We have come a long way from the first pneumatic nail guns that needed a compressor and many feet’s of hoses. Cordless nail guns are a standard now, but they are not cheap at all, and that is why it is important to choose the right one for your needs. Of course, there are leading companies that established their name and their products are more expensive, you get what you pay for. But, what about the less known, cheaper tools. Are they decent competitors to the leaders of the board?
We are going to take a look at 7 representatives of the category and try to determine which is the best Cordless Framing Nailer for you
In the second part of the text, you will find a sort of a buying guide, with most common terms explained. Professionals might not have use of it, but people who are looking to buy their first cordless nailer might find useful tips.
Best Cordless Framing Nailers
Hitachi NT1850DE 18V Cordless Brad Nailer 18 Gauge
This is Brad Nailer. It is 18 Gauge, so it is best suited for framing work, with soft to medium-hard materials. The weight is 7.3 pounds and it is powered by a Compact 3.0Ah Lithium Ion battery.it is capable of driving up to 1,650 nails per charge, lengths from 5/8″ to 2″.
The nail hitting mechanism is specific to Hitachi. It uses a battery to charge the pneumatic cylinder, and then it fires the nail. There is no need to replace the gas cylinder, it is a part of the tool. This mechanism allows it to be quieter than the competitors, have virtually no recoil, and be much quicker.
You can choose between sequential and bump mode, and the depth, and it has LED lights for a better view of the hitting spot.
The battery is standard Hitachi, and it is interchangeable with other Hitachi tools that use Compact 3.0Ah battery.
In the package, you will find the Cordless Nail Gun, Compact 3.0Ah Lithium-Ion Battery, Charger, Contractor Bag, Safety Glasses
- Brand name product.
- Quiet. The pneumatic cylinder system is much quieter than the competition solutions.
- Fast. It can hit more nails per minute because there is no prep time.
- Professional’s choice.
- Tool-free jam release. The jams are really rare, though.
- The battery level indicator has only 3 marks, full, half full and empty. So, you think you are half full, and next moment it goes to empty, nothing in the between.
- The on-switch. After a period of inactivity, the tool shuts down. So you have to turn it on again, and the button is not easily accessible. It is a safety feature, but until you get used to it, it can be annoying.
PORTER-CABLE Cordless Nail Gun PCC790LA 20V. 18 Gauge
This is a homeowner’s tool, basically between complete amateur, and a pro. The weight is 5,9 pounds, which makes it one of the lightest on the market. It can shoot nails from 5/8″ to 2 inches long, up to 800 with the standard 1.5 Ah 20V battery.
It is very quiet, it beats even the more expensive competitors. It has only sequential mode, no bump mode, so some pros consider it to be slower. It is fast to operate, though, and with very consistent results, no nails sticking out.
The depth of nails can be adjusted by a simple turn of the nob close to the nose, and the jam release mechanism is quite simple to operate.
- Very quiet. It is quiet, and the noise is not constant, like on flywheel models.
- Tool-free jam release.
- The price. It is affordable, considering what it offers. It is affordable, even when you don’t consider it.
- Sometimes a poor line of vision. It is fat in the middle, because of the motor sticking out, so you may need to move left and right to get good perspective when doing some precision work.
- No bump mode. It shoots nails only when you press the nose against the board and press the button.
DEWALT DCN680B 20V Max XR 18 Gauge Brad Nailer
This nail comes from a world-famous manufacturer, practically a synonym for professional tools. It completely battery operated, with DeWalt’s patented flywheel system. When you press the button, a flywheel inside the machine starts to spin, and when it reaches certain RPM, it fires a nail.
That means that you have to wait for a second or two before the first nail can be fired. After the first one, when the flywheel gains momentum, the work goes quickly, especially because this cordless nailer has a bump mode, besides the sequential. Bump mode makes work quicker because you can fire a nail simply by pressing the nose to a surface. No need to press a button.
Speaking of the nose tip, it is one of the things professionals like the most about this tool. The nose tip is very thin, so it provides a lot of accuracies when needed. Some of the competitors have nose tips up to 6/8 of an inch, and that can’t really be used in tight corners, or anywhere where precision matters.
