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 which are:
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:
- 1Compressed 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.
- 2Mains 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.
- 3Battery-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.
- 4Battery-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
|Makita AF505 (discontinued)|
+ Gas Fuel Cell
(no fuel needed)
Brad Nail Gun Reviews - Air-powered
Makita AF505 / AF505N / AF506
Makita is one of the biggest names in power tools, so it is no surprise that they have produced an air nail gun that is well-designed, robust and accurate. The key features of the Makita AF505 (and the AF505N) include the location of an air exhaust on the rear of the nail gun that can be directed away from the operator. It also has a tool-less depth adjustment under the trigger that controls how deep to drive the nails, and a tool-less nail jam-clearing mechanism which makes sorting out any malfunction a breeze. Unlike most other nailers, it also has a spring-loaded magazine that makes refilling the nail gun just that little bit more efficient. Overall owners are usually very happy with the Makita AF505-type nail gun.
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.
Note: AF505 vs AF505N: Makita discontinued the AF505 and replaced it with the AF505N. The differences between the two variations are minor, so for the most part, you can consider the AF505 and the AF505N as essentially the same brad nail gun. The one notable difference between the AF505 and the AF505N is in the nose which has been redesigned in the AF505N to be narrower, allowing operators to use the nail gun in a slightly more space-restricted area than was possible with the bigger-nosed AF505.
2020 Update: Makita is continually looking to improve its tools which means that model turnover at the company tends to be higher than with most other power tool companies. These improvements tend to be incremental in nature, and older models are continually being replaced with slightly better versions. We saw this occur previously with the original AF505 when it was replaced by the AF505N sporting a redesigned nose that enabled it to be used in more space-restricted areas. Makita has now upgraded this nail gun line once again, this time designating the new model the AF506, which replaces the now-discontinued AF505N (although you can still buy it from various retailers) and the AF505 before it.
The AF506 is very similar to its predecessor, the AF505N, keeping almost all of the same features but with enough change to justify marketing it as a new model. As with the AF505N, the AF506 is a compressed air-powered Brad nailer, that fires 15-50mm length straight-collated Brad nails from a magazine that has a capacity of 100 nails. The AF506 also has a similar tool-less nail jam clearing mechanism as the previous models, albeit operated via an improved front-mounted lever, which gives easy access to the inner workings of the nail gun. The nail depth control dial is located in the same position as before, just in front of the trigger, which allows for easy and precise control of nail depth penetration. Like the AF505N, the AF506 has a slim nose for improved workspace access together with a rubber nose adaptor to protect against the marring of softer woods. The AF506, like its predecessors, also sports an integral hook, allowing the nail gun to be hung on-the-fly, quickly freeing up the hands when needed.
The major differences of the AF506 compared to its predecessor AF505-model nail guns are improvements in a couple of its technical specifications as well as its chassis design. Firstly, the AF506 is designed to work at a slightly higher air pressure range, namely 70-120 PSI. This has the benefit of ensuring nails can fully penetrate the workpiece even with harder woods (but like the AF505N, the air hose needs to be a minimum of 6.5mm in diameter and a length of less than 20m). Importantly, however, higher air pressures tend to decrease the service life of air tools, so operating the nailer at the minimum pressure required to complete the job should be aimed for here. The AF506 is also slightly lighter than the AF505N and AF505, coming in at 1.3kg compared with the 1.4kg of it predecessors, making it just that little bit more of a pleasure to handle. Finally, unlike the AF505-type nail guns, the AF506 also has an air duster incorporated into the bottom of its handgrip. This is a small air outlet, controlled by the press of a button, that releases compressed air from the system when a high-energy air burst is needed, such as for quickly clearing the workspace of dust or debris.
Ultimately, the AF506 is a direct replacement for the AF505N Brad nailer, and its predecessor, the AF505. These older models have since been discontinued, and are mostly no longer available, although the AF505N is still currently sold from some retailers as their stocks clear out. The AF506, like its predecessors, and like most, if not all, Makita power tools, is a well-designed and consistent machine, rarely, if ever, misfiring, producing repeatable results time after time. Of course, high-quality tools come with a premium price, but the AF506 is worth the extra coin.
