The 16 Best Nail Guns in 2020 – Buying Guide and Reviews

Man using nail gun on timber framing

When it comes to quickly fixing timber together, sometimes a hammer and a box of nails just doesn’t cut it. When that’s the case it’s time to make sure that you have the best nail gun to hand.

There are a ton of different nailers, so it’s often useful to find some guidance. I’ve brought you my favorites, and the information you need to make the right choice for the task at hand. So, let’s dive in!

If you’re in a hurry, here a quick round up of what I think are the best nail guns on the market in 2020: 

My Top Picks for Best Brad Nail Gun

Brad nail guns are essential for trim jobs, and often for arts and crafts projects. They invariably use a small, 18 gauge brad. They’re not meant for fixing together timber, but they work wonders on panels, molding, and trim. 

Top Pick – CRAFTSMAN CMCN618C1

The battery powered Craftsman CMCN618C1 is an excellent choice for those in need of a brad nailer. It features a long-lasting 20V battery, said to drive 420 brads per charge. 

Combined with the entirely tool free nail depth adjustment settings and you can work for hours with very little tinkering or battery changes required. 

A great deal of thought has gone into the design to ensure the center of gravity is optimised to make a package that’s super easy to handle. All of this adds up to a great nailer for trim and molding jobs.

That said, there are some occasional jamming issues. It also doesn’t like all brands of 18 gauge brads. If you experience a lot of jamming, try switching the brand of your fasteners. This issue is made slightly less painful thanks to the tool free jam release. 

Overall it’s quiet, easy-to-use, and a worthy addition to most people’s toolsets. The very few issues it has can be worked around without too much fuss, which leaves it as my favorite 18 gauge brad nailer on the market today.

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

Pros

  • Cordless
  • Works great for smaller projects
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Tool free adjustments

Cons

  • Prone to jamming

If all of that sounds appealing, then take a closer look!

Check Price on Amazon

WEN 61721

If you have a compressor, consider the WEN 61721, it’s a workhorse nailer with excellent features. For some a compressor might be an addition you’re not willing to make but if you already have one you may find that this cheaper option is the way to go.

Quality is great for a DIY tool, although professionals may need something slightly more heavy duty. Like all great brad nailers all adjustments are tool free, in this case, the nail depth adjustment is particularly nice and simple.

It does have one big problem: it jams quite often when you’re using 2” brads. Depending on the brand, even loading them can be a hassle. It’s possible to use them, but the gun really doesn’t like them much.

Overall? I think it’s one of the best DIY options on the market. The simplicity of use and low price make it a good buy if you already have an air compressor.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine Capacity106
Min. Fastener Size⅜ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 inch
Item Weight 2.7 lbs
Warranty 2 year

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Very cheap
  • Awesome depth stop
  • The magazine holds 106 brads
  • Super lightweight

Cons

  • Requires a good compressor
  • Can jam with 2” brads

So, if you want to put the compressor in your garage to work, check it out.

Check Price on Amazon

PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA

For those looking for something slightly more heavy duty than those already reviewed, there’s the PCC790LA. It’s a great gun, but it does come with a bigger price tag. 

It’s battery powered, running off of a 20V pack with a capacity of 1.5 Ah as standard. While this doesn’t give you mind blowing longevity, a 4.0 Ah battery is available to order separately that can deliver up to 1,300 nails per charge. So this might be something you want to consider for big jobs. 

This one has full sequential firing mode so it’s not the fastest to operate. As long as you can get used to the full process it’s a non-issue, and it’s the safest way for a nail gun to fire. 

It’s lightweight for a battery-operated model, and the center of gravity is optimal for good balance. All this means it’s easy to use for long jobs.

On the downside, it has quite a bit of recoil for an 18 gauge brad nailer. It also has an oddly placed light, behind the nozzle where it doesn’t do much good.

Despite this, this is a professional quality product, and it’s not too expensive to consider for home use. That makes it stand out in my book.

