The Best Finish Nailer

DEWALT DC618K XRP 18-Volt Cordless 1-1/4 Inch - 2-1/2 Inch 16 Gauge 20 Degree Angled Finish Nailer

Our Top Pick for 2016: DEWALT DC618K XRP 18-Volt Cordless 1-1/4 Inch – 2-1/2 Inch 16 Gauge 20 Degree Angled Finish Nailer
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $320.09*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

When looking for finish nailers, we asked for a lot:
• Motor power for long-lasting nail driving
• Adjustment for depth
• Long-battery life
• Ease of handling
• Precision
Was this too much? Definitely not. When reviewing the models we had, we realized quickly that some were going to make the mark, but a lot of others were going to miss it by a long shot. We got rid of the duds and kept working with all of our contenders until we came up with the top products in the market today. We found that the Dewalt DC618K XRP 18-Volt Cordless Finisher, the Paslode Cordless 16g Angled Lithium Ion Finisher, the Hitachi NT65MA4 1 ¼- to 2 ½-inch 15-Gauge Angled Finisher and the Freeman PFN64 16-Gauge Finisher were the top three, and the budget product respectively. Read through our review and you’ll know why we chose these models. Each one earned its place on the list and we’d use any one for our next project.

Table of contents

amazon-available
amazon-available
amazon-available
In-Can Fuel System
Consistent Nail Penetration
Integrated Air Duster 
Light Weight
Precision Placement
Selective Actuation Switch
Heavy-Duty Rafter/Belt Hook
Contact Trip Lock-off
Easy To Clear Nose
Improved Handle Ergonomics
Integrated LED Lights
Improved Control 
Legendary Durability
Durable Long Life
Increased Maneuverability

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): DEWALT DC618K XRP 18-Volt Cordless 1-1/4 Inch – 2-1/2 Inch 16 Gauge 20 Degree Angled Finish Nailer

DEWALT DC618K XRP 18-Volt Cordless 1-1/4 Inch - 2-1/2 Inch 16 Gauge 20 Degree Angled Finish Nailer Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $320.09*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerOur number one gold product for this list is the Dewalt DC618K XRP 18-Volt Cordless 1 ¼-inch-2 ½-inch 16 Gauge 20-degree Angled finish nailer. We nominated this product for our number one pick primarily due to its motor power, build and performance. Plus, it has a lot of extras that make it the gold product we recommend to anyone.

This Dewalt has a lot of power to it. It works on an 18 volt motor and we found that it was able to take care of one job after another, without much maintenance. On top of its power, it was able to work with precision, just like nailing by hand. In fact, that was a prerequisite for our top products. We wanted them to perform as good as, if not better, than nail-by-hand precision. As a finishing product, it has to complete detailed work that is going to show in the end. We considered baseboard molding, door casings, chair rails and shoe moldings. That end result had to be spot-on and luckily the work done by the Dewalt was.

There are two modes with the Dewalt: one for continuous nailing and one for bump operation. We tested each one and found that they work exceptionally well in a number of applications. For long pieces of wood ready for one finishing nail after another, the continuous mode was perfect. On the other hand, switching over to the mode that was sensitive to bumping, made it that much easier to nail once or twice, here and there. Either one was quick and easy to use. Plus, moving from one mode to the other was as easy as the switch of a button.

The nosepiece on the Dewalt is easily removed to take care of any jams. This was a feature we liked a lot. With any nailer project, there likely are going to be jams—this is normal. This tool has a specially designed nose that can be disassembled quickly. We liked how easy it was to use because it gave us the chance to get back to work as quickly as possible. On top of the ease of handling jams, the tool also has an ergonomic handle with soft-cushioning on the top side—the side that hits your palm. This makes it easy to hold and maneuver. The angled magazine makes it easy to get this powerful machine into small tight areas. This was an added convenience we enjoyed because we didn’t have to stop at corners and hand nail moldings.

