A standard sheet of drywall (or Sheetrock) is 8 feet long by 4 feet wide and weighs about 50 pounds. Trying to hold that upright against a wall while driving drywall screws with an ordinary cordless drill driver is awkward and slow at best. It’s all too easy to punch the screw right through the sheet.
A dedicated drywall screw gun is not only faster, but it drives screws to precisely the right depth for a proper hold. It makes filling and finishing quicker, too. No professional would hang drywall without one, and for the DIY user who has more than a couple of sheets to hang, a drywall screw gun is a very worthwhile investment.
Ahead, we explain the key features of these tools and look at some real-world examples to help you find the best drywall screw gun for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Milwaukee M18 FUEL Drywall Screw Gun
- RUNNER-UP: DeWalt 20V MAX XR Brushless Drywall Screw Gun
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ryobi 18V ONE+ Brushless Drywall Screw Gun
- BEST AUTO-FEED: Makita 18V LXT Cordless Autofeed Screwdriver
- BEST CORDED: DeWalt 5,300 rpm High-Speed VSR Drywall Screw Gun
- BEST RUNTIME: Makita 18V LXT Brushless Cordless Drywall Screwdriver
- BEST COMBO: DeWalt 20V MAX Drywall Screw Gun and Cut-Out Tool
- BEST SEMIAUTOMATIC: Worx SD Driver with Screw Holder
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drywall Screw Gun
While all drywall screw guns do basically the same job, several factors affect tool performance and price. Although some models are meant primarily for professionals, the DIY user has many options. Understanding the following features will help you determine which drywall screw gun will suit you best.
Motor: Corded vs. Cordless
While corded drywall screw guns are still available and often come with an attractive price tag, the majority are now cordless. The freedom of movement they offer is an advantage, particularly when working on ceilings.
Cordless drywall screw guns can have either a brush or brushless motor, and there are important differences between the two. Brush motors were developed for corded tools. They are reliable and low cost. When cordless tools first appeared, existing brush motors were the obvious choice. The problem is that brushes cause friction and, as a result, heat, which doesn’t have much of an effect on a corded tool but saps energy from the battery of a cordless model.
Brushless motors produce almost zero friction, so they make much more efficient use of the battery power available, resulting in longer runtimes. The best tools use brushless motors, but they are more expensive. As a result, some cordless tools still have brush motors.
Cordless drywall screw guns are often sold as “bare tools” (without a battery or charger). If the user doesn’t already own compatible batteries, this can add a considerable amount to the price. Pay attention to the amp hour (Ah) rating of batteries. This can be compared to fuel: the higher the number, the longer the battery will run between charges.
Cordless drywall screw guns are described as either 18 or 20 volt (V), but there is no actual difference. All cordless tools have a small surge at start-up, so they initially produce 20V. They then settle to 18V for normal operation. The only difference is that some manufacturers choose to use the higher figure.
Speed and Torque
Speed is a key factor with drywall screw guns. It isn’t practical to drill pilot holes when hanging drywall, so the gun has to drive the screw through the drywall and then through the wood joist or metal stud behind it in a single hit. Few ordinary drill drivers run at more than 2,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). While that’s sufficient for hanging drywall on wooden studs, it isn’t fast enough to drive the screw through metal. All of our top picks run at 4,000 rpm and more.
Torque, the generated twisting force, is not particularly important when hanging drywall, but it will have an impact if the tool can also be used for subfloors or decking. Drywall screws are relatively slender and don’t need a lot of torque to drive them. Decking screws, on the other hand, are quite substantial, and high torque makes driving them much easier.
Variable speed is available in some models. This doesn’t have any impact on drywall hanging in which full speed is used, but it does provide versatility for other driving tasks. A reverse setting for backing out screws, usually switched by a lever close to the trigger, is another common addition.
Nose Cone and Clutch
An important feature of most drywall screw guns is the nose cone, which surrounds the gun’s screwdriver bit. As the screw is driven into the drywall sheet, the nose cone provides a depth stop, so the screw head is sunk just below the surface (to be hidden by filler), but not driven too deep.
Most nose cones have adjustable depth and can be removed. This would be necessary if driving decking screws, for example, where the diameter of the head is larger than drywall screws and would not fit within the cone.
