A nailer, also known as a nail gun, is a tool used to drive nails into wood without the assistance of a hammer. It’s usually driven by pneumatics (compared air), electromagnetism, and highly flammable gases such as a small explosive charge, propane, or butane.
In many ways, nailers have replaced hammers as the tool of choice among construction workers when building structures. They can fasten thick oak moldings with several pulls of the trigger without damaging the molding itself compared to how you’d have to hammer down nails with a standard claw hammer. What’s more, nailguns can fit into tight spaces just fine and still do their duty.
However, you need to know how to use them to avoid splitting the corner. You need to align the nail, set the depth, and fire. You have two options for operation as well: Single-fire contact mode or sequential rapid-fire mode depending on what type of work piece you’re handling, how fast you need to get the job done, and the amount of working space you have on hand.
Indeed, when it comes to driving a lot of nails into a surface at a short period of time, nothing can beat the prowess of the nail gun. A quality power nailer can sink thousands of these nails in a single day in the most precise and consistent ways possible.
Best Nailers Overall
Table of Contents
These nailers have nailed thousands of nails into pressure-treated pine, oak, lumber, and a sandwich of those same materials in order to show which of them are up to snuff. As many other finishing or framing nailer reviews would confirm, here are the results by order of most expensive to least expensive.
Senco 5N0001N Fusion Finish Nailer
The Senco 5N0001N Fusion Finish Nailer is incredible for all your trim carpentry needs. This finish nailer beats out most any pneumatic gun in the market as far as finish nailing is concerned. Within a week, you’ll be hanging multiple doors, casings, and windows with machine precision. As many finish nailer reviews would attest, this is probably one of the best finish nail guns out there. The technology behind the Senco 5N0001N Fusion is pretty straightforward. It’s a miniaturized nailer with a great battery life and a quick charge feature (15 minutes per charge) that allows you to go your nailer going for the rest of the day after losing juice. It also features a patented reflex shot design that ensures regular nailing intervals.
If you want your job to be as clean and precise as possible, then the Senco 5N0001N Fusion Finish Nailer is your best bet. It also has a robust aluminum drive cylinder that makes sure your nailer possesses durability and consistency with its jobs. Meanwhile, the selective drive switch allows you to go from one mode of nailing to another easily. It’s definitely one of the best roofing nailer options around. The nose-mounted LED light is also a great touch in terms of guiding where you’re supposed to punch the nail in the material. Aside from trimming and finishes, you can nail it with your roofing needs as well. As for the thumbwheel depth-of-drive, which allow for adjustments on the work piece’s position prior to nailing it down with your nailer.
DeWalt DC616K XRP
No one can deny the cost-effectiveness of this DeWalt classic. As expected of the DeWalt brand, even though the DeWalt (or DEWALT) DC616K is the second most expensive nailgun of the bunch, it more than makes up for it with its utility and specs. You will be receiving a nailer that’s worth every penny or your money back, as many framing nail gun reviews would attest. Its motor is designed to work as fast as possible with consistency in terms of nail penetration into both hard and soft joints. In that avenue, it’s versatile because it doesn’t obliterate softwoods and it can withstand the denseness of hardwoods. It delivers the best of both worlds in that specific front.
DeWalt also features a sequential operating mode. This enables you place every nail precisely, like an industrial-grade nailing machine. When it’s not in use, it has a contact trip lock-off that makes sure the trigger is disabled for your own safety. Meanwhile, the bump operating mode allows you more production speed with your nailer. Even pin nailer reviews would be hard-pressed to find a more cost-effective nailer than the DEWALT DC616K XRP 18-Volt Cordless 1-1/4-Inch – 2-1/2-Inch 16 Gauge Straight Finish Nailer Kit. This package comes complete with an easy access nosepiece that makes jammed nail removal a breeze. You won’t have to use tool wrenches or screwdrivers to clear out those nail jams at all. Finally, it has an impact-resistant top cap that you can remove easily for troubleshooting and repair.