Power SourceBattery
Magazine Capacity100
Min. Fastener Size⅝ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 inch
Item Weight 5.9 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • All adjustments tool free
  • Lightweight and ergonomic
  • Easy to unjam

Cons

  • Lots of recoil for a brad nailer
  • Light is placed behind the nozzle

Sound right for you? If so, then find it online and check it out for yourself

Check Price on Amazon

My Top Picks for Best Framing Nail Gun

Framing nail guns are the best option for large projects at home. That includes, of course, framing but they’re also good for decks and other projects which require fixing construction timber together. They’re a solid pick if you’re planning on just getting one nail gun.

Top Pick – NuMax SFR2190

When it comes to framing nailers I mostly prefer pneumatic nail guns and the SFR2190 is an excellent example of what you need. It’s heavy duty and while effort has been made to keep weight down by utilizing a magnesium body, it still comes in around the same weight as other framing nailers I’ve reviewed.  

The price is also awesome for what you get. From the easy controls to the ability to switch firing modes thanks to the dual mode trigger… it’s very user-friendly and effortlessly drives up to 10 gauge full round head nails.

It’s designed to shoot 21° nails, which can be hard to find, but it will fire 22° nails if you have to. Just expect more jamming than normal.

If you need a framing nailer for a couple of jobs around the house, it’s hard to do better.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine Capacity55
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 8.6 lbs
Warranty 1 year

Pros

  • Fast to load
  • Relatively cheap
  • Interchangeable firing modes

Cons

  • Fairly heavy
  • Only 1 year warranty

So, if you think this one might be right for you… well, take a good look and see.

Check Price on Amazon

Freeman PFR2190

The PFT2190 is a close runner up to my favorite, being a little bit more expensive but also a bit better in build quality overall. It’s up to the task of daily use, which is what you need if you’re a professional and have some large project.

Like my top pick, this one fires 21° nails. Unlike it, it’s rated to shoot 20-22° nails for more versatility. It’s also remarkably lightweight for how sturdy it is, making it perfect for larger jobs. Add in the interchangeable trigger, for bump and full sequential firing, and it’s clear what it was meant for.

It’s not without issues. The big one is that it can be a struggle toe-nail boards but you can make it work by removing the plastic tip. It also doesn’t like to empty the magazine, often you’ll be left with four or five nails at the bottom which just won’t fire.

Issues aside, I’d recommend this for any home DIYer who has a large project ahead and the air compressor to power it.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine Capacity55
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 8.6 lbs
Warranty 7 year

Pros

  • Great price
  • Good build quality
  • Simple controls for depth
  • Changeable firing modes
  • 7 year warranty

Cons

  • Needs the tip removed for toe-nailing

It’s a great pick for those who need something hefty around the house, take it into consideration if you need a framing nailer.

Check Price on Amazon 

Valu-Air 9021C

Another great pneumatic nail gun is the Valu-Air 9021C. I’d call it the top-end of DIY tool quality, unlike the Bostitch above, so it may not be suitable for professional work if that’s your interest.

The price is right and it does a decent enough job for the most part. The magazine holds 70 collated nails, so you’ll go through less reloads than with some guns. It’s also relatively easy-to-use, which is always a bonus with a DIY-grade nailer.

It has it’s problems, of course. It’s a bit unwieldy, being rather heavy and having an odd handle. You also need to keep an eye on the pressure, you need to be at 120 PSI for this gun to work properly.

That said, it’s a great option for those with serious work on a tight budget. Just don’t think of it as an everyday tool.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine Capacity70
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 8.8 lbs
Warranty 1 year

Pros

  • Large magazine
  • Low priced
  • Solid housing
  • Interchangeable triggers

Cons

  • Heavy and unwieldy
  • Needs a good compressor to keep up

While it’s not a daily use tool, it’ll hold up for big DIY jobs. See if it’s right for your next project!

