Let’s just get this out of the way: nail guns are really, really cool. The twelve-year-old me always jumps for joy when I get to use one for a project. But let’s get something straight: electric nail guns deserve your respect, cowboy. As fun as they are to use, they can be inherently dangerous if used without caution.
Cordless nail guns use an electrically fired bolt to sink nails into your material quickly without all the bent nails, sweating, and cursing that come with a standard hammer. Electric nail guns drive fasteners in without marring the surface badly and without the need for a finish punch.
It’s tough to nail down (ha!) a particular brand, style, or size of nail gun as the one for you to have on hand because they’re all so different depending on what your needs are. Our list of best cordless nail guns primarily features electric finish nailers. They’re versatile and really lend themselves well to most do-it-yourself home projects. We’ll go over the ins and outs of what a handyman should look for in a nail gun below.
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1. Porter-Cable 20V MAX 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer KitPros:
- Depth adjustment wheel allows for proper countersinking
- Tool-free stall release lever
- Three-year limited warranty
- Included battery is just 1.5Ah
- Slight recoil may leave dings in your material
- Working flashlight is behind the nail barrel
If you’re making the decision to use a nail gun, the Porter-Cable 20V MAX 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit is the highest-rated cordless model on our list and includes a 1.5Ah battery and charger. There’s no need for an air compressor or gas cartridges to get going on your next project with this brad nailer. Porter-Cable has designed this nailer to provide consistent firing power into whatever you’re working on.
There are several tool-free settings to help with productivity like a jam release and stall release lever. This cordless nail gun has a great weight to it, feels good when using, and just looks like a solid power tool. There are dual LED lights to help illuminate work (although one is behind the nail barrel which is odd) and a lock mechanism to prevent firing nails inadvertently while taking the tool from job to job.
The Porter-Cable 20V MAX 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer uses 18-gauge brad nails from 5/8″ to 2″ with a magazine capacity of 100. It features a sequential firing mode and is perfect for installing trim, crown molding, and putting together furniture. A depth adjustment wheel is great for dialing in your countersink distance, a really nice feature.
The included 1.5Ah battery should be enough to last for two to three hours; Porter-Cable promotes a 1,300-nail operating time while using a 4Ah battery which you can get here. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, the included battery may be just fine. There is a roughly one-second delay between pulling the trigger and the nail firing but considering the absence of air hoses or cords to trip over, this seems like a nice trade-off. It’s easy to load, easy to use, and easy to get things done.
2. DeWalt DCN680B 20V MAX 18GA Cordless Brad NailerPros:
- Nailer tip is extra small to improve line of sight
- Batteries with small capacities are perfect for this tool since it doesn't use a lot of juice
- Incredibly easy to use on just about anything
- It's a little bulky
- Reports of the nailer not wanting to use the last ten or so nails in a clip
If you’re on the fence between the DeWalt DCN680 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer and a pneumatic nail gun with a pancake compressor, let’s go over a few things. This cordless nail gun only weighs five pounds, uses 18-gauge brads from 5/8″ to 2-1/8″, and comes with a 2Ah battery and charger that will keep you going all day. It’s completely portable and more than competes with other air-powered or gas canister nail guns out there.
The brushless electric motor is powered by a 20V MAX lithium-ion battery, the kind available for dozens of other DeWalt cordless electric tools. The one included with this nailer is a 2Ah which is enough to last for two to three hours of constant use. DeWalt calls the nail barrel on this tool a “micro nose”; it’s extra small to improve your line of sight. There’s also a tool-free depth adjustment for countersinking those brads.
The DeWalt DCN680 is a little bulky but would you rather drag around an air hose and a 30-pound compressor? Yeah, I didn’t think so. It still isn’t as heavy and large as other electric nailers in this class. The balance of the tool is good while using it and you can’t deny the convenience of a cordless power tool without an air hose and quiet operation. You may find that a larger battery, like this 20V 5Ah unit, helps with the overall balance and feel. Jamming is very infrequent. The overall durability of the DeWalt DCN680 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer lives up to the reputation DeWalt has worked to create in the power tool market.
Note: DeWalt makes an angled 16-gauge cordless nail gun kit, the DCN660D1, that is slightly less expensive if you’re looking for a nailer that fires slightly larger fasteners.