Last but not least is the Ryobi P320. It may be the most affordable of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest (as in the most low-grade). It’s every bit as cost-effective as a DeWalt, but this time with even more savings pound-for-pound, cent-for-cent. The Ryobi P320 mainly differs from the Ryobi P325 in terms of several specs and the pricing. They’re essentially from the same family, with similarities ranging from cordless convenience due to the AirStrike technology that does away with compressors and gas cartridges to tool-less depth-of-drive adjustment. The main differences between the two are that the Ryobi P320 makes use of 18GA nails that range from five-eighths of an inch to two inches.
The Ryobi P325 is more for the 16GA nails that are three-fourths of an inch to two inches in length. Also, the Ryobi P320 is an 18-gauge powerhouse while the Ryobi P325 is a 16-gauge finesse finish nailer. Aside from these differences in specs, you can pretty much expect the same level of performance with the higher-gauge and more affordable Ryobi P320 when compared to the Ryobi P325. You can nail timber, softwood, and hardwood at a rate of 60 nails per minute, at that. Furthermore, the nail heads are always properly set to protect the work surface thanks to Ryobi’s propriety tool-less depth-of-drive technology. There’s also a dial included that regulates air pressure for the best results every time no matter what the job or how hard the surface is.
The Bosch FNH180K-16 is most certainly the costliest of these seven nail guns. However, it’s not its cost that allowed it to end up in this list of the best nailers around. It’s instead its compact size, blank fire lockout, tool-free jam clearing for removal of all the jammed nails, and lockout switch as well as efficient nailing action that has made it one of the best nail gun offerings out there, hands down. It has many lockout and safeguards when it’s not in use or when it’s firing blanks. Compared to the leading competitor, it’s 15% narrower, which means storage and mobility is a breeze with the Bosch FNH180K-16 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 16-Gauge Finish Nailer Kit with Battery, Charger, and Case.
If that’s not enough, then what about the sheer power of this mighty mite of a nailer? For something that weighs a little more than seven pounds, it’s impressive how the Bosch FNH180K-16 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 16-Gauge Finish Nailer has an operating range of 60 to 120 PSI, which means it’s perfect for heavy-duty framing nailer work. As many nail gun reviews would take note of, the intuitiveness of your nailgunis also important, which is why this powerful nailer scores high points with its belt hook that allows you to mount the nailgun on the right or left side for easy storage when it’s not in use. It’s also small enough for use in narrow spaces, which you can’t do with bigger nailers or even a hammer (which always needs space and leverage for it to do its work).
The Ridgid R250AF18 18V 15 Gauge Angled Finish Nailer is the lightest tool of its kind and throughout its charge, you can be assured that it has fade-free power all throughout. What’s more, it has a sequential fire or contact mode selection for all your finish nailing requirements. What this means is that the motor is powerful enough to drive two and a half finish nails unto surfaces upon contact or in a sequential fire manner depending on what your home improvement project needs. It’s also compatible with finish nails that are DA style and are 15 gauge plus 34 degrees in specs. Nail driving depth consistency is further achieved by tool-free depth adjustment.
As for tool marks, the no-mar pad keeps the work surface clean from such issues at all times. Meanwhile, the dual LED light ensures complete illumination of the work surface as well as provides a guiding light that ensures nailing accuracy from your finish nail gun at all times. In case of jams, you can always use the jam release included in every Ridgid R250AF18 18V 15 Gauge Angled Finish Nailer. You won’t need tool assistance when it comes to getting rid of jammed nails in your Ridgid thanks to how well-designed it is. You can also get close to the work surface as much as possible with the angles magazine. As for the belt hook, it covers two positions and offers convenience when carried.
It has the same price as the Ridgid R250AF18 as well as tool-free depth-of-drive adjustment too. That’s where the similarities end, though. Unlike the Ridgid model featured in this review, the Ryobi offers propriety AirStrike technology that eliminates the need for a hose and compressor for its nailing needs. To be more specific, the Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ System is a convenience cordless and portable nailer that has LED grip lighting, dial pressure, and 16-gauge nailing action. AirStrike technology also enables the Ryobi to be one of the quietest nailguns you’ll ever own. You’ll do away with bulky hoses, expensive gas cartridges, or the noisiest of compressors when you have the Ryobi P325 18-Volt ONE+ System on hand.