Check Price on Amazon

My Top Picks for Best Finishing Nail Gun

If you can only have one nailer, and heavy construction isn’t in the cards, I recommend a finishing nail gun. They shoot 16 gauge nails, enough for most purposes around the house, and form a good in-between option for framing nailers and brad nailers.

Top Pick – NuMax SFN64

This pneumatic nailer is my top pick when it comes to finishing nail guns. While some of them work electronically and work well, pneumatics tend to be more robust and powerful. The SFN64 is a great example.

This dependable tool features full sequential fire and has a large magazine to get more work done between reloads. That makes it safe, durable, and a great choice for the home DIYer if you’re taking down the score in the audience.

I’m not a big fan of the circular grip and it’s rather heavy. You may also want to pull the rubber tip if you’re having trouble with getting the depth you require.

If you need to tie things together, this may be your best bet. Just make sure you have a compressor and air hose.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine Capacity100
Min. Fastener Size1 inch
Max. Fastener Size2 ½ inch
Item Weight 4.07 lbs
Warranty 1 year

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Reasonable price
  • Doesn’t jam often

Cons

  • Ergonomics could be better
  • Only 1 year warranty

So, if you’re looking for a finishing nailer… well, give it a look!

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DEWALT DCN660D1

If you don’t already have a compressor, you may be looking for a cordless nail gun. They’ve improved a lot in recent years and the DeWalt DCN660D1 is a fine tool. It’s even better if you’ve already made the investment in some of DeWalt’s 20V lineup.

It’s dependable and powerful enough to have converted a few professionals. It’s compact and lightweight. In short, it’s a fine example of a cordless nailer that’s overcome the reputation they’ve been burdened with.

Unfortunately, all that quality comes with a serious price tag. It also has considerable recoil for a finishing nailer, but the ergonomics mostly make up for it

If you want a professional quality cordless nailer, this may be just the ticket. 

Power SourceBattery
Magazine Capacity110
Min. Fastener Size1 ¼ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 ½ inch
Item Weight 5.2 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Very powerful
  • No compressor needed
  • Compatible with DeWalt’s batteries

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Considerable recoil

Whether you’re going to suffer from sticker shock or not, I recommend giving it some careful consideration.

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Metabo HPT NT65MA4

For a more heavy-duty pneumatic nailer, Metabo has an answer. This is a robust finishing nailer, and it even shoots 15 gauge nails instead of the usual 16 found in this sort of nail gun.

It has everything you need in one unit. It even has a port to give a blast of compressed air during a job to clear dust and debris. 

It’s also lightweight and has very little low recoil. That makes it easy to use all day, and it’s got the build-quality to make it a respectable daily use nailer.

Another great feature is the angle of the magazine. It’s set back at an angle of 34 degrees, which makes it easy to fire nails in tight corners. 

On the downside, it’s a very loud gun. It also suffers from a poor safety tip which can lead to marks on surfaces. If you use care it’s unlikely to harm the surface you’re firing into.

This is a professional finishing nailer. It’s also the right thing for the DIY-capable with a long job ahead of them.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine Capacity100
Min. Fastener Size1 ¼ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 ½ inch
Item Weight 4.2 lbs
Warranty 5 year

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Build in air duster
  • Lightweight
  • 15 gauge nails
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • Loud firing
  • Safety tip sometimes marks surfaces

So, if you think you’ll need a finishing nailer for the long haul, why not check it out online?

Check Price on Amazon

My Top Picks for Best Flooring Nail Gun

Flooring nail guns are used for… well, they’re really only used for flooring. You can do it with a standard nailer in some cases, but a flooring nail gun has a bunch of design features to make the job easier.

Top Pick – Freeman PFL618C

The Freeman is a pneumatic nailer that uses a wide variety of brads and staples to get the job done. It’s a hefty, professional tool that’ll last through many jobs if that’s your need, so let’s get a closer look.

