Nail guns are professional tools to speed up basic joinery, with some nail guns able to fire up to five nails per second at high pressure. For any big DIY jobs it’s worth buying a nail gun or even looking into nail gun hire in Australia for serious building work.
In this article, we’re going to explain the difference between finishing nail guns, brad nailers and framing nail guns, and help you to choose the best nail gun for your next project. Below are reviews of the seven best nail guns to buy in Australia right now too.
Best Nail Guns for 2022
Nail Gun Buyer’s Guide
Why Do You Need a Nail Gun?
Nail guns, in theory, don’t do anything a hammer doesn’t do, so why do you need one at all? The answer is pretty simple; speed; efficiency; safety.
Nail guns are far faster than hammering nails in, much more capable of nailing straight into timbers without damaging or bending nails, and they even give you more protection by keeping your hands away from swinging hammers.
The type of jobs you’re doing massively informs the choice of nail gun though, with three main types of nail gun, and several different power choices, from spring-loaded manual brad nail guns for small precise jobs, to gas-powered hydraulic nail guns for fast on-site building work.
Through the rest of this article, we’ll explore the major differences between each type of nail gun, before reviewing the best nail guns you can buy online right now.
How Do Nail Guns Work?
Nail guns apply pressure to the head of a nail, either through hydraulic action or springs. Both battery and gas-powered nail guns are capable of hydraulic actions, but it’s the gas-powered nail guns that pack the most pressure.
By applying pressure to the head of the nail, and evenly distributing the weight of the tool (provided it is used according to instructions) the nail gun fires the nail at high force into timber or plaster without the need to retract.
If you think of how you hammer nails in manually, you need to hit and retract with the hammer, but if that same force was applied evenly, without retracting the blow, you could force that nail in with a single swing, provided the nail was held in place without your fingers. So all nail guns are doing is increasing efficiency, and accuracy.
Different Types of Nail Guns
Brad nailers are designed for small jobs and typically have a dual purpose, with tracks that can accommodate either nails or staples. Brad nailers are ideal for laying carpet, hanging decorations or upholstery work, but aren’t usually capable of carpentry or joinery.
Finishing nailers, or finish nail guns, are more powerful than brad nail guns, but slower than framing nailers. They are great for detailed timberwork such as fitting window surrounds, dado rails and door frames, but shouldn’t be used for carcassing timber or ceiling battens.
Framing nailers are the most powerful nail guns you can buy, but not ideal for most jobs as they are too fast, too powerful, and more expensive than necessary for most jobs, but for serious construction work, or heavy-duty woodwork, you will need to invest in the best framing nailer you can find.
The best framing nailers have steady tracks that can feed up to 100 nails in a single refill, and fire 3-5 nails per second.
Personally, I find that speed is less important than comfort, so if you find a good nail gun that’s comfortable to use, a good weight, and easy to load, you’ll get far more use out of it than a bulky, inaccurate nail gun that fires too quickly.
There are four main power sources for nail guns:
- Battery nail gun
- Mains powered electric nail gun
- Hydraulic gas nail gun
Be aware that when buying a cordless nail gun that includes both battery and manual nail guns, and they are typically all brad or finishing nail guns.
It is pretty rare to find battery or manual framing nailers, and I would be cautious about the power behind any framing nailer that didn’t use mains power of hydraulic gas.
Pneumatic framing nailers are the most powerful power source, running on pressure rather than gas or electric, but they do require an air compressor.
How to Use a Nail Gun
With any nail gun, you should never rely completely on the tool itself to do all the work. Nail guns apply pressure based on an existing force. That force is you.
So when you’re ready to fire your nail, press firmly against the surface, providing a base for the air gun to fire from, and press the trigger.
Some nail guns are automatic firers, so fire when pressed against a surface rather than with a trigger, but they are rare these days and there are many safety concerns so try to buy a nail gun with a trigger where possible to avoid accidents.
Safety Guidance for Nail Guns
Wear Protective Clothing
Nail guns are dangerous tools in any hands and cause a lot of accidents, so take every precaution possible when using nail guns for DIY jobs, and ensure colleagues are wearing protective clothing when using nail guns on-site, for their safety and yours.
Do not fire your nail gun in the open at any time. Only ever press the trigger when adequate pressure is applied to the rear of the gun, and the outlet is placed firmly against the fixing surface. If proper pressure is not applied the nail won’t fire in fully, and the tool can slip.
Best Nail Gun Reviews
The Makita nail gun is a pin nailer, so not particularly powerful or efficient, and much more expensive than some comparable models but it does boast superior pressure and accuracy than other brad nailers, and is a half way house between brad nailers and finishing nailers for that reason.
The only real downside of this model is its weight, being much heavier than alternative pin nailers.
WEN might call this nail gun a brad nailer, but it’s a finish nail gun at heart, working from pneumatic pressure to increase its uses. This nail gun is great for fine woodwork and heavy decorative finishes where a brad nailer won’t do and a framing nailer is too powerful.
It’s incredibly good value too, and by far the cheapest powered nail gun we’ve got on review here. It’s not going to suit professionals, but for DIYers looking for a step up from a basic brad nailer, and who aren’t afraid of air compressors, then this is a really good value tool.
The best nail guns always have their tracks at 45 degrees to the fixing surface. It helps make nail guns more versatile and while it does make them bulkier, it means you can nail even when there are obstacles in the way.
The Paslode nail gun is a perfect framing nailer thanks to that, with fully hydraulic power, so it might not be right for DIYers but it’s one of the best nail guns for contractors and builders we’ve found.
The Milwaukee framing nailer is a really great nail gun, and super comfortable too, with much more ergonomic handles than most cordless nail guns.
