Nail Gun Reviews in the UK: Which Nail Gun is the best?

If you have just found yourself on this page, then we're guessing that you are most likely looking for a nail gun, and are probably a little confused right now with all the different types out there. Well, here at DIY fidelity, we are going to try to break it down for you and lay down side-by-side as many different popular nail guns as we can so that the picture becomes just that little bit clearer. Then after reading our more detailed nail gun reviews further down the page, we hope that you will be in a better position to pick the best nail gun for the job.

How to Choose a Nail Gun

Types of Nail Gun

As you may have already realised, nail guns come in a whole range of different formats specialised for different jobs and using different power systems, so the first thing we need to do is break down the different categories of nail gun that are commonplace within the construction industry. To start off with, we have several different types of nail guns which have been designed for specific jobs. These include Brad nailers, Finishing nailers, Framing nailers, Roofing nailers, Flooring nailers, and a few other more-specialised categories. Unfortunately, that's too large a field to cover on just one webpage, so here we are only going to concentrate on the three most popular categories with consumers which are:

  • 18-Gauge 'Brad' Nail Guns
  • 16-Gauge Finishing Nail Guns
  • Framing Nail Guns

Both Brad and Finishing nail guns are designed for and best suited to '2nd fix' home construction work, which refers to the work done internally within a new home build after the wall plastering has been finished. These jobs include architrave and skirting board attachments, beading installation, panelling, and the like. Of course, these nail guns are used for other types of light construction work as well, for example, in furniture-building. Finishing nail guns can be seen as the bigger brother to Brad nail guns using larger 16-gauge nails on jobs that require more robust construction.

The Framing nail gun, on the other hand, is designed for 1st fix home construction work which refers to the work done when actually building the 'frame' of the home itself. This means heavier duty work than the 2nd fix jobs that Brad and Finishing nail guns do, as the structure of the building itself uses larger wood stock which needs to be held together more securely. As a consequence, Framing nailers tend to be big and bulky affairs that shoot larger, more substantial nails.

Types of First and Second Fix Nail Gun Power Systems

In addition to the different categories of nail gun, nail guns also come in formats that use different power systems. Today, the power systems in nailers most-commonly used are:

  1. 1
    Compressed Air powered - Here, the nail is forced into the workpiece using compressed air from a separate air compressor. If you already have an air compressor which can generate sufficient air pressure (and air flow) to operate the nailer in question, then an air-powered nail gun is most likely the best option for you, as air nailers have fewer internal working parts, making them lighter and cheaper than their electrically-powered counterparts.
  2. 2
    Mains Electricity-powered - With this power system, the nail gun is connected to the mains socket via a standard electrical cord and uses an electrically-driven mechanism to generate the forces needed to fire the nail into the workpiece. If you don't have an air compressor, then buying a mains electricity-operated nail gun is most likely to be the next least expensive option. In addition, nailers powered off the mains will also tend to be less expensive than the equivalent battery-operated nailers.
  3. 3
    Battery-powered without a fuel cell - Once again, like its mains-powered counterparts, battery-powered nail guns use various non-consumable electrically-driven mechanisms such as in-gun air compression or flywheel technology to create the forces needed to fire the nail. A major advantage of battery-powered nail guns is that they are completely cordless.
  4. 4
    Battery-powered with a gas fuel cell - Here, the nail gun uses the electricity stored in a rechargeable battery to ignite a gas fuel from a replaceable gas canister. The compressed gas is used to generate what is essentially a mini-explosion which exerts the forces necessary to drive the nail home, not unlike the internal combustion engine of a car. The compressed gas fuel is slowly consumed with each nail strike requiring gas cylinder replacement at regular intervals. Once again, these nail guns have the advantage of being cordless.

For a more in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of the different types of power systems (compressed air-powered vs mains electricity-powered vs battery-powered systems) that can be used to power nail guns and power tools in general, have a look at our power tools introductory page here.

Brad Nail Guns

Brad nail guns, as the name suggests, fire 18-gauge brad nails, which are generally useful for lighter types of building work. For example, putting up architrave around windows and doors or installing decorative beading on furniture. Here, in this section of our nail gun review, we have focused solely on the 'true' brad nail guns, NOT the nailer-stapler combination-type of nail guns that are sometimes also capable of firing 18-gauge brad nails.