It has a couple of marring plates and everything else you need to get a floor job done professionally. The foot also makes it easy to get into corners when you’re finishing the job.

It’s got a bit of a price tag, and the base plate is made of rather soft steel. The latter will only come into play on old, nail-studded floors but it’s a good thing to be aware of. Big gouges on the plate can mean problems later. However the base plate is interchangeable so if this does happen it is a pretty easy fix. 

It’s capable of firing T and L cleats as well as crown flooring staples, it’s perfectly designed for its one purpose. This is a flooring nailer that won’t let you down.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine CapacityL and T Cleats: 100 / Staples: 120
Min. Fastener Size1 ½ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 inch
Item Weight 11.46 lbs
Warranty 7 year

Pros

  • Great quality overall
  • Uses multiple types of fastener
  • Professional results attainable
  • 7 year warranty

Cons

  • A bit expensive
  • Soft steel base plate

If you’re doing a floor, and you’ve got a compressor and air hose to hand, give it a look over and see if it’s right for you.

Check Price on Amazon

NuMax SFL618

Just planning on a one-and-done? You may be best off with the SFL618, which is a cheaper flooring nail gun than my top pick. Like all of the NuMax nailers, it’s top-end consumer grade at a good price.

It’s a sturdy pneumatic tool, with a bit less focus on ergonomics than more expensive models. It’s also able to fire off T-Cleats, staples, and L-cleats. It’s a small bit of flexibility, but it will let you pick the right fastener for your flooring without any hassle.

On the downside? It’s unwieldy and not up to the task for daily professional use.

Nonetheless, handymen and DIYers who do their own flooring will find it a welcome addition. It’s just a matter of your future plans.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine CapacityL and T Cleats: 100 / Staples: 90-120
Min. Fastener Size1 ½ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 inch
Item Weight 12 lbs
Warranty 1 year

Pros

  • Versatile with fasteners
  • Great price
  • Solid construction
  • Great for smaller jobs

Cons

  • Not professional grade
  • Poor ergonomics
  • Only 1 year warranty

So, if you just need the occasional job done then you should take a look into this nailer.

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DeWalt DWFP12569

If you need a professional grade floor nailer then DeWalt has you covered. This is a robust, accurate floor nailer that is meant for daily use. It’s a bit pricey for DIY, but if you’re a professional it deserves a second glance.

It’s optimized to fire staples and cleats. It runs easily off of a moderate compressor, with optimized air usage. Add in the light weight and rubber handle and you’ve got a tool made for someone laying floors day-in day-out. 

Another feature which really adds to the comfort is the long handle. This will mean that you don’t need to hunch over quite so much while you’re firing in flooring cleats. If you have a long day laying hardwood floor ahead your back will thank you for this. 

The DWFP12569 is what you need in a professional pneumatic flooring nailer. It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re willing to pay the larger price.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine CapacityL and T Cleats: 100 / Staples: 100
Min. Fastener Size1 ½ inch
Max. Fastener Size2 inch
Item Weight 10.2 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • The very durable overall design
  • Very Lightweight
  • Fires cleats and staples
  • Efficient with air use

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Hard to use against walls

If a professional floor nailer sounds up your alley, then check it out!

Check Price on Amazon 

My Top Picks for Best Roofing Nail Gun 

Roofing nailers are essentially sightly modified framing nailers. For general use, I’d advise against them, but they’re the best way to lay shingles quickly and if you’re doing a roofing project they’re a godsend.

Top Pick – MAX USA CORP. CN445R3

Right upfront, we have a professional quality nailer. This thing is a beast, capable of firing nails throughout a full workday without slowing down. In addition, it’s simple to use so it’s not a bad pick for the novice.

The gun itself is easily maneuverable and holds tightly against the surface when pressed down. It also has a magnet to hold the last nail and prevent some jamming, although not all of it.

