Best Nail Gun

The best nail gun can be a great time saver for DIYers and is practically a must have for woodworking and fencing. So to help you find the best nail guns we’ve researched dozens of models and narrowed it down by type and use. We checked out heavy gauge framing nailers, finishing nailers and brad nailers, powered by both compressed air and electricity. We looked at both cordless and plug-in electric nail guns, too. In this list you’ll find recommendations for the best nail gun for woodworking, the best all-purpose nail gun and the best nail gun for fencing.

Our top pick, the Stanley TRE550Z Electric Staple/Brad Nail Gun is distinguished by its dual power settings and outstanding flexibility, giving it great value for general DIY work. Read on to see more of our top picks below.

Top 5 Best Nail Guns

 #1  Stanley TRE550Z Electric Staple/Brad Nail Gun

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: A budget friendly price, plus unique hi and low power settings for use on different materials such as plywood, drywall, hardwoods and laminate, make this our pick for best electric nail gun for general DIY tasks.

Pros
  • Best for DIY
  • Uses either heavy duty staples or brads
  • Design works great in tight spaces
Cons
  • Corded design limits mobility
  • Requires 240V power source

This brad nail gun and stapler combo is a very versatile and easy to use tool. It combines the utility of a brad nailer and a powerful staple gun, using 1/2 inch Arrow T-50 staples or Stanley TRA700 staples, or 1/2 inch, 9/16 inch and 5/8 inch brads. This adaptability plus its low price make the Stanley TRE550Z a good choice for the best nail gun for DIY upholstery, carpeting and molding projects.

While it lacks the large capacity of some more expensive nail guns, and the 240V plug can be an issue in some homes, overall this rugged and simple to use nail gun is a top pick for crafts of all kinds. It is as easy to use as the best gas chainsaw.

 #2  NuMax SFR2190 Framing Nailer and Nail Gun

Award: Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: Our pick for the best framing nailer, this pneumatic 21º nail gun features easy depth adjustment and a trigger adjustable for quick fire or single shot nailing.

Pros
  • Best for framing & decking
  • Uses generic 10-12 GA nails
  • Durable, lightweight magnesium body
Cons
  • Compressor not included
  • Less convenient than the Porter Cable 20V cordless nail gun

This NuMax 21º framing nailer is a budget-conscious yet high performing pick for best nail gun for decking and flooring. It uses generic 10-12 gauge plastic coated full round head framing nails in lengths from 2.5- 3.5 inches. Easy to use and set up for an air powered nail gun, it has an adjustable trigger and a tool free depth adjustment. It also features an adjustable angle air exhaust.

The NuMax 21º nail gun is noted for consistency and durability, helped by a one-piece drive blade and a sturdy yet lightweight magnesium body. It also has an anti-dry fire mechanism to reduce wear on the tool. An air compressor isn’t included with the nail gun, so consider purchasing a separate kit, like the WYNNsky PVC Air Compressor Air Hose Kit with 17 Piece Air Tool and Air Compressor Accessories Kit. Another one of the best pneumatic nail guns is the Metabo HPT Framing Nailer, which can drive nails from 2 up to 3.5 inches. It can easily switch between compact and sequential firing, has a tool-less nail depth adjustment dial, and is also lightweight and easy to handle. A nail gun is as useful around the house as the best small chainsaw.

 #3  Porter Cable 20V Cordless Brad Nailer Nail Gun

Award: Best Cordless

WHY WE LIKE IT: This heavy duty cordless brad nailer comes with a three year limited warranty, is convenient to use and delivers good battery life of up to 1300 nails per charge.

Pros
  • No compressor or power cord needed
  • Comes with built-in LED lights
  • Tool free depth adjustment
Cons
  • More expensive than the NuMax pneumatic nail gun
  • Less driving power than air powered nail guns
  • Limited to 18 gauge nails, so not the best for framing or structural decking

Our pick for the best cordless nail gun for DIY tasks including moldings, carpeting and light DIY tasks, this high quality 20V brad nailer uses 18 gauge nails that are ideal for finishing tasks like installing trim, door frames and baseboard. They are also suitable for wood paneling. A battery powered nail gun may really come in handy for DIY tasks like repairing or building a fence as well, since it gives you added mobility versus a corded nail gun or an air powered nail gun and compressor.

The Porter Cable 20V nail gun is easy to use, with its tool-free depth adjustment and anti-jam feature. It comes with a 100-nail magazine and takes 18 gauge nails up to 2 inches long. It shares a compatible battery with the whole range of Porter Cable 20V tools, which adds value. Like the best wrench, this tool will serve you well.

 #4  Freeman Pneumatic Framing and Finishing Nail Gun Combo

Award: Best Combo Kit

WHY WE LIKE IT: This well equipped kit is our pick for the best nail gun combo kit in its price class. It includes a framing nailer, finishing nailer, brad nailer and narrow crown stapler, plus a handy canvas bag.

Pros
  • 4 nails guns for one price
  • All feature anti dust caps and no-mark tips
  • Framing nailer made of lightweight, high quality metal, not plastic
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer tool-free depth adjustment
  • Less convenient than electric nail guns

A relative bargain for a full set of air powered framing and finishing nail guns, this set is a value packed choice for the best nail gun combo kit for general woodworking. It includes a 21º framing nailer, a versatile 15-gauge finishing nailer, an 18-gauge brad nailer and an 18-gauge narrow crown stapler, giving you the fastening power to get through building, fencing and decking projects from start to finish.