Popular 18-Gauge Brad Nail Guns in the UK

  
Nail Type
Power Source
Nail Length
(mm)
Nail Capacity
Weight
(kg)
Operating Pressure
(psi)
Makita AF505 (discontinued)
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
15 - 50 mm
100
1.4 kg
60 - 115
Makita AF505N
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
15 - 50 mm
100
1.4 kg
56 - 113
Tacwise C1832V
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
10 - 32 mm
100
1.1 kg
60 - 100
Tacwise DGN50V
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
20 - 50 mm
100
1.2 kg
60 - 100
Silverline 675062
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
10 - 32 mm
100
1.1 kg
60 - 100
Silverline 868544
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
10 - 50 mm
100
1.5 kg
60 - 100
Sealey SA791
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
15 - 50 mm
--
1.35 kg
60 - 100
Bostitch BT1855-E
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
15 - 55 mm
100
1.23 kg
70 - 120
Dewalt DPN1850PP
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
15 - 50 mm
100
1.24 kg
70 - 120
Stanley APC-BN
straight 18G
(180 series)
Compressed Air
15 - 50 mm
110
1.1 kg
80 - 100
Tacwise 181ELS
straight 18G
(180 series)
Electric
15 - 35 mm
100
1.6 kg
n/a
Tacwise 1183
straight 18G
(180 series)
Electric
20 - 50 mm
100
2.3 kg
n/a
Tacwise 400ELS
angled 18G
(500 series)
Electric
15 - 40 mm
100
1.8 kg
n/a
Bostitch GBT1850K-E
straight 18G
(180 series)
Battery
+ Gas Fuel Cell
15 - 55 mm
100
1.7 kg
n/a
Ryobi R18N18G-0
straight 18G
(180 series)
Battery
(no fuel needed)
15 - 50 mm
105
2.93 kg
n/a
Nail Type
Power Source
Nail Length
(mm)
Nail Capacity
Weight
(kg)
Operating Pressure
(psi)

Brad Nail Gun Reviews - Air-powered

Makita AF505 / AF505N

AF505

Makita itself is a Japanese company which is renowned for making highly accurate and high quality power tools for both the professional tradesman and the expert DIY-er. Consequently, one tends to pay a higher price for the privilege of owning one of their tools, however owners rarely regret their decision to pay more for a higher quality power tool.

Makita AF505N nail gun

AF505N



Tacwise C1832V

Tacwise C1832V nail gun


Tacwise DGN50V

Tacwise DGN50V nail gun

Silverline 868544

Silverline 868544 brad nailer

As for build quality and design, the Silverline 868544 air nailer is a little rough around the edges compared to more expensive competitor nail guns, with its less than ergonomic edges and some ‘fiddly-ness’ when installing nails into the magazine. In addition, the nose assembly on the Silverline nailer lacks any form of cushioning, such as a rubber tip covering, and consequently it tends to leave small depressions where nails are inserted especially in softwood.

When it comes to function, the Silverline 868544 air nailer exceeds expectations for such a low priced tool and does not jam very often especially when it is looked after properly. Users have found that the regular application of oil to the nailer is essential to minimise nail jamming. In fact, owners recommend applying oil to the nailer before each use and even during use if it is used over an extended period of time. Fortunately, the nailer comes with a small bottle of air tool oil, so new owners will have everything at hand right from the outset. It is also recommended that high-quality nails be used to minimise jamming as cheaper, less well-packed nails are more likely to exceed the tolerance of the Silverline nailer leading to more misfirings. If you are unlucky enough to have a nail jam then clearing it on the Silverline nailer requires using the included Hex Keys to remove several screws and is thus a lot more tedious than on more expensive nailers which can often be cleared without the need for tools.

Overall the Silverline Brad air nailer 868544 is great value for money especially for hobby work and for the odd DIY job around the house as it will do the job with minimal fuss and at minimal expense. However, the Brad nailer is not really a tool for the professional tradesmen as it requires a little bit too much care and attention for it to continue to work smoothly, and it is not really built to withstand the harsh environments that builders and tradesmen often find themselves working within.

