The 9 Best Electric Nail Guns in 2020 – Buying Guide and Reviews

Man installing trim using a cordless electric nail gun

Bridging the gap between DIY and professional use, electric nail guns can be a useful power tool in the arsenal of a home improvement enthusiast. Thanks to recent advances in battery-powered technologies, though, you can now find super-portable electric nail guns that will stand up to the rigors of professional framing and finishing.

I’ve taken a thorough review of every electric nail gun I could find on the market today and compiled the information into this ultimate guide. In it, you’ll learn everything you need to know about choosing between electric framing, finishing, and brad nail guns, as well as my top choice products in each category.

Following that, you’ll find an in-depth explanation of exactly how to choose the best nail gun for the job, as well as the most important features to consider before making a purchase.

Don’t have time to read the whole article? No worries – just take a quick peek at my nine favorite electric nail gun picks:

My Top Picks for Best Electric Framing Nail Guns

Framing nailers are the most heavy-duty tools of the nail gun category, offering powerful compression that’s essential for any construction done from the ground up.

Top Pick – DEWALT DCN692B 20V

When presented with the choice between the limited mobility of air power, the added cost of fuel cells for gas power, or the slower working speed of electric power, I was having a tough time deciding which sort of framing nail gun really works best for my needs. 

And while none of the options I found online are perfect in every way, DeWalt’s 20 Volt framing nailer is an impressive piece of equipment that I’d always be happy to use.

The secret to the DCN692B’s success is in the combination of its brushless motor and dual speed selection. Effectively, this gives it the power to drive 3 ½” nails without trouble, but also the versatility to optimize the power output for other nail sizes, too. This combines beautifully with the angled design, allowing for easy and accurate toe nailing.

At around 9 pounds when fully loaded, however, DeWalt’s electric framing nail is not for the weak of wrist. For home improvement and small construction projects, this won’t be a bother – but long workdays with the DCN692B might take some getting used to. 

Given the excellent performance and reliability of this model, though, that’s a convenience I’m willing to deal with.

Voltage20V Max.
Magazine Capacity55
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 8 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Powerful, long-life brushless motor
  • Speed selection allows versatility in nail driving length
  • Compatible with all DeWalt 20V
  • Comes with a 3-year limited warranty and 1 year of free service

Cons

  • Small nail magazine
  • Heavy construction makes it hard to use for overhead work

As powerful as an electric framing nail gun comes, the DeWalt DCN692B’s brushless dual-speed motor sets it apart from the competition by allowing you to optimize for different nail lengths.

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Metabo HPT NR1890DRS

Metabo HPT, formerly known as Hitachi, immediately caught my eye with the “air spring drive system” in this, their electric framing nailer. Whereas most electric nailers use a motor that winds a spring to eject their nails, Metabo’s innovative use of compressed air means that the NR1890DRS feels as close to a pneumatic nail gun as electric is likely to get.

All of this means that the NR1890DRS has effectively zero ramp-up time, allowing you to drive two nails per second and up to 400 nails on a single charge of its battery. The only gripe that I have with it comes from its tendency to jam more frequently than other electric nailers; but once you get used to the process for freeing a stuck nail, it doesn’t take any time at all to get started working again.

Other features that round out Metabo’s electric framing nailer include bump fire and sequential fire modes, a long-lasting brushless motor, dry fire prevention system, and a built-in rafter hook. Best of all, the tool is covered by a lifetime warranty, and the included lithium ion battery is covered by a 2-year warranty as well.

Voltage18V
Magazine Capacity37
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 10.1 lbs
Warranty Lifetime on tool/2 year on battery

Pros

  • Air spring drive system drives nails faster than most other electric nail guns
  • Durable brushless motor
  • Excellent tool and lithium ion battery warranty

Cons

  • Fairly prone to nail jams
  • Very heavy, at nearly 11 pounds fully loaded

The Metabo HPT NR1890DR offers the closest experience to a pneumatic nail gun that you can get in an electric, offering fast and powerful driving with a uniquely designed propulsion system.

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MILWAUKEE ELECTRIC TOOL 2745-20 M18

Specifically designed to sink full-sized round head nails into dense, engineered lumber, Milwaukee’s M18 “Fuel” is the most powerful – and priciest – of the electric framing nail guns. It’s undoubtedly an impressive piece of equipment, utilizing a combination nitrogen and spring mechanism to fire three nails per second with zero ramp-up time. 

