10 Best

Nail Guns

of October 2023

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A Guide to Selecting the Right Nail Gun

Mark Schwarz

If you do woodworking or carpentry, either on a professional basis or as a hobbyist, you’ll undoubtedly have to use nails. Using a hammer can help you take out some frustration–but it can also cause frustration if you hit your fingers on occasion, or if nails get bent or don’t go in exactly the right way. A nail gun is an inexpensive tool that can save you a lot of that frustration.

A nail gun uses either compressed air or an electric motor to propel nails into wood. They can drive in hundreds of nails efficiently and accurately, saving you lots of effort. There are nail guns for delicate woodworking, as well as more powerful guns for heavy construction. Some also can take rows of staples, for jobs that call for staples instead of nails.

We’ll go through some of the features of the most popular nail guns on the Best Reviews Guide list. Besides being efficient and giving you perfectly uniform results, they also have important safety features to make woodworking easy and worry-free!


What is the meaning of the different gauge numbers on nails?

The gauge is a measure of the diameter of a piece of wire, with lower numbers indicating a thicker piece of wire. Nails that are 18-gauge have a thickness of 1.024 mm, while 16-gauge nails have a thickness of 1.291 mm.

What are brad nails and finish nails?

These two types of nails are commonly used for woodworking, and many nail guns are for these nails in particular. Brad and finish nails differ in their gauge, as well as in the shape of their head:

  • Gauge: Brad nails are made from 18- to 23-gauge wire, while finish nails (or, “finishing nails”) are usually made from 15- or 16-gauge wire.

  • Shape of the head: Brad nails have a rounded head, while finish nails have a rectangular or square-shaped head.

  • Purpose: Since brad nails are thinner, they’re used on delicate pieces of wood, such as trim, moldings, and paneling. You then cover the head of the nail with putty or filler, so that it’s not so conspicuous. Finish nails are for larger, thicker pieces of wood, as well as in baseboards.

Why should I use a nail gun on brad and finish nails?

A nail gun will allow you to insert nails more efficiently than having to hammer them in one by one. Also, the narrow nose of the nail gun lets you insert a nail in places where it’ll be hard to give a few taps with a hammer. A nail gun also drives the nails to a more precise depth.

Types of Nail Guns

Looking at the Best Reviews Guide list of nail guns, you’ll see that they’re powered in a number of ways:

  • Pneumatic nail guns: These use an air compressor that drives high-pressure air through a hose, or a gas cartridge, to propel the nails. An example is the Wen 61721 18-Gauge Pneumatic Brad Nailer. It has a ¼” air inlet fitting to which you attach the hose, and it can drive in nails at a force ranging from 60 to 115 psi. (If the air pressure is a bit low, you’ll notice that it won’t drive the nails to the correct depth.)