Best Nail Guns: How to Find Them and Which to Buy

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With a nailer for every type of project imaginable, shopping for the right nail gun for the job is an intimidating part of the prep work. Whatever you need to build, nail, install, or staple down, we have the best nail guns for the task. Read on to learn more about our top picks, the different types of nail guns available, and how to find the best one for your needs.

Bottom Line Up Front

Since every type of nail gun works best for specific applications, it’s challenging to find a do-it-all tool with the features we want. The BOSTITCH RN46-1 Roofing Nailer comes close to checking every box on our wish list, regardless of the scenario.

BOSTITCH’s RN46-1 is technically a roofing nailer but has the power and convenience features you need for nearly any task. Delivering 420 in./lb. of force, the RN46-1 accepts up to 120 nails between 3/4-inch to 1 ¾-inch length and features tool-free depth adjustment and fast side-loading capabilities. All told, it’s the best nail gun we’ve found for a range of scenarios.

Not convinced? Read on for details on the different types of nail guns plus the eight best nail guns for each type of job.

Different Types of Nail Guns

If you typically use a traditional hammer and a handful of nails for DIY and household projects, it might come as a surprise to realize how many different types of nail guns exist. It’s not quite as simple as picking one and starting a project; here’s what you need to know about the different types and what they’re best for.

Framing

Framing nail guns can cover a range of nailing tasks, including framing, fencing, siding, sheathing, and even decks. Most construction projects will need a framing nailer, but they’re also helpful in many homeowner applications, too, such as installing floor studs.

Flooring

Flooring nailers are job-specific for installing floorboards and often accept a few specific types of nails, such as cleats or staples. Versatility is practically nonexistent here; you can complete flooring tasks with this nailer—but it’s also difficult or if not impossible to install flooring without one!

Palm

Palm nailers fit in your hand (hence the name) and often rely on cord or battery operation, but there are pneumatic versions also available. All types are portable and easy to wield, and they’re ideal for fitting into small spaces and for starting flooring rows.

Roofing Nail Guns

Roofing

Probably the most commonly recognized type of nailer, a roofing nailer works well for nailing down shingles and other roofing components. Heavy duty and usually with plenty of power (and kickback), roofing nailers are a staple at construction sites but are not often feasible for homeowners or DIYers to use for smaller projects.

Siding

Whether it’s a DIY home project or a work site, siding nailers can help with the installation of everything from wood to aluminum siding. Ideal for affixing materials to a wood mount, siding nailers are another job-specific type of nail gun with limited applications.

Pin

For smaller projects, such as crafts and various home DIY, pin nailers are often enough. In contrast with most nail guns, pin nailers accept smaller-size nails called pins and provide a clean and un-marred finish.

Read our full guide on how to find the best pin nailers or see how brad nailers compare to pin nailers.

Brad

Finishing work is a top job for brad nailers spanning everything from baseboard installation to finishing crown molding or mounting window trim. Brad nailers accept larger nails and can cover a range of finishing tasks.

Check out our guide on how to find the best brad nails for your needs.

Finish

A finish nailer is like a brad nailer, but these types of nail guns use larger nails and therefore provide more power for tougher jobs. You can expect to be able to handle molding and baseboards with a finishing nail gun, but you might also tackle other DIY projects with ease.

Staple Gun

Yes, we’re discussing nail guns here, but many tools also reference staples in their product specs. A “nail gun” such as a flooring nailer may work with both cleats and staples, a specific type of “nail” for flooring applications. In general, staple guns are ideal in flooring and a handful of other construction applications.

Power Sources

Most nail guns are pneumatic, using air compressor power, but some are electric (either corded or battery-powered) or even gas-powered. Our top eight picks are pneumatic (except for one) because we find air power to be the most customizable and consistent way to run a nail gun.

How To Find The Best Nail Guns

How to Find the Best Nail Guns

Because every project is different, it’s tough to find a nail gun that is capable of truly “doing it all.” While we favor a specific nail gun for most applications, there are a few features to look for no matter what type of task you need it for. Here’s how to find the best nail guns based on the features they offer.

Power Source

Most of our top choices for nail guns require pneumatic power, which we recommend for its variability and ease of use. Rather than charging batteries or filling up fuel, you can plug into an air compressor and get started on the nailing task at hand. Consider which type of power works best for your needs and shop accordingly.