If you’re looking for an electric nailer that can handle professional framing jobs, Milwaukee’s Fuel may be your best choice.

You’ll notice, however, that performance this good does come at a premium price, for both the tool itself and the battery packs. For the contractor or construction worker looking to get away from the inconveniences of gas- or air-powered nailers, the Fuel is a fantastic choice – but it may be slightly outside of the price range for home repairs and DIY projects.

Investing in this upgrade, though, means that you’ll receive a top-of-the-line tool complete with a generous host of features in addition to its core competencies. Some of these include: tool free drive depth adjustment for easy changes between materials; dry fire lockout to prevent damage to the spring; integrated rafter and belt hooks for easy storage; and sequential and bump fire modes for lightning-fast work.

Voltage18V
Magazine Capacity1 strip
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 9.6 lbs
Warranty 2 year

Pros

  • Exceptionally fast and powerful nail driving
  • Durable and long-lasting brushless motor
  • Easy adjustments to drive depth
  • Bump fire with no-mar tip

Cons

  • Both the tool and battery packs are quite expensive
  • Heavy construction makes it hard to use for overhead work

Milwaukee Electric’s M18 Fuel is a worthwhile electric framing nailer upgrade that’s fast and powerful enough to use long-term on professional job sites.

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My Top Picks for Best Electric Finishing Nail Guns

Finishing nail guns are the tool of choice for installing trim, paneling, and molding. They’re less powerful than framing nailers, but more precise in their nail placement.

Top Pick – CRAFTSMAN V20 CMCN616C1

Whenever I’m looking for a new tool, no matter how big or small, durability of construction is extremely important to me. Usually, this kind of long-lasting performance goes hand in hand with a higher price tag – but amazingly, the Craftsman CMCN616C1 finishing nailer might be the best of both worlds.

Now, is it the most powerful or longest-lasting finishing nailer you’ll ever find? No. But at a cost that’s just a fraction of big-name brands, and with performance that makes it a strong contender for home or professional use, the Craftsman is definitely worth considering.

In a single charge of its battery, you can expect to drive 375 16-gauge nails. And with its tool-free jam and stall releases, you’ll be quite able to keep working smoothly no matter what comes up. Add in a belt/rafter hook and options for sequential or bump firing, and the CMCN616C1 is a fine tool, indeed.

Voltage20V Max.
Magazine Capacity100
Min. Fastener Size1 inch
Max. Fastener Size2 ½ inch
Item Weight 5.8 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Exceptionally affordable.
  • Tool-free jam clearance and depth adjustment
  • Lightweight and easy to use

Cons

  • No brushless motor
  • Struggles with thicker hardwoods

Offering a fine combination of performance and affordability, the Craftsman CMCN616C1 may be the perfect choice for at-home use.

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Makita XNB02Z 18V LXT

Whereas some models of finishing nailers are well-known for their tendency to jam, the Makita XNB02Z offers a wonderfully jam-free working experience that’s hard to come by. Complemented by an excellent build quality that just feels sturdy, as well as a 1000-nail capacity per charge, it’s a worthwhile upgrade for the serious framer.

Taking standard 16-gauge nails, the XNB02Z can accommodate nail lengths from 1 inch to 2 ½ inches. Because of its metal rear loading magazine, the Makita is heavier (and more expensive) than other nail guns in its class, but far more durable.

Most impressive of all is the jam clearance on this finish nailer: Just flip the lever, and you’ll be able to access the driver area for removal. As far as I’m aware, no other electric finishing nailer makes it this easy to clear a jam and get back to work.

Voltage18V
Magazine Capacity110
Min. Fastener Size1 inch
Max. Fastener Size2 ½ inch
Item Weight 8.4 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Sturdy and long-lasting metal construction
  • 1000 nails per battery charge
  • Incredibly easy jam clearance

Cons

  • Quite heavy compared to nailers in its class
  • Expensive

A heavy-duty upgrade that offers smooth and easy action, the Makita XNB02Z is a beautiful piece of equipment that’s well worth the added cost.

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BOSTITCH 20V MAX BCN650D1

In my mind, the mark of a great finishing nail gun is precisely that it doesn’t leave a mark where it shouldn’t! For installing trim and molding, even small scuffs and dents can really mar the final appearance of the project. So, when I saw Bostitch’s BCN650D1, with its 15-gauge nails and ultra-narrow nose for precise nail placement, I knew I was going to love it.