It has LED lights that illuminate the work area, and the LED battery level indicator. This device comes without the battery and the charger, thus the cheaper price. Because DeWalt has standardized batteries that fit many tools, this one is intended for those users that already have some DeWalt tools and batteries, and don’t need more.
- Brand name product. One of the most famous in the world.
- Good speed. It has a bump mode, which most professionals find very useful.
- Great precision. The thin nose tip makes it ideal for all kinds of precision work.
- Tool-free jam release.
- Affordable price. It is so because the tool comes without the battery and the charger. It is meant to be used by people that already have some DeWalt tools and batteries since they fit many devices.
- A professional’s choice. It is used by pros all over the world.
- Battery and charger not included. But the price is lower. This cordless nail gun is intended for DeWalt tool owners, who already have batteries and chargers. The batteries are interchangeable.
Metabo HPT NR1890DCQ4 18V
The Hitachi tools have changed the name and are now Metabo. We don’t know why this change of company image was needed, but we know that the tools remain the same- good, reliable, and a tool of choice for a large percentage of the professionals.
It fires Paper Strip Nails, and the magazine is placed at a 30° angle. It uses the patented Air Spring Drive, which means that the battery is used to compress air in the built-in cylinder, and then it fires a nail. This is very quick and silent. Bump mode also makes the work go faster.
There is a LED indicator for the battery, but no battery is included in the package. Metabo has a line of batteries that are interchangeable between their different tools. So this product is intended for users that already have some of their tools and chargers, and they can use their battery.
- Brand name product. World-famous Company, and for a reason.
- Quiet. The pneumatic cylinder system is much quieter than the competition solutions.
- Fast. With the bump mode, it can hit more nails per minute, because there is no prep time.
- Professional’s choice. This cordless nail gun is very popular with professionals all over the world.
- Tool-free jam release. The jams are really rare.
- Warranty. The manufacturer has provided a Lifetime Tool Warranty
- High price. It is a pro nailer, so it is partly justified.
- No battery and charger. It is intended for users that already have Metabo or Hitachi tools and can use their batteries.
- The on-switch. After a period of inactivity, the nailer shuts down. So you have to turn it on again, and the button is not easily accessible. It is a safety feature, but until you get used to it, it can be annoying.
Paslode – 905600 Cordless XP Framing Nailer
Paslode was one of the first cordless nail guns on the market. It is specific because it uses a dual system, electric and gas fuel cell. The battery is used only to ignite Propane gas from the fuel cell. The combustion energy then fires the nail. This is good because it needs a small battery since it is only used to ignite the gas. That makes this nail gun pretty light, 7,2 pounds. The bad news is that you need to change gas cartridges every 1200 nails. That can be annoying if you don’t have any spare with you.
The battery itself is 7V and can help fire 9000 nails before it needs to be recharged. It is powerful and can drive nails through hardwood. The one thing most users, even professional agree is that it is amazingly ergonomic, maybe the best in the category.
- Good ergonomics. It is lightweight and lies great in the hand. Excellent for overhead work.
- Powerful. It can be used for hardwood work.
- Low noise. Especially important when you are working for longer periods.
- Exhaust from the combustion. Can be annoying if you work inside
- Propane canisters. You always have to carry several with you, in case you run out. And they are not free.
Senco GT65DA Cordless 15 Gauge Angled Finish Nailer
This is an angled cordless framing gun, excellent for overhead work because it is light, just 5,2 pounds. It is light because the battery is small. It is only used to ignite the gas from the canister, and the small “explosion” drives the nail into the wood. The upside is that it is, as we said-lite and maneuverable, the downside is that you always have to carry additional gas charges. The harder the wood you are working on, and the bigger the nails, the faster it runs out. The manufacturer is not that popular with the professionals, so this can be called a homeowner’s tool.
- Light and maneuverable. It is great for tight spaces and overhead work
- Powerful. It is designed to work on framing jobs.
- Very affordable. The price is about half of the most used pro cordless nail guns.
- The gas canister. It needs to be replaced regularly. And if you don’t have enough spares with you, and you are in a remote location, that can be a problem. Also, they are not free.
- Gas smell. It can be annoying for some people when working in close quarters.
