The Best Pin Nailers of 2022

If you’re looking to attach trim, molding, or mitered corners without leaving a noticeable hole, the best pin nailer can help.

By Tom Scalisi | Published Jun 1, 2022 11:21 AM

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The Best Pin Nailers

Photo: amazon.com

There are certain situations in finish carpentry and woodworking where a big finish or brad nail just won’t do. These fasteners often act like wedges through thinner pieces of wood, causing them to split or crack. And when they don’t crack, they leave behind large holes that require going back with wood putty to fill them. The good news is there’s another option: the stealth, compact pin nailer.

Pin nailers, also known as micro pinners, drive very thin fasteners that are actually just sturdy wires. The pins themselves come in stacks similar to those inserted into finish or brad nailers, but they don’t have a head, meaning a pin nailer can drive one without leaving a noticeable hole. Although they don’t offer a ton of holding strength, the best pin nailers can be a huge asset for trim, woodworking, and crafts.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Metabo HPT 1-3/8 Inch 23 Gauge Micro Pin Nailer
  2. RUNNER-UP: DeWalt 23 GA Pin Nailer
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Arrow PT23G Pneumatic Pin Nailer
  4. UPGRADE PICK: Milwaukee M12 23 Gauge Pin Nailer
  5. BEST PNEUMATIC: Bostitch Pin Nailer 23 Gauge, 1/2-Inch to 1-3/16-Inch
  6. BEST BATTERY: Makita XTP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Pin Nailer
  7. BEST RANGE: Metabo HPT 23 Gauge 2 Inch Pro Pin Nailer
  8. BEST FOR PROS: Bostitch BTFP2350K 23 GA Pin Nailer
  9. ALSO CONSIDER: Ryobi One+ 18V Cordless AirStrike 23-Gauge Pin Nailer
The Best Pin Nailers

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pin Nailers

For a device that fires such a minimal fastener, there is a lot to know about choosing the best pin nailer. The following includes some of the most important information regarding what to look for and how to choose a micro pinner.

Pneumatic vs. Battery

There are two types of pin nailers: those powered by compressed air and those powered by batteries. They’re both more than sufficient to drive such small fasteners, but there are pros and cons to each.

A pneumatic micro pinner nail gun uses tanks of compressed air to fire pins into wood. These tools attach to an air compressor with a long, flexible hose. A press of the trigger releases a small burst of air to drive a pin into the workpiece. As long as there is an air compressor, an air pin nailer will work. However, these tools are only as portable as the compressor powering them.

Battery-operated pin nailers drive the same fasteners but use the electricity stored within the battery to compress a heavy spring. After the user pulls the trigger, the spring releases, powering the mechanism that drives the pin. These tools are ultra-portable, but when the battery dies, it can leave the project at a standstill.

Pin Length and Size

Like most fasteners, the pins that micro nailers drive come in varying lengths. They’re available in pin nail sizes ranging from ⅜-inch to 2 inches long. Pin nailers will accommodate several of these sizes, negating the need to own several pin nailers for different fastener lengths. Some pin nailers may feature adjustable depths that allow the user to tailor how deeply a pin is driven.

The lengths may vary, but the thickness of the pin never does. All common pin nailers fire 23-gauge pins. This thin gauge and lack of a nail head allows for large magazine capacities, as many as 200 pins in some products.

Safety

Although pin nails are very small, they aren’t without danger. The lack of head means a pin could easily pass through skin, so manufacturers build safety features into their pin nailers to prevent errant firing.

Some pinner nail guns may have safety devices built into their noses. The nose must be pressed down onto a surface in order for the user to pull the trigger. Others might feature double triggers that require the user to activate both triggers separately to fire.

Manufacturers build features into these micro pinners for the device’s safety as well. Dry-fire mechanisms that disable the nailer’s ability to fire when it runs out of nails prevents unnecessarily shortening the device’s lifespan.

Ergonomics and Weight

Comparing pin nailers’ weights with other nail guns such as framing or finish nailers, they’re certainly the smallest nail guns. However, pneumatic nailers tend to be the lightest (often just 2 pounds or so). Battery-operated pin nailers can weigh two or three times as much, which may be a factor for some DIYers. Still, for folks who use their pin nailer occasionally or in a shop setting, weight doesn’t need to be the deciding factor.

Ergonomics are also key. Repetitive use of any tool can wear the user down, so rubber grips, tool-free depth adjustments, and even directionable air exhaust can help make using a pin nailer more enjoyable over the course of a day.

