The best framing nailer is the one that will allow you to accomplish your tasks in a safe, speedy, and easy manner, that will last you a long time, and that doesn’t break your budget. Our framing nailer reviews and buying guide will help you find the framing nail gun that suits you best.
Framing Nailer Buying Guide
Power Source: Pneumatic versus Cordless
Whether you purchase a pneumatic framing nail gun or a cordless variety depends upon several different variables. While most framing nailers are pneumatic, there are cordless products available. Here’s what you should consider when deciding between the two varieties:
Pneumatic nail guns: They are powered by an air compressor. If you do not already have an air compressor, the extra cost of buying one may push the limits of your budget. Pneumatic nailers deliver consistent force, but require the user to remain attached to an air compressor in order to work. If you are going to be using your nailer on a daily basis, pneumatic nail guns are the best choice because they do not require constant recharging.
PRO TIP: If you already own an air compressor, make sure that your unit meets the requirements of the nail gun that you purchase. This is listed as PSI (pounds per square inch) and CMF (cubic feet per minute).
Cordless nail guns: Uses either batteries or fuel to power the gun. They are ideal for those who only plan on using their nail gun occasionally, especially those who do not have an air compressor. Cordless nail guns offer more maneuverability, making them a good choice for individuals who have to work in tight spaces where an air compressor would not fit.
Magazine: Stick or Coil
Nail guns can have one of two different magazine styles, stick and coil.
Stick magazines: Uses nails that come in long strips. The capacity of stick magazines is usually lower than that of coil-style, but because of their arrangement, nail guns that use stick-style magazines have more even weight-distribution and, therefore, better balance than coil nail guns.
Coil magazines: Take nails that are joined together with wires and arranged in flexible strings. The round magazine holds more nails than the stick magazines and their design means that they can fit into tighter spaces than nail guns with stick magazines.
PRO TIP: If you are doing a job that requires a lot of nails, a coil magazine nail gun may be the best choice because you will not have to reload as often. However, if your job only requires a few nails at a time, a stick magazine nail gun may be easier to use.
Be sure to find a nail gun that takes round-head nails, not clipped-head nails. This is because many current building codes have moved to specify that building renovations are only done with round-head nails. If you are planning on doing any work around the house, a nail gun that can accommodate round-head nails is essential.
Weight and Comfort
The lighter the nail gun, the easier it is to use. You should make sure that whatever nail gun you purchase is easy and comfortable for you to use. If you are going to be working on ceilings or other high areas, then you should definitely be looking for the lightest framing nail gun available. You also want to find a nail gun that feels good in your hand and that is compact for easy maneuvering.
Framing nail guns can come with several different special features that make their operation easier.
Depth adjustment: Allows the user to decide how deep they want to drive the nails into any given surface. This is a particularly good feature to have if you tend to work on projects using woods of varying thicknesses.
Quick jam clearance: It is a must-have for many tool-owners, as nail guns tend to jam. Those jams can be a pain to take care of, so a nail gun with a quick jam clearance feature can save you a lot of time and frustration.
Swiveling air connectors: They are only for use on pneumatic nail guns. Because air-powered nailers must remain connected to the compressor at all times, it is smart to have a way to deal with the cord, especially if you are going to be moving around a lot. A swiveling air connector allows you and the cord to move around freely, avoiding tangles and making operation much easier and must less awkward.
Protective guards: Keep debris from flying back and hitting both you and the nail gun. This feature makes the nail gun safer to use, though you should always wear adequately protective gear when doing construction projects.
Best Framing Nailer – Our Top 6 Picks
Top 6 Framing Nailer Reviews
Best Pneumatic Framing Nailers
The majority of framing nailers are powered by air compressor. These pneumatic nail guns are prized for their consistency of driving force and their convenience, as they do not require recharging or battery/fuel cell changes. Our top three picks are below:
Weighing 8.5lbs and measuring 20 x 6.5 x 14.2 inches, the Freeman 21-Degree Full-Head Framing Nailer is a budget-friendly framing nail gun option, which is priced affordably. This is a pneumatic nailer with an operating pressure of 60 – 115 PSI and the ability to fire nails of different styles.
The body is made of die-cast magnesium, a lightweight, but durable metal that gives this nail gun superior maneuverability. The cylinder is made of aluminum, another light metal, and features Teflon O-rings. As for the driver blade, it is made of heat-treated steel and is incredibly sturdy.
The Freeman 21-Degree Full-Head has several special features that make it extremely attractive. First, it has a 360-degree exhaust vent and an air filter and air cap to protect the air inside from foreign bodies. Most impressively, this nail gun has different firing options, allowing the user to choose between bump and single firing.
On top of this, the Freeman 21-Degree Full-Head Framing Nailer has a seven-year limited warranty and comes with a plastic carrying case in order to protect it from wear and tear. As a bonus, this tool is oil-free, making it much more convenient to use.
This product does have some downsides, however. The dual-firing option is controlled with two separate triggers, one for bump and another for single, which some users have found to be slightly awkward. (For a framing nailer with multiple firing options controlled via switch, see the Hitachi framing nail gun profiled below).
