The Best Caulking Guns, Tested and Reviewed

To end up with a caulking gun that’s right for your needs, start with our hands-on tested guide to navigating the many available options.

Best Overall

The Best Caulking Gun Option: Newborn 250 Smooth Rod Revolving Frame Caulking Gun

Newborn 250 Smooth Rod Revolving Frame Caulking Gun

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Runner-up

The Best Caulking Gun Option: Newborn 188 Ratchet Rod Cradle Caulking Gun

Newborn 188 Ratchet Rod Cradle Caulking Gun

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Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Caulking Gun Option: Bates Choice Caulking Gun

Bates Choice Caulking Gun

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Caulking guns are designed for one thing: to deliver a continuous bead of caulk in order to seal joints between two surfaces like gaps between window frames and jambs. The majority of the caulking guns used today are manual, meaning you squeeze a hand trigger to dispense the sealant. Others are powered caulking guns and are the new kids on the block. They are growing in popularity because all you need to do is guide the tip of the gun to create a smooth, continuous bead of caulk.

The right caulking gun depends on the type of caulk that will be applied, as well as the overall scope of the project and budget. We’ve tested some of the most popular caulking guns in real-world applications to find out which ones rank among the best for specific situations and needs. Ahead, get our top tips and recommendations on choosing the best caulking gun—and don’t miss field-tested reviews of our top picks below.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Newborn 250 Smooth Rod Revolving Frame Caulking Gun
  2. RUNNER-UP: Newborn 188 Ratchet Rod Cradle Caulking Gun
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Bates Choice Caulking Gun
  4. BEST GRIP: Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Hex Rod Cradle Caulking Gun
  5. BEST FOR THICK SEALANTS: PC Products Steel Dispensing Caulking Gun
  6. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Chicago Pneumatic CP9885 Mastic Gun
  7. BEST BATTERY: DeWalt DCE560B 20V Max* Adhesive Gun
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: Red Devil 3989 Extreme Duty 9-Inch Caulking Gun
The Best Caulking Guns Options
Photo: Tom Scalisi

How We Tested the Best Caulking Guns

Testing the best caulking guns was pretty straightforward: load them up, test their power, see if they drip, and compare the results. But there was one twist: It was pretty cold in our shop. Temperatures were just under freezing when we tested the caulking guns, which meant we were really putting them through the ringer.

First, we took note of features like rods, built-in cutters, puncture wires, and rubber grips. Not all caulking guns had these features, so it was important to compare them before testing.

Next, we tested each with an acrylic caulk to see how smooth, consistent, and easy they were to work with. We caulked a seam between two boards and then allowed the guns to rest to see how much they’d drip.

Finally, we loaded the caulking guns with cold construction adhesive as well as roofing tar and ran a bead of each down the board. This really showed us which guns had the best power and which were difficult to use in those conditions. We also checked for drips, which were considerably fewer than the acrylic due to the adhesive’s viscosity.

Our Top Picks

There is a lot of information to consider when choosing the best caulking gun, and the sheer volume of information can feel overwhelming. To help fill in the gaps, we performed hands-on testing with the following products. Check out our field-tested pros and cons on each item so you can find the right caulking gun for your next project.

Best Overall

Newborn 250 Smooth Rod Revolving Frame Caulking Gun

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With its revolving frame, the Newborn 250 makes it easier to caulk around corners. No need to start and stop—simply rotate the barrel, and the angled tip of the tube rotates to the correct position to continue running a bead.

The Newborn 250 is built to last with a zinc alloy handle to reduce corrosion, and it features a hefty 18:1 thrust ratio to easily dispense medium-viscosity caulk, including butyl and acrylic. The tool also comes with a thumb release for dripless operation.

During testing, we found the Newborn 250 to be the easiest and smoothest for applying caulk and sealant. The frame rotated smoothly (certainly the smoothest of all the other models), and the hand grips were very comfortable. We also liked the built-in cutter that most high-thrust caulking guns don’t have. It did drip a bit, but the release was easy to access and press with one hand. The only complaint we might have is that just one handle has a rubber coating—coating both handles would be a benefit.

Product Specs 

  • Rod type: Smooth
  • Thrust ratio: 18:1
  • Revolving: Yes

Pros

  • Smooth rotation; helps make caulk and sealant very easy to apply
  • Comfortable grip aids in reducing user fatigue; ideal for larger caulking projects
  • Built-in cutter comes in handy when cutting the spout cleanly and efficiently

Cons

  • Rubber coating on just 1 grip instead of 2; fingers may get sore while pulling the trigger

Get the Newborn 250 caulking gun at Amazon, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, Acme Tools, or Grainger.