3. Craftsman V20 18GA Cordless Brad NailerPros:
- Contoured overmolded handle
- 2Ah battery provides power to shoot 420 two-inch nails in soft wood on a single charge
- Good functionality and durability
- Heavier than other cordless nail guns
- No bump fire mode
- Takes 3.5 hours to charge battery
If you’re looking for a reliable and durable finish nailer that’s excellent for home use, look no further than the Craftsman V20 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer. There are no cords, no hoses, and no cartridges to look out for with this cordless nail gun. It comes with a 20V 2Ah battery that will fire up to 400 nails in one go and a charger that will have the battery refreshed in about three and a half hours. If you’re shooting a lot of brads, you may want to upgrade to the Craftsman Brad Nailer Kit with two 2Ah batteries to realize some cost savings.
Features on this cordless nail gun include a contoured overmolded handle for excellent comfort and grip; you’ll think you’ve got a rocketman laser pistol with how the detailing makes this power tool look. Set your nail depth with the dial on the side. If your nail is too tall or short, just crank a quarter turn and the problem is solved.
Dual LED work lights help with low visibility and let you know if you’re low on battery power or the tool has stalled. There’s also a tool-free jam release for easy clearing of rare nail jams in the barrel. And safety first: the trigger lock-off switch will prevent unintended nail firing while you’re on the go. This cordless nail gun handles 18 gauge brads from 5/8″ to 2″ in length and the kit comes with three clips of 100 nails each in 1″, 1-1/4″, and 2″ lengths.
The Craftsman V20 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer is a little heavier than other cordless nail guns of its class but the price of this power tool helps to make up for that. It’s a load of fun to use; so much so that you may find excuses to charge it up and go to town.
4. Ryobi P325 Airstrike 18V 16GA Cordless Finish NailerPros:
- Air pressure adjustment dial on back of unit
- LED lighting that illuminates work area
- Seamless magazine loading
- Reports of inconsistent nail sinking depth
- Depending on type of wood, 16-gauge nails may be tough to sink flush
- Battery and charger not included
Ryobi makes some excellent cordless power tools and the P325 16GA AirStrike Straight Finish Nailer is no exception. Faster setup and easier maneuvering on the job site without the need for compressors and hoses means you get going on your projects faster; better yet, strike and cleanup is faster and easier as well! This cordless nail gun uses larger 16-gauge nails from 3/4″ to 2-1/2″ in length so while this nailer can handle small trim jobs like an 18-gauge model, it can also handle baseboard installation and larger jobs as well.
Ryobi calls its cordless nail gun system “AirStrike” which is an entirely appropriate name for what the tool does. The cordless convenience is very choice. Slap in your 18V One+ battery (good to use with over 100 tools in the family) and enjoy hours of fastening power. This particular cordless nail gun offers up a selectable drive shift to choose between sequential (safer for detail work) or contact firing (bump and go).
The P325 features tool-free depth adjustment to help protect your work surface and for proper setting of finish nails. The adjustment dial regulates the air pressure for the best results for your job. A dry-fire lockout feature will extend the life of your power tool (and prevent you from nailing your tool belt to the side of your leg!).
A low nail indicator will let you know when you’re running low on ammo…er…nails so you don’t mar up your work material unnecessarily; two rubber tips are included to help with this as well. Add to all of this a three-year warranty and you’ve got a solid contractor tool that will keep up with all the fastening you need for that cabinet installation, furniture build, or molding job.
Note: the Ryobi P325 doesn’t come with a battery or charger. If you have 18V One+ batteries, then you’re good to go. If not, you’ll need this Ryobi P163 combo kit.
5. Kimo 20V 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer/StaplerPros:
- Features sequential fire and contact fire options
- Comes with 2Ah battery, charger, carry bag, 500 nails, and 500 staples
- Slimmer profile and less weight than other cordless nail guns
- Allen wrench required for nail jam release
- Plastic housing feels cheap and may have sharp edges
- Operation is a little clunky and loud
Maybe you’re not a contractor and you’re looking for a cordless nail gun for home use that isn’t an expensive name-brand? Kimo makes some pretty good power tools like this 20V 18-Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer/Stapler, excellent for the do-it-yourselfer on a budget. Sure, it doesn’t feel as premium as a DeWalt or a Milwaukee, but it does a great job with affixing fasteners, it comes with a great deal of peripherals, and the charger will refresh the battery in just an hour.
This cordless nail gun utilizes 18-gauge nails from 3/4″ to 2″ in length and also functions as a stapler using 1/4″ narrow crown staples from 3/4″ to 1-5/8″ in length. The Kimo gives you double the punch with one power tool. And at five pounds (without the battery), it’s one of the lightest cordless nail guns on the market.