The Dewalt weighs 15.2-pounds and its dimensions are 7-inches by 19-inches by 14.8-inches. It is larger than some other similar products, like our budget pick for example, but it does a lot and has enough added features to account for that. Despite its size, it was never bulky or difficult to handle. The manufacturers made its design convenient enough that the size isn’t an issue. All it does is increase the overall power, and in turn the efficiency of its end result.

If you are looking for a fantastic nailer, consider the Dewalt DC618K. This is an outstanding machines that will easily tackle any project you have. Whether it is a professional grade project, a hobby or a home DIY task, the Dewalt will definitely exceed your expectations as a finish nailer.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Paslode Cordless 16g Angled Lithium Ion Finish Nailer

Paslode Cordless 16g Angled Lithium Ion Finish Nailer

View it on Amazon for $325.23*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerComing in at second place is the Paslode Cordless 16g Angles Lithium Ion Finish Nailer. This is the second generation Paslode nailer and it has come far in terms of quality. It’s obvious to see how many improvements were made to this design by the manufacturer. Thanks to the advancements in design, power and performance, this tool easily took our second place silver win.

This nailer works on a 7.4Vlithium ion battery (included). During testing, we got tons of work done with this product and never had to baby it, or even maintain it. It is easily able to handle 6,000 nails per charge. It’s just 4.5-pounds and its dimensions are 17-inches by 17-inches by 5.5-inches. That makes it perfect to take along on jobs. It also has a convenient carry case and the tools has an ergonomic handle. The straight handle design is made especially to increase wrist comfort when working for extended periods of time. The space between the handle, where your fingers fit, is slimmer than the older version. We found that comparatively this gave us more control over the gun and it seemed to offer a much firmer grip on it as we worked down a molding to secure it. It also improved the trigger-grip, which again saves time when continuous nailing.

It has a pro-grade depth control of drive to help you adjust for various projects. We did quite a few with all of our contenders. We tested out our nail guns on crown moldings, cabinetry needs, small crafts and chair moldings. Our goal was to see which products would hold up exceptionally well despite what task we gave them. All of the finalists we ended up with were versatile and powerful enough.

This Paslode has a 2-position battery lock. This is convenient, and it also helps to conserve its run-time. By having a special lock-out, you avoid the normal drain of energy that all cordless tools are known for. In addition to that, it also prevents the battery from falling out during use or, as is more common, during transport. You can easily store the battery in the machine, with no concern for power loss. It also completely charges in one hour; if you’re in a crunch and have to get back work, you can charge it up to 80% in 20 minutes.

Inserting the battery is easier than older generation Paslodes. Once you put the battery in and close the door, the tool automatically engages. This is another time-saving element that contributes to the tool. We noted the battery for this one as double the size of the old one—giving it a much longer run-time capacity. This tool can handle 6,000 nails on one charge. Again- this means that it will get multiple jobs done quickly and easily, without the need for reload. Not only does this save energy, but it also saves time. If you have a huge job to get done, you’ll be able to complete it that much faster due to time-saving efficiencies like this one.

On top of its battery and capacity, it also has a much larger depth of drive feature, as compared to the older model. This one has a convenient thumb-wheel that allows you to adjust the depth with one finger. The belt-hook at the end of the machine is a full 2 ½-inches, which makes it easy to secure to any belt without fear of it falling. It also can be adjusted right, or left. Another change this tool has on its side is the front design. Paslodes decided to angle the front parallel to the nailer’s target. What this does is allow you to clearly see where you are nailing, before you actually pull the trigger. The older model extended beyond the target, thus making it impossible to see the target point.

