gun?
The Bostitch F21PL Round Head Nail Gun is one of the most popular pneumatic nailers among professionals, hobbyists, and DIYers. There’s a reason why this nailer has been a common sight on construction sites for years and has countless reviews claiming that it’s one of the greatest nailer guns on the market. It’s simply one of the most versatile and durable nail guns on the market and can be counted on to drive nails with exceptional performance.
The F21PL Nail Gun was designed with an assortment of useful features. More importantly, it delivers the best power-to-weight ratio in its class at a staggering 1,050 in/lb. And since it’s made by Bostitch, a company that’s built their reputation on designing durable, high-performance tools, you can count on this nailer being a reliable weapon in your home improvement arsenal for years to come.
With a tool-free depth adjustment feature, you can easily customize the driving power of your nailer specific to your intended project with the touch of a button. And with two interchangeable nose pieces, the F21PL Round Head Nailer is capable of firing two different types of fasteners, 1 ½” to 3 ½” plastic-collated round-headed nails and metal connector nails, This essentially transforms this versatile nail gun into a dynamic 2-in-1 tool.
Plus, it’s compatible with HurriQuake nails, which is a nail designed to provide disaster-resistant structural integrity. The F21PL Framing Nail Gun offers two firing options, sequential and bump firing, allowing you to choose between optimal accuracy or speed depending on the given application. And it was designed with a 16” layout indicator that helps you to measure out stud spacing without ever having to put the nailer down.
The F21PL was constructed with a sleek design and was built from lightweight, sturdy magnesium. Bostitch created this impressive nailer to offer superb balance and it’s noticeable as soon as you pick it up. At 8.1 lbs, it’s easy enough to handle even during prolonged use and, thanks to its rubber grip, you can count on having improved comfort and control. Capable of delivering consistent, effortless results with a minimal amount of upkeep, the Bostitch F21PL is one of the most reliable guns in its class.
Do Nail Guns Need Compressors?
There are several factors you need to consider when you’re considering which nail gun to purchase. One of the most important is the power source of the nailer. All nailers require some form of power source in order to operate and drive nails. The power source of your nailer is a critical thing to consider since it’s going to affect your nailer’s mobility and the types of applications it will be capable of tackling. While many nail guns do in fact use air compressors as a power source, that’s not the only option available.
In fact there are 3 styles on the market today which use different methods of generating the force required to fire a nail at impressive speed. Pneumatic guns require an air compressor to operate. The compressor provides air pressure, measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI. This pressure is used to provide the power that these guns require to fire the nails.
While incredibly powerful and able to effortlessly tackle heavy-duty projects, the drawback of these guns is that being attached to a hose and the compressor can limit your mobility. Another model is the fuel-driven nailer. These guns are cordless and use a disposable gas cartridge to fuel combustion, which provides the power to drive nails. Fuel drains into the combustion chamber of the nailer and is ignited by an electrical charge that is generated by a battery.
The benefits of these guns are that, since no cord, hose, or compressor is necessary, it affords you excellent mobility and it’s capable of handling heavy-duty applications. The third style of nailer is the cordless, battery-powered model. These guns are powered by a motor that runs on a rechargeable battery.
They are easy to use and offer a quick start-up but the greatest benefit is the mobility they offer since they aren’t tied down to a hose or air compressor. The drawback to these guns is that, while very portable, they tend to lack the driving power that’s offered by pneumatic nailers.
What Nail Gun for Fencing?
If the next project you’re planning on tackling is a wooden fence, you have two options. The first is tedious and tiring and involves a manual hammer. The second option is to purchase a nail gun. With the right nailer, attaching wood fence slats is fast and easy. The best nailer for this application is a pneumatic or fuel-driven framing nailer. These guns were built to effortlessly secure large pieces of wood together, making them ideal for this task.
While there are battery-operated models available, the reason you need a pneumatic or fuel-driven model is because they provide more power than battery-powered guns. With that in mind, you need to decide which of the two styles is best for your needs. Both deliver impressive power and performance. Pneumatic nailers are powered by an air compressor that is connected to your tool by an air hose. The downside of this is that, for large fences, you’ll need to deal with extension cords and the reach of the air hose.
Since fuel-driven guns are cordless, mobility won’t be a problem. But this style of nail gun will require a lot of gas cartridge changes, which will slow you down and can cost you more money. The general rule is that you need to consider the scope of your fencing project. If you’re planning on building a fence for a very large area, you will likely be better served by an air compressor-powered pneumatic model. While a cordless, fuel-driven gas cartridge nailer is the perfect option for small fence repairs or working in a limited area.