This Kimo 20V nailer features a depth adjustment dial, can shoot 1,400 nails per charge, and also has two LED lights on either side of the housing to brighten up your workspace, handy if you’re working in dark areas. The cordless nail gun can be set to either sequential fire where the safety tip is depressed before the trigger to deliver precise results or contact fire so you can hold in the trigger and bump the tip for quick fastening.
The Kimo 20V 18-Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer/Stapler comes with the unit, 2Ah battery and quick charger, carry bag, 500 18-gauge nails, and 500 staples. For what you get in the package, it’s cost, and it’s very high rating score online, this cordless nail gun is an excellent value for any homeowner or do-it-yourselfer.
Kimo isn’t a premium brand at this point in the US but that allows them a certain flexibility to offer products at a much lower cost. If you’re interested in a spare battery for this tool (and you should be), this 20V 2Ah battery is only $34.99, a lot less than other batteries of its class.
6. Bostitch 20V MAX 18-Gauge Angled Cordless Brad NailerPros:
- Easy tool-free jam release procedure
- Brushless motor drives 15-gauge nails fro 1-1/4" to 2-1/2" in length
- Select between sequential and contact firing options
- Balance of tool with battery is a little top-heavy
- LED light position is at base of handle; not as useful as it could be closer to the barrel
- With nails in the magazine and the weight of the battery, this tool is fairly heavy
The Bostitch BCN650D1 20V MAX 15-Gauge Angled Cordless Finish Nailer Kit is more of a contractor’s tool than some of the other cordless nail guns on our list but it’s still classified as a finish nailer. This unit uses FN-style angled nails from 1-1/4″ to 2-1/2″ in length and features a narrow nose designed for a clear line of sight for nail placement. The depth adjustment can be set without tools as well as a selection between sequential or contact nail firing.
The inline fastener magazine is angled for easy use in different orientations and tight spaces. There are more reports online than other tools I looked at claiming that this tool jams often however that might be because of the nature of work designed for a tool this size. Regardless, the BCN650D1 features a jam release and a stall release lever to quickly reset the driver blade in the event of a stall; both of these do not require tools.
Multi-function LED lights help to provide both workspace illumination and tool diagnostics however they’re located at the base of the handle which is an odd choice. At full charge, the included 2Ah battery can drive up to 800 nails, and recharge time is about 30 minutes. Not bad especially for a larger finish nailer.
7. Makita XNB01Z 18V LXT 18GA Cordless Brad NailerPros:
- Anti-dry drive mechanism engineered to prevent driving blanks into work surface
- On-board battery gauge
- Drives up to 1,660 finish nails using a 5Ah battery
- Bulky and awkward to maneuver
- Not designed for contractor work
- No LEDs to light up your work surface
This particular cordless nail gun, the Makita XNB01Z 18V LXT 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer, is an excellent power tool for homeowners, craftspeople, or do-it-yourselfers. When looking at this model, the first thing I noticed was a few poor reviews from folks purchasing this nailer for their contracting businesses. The second thing I noticed was a rash of five-star reviews from average folks who simply love this tool. From what I can gather, the Makita XNB01Z is great for smaller jobs, not installing 600 board feet of trim in a day.
This cordless nail gun is part of the Makita 18V LXT battery family, one of the most successful cordless platforms ever. There are a lot of people out there using LXT tools and batteries. This nailer comes with a 5Ah battery (that’s really huge for a cordless nail gun) and for the performance this tool delivers, it’s a great package especially if you have a lot of Makita tools.
The balance and fire rate do not live up to what most people expect from Makita tools but that said, it’s still an excellent cordless nail gun. It can fasten two 3/4″ pieces of oak with no problem whatsoever. In fact, you may want to dial back the depth adjustment to make sure this tool doesn’t punch into the working surface too much. It’s a bulky tool but most cordless nail guns are. If you’re a contractor and you’re spending your day using this tool, you’re going to notice the challenges where a typical weekend warrior wouldn’t.
The Makita XNB01Z 18V LXT 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer isn’t the lightest tool in your box, nor is it the most nimble but compared to the hassle and weight of a compressor and hose along with your nailer, I think you’ll agree that this cordless nail gun (with an enormous battery packed in) is a great value.
What Is A Cordless Nail Gun?
A nail gun is the kind of power tool that might make you wonder, “Do I really need that?” After all, it’s not that tough to hammer in nails, is it? Well, that depends on how many nails you need to hammer home and if you’re a fan of convenience. Nail guns, especially the cordless variety, are handy for driving in a lot of nails and they can do it much better than you can.
Nail guns come in two flavors: pneumatic and cordless. Pneumatic simply means “powered by air”. In addition to the nail gun, you’ll need an air compressor and the size of that compressor will depend on what sort of nailing you’re doing.