The Tacwise C1832V nail gun is an excellent value for money power tool. It may not have the pedigree of the big brand names like Makita or Ryobi but it certainly has most of the features of its more expensive competitors. The C1832V is quick on its feet and light while also being very reliable especially when you compare it to equivalent nail guns from other economy brands. As with almost all nailers, half the reliability comes from using the right brand of nails, as quality and nail specifications can vary immensely between suppliers, with some of the cheaper nails available causing many more nail gun jams. That means using Tacwise nails with Tacwise nail guns is always the best practice for avoiding unnecessary frustration. Tacwise also provides excellent after-sales service so if you have any questions or problems, you can rest assured knowing that you will be a high priority for the company.
The Tacwise DGN50V Brad Air Nailer is the bigger brother of the C1832V reviewed above with the only meaningful difference in the length of nails the two devices can accommodate. The C1832V can hold nails from 10 to 32mm in length while the DGN50V can fire nails that are between 20 and 50mm in length. Once again the tool is fast, lightweight and reliable. Like more expensive counterparts, the handle is a soft silicone-type of material, while the main body of this second fix nail gun has a high-quality finish to it. As with other more pricey nail guns, the DGN50V has two modes of operation, first there is single-fire mode where the safety tip of the nail gun needs to be depressed against the workpiece before the trigger is pulled and a nail is ejected, and a second mode where the trigger is pulled and held, while the nail gun is fired with each depression of the tip against the workpiece facilitating the rapid firing of nails. Another notable feature is the rotatable exhaust similar to the Makita AF505 model that can direct exhaust air away from hitting the operator. Overall, like its smaller sibling, the DGN50V is another worthy, value-for-money nail gun and probably one of the best 2nd fix Brad nail guns in this price category in the UK.
The Silverline Brad air nailer 868544 is one of the cheapest Brad nailer guns on the market today. It is powered by compressed air requiring a pressure of between 60 and 100 psi from an external air compressor and takes 100 straight 18 gauge nails between 10 and 50 mm in length. It weighs 1.5 kilograms making it one of the heaviest compressed air powered Brad nail guns available. It comes with a 1/4” quick connect that needs to be screwed into the body of the nail gun when first purchased using PTFE tape to ensure a tight seal. The 1/4 inch quick connect also requires the less-common Euro-style coupler on the air compressor’s air line for a successful mating. As with more expensive Brad air nailers, the Silverline 868544 also features bump firing when the trigger button is continuously depressed.
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.
The air nailer SA791 is one of Sealey’s answers to the 18-gauge Brad air nailer category. It is a relatively low-cost lightweight air nailer with a good design that is well-balanced and easy to handle. The handgrip on the SA791 is reasonably comfortable and with the air nailer’s average weight of 1.3 kg, it can be used all day if necessary without too much tiring out of the hands or arms. Notable features on the Sealey SA791 are an exhaust outlet at the back of the air tool that can be rotated so that the puff of air expelled from the air gun with each firing can be directed away from the operator, while the magazine loading mechanism is a satisfyingly smooth affair when it comes time to reload the air nailer with more nails. The SA791 nail gun takes straight 18-gauge Brad nails, 15 to 50 mm in length, and the air nailer even comes with a starter set of Brad nails so that you can get going right from the outset. To top it all off, the whole air nailer package comes with its own case which is always a well-received accessory for any power tool and indispensable when the tool needs to be stored or transported.
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.
As expected from one of the big-name air tool brands, Bostitch, the BT1855-E is a solid, well balanced, light and quiet air nail gun that has been thoughtfully designed for the trade professional. Although its features are typical of most brands of nail gun, these premium power tools tend to sport higher quality components while a lot of thought has gone into the design of every detail of the machine. The handle consists of a rubber-type of material giving it a strong and comfortable grip, while the air exhaust has been located at the bottom of the handle to angle the exhaust gas away from the user. It also has a depth adjustment that allows exquisitely fine adjustment of how deep the nails are driven into the workpiece. The belt clip can be installed on either side of the body of this second fix nail gun to accommodate both lefties as well as right-handers, and it even sports a pencil sharpener and a hex key holder. Probably the only negative is the low availability of Bostitch-brand nails for it to use. Fortunately, using the more readily-available Tacwise nails with this Bostitch nail gun also works a treat. Overall, the Bostitch BT1855-E is a fine piece of kit to have at one's disposal, and although it is more costly than other brands available on the market, it may well be worth it if it is going to be used extensively.