Equipped with a brushless motor for long-lasting durability and unfailing reliability, the BCN650D1 is capable of driving nails from 1 ¼ inch to 2 ½ inch. This is accomplished via tool-free depth adjustment, which is accompanied by an equally tool-free selector switch for bump or sequential modes. Heck, even the nail jam removal is entirely tool free – making this maybe one of the easiest finishing nailers to work with, no matter the situation.

The only downside? This Bostitch gun seems prone to nail jams. Once you’ve practiced the toolless jam removal a few times, though, this is only a minor inconvenience rather than a deal breaker.

Voltage20V Max.
Magazine Capacity100
Min. Fastener Size1 ¼ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 ½ inch
Item Weight 5.8 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Narrow nose for accurate nail placement
  • Long-lasting brushless motor
  • Tool-free adjustments

Cons

  • Prone to nail jams
  • On the pricier side

When accuracy of nail placement is absolutely necessary, the Bostitch BCN650D1 makes an excellent go-to choice for finishing. Better yet, its toolless adjustments make it a breeze to work with.

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My Top Picks for Best Electric Brad Nail Guns

Brad nailers use thin, 18-gauge nails that are perfect for more refined and delicate woodworking projects. They’re the most affordable of the three types of electric nail guns featured here, but aren’t suitable for heavy construction projects.

Top Pick – PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX PCC790B

Brad nailers seems to be ideal for putting the finishing touches on a job – quick adjustments and fittings that getting an air compressor or gas cells out for seems like quite the hassle. Making the switch to an electric brad nailer like the Porter-Cable PCC790B will allow for finishing details quickly and easily, but it’s equally well suited to completing full home-scale woodworking projects.

Offering consistent depth of nail drive, excellent battery life (1300 nails per charge), and integrated LED lighting for work in any climatic condition, the PCC790B certainly has a lot going for it. Past the most obvious features, though, it also won me over with its easy toolless functions: stall release, jam release, and depth adjustment all work without so much as a hex wrench.

Maybe the only downside to the Porter-Cable is that it’s on the heavier end of electric brad nail guns. But once you consider its exceptionally affordable price and all-around solid performance, the weight just doesn’t seem that bad.

Voltage20V Max.
Magazine Capacity100
Min. Fastener Size⅝ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 inch
Item Weight 5.1 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Awesome battery life
  • Bright LED lights make detail work much easier
  • Very affordable for great performance

Cons

  • Heavy for an electric brad nailer
  • Porter-Cable customer support can be hard to reach

A portable and convenient alternative to gas- or air-powered nailers for final details on job sites, the PCC790B is a nearly magical combination of affordability and effectiveness.

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Ryobi 18V One+ Airstrike

Upping the ante on many other electric brad nailers, Ryobi’s One+ Airstrike both sounds cool and looks cool. Advertised to drive up to 1700 (!) nails on a single charge, its unique compressed air driving system can be dialed in to give it extra power for hardwoods, too. And at a price that’s almost laughably low, what’s not to love about this light and bright tool?

As much potential as the Airstrike has, it seems that it can also be quite a finnicky tool to work with. Users report frequent jams and blank fires but doesn’t have an easy-access jam removal feature. While this usually won’t be cause for concern, you’ll need to keep in mind that occasionally jams can be bad enough to warrant a return for replacement.

In the end, even with these flaws, would I buy a Ryobi Airstrike? Absolutely. When it’s working at its best – which is most of the time – it’s an incredibly effective tool for the price.

Voltage18V
Magazine Capacity105
Min. Fastener Size⅝ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 inch
Item Weight 5.0 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • Excellent battery life
  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • Prone to jamming or blank fires
  • Removing jams is difficult

For an electric brad nailer that punches well above its weight, look no further than the Ryobi Airstrike. Its combination of power, battery life, and affordability is truly remarkable.

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CRAFTSMAN V20 CMCN618C1

In the days of gas- and air-powered tools, it was much easier to pick and choose individual products from different brands. With the advent of cordless electric models, however, you may be more inclined to stick with a single brand – all so you can switch out their proprietary battery packs from tool to tool. And with Craftsman’s deep selection of electric tools, their CMCN618C1 may just do the trick for all your detailed woodworking needs.

As perhaps the most lightweight and comfortable brad nailer available on the market today, the CMCN618C1 still offers plenty of power to drive anywhere from 5/8 to 2-inch 18-gauge nails. Tool-free depth adjustment and jam clearance will keep you working smoothly, as will the sequential firing mode that includes a contact trigger.

