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If you just need to pound in a couple of nails, a hammer is the quickest and easiest way to get the job done. But when you face a multitude of nails–maybe you’re erecting a fence, reroofing your home, or building a deck–you’ll find that a nail gun–whether it's powered by air, battery, or electricity–gets the job done a lot faster and with far less stress to your hands, arms, and shoulders.
There are a lot of nail guns out there, and several different types, so we did the research for you and rounded up the best options in the categories likeliest to be of interest to DIYers.
Here are the best nail guns on the market now.
A good nail gun should be easy to use, long lasting, and drive a nail quick and clean without any issues. To do this, the nail gun needs to have a tough build and a lot of options you can customize while working. The DeWalt DWFP12231 checks all these boxes as the top pick on this list. It delivers a lot of durability from its magnesium body and maintenance-free drive motor. It’s also designed to be lightweight and safe to use with a sequential style trigger and rear exhaust vent that keeps harmful contaminates away from you.
The nail gun runs off of a separate air compressor/hose and uses 18-gauge nails ranging from 5/8 to 2 inches in length. It has a 100-nail working capacity and a lot of options to customize how you use the tool. You can control the nail depth with a simple tool-free adjustment. When you aren’t using it, the gun also comes with an adjustable belt hook to keep the tool hanging on your side, within your reach.
If you want a more hassle-free option, the Porter-Cable PCC790LA provides much of the same functionality as other competitors. Typically, battery powered nail guns don’t offer as much punch as ones using an air compressor and hose, but for projects that use softer materials or shallower depths, a battery operated nail gun is the way to go. Simply charge the battery, stick it into the nail gun and you are ready to go.
The nail gun is designed around comfort and portability. In addition to the cordless design, the weight of the tool is centered near the handle, which will reduce hand fatigue during long projects. All of the common adjustments and releases like the depth adjustment and jam lever are tool free. The 100-nail magazine uses 18-gauge nails.
Budget nail guns tend to be smaller and more portable. While you are saving some money, you can also save on weight with the 3-pound WEN 61721. Designed to fire 18-gauge brads 3/8-inch to 2 inches in length, this nail gun is a good starter or secondary gun if you are looking to expand. The gun works with any air compressor and can operate anywhere from 60 to 115 psi, ensuring you have enough power to drive a nail down into tough materials.
For additional comfort, the gun includes an ergonomic rubber grip built right into the handle. The rubber absorbs the shock that courses up the nail gun with each shot, preventing the energy from getting into your hand. This helps to reduce fatigue while protecting your hand and wrist from injury.
The NuMax S2-118G2 is proof that some budget options don’t necessarily skip out on the more professional features. One common feature many expensive nail guns offer is the ability to use multiple types of nails and brads. For a fraction of the cost, this gun gives you similar flexibility. Using either common 2-inch 18-gauge or 1 5/8-inch narrow stables, you can select the right fastener for the job right on the fly.
Another professional feature this gun includes is a no-mar tip. When working on delicate surfaces, this tip prevents the gun from digging in and doing major damage. Typically, this is necessary when nailing into fragile materials such as decorative trims, baseboards, and various types of molding.
Beyond a more simple design, electric nail guns also offer a quick way to set up and get going since you don’t have to connect three separate pieces together. Stanley’s TRE550Z takes advantage of the flexibility of an electric drive by using either Stanley Sharpshooter staples or a variety of brads. You can choose what type and length of fastener to use depending on the requirements of your particular project.
The gun is powered by an 8-foot cord. While this can limit mobility if you don't use an extension cord, it does supply a constant stream of power, so you won't run out of juice while working. The gun also uses a dual power setting lever, so you can switch between high and low to use with either hard or soft materials.
While most pneumatic nail guns will work with any air compressor, it can be easier on the wallet if everything comes together. A combo kit like the Bostitch BTFP3KIT will give you everything you need to get going with your fastening project. You will get three guns along with an air compressor and tank. The guns use common 18-gauge or 16-gauge nails ranging in different lengths up to 2 inches. One gun can also use large crown staples for things like furniture coverings.
The air supply starts with a 150-max-psi 6-gallon tank. The air compressor pumps at a constant 90 psi. That means you should have enough power to drive nails and staples into most hard surfaces. Dial back the air pressure on the pump for less force when working with softer materials.
A top-notch, professional level nail gun will give you more options and flexibility while standing up to the typical abuse larger projects can offer. The Bostitch F21PL makes changing settings and accessories on the gun quick and simple. For large projects like house construction, it has two quick change nosepieces for wood or metal connectors. A push button depth guide also makes setting the desired depth fast as you move around.
Connected to the air compressor of your choice, the gun has a working range of 80 to 120 psi, which is more than enough for hard surfaces like regular metals. At max, the gun can deliver up to 1,050-inch-pounds of force using a 60-nail magazine.
No one said you have to just stick with one nail gun to get the job done. Sometimes, it’s better to have different options at your side so you can do the best job on the project. Instead of buying two or three separate nail guns, the Freeman P4FRFNCB gives you four different guns all designed with the same build quality and functionality. Each gun is designed with a different purpose in mind: full head framing for home construction, angle finishing for tight corner construction, a crown stapler for delicate projects, and a general nail gun for other types of projects.
The range of choices means you will have anything you need inside one canvas bag. The general purpose and angler guns are useful for cabinetry, crown moldings, and baseboards. The crown stapler is a common tool for decorative projects like picture frames, trim, fabrics and other arts and crafts projects.
It’s tough and durable, lightweight, and pounds in nail after nail after nail without breaking a sweat—or making you sweat while tackling most DIY projects around the house or yard. That’s why the DeWalt DWFP12231 nail gun (available at Amazon) is our top choice. But if you need the sort of power, ease of use, and useful features only a professional tool can provide, turn instead to the Bostitch F21PL nail gun (available at Amazon).