The Best Caulking Guns of 2022

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.

By Glenda Taylor and Tom Scalisi | Updated Dec 20, 2021 12:23 PM

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The Best Caulking Guns for Home Repairs

Photo: Tom Scalisi

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. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Bates Caulking Gun
  3. BEST GRIP: Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Smooth Hex Rod Caulking Gun
  4. BEST FOR THICK SEALANTS: PC Products Steel Dispensing Caulking Gun
  5. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Chicago Pneumatic Air Caulking Gun
  6. BEST BATTERY: DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Caulking Gun
  7. ALSO CONSIDER: Red Devil 3989 9″ Extreme Duty Caulk Gun
The Best Caulking Guns for Home Repairs

Photo: Tom Scalisi

Key Considerations When Choosing a 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.

Check out the rod.

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.

Get the right 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.

Look for a revolving frame to caulk around corners.

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.

Save product with a sausage gun.

It sounds like a breakfast tool, but a sausage 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.

Consider a powered caulking gun.

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.

Our Top Picks

There is a lot of information about 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. Be sure to keep the top considerations in mind when comparing these products, and check out our field-tested pros and cons on each item.

Best Overall

The Best Caulking Gun Option: Newborn 250 Smooth Rod Revolving Frame Caulking Gun
Photo: amazon.com

With its revolving frame, the Newborn 250 Smooth Rod Revolving Frame Caulking Gun 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—both handles could benefit.

Product Specs

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

Pros

  • Smooth rotation
  • Comfortable grip
  • Built-in cutter

Cons

  • Rubber coating on just one grip instead of two

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Caulking Gun Option: Bates Caulking Gun
Photo: amazon.com

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 the 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, but it proved to accomplish something no other caulking gun in the comparison did: it didn’t drip at all. When we compared that point to the affordable price, it really stood out. We also liked that it had a built-in cutter in the handle 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

  • True no-drip design
  • Affordable price
  • Built-in cutter and puncture tool

Cons

  • Feels a bit cheap in hand

Best Grip

The Best Caulking Gun Option: Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Smooth Hex Rod Caulking Gun
Photo: amazon.com

Anyone who tires of tired hands from caulking and sealing may enjoy giving this caulking gun from Newborn a shot. It has two rubber overmolded grips for comfort 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 will easily dispense 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.

This tool’s grip is what really stood out to us 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 grip
  • Smooth rod was easy to release and adjust
  • Built-in cutter and puncture tool

Cons

  • It wasn’t as “no-drip” as it claimed

Best for Thick Sealants

The Best Caulking Gun Option: Newborn PC Products Steel Dispensing Caulking Gun
Photo: amazon.com

With a high thrust ratio of 26:1, the PC Products Steel Caulking Gun is a workhorse that can smoothly dispense 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 Dispensing 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
  • Plenty of power
  • Smart puncture wire storage

Cons

  • No tip cutter

Best Heavy-Duty

The Best Caulking Gun Option: Chicago Pneumatic Air Caulking Gun
Photo: amazon.com

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 Air Caulking 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 will require a hose for operation

Product Specs

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

Pros

  • Very little drip
  • No plunger to release
  • Consistent pressure

Cons

  • Requires an air hose
  • Took a little while to dial in

Best Battery

The Best Caulking Gun Option: DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Caulking Gun
Photo: amazon.com

When it comes to large caulking or adhesive jobs, the DEWALT 20V Max 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 must only 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 cordless caulking 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
  • Adjustable speeds
  • Onboard work light
  • Swiveling frame

Cons

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

Also Consider

The Best Caulking Gun Option: Red Devil 3989 9 Extreme Duty Caulk Gun
Photo: amazon.com

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

  • Comfortable grip
  • Plenty of power
  • Sturdy build quality

Cons

  • Drips
  • Frame doesn’t swivel smoothly

Our Verdict

We think anyone hunting for an good overall caulk gun may want to give the Newborn 250 Smooth Rod Revolving Frame Caulking Gun some thought due to its comfortable grip and power. For those who just want a good deal on a no-drip caulking gun, check out the Bates Caulking Gun.

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.

FAQ

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 Smooth Rod Revolving Frame 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.