Additional Features

There are some additional features that might make one micro nail gun more attractive than another. Some may come with special drops known as “no-mar,” and they use special polymers that prevent scratching or denting the work surface. Others may feature very narrow tips, allowing the user to poke the tip of the nailer into very tight spaces for pinpoint nail placement.

Also, it may be worth looking for a pin nailer that comes with a carrying case to protect the tool and make storing it a bit more worry-free. And be sure to check that case for a set of safety glasses, as they can be incredibly important when working with any power tools, but especially pin nailers.

Our Top Picks

That’s a lot of information on how to choose the best pin nailer, but it may still seem difficult to nail down which model to choose. The following is a list of some of the best pin nailers on the market.

Best Overall

The Best Pin Nailers Option: Metabo HPT 1-⅜ Inch 23 Gauge Micro Pin Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

When it comes to high-quality pneumatic fastening tools, Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi Power Tools) is almost always at the top, and this pin nailer carries on the tradition. This pneumatic pin nailer features a lightweight design and weighs just 2 pounds, making it ideal for all-day use. It also has non-marring narrow tips.

This 23-gauge pin nailer is compatible with pins ranging from ⅝ to 1⅜ inches, allowing it to serve most general purposes with ease. It also has a rubber-wrapped grip for improved comfort. The dual-trigger design allows users to position the tip exactly where they want it without having to worry about the nose bouncing. It comes with the carrying case, several tips, a wrench, a hose adapter, and a pair of safety glasses. It has depth adjustments, but the included wrench is required to make them.

Product Specs

  • Power source: Pneumatic
  • Range: ⅝ inch to 1⅜ inches
  • Safety features: Double trigger

Pros

  • Includes case, several tips, wrench, hose adapter, and safety glasses
  • Depth adjustment for tailoring the shot
  • Lightweight at just 2 pounds

Cons

  • Depth adjustment requires a wrench

Get the Metabo HPT micro pin nailer on Amazon or at Lowe’s.

Runner-Up

The Best Pin Nailers Option: DeWalt 23 GA Pin Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

For a top-tier pin nailer that can hang moldings and fasten crafts with the best of them, consider this model from DeWalt. This pneumatic nailer can handle pins ranging from ⅝-inch to 2 inches, allowing for improved versatility compared with other models. It has toolless depth adjustments and a jam-clearing mechanism as well.

The DeWalt Pin Nailer features a double trigger to protect the user from accidental activations as well as a dry-fire lockout to protect the workpiece and the tool. It also features a reversible belt loop for convenience and a rubber overmolded grip for comfort and improved ergonomics. Keep in mind that although the ability to drive large pins is nice, the wider magazine does make this model slightly bulky.

Product Specs

  • Power source: Pneumatic
  • Range: ⅝ inch to 2 inches
  • Safety features: Double trigger, dry-fire lockout

Pros

  • Large compatibility range
  • Toolless depth adjustments and jam-clearing
  • Reversible belt loop for convenience

Cons

  • Larger magazine is a little bulky

Get the DeWalt pin nailer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best Bang For The Buck

The Best Pin Nailers Option: Arrow PT23G Pneumatic Pin Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

Just because the materials you’re working with might be expensive or exotic doesn’t mean the pin nailer that fastens them must be. The Arrow PT23G pneumatic 23-gauge nailer drives shorter pins that hide in hardwoods and painted trim work alike. It features an overmolded rubber grip for comfort and improved ergonomics as well.

This pin nailer features a range capable of handling ⅜- to 1-inch pins, making it a solid choice for crafts, picture framing, or any other light-duty work. The PT23G also has an adjustable exhaust port to direct bursts of air away from the user’s face, as well as a double trigger for safety. Arrow also designed the magazine for easy loading. Other than the range being somewhat limiting, the only downsides to this pin nailer are that it doesn’t have no-mar tips and there isn’t a depth adjustment.

Product Specs

  • Power source: Pneumatic
  • Range: ⅜ inch to 1 inch
  • Safety features: Double trigger, adjustable exhaust port

Pros

  • Ideal for small, light-duty projects
  • Ergonomic rubber overmolded grip
  • Easy-load magazine for quick reloads

Cons

  • No depth adjustment

Get the Arrow pin nailer at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Walmart.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Pin Nailers Option: Milwaukee M12 23 Gauge Pin Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

For improved portability, consider the Milwaukee M12 12-volt 23-gauge lithium-ion cordless pin nailer. This model uses the brand’s 12-volt battery system. This allows users already invested in the system to take advantage of the batteries they already own, and the battery it comes with can fire up to 750 pins per charge.

