Nail guns have all but replaced the hammer, and for a good reason. They allow you to get your work done much faster with greater precision and less strain. The quality of the work done with a nail gun is simply superb. Professional contractors have been along for the ride since the very beginning, but now DIY enthusiasts, advanced hobbyists and regular users are starting to catch on.
With so many different types and models of nails guns to choose from, it can be somewhat challenging to make sense of it all, which is why I have included a buying guide here on my website.
I’ve also taken the time to single out some units which you should seriously consider. There are so many different types of nail guns, so I went ahead and chose the best overall, best value models, and their budget alternatives. Below is the short list:
Best Framing Nailer Overall
The coveted award for the best nail gun overall goes to the BOSTITCH F21PL Round Head 1-1/2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch Framing Nailer. This nail gun is so versatile it can do any job that involves framing, sheathing, flooring, or bracing. With a staggering power-to-weight ratio, this is one of the most powerful nail guns out there.
Unlike many other framing nailers this one is powerful enough for professional applications, yet simple enough to use so even amateurs can rely on it. It is manufactured by Stanley-Bostitch which is one of the most reputable power tool companies out there both for professional contractors and enthusiasts.
It has a magnesium body that is durable, light, and it also comes with quick-change nosepieces which allow you to go between plastic-collated nails used for framing and metal nails. The magazine on it can carry up to 60 plastic-collated 21-degree framing nails (2.0-3.5 inch) or 60 metal connector nails (1.5-2.5 inch). This one is worthy of a glowing recommendation.
Best Value Framing Nailer
When it comes to having both power and great design, sometimes you don’t have to compromise one for the other, and the PORTER-CABLE FR350B 3-1/2-Inch Full Round Framing Nailer is the best example. Porter-Cable has some pretty sweet air tools in their range. In fact I have reviewed three of their air compressors on my website.
With this nail gun however, they have put themselves ahead of their competition by a mile. The first the thing you will like about it is the design which is ergonomic and lightweight. You won’t feel any strain at all when you use it, even after several hours. But it’s this unit’s pure nailing power that impressed me the most.
It can fire both 20 and 22 degree nails, making it great for any kind of finishing job. Unlike some of the units out there, this model allows you to adjust the depth at which the nails are fired without the need for any tools. You can also choose between two firing modes: Restrictive and contact actuation mode. Able to work at 70, or even 120 PSI, the FR350B is no toy! However, all that raw power is controlled, and you will be surprised how smoothly the nail gun performs.
Best Budget Framing Nailer
Nail guns are a useful tool to have around the house or workshop, but some of them tend to be pretty expensive. If you are not looking to spend a lot of money on one, but would still like something that does the job well I suggest the NuMax SFR2190 21 Degree Framing Nailer as a cheaper alternative. When I say cheaper, I mean it costs half the money of some pricier nail guns out there. Sure, there is a reason for that but don’t underestimate this one just yet because it’s a pretty capable gun in its own right.
It is very versatile which means you can use it for a wide range of woodworking jobs, including framing, sheathing, fencing and siding installations. As indicated by its name, it is able to fire 21-degree nails (2-3.5 inches). It comes with a 360-degree exhaust as well. I was surprised to see that its body is made out of die-cast magnesium which is something that is reserved for more expensive models.
Magnesium is incredibly light yet durable, and so is this nail gun. You can choose between single or contact firing, since it comes with interchangeable triggers. If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money, but still want great quality check this one out on Amazon.
Best Finish Nailer Overall
The DEWALT D51257K 1-Inch to 2-1/2-Inch 16 Gauge Finish Nailer is my best finish nailer overall, and there is plenty of reasons for that decision. First of all, it is extremely light weighing a little less than 4lbs. Then there is the low profile pad that allows for precise work and protects the finish from getting scratched. I also loved this nail gun’s Sealed Lube Dual Technology.
What this does is allow you to operate the power tool as either an oil-lubricated nailer, or an oil-free unit. It is up to you to decide which is outstanding from a flexibility point of view.
The gun delivers 70 to 120 PSI of pressure which is more than enough for any kind of finish work. Another nice thing about it is the molded handle which fits really nicely in your hands.
