Are you in the market for a nail gun? Traditional pneumatic guns (powered by an air compressor) are the standard in many trades, but they’re seeing some pretty stiff competition from cordless options. Battery packs are getting better, as are battery-powered tools, in general. If you’ve only used a pneumatic, you may want to consider adding a battery-powered nail gun to your holiday wish-list. They can save loads of time and hassle, and all the big name brands have a few options to choose from. Most people who own a cordless nailer, professionals and amateurs alike, are very happy with the performance and convenience of a battery-powered gun when compared with a pneumatic.

How Nail Guns Work
Battery-only nail guns work when a motor compresses a spring, and the release of the spring provides enough force to drive a nail. A traditional pneumatic nail gun relies on compressed air to provide the force to drive the nails. Some argue that a pneumatic gun is more powerful than a battery-only gun, but the truth is that they often work just as well, provided you buy a solid gun to begin with.

Pros of Battery-powered Nail Guns:
There are lots of pluses in the convenience department when it comes to a battery-only nail gun:
  • You don’t need to own, store, or haul around anything but the nail gun. No gas canisters, no air compressor or hoses, just the gun and its battery. This makes setup and takedown easier each day, and it greatly improves your ability to move around the job quickly to work in different areas. It also makes your work area cleaner with fewer things to trip over.
  • As far as cost goes, you don’t need to buy an air compressor or gas canisters.
  • No air compressor makes these quieter than a pneumatic gun.
  • Other than keeping it clean, maintenance is almost unnecessary—just charge your battery. A pneumatic needs to be oiled and the air tank drained periodically to keep them in optimal condition.
Cons of Battery-powered Nail Guns
Battery-powered nail guns are convenient, but we’re not going to claim that they’re flawless. Here are some of the downsides:
  • The upfront cost is usually higher than it is for a pneumatic, sometimes double for the pneumatic versus battery-powered model from the same company. Furthermore, most models are sold without a battery. You don’t need to buy an air compressor though, so the cost isn’t as drastic as it seems at first glance. But you do need to be prepared to pay more for the convenience that a cordless nailer provides.
  • Battery life is limited. This is an obvious drawback, but if you’re using lots of battery-powered tools, you probably have some spares on hand most of the time. Nothing can ruin your day quite like getting to the job to find that your battery is almost dead or that the charger wasn’t actually plugged into the wall overnight. Planning ahead and being prepared can solve this issue though.
  • The battery makes these weigh more than their pneumatic counterparts—a good bit more. You may get used to it over time - but be prepared for a lot of heavy lifting with a battery-powered gun. This can be very noticeable when you’re working overhead.
  • Reviewers of some models say that the battery must be very powerful and reliable or you risk the gun firing badly. Most report equal performance to a pneumatic, though.
As you can see, there are lots of positives to a battery-powered nail gun, but there’s no need to throw the pneumatic (and air compressor) out the window. Both types can do a solid and reliable job. If you’re tired of dragging your air compressor along every time you need a nailer, though, give a cordless model a try!

We love to hear from you. Have you tried a battery-only nail gun? Let us know in the comments!