Struggling to understand the world of nail guns and which is the best nail gun for your task at hand? Fear not, we’ve put together this guide to help you get to grips with all things nail and pin guns, no matter whether you’re brand new to the tool or just looking to expand your knowledge into a different type of build than you’re used to.

An essential tool for a variety of wood and metal work, a quality nailer (or two) belongs in the toolbox of any passionate DIYer, hobbyist or professional. At SGS, we have a high-quality and affordable range of electric and pneumatic nail guns covering all essential nail gauges and degree angles, including finish nailers, brad nailers, framing nail guns and more.

But before you explore that range, you need to understand the products that are in it, more specifically how they’re used, how they work and which the best one is for your needs. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the different types of nail guns available.

What is a nail gun?

Mechanical nail guns are used for driving nails into tough materials such as hard woods and metal. Utilising either a battery or compressed air as their source of power, nail guns make the process of nailing suitable materials almost effortless, vastly reducing the time, effort and risk that would come with a manual nail and hammer approach, while also increasing the effectiveness and accuracy of the work carried out.

Nail guns come in many different shapes and sizes to meet the demands of different tasks, meaning they can be put to good use in all sorts of personal and professional projects.

How do nail guns work?

So, how does a brad nailer work – or indeed any other type of nail gun?

Nail guns have two fundamental tasks to complete with every shot – the firing of the nail and the loading of the next one. When the trigger is pulled on a typical nail gun, the gun will power a piston down onto a blade mechanism that fires the nail into the target with suitable (and considerable) force. Once the nail is fired, a new nail is loaded from a magazine via a spring, which pushes the base of the magazine upwards upon each shot.

The main difference between common mechanisms is the origin of the force used to propel the piston and, in turn, the nail. The source of power is either electric, pneumatic (pressured air or gas) or, in some cases, combustion based.

What is a nail gun used for? And why should you use a nail gun?

The main purpose of any nail gun is for driving nails into various materials in the quickest way possible. The other alternative is to use a hammer, but this is never going to be as fast, accurate or safe. For projects where a lot of nails are required to be inserted at once, a nail gun is by far the most effective method.

In their various formats, nail guns can be used for a range of different purposes which include framing, roofing, flooring and furniture work. Alongside heavy-duty applications, higher-gauge pin gun models are appropriate for more delicate work like stapling and tacking.

Fundamentally, speed and accuracy are the two main reasons to invest in a nail gun.

How to choose a nail gun

Choosing your nail gun very much comes down to your needs going forward. For DIYers looking to complete a specific task, it really depends on the job at hand. If you’re after the best nail gun for fencing, for example, you’ll want to look at heavy duty framing nail guns that use longer, thicker, low-gauge nails. Meanwhile, those looking for the best nail gun for furniture making might want to consider a brad nailer for smaller projects, or even a high-gauge pin gun for the most delicate tasks.

For hobbyists and professionals who are more likely to take on a variety of projects, you’ll almost certainly want to invest in multiple types of nail guns in order to have the versatility in your toolbox to complete each and every job. Before any nail gun purchase, however, there are some key factors you must consider:

  • Nail gauge: Do all nail guns use the same nails? As we’ve already touched on, the answer is no. Understanding how the gauge of your nail gun relates to its best use is key. 15- and 16-gauge nail guns use thicker nails up to two-and-a-half inches long, while an 18g nail gun shoots brad nailer nails that are a maximum of two inches. Then you have three-and-a-half-inch framing nail gun nails and much smaller 20- and 23-gauge pin gun staples. Which nail gauge is best for your job? Go too small and your materials won’t hold together. Go too big and you risk splitting and damaging the wood.

  • Power source: Battery or air? Typically, you should choose battery power for reliability and convenience, while a pneumatic air source will provide you with the strongest force.

  • Nail gun weight: As with any power tool, make sure the weight of your nail gun relates properly to the task at hand. There’s no point choosing a framing nail gun if accuracy is your number one priority.

To better help you choose your nail gun, it’s important to look at the different variations of nail gun and how they’re best used.

Different types of nail guns and their uses

  • Framing nail gun: The heaviest duty option among nail guns, framing nailers use nails up to three-and-a-half inches in length and are considered the best nail gun for fencing, decking and wood sheathing and siding.

  • Finish nailer: Finish options are 15g and 16g nail guns that can fire nails up to two and half inches in length. Used to finish carpentry work, finish nailers are best utilised for crown moulding and baseboards.

  • Brad nailer: A popular DIY option, the two-inch nails you’ll find in 18-gauge brad nailers make them the skirting board nail gun of choice. Also available in 20-gauge, brad nailers are also the best nail gun for furniture making.

  • Pin nailer: The most delicate nailers you can buy, small pin guns use 23-gauge staples for a variety of more precise finishing trim work in carpentry.

Now you know the basics of nail guns and narrowed down the reasons why you need to buy one, it’s time to decide on the right purchase for you. At SGS Engineering we have a range of battery and air-powered nail guns available, each of which have their own advantages.