All the nailers in the kit have adjustable depth, though a tool is needed to set the depth adjustment. They also all include high quality safety features like anti-dust caps and 360º adjustable exhaust, keeping compressed air and drywall dust away from your face. Add more than just pneumatic nailers to your tool collection by considering another great kit: the 3PLUS HCBFN3SP Pneumatic Angle Finish Nailer and Narrow Crown Stapler and Pinner Combo Kit. This has power tools for all your needs, from finishing chair railing, cabinetry, crown molding, etc. You may also want to read about the best socket set.

 #5  NuMax Pneumatic 16 Gauge Straight Finish Nail Gun

Award: Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: The powerful pneumatic finish nailer using common 16-gauge 2 and 1/2 inch finishing nails is a bargain priced choice for the best all purpose nail gun in its class.

Pros
  • 4 nails guns for one price
  • All feature anti dust caps and no-mar tips
  • Comfortable grip handle and lightweight body
Cons
  • Less adjustable than the Porter Cable 20V
  • Less heavy duty than the NuMax 21º Framing Nailer
  • Requires tools to adjust depth

While it may not be as mobile as the battery powered nail guns from Porter Cable, this inexpensive air powered finishing nailer is even more powerful and delivers consistent results in a wide range of applications such as DIY furniture trim work, crown moldings, door frames and window casing. Using 16 gauge 2 1/2 inch nails, it just may be the best nail gun for crafts if you’re willing to use an air powered model.

It uses a no mark safety tip to avoid scuffs and, like its bigger stablemate the NuMax 21º framing nail gun, has an anti-dust cap and air exhaust safety features, plus a trigger lock that keeps it from going off accidentally. Along with this great power tool, consider purchasing an additional roofing nailer as well with the 3PLUS HCN45SP 11 Gauge Coil Roofing Nailer. The best mig welder is another must-have tool.

How We Decided

In order to bring you the best nail guns for woodworking and DIY home improvement and building projects, we selected a range of products including framing nailers, finishing nailers and brad nailers, aiming for versatility, safety and durability. If you’re looking for another tool to complete your collection, take a look at the best torque wrench too.

For all the nail guns we considered, basic safety features were a must: that means at a minimum, a trigger safety switch, a no mar tip, so as not to dent or scratch the wood, and additionally for air powered nail guns, a dust guard and adjustable angle air exhaust to direct irritating dust away from your face. While you’re at it, you may want to add a best screw gun to your collection.

For cordless nail guns, we selected only models that claimed at least 1000 shot battery life, and that used an interchangeable lithium ion battery. For framing nailers, we selected models with at least a 100 nail magazine, with adjustable depth and that were able to use 20-22º generic full round head nails.

Best Nail Gun Buyer’s Guide

Features to Consider

  1. Type
    Depending on your project needs, you will likely want, in order of heaviest to lightest, a 10-12 gauge framing nail gun, a finishing nail gun, a brad nailer or a narrow crown stapler. The best nail gun for woodworking tasks involving larger boards is usually a 21º framing nailer, while the best nail gun for crafts and upholstery is generally a narrow gauge brad nailer or stapler.
  2. Pneumatic vs Electric
    While air powered nail guns tend to be more powerful, and in general experts suggest that they make the best nail gun for decking and framing, electric nail guns have the advantage of not requiring a compressor and hose. Thus, electric nail guns are easier to set up, making them often preferable for crafts and general purpose finishing and trim tasks.
  3. No-Mar Tip
    This is a safety feature that keeps the nail gun from marring your working surface with the force of its recoil. It’s especially necessary on the larger air powered nail guns.
  4. Depth Adjustment
    For convenience and ease of use, look for a nail gun with a simple way to adjust the depth. Some nail guns like the Porter Cable 20V make this exceedingly easy via a thumb control wheel, while most air powered nail guns require a tool to manually adjust depth.

Best Nail Gun FAQs

What type of nail gun do I need?

It depends on what kind of projects you have in mind. For structural woodworking most recommend using a 21-30º framing nailer. If you’re looking for the best nail gun for fencing, consider either a framing nail gun or a 16-gauge finishing nailer. For trim projects you’ll likely want a finishing nailer such as the 16 gauge NuMax (our #5 pick) or the 18-gauge Porter Cable 20V brad nailer (our #2 pick.) Either of these types can make a case for itself as the best all purpose nail gun.

Are there any good electric nail guns?

Electric nail guns have a few advantages over air powered nail guns. They tend to be more convenient to set up, for one thing, and they also don’t require you to lug around a compressor and hose. For ultimate convenience, check out a cordless nail gun like the Porter Cable 20V. While they may not be as powerful as the best nail gun and compressor set-up, they do save much of the hassle of using a pneumatic nail gun.

What’s the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer?

These two types of nail guns are distinguished by the gauge of nail they use. Brad nailers use only 18 gauge nails, whereas finish nailers typically use thicker 16 or 15-gauge nails. Both are often listed as the best nail gun for crafts and for tasks like installing baseboard or crown moldings.

What do you use a brad nailer for?

Brad nailers, using thin 18-gauge nails, are perfect for attaching thin wooden pieces to thicker backing objects, especially in finishing tasks where you want to avoid unsightly large nail holes.

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Ryan Mcbride

Ryan McBride is a writer based in Los Angeles. He has contributed work to magazines and sites including Gayot, Spy, Paper, Ladygunn, 3AM and the Crab Creek Review. He writes consumer reviews, essays, science and tech journalism as well as literary and art criticism.

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