The end cap filter is a great feature, by stopping tar and debris from entering the inner workings of the nail gun longevity can be massively improved. This must be part of what gives Max USA Corp. the confidence they need to offer an amazing 5 year warranty. 

The main issue here is that jams are hard to clear. Once you have the trick down it’s not so bad, but in the beginning, it can slow you down.

In the end? It’s a solid, professional-quality nailer for roofing. It’s hard to beat in that category.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine Capacity120
Min. Fastener Size¾ inch
Max. Fastener Size1 ¾ inch
Item Weight 5.6 lbs
Warranty 5 year

Pros

  • Easy to control
  • Very durable
  • Anti-jam features
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • Rather expensive for DIY use

Roofing is an expensive job, and if you can pull it off yourself you can save yourself a stack. Why not see if this nail gun can help make it happen?

Check Price on Amazon

WEN 61783

If you want something a bit simpler, yet a bit less durable, then WEN has you covered. Like all of their tools, it’s a budget-version that will get the job done but likely won’t be found on a professional’s truck.

The durability factor is likely to only be an issue if you’re using it daily. It should be sturdy enough for both home DIYs and those who do occasional roof repairs for their business.

The downside is mainly that it’s not a professional tool, but the truth is that it wasn’t designed to be either. For example I’m also not a big fan of the magazine’s construction, it feels fairly flimsy so might not stand up too well on a jobsite.

Still, for the casual would-be roofer, this gun is worthy of a second look. It’s exactly what you need for a couple of occasional jobs and the price is right as well.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine Capacity120
Min. Fastener Size¾ inch
Max. Fastener Size1 ¾ inch
Item Weight 5.95 lbs
Warranty 2 year

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • Great price
  • Large magazine
  • Good power

Cons

  • Not a professional tool
  • Magazine construction seems flimsy

If that sounds about right for you, then I invite the dabbler to go take a look.

Check Price on Amazon 

3PLUS HCN45SP

Sometimes a tool is just a great fit for newbies, and out of the roofing nail guns on this list this is that tool. It’s a great quality tool with a few features to make things easier for you. It’s also really well priced for all the features that are included.

It has an interchangeable firing mode trigger, an adjustable shingle guide for making shingle spacing faster, and the depth adjustment is on a simple thumbwheel. All of those features can be a big deal when you’re working on something as repetitive as roofing.

Other than that, it’s relatively mediocre. It does the job, but it’s not a tool you’re going to hand down to the grandkids. It also has a tendency to double-fire if you’re not firmly on the work piece.

It’s worth a shot, however, especially if you just want something for quick repairs in areas with a lot of shingle-stealing wind.

Power SourcePneumatic
Magazine Capacity120
Min. Fastener Size¾ inch
Max. Fastener Size1 ¾ inch
Item Weight 7.39 lbs
Warranty 1 year

Pros

  • Cheap and dependable
  • Shingle plate for quicker work
  • Interchangeable trigger
  • Simple adjustments

Cons

  • Tends to double fire
  • Only 1 year warranty

It’s worth a shot for a newbie, so check it out for your next roofing task.

Check Price on Amazon 

My Top Picks for Best Palm Nail Gun 

Palm nailers are essential for tasks where space is limited. If you often have issues trying to drive nails in tight spaces a palm nailer might be worth a look. That said, they don’t pack the same punch as a full sized nail gun.

BOSTITCH PN50

If you need a top-notch palm nailer, then you’re looking at the right one. This is a 1 pound little guy that can handle some hefty work in a pinch. 

My personal favorite part is the ability to switch around the exhaust to keep it out of your face. It’s a nice touch, but the truth is that on a simple tool like this all that really needs to be done is to build it with quality. And we have that here in spades.

It doesn’t have any form of safety, so be careful when you’re using it. It’ll also numb your hand quickly if you’re using it for more than the occasional corner shot, but this is true of all vibrating tools. Be sure to wear some thick gloves if you have a ton of nails to drive. 