Sealey SA791

Sealey SA791 brad air nailer

In action, the Sealey SA791 rarely jams, especially if care is taken at the start of each work day to add a few drops of the airline oil that comes with it, to the tool’s air inlet (assuming that the air compressor system itself does not already have an integrated oiler as part of the setup). As for the air compressor needed to power the Sealey SA791, it has to be able to reach an outlet pressure of 60 to 100 psi which most compressors designed for the workshop can achieve. Although Sealey does not provide information on the minimum free air delivery (cfm) requirements of the SA791, the air nailer can be operated successfully from even the smaller 24L workshop air compressors that are commonly available without any issues with air flow.

One point to note is that the Sealey SA791 is strikingly similar in construction to the Silverline 868544 (reviewed above). Clearly, both Silverline and Sealey make use of the same manufacturer for this air tool, which most likely uses many of the same components for both air nailers but with different colour schemes and branding on them.

Overall, the Sealey SA791 (much like the Silverline 868544) is a reasonable Brad air nailer that is sufficiently well designed and easy on the budget.

Bostitch BT1855-E

Bostitch BT1855-E nail gun

Best Brad Nail Guns - Mains-powered 

Tacwise 181ELS, Tacwise 1183, and Tacwise 400ELS

Tacwise 181ELS nail gun

Tacwise 181ELS

Tacwise 1183 nailer

Tacwise 1183

Of course, for the price one is paying, the Tacwise nailers are not going to be completely up to the same standard and robustness of more expensive premium tools. The mains-powered Tacwise nailer suffers from a couple of niggling issues that potential buyers should be aware of. First off, owners have found that the Tacwise corded nailer that uses mains electricity as its power source does not always fully drive the nail into the workpiece. This, however, may be partly due to using the nail gun sub-optimally rather than solely due to an inherent deficiency within the tool. Specifically, owners have found that the no-mar tip on the nozzle of the device which is used to protect soft wood from bruising can inhibit nail penetration in hard woods, and it appears that removing this soft tip solves the problem when using the corded nail gun on tougher materials.

Tacwise 400ELS nail gun

Tacwise 400ELS

Overall, however, the Tacwise 181ELS, Tacwise 1183, and Tacwise 400ELS nail guns, in our opinion, are some of the best electric nail guns that you can get in the UK when taking into account both overall functionality and price.



Best Brad Nail Guns - Battery powered

In the battery-powered nail gun category, there is usually a choice between choosing a nail gun that uses consumable gas fuel and nail guns that don't. These gas fuel cells can rapidly raise the working cost of the machine especially if the nail gun is used a lot. Therefore, in general, we at DIY fidelity prefer the nail guns that don't require the extra running cost and if we can avoid it, we usually do, even if it means going for a higher-priced machine.  That is why for 18-gauge brad nail guns that are battery powered, there really is currently only one contender for the top spot, and that's the Ryobi R18N18G-0.

Ryobi R18N18G-0

Ryobi R18N18G-0 nail gun



Finishing Nail Guns

Finishing nail guns are not dissimilar to Brad nail guns, but typically fire 16-gauge nails as opposed to the 18-gauge ones used in Brad nailers. This makes for a significantly stronger fixing, so finishing nail guns tend to be used for slightly heavier building work like affixing skirting board to walls, or building the larger components of furniture. This does not mean that they can not be used for some finer work if the operator is experienced and sufficiently skilled.