By all accounts this is a great tool. The manufacturer put a lot into revamping it with notable improvements in function. We saw the benefit of their hard work and that’s why this product made it to our second place slot on the list.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Hitachi NT65MA4 1-1/4 Inch to 2-1/2 Inch 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer

Hitachi NT65MA4 1-1/4 Inch to 2-1/2 Inch 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer

View it on Amazon for $119.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardEarning our bronze spot is the Hitachi NT65MA4 1 ¼-Inch to 2 ½-Inch 15-Gauge Angled finish nailer. Manufacturers claim that this tool “does the work for you”, and after testing, we realized that they are right. We loved its ease of getting into tight spaces and its special features. Hitachi made some special allowances to make using it easier than ever. Read our official thoughts on this tool and you’ll understand why we set it high on our list.

The Hitachi is another powerful nailer that is one of the easiest-to-use tools we have had in a long time. It is an air-powered tool that can handle any base or crown molding install, door or window casing work, cabinets, staircases or exterior trim detailing. It weighs just 4.2-pounds and its dimensions are 16.9-inches by 4.8-inches by 15-inches. We loved how compact it was, but had the power to handle all finishing tasks quickly. It holds 100 nails, so you can get a good amount of work done before you have to reload. Speaking of reloading, this tool is built with a convenient reloading feature so you when you need to you can reload quickly and get back to work. Again- we loved that the manufacturer thought of making a product that had a no-fuss/no-muss build to it. When you run out of nails, just reload, and keep on moving.

It works with 15-gauge nails from 1 ¼-inch to 2 ½-inches at 34 inch. We find that this is a good range, and makes it possible to do just about anything with it. It was especially nice to see the magazine’s angle feature. It allowed us to get into tight spots and secure baseboards. With other tools, we had to veto them due to their inability to get into tight corners. To finish the job there, we had to resort to hand-nailing. We loved that with the Hitachi, we never had to switch to a manual nail-job with a hammer. We just shifted the machine slightly and it was able to fit.

On top of its functionality, the Hitachi we reviewed also has a fully adjustable exhaust. You can turn it 360-degrees completely away from you so oil and debris move out of your face. It does require oil, but when it comes to tools that is standard. This nailer also has selective actuation. That is a feature that lets you work sequentially or on-contact. Working sequentially is a desired feature when you are nailing down a molding, for example. You can just move down and nail repeatedly without any adjustments. On the other hand, if you want on-contact nailing, you can adjust to this setting and the nail won’t come out until the tip makes contact with the surface to be nailed.

Another notable feature of the Hitachi is the especially built-in air duster. At the front, it has a button that pushes air from a hole in front of the tool. You can easily clear out debris in your way with a gust of air. We loved this added element of the tool because it makes using it that much easier. In particular we see this as valuable to hobbyists working on crafting with glue. Rather than debris drying into the glue, they can easily blow it away.

Overall the Hitachi is a fantastic product. We nominated it at our number three product because of its power, special features and ease of use. For anyone in need of a great product to finish, this should definitely be a contender.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Freeman PFN64 16 Gauge Straight Finish Nailer

Freeman PFN64 16 Gauge Straight Finish Nailer

View it on Amazon for $62.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThe budget product this time is the Freeman PFN64 16-Gauge Straight finish nailer. We liked this one because despite being smaller than our other picks, it still performed outstandingly well. We loved its power, compact size and multi-adjustment features. Here are all of our thoughts on this choice pick product.

The Freeman finish nailer features a strong build. Though it is much smaller than our number one pick, the Dewalt, it deceptively was able to handle the larger jobs we tested it on. It’s has an anodized aluminum cylinder and Teflon-strong O-rings anodized aluminum rail. This is going to protect the pistons and cylinders—which is a great feature. As stated before, we liked this model because though it is smaller, manufacturers never skimped on its quality. It works with a 70-110 psi, which gives it the ability to create great results. We wanted durability with all of our products, and that’s just what we got. Our budget product held up find to that criteria and impressed us enough to make it on our list.

This tool also features a 360-degree adjustable exhaust. We found this to be a great comfort addition because you can turn air-flow away from yourself. Nothing is more annoying that air directly coming at you as you use a tool. The gun also includes an anti-dust cap that ensures wood debris won’t clog up the interior of the machine. We loved the fact that the manufacturer thought of not only a tool that does the job well, but also a tool that is self-sustaining when it comes to extending its own lifespan. We always want our readers to get the most for their money and the Freeman promises just that with its built-in advantages.