Overall? It doesn’t get much better than this simple tool. It does what it’s supposed to, and that’s often enough.

Pros

  • Super light
  • Powerful
  • Movable exhaust

Cons

  • No safety
  • Heavy recoil

If you’re looking for a great palm nailer, feel free to look no further.

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Metabo HPT NH90AB

Metabo, formerly Hitachi, still releases some great tools. This is another great option if you need a palm nailer, but it’s not quite as compact as my top pick. It’s still worth a mention, however.

With a magnet to hold the nail in place you can get easy, accurate nail placement every time. It’s not going to win engineering awards, but it does exactly what it needs to.

It’s a bit of an air hog. It will use more than your standard framing nailer, so keep that in mind. It’s also not overly powerful despite the heavy recoil, so it may not be the answer if you’re able to swing a hammer a couple of times.

Think of it as the cheaper option and you’re on the right track. It’s still a great little tool, but it’s not the best in it’s category.

Pros

  • Excellent rubberized grip
  • Very accurate
  • Lightweight
  • Magnetic hold for nail heads

Cons

  • Uses a lot of air
  • A bit underpowered

So, take a look while you’re comparison shopping. It can be found right here.

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3PLUS HMPN50SP

Sometimes, you just need something which works. That’s the case here, with a stunningly cheap but relatively mediocre palm nailer. If you don’t have a palm nailer and only plan on the very occasional use… well, this is what you’re looking for.

It’s not bad, of course. It hits pretty hard and it doesn’t seem to be an air-hog. The whole thing is also exceptionally user friendly, even for a palm nailer.

This isn’t a professional tool. I wouldn’t even classify it as a heavy use tool, it’s pretty much light duty only. It’s also loud, with considerable recoil.

Most people will be fine with this model, but professionals should look at one of the other two on the list.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • User friendly
  • Magnetic holder
  • Drives nails hard

Cons

  • Mediocre build quality
  • Loud and heavy recoil

For those last few nails in tight spaces, this may be a lifesaver. Take a closer look now!

Check Price on Amazon 

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

There are dozens of nailers out there, and finding the right one is crucial. Take a look at the following to help you come to the right decision for your job.

Types of Nail Gun

Nail guns come in many different configurations, each designed for a special purpose. These little variations make them a specialized tool, so picking the right one upfront is very important.

Brad Nailer

Brad nailers are commonly used for finishing work. They fire smaller nails suitable for things like trim and molding. As a general rule, they’ll be firing 18 gauge nails, which are mainly used for pinning on trim where no structural integrity is required.

Around the house, they’re a handy tool, but they’re not useful for putting together large pieces of furniture. Most small scale tasks done at home can easily be performed with a hammer, but things like replacing baseboards are much easier with a brad nailer.

Those who have arts and craft style projects in mind should take a look as well, particularly for a small woodworking project like a birdhouse.

Framing Nailer

Framing nail guns fire standard-size framing nails, up to 3 ½” long. They’re heavy-duty tools, and generally they’re what most people think of as a “nail gun.”

These ones are best used for construction. They’re not quite adaptable to smaller tasks. Framing nail guns come in a wide variety of configurations, with their own advantages.

Finishing Nailer

Finishing nail guns fit in between brad and framing nail guns. They typically push a nail which is 15 or 16 gauge. They’re also used for trim and finish carpentry work, hence the name.

The choice between these and a brad nail guns is on you. If you plan to do more smaller projects then you’ll probably be better off with a brad nail gun, but if you’ll be doing more finish carpentry then a finishing nail gun is the way to go.

They’re also the best for crown molding. While only a bit bigger than brads, they also have more holding power for thicker finishing touches.

Flooring Nailer

Flooring nailers look and function differently than the other varieties. They’re perfectly designed for firing cleats at an angle into the tongue of tongue and groove hardwood flooring.