If the battery life on the CMCN618C1 were just a bit better, it would be an easy choice for my top pick. But then again, Craftsman’s batteries are some of the most affordable of all to replace or buy extras for your home garage or work.

Voltage20V Max.
Magazine Capacity100
Min. Fastener Size⅝ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 inch
Item Weight 5.3 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Simple and tool-free adjustments and jam clearance
  • Excellent balance and ergonomics

Cons

  • Fairly short battery life
  • May struggle with sinking 2-inch nails into hardwoods

Remarkable for its reliable Craftsman performance and lightweight ease of use, the CMCN618C1 is a great choice for home repair and DIY use.

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What to Look for When Choosing the Best Nail Gun for Your Job

Choosing any tool is no small matter, as you’ll be investing not just your money but also the time used with the tool. While your budget may have the final say on what sort of nail gun you can buy, we recommend considering the following topics before committing to a purchase.

Choosing Which Type of Electrical Nail Gun You Need

Not all nail guns are created equally – and this is doubly true of electric nail guns. Instead of looking for one gun that can do it all, you’ll need to consider exactly what type of projects you plan on using your nail gun for most often.

Here are the three styles you’ll need to choose between, as well as how they stack up against their gas-powered counterparts:

Electric Framing Nail Gun

Framing nailers are the workhorse of the nail gun family, taking on heavy-duty projects like building a shed from scratch. Though they offer the most power of any electric nail gun style, framing nailers are also less accurate in their nail placement than either finishing or brad nail guns.

Compared to gas-powered framing nailers, electric framing nail guns may lack some of the “oomph” that you’d expect of the category. While this is perfectly fine for home improvement and DIY use – and even desirable, given electric nailers’ portability – professionals in the construction industry would usually be better served choosing a gas-powered framing nailer.

Electric Finishing Nail Guns

Finishing nailers are the tool of choice for carpenters installing trim and molding at the end of a home construction job. Though they’re less powerful than framing nail guns, finishing nail guns may be the best place for switching to electric – as the job requires precision and portability more than brute force.

Compared to gas-powered finishing nail guns, electric models sacrifice very little in the way of performance and offer much greater portability. They’re an excellent choice for home and professional use alike.

Electric Brad Nail Guns

Brad nailers are the primary choice for smaller, more delicate woodworking projects, using thin 18-gauge nails to make nearly invisible connections on shelves and decorative molding. They’re the least powerful and most accurate of the electric nail guns, and the ideal choice for working with fiberboard, plywood, and thin cuts of lumber.

Electric brad nail guns really shine when compared to gas-powered guns of the same type, as they offer excellent maneuverability that’s essential to fine woodworking projects.

Power and Battery Capacity

Any electric nail gun’s power source and battery capacity will be of primary importance in determining both how long and how quickly you can work. See, most electric nail guns work by compressing a spring, which then delivers the power to eject nails – so the more power your nail gun has, the faster it’s likely to allow you to work.

Generally, you’ll find electric nail guns powered by either an 18- or 20-Volt battery. Don’t be fooled into thinking that “higher volts = more power”, though – because the overall design of the tool will determine how much pressure it can apply to each nail. Instead, I recommend considering the cost of each battery pack for a given nailer, as you may need multiple packs to efficiently finish larger construction jobs.

Weight and Size

One of the main benefits of electric nail guns is how easily portable they are. Without having to deal with the restrictions of being hooked to a power supply, you can move much more freely around a project.

That said, battery packs aren’t the lightest piece of equipment. Each manufacturer gives the overall weight of their electric nail guns, both standalone and with a battery pack, and I strongly recommend looking for the lightest gun available in the style you need.

Nail Magazine Capacity

How many nails can your electric nail gun hold at one time? Generally, guns that use larger nail sizes (framing nailers) will hold less, while the smaller nails of brad nail guns come in larger magazines.

For home improvement and DIY use, nail magazine capacity will rarely if ever be an issue. Professional woodworks, however, may tend towards guns that offer the best combination of power and capacity, allowing for more efficient use of time on the job site.

Nail Type

Of the three electric nail gun styles – framing, finishing, and brad nailers – each takes a specific type of nail. Because of this, as well as their relative power, each nailer is best at one specific job.

So, if you’ve been wondering about using a framing nailer for finishing, you’re out of luck; the larger nails and lower accuracy of a framer just aren’t cut out for finishing.