Runner-up

Newborn 188 Ratchet Rod Cradle Caulking Gun

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For occasional small caulking projects, such as sealing a gap between the tub and the wall, check out this nicely priced and super-dependable option from Newborn. The 188 Ratchet Rod Cradle caulking gun has a traditional ratchet rod design.

With a 6:1 thrust ratio, this model is best for dispensing low-viscosity sealant, such as painter’s latex caulk. It comes with a built-in pin for puncturing the seal on the caulk tube and a built-in cutter to nip off the tip of the tube.

There were quite a few things to like about the Newborn 188 during testing. For one, we appreciated the sturdy welded construction, as it felt like a quality piece despite its reasonable price tag. We also liked the built-in cutter and puncture tool, as they make getting to work faster and easier. The one downside we found was that this caulking gun was more difficult to squeeze than others.

Product Specs 

  • Rod type: Ratcheting
  • Thrust ratio: 6:1
  • Revolving: No

Pros

  • Built-in cutter and puncture tool; no need for separate tools and less chance of mess
  • Sturdy welded construction to stand the test of time
  • Ratchet pressure rod helps hold the rod in place; mitigates dripping

Cons

  • Tougher to squeeze than other models; not ideal for large projects

Get the Newborn 188 caulking gun at Amazonor Ace Hardware.

Best Bang for the Buck

Bates Choice Caulking Gun

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Finding a caulking gun that really offers a no-drip design can be difficult—even more so at a reasonable price point. But the Bates checks both boxes. This simple caulking gun features a smooth rod that provides even and consistent pressure without dripping. It also has a 10:1 ratio, which is more than most other models at this price. It has a lightweight fixed frame, as well as a built-in cutter and puncture wire.

Our first impression of the Bates was that it felt rather cheap. It did, however, accomplish something no other caulking gun in the comparison did: It didn’t drip at all. When we considered that alongside its affordable price, the Bates really stood out. We also liked that it had a built-in cutter as well as a puncture tool under the frame to make getting started easier.

Product Specs 

  • Rod type: Smooth
  • Thrust ratio: 10:1
  • Revolving: No

Pros

  • Affordable price without lacking any standout features
  • True no-drip design allows users to focus on the end result instead of cleaning drips
  • Basic no-frills caulk gun that does everything it needs to do

Cons

  • Feels a bit cheap in hand; uncomfortable grip handles might cause hands to get stiff

Get the Bates Choice caulking gun at Amazon or Bates Choice.

Best Grip

Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Hex Rod Cradle Caulking Gun

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Anyone familiar with tired hands from caulking and sealing may enjoy giving this caulking gun from Newborn a shot. It has two rubber overmolded grips as well as a rod that automatically retracts after releasing the comfort-grip hand trigger to prevent excess caulk from oozing out.

This caulking gun features a 10:1 thrust ratio and easily dispenses light to light-medium viscosity caulk, making it well suited for latex and silicone. This gun’s smooth-pull hand trigger and dripless technology are a plus, and so is the fact that it comes with a built-in seal puncturing tool, a cutting tool, and a handy hook for hanging the gun on a ladder rung.

Even with all those features, it was the tool’s grip that really stood out during testing. The two rubber over-molded grips were extremely comfortable and easy to squeeze, despite not having a tremendous thrust ratio. Also, we liked that we could cut the tips of our caulking tubes and puncture the seal with this caulking gun. The smooth rod was easy to adjust and release, too. The one thing we didn’t like about this caulking gun was that it’s not as “no drip” as it advertises. It definitely dripped a little for us.

Product Specs 

  • Rod type: Smooth
  • Thrust ratio: 10:1
  • Revolving: No

Pros

  • Excellent thermoplastic grip; feels comfortable in the hand and prevents user fatigue
  • Smooth rod was easy to release and adjust, mitigating most dripping issues
  • Painted metal body is easy to clean and maintain after each use

Cons

  • It wasn’t exactly the dripless caulking gun it claimed to be

Get the Newborn 930-GTD caulking gun at Amazon, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, or Grainger.

Best for Thick Sealants

PC Products Steel Dispensing Caulking Gun

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With a high thrust ratio of 26:1, the PC Products steel caulking gun is a workhorse that smoothly dispenses thick sealants. It has a revolving frame that makes positioning the caulking tube easy, especially when laying caulk around corners.

The gun works with any type of caulk or sealant, but its main purpose is to dispense high-viscosity sealants, such as concrete epoxy. It also works for dispensing caulks, sealants, and adhesives at low temperatures, thanks to its high ratio. It features a smooth rod and a thumb release to prevent oozing and waste.