A clutch often works in conjunction with the nose cone, disengaging the drive when the screw reaches the desired depth.
Weight and Ergonomics
Weight and ergonomics always have an impact on handheld power tools, but differences can be more pronounced when hanging drywall. Because this is often a one-person job, it is necessary to support the drywall sheet with one hand while using the other to operate the tool.
Weight will make a considerable difference to those who are hanging drywall all day, especially if installing ceilings. A comfortable grip and an easy-to-reach trigger will also reduce fatigue and help prevent hand cramps.
Auto start can be a big benefit. Rather than needing to press the trigger each time a drywall screw is driven, the user can lock the trigger in the “on” position, but the gun won’t operate until it senses contact between the screw and the drywall sheet. This increases working speed and can extend battery runtime because no energy is wasted.
The main thing that restricts working speed when hanging drywall, even with auto mode, is the need to load each drywall screw individually. The fix for this is either a collated screw attachment or an auto-feed gun.
The first is a device that is attached to the front of the drywall screw gun, allowing it to feed collated screws (screws held together in a magazine with a plastic or paper strip). With no need to fit screws manually, screws can be driven much faster, but the attachment can be removed if not needed. An auto-feed gun has a full-time magazine feed and can be more compact and lighter than a combined gun and attachment. However, they are more expensive.
LED work lights and belt hooks are modest but useful extra features on some drywall screw guns. Those who want to know more about affixing things onto drywall should check out our review of the best drywall anchors on the market.
Our Top Picks
Having read about the factors that will affect your choice, it is now time to look at some real-world examples. The following are what we believe to be the best drywall screw guns available.
Milwaukee has a reputation for reliable, durable tools packed with features that appeal to professionals. Its M18 cordless drywall screw gun is a good example.
The brushless motor drives the Milwaukee at 4,500 rpm. Milwaukee claims its batteries last three times longer than competitors, though it doesn’t estimate their lifespan or make any direct comparisons. At 2.5 pounds, the tool is among the lightest in its class. A battery adds about 1.5 pounds.
The key feature of the Milwaukee M18 drywall screw gun is auto mode. The trigger can be locked in the “on” position, but it will only drive screws when it senses contact with the drywall sheet. A screw is placed on the magnetic bit, the tip is pressed against the drywall, and the screw is driven to the correct depth. The gun then stops automatically so the next screw can be set. When users drive dozens of screws per day, the time saving is considerable. For even faster driving, a collated attachment is available at an extra cost.
The nose cone gives three-position depth adjustment and can easily be removed so the gun could be used to drive decking screws. However, unlike a standard drill/driver, there is no multiposition clutch, making it difficult to control for ordinary screwdriving jobs. An LED worklight and belt clip are included.
- Power: 18V cordless
- Speed: 4,500 rpm
- Weight: 2.5 pounds
- Excellent build quality
- Fast brushless motor
- Auto-driving mode
- Battery and charger are extra
- A little pricey for DIY users
Get the Milwaukee drywall screw gun at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
DeWalt is another brand renowned for well-made, professional-standard power tools. Its 20V drywall screw gun has a brushless motor with a speed of 4,400 rpm. At 2.7 pounds, it is a fraction heavier than the Milwaukee, though the batteries are lighter, so the all up weight difference is negligible. The tool has a soft-grip handle and good ergonomics.
The nose cone offers three-step depth adjustment and has a positive lock, so there’s no danger of it coming loose. It can be removed, allowing the driver to reach into tight spaces. The DeWalt drywall screw gun is fitted with a Versa-Clutch that disengages the drive when the proper depth is reached so screws can’t be punched through the drywall. It doesn’t have the auto mode of the Milwaukee tool, but a collated attachment is available.
An LED work light and belt clip are included. Despite performance that’s competitive to other models on this list, DeWalt states its model should only be used for drywall hanging, not flooring or decking.
- Power: 20V cordless
- Speed: 4,400 rpm
- Weight: 2.7 pounds
- Well-made, reliable tool
- Efficient brushless motor
- Good ergonomics
- Battery and charger extra
- Comparatively expensive
Get the DeWalt XR drywall screw gun on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
The Ryobi drywall screw gun comes with a very attractive price tag and a specification that challenges many more expensive rivals. The 18V brushless motor delivers a best-in-class speed of 4,700 rpm. The Ryobi is light, too, at just 2.25 pounds, though the battery weight of 1.7 pounds brings it in-line with competitors.
