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Best Nail Guns

Updated May 2023
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Best of the Best
DEWALT 20-Volt MAX XR Lithium-Ion Cordless 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
20-Volt MAX XR Lithium-Ion Cordless 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
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Able to tackle large projects on a charged battery, easy to adjust, and extremely reliable; you can’t go wrong with this premium nail gun.


Includes rechargeable battery. Long runtime between charges. Drives 18 gauge nails. Tool-free depth and accuracy adjustment. Completely battery powered. Illuminating LED lights.


This nail gun is a little on the heavy side.

Best Bang for the Buck
Freeman Framing/Finishing Combo Kit
Framing/Finishing Combo Kit
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A comprehensive package of versatile tools that many owners appreciate.


Owners get four tools in one. Accommodates a wide variety of nails and staples.


Because of the low price, some customers worry about durability. These worries rarely come to fruition.

WEN 3/4" to 2", 18-Gauge
3/4" to 2", 18-Gauge
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A low-priced nail gun. The quality of this product surprises and delights budget-focused consumers.


Lightweight and easy to hold. Affordable price.


Requires an air compressor to operate.

Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Cordless AirStrike 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
18-Volt ONE+ Cordless AirStrike 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
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This nail gun reduces work time by perfectly driving nails with each trigger pull while shortening your overall workload.


Able to drive 60 nails per minute. Convenient low-nail indicator. Includes belt clip and nails. Easy to adjust air pressure and depth-of-drive without tools. Lasts a long time on a single charge.


Rechargeable battery and charger sold separately.

CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
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This moderately priced nail gun was built to last, and it will easily lay down hundreds of nails before it needs recharging.


Battery, charger, and 300 nails included. Lightweight construction. Comfortable handle. Drives up to 420 nails per charge. Consistent nail driving power. Tool-free adjustment.


This nail gun kit does not include a storage case.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best nail guns

The hammer has served humankind as a valuable tool for centuries. And although we may use hammers for unconventional things on occasion – tenderizing meat, for example – hammers are primarily designed to drive nails.

But engineers have found a way to drive nails in without the assistance of a hammer: the nail gun. The best nail guns drive nails in automatically, eliminating the need for a hammer.

If you’re shopping for a nail gun, you should know that different models provide different features. To make the most of your investment, it’s wise to perform a bit of research on nail guns before spending your money.

And that’s where we come in!

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With a hammer and nail, you can only drive one nail at a time. The appeal of a nail gun rests, in large part, on the fact that it always has another nail ready to go.

How a nail gun works

There are several types of nail guns to choose from: pneumatic nail guns, electrically powered nail guns, and battery-operated nail guns.

Pneumatic nail guns

The most common type of nail gun, the pneumatic nail gun, connects to an air compressor. Paired with outlet electricity, the nail gun uses air from the compressor to drive nails.

When using a pneumatic nail gun, you’re limited to where you can work by the length of the air compressor hose and the power cord. You must also be certain that your air compressor can create the pressure level required to match what the nail gun needs.

Battery-powered and electric nail guns

Battery-powered and electric nail guns may follow a process similar to that of pneumatic nail guns, using the power of a small air compressor that’s built right into the gun. These nail guns don’t require a separate air compressor as pneumatic nail guns do.

Still, other electric and battery-powered nail guns use a spring system with a rotating motor to drive nails. These nail guns don’t rely on a built-in air compressor for pressure.

An electric nail gun must be plugged into a power outlet, whereas a battery-powered nail gun uses a rechargeable battery. Neither type quite offers the same degree of power and speed that pneumatic nail guns provide.

A battery-powered nail gun offers portability that a pneumatic nail gun simply cannot match. A pneumatic nailer must use an air compressor hose and a power cord, both of which can limit mobility.

Nail-loading process

A nail gun loads nails continuously and drives them automatically. This greatly increases the speed at which you can complete a job, and it’s one of the main reasons why a person would choose a nail gun over a classic hammer.

When shopping, you’ll need to choose between a coil-style nail gun and a strip-style nail gun.

Coil-style nail gun loading process

A coil-style nail gun uses nails that are connected to one another with thin wire or paper. The nails look like a coil when you take them out of the box, and they load into a circular area on the nail gun. A coil-style nail gun usually holds larger nails than a strip-style nail gun.