Ryobi P330 18V ONE+™ Angled 15 Ga Finish Cordless Nailer
This is a 15 Gauge nail gun, so it uses larger nails than brad nailers, and it is intended for framing work, and dealing with hardwood. Many professionals agree, and some tests have shown that it is amongst the most powerful cordless nail guns in the category. When dealing with hardwood, the results are impressive and constant.
Its heavy though, 9,9 pounds, and bulky, so the line of sight can be obstructed sometimes. This is a heavyweight amongst nailers, and it hits like a heavyweight. Of course, the power can be adjusted, so you wouldn’t split open softer wood. It is fast also, you can choose between sequential and bump mode.
- Immense power. It can drive nails through hardwood without a problem.
- Quiet. You would expect all that power to come with a big bang, but that is not the case here.
- Fast. It has a bump mode
- Heavy. With 9.9 pounds it is amongst the heaviest in the category.
Buying a Cordless Nail Gun? Things you should know.
The most important characteristic. A larger number means thinner nail and the opposite. So the 15 Gauge is much thicker and stronger than 18, not to mention 23. You should choose based on what you are planning to do. Stronger and bigger nails are intended for framing work, outside window framing, kitchen cabinet, and everywhere where strength and strong holding are needed. They can’t be used on thinner or softwood, because they would just rip it apart, they are too strong.
In those cases, you would need a brad nailer, 15 or 16 Gauge. The 15 gauge leaves holes so small they will be covered with pain only, no additional wood putty needed, like with 15 Gauge. So everywhere that you need a small and thin nail, and no heavy holding capabilities are needed, higher Gauge will do the work. It mostly applies to some finishing work, wood floor, kitchen cabinet, window trimmings…
Unfortunately for homeowners, there is no cordless nail gun that would fill all their needs, a nail that would be strong enough for framing would absolutely destroy trim pieces. So maybe for them, and for amateurs, 16 Gauge would be some kind of compromise.
Professional always use different Gauge framing nail guns for different work and don’t really approve of the 16 Gauge.
Type of action
There are two main types: completely battery-operated, and gas-battery combination.
The second one is much rarer, and it will probably be completely pushed out of the market in the upcoming years.
The big manufacturers have their patented systems for cordless nailers. With DeWalt, it is the spinning Flywheel. When it reaches a certain RPM, it fires a nail. In everyday use, it means that you have to wait a second or two for the first nail to be fired, and when a Flywheel reaches the speed, there is virtually no waiting, the nails go out with great speed. The spinning of the flywheel is not exactly silent, so there is some noise. And there is some recoil.
Hitachi (Metabo) has a combination system, where a battery is powering a cylinder that compresses air, and then fires it. The cylinder is part of the tool and no changing is needed. This technology seems to be quieter than the Flywheel, and the recoil is much weaker. Another advantage is that they tend to be less bulky.
Other manufacturers basically follow the systems that big producers have.
This is, I guess, a dying breed, and it comes naturally since they were the first cordless nail guns on the market. The only thing that is keeping them alive is a small weight. They are usually much lighter than the battery-only tools, less bulky, and much easier to work with when doing some overhead work, or in tight spaces. Less bulky also implies a clear line of sight and better precision work.
They are light because they have small batteries, and they are only used to ignite the gas from the removable gas canister. They are bought, so that would be an additional expense. And can be annoying if you run out and have no spare.
So, the small combustion process from the gas is responsible for driving the nail out. There are fumes afterward, and you will hear an inner fan running to drive the fumes out. The smell is not strong, but if you are working in tight spaces, it can be bothersome.
Big manufacturers have their battery platforms, where a battery from one cordless tool can be mounted on a different one. This eliminates the need for 10 different chargers and batteries in the workshops or on the construction site. It is always better to buy a tool from a producer that is prevailing in your toolbox. Another upside is that you will pay less if you buy a stripped-down version, without the battery and the charger.
The angle of the magazine
The angled magazine cordless nailers will work better if you often work in tight spaces, or have to place nails in the corners. But it is not really a big deal, even with the straight magazine you can do that work, just needs a little bit of moving the nailer around.
There is no Absolutely the Best Cordless Nail Gun. It all depends on the type of work you are doing and your personal preferences. One nail gun can’t do all the jobs on the construction or renovation site. If you are a homeowner, some in-the-middle Gauge could be a solution for you. And whichever you choose, they will certainly make the job go smoother and faster.