The finish nailer is arguably the most versatile of the many types of nail guns available. The nails they use provide more holding power than pin nailers or brad nailers, allowing them to fix baseboards, door casings, stair treads, and more. Lighter and easier to manage than framing nailers, they’re a solid choice for fixing flooring, cabinet assembly, and general carpentry.
Unlike pneumatic models, cordless finish nailers offer complete freedom of movement. Given their popularity, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of choice in this tool category—so use this guide to cut through the marketing hype and find the best cordless finish nailer for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Craftsman V20 Cordless Finish Nailer Kit
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ryobi 18V One+ Airstrike 16GA Finish Nailer
- UPGRADE PICK: Metabo 18V 2½ Inch 15 Gauge Angled Finish Nailer
- BEST FOR DIYERS: Ryobi 18V One+ Airstrike 15GA Angled Finish Nailer
- BEST FOR PROS: Ridgid Hyperdrive Brushless Straight Finish Nailer
- BEST ANGLED: DeWalt 20V Max XR 16GA Angled Finish Nailer
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Milwaukee M18 Fuel 15-Gauge Finish Nailer
- BEST FOR TIGHT SPACES: Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Finish Nailer
How We Chose the Best Cordless Finish Nailers
I’m a keen home remodeler, and for 10 years, I owned my own wood shop. I have used a variety of nail guns and have a thorough understanding of their capabilities. To supplement my experience and ensure we were aware of the latest developments, we researched all the leading tool brands. We also took into account the views of other independent experts and actual buyers.
Although the review focuses solely on the best cordless finish nailers, there is still plenty of variety to offer. We selected quality tools that represent all the possible options in order to provide solutions for both DIY and professional users.
Price is always a key issue, and we tried to offer something for all budgets. However, we avoided cheap cordless finish nailers from little-known brands. These seldom perform up to expectations and rarely represent lasting value.
Our Top Picks
These top picks come from leading brands and demonstrate the kind of performance and durability their well-known manufacturers are known for. Each is representative of the best cordless finish nailers in their respective categories.
This Craftsman choice has the popular straight magazine, taking one hundred 16-gauge nails. It sequentially fires nails from 1 to 2½ inches long, and a starter pack of one hundred 2-inch and one hundred 2½-inch nails comes with the kit.
Tool-free depth adjustment and jam clearing have easy-to-use controls. The included 2 amp hour (Ah) lithium-ion battery is rated to drive 375 of 2-inch nails per charge, which is less than some competitors, but swapping in a more powerful battery would make a considerable performance improvement. At 5.8 pounds, it is one of the lightest finish nailers, even when a battery is added. Twin LEDs provide illumination.
- Nails per charge: 375 from 2Ah battery
- Magazine capacity: 100 nails
- Weight: 5.8 pounds (without battery)
- Kit includes battery and nails from a brand known for durability and value for money
- Good balance and contoured over-molded handle help reduce fatigue when working for long periods
- Twin LEDs light dark corners and also provide low-battery warning
- Included battery has modest power and limits the nails per charge
Get the Craftsman cordless finish nailer at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Ace Hardware.
Although marketed more toward the DIYer, this Ryobi cordless finish nailer has a feature set that would impress most pros. The straight magazine takes one hundred and five 16-gauge nails with lengths from ¾ inch to 2½ inches. The Ryobi is one of few tools in this price range that offers both sequential and bump firing. It has tool-free depth setting and jam clearing, and also benefits from dry firing lockout.
As is common with cordless finish nailers, the Ryobi is sold as a bare tool, with no battery included. This gives buyers the option to choose anywhere from a low-cost 2Ah model to a 9Ah high-performance unit. Using the midrange 4Ah battery, the tool will fire up to 800 nails per charge.
Interestingly, the included LED lights use a separate switch so they can be turned on without risk of firing the nailer. The tool itself weighs about 6 pounds, and depending on the battery, will still be a fairly lightweight tool at 7.5 or 8 pounds.