When you’re on the job site, it’s much easier to maneuver and set up the Ryobi ZRP325 AirStrike with its 18-gauge nails that come in three-fourths of an inch to two inches in length. As for the aforementioned selectable drive shift, this is quite the important specification because it allows for sequential or contact actuation. In plain terms, you can nail materials one nail at a time or through multiple nails in succession by shifting from one mode to another through a convenient, easy-to-use switch. The depth-of-drive adjustment further assists in work surface protection, thus allowing proper setting of nails heads every time. For your precision placement needs, go to with the single sequential mode. Also, if you’re running low on nails, there’s an indicator on the P325 that informs you of this fact.
At any rate, the Craftsman 16GA 16-Gauge Magnesium Straight Finish Nailer can drive nails that are three-fourths of an inch to two and a half inches long. It also sports a proudly die-cast magnesium housing material for its sleek body with ergonomic, anti-carpal-tunnel-syndrome textured rubber grip that minimizes operator fatigue after an extended period of usage. It has a huge capacity for its end-loading magazine with a quick action latch that makes the act of loading new nails unto your Craftsman a relative breeze. If that’s not enough, the product also features rapid-fire or single-fire operation depending on what kind of nailing job you wish to engage in as well as dependable and adjustable depth-of-drive control to ensure even nailing action.
To avoid on-site accidents, the Craftsman 16GA Magnesium Straight Finish Nailer also features a safety lock feature that ensures that the tool is disabled and locked until the contact trip is pressed against the work piece. As for precise fastener placement, that’s also guaranteed thanks to the tapered tool nose that provides you with greater visibility and ensured precision nailing. As for the nose plate, it’s designed in a way that it’s easy to access nails in case they’ve been jammed inside the contraption. The Craftsman 16GA also has an adjustable air exhaust so that you can put it in any direction you wish. Finally, this 16-Gauge Magnesium Straight Finish Nailer can be depended on for finesse exterior and interior trim work and assembly of doors and windows as well as cabinetry and furniture making.
Best Nailer Buyer’s Guide
When buying a nailer, you should make sure it’s something you can easily use. People aren’t as excited with nail guns the way they do with circular saws that are screeching loud and dangerous. However, the humble nailer remains an essential part of any tool box because of how much of a gigantic work saver it is compared to your average hammer. Whether it’s a framing nailer or a finish nailer, what is the best nailer out there?
If you’re hunting for the best framing nailer, then you need to keep this in mind. Framing nailers are designed for fastening huge pieces of lumber and requires a tool that can handle high-powered and quick work. Usually, they beat out hammers in terms of nailing effectiveness and power.
With a hammer, you have to nail down the nails one after another. Sure, it doesn’t require electricity or batteries like nailers and it even has a convenient claw on the other end in case you want to claw out a nail that hasn’t been hammered properly. However, no hammer can nail down nails after and more efficiently than a nailer.
Meanwhile, keep in mind that the best finish nailer is one that’s lightweight and is perfect for nailing down molding, trim, cabinets, and furniture. A framing nailer is more heavy-duty and a finish nailer is for finesse jobs. Either of these nail guns can drive a load of nails in the shortest amount of time. However, it depends on the application. A finish nailer can’t nail down thick lumber and a framing nailer can utterly destroy thin timber.
In light of the choices presented to you in this article, choosing the best nailer is a matter of demand and necessity. If you require finesse work with smaller gauge nails, then more often than not you’ll also have to buy a more expensive finish nail to do the job for you. As shown by the Ryobi P320 and P325, it’s actually the more powerful framing nail that strains your power tool budget less because it’s more about nailing power in various surfaces rather than finesse work that doesn’t damage the softwood and trim for your windows, cabinets, and furniture. A power nailer cannot be beat when it comes to driving a large amount of nails in a short period of time.
In terms of quantity and non-finesse power jobs, nothing beats the framing nailer for sure. With that in mind, there are brands out there like the ever-reliable DeWalt or Bosch that can accomplish the best of both worlds, having miniaturized nailers that have finesse modes and power modes in terms of nailing different surfaces together. They come at the highest prices possible for their nail gun category because they’re versatile nailers that offer the best of both worlds in terms of finish and framing nailer capabilities. Therefore, in the end, you should let your requirements and needs define which the best nailer for you to buy is.
Last update on 2021-01-22 at 15:57 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. More info.