Range of Applications

Even if you plan only to use a nail gun for one specific task, it pays to seek out multifunctional tools whenever possible. For example, you might choose a framing or brad nailer to accommodate multiple tasks, rather than a roofing nailer, which delivers a ton of power—more than is necessary for building a fence or applying to side, for example.

Magazine Capacity and Features

Magazine capacity is crucial depending on the size of the job you need to complete. Reloading every 50 or so nails might become tiresome, so looking at magazine capacity is high on our list of priorities. Features which prevent dry firing, or at least a way to see what’s left in the chamber, are also ideal.

Safety Precautions

Nail guns can be dangerous tools, so it’s critical to operate and store your tools carefully. Tools that come in their own carrying cases (which you can lock) are ideal, but built-in safety features like accidental discharge protection help avoid on-the-job accidents.

1. WEN 61720 Brad Nailer

WEN 61720 Brad Nailer

For small household projects, WEN’s Brad Nailer provides the functions you need in an easy-to-handle tool.

  • Fires brads from ¾ inch to 2 inches long
  • Includes carrying case
  • 100-brad magazine
  • Lightweight aluminum body
  • Adjustment wrenches included

For finishing tasks like installing baseboards or crown molding (or other small projects around the house), WEN’s brad nailer meets many users’ needs. It weighs in at only three pounds, making it one of the lightest nailers we’ve seen.

A rotating exhaust port lets you work comfortably, and the 100-brad magazine allows you to see when nails are running low. Depth adjustment is via an easily accessible wheel, although the nailer does arrive with adjustment wrenches.

For consumers looking for a budget-friendly all-around household DIY nailer, WEN’s 61720 might be the best fit.

Pros

  • Rotating exhaust port
  • Depth adjustment wheel
  • The transparent side window on magazine
  • Extremely lightweight at three pounds

Cons

  • Requires adjustment wrenches (included)
  • Not suitable for heavy-duty tasks
WEN 61720 Brad Nailer | Home Depot

The WEN 18-Gauge Brad Nailer effortlessly shoots brads anywhere from 3/4 to 2 inches in size. With a lightweight 3-pound aluminum body and a comfortable rubber-grip handle, this tool is the perfect companion for any job site.

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2. NuMax SFR2190 Nail Gun

NuMax SFR2190 Nail Gun

NuMax’s SFR2190 Nail Gun is a versatile yet lightweight workhorse for framing, roofing, siding, flooring, and other general contracting tasks.

  • Magnesium body
  • An Interchangeable trigger for quick-fire vs. single shot functionality
  • 55-nail magazine capacity
  • Depth adjustment
  • 360-degree exhaust port
  • No-mar tip cap plus wood-grip teeth
  • Weighs 8.5 pounds

NuMax’s SFR2190 is a versatile machine, thanks to its magnesium body and solid construction, but it’s also a bit heavy. For a range of tasks—on the job site or at home—the SFR2190 will rise to the occasion, though.

Its interchangeable trigger lets you customize firing depending on the job. You can also tackle even more jobs with optimal results thanks to the ability to swap out the no-mar tip for gripping teeth. Choose the no-mar tip for more delicate finishing tasks or remove the cap for anti-slip on tougher jobs.

Pros

  • Adjustable air exhaust
  • No-mar tip (remove for ‘teeth’ for gripping wood)
  • Versatile for a range of tasks, per manufacturer

Cons

  • Low magazine capacity (55-nail)
  • Heavy at 8.5 pounds

3. BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT

BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT

For consumers who need a do-it-all kit, BOSTITCH’s BTFP3KIT is the answer to all your nail gun needs; it’s a tool and compressor combo kit to get you working, fast.

  • Three-tool and compressor kit
  • Cordless six-gallon, 150PSI air compressor (BTFP02012)
  • Brad nailer for 18-gauge nails measuring 5/8 to 2 inches (SB-1850BN)
  • Straight finish nailer for 16-gauge nails measuring 1 ¼ to 2 ½ inches (SB-1664FN)
  • Heavy duty crown stapler for 3/8-inch crown staples measuring ¼ to 9/16 inches (BTFP71875)
  • 15-foot air hose

Consumers who need more than one type of nailer for heavy-duty or regular tasks might find BOSTITCH’s BTFP3KIT to be the best nail gun set for the job. With a brad nailer, finish nailer, and crown stapler, you have the three main nailing tools necessary for a start-to-finish job.