Finish nailers like brad or pin nailers can use a pancake air compressor but if you’re playing with any sort of large nails like 15-gauge, you may need a much larger tank. Pneumatic nail guns are typically less expensive, more readily available, and more powerful than other types of nail guns.
Cordless nail guns utilize a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power. These nailers are completely portable and they’re not limited to cord length or an air hose connection. You can only work as long as your battery holds out which can be a drag but I typically keep a spare battery in the charger for just this reason. Cordless nail guns are typically used for smaller finish jobs and not heavy-duty framing but that's changing as technology gets better.
There are cordless nail guns available that use a small butane gas canister that work sort of like a spark plug. A little butane is introduced into a chamber and the trigger produces a spark that ignites the gas which drives the nail into what you’re working on. Because of the simplicity and convenience that battery-powered tools produce now, these gas-fired nail guns are slowly receding into history.
Besides how they’re powered, nail guns come in an amazingly wide variety simply because there are so many types of fastening jobs out there. Not all nail guns are the same; if you’re looking for just one to outfit your toolbox with, you’ll need to think about the types of projects you take on.
What Kind Of Cordless Nail Gun Should I Get?
Our list here focused on cordless nail guns that use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for the most mobility and convenience. With that comes some considerations, namely price and the type of work it can do. Cordless nail guns are, for the most, part used as finishing power tools for applying trim, attaching door and window moldings, and putting furniture together.
If you already own some cordless power tools manufactured by a certain company, it would make sense to look at that brand to add to your collection. Tools packed without batteries are available but if you can find a promotional deal, it’s a good way to acquire more batteries for a lot less money.
If you’re going to stick with one go-to cordless nail gun, you’re going to need some versatility in what you choose. 15-gauge nailers are going to be too expensive and big for finish work and 23-gauge is going to be too small for anything but fastening thin material together, typically with glue.
Nail guns that use 18-gauge fasteners (also known as brad nails or simply brads) are a decent, all-around cordless nail gun. They can shoot nails from 5/8” to 2” inches long. They’re good for a range of tasks including baseboard, trim, and crown molding. They’re good for building stair risers, too. You’re not going to be repairing split material often with this type of cordless nail gun.
Brad nailers are used most often for securing smaller profile molding. They’re also great for applying window and door casing because the smaller nail head won’t destroy thin wood (or MDF or vinyl). If you’re going to use a cordless nail gun infrequently or for smaller DIY projects, a brad nailer is a good weapon of choice.
If you’re looking for a true hobby tool, then consider a pin nailer. These cordless nail guns utilize 23-gauge nails that have really small-headed pins or even no heads at all. A pin nailer can be of great help when needing a temp fastening solution when gluing two pieces together. They won’t split your wood and you won’t have to address holes at the end of your project. Because pin nailers are limited in terms of their professional usefulness, you'll be able to shop for pneumatic options all day long but a true cordless option might be tough to find.
What Features Should I Look For In A Cordless Nail Gun?
Cordless nail guns have traditionally been more expensive than pneumatic models however that is changing. Depending on the brand and quality level, cordless nail guns can run in the hundreds of dollars. If you just need a basic nail gun, purchasing a lesser-known brand will definitely help your budget.
But, as my dad-in-law always says, get the right tool for the job. You’re going to hate yourself for skimping on a tool that inevitably won’t work for what you need it for.
Cordless nail guns are an investment. Make sure that when you slap down your hard-earned cash that you get one that is comfortable to use. That seems like such an obvious statement but all too often, people get dazzled with features first and realize later that a tool is tough to use. Get one that you can’t wait to use in the morning.
All cordless nail guns utilize the same basic safety feature: you must press a safety tip at the end of the discharge chute against your working surface before a nail can be fired. You can press the trigger all you want but unless that tip is pushed in, you got nothin’. You know those action movies where the good guys fire nail guns at the bad guys? Yeah. That doesn’t happen.
Nailers can fire differently. There are two categories of nail guns, contact and sequential firing. Contact firing allows the user to hold the trigger down and bump the safety tip along to quickly drive fasteners into your working surface. Hold the trigger down and you can speed through that line of work.
Sequential is safer in that you must press the safety tip against a surface and then pull the trigger. There is very little chance that nails will fire out the chamber with sequential firing. If you have kids around, this type of gun is a very good choice.
Some cordless nail guns offer the ability to switch back and forth between firing options to offer more versatility. Tool manufacturers understand that most amateur tool owners aren't likely to own more than one nailer and are building more features into each model.
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