Also, the gun does not fire the last few nails in the magazine, meaning that you cannot completely use up one full set of nails at a time; you must reload before the magazine runs out.
This Freeman nail gun is not the best product available on the market, but it is a solid offering from a well-respected company and for around $100, it is a total bargain. Professionals may want to invest in something a bit more top-of-the-line, but for the beginner or the homeowner who only needs a framing nailer for occasional odd jobs, this nail gun is a great choice.
Hitachi’s air-powered framing nail gun is packed with features and easy to use, making it a great choice for those looking for a quality tool. It has an operating pressure of 70 to 120 PSI and it only accepts strips of plastic-collated nails measuring 2” to 3.5” of 21 degrees and can hold anywhere from 64 to 70 nails at a time.
Hitachi went out of its way to make sure that their nail gun was comfortable to use, as evidenced by the no-slip elastomer grip trigger, which fits comfortably in your hand—perfect for jobs when you have to hold the tool for extended periods of time. Its light, 7.5lb weight enhances its maneuverability and comfortability.
Unlike the Freeman nail gun profiled above, this Hitachi framing nailer does not come with a carrying case, but the gun itself is made with several protective features that keep it from incurring wear and tear damage. These include a hardened claw tip, which protects the nose of the gun and a carbon steel toenail which encourages precision and efficiency while minimizing damage.
The Hitachi Plastic Collated Full-Head Framing Nailer has several special features that make it a popular nail gun with carpenters and DIYers alike. First, not only does it have depth adjustment controls, but it is an easy feature to use. Often, the depth adjustment option on nail guns can only be altered by using a separate tool, but this is not the case with this Hitachi nail gun. It can be changed by hand, without using a separate tool, allowing you to make changes to the depth without taking a lot of time to grab another instrument or make adjustments on the air compressor.
Additionally, the Hitachi Plastic-Collated Full-Head Framing Nailer has two firing methods; you can choose between sequential and contact nailing with the simple flick of a switch.
Some disadvantages: first, this nail gun is not oil-free. This isn’t a major issue, but it does add a little bit of work to the process. Additionally, the nail gun tends to spit back the plastic material holding the nails together, so the user must don protective eyewear while handling the tool. We would have also liked to have had a carrying case come with this tool.
This nail gun can be used by both professionals and amateurs, but we feel that most amateurs or occasional DIYers will not need depth adjustment or multiple firing methods, and thus the price may not be worth it. However, a quality tool like this can be appreciated by all, so ultimately, its suitability will depend on whether or not it meets your needs as either an amateur or professional.
This Bostitch Round Head nail gun is an extremely versatile pneumatic tool, just one of the many reasons why it is a favorite with woodworkers, craftsmen, and DIYers of all skill levels. Plus, it comes from Bostitch, a name synonymous with quality and durability in the home improvement industry.
Its 60-nail magazine capacity is not especially impressive, but it is adequate and comparable to most nail guns in its class. Its real claim to fame is its power-to-weight ratio. This nail gun is made out of magnesium, an extremely lightweight metal, and the overall design of the tool gives it extraordinary balance.
On top of this, the nailer has a rubber grip that allows the user to keep a tight grip on the tool while using it, but at the same time, remaining comfortable while doing so. This nail gun is recommended to those who use HurriQuake disaster-resistant nails.
This Bostitch nail gun is quite customizable, making it a great tool to have on jobs that throw a little bit of everything at the person who is tasked with completing them. First, it has a depth adjustment feature, which is controlled by a button (no extra tools required).
Second, it comes with two interchangeable nose pieces, allowing you to switch between using framing nails to metal connector nails—it’s like having two nail guns in one unit. And those nosepieces are extremely easy to change.
Like many of the nail guns on our list, it has multiple firing options—sequential and bump. It also has a layout indicator, which helps you to gauge the distance in between studs. And while it does not make much of a difference in its performance, we are quite fond of the adjustable rafter that lets us hang this nail gun up during breaks or after a job’s completion.
This nail gun’s continuous fire mode is a little difficult to trigger, as the mechanism can be a little finicky. It also does not come with a case and, for this price, we think that a case should come standard. It is noticeably noisier than other nail guns that we have reviewed and tested. Lastly, this nail gun is lightweight, but it is also rather bulky, making it difficult to maneuver within the confines of tight spaces.
The quality and customizability of this nail gun make it a great tool for users of all skill levels and needs, though we think a professional may be irritated by its dodgy continuous-fire mode. Although it is priced higher than other products, what you receive in exchange for that cost makes it well worth the extra money, which is why it is one of our picks for the best framing nail gun.
Best Cordless Framing Nailers
Cordless framing nailers are not as popular as their pneumatic counterparts, but for individuals in need of framing nailers who either do not have an air compressor or who are doing a job that requires a lot of movement or tight spaces that cannot accommodate a compressor, a cordless framing nail gun can be the answer.
This Paslode cordless framing nail gun uses a lithium ion battery and fuel cell to drive nails. It has a 5hr battery life, enough for an experienced individual to shoot several thousand nails before having to recharge.