An oil-free and maintenance-free pump makes the air compressor rugged and reliable, and its portability means you’ll never be without power for your three nailers.

Pros

  • All-inclusive kit
  • Oil-free/maintenance-free pump on the compressor
  • Comes with straight finish nails and staples

Cons

  • Compressor operational noise is 78.5 dBA, loud to most users
  • Not ideal for those who already have a compressor or one of the nailers included
BOSTITCH Air Compressor | Zoro.com
$267.99

The Bostitch BTFP3KIT 3-Tool Portable Air Compressor Combo Kit is ideal for interior and exterior finishing and trimming project for a variety of crafts like furniture, cabinets, and staircases. It features a 150 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM delivered 90 PSI pump, which enables long tool run time with quick recovery. 

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4. NuMax Flooring Stapler/Nailer

NuMax Flooring Stapler/Nailer

If the flooring is your area of expertise, NuMax’s Flooring Stapler and nailer tool provide the utility you need in a handy package.
Lightweight aluminum body

  • Accepts T-cleats (16 gauge), L-cleats (16 gauge), and staples (15.5-gauge ½ inch) from 1 ½ to 2 inches
  • Mallet included
  • No-mar baseplates

For flooring-only jobs, NuMax’s three-in-one tool provides the versatility you need in a compact package. Three types of nails work in the tool, and it also comes with a rubber mallet for flooring into place.

Two no-mar baseplates help protect your project while working on a range of flooring sizes, and the lightweight tool is easy to maneuver. As far as drawbacks, the only negative we found was the lack of auto-shutoff when the tool runs out of nails; you might keep working only to find you’re not actually working if you don’t keep an eye on your cleat or staple reserves.

Pros

  • 3-in-1 design for three types of nails/staples
  • Extended ergonomic handle
  • Two baseplate pads for different flooring thicknesses

Cons

  • Flooring-only nailer
  • No automatic shutoff when the magazine is empty
NuMax SFL618 Pneumatic Nail Gun
$124.60
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09/25/2021 10:55 pm GMT

5. Powernail PowerPalm Floor Nailer

Powernail PowerPalm Floor Nailer

If small or infrequent nailing jobs are common in your line of work (or home DIY project), Powernail’s PowerPalm Floor Nailer might be the perfect fit.

  • Drives 16- and 18-gauge L-style and T-style cleats
  • Magnetic to hold cleats securely
  • Pressure-activated
  • Palm-sized

If its name isn’t enough indication, we’ll break it down: the PowerPalm from Powernail fits in your hand but provides its own power thanks to the pressure you apply. Fitting into small spaces is its specialty, although you may not want to complete an entire project or room with the palm-sized nailer.

Save room in your toolbox and easily start your first rows of flooring (or finish in closets, under cabinetry, and more) with Powernail’s nailer, just make sure to have plenty of nails on hand—by nature of the design, it only accepts one nail at a time on its magnet.

Pros

  • Fits in tight spaces
  • Virtually eliminates top nailing

Cons

  • By necessity of the design, only drives one nail at a time
Powernail PowerPalm Floor Nailer
$167.00
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09/25/2021 10:57 pm GMT

6. BOSTITCH N66C-1 Siding Nailer

BOSTITCH N66C-1 Siding Nailer

When it comes to building fences or installing siding, BOSTITCH’s N66C-1 Nailer is the workhorse we all need.

  • 300-nail magazine capacity
  • Adjustable depth guide
  • Lightweight aluminum
  • Accepts coil siding nails from 1 ¼ to 2 ½ inches
  • Soft rubber no-mar foot
  • Tool-free adjustable exhaust
  • Carrying case
  • Dual triggers for sequential versus bump fire

With the capacity to hold 300 nails in its magazine, BOSTITCH’s N66C-1 allows you to complete nearly any fencing or siding job without frequently stopping for refills. Its dial-in depth adjustment is convenient, and the entire tool is lightweight and feels balanced in-hand.

Adjustable triggers (sequential versus bump) are included, and the no-mar foot means you can work with softer materials without worrying about scuffing up surfaces. Our only complaint? It seems like the estimate of nail lengths up to 2 ½ inches is stretching a bit; around two inches, tops, is our recommendation for the BOSTITCH N66C-1.

