Updated: November 2017
Nail Gun Reviews:Are you in the market to buy a nail gun (power nailer)? Do you have a project that will require 100's if not 1000's of nails to be driven into wood or other materials in a single day? A hammer is a great tool for a few nails, but nail guns come in handy for larger jobs. A quality power nailer can accurately and consistently sink 1000's of nails/day with minimal effort. Power nailers come in 2 basic types - stick nail guns and coil nail guns. Stick nailers use nails that are held together by wire, plastic or paper and form a "stick" that fits into an oblong magazine on the nail gun. Length varies on nail sticks from 20-40 nails. A coil style nailer uses "long, flexible strings of nails joined with wire". A round magazine stores the nail in the gun. Up to 300 nails can be loaded at a time with the magazine rolls.
There are nail guns for all sorts of construction jobs with each gun performing it's own task better than the others. Roofing nailers are designed specifically to apply roof shingles while finish nailers are much lighter and best used for cabinets, trim, molding, and furniture. A framing nailer is ideal for fast, high-powered jobs where fastening large piece of material is required. Brad nailers, tackers, and staplers are used for more precise work and are lightweight.
Buying Guide - Pneumatic nail guns are the most common power nailers and are powered by air pressure from a small compressor. In order to fire a nail form the gun, a valve opens and air fills a cylinder. The cylinder has a piston which is driven downward very fast and it forces the nail into the material you are working on. Air from the compressor is released from the nail gun through an exhaust vent when the piston is fully extended. At this time the piston recoils and another nail is loaded into position. Pneumatic nail guns need constant compressed air to work properly and each nailer has certain air requirements. Nail guns operate between a range of pressure that is measured in pounds per square inch (psi). They also need a minimum volume (cubic feet per minute - cfm) of air for the best results. Manufacturers say that any restrictions in the air hose will decrease the air pressure and volume - therefore hoses that are too long, the wrong size, or have a lot of moisture will lower airflow and potential cause poor performance or premature wear. If you want your nailer to work correctly, then make sure you buy an air compressor that is equal to or greater than the requirements of your nail in terms of air pressure and air volume. There are cordless nail guns (power nailers) but instead of using compressed air from a compressor, they use flammable gas to drive nails. Gas is drained from a disposable canister and injected into a combustion chamber above the piston. A battery creates an electric charge which in turn ignites the gas causing an explosion (small) to drive the piston and fire the nail. Cordless nailers can work as efficiently as pneumatic nailers although they require more scheduled cleanings. Cordless nailers work excellent in tight places, start up fast, and project with low volume nailing. Features to consider when buying a power nailer are things like nail firing types, directional exhaust, jam clearing, adjustable depth, large triggers, carrying cases, swiveling air connectors, protective guards, easy to load nail magazines, and nail size adjustments. We will go into many of these features in our reviews below. The top brand names for nail guns are Stanley, Bostitch, Porter Cable, DeWalt, Paslode, Hitachi, Makita, Senco, Bosch, Ryobi and Craftsman. You can view the entire selection of nail guns here.
Best Framing Nailers:Amazon carries a large selection of top-rated framing nailers. On average prices range from $175-$275. The Bostitch F21PL handles 1.5" to 3.5" nails, and also can do metal connectors. Made of magnesium, this gun is also pretty lightweight (8 lbs) but still tough with over 1000 inch pounds of force. The Paslode 900420 Impulse Cordless Framing Nailer ($340) is the best in the field (see all Paslode products). The setup is fast, it's lightweight (6.9 pounds), can handle 2 to 3 nails per second, and is great for light framing and remodeling. The Paslode nail gun has no hose and is easy to carry around. Some users noted the gun has trouble working at higher elevations and in extreme hot or cold weather. The majority of owners said the Paslode works brilliantly for home maintenance and light construction jobs. The nailer drives 2- to 3-1/4-inch nails and has easy-to-adjust drive depth and a high-visibility load magazine. It will drive up to 1,200 fasteners without refueling and up to 4,000 fasteners without recharging. Consumers felt the Paslode performed more efficiently than a pneumatic nailer and was easier to get into tight spots. Other top framing nail guns are the Porter-Cable FR350A 3-1/2" Round Head Framing Nailer Kit ($199) and the Hitachi NR83A2 2" to 3-1/4" Full Head Framer with Depth of Drive ($320).
Top Finish Nailers:
You can browse the best-selling finish nailers here. Expect to pay around $150 for a good one, though reconditioned ones can be had for $50-$100. One of the top-rated models is the Hitachi NT65MA2 15 Gauge 1-1/4-Inch to 2-1/2-Inch Angled Finish Nailer. At just 4 pounds, this 15 gauge nailer makes even crown moulding an easy job. Add on a quick release jam clearer and enough power to blast through maple without a hiccup, and you can see why this model is so popular. The DEWALT D51275K 15-Gauge Finish Nailer Kit is another good deal for about $175 - a lightweight finish nailer with a magnesium frame. Comes with a dual load magazine, a 5-position vertical slide for indexed depth setting, a 360 degree exhaust, and a tool-free jam clearing function. Users like the easy to load magazine and say it works great on 6 inch crown molding, baseboard, installing doors and cabinetry. A few people said the depth control settings were too far apart and also mentioned that the adjustable exhaust "turns too stiffly". Otherwise, excellent praise all around for the Dewalt finish nail gun. The Senco FP41XP 1-1/4" to 2-1/2" 15-Gauge Finish Nailer with Case ($226), and the Stanley SDA250K 2-1/2" 15 GA DA Style Angled Finish Nailer ($90) were rated high by consumers as well and worth checking out for comparison purposes. See our page dedicated to finish nailer reviews.