Best Brad Nail Guns - Mains-powered
Tacwise 181ELS, Tacwise 1183, and Tacwise 400ELS
When it comes to the best brad nail guns that are mains electricity-powered, taking into account quality and value for money, there really is only one brand that stands out above the rest, Tacwise. The Tacwise range in this category consists of three models that pretty much cover the full range of requirements users might be looking for in a brad nailer. The Tacwise 181ELS, the model 1183, and the Tacwise 400ELS are each designed specifically for a different range of nail types. The 181ELS holds straight 18 gauge brads between 15 -35mm long, while the model 1183 takes 20 - 50mm long straight brad nails. As for the 400ELS, which has an angled magazine to allow it access to more space-limited areas, it takes type 500-series 18 gauge angled brad nails.
All three Tacwise corded nail guns perform admirably and possess most of the features that more expensive professional tools are kitted out with. They are well made - much better than some other equivalently-priced electric nail guns that are available in the UK. It is highly recommended to use Tacwise nails with Tacwise nail guns as this ensures the least chance of nail gun jams, and since the Tacwise nails are reasonably-priced, it would seem to be a no-brainer!
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.
The second minor issue with the Tacwise corded nail gun is with its electrical cord length which is shorter than expected, and which is surprising given that this is a tool that is often used in just about every corner of a room. The electrical cord is under 2 metres in length which often makes it too short to use without an extension cord. This is especially true in rooms with few electrical outlets or when areas of a room above shoulder-height need to be worked on.
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.
TThe Ryobi R18N18G-0 battery-operated nail gun, together with its larger 16-gauge sibling, reviewed later on this page, are in a class of their own with their unique Airstrike technology which does away with the need for expensive gas fuel cylinders. Ryobi has achieved this by incorporating air compression right into the tool itself, making it is not dissimilar to using a compressed air-powered nail gun but without the cumbersome air compressor and hose line.
Similar to other Brad nail guns, the Ryobi R18N18G-0 fires 15 mm to 50 mm long 18-gauge nails, which makes it suitable for the fixing of lighter woodwork, such as detail or bead trim, and for the initial tacking together of workpieces before attaching them more securely. The nail magazine on the Ryobi nail gun holds 105 nails, with the widely available Tacwise-branded 18-gauge Brads being the recommended choice for keeping nail jams on the R18N18G-0 to a minimum. Although, if a nail jam does occur, then the tool-less nail jam-clearing mechanism on the Ryobi machine is quick and easy to operate.
Like most other nail guns, the Ryobi R18N18G-0 has two firing modes, regular sequential firing mediated through repeated trigger presses, and contact actuation mode where depression of the nose tip against the work surface (while keeping the trigger continuously pressed) is enough to drive a nail. To protect delicate surfaces, the Ryobi nail gun comes with 2 soft non-marring tips, and for improved clarity while working, the power tool also houses LED work lights within the head of the tool which are uniquely activated when the nail gun is held by its handle.
For controlling nail penetration depth in different wood types and with different sized nails, the Ryobi nail gun has an air pressure adjustment dial on its rear and a nail depth setting rotary dial on its nose. These controls determine the amount of power delivered to the firing mechanism and, with a little initial optimisation for each job, can ensure that different sized nails are inserted perfectly irrespective of the wood hardness.
For power, the Ryobi nail gun makes use of Ryobi’s universal battery system, ONE+, which allows the same batteries to be used across a range of Ryobi power and garden tools. The batteries are 18V and come in a range of capacities, although when used with the Ryobi nail gun, higher capacity batteries are recommended to avoid frequent recharging or battery changes.
It should be noted, however, that Ryobi sells this nail gun as a ‘bare tool’ i.e. without a battery. This keeps the price of the machine low for owners who already possess compatible ONE+ batteries, but makes the overall cost of the device decidedly more expensive if a battery and charger also have to be purchased alongside the nail gun. Fortunately, other brands of 18V power tool batteries, such as those from DeWalt, Makita, or Milwaukee, can be used with the Ryobi nail gun through the use of reasonably-priced third-party battery adaptors, such as the Badaptor.