Pros

  • 300-nail capacity means filling can be infrequent
  • Dial-in depth adjustment
  • Lightweight at under five pounds

Cons

  • Driving longer nails can be a hassle (longer than about 2 inches)
BOSTITCH N66C Coil Siding Nailer
$269.00
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09/25/2021 11:01 pm GMT

7. Hitachi NP35A Pin Nailer

Hitachi NP35A Pin Nailer

For crafting and small-scale woodworking jobs, Hitachi’s NP35A Pin Nailer makes fast work of nailing tasks without sacrificing the look of the surface.

  • Magazine automatically adjusts to fastener lengths
  • Accepts 5/8-inch to 1 3/8-inch fastener
  • Dual trigger
  • Rear exhaust
  • Depth adjustment
  • Reload indicator
  • No-mar tips
  • 100-pin magazine capacity

Hitachi’s NP35A comes ready to address all your home DIY and craft projects with a carrying case, safety glasses, adjustment wrench, two no-mar tips, and the pin nailer itself, which weighs less than two pounds.

The tool accepts fasteners in a range of sizes of 23-gauge headless pins, and the magazine compensates automatically for size differences. We’re fans of the reload indicator, which helps avoid firing on empty, but the depth adjustment requires a hex wrench, which isn’t ideal or convenient.

Pros

  • Reload indicator helps avoid dry firing
  • Fits a range of pin lengths
  • Safety switch to prevent accidental discharge

Cons

  • Requires hex bar wrench for depth adjustment
  • Non-directional exhaust; rear only
Hitachi NP35A Pin Nailer 23 Gauge
$79.99
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09/25/2021 10:50 pm GMT

8. BOSTITCH RN46-1 Roofing Nailer

BOSTITCH RN46-1 Roofing Nailer

For everything from casual to expansive roofing jobs, BOSTITCH’s RN46-1 is a do-it-all tool with a handful of timesaving and convenient features.

  • Adjustable depth control
  • Wear guards
  • Side-loading canister
  • Aluminum with carbide tips
  • Adjustable shingle guide
  • 410 in./lbs. of force
  • Holds up to 120 coil nails

Five depth settings and shingle spacing controls give you ultimate customization with BOSTITCH’s roofing nailer. With a magazine holding up to 120 nails (3/4-inch to 1 ¾-inch length) and a side-load canister to refill, you can make quick work of most nailing jobs.

Wear guards and skid pads help protect the body of the tool, and a carbide nosepiece insert helps with longevity as well. A well-padded handgrip and relatively lightweight design (it weighs in at 5.8 pounds) make the RN46-1 wieldy whether you’re up on a roof or installing vapor barriers in a basement.

Pros

  • Tool-free depth adjustments
  • Shingle spacing controls
  • Fast side-loading

Cons

  • Can require frequent oiling
  • Relatively strong recoil
BOSTITCH Coil Roofing Nailer
$206.43
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09/25/2021 11:00 pm GMT

Comparing the Options

Make and model Type Power Source Power requirements
WEN 61720 Brad Pneumatic 60 to 100 PSI
NuMax SFR2190 Framing Pneumatic 70 to 115 PSI
BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT Brad

Straight Finish

Crown Stapler

Pneumatic (air compressor included) 150 PSI max
NuMax Flooring Stapler/Nailer Flooring Pneumatic 70 to 110 PSI
Powernail PowerPalm Floor Nailer Palm

Flooring

Pneumatic 125 PSI
BOSTITCH N66C-1 Siding Pneumatic 70 to 120 PSI
Hitachi NP35A Pin Corded Electric
BOSTITCH RN46 Roofing Pneumatic 70 to 120 PSI

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s a fence-building or roofing job you need to complete, you can find a nail gun with the perfect features for the task. Our recommendations for the best nail guns available will help you keep up with household and professional projects while adding valuable and functional equipment to your toolbox.

Further Reads

Head Builder

With a passion for home renovation projects of all kinds, we provide real user reviews, guides, how to articles to help any homeowner achieve their dream home. Whether you want to use electric or hand tools, our advice will help you build. From bathrooms to attics, to kitchens, we cover them all with skilled insights and real-life advice you'll love.

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