Unless your name is Thor, swinging a hammer for any length of time will make your arm feel like it’s about to fall off. That’s why nail guns, or nailers, are one of the most labor-saving tools ever invented.
Nailers not only save you a lot of muscle strain, but they’re also substantially faster than a hammer. You can sink 10 nails with a nailer in the time it takes you to pound in one nail the old-fashioned way. With the lightweight nailers available today, setting nails has become a one-handed operation, leaving your other hand free to keep the material in place.
We’ve conducted reviews of the top 5 15-gauge nail guns today and brought the results to you for your use. We’ve given you the information you need to make an informed decision on what nailer is best for you.
|BOSTITCH N62FNK-2||9 lbs||4.8/5|
(Best for the Money)
|Freeman PFN1564||6 lbs||4.3/5|
|GREX AF64||9 lbs||4.0/5|
This nail gun is very lightweight, just over four pounds, making it comfortable in your hand for long days on the job. It won’t wear you out the way heavier ones will. The blower works fine and we wound up using it more than we thought we would.
It uses nails with D-shaped heads, which makes them easier to pull if necessary. They slid in quickly when you’re loading it, so you don’t have to slow down.
It delivers a good impact during use. We were able to shoot 1¼” nails flush into normal soft lumber (pine) with only 60 psi. At 105 psi it will sink 2½” nails all the way into oak with no problems.
Jams are few and far between, and it handles well in tight spaces. Just about the only complaint we had was the lack of a belt hook. Other than that, this nail gun clearly deserves its place as our top pick.
At just over nine pounds, this nailer is over twice as heavy as our top pick, giving it a more classic look and feel. Setting the adjustable depth gauge takes a little experimentation but isn’t a major problem. It comes with four heads though, so it might become an issue if you switch them frequently.
One complaint we did have was the nose piece – it only sets nails when the tip is held squarely against the work surface. If you’re at any kind of an angle, forget it. This was a bad design decision by Bostitch.
In spite of that, it is a good nail gun. It works well, doesn’t jam, and delivers consistently good results. It has a good blower too. We found it handles tight spots better than square guns.
It has some good features, but the issues with the nose piece and the depth gauge adjustments kept this nailer in second place instead of first.
This nailer has a tool-free depth adjustment, a no-mar tip, and an adjustable exhaust port for the blower. It’s lighter than the runner-up but still heavier than our top pick.
It works well on softwood such as pine, but it is seriously underpowered for hardwoods like oak. Even at 100 psi, it won’t handle them. It also experienced numerous jams, perhaps related to the lack of power.
It feels comfortable in the hand and works fairly well for smaller jobs around the house. The blower does a good job too.
The lack of power when dealing with hardwood is a major reason this nail gun wasn’t in the top two. The associated jams contributed to that as well. However, for the price, you can’t go wrong using this for trim work and small projects. It’s the best one for the money.
This six-pound nail gun is advertised as being suitable for installing baseboard, crown molding, trim, doors, windows, casing, cabinetry, and furniture components. Maybe it is, but you couldn’t prove it to us. When it works it works well, but it often stops for no discernible reason.
It wasn’t long before air began leaking out of the air connection, resulting in a corresponding loss of power. Prior to that point it worked but had a number of problems, including difficulty setting the depth adjustment.
It doesn’t have a rubber tip to protect the surfaces you’re working on. It is subject to frequent jams, and the trigger mechanism was so flimsy it began coming apart after about 30 minutes of use.
This nailer doesn’t have the right stuff – there are too many problems and not enough good points for us to give it any placement higher than fourth on our list of reviews.
At just under nine pounds, this nail gun could have been in contention for the number two spot on our list. Instead, its lack of features and power put it dead last.
The carrying case is flimsy and weak. The exhaust points straight with no way to adjust it. This leaves you with the exhaust coming back in your face. The nail clip railing, coming from the tip back toward the handle, angles out from the right to the left. This makes it lopsided and awkward to use, especially considering the weight.
At 95 psi it will work with pine and some moderately hard wood, but beyond that, you’re wasting your time. There are very few adjustments available on this nailer.
We don’t have much good to say about this offering from Grex. There are too many problems with it.
When you’re purchasing tools there are some essential things to look for, and others to avoid. We’ll briefly go over them with you.
A good nail gun has to be able to set nails continuously, pack after pack, without hesitation or jamming. That much is obvious. What’s not so obvious, until you pick one up and work with it for a while, are the other qualities which make it a useful tool instead of a doorstop.
Balance, as we learned with our last review, is essential. An unbalanced or out-of-balance tool will quickly become a dust collector when you toss it aside in favor of something better. A tool that pulls you to one side or requires you to correct with each use is going to create muscle strain as well as frustration. A clumsy tool is an unused tool – and a waste of money.
Look for a nailer that feels comfortable in your hand without straining. Typically you’ll be using a nailer for extended periods of time. The heavier it is, the quicker your arm muscles will complain, whereas a lightweight one won’t wear you out. You should be comfortable holding and using it for hours on end.
Make sure the exhaust port has a 360º swivel, so you can turn it away from your face regardless of which way you’re holding the nailer or from what angle. When you’re using a tool for hours on end, little things can make a big difference.
Depending on the price, nail guns may or may not qualify for free shipping. Usually, they do, but check before you click.
As always, get a warranty. If a manufacturer won’t offer a warranty on its tools, don’t offer it your money. Make the manufacturers earn your trust and your business by offering a solid, no-nonsense warranty on their products.
Some areas are beginning to pass legislation mandating taxes on Internet sales, even when you’re in a different location than the website, shipper, or manufacturer. Keep an eye on that. It might cost less to run down to the local hardware store and get your nailer.
The first option, of course, is nail packs. Many of the nail guns in our review use proprietary nail packs from the manufacturer which fit their rails at their specific angle(s). Some, however, can use off-the-shelf nail packs designed to fit a variety of nailers. These packs almost always cost less than buying them from the manufacturer.
Brushes and other cleaning tools help keep your power tools in good working order, extending their life. Websites sometimes will offer discounts if you buy them along with the nail gun.
Included carrying cases aren’t always what they should be. Often an upgraded or improved one will be available at the time of purchase. If so, it can be a good investment.
Our top pick is the Hitachi NT65MA4 nail gun. This lightweight, powerful, and dependable nailer earned its place at the top of our reviews. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Our “best for the money” pick is the 3PLUS HDA1564SP. It’s a little heavier than our winner and doesn’t quite have the punch to work with hardwoods, but for work around the house it’s great. For the price, this one is hard to beat.
The rest come in at various places in our reviews, and all of them have some good points. Our job is to do the hard work for you, sorting through the digital jungle of choices out there so you don’t have to.
More nailer posts: