Driving a nail with one hammer stroke is almost a skill of the past—and for good reason. The best cordless framing nailer makes the job so easy and convenient that it’s almost a no-brainer to use anything else. These tools are lightweight, portable, and powerful enough even for dense framing lumber.
If you’re considering adding one of these convenient devices to your tool kit, keep reading. This guide will explore the information you need to know when shopping for a cordless framing nailer and offer an overview of some of the top picks on the market from which to choose.
- BEST OVERALL: Metabo HPT Cordless Framing Nailer Kit
- RUNNER-UP: Metabo HPT Cordless Framing Nailer Kit, 18V
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: DEWALT 20-Volt MAX XR 21° Cordless Framing Nailer
- UPGRADE PICK: DEWALT 20-Volt MAX 21-Degree Cordless Framing Nailer
- BEST GAS: Paslode CF325XP Lithium-Ion 30° Cordless Nailer
- BEST 30-DEGREE: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 30° Cordless Framing Nailer Kit
- BEST 21-DEGREE: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 21° Cordless Framing Nailer Kit
- BEST SET: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18-Volt 21° Cordless Combo Kit
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cordless Framing Nailer
Cordless framing nailers are as capable as their pneumatic brethren but without all the noise and hoses to trip over. Still, there are a few factors shoppers need to weigh before choosing the right model for their needs. The following sections will nail down some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when selecting the best cordless framing nailer.
Size and Weight
One point to keep in mind is that framing nailers, whether cordless or pneumatic, are not light tools. Given that a heavy framing hammer might weigh just 23 ounces, a 10-pound framing nailer will feel hefty—and that’s before adding a stick of nails to the magazine. Ten pounds might not sound heavy, but it will certainly be noticeable after a long day of framing.
Also, it’s important to understand that framing nailers are not small. They’re much larger than a finish nailer, and poorly designed models can be a bit unwieldy. Finding a model that will fit comfortably between standard 16-inch studs can make a big difference. Luckily, a cordless framing nailer doesn’t have hoses and adapters with which to contend, so it’s still going to be easier to maneuver than a pneumatic nailer.
Cordless framing nailers are explicitly for framing or fastening structure floor, wall, and roofing members in place. These tools are intended to drive large, heavy nails, making them more about power than finesse. Since framing nailers can often split wood and leave behind marks, keep in mind that they’re suitable for construction framing only.
Framing nailers are less ideal for roofing, as the nails they shoot will tear right through the shingles. They are also not the best bet for siding; the nails will fasten the siding too tightly to the home’s structure. These tools are also far too powerful for finish or brad nailing. For any of these applications, choose a nail gun explicitly designed for these particular jobs; however, be aware, some nail guns are easier to use than others.
Brushed vs. Brushless Motor
Electric cordless framing nailers utilize an electric motor to fire nails, and those motors are available in both brushed and brushless models. Getting into the specifics of how each motor works might require more engineering background than this guide is prepared to cover, but the pros and cons are straightforward.
- Brushed motors are the common, old-school electric models. They’re affordable and offer plenty of power to get the job done. These motors are also large and heavy and will drain a battery faster than brushless options.
- Brushless motors are the newer generation of electric models. They’re even more powerful, more efficient, and more compact than brushed motors. But, as they’re newer, these models are often more expensive.
Power Source and Runtime
Cordless framing nailers feature two main types of power: gas and battery.
- The original cordless framing nailers were all gas-powered, as battery technology didn’t have the power it does today. These nailers use a consumable cartridge of combustible gas and a spark to fire a nail into a piece of lumber. Gas models are very powerful, and the cartridges last a long time (up to 1,300 nails), but they can’t be easily recharged like a battery.
- Battery-powered cordless framing nailers use electric motors to fire the nails, and though technology has certainly improved, they’re not as powerful as gas models. While battery models don’t last as long (300 to 700 nails), they have the added benefit of rechargeable batteries that save time and money in the long run. They’re also lower maintenance devices.
Framing Angle and Nail Type
Cordless framing nailers operate at four different angles: 15, 21, 28, and 30 degrees, with each having benefits. The angle is the measurement between the plane of the nail and the angle of the magazine. Each of these distinct nailers also takes a specific nail type that must match the angle of the gun.
- 15-degree framing nailers are upright, compact, and have drum-style cartridges that accept coiled nails. The nails also feature a fully round head, which gives them a better grip over a clipped head. Since these nailers are compact, they can fit in tight spots. However, they aren’t yet available in cordless models.
