There are many reasons why you should consider using a compressed or electric nail gun over a hammer when woodworking or doing other DIY home and garden repairs. Once you’ve tried one out, you’ll never want to go back to putting your hand in the way of a potentially wayward hammer!
We’ve read the reviews and put together a list of the best nail guns available in the UK from trusted brands such as Ryobi, DeWalt and Stanley, including cordless options and those for framing. Take a look at these reliable offerings on Amazon and eBay and you’ll soon see why upgrading to a nail gun takes the hassle out of any projects you have in mind.
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In our buying guide, we’ve set out the many different types and variations of nail guns on the market and what you can expect from each type. We’ve also made sure to explain what all the technical specs mean so you'll be able to confidently choose exactly the right product.
While all nail guns worth their salt will drive nails into wood or a wall, there are a few different types available that offer different conveniences; some are more portable and easier to handle, while others offer more power and can fire different sized nails.
The first type of nail gun we’re going to take a look at are ones powered by compressed air. If you couldn’t guess, these use an air compressor to fire the nail into a surface. The inner workings of these are relatively simple, meaning they can be cheap to pick up and pack a lot of punch.
The main downside of this type of nail gun is that you’ll need to already have a powerful air compressor unit, which can be bulky and expensive to purchase solely for using a nail gun. If you’re a car enthusiast and have a kitted-out garage, however, a simple nail gun attachment to an already-owned air compressor is a great choice.
When most people think of a nail gun, they probably think of one powered by electricity; these types are either powered by the mains with a cord or have a battery to make easier to move around. There are advantages to both types which will depend on the jobs you have in mind.
Cordless nail guns are obviously far more portable, making them a great choice if you’re working anywhere where an extension cable won’t reach, like a roof or a fence in the garden. It's worth noting that the battery packs can be bulky and require recharging, though.
Mains powered nail guns are often cheaper and provide more power than their portable counterparts, making them better for some harder surfaces, but your movement will be restricted when using it.
These nail guns also use electricity from a battery, but the nail itself is powered by a small explosion caused by a spark igniting gas from a canister, similarly to how a car engine works. As a small amount of gas is used each time, you’ll need to have replacement canisters ready to swap out for an empty one.
As far as advantages go, these types of nail gun are as portable as a cordless battery powered option but provide a huge amount of power when driving nails when compared to other portable options.
These tend to be the choice of professionals needing more industrial use and are a great choice for serious jobs and projects, but you’ll likely have to pay a premium.
As well as the various ways in which they are powered, different nail guns can be designed to specialise in many different jobs; there are roofing nail guns, finishing nail guns, framing nail guns and many more, far too many to list, in fact.
The main thing to focus on is that each specialist type of nail gun fires a different size, or gauge, of nail. The most common types are 16 gauge and 18 gauge (also known as brad nails), or 1.6 mm and 1.2 mm nails respectively, and ‘framing’ nail guns which are suitable for larger nails.
Each gun will also have a maximum capacity that they can hold at any one time, which is something to pay attention to.
You may see the terms 'first fix' and 'second fix' when looking at descriptions of nail guns and wonder what they are referring to. These are terms that relate to the stages in building a house and aren't too complicated to understand.
First fix is the first stage of when a house is being built, such as laying the brickwork for walls and constructing the actual structure of the house. Nail guns with first fix in the description are more heavy duty and usually for industrial use.
Second fix refers to work after the structure has been built, so fitting doors, sideboards, kitchen units and so on. Most second fix nail guns are suitable for home DIY work and things of that nature.
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ONE+ 18G AirStrike Nailer
An Extremely Powerful Cordless Nailer for Everyone
Air Brad Nailer｜ 868544
The Best Air Powered Nail Gun at an Incredibly Low Price
Brushless Framing Nailer｜ DCN660N-XJ DCN660N
A Compact and Lightweight Nail Gun That Packs a Punch
18V Cordless Fuel Framing Nailer ｜M18FFN-0C M18
Power and Performance Without the Need for Gas Canisters
Cordless Gas Finish Nailer｜NT65GS
A Premium Option at a Reasonable Price
Cordless Electric 2-in-1 Nail & Staple Gun
A Complete Set for the DIY Enthusiast
Brad Air Nailer｜ DGN50V
A Trusted Brand Offering Great Quality for Bargain Prices
Electric Nail Gun 18G/50mm Brad Nailer｜1183
Perfect for Home DIY on a Budget
One for Serious Building Work
Heavy Duty Electric Staple/Nail Gun｜0-TRE550
A Basic Affordable Option for Light Materials Only
With its unique Airstrike technology, this nail gun from Ryobi can match the performance of many of the gas powered options on the market while easing the stress on your wallet. Not only does it come in at an impressively low price point, but you also won't need to shell out on any replacement gas canisters.
Whether you're an amateur or enthusiastic DIY-er or a professional tradesperson, this is the perfect nail gun for the specifications and you really can't go wrong with this option. You'll have to pick up a battery separately, but that doesn't detract at all from the overall value.