This model comes with the pin nailer, a charger, a 1.5Ah battery, and a contractor bag for easy storage. It features a double trigger and dry-fire lockout for safety, and depth adjustments are tool-free. The device itself is very compact, and it features an onboard LED light for illuminating dark corners and spaces while fastening. The main downside to this model is its price, but it could be worth the expense to some pros and DIYers.

Product Specs

  • Power source: Battery, 12-volt
  • Range: ½ inch to 1⅜ inch
  • Safety features: Double trigger, dry-fire lockout

Pros

  • Tool-free depth adjustments
  • Dry-fire lockout system
  • LED light for increased visibility

Cons

  • It may be outside of some folks’ pin-nailing budget

Get the Milwaukee pin nailer at The Home Depot or on Amazon (tool only).

Best Pneumatic

The Best Pin Nailers Option: Bostitch Pin Nailer 23 Gauge, 1/2-Inch to 1-3/16-Inch
Photo: amazon.com

Those looking for a pneumatic pin nailer that’s ready for tying into a compressor and getting to work should check out Bostitch’s Pin Nailer. This 23-gauge pin nailer comes with a ¼-inch quick-connect fitting for snapping to most compressor hoses without issue. It also comes with a sturdy hard case and an assortment of pins.

This model accepts 23-gauge pins ranging from ½- to 1-3/16-inch, allowing it to handle a variety of jobs. It also features a switch to flip between high and low outputs, effectively acting like a depth adjustment. The aluminum housing is both durable and lightweight, and the overmolded rubber grip makes all-day work a bit more comfortable. While the tip is narrow and extremely accurate, it isn’t non-marring.

Product Specs

  • Power source: Pneumatic
  • Range: ½ inch to 1-3/16 inch
  • Safety features: Double trigger

Pros

  • Lightweight, durable aluminum housing
  • Comes with everything necessary to hook to a compressor hose
  • Adjustable output switch

Cons

  • Not a no-mar tip

Get the Bostitch pneumatic pin nailer on Amazon or at Walmart.

Best Battery

The Best Pin Nailers Option: Makita XTP02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Pin Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

When it comes to driving nails in tight places or remote locations, it’s hard to beat a cordless pin nailer like this model from Makita. The XTP02Z uses the brand’s 18-volt LXT battery system, allowing folks already invested in the brand to take advantage of their already-owned batteries. With a 5.0Ah battery, it can fire up to 5,300 pins.

Along with portability, this model offers adjustability, with toolless depth adjustments. It can fire nails between ⅝ and 1⅜ inch (though it does not work with 1¼-inch pins, for some reason). It has a dry-fire mechanism that prevents the device from firing when the magazine is empty and a safety tip that must depress to fire the trigger. It also features a tuned firing mechanism that reduces recoil, making it less likely to damage the work surface upon firing. If there’s a complaint, it’s that this is a tool-only purchase.

Product Specs

  • Power source: Battery, 18V
  • Range: ⅝ inch to 1⅜ inch (but not 1¼ inch)
  • Safety features: Nose safety, dry-fire lockout

Pros

  • Uses the brand’s 18-volt battery lineup
  • Toolless depth adjustments
  • Safety tip and dry-fire lockout
  • Tuned firing mechanism to reduce recoil

Cons

  • Does not come with a battery

Get the Makita pin nailer (tool only) on Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Best Range

The Best Pin Nailers Option: Metabo HPT 23 Gauge 2 Inch Pro Pin Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

Versatility abounds with this pin nailer from Metabo HPT. Not only does this pin nailer continue the brand’s legacy of high-end fastening tools, it does so with a wide range of fastener lengths. This model accepts 23-gauge pins measuring ½-inch to 2 inches long, allowing it to tackle small crafts or heavy-duty paneling and trim.

This pin nailer kit comes with a case, no-mar tips, oil, and safety glasses. The magazine features aluminum construction and the grip has a rubber overmold wrap. The base has a built-in belt hook and a silencer to minimize noise as well. The tips are narrow enough to get into tight places and are also no-mar, meaning the user won’t scratch or dent expensive woodwork while fastening. Users can adjust the depth of the fastener, but that does require a wrench.

Product Specs

  • Power source: Pneumatic
  • Range: ½ inch to 2 inches
  • Safety features: Double trigger, dry-fire lockout

Pros

  • Wide pin-length range (½ inch to 2 inches)
  • Durable aluminum construction magazine
  • Includes case, no-mar tips, oil, safety glasses, and hard case
  • Built-in belt hook

Cons

  • Depth adjustments are not toolless

Get the Metabo HPT pro pin nailer on Amazon or at Lowe’s.