The capacity of this nail gun is up to 100 nails (1-2.5 inches), and the magazine on this one is rear-loaded. The sequential firing mode allows for precise nailing, and in case the gun gets jammed you can unjam the mechanism without any tools which is really convenient. It is also equipped with a belt hook.
Best Value Finish Nailer
I love to find tools that are good value for money instead of going for the most expensive one right away. One of those gems is the Hitachi NT65M2 16 Gauge 1-Inch to 2-1/2-Inch Finish Nailer which is my best value finish nail gun. Aimed at professionals and DIY enthusiasts, this nail gun can shoot 1 to 2.5-inch nails. It is very light since it weighs just over 3.5lbs. The pressure it is able to work at ranges from 70 to 120 PSI, so you can perform any kind of finishing work without a hitch. The capacity of the magazine is 100 nails.
The addition of an air duster is a nice touch. You can remove any dust or small debris and have a clean work surface in a matter of seconds. You are allowed to choose between two modes of actuation: Sequential which fires one nail at a time or contact which shoots nails in a continuous manner.
You can also alternate between the two settings without using any tools. You don’t need any tools to unjam the unit either. The 360-degree exhaust port can be directed to blow air into any direction.
Best Budget Straight Finish Nailer
If you are a on a budget, don’t despair because you can still get a good finish nailer without sacrificing much. I have singled out the NuMax SFN64 2-1/2-Inch Straight Finish Nailer which is a company known for making affordable power tools. The unit is designed to fire 1 to 2.5-inch 16 gauge nails. You are also able to adjust the nail depth without the need for any additional tools. One thing the SFN64 has going for it is versatility, especially when it comes to small repairs and work like base molding, door installation, hand railing, and a lot more.
The nail gun weighs 4lbs, and has a rubberized grip. The 360-degree exhaust port can be adjusted, so it doesn’t get in the way of your work. Operating pressure for this affordable unit ranges from 70 to 110 PSI. The top-loading straight magazine holds 100 nails, and in case the gun gets jammed a quick release nose is there to help you get rid of it. It’s not crammed full of fancy features since this is one of the cheaper models, but don’t hold that against it.
Best Brand Nailer Overall
In case you haven’t noticed, I think DeWalt makes some outstanding power tools, so my choice of the DEWALT DWFP12231 18 gauge, 2-Inch Brad Nailer Kit as the best brand nail gun overall should come as no surprise. It has plenty of characteristics that single it out as the best out there, and it’s also the #1 Best Seller on Amazon. Apart from such pedigree, it features an oil-free design which eliminates staining incidents. The body of the unit is made from magnesium which makes it both strong and light.
You can un-jam the nail gun without the need for any tools. The tool-free approach is also mirrored in the nail depth adjustment. It has an exhaust port located at the rear of the unit which means your work won’t get contaminated. When it comes to nails, this nail gun can drive 18-gauge nails (5/8″-2″), and the nails are fired sequentially. The capacity of the magazine on this brad nail gun is 100 nails. When you purchase this unit, you also get 500 nails of 1-1/4″, a case, and an owner’s manual. Sounds like it’s what you’re looking for?
Best Value Brad Nailer
The Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad Nailer manages to strike that perfect balance between power, the number of features available, and price. The Hitachi NT50AE2 is an extremely light nail gun, weighing just 2.2 pounds. However, despite being feather-light, it does not lack power. The casing is made from aluminum for extra durability, and the handle has an elastomer grip which ensures an optimal level of comfort. As it expected from this unit, it features a tool-free nail jam extraction mechanism. The Hitachi NT50AE2 is able to drive a range of different nails, anywhere from 5/8″ to 2″ 18-gauge nails.
The magazine of the unit is able to hold 100 nails, and it even has an indicator which informs you about the number of nails you still have left in the magazine. When it comes to firing, you can choose between two modes: sequential, and a bump fire mode, which fires the nails continuously. The no-mar tips protect the surfaces from scratches, leaving your work intact. The nail depth is adjusted with the knob located on the nose of the device. The pressure requirement for this power tool ranges from 70 to 120 PSI, depending on the kind of work you have in mind for it.