How Do Pneumatic Nail Guns Work?
The pneumatic nail gun is unquestionably the most popular style of nailer on the market today. These guns use the pressure of air that is compressed within an air cylinder to generate the driving force needed to fire nails. These air compressors use one of more piston cylinders to take air in from the atmosphere, building up pressure which is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI, which is them pushed out to the gun through an air hose.
These guns enjoy a steady supply of force due to the pressure of compressed air being fed from the hose into the tool’s air reservoir, allowing for rapid use and exceptional power. With air pressure in the nailer, you simply have to pull the trigger to fire a nail into your workpiece. As you proceed with your project, the air pressure in the air compressor will slowly diminish.
To ensure that you can keep working without your operating power being totally depleted, the compressor will turn itself back on and raise the pressure back up to your desired setting, allowing you to continue driving nails without running experiencing a decrease in performance.
So Which Nail Gun Do You Need?
To wrap it up, the main thing you need to consider when choosing which nail gun to use is your intended project. For heavy-duty construction projects a framing nailer is ideal. If the next project you’re tackling is involving installing interior door and window trim or building cabinets and furniture, then a finishing gun is your best option. And if you are working on some small-scale home projects or are planning on attaching thin strips of molding or decorative trim to larger workpieces, then you can’t go wrong picking up a brad nailer.
Our review of the top nailing gun of 2018 led us to choose the Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge Finish Nailer as our pick for the top choice on the market today. This impressive nail gun is one of the best on the market and is a solid performer, delivers quality results, and receives consistently positive reviews. It was designed with several features that will boost user efficiency and is incredibly easy to operate. With sequential or continuous-firing capability, a tool-free depth adjusting dial, a 360-degree adjustable exhaust port, and a high-capacity magazine capable of holding up to 100 brads, it is very versatile tool and is perfect for a wide variety of uses.
Designed with Hitachi’s typical attention to detail, it’s comfortable to handle and the lightweight aluminum body is very durable but, at only 2.4 lbs, is perfect for extended use. Priced at around $60, the NT50AE2 is one of the best affordable guns in its class. Suitable for a pro or a novice DIYer, this model is budget-friendly but still delivers the high level of pro performance that we’ve come to expect from Hitachi.
The BOSTITCH F21PL Round Head 1 ½” to 3 ½” Framing Nailer is our pick for best premium choice available on the market today and consistently receives glowing reviews. This reliable pneumatic-powered tool operates at 90-120 PSI and delivers the best power to weight ratio in its class with an impressive 1,050 in/lb. This means that the F21PL will drive nails up to 3 ½’ long into wood consistently and effortlessly. Its magazine can hold up to 60 1 ½” to 3 ½” round-headed nails and was designed to accept HurriQuake nails, which offer improved structural integrity.
Plus, it even accepts metal connector nails. Designed with several useful features, this versatile nail gun allows you to make depth adjustments with the touch of a button. At only 8.1 lbs, the F21PL is easy to maneuver and light enough for prolonged use but thanks to its sleek magnesium body, it’s incredibly durable and suitable for home or industrial use. This framing gun by BOSTICH is one of the best guns out there, capable of delivered impressive performance. It’s ideal for a variety of projects from large-scale building framing applications to minor home repairs and will be a reliable addition to any toolbox for years to come.
The WEN 61720 ¾” to 2” 18-Gauge Brad Nailer is our pick for best value on the market today. And with an average 4.7 out of 5 stars from 1,044 reviews on Amazon, we’re not alone. It’s one of the most affordable brad nail guns available. But more importantly, it delivers impressive results that rival many of its more expensive competitors. The WEN 61720 18-Gauge Brad Nail Gun is one of the most affordable brad nailers on the market. Priced at around $25, don’t let the sticker price fool you because this tool is capable of delivering quality results effortlessly. The 61720 can fire 18-gauge brads ranging from ¾” to 2” in length and offers a number of features that you’d only expect to find in a more expensive model.
With a high-capacity magazine designed with a tool-free jam clearing mechanism, a depth adjustment wheel, and exhaust deflector, the 61720 offers features than many pricier options provide. And with its sleek design and aluminum housing, this 3 lb powerhouse is lightweight, durable, and capable of tackling a variety of applications including trim, moldings, cabinetry, and various home renovation and hobby projects. With a sticker price of around $25, this tool is one of the best buys out there.