Strip-style nail gun loading process

A strip-style nail gun loads nails that are bound together with plastic, glue, or paper. These “strips” of nails typically look like a small ruler. Battery-powered nail guns often use strip-style nails. Strip-style nails often are brad nails and smaller gauge types of nails.

Designs of nail guns

Manufacturers make different types of nail guns to handle different jobs. Some nail guns can handle larger nails with big heads; others can only take small nails.

In this section, we will discuss brad nail guns, finishing nail guns, framing nail guns, roofing nail guns, and specialty nail guns.

When choosing a nail gun, consider the different types of jobs you want to complete and select a nail gun design that fits those needs.

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Never inspect or load a nail gun while it is attached to a power source.

Finishing nail guns

Finishing nail guns are mid-sized nail guns that often take finishing nails (nails designed for baseboards and molding) only.

Finishing nails will work for some small assembly jobs, but they won’t work for framing.

These guns can usually accommodate nails up to 2.5 inches in length with a variety of gauges. Some finishing nailers run on battery power, while others must be plugged into an outlet.

"Some nail guns allow you to adjust the depth at which the nail will sink into the surface. This feature works great when you want to counter-sink some nails so you can cover the heads with putty."

Framing nail guns

If you need a heavy-duty nail gun for creating framing for a wall or building a deck, a framing nailer has the power you need. Framing nail guns usually run from a power cord in an outlet and use air from a compressor to drive nails.

Framing nailers accept the largest variety of nail lengths and gauges among nail guns. If you’re looking for a general-purpose nail gun for big jobs at home, a framing nail gun is an excellent choice.

Roofing nail guns

A roofing nail gun is designed to do exactly as the name suggests: it works to attach shingles and underlayment materials to the frame of the roof of a home. These nailers work fast. (If you’ve ever watched someone attach shingles with one of these, you’ve seen the impressive speed.)

Roofing nail guns typically can handle nails with large-diameter heads and up to 1.75 inches of length. You could use a roofing nail gun for other types of jobs, but it may not give you the best results.

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Did you know?
Pneumatic nail guns weigh more than nail guns that don’t require a separate air compressor.

Brad nail guns

Small nail guns that can handle thin brad nails often run on battery power. You can perform some trim and craft work with brad nailers, as they’re designed for light jobs. Brad nailers dispense nails up to two inches in length and use a small-gauge type of nail.

Specialty nail guns

Other types of specialty nail guns exist, too. A flooring nail gun is designed specifically for assembling flooring. Some nail guns use staples to attach upholstery. These nail guns are not designed for general-purpose use around the home.

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If you want a nail gun with the fastest operation possible, look for a contact firing nail gun. The gun drives a nail each time you press its nose onto the surface being nailed.


Q. Will a battery-powered nail gun handle a large job well?

A. If you only need to run the nail gun for several minutes for a light- or medium-duty job, a battery nail gun should work well. Just make sure the nail gun can handle the size and gauge of nails you need to use. But for larger jobs, you may wish to use a nail gun that runs on pneumatic or electrical power. The reason: battery-operated nail guns lose power quickly. If you need a nail gun for a few hours of work, a larger gun with an electrical cord is a much better choice, as you won’t be wasting time waiting for the battery to recharge.

Q. Which nail gun design works best for larger nails?

A. A framing nail gun typically can handle nails of varying lengths up to 3.5 inches; it’s a very versatile tool. A finishing nail gun also can handle larger nails, usually up to 2.5 inches in length. And a brad nailer can handle nails usually up to 2 inches in length, but brad nails have a small gauge.

Q. Does it matter which types of nails I use in my nail gun?

A. Each type of nail gun can handle different types of nails, so don’t expect that you’ll be able to put any kind of nail in your gun. Nail guns require nails of varying lengths, thicknesses (or gauges), and heads.

You must also select either coiled or strip nails depending on the type of gun you have. The instructions included with your nail gun will list the specific types of nails it can use.

Q. Are nail guns safe to use?

A. As with any type of power tool, you should take safety precautions when using a nail gun.

  • Always wear eye protection.
  • Keep your hands and feet away from the firing area where the nails exit.
  • Unplug the nail gun from its power source before loading the machine or attempting to clear a jam.
  • Follow any other safety and maintenance instructions included with your nail gun.

As long as you take the proper precautions, you should be able to operate a nail gun safely.