- Nails per charge: 800 from 4Ah battery
- Magazine capacity: 105 nails
- Weight: 6.15 pounds (without battery)
- Lightweight, budget-friendly tool from a brand renowned for its battery technology
- Offers both sequential and bump firing, plus has easy-to-use tool-free depth adjustment
- LED task light will also flash when battery charge is low
- Price does not include battery and charger, though it remains very competitive
Get the Ryobi 16GA cordless finish nailer at Amazon or Walmart.
Metabo’s impressive 18V cordless nailer kit contains everything the keen home remodeler or contractor needs with battery, charger, bag, and safety glasses. This model can drive nails from 1¼ to 2½ inches, and an angled magazine is often preferred for getting into awkward corners. An easy-to-reach switch on the handle allows quick changing between bump and sequential firing. A unique compressed air-drive system is claimed to deliver power that’s equivalent to pneumatic tools.
The 3Ah battery can drive up to 1,100 nails (15 gauge) per charge and has overload, overcharge, and overdischarge protection for durability. Jam clearing and depth adjustment are both tool-free, and there’s a dry fire lockout. At 7.5 pounds, the Metabo’s weight is typical for a pro-grade finish nailer.
- Nails per charge: 1,100 from 3Ah battery
- Magazine capacity: 100
- Weight: 7.5 pounds (without battery)
- High-quality cordless finish nailer kit includes battery, charger, contractor bag, and safety glasses
- Impressive performance with 1,100 strikes per charge at 2 to 3 nails per second
- Unique compressed air-drive system increases penetration power while minimizing recoil
- Some buyers have complained of problems with driving depth, which may result from air leaks
Get the Metabo cordless finish nailer at Amazon or Lowe’s.
Keen DIYers looking for a versatile and affordable cordless finish nailer will want to check out the Ryobi Airstrike 15GA angled finish nailer. The ability to fire 15-gauge nails from 1 to 2½ inches means it’s not just useful for a variety of tasks around the home; it can also tackle jobs like fencing in the yard. The angled magazine makes it easy to reach into tight spaces, and there’s an LED light to brighten dark corners.
At 6.8 pounds, it’s relatively light yet still offers the pro features of bump or sequential firing. For user convenience, important functions like depth adjustment and jam clearing are tool-free. Ryobi claims it will fire 750 nails on a single charge, though they don’t state with which battery. Given the performance of their other cordless finish nailer, it’s likely to be 4Ah.
- Nails per charge: 750 (battery not stated)
- Magazine capacity: 105
- Weight: 6.8 pounds (without battery)
- Offers the versatility DIYers look for to tackle jobs around the house and yard
- Angled magazine makes it easy to get into tight spaces, plus LED for dark corners
- Provides both bump and sequential firing with tool-free adjustment of depth and jam release
- Although usually reliable, a few owners have reported breakdowns as tools get older
Get the Ryobi 15GA cordless finish nailer at The Home Depot, Amazon, or Walmart.
Ridgid is well respected as a provider of professional-grade power tools. The Ridgid Hyperdrive cordless finish nailer is a fine example. There’s a powerful brushless motor for consistent drive and a robust magnesium body built to withstand the jobsite environment.
Performance is excellent, with the ability to drive up to 1,450 nails from a single charge (using a 4Ah battery). The Ridgid finish nailer takes one hundred and five 16-gauge nails from 1 to 2½ inches long. It offers both power and depth adjustments and is capable of driving effortlessly into all types of wood. It can use either sequential or bump (contact) firing for high productivity. All adjustments are tool-free. There’s a dry fire lockout so it won’t fire without nails and an LED work light, which flashes when the battery needs to be changed.
Although the Ridgid cordless finish nailer is very light, it remains quite bulky, so it’s not a tool for tight spaces. It also comes with a premium price tag, which does not include a battery or charger.
- Nails per charge: 1,450 from 4Ah battery
- Magazine capacity: 105 nails
- Weight: 6.6 pounds (without battery)
- Impressive nailing performance makes this model the best choice for busy contractors
- Adjustable power as well as depth means nails can be driven with great accuracy
- Features a magnesium body that is strong but light, plus bump or sequential firing
- Complaints aren’t common, but there have been some issues with nailing depth
Get the Ridgid cordless finish nailer at The Home Depot, Amazon, or Walmart.