- 21-degree framing nailers have a more slanted angle than 15-degree models, which gives them better access in tight corners. These models use nails with fully round heads that come in a straight, plastic-collated stack, also known as a stick.
- 28-degree framing nailers use nails held together by a wire strip, and their heads are either offset or clipped to allow them to nest closely together in a stack.
- 30-degree framing nailers offer the best access in awkward, tight corners. They use sticks of clipped or offset nails held together by paper strips.
Beyond nail head shapes, framing nails also come in different lengths. Most framing nailers can handle a range between a 2-inch length (used for sheathing buildings with plywood) and a 3.25-inch length, with some nailers accepting up to a 3.5-inch length.
Cordless framing nailers often include extra features to make them more useful, convenient, and safe. For instance, some models might provide a belt hook that slides over a tool belt, so framers can climb a ladder with both hands or manipulate a workpiece without putting the nailer on the ground.
Also, most framing nailers have lock-outs that prevent a nail from firing without pressing the tip firmly against a piece of wood. They also allow users to choose between sequential (driving one nail) or bump-fire, which will fire a nail each time the tip bumps against a surface as long as the trigger is held down.
Some manufacturers also offer cordless tool kits that include a framing nailer. For one purchase, a shopper might receive a framing nailer, a charger, a circular saw, a reciprocating saw, a set of batteries, and more.
Tips for Using a Cordless Framing Nailer
The best cordless framing nailer creates a tremendous amount of force to drive a framing nail through one piece of lumber and into the piece next to it. For this reason, it’s imperative to wear safety glasses, as chunks of splintered wood, errant nails, and other debris can be hard to predict.
If you’re already invested in a manufacturer’s battery system, you can shop for a bare framing nailer and save money. These tools come without batteries, but if you already have a few compatible ones on hand, you’ll be able to use them without the added expense or the space to store another charger.
Don’t think that purchasing a cordless framing nailer will put your hammer completely out of commission. On occasion, a nailer won’t be able to drive a nail completely through the intended lumber. In those cases, a few well-placed licks with a hammer will drive the nail home, so keep one nearby.
- Be sure to wear safety glasses when using a cordless framing nailer.
- If you’ve already invested in a battery-powered lineup, shop for a bare tool to save money.
- Your hammer is not obsolete; keep one nearby to drive home any nails that the framing nailer didn’t sink completely.
Our Top Picks
Framing nailers are all about convenience and making the job as easy as possible, but choosing one can be confusing. To help simplify the shopping process, refer to the following list of some of the best cordless framing nailers on the market. Keep the abovementioned considerations in mind when comparing these models.
Anyone looking for a well-rounded cordless framing nailer should check out this model from Metabo HPT. This battery-powered framing nailer fires plastic-collated, fully round nails between 2 and 3.5 inches, giving users the length they need for heavy-duty framing jobs. The 21-degree angle allows it to tuck into some tight spots, and the quick depth adjustment enables users to dial in exactly how far they want the nails to sink.
This kit includes one 3.0Ah lithium-ion battery, which combines with the brushless motor to fire up to 400 nails on one charge. And choosing between sequential or bump firing requires just the flick of a switch. It also comes with a charger and a carrying bag for convenience, weighing just over 10 pounds in total. This Metabo HPT also features a built-in rafter hook from which users can hang the nailer when heading up and down a ladder.
When it comes to tucking a cordless framing nailer into a tight corner, nothing beats a 30-degree nailer like this model from Metabo HPT. This cordless framing nailer features a 3.0Ah 18V lithium-ion battery and a brushless motor, combining for up to 400 nails per charge.
The nailer drives 30-degree clipped or offset nails between 2 and 3.5 inches, meaning it doesn’t sacrifice nail length for versatility. It also offers a bump-firing switch and a depth adjustment that users can tweak for sinking those nails to just the desired depth. The kit includes the nailer, an 18V battery, a charger, and a heavy-duty contractor bag for easy carrying—all of which add up to just over 10 pounds.
Not everyone has the budget for a high-end cordless framing nailer kit. For those already invested in the DEWALT 20V lineup, this 20V MAX XR Cordless Framing Nailer might be just the ticket. This bare-tool purchase comes without a charger or battery, saving users who already own 20V MAX batteries quite a chunk of change.
The brushless cordless framing nailer drives 21-degree plastic-collated nails between 2 and 3.25 inches in length, allowing it to tuck into some tight spaces. This model also offers tool-free depth adjustments and an adjustable rafter hook to safely hang it when necessary. And, with the firing mode switch, users can easily toggle between sequential and bump firing.