Testing the PC Products steel caulking gun was enjoyable. It had plenty of thrust for squeezing out sealant despite below-freezing temperatures. We liked that the frame revolves as well. While it does have a smart puncture wire storage (it’s spring-loaded behind the trigger), it doesn’t feature a cutter, which could be a downside for some.

Product Specs 

  • Rod type: Smooth
  • Thrust ratio: 26:1
  • Revolving: Yes

Pros

  • Revolving frame allows for easier maneuvering in tighter hard-to-reach areas
  • Plenty of power; great for thicker sealant materials and adhesives
  • Includes smart puncture wire storage tucked away in the trigger

Cons

  • No tip cutter, which complicates use by requiring an additional tool

Get the PC Products caulking gun at Amazon, Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, or Grainger.

Best Heavy-Duty

Chicago Pneumatic CP9885 Mastic Gun

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If there is a large caulking project on the horizon—be it sealing every window in the house or constructing a full set of cabinets in a workshop—consider the Chicago Pneumatic mastic gun. This isn’t a manual gun; it attaches to an air compressor for efficiency and ease of use in large projects.

This caulking gun doesn’t have a plunger. Instead, it pressurizes the space behind the caulk to push it through the tube, allowing for consistent pressure. It comes with a regulator to adjust the pressure for optimal flow as well.

Admittedly, it took us a little while to dial in this caulking gun’s pressure regulator, which did cause a bit of a mess at first. But, once dialed in, it was wonderful during testing. Releasing the trigger immediately drops the pressure behind the tube, and as a result, there’s very little dripping. Also, once we adjusted the regulator, it offered consistent and smooth pressure. In addition to an air compressor, it requires a hose for operation.

Product Specs 

  • Rod type: None
  • Thrust ratio: N/A
  • Revolving: No

Pros

  • Very little drip helps users obtain a professional finish without a mess
  • No plunger to release; very easy on the hands since everything is done using pressure
  • Consistent pressure provides users with an even bead; great for awkward areas

Cons

  • Requires an air hose; involves more time to set up compared to standard sealant guns

Get the Chicago Pneumatic caulking gun at Amazon, Acme Tools, or Grainger.

Best Battery

DeWalt DCE560B 20V Max* Adhesive Gun

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When it comes to large caulking or adhesive jobs, the DeWalt cordless caulking gun might be the tool for the job. This caulking gun uses DeWalt’s 20-volt battery lineup to squeeze caulking tubes with consistent, repeatable results. And since the user needs only to hold down the trigger, there’s less likelihood of fatigue.

The cordless caulking gun from DeWalt features an onboard worklight and swiveling frame, making working in dark corners much easier. It also has six adjustable speeds, allowing the user to dial in the correct rate for whatever job they might be working on.

First, we really liked that this electric caulk gun utilizes the same battery lineup that many DIYers already own. Next, we like that it produces even and consistent results without wearing out our hands. We also enjoyed the worklight and swiveling frame, as well as the adjustable speeds. We realize that it’s expensive, but anyone applying construction adhesive to floor joists will find that this caulking gun pays for itself in a day or two.

Product Specs 

  • Rod type: Smooth
  • Thrust ratio: N/A
  • Revolving: Yes

Pros

  • Uses batteries many DIYers already have; ideal for DeWalt tool fans
  • Adjustable speeds allow custom settings depending on the material used
  • Onboard work light helps users get a better look at the work area
  • Swiveling frame is great for getting better accuracy in tight spots

Cons

  • It’s not cheap (but it can pay for itself in time savings)

Get the DeWalt caulking gun (tool only) at Amazon, Acme Tools, Grainger, or Toolbarn.

Also Consider

Red Devil 3989 Extreme Duty 9-Inch Caulking Gun

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When it comes to applying thick sealants and adhesives, Red Devil’s Extreme Duty caulk gun is worth considering. This model features a smooth rod for quick release as well as a swiveling frame for caulking around corners. It also has a comfortable rubber-coated trigger and a built-in seal puncture wire in the handle. There is also a 26:1 thrust ratio for squeezing thick sealants and caulks out of their tubes.

In some areas, the Red Devil was excellent during testing. The rubber grip was comfortable yet grippy, and there was plenty of power for squeezing out caulk or sealant in cold temperatures. Unfortunately, it did drip during testing, and the frame didn’t swivel smoothly, but we felt its sturdy build quality and power warranted a spot on the list.

Product Specs

  • Rod type: Smooth
  • Thrust ratio: 26:1
  • Revolving: Yes

Pros

  • Grip is comfortable in hand yet grippy enough to feel solid
  • Plenty of power to accommodate thicker sealants and caulks, even in cold temperatures
  • Sturdy build quality with a quick-release lever, seal puncture tool, and ladder hook

Cons

  • Drip-free technology dripped during our tests
  • Frame doesn’t swivel smoothly, which takes getting used to

Get the Red Devil caulking gun at Amazonor Menards.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Caulking Gun

Choosing the best caulking gun might seem like a straightforward proposition, but there is actually quite a bit to know about these tools. From the type of rod, power vs. no power, thrust ratio, and more, it’s worth doing a bit of research. The following are some of the most important factors to consider when searching for the best caulking gun.