Though the price is higher than those of their pneumatic counterparts, the price will get you not only the nail gun, but a hard plastic carrying case, a battery, safety glasses, 5/32-inch hex wrench, and a charger as well (It does not come with the gas cartridge). Also, unlike the pneumatic nailers profiled above, the Paslode cordless nail gun uses 30-degree nails.
The Paslode 902600 charges quickly and while we were never able to get our battery to last a full five hours, we did make it last for a little over four hours, which isn’t too bad. We especially liked the 2 minute quick charge, which allows the user to drive up to 200 nails. (This type of power boost comes in handy when you are at the end of a project and the battery dies on you just as you are almost finished. It features tool-less depth adjustment and its nosepiece allows for nails to be fired at any angle.
The Paslode 902600 has several disadvantages that can make using the tool less convenient. First, it only holds one clip of nails, while most nail guns hold two. This means more reloading. Second, the larger-than-usual nose makes precision nailing a bit more difficult; in fact, during our test, we came to a part in our project where we needed precision nailing and because we had already seen how imprecise this gun could be, we switched over to a pneumatic nailer with a much smaller nose.
Also, and this is our least favorite disadvantage, it ONLY uses Paslode nails. In order for this nail gun to work, you must purchase their brand of nails.
This is not the nail gun for large jobs. We say this because the operating costs of fuel cells and charging time make it extremely ill-suited to jobs that require repeated usage over a long period of time. This is the nail gun for small, quick jobs, as it is much easier to pull out this cordless tool for a few drives than to roll out the air compressor.
Because it requires the use of Paslode’s own special nails, we advise that those who are interested in purchasing this nail gun check their local hardware stores to make sure that they supply Paslode nails, as you don’t want to be end up stuck in the middle of a project, having run out of nails.
Dewalt is our personal favorite power tool brand and this nail gun is a perfect example of why. This nailer is versatile, incredibly handy, and is the go-to framing nailer for the majority of our staff when they are doing their own personal DIY projects or construction jobs.
The Dewalt framing nailer is a bit heavier than others, but it is constructed in such a way as to provide extraordinary balance, so you don’t really feel the extra weight. Plus, it was made to be comfortable in your hand, featuring a contoured front grip.
This Dewalt cordless framing nail gun runs solely on battery power, which means no costly fuel cells, and it comes with the battery and charger. (Pro tip: when you start buying cordless tools, try to stick to one brand and choose it carefully—ideally, you want a brand whose tools use the exact same battery and charger—that way, you can avoid having to buy multiples.). It takes nails of any brand ranging from 30-degree to 34-degree, has both bump and sequential firing capabilities, a trigger lock for enhanced safety, and a nose made for easy jam clearing.
Most notable is its dual-speed driving capability. When operating at the lower speed, noise and vibration are greatly reduced and the battery lasts longer. It also comes with a hard plastic carrying case to protect it from wear and tear.
There aren’t many negatives with this particular framing nailer. Its magazine capacity is a little low, holding only 55 nails. And, of course, the price may be too much for some budgets as it is pretty pricey for a power tool.
If you can afford it, this Dewalt cordless framing nailer is the one to get. Dewalt is renowned for its tools’ quality and you are sure to get many, many years out of any tool that carries their name, and this nail gun is no exception. Unlike the Paslode cordless nail gun profiled above, this gun does not require constant fuel, so you can use it for longer projects, particularly those that require you to do a lot of moving around.
For example, we recently put up a fence and this is the tool that we used to do it. It held up marvelously as we traveled from post to post, nailing and securing our pickets together. We also think that both professionals and amateurs will appreciate that this nail gun can be used with so many different types of nails.
Hitachi, the maker of one of our best pneumatic framing nailers, also makes top-quality cordless nail guns, as seen in this gas powered tool. This nail gun comes with a carrying case, battery, charger, hex wrench, and safety glasses, giving you plenty of bang for your buck. It uses a nickel cadmium battery and it can take both Bostitch and Paslode fuel cartridges, as well as its own.
This Hitachi nail gun was designed with comfort and ease-of-use in mind. It can be used safely with one hand, due to its low weight and the presence of the Elastomer grip, which reduces vibration and the chance of slippage. It fits easily into tight spaces—perfect for jobs that are unsuitable for air compressor-powered tools. Like the other entries in our list, it has depth adjustment and dual-firing mode capabilities.
Relying on fuel cartridges will always be a disadvantage simply because of the cost associated with replacing them. In this nail gun, the use of fuel cartridges also causes the tool to make a lot of noise, more than most nail guns, so ear protection is required.
Like the Paslode 902600 cordless framing nail gun, the fact that this nailer requires fuel cartridges to work makes it a little too expensive to use for big or long projects. However, for short projects or quick repairs, this nail gun is the best out of the three we have profiled here, as it is cheaper than both the Paslode and Dewalt and unlike the Paslode, can use any brand of nails, which, to us, makes it infinitely more useful.
Ultimately, finding the best framing nail gun is simply a matter of assessing your own needs and budgets, checking out the best framing nailer reviews you can find, and searching diligently, without settling, until you finally find the framing nail gun that is right for you. There’s a lot of variety out there, so be sure to check out our reviews and recommendations to learn more about each product.