Would-be framers looking for a high-end kit to take to the jobsite should consider DEWALT’s 20-Volt MAX cordless framing nailer. This battery-powered framing nailer features a brushless motor with two speeds, allowing users to choose the best speed for a range of fasteners and materials.
The nailer fires 21-degree plastic-collated nails between 2 and 3.25 inches in length. The kit includes a charger and a heavy-duty contractor bag as well as a 5.0Ah battery for long-lasting capability. It also comes with a depth adjustment, an adjustable rafter hook, and a switch for sequential and bump-fire modes.
When it comes to driving framing nails through extremely heavy-duty materials like beams and posts, a gas-powered cordless framing nailer, like this model from Paslode, might be the way to go. This system uses a 7.4-volt rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a cylinder of compressed propane and butene to fire up to 9,000 nails on one charge. It’s also lightweight, weighing just 7.2 pounds.
This cordless framing nailer uses 30-degree paper-collated nails between 2 and 3.5 inches, giving users the compact design to fit in tight corners and the length to get the job done. Users can dial in their desired nail depth without tools as well. The kit includes the nailer, the battery and charger, a hard plastic carrying case, and safety glasses.
Nailing into a jobsite’s worth of awkward corners and tight spaces on one charge is possible with a 30-degree nailer, like this model from Milwaukee. The M18 FUEL 18-volt brushless cordless framing nailer uses a 5.0Ah lithium-ion battery to fire up to 700 nails on one charge. And, with a speed of three nails per second, those 700 nails can be used up in a hurry.
This kit includes the nailer, the battery, a charger, and a rugged contractor bag for carrying it all to the job site. The nailer has tool-free depth adjustments, both belt and rafter hooks, and the choice to switch between sequential or bump firing. Compatible nails are 2 to 3.5 inches long and paper-collated with either an offset round or a clipped head.
Framers who prefer a 21-degree cordless framing nailer should check into this model from Milwaukee. The M18 nailer features a brushless motor and a 5.0Ah lithium-ion battery that can drive up to 700 nails on a charge. And it’s not short on speed, firing up to three nails per second for maximum productivity from a cordless framing nailer.
To achieve that efficiency and productivity, users can switch this framing nailer from sequential firing to bump firing, allowing them to hold the trigger and fire off nails as they bump the tip across the lumber. This nailer also features a rafter and belt hook. This Milwaukee kit includes the nailer, the battery, a charger, and a contractor bag.
Shoppers don’t have to settle for just a framing nailer with their purchase. This kit from Milwaukee features a complement of tools for tackling almost any job. In addition to the 21-degree cordless framing nailer, the kit includes an impact driver, a hammer drill, a circular saw, a reciprocating saw, a flashlight, a charger, and two 5.0Ah batteries.
Each of the tools in this kit features Milwaukee’s brushless motor system, giving them more power and long-lasting durability than brushed competitors. They also all fit into the included contractor bag, allowing users to bring them all to the jobsite in one hand.
FAQs About Cordless Framing Nailers
Even with this extensive background on the best cordless framing nailers, you might have some additional questions that need to be nailed down. The following section aims to help. It’s a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions about cordless framing nailers, so be sure to check for your answer below.
Q. For what purposes could I use a cordless framing nailer?
A cordless framing nailer is used for framing walls, floors, decks, ceilings, and roofs, as well as covering those surfaces with sheathing. They have too much power for many other applications.
Q. What is the most common framing nailer?
The most common framing nailers are the 21-degree models, with the Paslode CF325XP Lithium-Ion 30° Cordless Framing Nailer being one of the most popular cordless models.
Q. What is the difference between a 21- and 28-degree framing nailer?
When it comes to framing nailers, the difference between any two degree types is the angle of the tip where the nail comes out and the magazine. A 21-degree framing nailer uses plastic-collated nails with fully round heads, while a 28-degree framing nailer (which isn’t available as a cordless model) uses wire-collated nails with clipped or offset heads.
Q. Can I use 21-degree nails in a 30-degree nailer?
No, and doing so is likely to cause damage. It’s important to use the correct fastener for a framing nailer to work properly.
Q. Can I use a framing nailer for siding?
You can, but it’s not a good idea. Even with the nail depth adjustment backed all the way off, it’s likely that a framing nailer will nail siding too tightly to the surface underneath or shoot the nail through the siding material altogether.