Popular 16-Gauge Finishing Nail Guns in the UK

Nail Gun 
Nail Type
Power Source
Nail Length
(mm)
Nail Capacity
Weight
(kg)
Operating Pressure
(psi)
Makita AF600
straight 16G
(160 series)
Compressed Air
15 - 64
100
1.59
72.5 - 115
Tacwise GFN64V
straight 16G
(160 series)
Compressed Air
20 - 64
100
1.8
70 - 120
Tacwise 1187
straight 16G
(160 series)
Electric
20 - 45
100
2.3
n/a
Ryobi R18N16G-0
straight 16G
(160 series)
Battery
(no fuel needed)
19 - 65
100
3.13
n/a
DeWalt DC618KB
20o angled 16G
Battery
(no fuel needed)
32 - 63
120
3.9
n/a
Makita GF600SE
straight 16G
(160 series)
Battery
+ Gas Fuel Cell
15 - 64
100
2.2
n/a
Hitachi NT65GS
straight 16G
(160 series)
Battery
+ Gas Fuel Cell
25 - 65
100
1.8
n/a
Hitachi NT65GB
angled 16G
Battery
+ Gas Fuel Cell
32 - 65
100
1.8
n/a
Nail Type
Power Source
Nail Length
(mm)
Nail Capacity
Weight
(kg)
Operating Pressure
(psi)

Best Finish Nail Guns - Air-powered 

Tacwise GFN64V

Tacwise GFN64V nail gun

Best Finish Nail Guns - Mains-powered

Tacwise 1187

Tacwise 1187 nailer

Finish Nail Gun Reviews - Battery powered

In this category of battery-powered finish nail guns, there are a number of good nail guns to choose from as they are dominated by the big brand names in power tools, Ryobi, DeWalt, Makita and Hitachi. The Ryobi and the DeWalt nail guns are our personal favourites, since they do not require the use of gas fuel cells to operate, meaning one less consumable is needed and so running costs will be lower. However, one needs to remember that since everything is incorporated within the nail guns themselves, they are much heavier than the gas-powered nail gun competitors from Makita and Hitachi, and will tire out the muscles much more readily with extended use.

Ryobi R18N16G-0

Ryobi R18N16G-0 finishing nail gun

DeWalt DC618KB

Dewalt DC618KB finishing nail gun


Makita GF600SE

Makita GF600SE finishing nail gun



Hitachi NT65GS and NT65GB

Hitatchi NT65GB nailer

Hitatchi NT65GS nailer


Hitachi (now rebranded as Hikoki) is another big player in the power tools market and is well known for making high-quality premium tools for the trade professional and expert DIY-er. For the battery-operated gas powered nail gun category, it has produced a straight-nail nail gun, the NT65GS, and an angled-nail sibling, the NT65GB, that are both excellent nailers. Like the Makita GF600SE, the Hitachi NT65GS and NT65GB both rely on ignition of gas fuel from small consumable canisters to produce the forces needed to drive the nail home. Unfortunately, once again this raises the running costs for the operator on nail guns that are already quite pricey to begin with. However, if you don't mind the higher running costs, then you will most likely be very pleased with the performance of the Hitachi nailers.



Framing Nail Guns

Framing nail guns are used for heavy-duty 1st fix nailing such as in building frame work, flooring, fencing and decking. They are essentially larger and heavier versions of the Brad and Finishing nail guns, and they dispense larger nails. Like 2nd fix nailers, 1st fix nail guns can be powered by one of a number of different types of power system, including air compressor-based compressed air, canister-based gas fuel, mains electricity, or even battery power. In the table below, we compare some of the more important technical characteristics of some popular Framing nailers on sale in the UK.

Popular Framing Nail Guns in the UK

  
Nail Type
Power Source
Nail Length
(mm)
Nail Capacity
Weight
(kg)
Operating Pressure
(psi)
Silverline 282400
34°
angled
Compressed Air
50 - 90mm
90
4.2 kg
75 - 115
DeWalt DCN692N
30 - 34°
angled
Battery
(no fuel needed)
50 - 90mm
55
4.1 kg
N/A
Hitachi NR1890DBCL
angled
Battery
(no fuel needed)
50 - 90mm
47
4.8 kg
N/A
Makita GN900SE
34°
angled
Battery
+ Gas Fuel Cell
50 - 90mm
44
3.4 kg
N/A
Paslode IM360Ci
angled
Battery
+ Gas Fuel Cell
50 - 90mm
47 - 85
3.8 kg
N/A
Hitachi NR90GC2
angled
Battery
+ Gas Fuel Cell
50 - 90mm
25 - 37
3.4 kg
N/A
Nail Type
Power Source
Nail Length
(mm)
Nail Capacity
Weight
(kg)
Operating Pressure
(psi)