Having the air compression housed within the nail gun itself does make the Ryobi tool much bigger and less wieldy than some of its gas fuel-fed counterparts, but that's the price one pays for not having to constantly buy fuel cells or to have a cumbersome air hose and separate air compressor to drag around. Once the battery is attached, the machine is also heavier than any other Brad nail gun competitor, coming in at about 2.9 kg (depending on the battery capacity used), making it tiring to use for the less able-bodied operators or over extended periods of nail-driving.
Other downsides with the Ryobi nail gun include the lack of a case to store and transport it, which can be a significant negative for such a bulky, heavy tool. In addition, when the nail gun has not been used for a while, and especially if it has been stored in a cold room such as an unheated garage, it can be prone to firing ‘blanks’ for its first few shots. However, this usually rectifies itself as the tool warms up. To minimise such misfiring, it is recommended to always store the tool in a warmer location, and also keep the nail-delivery area and firing pin well-lubricated with an appropriate workshop lubricant such as WD-40.
Overall, the Ryobi R18N18G-0 is a well-designed and robustly built Brad nail gun. It may not have the supreme quality of the premium-brand competitor machines from the likes of DeWalt or Makita, but for its practicality of use, especially if one already has a compatible battery system, it is well worth its price and will be a boon to any expert DIY-er or tradesman.
Finishing Nail Guns
Finishing nail guns are not dissimilar to Brad nail guns, but typically fire 15 or16-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 15/16-Gauge Finishing Nail Guns in the UK
(no fuel needed)
(no fuel needed)
+ Gas Fuel Cell
+ Gas Fuel Cell
+ Gas Fuel Cell
Best Finish Nail Guns - Air-powered
Once again the Tacwise brand of nail guns is prominent at the top of a nail gun category, this time the Tacwise GFN64V is one of the best air powered 16-gauge finishing nail guns we've found, based on a combination of decent quality and design combined with a decent price that has made this air nail gun popular amongst consumers. It has all the features we have come to expect from a high-quality nail gun and is robustly built so should be at home even on a busy work site. As with other full-featured nail guns, the GFN64V can be made to fire single nails or multiple nails in rapid succession while their depth can be varied accordingly using a dial. Nails are loaded into the back of the magazine without the need for opening it in an action that is not unlike loading a rifle, which has a certain military-style pleasure to it! The exhaust is located on the back of the machine, and can be rotated 360 degrees so as not to point at the user. The GFN64V also features a tool-less jam-clearing mechanism over the nose of the nail gun. One important point to remember as with all Tacwise nail guns, is to use Tacwise-branded nails with this nail gun as it has been reported that the GFN64V can jam on an irritatingly-regular basis if other non-Tacwise brand nails are used.
Best Finish Nail Guns - Mains-powered
The story might be getting a bit old but it is hard to deny that once again Tacwise has produced a nail gun favourite in yet another category, this time in the 16-gauge mains-powered finish nail gun grouping, with its model 1187 finishing nail gun. The Tacwise 1187 is powerful enough to penetrate all types of wood although it does require a bit of experience to ensure the nail drives home fully into some harder woods. In the case of hardwoods, using the model 1187 requires both hands, one to pull the trigger and the other to apply sufficient pressure to the back of the nail gun to reduce the recoil so that the nail full penetrates the workpiece. The technique does require a bit of practice but it's not too difficult to master. One potential way to get around this limitation is to remove the rubber footing on the tip of the nail gun. This has helped with nail penetration with other mains-powered Tacwise nail gun models and may also help when using the Tacwise 1187. However, due to the size and weight of this nail gun model, removing the soft tip often leads to denting of the surface of the workpiece when the nail gun is fired, and this is exacerbated by not applying sufficient force on the nail gun to reduce the recoil. As a result, using the nail gun without the soft tip is not recommended on jobs where a pristine surface finish is required. One other point to note with this mains-operated nail gun is that it does require a lot of current to operate, so it is preferable to ensure that you run it on at least a 30A household circuit to prevent any chance of tripping a circuit breaker (regular household sockets in the UK are usually on a 30A ring main, so for most people this should not pose a problem).