It might sound unimportant, but comfort is everything with power tools, the more comfortable the intended position is, the more likely you are to use a tool safely, and Milwaukee have understood that and created a near-perfect nail gun.
The Ryobi Nail Gun, Airstrike 18 is a cordless brad nailer with far more power than manual brad nailers and an incredibly efficient firing rate.
The Ryobi nail gun is great for small jobs and decoration, with just the right pressure and gauge for carpets, upholstery and can even handle light finishing jobs that you would usually need a separate finish nail gun for.
The DeWalt nail gun and multi tacker is a comfortable tool, that’s easy to use, lightweight, and great for decorating and fine work after serious construction jobs.
The biggest benefit of these corded nail guns is that they take a massive amount of effort out of fiddly tasks, and if you’ve ever laid carpet you’ll know exactly what I mean. Cord brad nailers are great to save tired hands.
Unimac is a great contractor’s tool brand with no frills, but their framing nail gun is pretty uncomfortable. I guess it’s not that important, and you get used to it after a while, but for me, I much prefer a comfortable tool so I don’t get tired hands after long periods of use.
The best thing about this Unimac nail gun is its price, at nearly half the cost of any other framing nailer.
When comparing different types of nail guns, it’s often the case that users need to make a choice between power and price, but the Unimac nail gun has both.
I really wanted to include a basic brad nailer in this article, because with all the power of electric and pneumatic nail guns, sometimes all you need is a basic tool like this simple, but really well-built nail gun from Stanley.
If you’re finishing fine details of a kitchen or tidying up flooring, this is more than enough for quick jobs without setting up wires and gathering nails, but it’s never going to replace a seriously powerful tool.
If you’re after a good quality manual nail gun, you can’t go wrong with this from Stanley. I’ve had this exact nail gun for almost ten years now and it’s never failed me.
We’ve not really covered roofing nailers in the rest of the article, because they’re almost always interchangeable with framing nail guns, but this roofing nail gun from Bostitch is a really useful tool for anyone in awkward spaces who don’t want to keep refilling their track.
The Bostitch nail gun is fully air-powered, so does need a compressor on-site, but it’s reliable, accurate, and its coil loading keeps it relatively compact compared to track loaded nail guns.
The Bosch cordless tacker is a basic brad nail gun for simple DIY and craft projects. There is very little use for it on a construction site, and it doesn’t seem capable of more than upholstery work, but it’s great at its job.
Just make sure you don’t mix it up with a more heavy-duty brad nailer as it's unlikely to work on heard wood, or structural timber even if you’re only attaching paper to a frame.
Best Nail Guns Australia
Top Rated Nail Gun
Makita DPT353Z Cordless Pin Nailer is a brilliant choice for any professional or DIY woodworking, whether you’re contradicting basic structures, or finishing off rooms with frames, skirting, or fixing ceiling battens, it’s a perfect tool for the job.
Its high pressure is what makes it stand out as a genuinely special nail gun, achieving similar pressure to pneumatic nail guns, without an air compressor tank, and a simple rechargeable battery.
Best Value Nail Gun
I didn’t expect to find a nail gun in this price range, so I was really surprised by the WEN Pneumatic Brad Nailer. It’s not just its price though, it’s a really powerful, and accurate nail gun, capable of seriously tough work that no other brad nail gun on test could do (even the guns that are twice the price).
It’s the only brad nailer that’s also pneumatic that we’ve got on review too, which makes it an incredible tool, but also a little off-putting for some DIYers, but it’s a simple choice between power and convenience in this case.
You can rent an air compressor, or buy one pretty cheaply, and you’ll still have money left on the price of some other brad nailers!
Premium Choice Nail Gun
Paslode Positive Placement Framing Nailer's 30-degree nail track makes this a really adaptable tool. Ok, so you need an air compressor to use it effectively, but any site should have one anyway, so that should get in your way.
It’s a title more expensive than your average framing nail gun, but it’s worth the cost, and incredibly easy to use, with great safety features too.
Nail Guns FAQs
Which is better, brad or finish nailer?
Finish nailers are more powerful and generally more accurate than brad nailers, but you can’t beat brad nailers for value or price.
The big difference between brad nailers and finish nailers is effort, with both types of nail gun able to cope with much of the same work, but finishing nailers usually provide a better, stronger finish.
Are electric nail guns any good?
Electric nail guns are great, and while they’re not as powerful as hydraulic nail guns, they usually give great pressure. The only problem with electric air compressed nail guns is that they fire slower, so for big jobs, hydraulic air guns and an air compressor are always going to be necessary.
Why are gas nail guns more powerful?
Gas nail guns work entirely on hydraulic pressure and connect to compressed air tanks which release air when you pull the trigger. Working this way means they never have to refill, can reload instantly, and fire up to 5 nails per second.
What kind of nail gun do I need for 2x4?
2x4 timbers are best secured using a framing nail gun. Electric nail guns will be fine for 2x4 timber, but they are slower than gas, so decide between cost and efficiency, Gas nailers will do the job faster, but cost more, either through buying or renting an air compressor, while electric nail guns are slower, but will ultimately cost less.
More tool reviews you might be interested in:
Wrapping Up Our Nail Gun Buying Guide
We’ve finally finished the main renovations of our house and had to reinstall every single ceiling. It not only would have been harder without a nail gun, but I’m pretty sure it would have been impossible.
So yes, nail guns are great for builders, and anyone working on construction sites, but they’re also a much-overlooked tool for serious DIYers.
Whatever you’re building, nail guns make it faster, easier, and neater, so to avoid sloppy work, choose the best nail gun for the job, whether that means finding the best framing nail gun, or choosing a good value brad nailer that works for you.