A removable nose cone provides the usual three-step depth adjustment. Surprisingly, for a drywall screw gun at this price, the Ryobi also has an auto mode (called QuietDrive). As is common, a belt clip and LED work light are included.
Build quality is not perhaps the same high standard as the Milwaukee or DeWalt, but complaints about reliability are rare. For DIY users, this is an excellent choice. However, the lack of a collated attachment, even as an extra, could be a drawback for pros.
- Power: 18V cordless
- Speed: 4,700 rpm
- Weight: 2.25 pounds
- Fastest in class
- Auto mode
- Very competitive price
- Battery and charger are extra
- No collated attachment
Get the Ryobi drywall screw gun at The Home Depot or Amazon.
Adding a collated attachment to a standard drywall screw gun certainly increases working speed, but when it comes to maximizing productivity, nothing competes with a full-time auto-feed screwdriver such as the Makita 18V LXT.
The brushless motor runs at 4,000 rpm and can drive collated screws (drywall and standard wood screws) from 1 inch to 2.125 inch long. Instead of the usual three-step depth setting, there is a variable dial. This gives the Makita auto-feed screwdriver great versatility and allows the user to compensate for the hardness of the material and set the depth precisely.
With a weight of 3.7 pounds plus a battery of 1.4 pounds, it is somewhat heavier than its rivals, but it is designed for two-handed operation. There have been a few issues with jamming, particularly with the use of cheap collated screws. We would recommend Makita’s own screws for consistent performance.
- Power: 18V cordless
- Speed: 4,000 rpm
- Weight: 3.7 pounds
- Super-fast repetitive driving
- Good versatility
- Fine depth adjustment
- Some issues with jamming
Get the Makita Autofeed drywall screw gun at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
While cordless drywall screw guns tend to be the more popular choice, DeWalt’s high-speed corded model has a range of features that make it an attractive option for those who want strong performance with minimal outlay.
The 6-amp motor produces super-fast driving of 5,300 rpm. This makes the DeWalt corded drywall screw gun ideal for use with metal studs or joists, which are increasingly popular but tougher to pierce than wood. The nose cone has three-position depth adjustment. Helical gears, which mesh more easily than straight-cut alternatives, provide renowned DeWalt durability.
The tool weighs just 2.9 pounds and has good ergonomics that help counter the inconvenience of having a cord. The 8-foot cord is longer than some, but an extension cable will usually still be needed.
- Power: 6-amp corded
- Speed: 5,300 rpm
- Weight: 2.9 pounds
- High-speed driving
- Heavy-duty gearing
- Competitive price
- Nose cone cannot be removed
- Modest cord length
Get the DeWalt VSR drywall screw gun at Lowe’s.
Makita’s cordless drywall screwdriver is another high-quality tool aimed at professional users, but with a price that will appeal to keen DIYers. The long-life brushless motor runs at 4,000 rpm. At 3 pounds, plus a 1.4-pound battery, the tool is a little heavier than some, but it is still easy to manage.
Among the key features are Extreme Protection Technology, designed to withstand the dust and dirt of harsh jobsite environments. It also has an auto mode called Push Drive for rapid fixing. A collated attachment can be added at extra cost.
The Makita drywall screwdriver has outstanding battery performance. The company claims it will run for 50 percent longer than competitors. Although the company provides no precise figures, the computer-controlled units are widely acknowledged as among the best available. Recharging is also fast, and the battery boasts a useful charge indicator. A belt clip and LED work light are included.
- Power: 18V cordless
- Speed: 4,000 rpm
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Advanced battery technology
- Push Drive auto mode
- Protection for harsh conditions
- Battery and charger are extra
- Heavier than some
Get the Makita Brushless drywall screw gun at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
It is often necessary to cut holes for conduit or pipework when hanging drywall. While the task can be done with a knife, it takes a lot of effort and good control, or the result will be untidy.