Caulking Gun Type 

Repeatedly squeezing a trigger can lead to hand and wrist fatigue, which is why powered caulking guns are becoming more popular. When they first hit the market a few years ago, powered caulking guns were reserved for commercial and industrial projects. Today, DIYers are discovering the benefit of letting the gun dispense the sealant so they can focus on creating a smooth bead. With no hand trigger, thrust ratio does not apply. Instead, dispensing pressure is regulated via a light squeeze on the finger trigger.

  • Electric: Like other electric tools, an electric caulking gun comes with a cord and requires access to an electrical outlet. Light pressure on a finger trigger allows a user to dispense just the right amount of sealant.
  • Battery powered: This bad boy has removable batteries and a charger, so users can run a bead of caulk in locations where electricity isn’t available, typically running 2 to 3 hours per charge. If there is a lot of caulking to do, consider investing in an extra battery so the juice won’t run out before the job is done.
  • Pneumatic: Air-powered caulking guns are among the most popular powered options for home workshops because there’s no battery to charge and they interchange with other air-power tools, but an air compressor is needed. In addition to the gun’s finger trigger, dispensing pressure can be regulated by adjusting the pressure on an air compressor.

Finally, it sounds like a breakfast tool, but a sausage caulking gun is actually designed to hold collapsible foil cylinders of sealant, called “sausages.” These caulking guns, which operate in much the same manner as others (manual or powered), let a user squeeze every last bit of sealant from the sausage, so there’s very little waste.

Rod Type 

Squeezing the hand trigger on a manual caulking gun forces a rod into the back of the tube of caulk, which in turn pushes the caulk out of the tube’s tip. There are two main types of gun rod, and they vary slightly in performance.

  • Ratchet rod: Caulking guns with ratchet rods have serrated rods that “catch” with each hand squeeze. They are usually inexpensive and suitable for light projects. The biggest problem with ratchet rods is that the sealant can keep oozing caulk out until the end of the rod is twisted and pulled back to release the pressure. This oozing can make a mess and lead to wasted sealant.
  • Smooth rod: When applying caulk with a smooth rod caulking gun—often advertised as “dripless”—the user only needs to depress a thumb lever to release pressure on the sealant to stop the sealant from leaving the tube.

Thrust Ratio

Look for the thrust ratio on the caulking gun’s package or in its online description. Thrust ratio relates to the amount of force generated each time the hand trigger is squeezed. The higher the ratio, the more force is exerted with each squeeze. This is important because different types of sealant are more or less viscid (thick). With thicker sealants, more thrust ratio is required to dispense the sealant.

Thrust ratios run from 3:1 to 28:1. Guns with lower ratios are suitable for dispensing thin types of caulk, such as water-based latex caulk, while higher thrust ratios are needed for dispensing more viscous types of caulk, such as epoxy sealants.

Revolving Frame

Stopping and starting when running a bead of caulk can lead to unsightly lumps and bulges. It’s especially challenging to run a continuous bead around a corner because hand position and the angle of the gun must change. With a revolving frame, however, simply rotate the frame (instead of the whole gun) when rounding a corner in order to caulk without interruption.

FAQs

If your head’s spinning with information on how to choose the best caulking guns, you’re not alone. This section will help clear up many queries, as it answers a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions about caulking guns. Be sure to check for an answer to your question listed below.

Q. What is the easiest caulking gun to use?

We found the easiest caulking gun to use during testing was the Newborn 250 caulking gun. It had plenty of power, a comfortable grip, a swivel frame, and dripped less than most other models on the list.

Q. Can I use caulk without a caulking gun?

Some manufacturers sell squeeze tubes of caulk, which are easier to use above cabinets or tight spaces, and they don’t require a gun. However, it can be very difficult to apply an even and consistent bead of caulk from a standard tube without a caulking gun.

Q. Are there different sizes of caulking guns?

There are different sizes of caulking guns. The standard caulking gun size is 10-ounce (which all of the caulking guns on this list are), but larger 29-ounce caulking guns do exist for heavy-duty applications.

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Glenda Taylor

Staff Writer

Glenda Taylor is a BobVila.com staff writer with a background in the residential remodeling, home building, and home improvement industries. She started writing for BobVila.com in 2016 and covers a range of topics, including construction methods, code compliance, tool use, and the latest news in the housing and real estate industries. 

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