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.
First up is the Ryobi One+ R18N16G-0 Finish nail gun with its Airstrike technology. Essentially, the R18N16G-0 is the bigger sibling of the previously discussed Ryobi 18-gauge brad nail gun, where 'Airstrike' technology means that air compression is integrated right into the nail gun itself, obviating the need for consumable gas fuel cells that are typical of most battery-operated nail guns. However, because it has more working parts to accommodate this air compression mechanism, the Ryobi 16-gauge nail gun is quite big and bulky, although it is nicely weighted and is slightly lighter then the fuel-less DeWalt Finish nail gun competitor discussed next.
One other nice feature of both the Ryobi R18N16G-0 nail gun and its smaller sibling is that they are part of Ryobi's One+ system, where the same battery system is used in a large range of different tools. This means that if you already own or plan to own other Ryobi One+ tools, then the battery packs are all completely interchangeable across the range of tools. Unsurprisingly given its pedigree, the Ryobi R18N16G-0 feels well made and robust, so will likely last a long time, an important factor considering it is not cheap! Overall, the Ryobi R18N16G-0 is currently one of the best 2nd fix Finish nail guns available and our top choice in this nail gun category.
Next we have DeWalt's contender in this battery-operated 16-gauge finishing nail gun category. Like the Ryobi nail gun, the DeWalt DC618KB also does not require gas fuel canisters to operate, instead relying on a flywheel mechanism to generate the forces needed to shoot the nail.
Unlike many other brands of nail gun, DeWalt has got the technical specifications on this nail gun just right so that it leaves no inadvertent marks on the workpiece surface apart from the nail hole itself. This is part of the reason most experienced users of the nail gun cannot contain their enthusiasm for this nailer. You also do not have to use DeWalt-branded nails with the DC618KB - users have reported that more-economical Tacwise nails also work well with this DeWalt nailer.
Although the DeWalt nail gun is a superb nailer all-round, it is unfortunately let down by its use of Nickel-Cadmium (NiCAD) batteries as opposed to Lithium-ion (Li-ion) ones, and for this reason alone, the Ryobi nail gun discussed above trumps this DeWalt in our opinion.
Makita, another one of the premium power tool producers, has created an excellent all-round battery-operated gas powered nail gun, the GF600SE. The GF600SE is a nail gun for the trade professional and has a price to match.
As one might expect from a professional machine, it is powerful and is quite loud compared to other competitors. Unlike the Ryobi and the DeWalt competitor nail guns discussed previously, the Makita GF600SE does require gas canisters to supply the fuel needed to drive the nails into the workpiece, something we at DIY fidelity dislike since it raises the daily running cost of the machine.
Overall, as one might expect from Makita, precision and design are second to none, and we think that the GF600SE is an excellent finishing nail gun if you can afford the high price tag and the higher running costs.
Hitachi NT65GS and NT65GB
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
(no fuel needed)
(no fuel needed)
+ Gas Fuel Cell
+ Gas Fuel Cell
+ Gas Fuel Cell
Framing Nail Gun Reviews
The framing nail gun model no. 282400 from Silverline is one of the few inexpensive options available for anyone looking to get their hands on a framing nailer. It shoots 50 to 90mm long clipped head nails that are 10 - 12 gauge in thickness using compressed air from an air compressor that should be able to produce pressures of between 75 and 115 psi. This is within the range of what most home workshop air compressors can achieve, although the (arguably more important) air flow metric for the nailer is not provided by the manufacturer, making it difficult to say exactly which air compressors will work well with this nail gun. The connection to the nail gun is via a standard 1/4 inch BSP push-fit air inlet common to hoses on most consumer air compressors. Other notable features on the Silverline framing nail gun are the ability to adjust nail penetration depth, a no-mark tip that protects the surface of the workpiece from the impact of the nailer, and a cut-out safety feature that prevents firing of the nail gun when the magazine is empty.
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.
The DCN692N framing nailer is DeWalt’s contribution to the battery-powered all-electric first fix framing nail gun category, and in this review, we look in more depth at some of the positives and negatives of this cordless DeWalt framing nail gun.
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.
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.