Unlike other models of nail gun which are actuated by a trigger, flooring nail guns are actuated by hitting a large pad with a mallet. The geometry of the nailer and the impact force of the mallet act to force the pieces of flooring together as the cleat is driven into the tongue. 

As their design is so specialized they’re really only used for flooring. If you’re doing flooring then pick one up, otherwise, you’ll find little use for them no matter how creative you are.

Roofing Nailer 

Roofing nailers are another of the professional-quality tools. They’re similar in size to framing nailers but are designed for shingle nails. These nails have a larger head than framing nails and are generally shorter.

More importantly, the magazine is designed to hold coils of nails instead of strips. This allows you to get a bunch in without needing to reload but also takes more time to reload.

A framing nailer is a better choice as a general-purpose heavy-duty nailer for the home DIYer, but a roofing nailer is perfect for its intended purpose.

Palm Nailer

Palm nailers are miniature nailers which are primarily used for extremely tight spots and projects where accuracy is the end goal rather than speed. 

Unlike all other types of nailer a palm nailer doesn’t have a magazine to hold the nails. It also doesn’t drive the nails in one heavy blow. Instead it drive the nails with a series of high frequency blows. 

They’re a good choice for the right niche, but they’re not right for most construction tasks that will be done around the home.

Siding Nailer

Siding nailers shoot shorter nails with broader heads than framing nailers. They’re mainly used for siding, but can be used to join pieces of timber as well in many cases.

They’re the only choice for aluminum siding as some of them are compatible with those nails.

They’re a respectable choice for home, but I’d still recommend a framing nailer if you’re not looking to use the siding nailer for its intended use.

Nail Driving Mechanisms

Nail guns have a few different methods of firing.

Pneumatic nail guns are the originals. They require an air compressor to function properly and the internal mechanism is triggered using compressed air. They’re very powerful, but limited in mobility since the tool must be hooked up to a compressor.

For most at-home uses a cordless nail gun is the way to go. They don’t have as much force, but they’re much more convenient to use.

Pneumatic tools are the cheaper option… if you have an air compressor capable of handling them already.

Electric nail guns can be further divided since some are corded models. These need to be plugged in to use, so a battery option is often better. They’re primarily useful as a workshop nailer for those who don’t want an air compressor.

There are also combustion fired nail guns oout there. Most of them are made by Paslode and they use a proprietary cartridge and a spark to create a small explosion and slam the nail home with a cylinder. These are often prohibitively expensive to use and have been largely replaced by high-powered battery-operated nail guns over the last decade.

Nail Gun Firing Methods

The way a nail gun fires is independent of its power source.

OSHA rules full sequential nailers as the safest. They require a full series of actions to fire, and are a bit slow for some situations. The idea is that you press the safety tip of the gun down, pull the trigger, release the trigger, and lift the safety tip off the surface. Then repeat.

You’ll have to do that for each nail that you are planning on driving home. It takes the most time, but it’s hard to mess it up in an unsafe way. They’re also more accurate as a general rule.

On the other hand, single sequential guns require the safety tip pressed down before you pull the trigger. You can then slide the gun to the next attachment point without lifting the tip, making them a little bit faster.

Single actuation firing is a bit different: you can either press the nose then press the trigger or vice versa. In either case it won’t fire again until the nailer is off the piece.

Finally, contact or bump firing fires when the trigger is pulled and the safety tip is back. This allows for rapid “bump firing” but it’s less safe, less precise, and has a tendency to be hard for amateurs.

The bottom line is just this: know what the action sequence is and act accordingly. If you’re new to using a nailer, I’d skip the bump-fire guns. In addition to the normal consequences of misuse, they can also drive two nails at once and create a ricochet hazard for the inexperienced carpenter.

Conclusion

As you can see, the best nail gun always depends on what the user is planning. Fortunately, there’s a wide array of these tools to suit every task. From there it’s just finding a model that fits your budget and power needs, and you’ll be good to go!

So, which is right for your next project?

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