2024 Nail Gun Buying Guide

Last updated: January 29, 2024

Nail guns are extremely popular power tools used in construction for driving many nails into various materials quickly and consistently. These tools are essential for a variety of wood and metal work, and no tradesman’s tool box is complete without one! While it can definitely be a considerable investment, they’re the best way to reduce your construction time while creating a high-quality end product.

At Toolden we offer a wide range of affordable, professional pneumatic and electric nail guns to suit any job. But before we explore these, it’s important to understand the different type of nail guns and how they work.

1st Fix vs 2nd Fix

There are two main types of nail guns – 1st fix and 2nd fix. Both types of nail guns are fairly similar in their appearance, but they are designed for very different jobs and using the wrong type could cause major problems for your job.

1st Fix

1st fix nail guns, also known as framing nailers, are used to complete rough woodwork and construction work like framing, flooring, roofing, and generally, anything else that is used as a frame for something else.

These nailers use larger, bulkier nails that will often leave a mark on the material; however, this generally isn’t an issue as it is intended for use on areas that aren’t typically visible once the project is completed.

2nd Fix

2nd-fix nail guns, also known as finishing nailers, are used later in the project for any lighter work such as door frames, skirting boards, and woodwork finishing.

These nailers use much smaller nails that make only the smallest impression on a surface, making it perfect for finishing delicate work that requires a clean finish. 2nd fix nails also cause less splitting in the wood which helps give it a more refined look.

How do nail guns work?

Nail guns have two primary tasks to complete with every nail driven – the firing of the nail itself and the loading of the next one. Once the trigger is pulled on the nail gun, it will power a piston down onto a blade mechanism, which then fires the nail into the surface with the relevant force. After this nail is fired, a new nail is loaded from a magazine using a spring, which pushes the bottom of the magazine up after each shot.

The main mechanical difference between nail gun types is the source of the force used to propel the pistol and consequently the nail. This source of power will either be electric, pneumatic, or combustion-based.

Features to consider when buying a nail gun

Your choice of the best nail gun will largely depend on your requirements for the job at hand. If you’re doing fencing and larger projects, you’ll want to look for heavy-duty framing nailers that use longer, thicker, lower-gauge nails. If you’re working on furniture or delicate interior jobs, however, you should consider a high-gauge brad nailer or finishing nailer.

Before purchasing any nail gun, however, here are some key factors you should take into consideration:

Power Type

One of the first, and indeed most important factors to consider when selecting a nail gun is how the gun will be powered.

Firing Method

When shopping for a new nail gun, pay attention to the firing method. Doing this will help ensure you have the most efficient tool for your projects and help avoid accidental misfires.

Nail Gauge

Perhaps one of the most influential factors when choosing a nail gun is the type of nails it can use.

Nail gauge translates to the thickness of the nail, so when referring to nail gauge a higher gauge number means a thinner nail, while a lower gauge number means a thicker nail.

The most common nail gauge options are:

Now, let’s get into the different types of nail guns and our top picks!

Straight or angled?

Another distinction between some nail guns is whether it is straight, or angled. But what are angled nail guns?

Essentially angled nailers are nail guns that come with magazines that are angled. The magazine is attached to the base of the machine and then angled towards your arm, making it quite distinct in appearance compared to the straight nailer.

This angled design prevents the front of the tool from hitting the work surface and allows for the user to fire nails into much tighter spaces, or much closer to the floor which would essentially be impossible with a straight nailer.

Types of Nail Guns

Brad Nailer

Makita nailer

Our PickMakita DBN600ZJ 18V Second Fix Nail Gun

Brad nailers are a great all-rounder nail gun, often being the nailer of choice for contractors. While they can be used for finishing, they’re compatible with larger 18-gauge and 16-gauge nails so they can be used for jobs like baseboards, door and window trim work, and crown molding.

Finishing Nailers


Our PickMilwaukee M18 FN18GS-0X 18V Fuel Straight Second Fix Nail Gun

Finishing nail guns are some of the lightest nail guns and use long thin nails for delicate work like assembling furniture and cabinets, finishing, trimming, and moulding work.

Pin Nailers


Our PickMakita DPT353Z LXT 18V Pin Nailer

Pin nailers are the smallest and most delicate of all nail guns. They shoot small and thin 23-gauge headless nails that look like pins (hence the name!), that offer very little holding power. Due to this, pin nailers are typically used for temporarily holding something in place while the wood glue dries.

Flooring Nailers

Dewalt Nailer

Our PickDeWalt DCN682N XR 18V Brushless Flooring Stapler

A flooring nailer is unlike any other nailer in that it drives nails at a 90° angle from the base. These nailers have a single purpose, which is to drive nails at a 45° angle into hardwood or softwood floorboards. 

How to use a nail gun safely?


What are the advantages of using a nail gun over traditional methods?

Using a nail gun offers several advantages over traditional methods, such as using a hammer:

Overall, the use of nail guns enhances efficiency, precision, and worker comfort, making them a preferred choice in various construction and woodworking scenarios.

How do I load nails into a nail gun?

Loading nails into a nail gun typically involves the following steps:

  1. Disconnect the Power Source: Ensure the nail gun is disconnected from its power source, whether it’s an air compressor, gas canister, or electrical outlet, for safety.
  2. Open the Magazine: Locate and open the magazine or nail strip compartment on the nail gun. This is where the nails will be loaded.
  3. Insert the Nail Strip: Place the strip of nails into the designated slot in the magazine, ensuring the nails are facing the correct way and properly aligned.
  4. Close the Magazine: Securely close the magazine, making sure it latches or locks in place. This ensures that the nails are held securely and ready for firing.
  5. Connect to Power Source: Reconnect the nail gun to its power source, whether it’s an air compressor, gas canister, or electrical outlet, according to the specific type of nail gun.
  6. Test Fire: Before actual use, perform a test fire in a safe direction to ensure the nails are feeding correctly and the nail gun is functioning properly.

What maintenance is required for nail guns?

Regular maintenance is essential for the proper functioning and longevity of nail guns. This includes:

  1. Cleaning: Keep the nail gun free from debris, sawdust, and accumulated dirt. Regularly clean the exhaust vents and air intake to ensure optimal airflow.
  2. Lubrication: Apply lubricant to moving parts, such as the driver blade and piston, to reduce friction and prevent wear. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the appropriate lubricant.
  3. Check for Wear: Inspect the nail gun for worn or damaged parts, such as o-rings and seals. Replace any damaged components to maintain peak performance.
  4. Adjustment: Periodically check and adjust the depth setting to control how deeply the nails are driven into the material. Follow the user manual for proper adjustment procedures.
  5. Power Source Maintenance: If using a pneumatic nail gun, ensure the air compressor is well-maintained, with clean filters and proper pressure settings. For gas-powered or electric nail guns, check and maintain the respective power sources according to manufacturer guidelines.
  6. Storage: Store the nail gun in a clean, dry environment to prevent corrosion. Use appropriate cases or storage solutions to protect the tool when not in use.
  7. Safety Checks: Regularly inspect the safety features, such as the trigger mechanism and the anti-dry fire system, to ensure they are functioning correctly.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines specific to your nail gun model. Following these recommendations will help keep the tool in good condition, reduce the risk of malfunctions, and ensure safe and efficient operation.

At Toolden we offer a wide range of nail guns including first & second fix, straight & angled, and corded & cordless.