A faster, more accurate solution is DeWalt’s 20V Cut-Out Tool, which is specifically intended as both a drywall drill and cutter. The brushless motor runs at 26,000 rpm, and the ergonomic design makes for easy control. There is a built-in depth gauge, tool-free bit changing, and an LED work light.
Completing the drywall combo is the powerful DeWalt drywall screw gun that took our runner-up spot, plus two batteries, a charger, and a useful canvas carryall.
- Power: 20V cordless
- Speed: 4,400 rpm (screw gun), 26,000 rpm (cut-out tool)
- Weight: 2.7 pounds (screw gun), 2 pounds (cut-out tool)
- Comprehensive drywall kit
- Fast, accurate cut-out tool
- Batteries, charger, and bag included
- Batteries only 2.0Ah
Get the DeWalt drywall screw gun and cut-out tool on Acme Tools.
Strictly speaking, the Worx SD Driver is not a drywall screw gun and does not directly compete with the others on our list. However, it is a versatile driver for those tackling drywall repairs or patches and a wide variety of other jobs around the home.
Key features are the adjustable screw holder that securely grips the screw while driving and frees up one hand. A thumb-operated bit changer rotates easily to any of six preloaded bits that then slide into place, ready for use.
The brushless motor runs at 230 rpm, so while it will drive into drywall and wooden studs or joists, it would struggle with metal ones. The Worx SD Driver weighs just 1.5 pounds, including the built-in battery. A charger is included, and charging can take up to 5 hours. Worx claims that the effective runtime is 1 hour and that it will hold a charge for up to 18 months if unused.
- Power: 4V Cordless
- Speed: 230 rpm
- Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Built-in screw holder
- 6-bit cartridge
- Comparatively low cost
- Integral battery cannot be changed
- Slow charging
Get the Worx driver on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Both the Milwaukee drywall screw gun and DeWalt XR drywall screw gun are excellent, pro-standard tools. Both are fast. Both have highly efficient brushless motors. The Milwaukee has auto-mode, which is what gives it the top spot, but either would be a good choice. DIY users seeking a good tool while also saving a few bucks will find the Ryobi drywall screw gun perfectly adequate. It doesn’t have the build quality of the Milwaukee or DeWalt, but it has all the features of its contractor-grade rivals.
How We Chose the Best Drywall Screw Guns
We thoroughly researched the latest products from the leading manufacturers of drywall screw guns in addition to some lesser-known brands and combined that research with ample firsthand experience with remodeling homes and hanging sheets of drywall.
Our aim was to provide a range of quality tools at different price points and suggest something to suit all users. We avoided cheap, low-quality drywall screw guns that frequently prove to be unreliable and therefore offer poor value. Although each of our picks comes from leading brands, some very affordable options are available.
The information in the sections above will have answered many of the questions that arise when trying to decide on the best drywall or Sheetrock screw gun for your needs. However, we did come across a few questions that weren’t specific to the product, and we have responded to those here.
Q. What is the difference between a screw gun and a drywall screw gun?
A standard screw gun or drill/driver is slower than a drywall screw gun and doesn’t have any depth control. Many drywall screw guns have an auto mode and operate by applying pressure to the drywall screw rather than needing to squeeze the trigger. High-end models can have collated or auto-feed screws, so drywall can be hung very quickly. You may also be interested in our roundup of the best cordless screwdrivers.
Q. What else can I use a drywall screw gun for?
The drywall screw gun is a specialized tool, focused on doing one job particularly well. Some, though by no means all, can be used for decking and subfloors.
Q. Are drywall screw guns worth it?
To hang more than one or two drywall sheets, a drywall screw gun will save a lot of time. They aren’t just faster than a standard drill/driver—they also drive screws to precisely the right depth, time after time, allowing quicker filling and finishing. To fix a patch or hang only a couple of sheets, they may not warrant the investment. To board out a whole room, they definitely are worth it.
Q. How long should drywall screws be?
The optimal length of drywall screws depends on the thickness of the drywall.
- For 0.25-inch drywall sheets, use a drywall screw 1 to 1.25 inches long.
- For 0.5-inch drywall sheets, use a drywall screw 1.25 to 1.625 inches long.
- For 0.625-inch drywall sheets, use a drywall screw 1.625 to 2 inches long.
Some people like to use longer screws for ceilings, but placing them closer together is more effective.