Air-powered nail guns

When it comes to powerful, efficient nailing and stapling, the air hammer nail guns and air staple guns we have on offer at SGS are built to deliver. From heavy-duty nailing to light framing work, our selection of air tools provides you with one of the fastest and most efficient fastening methods available. We've been designing, selling and refining our own range of air-powered nail and staple guns for years now, so have a look through the full range of air tools and accessories or learn more about picking an air compressor and tools in our handy Air Compressor Buyers Guide.

Brad air nail gun F-type (18 gauge) 10 to 50mm

With capacity for 10mm to 50mm nails, this 18g nail gun is designed to offer reliable and precise air-powered nailing. It is perfect for attaching thin strips and delicate trim to your woodworking projects. With a magazine capacity of 100 nails, you won't have to reload too often, and the light weight of 1.5kg (not including nails) is ideal for accuracy and control across numerous woodworking tasks.

With a maximum operating pressure of 115 PSI (normal operating range is between 75 and 100 PSI), this is a tough brad nailer that is also easy to use. As with all the tools SGS Engineering provides, it’s tested to the highest standards and fully CE-compliant.

34 Degree Framing Nail Gun

This top-end 34-degree framing nail gun has been designed with precision in mind. This clip head nailer fires 50-90 mm nails and works at a recommended pressure of 75-100 PSI, with a maximum operating pressure of 110 PSI. The magazine capacity offers a generous 80 nails, so you won't have to spend much time reloading while you work.

15 Degree Coil Nail Gun

If you're looking for a dependable, easy to use 15-degree nail gun that can work with 45-70mm nails, then look no further. This tool is designed for trade use with numerous applications within its arsenal including sheathing, roofing, decking, fencing and more. Its low weight of 3.6 kg (without nails) makes it comfortable to work with, while its 200-300 nail capacity means you can work continuously without interruption. With a recommended operating pressure of 70-100 PSI, this is a powerful and efficient option.

Air Staple Gun 20 Gauge 6-16mm

Our 20-gauge air fine wire staple gun is perfect for both trade and DIY use. It can be used for a multitude of jobs such as carpet laying, upholstery and packaging. Fitting 6mm to 16mm staples, it’s comfortable and lightweight at just 850g (without staples), making it easy to use. It operates at a recommended pressure of 60-100 PSI with a maximum pressure of 110 PSI, so is powerful enough for most heavy-duty jobs.

The magazine holds up to 100 staples, meaning minimal reload time. Just as with our heavier nail guns, the 20-gauge air staple gun has been tested stringently for compliance with all applicable quality and safety standards, offering you great value for money.

Combination 2 in 1 Air Nail & Staple Gun

A versatile tool, our 2-in-1 option is perfect for a wide spectrum of trade and DIY jobs. Offering easy switching between nailing and stapling, this ultra-light nail gun is comfortable and simple to use. It offers a magazine capacity of up to 100 18-gauge brad nails or 80 18-gauge crown staples, with a recommended operating pressure of 75-100 PSI (maximum of 110 PSI), making it both powerful and versatile enough for most serious fastening jobs.

Upgrade Your Air Supply

Need a new air compressor to power your framing nail gun or a small compressor for your brad nailer? As well as designing our own air tools, we've got a fantastic range of DIY and semi-professional compressors available either on their own or bundled with our most popular air tools - including the SAT101 brad nailer. View Now

Battery Powered Nail Guns

No need for compressors, long cables or expensive air cartridges here. With Milwaukee FUEL and M18 range of batteries, you’ll get optimum performance from our battery-powered options, making the Milwaukee cordless range the ideal nail guns for skirting boards, furniture or a woodworking project of your own.

Milwaukee M18CN16GA-0X 18V FUEL Li-Ion 16G Angled Finish Nail Gun

The M18CN16GA-0X 18V 2nd fix nailer by Milwaukee is perfect for indoor trim, woodworking projects, mouldings around doors and so many more applications. Ready to fire nail technology eliminates the need for ramp-up time between each nail discharge, meaning you can swiftly deliver up to 800 nails per charge.

Milwaukee's patterned REDLITHIUM-ION technology removes the need for any unnecessary long-running cables or air hoses. The nailers built-in LED light is great for illuminating the whole of your project, ensuring you always sink your nails neatly and precisely. With the blue low nail indicator light, you'll be able to see when it's time to reload at a glance. Thanks to the impressive power of the machine you can consistently seat nails sub-flush to the surface of all hardwoods.

Milwaukee M18FN18GS-0X 18V 18 Gauge Nail Gun

The M18FN18GS M18 finish nail gun by Milwaukee is the best in class. Thanks to the powerful 18V motor this nail gun is designed to deliver durability and reliability to the most demanding users with very little maintenance. Firing up to 1200 nails per charge on a REDLITHIUM-ION 2.0Ah battery pack (not included) to maximise your productivity, whatever the intended application. The small work contact bracket allows you to fire and sink nails at a more acute angle than other similar nail guns.

There’s no need to purchase any extras like air compressors or expensive cartridges with the Milwaukee Cordless 16- and 18- gauge FUEL nailers. Instead, you can take advantage of our M18 bundle offer that comes complete with two rechargeable batteries and a charger which can be used with any Milwaukee M18 tool in the range. View Now.