Best For Pros

The Best Pin Nailers Option: Bostitch BTFP2350K 23 Gauge Pin Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

Pros who need to get the job done quickly and efficiently should check out Bostitch’s 23-gauge pin nailer. This tool features a wide pin-length range between ⅝ inch and 2 inches, and it doesn’t require any tool to clear jams. Simply unlatch the clasp near the nose, flip up the guard, and clear the jam. The toolless depth adjustment knob is also under that guard.

This pneumatic nailer features a no-mar tip and a double trigger, allowing users to fire safely and accurately without damaging the wood surface. It also has a dry-fire lockout and a reversible belt hook. Like other models with larger pin ranges, the wider magazine can make this pin nailer seem a bit bulky in tighter spots.

Product Specs

  • Power source: Pneumatic
  • Range: ⅝ inch to 2 inches
  • Safety features: Double trigger, dry-fire lockout

Pros

  • Wide pin-length range
  • No-mar tip and double trigger for safety and reducing damage
  • Toolless depth adjustments

Cons

  • Wider magazine can be a bit bulky

Get the Bostitch BTFP2350K pin nailer at Amazon or Lowe’s.

Also Consider

The Best Pin Nailers Option: Ryobi One+ 18V Cordless AirStrike 23-Gauge Pin Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

Folks who have already invested in several One+ tools from Ryobi should check out the AirStrike 23-gauge pin nailer. This battery-operated pin nailer uses those One+ batteries to fire pins between ½ and 1⅜ inches, offering a general-purpose range from a highly portable pin nailer.

This pin nailer has plenty of built-in features as well. It has a built-in belt loop, an LED worklight, a dry-fire lockout, and a double trigger to prevent accidents. It also has a removable gauge that the user can set to drive pins at consistent height as well as adjustable depths for dialing in the shot. Keep in mind that this is a tool-only purchase, which can be a good way to save money, but only for folks who already own the batteries.

Product Specs

  • Power source: Battery, 18-volt
  • Range: ½ inch to 1⅜ inches
  • Safety features: Dry-fire lockout, double trigger

Pros

  • General purpose pin-length range
  • Built-in belt loop and LED lights
  • Adjustable gauge for consistent firing

Cons

  • Tool-only purchase

Get the Ryobi One+ pin nailer (tool only) at The Home Depot or on Amazon.

Our Verdict

Folks looking for an all-around-capable pin nailer should consider the Metabo HPT Micro Pin Nailer for its depth adjustment, a full kit of gear, and its light weight. However, for people who want to save a little money while driving pins, check out the Arrow PT23G Pin Nailer.

How We Chose the Best Pin Nailers

Choosing the best pin nailers took a lot of work. We had to call upon all of our experience in DIY projects, woodworking, and finish carpentry to choose the features we thought we’d need most.

With the important features nailed down, we conducted extensive product research to compile a list of tools we felt might meet our needs. Once we had our list, we compared the features and the pros and cons, as well as the prices, to ensure they would get the job done while providing enough value.

We tossed to the side the pin nailers that didn’t make it and focused on the models that did. We gave each tool an award based on its strengths, creating this list of the best pin nailers.

FAQs

Even with all that information, there could be some lingering questions nagging you. The following is a collection of the most frequently asked questions about pin nailers, along with the answers to clear up the confusion. Be sure to check for an answer to your question listed below.

Q. Are pin nailers worth it?

Absolutely. Pin nailers are far less likely to split wood or damage a work surface. The holes they create take far less time to fill, and aligning the tip of the gun is much easier than finish or brad nailers.

Q. What is the purpose of a pin nailer?

The main purpose of a pin nailer is to tack a piece of trim or molding in place while the glue dries. The joint doesn’t get its strength from the pins, but rather from the glue.

Q. Where can I use a pin nailer?

Pin nailers have an array of applications. For example, nailing a return onto a window stool, fastening mitered corners, or installing small pieces of wood trim on paneling. The pins will hold these pieces together as the glue dries.

Q. How do I choose a pin nailer?

First, look for one that fits your budget. Then, choose either cordless or pneumatic and go with one that has a wide-enough range to serve your purposes.

Q. Are electric pin nailers any good?

Battery-operated pin nailers are excellent. Some can fire up to 2,500 pins on a battery charge.