Though the DeWalt angled finish nailer is a tool of exceptional quality that’s aimed at the professional, those with less experience should not be deterred, as it has many easy-to-use features. The magazine is angled at 20 degrees for easy access to awkward areas and shapes. It takes 110 nails (16 gauge) from 1½ to 2½ inches. A selector switch allows quick change from sequential to bump firing. Depth adjustment and jam clearing are tool-free, the latter a particularly fast and fuss-free mechanism. The DeWalt also offers dry fire lockout.
It’s sold as a bare tool. The manufacturer lists 800 shots per charge, although it doesn’t say which battery achieves this. However, one retailer claims it’s with the 2Ah version. There are also twin LEDs for illumination and diagnostic alerts. Weight (with battery) is just 6 pounds.
- Nails per charge: 800 from 2Ah battery
- Magazine capacity: 110 nails
- Weight: 6 pounds (including battery)
- Remarkably lightweight tool offers great maneuverability for nailing in awkward places
- Features include sequential and bump firing with tool-free adjustments of all key functions
- Brushless motor maximizes battery life, and multifunction LEDs provide light and tool diagnostics
- It’s expensive, and the 2Ah battery included is smaller than many rivals
Get the DeWalt cordless finish nailer at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
The heavy-duty Milwaukee cordless finish nailer fires 15-gauge nails that are not only thicker than 16-gauge but also have a substantially larger head. This gives excellent holding power for heavy-duty tasks. Indeed, it can fire 2½-inch nails into solid oak.
The magazine is angled at 34 degrees, providing great accessibility in tight spots. Capacity is 110 nails, from 1¼ to 2½ inches long, which can be fired sequentially or with bump action. An unusual feature is the nail-quantity indicator that makes it easy to see when the tool runs low, though dry fire lockout will prevent damage. Depth and jam clearing are tool-free.
The battery for the Milwaukee cordless finish nailer has a useful charge indicator (though battery and charger are extra). It weighs 6.6 pounds, depending on the battery chosen, and comes with a durable canvas carry bag.
- Nails per charge: 750 from 2Ah battery
- Magazine capacity: 110 nails
- Weight: 6.6 pounds (without battery)
- Nitrogen air spring provides driving capability of up to 3 nails per second
- Higher than average nail capacity, and nail-quantity indicator can help increase productivity
- Sequential and bump firing have zero ramp-up (delay after trigger pull)
- It’s expensive, and while complaints are rare, it suffers from jams like all nailers
Get the Milwaukee cordless finish nailer at The Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or Acme Tools.
Makita’s powerful, high-quality cordless finish nailer has been designed to be as compact as possible. This not only makes it easier to fit into confined spaces, but the slender body allows a good view of the tip for maximum accuracy.
The magazine has a capacity of one hundred and ten 16-gauge nails, from 1 to 2½ inches long. Both sequential and bump firing are offered. As would be expected, all important adjustments and jam clearing are tool-free operations. There are rubber bumpers to protect the body and a rubberized grip for a comfortable, secure hold. With the suggested 5Ah battery added, it will weigh 7.5 pounds. A pair of safety glasses is included.
Although the compact size and maneuverability of the Makita cordless finish nailer would likely appeal to DIY users, the price will probably be more than most want to pay.
- Nails per charge: 1,000 from 5Ah battery
- Magazine capacity: 110 nails
- Weight: 7.5 pounds (with battery)
- Compact size for easier nailing in tight spaces plus modest weight for good maneuverability
- Slender body provides a clear view of the tip for improved accuracy
- User-friendly features include 2 firing modes, trigger lock, and dry fire lockout
- Has a high price tag, and the recommended 5Ah battery and charger adds significant cost
Get the Makita cordless finish nailer at Amazon (kit), The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
What to Consider When Choosing a Finish Nailer
While many aspects of these tools are similar, a number of features might make one more appropriate than another for a particular user. Read on for details and to form a comprehensive view of the best cordless finish nailer for various situations and projects.