Framing Nail Gun Reviews

Silverline 282400

Image of the Silverline 282400 Framing Nailer

Being an inexpensive nailer, however, the Silverline 282400 is more designed for the DIY user and not for the building professional as the framing nailer is not built to withstand the heavy use that is typical of building sites. For example, the nailer requires more daily upkeep than more expensive brand name tools, not something that can always be relied upon on most work sites. In particular, it is recommended to add a tablespoon of air tool oil to the air inlet of the nailer on a daily basis or before each use in order to keep the nailer jam-free. If a nail jam does occur on the Silverline 282400, rectifying it is not a tool-free affair, requiring the supplied hex keys as well as a spanner or two to get to the heart of the nail dispensing mechanism - not something you want to be doing on a regular basis in a professional setting. Finally don't expect this Silverline nail gun to last indefinitely especially if used excessively, as spare parts and servicing for the power tool are essentially non-existent which means that it will need to be replaced when things do eventually go wrong with it.

Overall, the Silverline 282400 framing nailer is a tool for the occasional DIY-er who does not want to spend a lot on a tool that is to be used infrequently but still wants power-tool convenience when the need arises for the nailing of larger wood stock together.

DeWalt DCN692N

Image of the DeWalt DCN692N Framing Nailer

As with most other framing nail guns, the DeWalt machine can fire 50-90mm length framing nails from an angled magazine. Power is supplied from a 5Ah battery which lasts a surprisingly long time given the energy required to operate a power-hungry framing nail gun. The battery belongs to DeWalt’s 18V ‘XR’ battery system which is shared by a range of DeWalt woodworking tools and is particularly useful if one already owns or plans to own a number of their power tools that also fit the system. Of course, this also means that different package versions of the DeWalt DCN692N first fix nailer are sold, including a bare-bones version without the battery, making it important to check what’s in the box in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Like other all-electric nail guns that use flywheel mechanics to provide the force needed to fire a nail, the DeWalt DCN692N does not need any gas fuel to operate. This has several advantages including lower running costs, no residual odour from the gas fuel as nails are fired, and an overall quieter operation than its gas canister-burdened brethren.

On the more negative side, however, the DeWalt 18V nail gun is not as quick or as powerful as its gas-based counterparts meaning that it can sometimes struggle to fully drive home larger nails. This can be true of other all-electric nail gun types as well but is particularly obvious in the framing nail gun category since the larger nails used require more force to drive them in. In the case of the DeWalt DCN692N, it can handle most nails admirably but may struggle on occasion when using it at the upper end of its nail length specification such as with 90mm nails and particularly when using it on hardwoods or on wood knots.

Unfortunately, incomplete nail penetration can also be a cause of frequent jamming in the DCN692N, so it is important to ensure that the right technique is used in order to maximise the best results with this cordless DeWalt framing nailer. Firstly, it is important to ensure that the DCN692N has been set to the correct nail depth setting and battery power setting. This is particularly important since the two separate controls are not always clear to new users (especially to those who have not studied the user manual well enough!). In addition, it is also necessary to make sure that the operator applies sufficient forward pressure to the DeWalt nail gun to stop it from kicking back when it is fired and losing some of its nail-penetrating momentum in the process. Finally, expert tradesmen often maintain that framing nail guns in general do not tend to reach their full potential until they have been ‘run-in’ with at least 1000 nails or more, at which point they should become increasingly more capable of fully sinking the larger 90mm nails.

Weight-wise, the DeWalt DCN692N angled nailer is slightly heavier than many of its gas-based brethren (such as the popular Paslode nailers) and can be slightly more tiring on the arm if used for extended periods without proper rest breaks.

As for reliability of the DCN692N framing nailer, DeWalt tools in general have a top-notch reputation for quality with power tools that usually last even when abused, however, in the case of this DeWalt DCN692N cordless nail gun, it appears that the company has fallen a little short in this department. This is particularly true if the nail gun is heavily used by a professional tradesman, a number of which have found that the tool is not immune to having problems of misfiring and jamming over time when under heavy use. What’s more is that one cannot rely on the DeWalt 3-year warranty that usually comes with their power tools since fastening tools, such as nailers, are ineligible.