Best Budget Brad Nailer
Although the WEN 61720 3/4-Inch to 2-Inch 18-Gauge Brad Nailer is not exactly one of the top models, it has some things going in its favor. First of all, there is its price, which makes it one of the cheapest, most affordable brad nail guns currently available. Yet, despite it coming from the less popular manufacturer, it was welcomed to some pretty positive reviews. Well, there must be something to it, doesn’t it?
The WEN 61720 is capable of firing 18-gauge brads, ranging from 3/4| to 2″ in size. It is very light, seeing as the entire casing is made out of aluminum, which also makes it strong, and it fits nicely in your hand, because of the rubber grip. The pressure needed to operate this nail gun ranges from 60 to 100 PSI. The capacity of the magazine is 100 brads, and just in case there is a jam, the quick-release design makes sure you will clear it up in no time. The WEN 61720 comes with a kit that includes oil, adjustment wrenches, and a carrying case. You also get a 1-year warranty.
Best Roofing Nailer
I choose the BOSTITCH RN46-1 3/4-Inch to 1-3/4-Inch Coil Roofing Nailer as the best roofing nailer, not just because it comes from a reputable manufacturer, but because it gets so many things right. If you are a professional contractor, this is the model to buy. The unit itself is incredibly powerful, capable of delivering 410 in./lbs. of sheer force at a pressure discharge rate of 100 PSI. The side-loading magazine is able to hold up to 120 nails, which range from 3/4″ to 1.75″ in length. It is also mind-blowingly fast, too, since it fires a maximum of 100 nails per minute.
In terms of firing, it has a dual-actuation mechanism. Basically, you choose to fire nails via contact trip or sequentially. One of the features which I like to see on a nail gun is the zero nail lock-out feature. What this does is eliminate the firing in case the nail magazine is empty. This is very handy if you are inexperienced and tend to get carried away with your work. Believe it or not, the BOSTITCH RN46-1 is backed up by a 7-year warranty, which is simply outstanding.
Best Flooring Nailer
The NuMax SFL618 3-in-1Flooring Stapler/Nailer with White Rubber Mallet (which is pneumatic) is not just the best flooring nailer available on the market today, but it also pulls double duty as a T-Cleat and L-Cleat nail gun. Yes, this unit is able fire cleated nails and staples. Choose from 15.5 or 16-gauge staples ranging in size from 1 to 2 inches, 1.5 to 2-inch T/L-Cleats, this unit will nail them all. The total capacity of the magazine is 100 nails, or 120 staples, depending on which you use. The casing is made out of die-cast aluminum, which is not only light, but extremely strong and durable, as well.
The NuMax SFL618 will go easy on your floors, since it comes with two composite no-mar base plates which not only provide additional stability, but also protect the surfaces from getting scratched. One thing that momentarily springs into view is the long reach handle, which is extremely convenient, and features a padded grip for better comfort. The NuMax SFL618 also comes with oil, a set of wrenches and a white rubber mallet.
Best Nail Gun Combo Set
For those among you who have the need for multiple nail guns, each of them intended for something separate, I suggest you take a look at the 4-piece Freeman P4FRFNCB Combo Kit for Framing/Finishing with Canvas Bag. If you get one of these, you are completely set, from start to finish, form framing to finishing. The Freeman P4FRFNCB combo set contains a 21-degree full head framing nail gun (PFR2190), 34-degree 15-Gauge angle finish nail gun (PFN1564), 1-1/4 18-Gauge brad nail gun (PBR32), 1-1/4 18-Gauge narrow crown stapler (PST9032), as well as oil, wrenches, instruction manuals, and an outstanding 7-year warranty. You get all of that wrapped up in a carrying bag.
The list of features just goes on and on, and includes an anodized aluminum magazine that is able to hold 100 nails, an anodized aluminum cylinder which acts as a hard surface when the piston is shooting and retracting, manual drive depth adjustment, quick jam release mechanism, Teflon O-rings, adjustable 360-degree exhaust port, anti-dust cap, it just keeps on going. The bottom line is, if you are looking for something that will meet all of your woodworking requirements, this kit is the best solution.