Pneumatic vs. Cordless
There’s an ongoing debate about whether battery-powered nail guns match up to the performance of corded models. With finish nailers, however, the argument is different because there are no corded electric models; instead, the alternative to cordless is pneumatic finish nailers. These rely on air pressure from an external source and are attached to an air compressor via a high-pressure hose.
Pneumatic nailer hoses can be quite stiff, restricting movement, but these nailers have their advantages. They are lighter, generally cheaper, and have no internal motor, so they are very durable. However, disadvantages are considerable: There’s the cost of the compressor, a large piece of equipment that’s cumbersome to move around and requires an electrical power source. Compressors also demand regular maintenance. Finally, there’s the high-pressure hose, which is heavy and pricey. Cordless finish nailers therefore seem very convenient and are increasingly popular.
There are actually two types of cordless finish nail guns. In addition to those that run entirely off lithium-ion battery power, there are models with a smaller battery and a gas cartridge (often just referred to as fuel). The battery creates a spark that ignites a small amount of gas, quite literally “firing” the nail. These gas-powered nail guns predate 100 percent battery-powered models, and they have been popular with professionals for some time. However, they are expensive, and gas cartridges must be replaced regularly—on a daily basis in some professional environments. With the introduction of powerful battery-only finish nailers, often from the same manufacturer, there has been some decline in the use of gas models.
The main power source for cordless finish nailers is an 18 or 20 volt (V) rechargeable lithium-ion battery. In real terms, there is no difference between what appear to be different sizes. Twenty volts is the initial surge at startup, and 18V is the power consumed during normal running (frequently termed “nominal voltage”). While 18V and 20V are effectively the same, it’s important to note that batteries from different brands are rarely interchangeable.
While voltage is an indication of the power available, batteries also have an amp hour rating. The higher the Ah, the longer the finish nailer will run. For example, a 4Ah battery will run for at least twice as long as a 2Ah model. DIYers might not mind taking a break while the battery recharges, but this will be an important factor for those who need to use a tool all day.
Manufacturers may give an estimate of how many nails can be driven per charge, but this will depend on the length of the nail and the material being fixed, so real-world experience might be very different.
Cordless finish nailers are often supplied as a “bare tool,” batteries not included. This may offer considerable savings if you already own similar batteries from other power tools. That said, it’s important to check compatibility. Manufacturers are much more aware of this now, but older models may not work, even if they appear to be the same capacity and from the same manufacturer. Buying a bare tool also gives you the potential to buy off-brand batteries, which might be much cheaper. However, doing so may cause warranty issues, so take this strategy with caution.
Gas-powered cordless finish nailers also use a rechargeable battery, but of around 6V to 8V because the gas cartridge (also called a fuel cell or trim fuel) is providing the main drive. An indication of nails driven per cell is often given. Availability of alternative cells is worth looking into. At around $8 per 1,000 nails and upward, it can make a significant impact on contractor costs.
Magazine Type andGauge
Cordless nail gun magazines of finish nailers are either straight (at 90 degrees to the line of fire) or angled (some at 20 or 21 degrees, others between 30 and 35 degrees). Angled magazines offer greater versatility of nailing direction and are useful when fixing complex moldings and in tight corners. They can of course still be used at 90 degrees if held correctly.
However, nailing at 90 degrees is perhaps the more common task, and magazines at this angle make the job easier and quicker. Additionally, nails for angled magazines may be more expensive. Regardless of angle, magazine capacity is usually either 100 or 110 nails.
There can also be a difference in the nails themselves. Finish nailers use either 15 or 16 gauge, the former being slightly thicker with larger heads and thus giving a stronger fix. Nail length can be anywhere from 1 to 3 inches, though it’s important to check the tool as few finish nailers can accommodate the full range of sizes.
Nail Depth and Jamming
It takes considerably more force to punch a finish nail into hardwood than it does softwood. Manufactured boards also have varying densities. To deal with different materials, cordless finish nailers have variable-depth adjustment. This allows for more or less power to be applied. Adjustment is almost always tool-free, performed by either thumb wheel or slider, but check ease of use if possible when shopping, particularly if you prefer to wear gloves while working.