Yes, you did read that price correctly, you can have one of the best air nailers on the market for only a little over £20. While it may be a little rough around the edges in terms of design, the performance is quite frankly astonishing for the price.
It is easy to maintain, rarely jams, and while not suited for industrial work, it can easily handle any DIY jobs or projects around the home or garden. If you have an air compressor, there's no excuse not to pick this up.
If you're looking for a lightweight option by a reliable brand that can handle regular industrial-level use, look no further than this offering from DeWalt. Its ergonomic design makes it easy to use over extended periods of time and you won't find it builds up much heat as you work, either.
Like many of the higher-end options, this doesn't come with a battery pack included, but we think that what it offers more than makes up for this, especially if you spend a lot of time on a worksite.
Only narrowly missing out on our top 3 is this nailer from Milwaukee. Thanks to its unique powerstate motor technology, it offers the sort of power you'd expect from a gas model without the need to replace any cartridges.
This really is an incredible nail gun if you're looking for a high level of power and performance, and if you're someone who works in the trade industry, it will end up saving you time and money if you're planning on using it regularly. It is worth noting, however, that you'll have to purchase the battery pack separately.
Hitachi are a well known and trusted name in the world of power tools and this offering is one that's suitable for a wide variety of jobs. It is light and easy to use when maintained correctly and comes at a very reasonable price for a gas powered nail gun.
If you're looking for high performance and don't mind the extra costs associated with replacement gas canisters, you really can't get much better than this option; it is the best value for a professional-grade power tool.
If you're the sort of person who always seems to have a DIY project on the go and you're looking for a good nail gun, then this is the choice for you. While it won't compete with some of the more expensive options in terms of power, due to inbuilt air compression technology it'll easily be able to hold its own.
The set also comes with a hard carry case for easy transport and storage, as well as a large number of nails and staples. If you're looking for something a little more than occasional use, but less than daily, you can't go far wrong with this option.
Like the previous entry on our list, this has all the benefits that other Tacwise products offer: great quality at reasonable prices. If you have an air compressor, this is a solid choice from a trusted brand.
This is a light and effective nail gun, which doesn't have too many downsides; the only reason that this isn't a bit higher on our list is that when it comes to compressed air nail guns, there is more value to be had further down.
When it comes to balancing quality against value, Tacwise is a name that pops up again and again in the nail gun world. If you're looking for something suitable for DIY jobs and other second fix work without breaking the bank, this is your pick.
It is probably a good idea to use Tacwise branded nails with this option as other brands may cause jams, but they are also affordable and easy to get hold of. The only downside is that the mains cable is a little short, so it may be worth investing in an extra-long extension cable if you're thinking of going for this one.
This gas powered offering is one of the more popular choices when it comes to professional use. As it's a framing nail gun used for constructing wooden frameworks for buildings, it could be a great option if you're a contractor or looking at undertaking some serious home renovation.
Due to its high price point and the fact that it fires larger 3.1 mm, or 11 gauge, nails, it isn't the sort of option that makes much sense for a DIY enthusiast. If you're looking for a professional framing nailer and don't mind paying a premium, though, this is a good choice.
The first entry on our list is a bit of an outlier as it could be a cheap and effective replacement for a hammer for the odd job around the home, or on the other hand, it could be completely unfit for purpose if you have it in mind for anything more than light work.
For what you get for the price, this is a great little nail gun, but like many budget options, it's far from reliable or hard-wearing. If you're working with upholstering furniture, for example, or soft woods and boards, it's great. Anything harder and it won't be able to drive the nail into the surface and will likely break trying.
Wondering why you should use a nail gun? The short answer is that they are far more convenient than using a hammer and will save you a huge amount of time on any given job.
While adding the element of speed, a nail gun is also far more accurate than when using a hammer, giving you a higher level of precision than you would otherwise get. The extra precision and control you are granted also dramatically reduces the risk of injury as your hands will be nowhere near a nail or a hammer.
Reducing the risk of a possible accident is also an appealing factor if you’re using a ladder or working anywhere you could become unbalanced when swinging a hammer with one hand and holding a nail with the other.
Planning on upcycling some wooden furniture or sprucing up a few areas around the house and garden? Check out a few more of our recommendations for screwdrivers, drills and sandpapers to ensure you get the best tools for the job.
Whether you're looking for something cheap and easy to replace the dangers that come with using a hammer or you're looking for a tool that's a little more powerful and precise, we hope that our article has been able to point you towards the best nail gun for your needs.
Author: David Sexton
No. 1: Ryobi｜ ONE+ 18G AirStrike Nailer
No. 2: Silverline｜Air Brad Nailer｜ 868544
No. 3: Dewalt｜Brushless Framing Nailer｜ DCN660N-XJ DCN660N
No. 4: Milwaukee ｜18V Cordless Fuel Framing Nailer ｜M18FFN-0C M18
No. 5: Hitachi ｜ Cordless Gas Finish Nailer｜NT65GS
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