Similarly, choosing between a 16-gauge and 18-gauge nailer will force you to decide on what size of project you’re working on: The smaller 18-gauge nails used by a brad nailer are great for highly detailed work, while the larger 16-gauge nails of a finishing nailer are more suitable to molding and trim.

Noise/Decibels

No matter what fuel source you use for a nail gun – electric, gas, or air-powered – it’s going to make a lot of noise. While this may be acceptable on a professional job site, given nail guns’ excellent efficiency, many home DIY projects might be better served using screws for framing, then a finishing or brad nail gun for detailed work on delicate woods. That way, you get the best of both worlds: Sturdy and efficient construction, and a project that won’t deafen you or the neighbors.

Ergonomics

Finding tools that are comfortable in your hands for long periods of time is essential for professional use, and highly desirable for home repairs and DIY. I’m a big fan of electric nail guns that are designed with ergonomics in mind – including the distribution of weight, comfort of the handle, and direction of recoil.

You’ll see this most on display in finishing nailers, where the difference between an angled and a straight nailer is primarily one of ergonomics. Angled nailers make it easier to squeeze into corners and cramped locations without cranking your wrist, while straight finishing nailers may require a bit more gymnastics to get into position with.

Toe-Nailing Evaluation

Though you’ll mostly want to stick with a rule of driving nails into wood at a 90-degree angle, flush with the surface, there’s a special situation that calls for a different kind of fastening: Toe nailing.

In this procedure, you’ll be nailing at an angle from both sides of a connection, adding reinforcement to a board that stands directly upright.[BA2]  This is where angled nail guns really shine: By moving their nail magazine out of the way, they allow for toe nailing where flush nail guns may not.

Features to Look For

Lastly, here’s a roundup of some of my favorite optional features that I’ve seen implemented in electric nail guns:

Nail Loading

The way the nail gun in question loads its nails will primarily affect how difficult it is to remove a jam. Whenever possible, I prefer nailers with simple mechanical loading with a minimum of moving parts. A less desirable, but still serviceable style are those guns which require you to remove the battery pack to access the nail loading area.

Contact Tip

An excellent safety feature, electric nail guns equipped with a contact tip will only fire a nail when both your finger is on the trigger and the contact tip is depressed. This prevents dangerous accidental discharges.

An excellent safety feature, electric nail guns equipped with a contact tip will only fire a nail when both your finger is on the trigger and the contact tip is depressed. This prevents dangerous accidental discharges.

Depth Adjustment

The thickness of lumber that you’re working with will determine a lot about how quickly and accurate any electric nail gun can work. Some of my favorite electric nailers include an adjustable depth setting, making sure that you’re using exactly the right amount of power for each job that you work on.

Sequential / Bump Fire Mode

Another mode made possible by the contact tip, sequential or “bump” firing allows you to eject nails simply by depressing the contact tip. If you’re looking for an electric nailer that will let you work with maximum speed and efficiency, definitely seek out sequential or bump firing.

Rafter Hook

Less common, but quite useful for professional jobs, a rafter hook can be attached to your nail gun to allow for easy hanging storage when not in use. This allows the professional carpenter to set their tools aside without worrying about them getting dirty or damaged while sitting on the ground.

Dry Fire Lockout

To best protect the longevity of any nail gun, it’s useful to have a dry fire lockout – preventing the gun from firing without a nail in the chamber. This ensures that an electric nail gun’s spring won’t be subjected to over-stretching and eventual damage.

No-Mar Tip  

Acting as a padded nose cushion, no-mar tips will prevent damage to delicate softwoods while working with a finishing or brad nailer. While some of the products listed in this review include a no mar tip in their kit, many professional finishing carpenters keep extras, as they are prone to cracking or getting lost.

Conclusion

While no single electric nail gun will perform every possible construction job, three stand out to us as clear winners in their respective categories:

For framing nailers, the DEWALT DCN692B 20V is as powerful and reliable as they come, and even tough enough to use for professional framing.

When it comes to finishing nailers, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better gun than the CRAFTSMAN V20 CMCN616C1. Its combination of precise nail placement and tool-free adjustments make it fast and accurate for putting up trim and molding.

If it’s a brad nailer you need, the PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX PCC790B offers long-lasting battery life and integrated LED lights that make it work well in any lighting condition, all at an affordable price.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the electric nail guns featured in this review!

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