Nail jams are frustrating but inevitable with every nailer. The tool is seldom at fault; it’s more likely to be a small piece of dirt in the mechanism or a slightly distorted nail. Clearing the jam is again usually a tool-free task, but as with depth adjustment, it is worth checking the actual mechanism to see how easy it is.
Manufacturers may include a few fine points that might make a tool better suited to your projects and work style.
- Safety is a key issue with these tools, and the best cordless finish nailers all have a tip that prevents firing unless depressed against the workpiece. That means it can’t accidentally fire nails into the air.
- All finish nailers fire when the tip is in contact with the workpiece and the trigger is pulled. This is called sequential firing. Many also offer bump firing (or continuous firing) that fires a nail when the tip makes contact with the workpiece. It’s a rapid way of working and particularly useful with long pieces of baseboard, door or window trim, or flooring. However, it does take a while to become acclimated to the weight of the gun and the degree of bounce as it fires. Sequential firing is slower but allows for greater precision, especially in less experienced hands.
- The weight of the cordless finish nailer may not mean much to the occasional DIYer but can have an impact on a pro using the tool for long periods. Gas finished nailers are the lightest, starting at about 4.5 pounds. Battery-powered models run from about 5.5 pounds, but most are 8 to 12 pounds.
- Although all cordless finish nailers have nonmarring tips to protect the workpiece, damage can occur if the tool is fired when the magazine is empty. Better models have a trigger lockout that prevents this.
- LED work lights can illuminate dark corners and also come in handy if there’s no power in part of a worksite. Some models also use a light to indicate low battery power or provide fault indication.
Refurbished, renewed, or reconditioned power tools are becoming increasingly popular. In principle, it’s a great idea. Instead of a tool with superficial scratches being dumped in the trash, it is checked for performance and offered at a reduced price. For the buyer, this means either less expense or the opportunity to upgrade to a better tool than they might otherwise have been unable to afford.
How do I know they’re any good? It’s important to buy from recognized retailers. The tools they offer have often been reconditioned by the original manufacturer. Others simply have minor dings or scratches that don’t actually impact performance. They should have been inspected and tested. They should also have a warranty, though this may be less lengthy than the new model.
What should I look out for? Check the returns policy and the warranty. The two can be different. You want to know that you can get your money back if a reconditioned cordless finish nailer does not meet your expectations.
Think about what you would want from a new cordless finish nailer (or other power tool) and then check the price if you bought it new. You’ll want to achieve significant savings. If a refurbished model is only $20 or $30 cheaper than the new model, you’ll want to ask yourself whether it is worth it.
So where should I look? We found a number of renewed finish nailers on Amazon. Search results include new items in the list, which is a little frustrating, but there are some interesting deals. Walmart Refurbished is another option, though again, the search function could be better. Ebay also does refurbished tools, though the range seems limited.
The in-depth look at the technical specifications of cordless finish nailers above explains many aspects of these versatile tools. However, there may be some specific areas that need clarification when it comes to different types of nailers. The following provides answers to questions that crop up regularly.
Q. Can a finish nailer be used for framing?
No, it’s not recommended. Framing nails are longer and thicker than finish nails to provide a stronger fix. A 15-gauge cordless finish nailer comes close, but you’re better off using a framing nailer.
Q. How do you use a finish nailer?
It’s basically as easy as resting the tip of the tool against the workpiece and pulling the trigger. Check out the helpful article here to improve technique and results.
Q. Can a finish nailer use brad nails?
No. The nails for a brad nail gun are thinner at 18 gauge. Finish nails are 15- or 16-gauge with a more prominent head. As a result, brad and finish nails are not interchangeable.
Q. How do I maintain my cordless finish nailer?
Regular cleaning will reduce jamming caused by trapped dirt. Lubrication should ensure the mechanism functions properly. Manufacturers provide maintenance instructions, and following them will extend the working life of your tool.
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