The Best Cordless Finish Nailers of 2022

Finish nailers are among the most popular and versatile of nail guns, capable of delivering excellent fixing strength and high precision.

By Bob Beacham | Updated May 18, 2021 12:35 PM

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Best Cordless Finish Nailer Options

Photo: amazon.com

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 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.

  1. BEST OVERALL: CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Finish Nailer Kit, 16GA
  2. BEST FOR PROS: Ridgid 18V Brushless Cordless Hyperdrive 16-Gauge
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ryobi P325 One+ 18V Lithium Ion Battery Powered
  4. BEST ANGLED: DEWALT 20-Volt Max 16-Gauge Cordless Angled Finish
  5. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless
  6. BEST FOR TIGHT SPACES: Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 2-1/2” Straight
Best Cordless Finish Nailer Options

Photo: depositphotos.com

What to Consider When Choosing Best Cordless 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 are powered by an air compressor, via a high-pressure hose connected to the tool.

Pneumatic nailers can be quite stiff, restricting movement, but they have their advantages. They are lighter, generally cheaper, and have no internal motor so they are very durable. Disadvantages are considerable too, however: 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.

Power

The main power source for cordless finish nailers is an 18 or 20 volt 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, 18 volts 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 (Ah) 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 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 a 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 the user 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 and Gauge

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 nail gauge (thickness). 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.

Additional Features

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 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 lightest, starting at about 4.5 pounds. Battery-powered models run from about 5.5 lbs. but most are 8 to 12 pounds.
  • Although all cordless finish nailers have non-marring 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 work site. Some models also use a light to indicate low battery power or provide fault indication.

Our Top Picks

Armed with a solid understanding of the technical aspects that separate these versatile tools, it’s time to check out some products. 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 category.

Best Overall

Best Cordless Finish Nailer Options: CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Finish Nailer Kit
Photo: amazon.com

This Craftsman choice has the popular straight magazine, taking 100 16-gauge nails. It sequentially fires nails from 1 to 2 ½ inches long, and a starter pack of 100 2-inch and 100
2 ½-inch nails comes with the kit.

Tool-free depth adjustment and jam clearing have easy-to-use controls. The included 2Ah battery is rated to drive 375 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 a fraction over 9 pounds, the weight is fairly reasonable. Twin LEDs provide illumination.

Product Specs

  • Nails Per Charge: 375 from 2Ah battery
  • Magazine Capacity: 100 nails
  • Weight: 9.05 pounds

Pros

  • Comprehensive kit includes 200 nails
  • Good balance and maneuverability
  • Twin LEDs also give low battery warning

Cons

  • Doesn’t always fully drive nail
  • Higher Ah battery would improve performance

Get the Craftsman cordless finish nailer at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Ace Hardware.

Best for Pros

The Best Cordless Finish Nailer Option: Ridgid 18V Brushless Cordless Hyperdrive 16-Gauge
Photo: homedepot.com

Ridgid are 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 105, 16-gauge nails from 1 to 2 ½ 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 battery or charger.

Product Specs

  • Nails Per Charge: 1,450 from 4Ah battery
  • Magazine Capacity: 105 nails
  • Weight: 6.6 pounds

Pros

  • Powerful and reliable
  • Bump or sequential firing
  • Adjustable power as well as depth

Cons

  • Quite bulky
  • Premium price

Get the Ridgid cordless finish nailer at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Best Bang For the Buck

Best Cordless Finish Nailer Options: Ryobi P325 One+ 18V Lithium Ion Battery Powered Cordless 16 Gauge Finish Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

Although marketed more toward the DIYer, this Ryobi cordless finish nailer has a feature set that would impress most pros. The straight magazine takes 100 16-gauge nails with lengths from ¾ inch to 2 ½ 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, 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 6 pounds, and depending on battery will still be a fairly lightweight tool at 7.5 or 8 pounds.

Product Specs

  • Nails Per Charge: 800 from 4Ah battery
  • Magazine Capacity: 100 nails
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds

Pros

  • Sequential and bump firing
  • Useful low nails indicator
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Battery and charger extra
  • Doesn’t always fully drive long nails in hardwood

Get the Ryobi cordless finish nailer at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Best Angled

Best Cordless Finish Nailer Options: 20-Volt Max 16-Gauge Cordless Angled Finish Nailer Kit
Photo: amazon.com

Though a tool of exceptional quality aimed at the professional, those with less experience should not be deterred, as the DeWalt cordless finish nailer has many easy-to-use features. The magazine is angled at 20 degrees for easy access to awkward areas and shapes. It takes 110 16-gauge nails from 1 ½ to 2 ½ 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 they don’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 about 8 pounds.

Product Specs

  • Nails Per Charge: 800 from 2Ah battery
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
  • Weight: 8 pounds

Pros

  • Pro performance yet easy to use
  • Renowned durability and reliability
  • Sequential and bump firing

Cons

  • Considerable investment
  • Included battery is only 2Ah

Get the DeWalt cordless finish nailer at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.

Best Heavy-Duty

The Best Cordless Finish Nailer Option: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless
Photo: homedepot.com

The heavy-duty Milwaukee angled 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 2 ½-inch nails into solid oak.

The magazine is angled at 34 degrees, providing great accessibility in tight spots. Capacity is 110 nails, from 1 ¼ inch to 2 ½ 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 around 8 pounds depending on battery chosen, and comes with a durable canvas carry bag.

Product Specs

  • Nails Per Charge: 750 from 2Ah battery
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
  • Weight: 8 pounds

Pros

  • Air spring provides impressive performance
  • Uses stronger fixings than 16-gauge models
  • Sequential and bump firing

Cons

  • Battery and charger extra
  • Significant cost

Get the Milwaukee cordless finish nailer at The Home Depot, Acme Tools, or Ace Hardware.

Best for Tight Spaces

The Best Cordless Finish Nailer Option: Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Straight
Photo: acmetools.com

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 110, 16-gauge nails, from 1 to 2 ½ 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.

Although the compact size of the Makita cordless finish nailer might appeal to DIY users, the price will probably be more than most want to pay. Also, by the time the suggested 5Ah battery is added it will weigh 10 pounds. A pair of safety glasses is included.

Product Specs

  • Nails Per Charge: 1,000 from 5Ah battery
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
  • Weight: 10 pounds

Pros

  • Compact and slender
  • Bump and sequential firing
  • Fast-charging batteries (not included)

Cons

  • Battery and charger extra
  • Priced beyond most DIY users

Get the Makita Cordless Finish Nailer at Amazon (kit), The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.

Our Verdict

The Craftsman cordless finish nailer is the kind of tool that will suit a wide variety of people. It is a fuss-free option for DIY enthusiasts, and has sufficient power for all but heavy-duty jobsite tasks. The Ryobi cordless finish nailer is a good choice for light- and medium-duty tasks, and is great value if you already own a compatible battery and charger. If you don’t, then the Craftsman might be the better deal.

How We Chose the Best Corded Circular Saws

I’m a keen home remodeler, and for 10 years 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 development, 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 on 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.

Shopping for a Used or Refurbished Finish Nailer

Refurbished, renewed, or reconditioned power tools are becoming increasingly popular. In principal 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 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 should be looking to make 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.

FAQs

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.