Overall, the DeWalt DCN692N 18 volt 1st fix framing nail gun is a good tool to own especially if you are tradesman needing it for light use or a DIYer who only uses it on occasion. Like most DeWalt tools, It can withstand most of the rigours of building work, but uncharacteristic of DeWalt machines, a number of more heavily-using tradesman have suggested that the DCN692N can fall short in its reliability over time and should not be over-used. This is both to prevent it from breaking too quickly but also because it is not protected by DeWalt's extended warranty.


Hitachi NR90GC2

The Hitachi NR90GC2 Framing Nailer

The Hitachi NR90GC2 framing nailer is one of a small group of gas fuel nailers that are available to DIY-ers and tradespeople who are in the market for a new framing nailer. The Hitachi NR90GC2 operates in a similar fashion to the more well-known Paslode framing nailers. These nail guns require a canister of gas fuel to produce the striking force necessary to drive nails home, as well as a rechargeable battery to operate the electrical aspects of the machine including gas fuel ignition.

This battery-powered gas canister fuel system has both its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage of the system is that it makes the nail gun in which it operates very portable, eliminating the need for a mains electrical power cord, as well as an external air compressor and its associated air line. This can be particularly advantageous when working away from terrestrial power sources or in difficult-to-reach locations around the building site (such as on rooftops) where trailing cords or air lines may pose a hazard. In addition, these types of framing nailers tend to be at the lighter end of the weight scale, and in the case of the Hitachi NR90GC2, it is lighter than most other framing nail gun competitors, coming in at only 3.4 kg. In contrast, the main disadvantage of gas canister-based machines is that the gas fuel itself represents an extra consumable which just adds to the overall running costs of the nailer.

With a full gas fuel canister, the Hitachi nailer is capable of firing a generous 1200 nails, while its rechargeable battery can power the insertion of 4000 nails on a full charge. For those replacing the popular Paslode IM360Ci framing nailer, you will be pleased to know that the Hitachi NR90GC2 uses the same gas and nail types as the Paslode machine so that any existing stocks of Paslode consumables in one’s possession will not go to waste. Of course, cheaper versions of the gas fuel and nails can also be used with this Hitachi nailer, but for optimal and jam-free operation, it is recommended to stick with the higher quality brand-name merchandise.

The Hitachi NR90GC2 framing nailer has most of the usual features that one expects on a framing nailer. This includes a collapsible rafter hook to hang the nailer from when not in immediate use, a dry-firing lockout mechanism to prevent the nailer from operating when it has run out of nails, and an adjustable nail-driving depth.

Like other framing nailers, the Hitachi machine uses 50-90mm clipped-head or D-shaped nails that are paper collated. It can also operate with ring-shanked nails as long as they are within the size specification for the machine. Unfortunately, the Hitachi NR90GC2 does not come with any gas fuel nor nails in the box, so these will have to be sourced separately when purchasing the nail gun. It should also be noted that the NR90GC2 can struggle a little with the larger 90mm long nails, particularly when nailing them into harder wood types. However, this is not uncommon for framing nailers that are not powered from an external air compressor.

Another negative with the NR90GC2 is that it is not a tool-free machine, and an Allen wrench is required for both adjusting the driving depth of the nailer as well as for the clearing of any nail jams. Fortunately, the same size Allen wrench can be used for both operations and one happens to be included in the purchase of the Hitachi machine.

Overall, the Hitachi NR90GC2 is a reasonable framing nailer that is directly comparable with the more premium Paslode machines. Indeed, in the hands of the DIY-er,  the NR90GC2 operates just as well as the Paslode framing nailers but costs significantly less. However, unlike Paslode machines, the NR90GC2 is not recommended for 1st-fix professionals who use framing nailers intensively. That’s because the Hitachi machine is not really designed to withstand the rigours of high levels of use, and over-working it is likely to shorten its life considerably. On the other hand, for the DIY-er with the occasional 1st-fix building project to complete, the Hitachi NR90GC2 should certainly be considered as a framing nail gun to buy.