On top of its power and convenience, there are some features that add considerably to its quality. It has a belt hook that is reversible so lefties and righties can just as easily use it. It uses 16-gauge nails from 1- to 2 ½-inches glue-collated straight nails and has a capacity of 100 nails. The body is also corrosion resistant and built sturdy and strong. It also has an adjustment feature for countersinking or surface drive, depending on what look is needed. The package includes the nailer, adjustment tools and the oil needed to keep it running smoothly. We always herald the manufacturers who send everything users will need right in the package and that’s exactly what Freeman did with this tool. It definitely earned a few more points with us during our assessment.

This nailer weighs 5 pounds and its dimensions are 3-inches by 11.5-inches by 12-inches. The size is compact, but give it a chance. When you see what it can do you’ll realize that size doesn’t really matter much. It has a one piece driver blade with a no-mar tip. That easily reduces the chance of damaging your work surface, which is always a great thing. We can see this tool being used on a wide variety of things—cabinetry, crafts, any decorative trim. All can easily be nailed into place with the Freeman PFN64.

In the end, the Freeman isn’t as powerful or big as a lot of its contenders, but that doesn’t mean much. If you need a good product that is light-weight, easy to use and at a bargain price, consider this one. We chose it as our budget pick with good reason.


Pre-purchase considerations

With the task of finding the best finish nailer, we decided that pre-purchase considerations would be: the motor, ease of use, capacity and the extras. Happily, each of our final picks was a stand-out with all four of these criteria. We tested them in a wide variety of settings—moldings, crafts, cabinetry—to ensure that they performed equally well in all settings. Here are the details on each of our criteria and how we broke down each one.

Motor

First and foremost with any tool we look at the motor. We want two things: a powerful motor and a powerful motor that is easy for the user to control. A machine with an out-of-control power level is not only useless, but it can be dangerous. Thankfully all of the tools that made the cut in this vetting process were powerful, but useful.

We looked at their voltage and their battery power. We considered how well the motor would last for extended periods of time. Of course every tool loses power sooner or later, but we asked “What did the manufacturer do to handle this?” Did they increase battery capacity for extra-long performance? Did they include another battery? Did they make batteries within their entire line of products interchangeable? We found that a lot of our contenders had manufacturers with contingency plans. If the machines’ power supplies wore out, they had a backup. These are the products that made it to our final rounds.

Ease Of Use

OWe also looked at the ease-of-use. When reviewing products, we know that some of our readers are professionals and others are weekend home crafters. Regardless, they need reliable products that they can easily use on the spot. We don’t want them to have to take a class to use any of the tools they need. Rather, we want tools to be reasonably self-explanatory. We want them to be usable out of the box. Sure you may have to do some reading to set them up, but that’s understandable.

We also look at features that make the tools easier to use. Things like ergonomic handles that are soft-grip always earn points with us. So do products that are powerful, but light-weight for long-term use.

capacity

We also wanted to know that the capacity was exceptional. If there is one thing that is annoying, it’s having to stop a job and reload a machine or recharge a battery. We definitely didn’t want this with our products. One thing we focused on was the battery power. Each battery had to last a considerable amount of time. For example, if a tool worked on a lithium ion, it had to get minimum 5,000 nails per charge—that was our cut-off. It also had to have a rechargeable battery that didn’t take more than 2-hours to fully charge. Thankfully all of our chosen products made the cut relatively easily.

On top of battery, our tools also had to have large nail capacities. Again- we didn’t want our users to have to stop and reload nails often. We wanted a big enough capacity to hold nails needed to finish the job. All of our picks were able to hold a large number of nails to make completing jobs non-stop that much easier.

The Extras

Finally, with our reviews we always look at the extras tools have. We give extra points to the manufacturers who work on making them easier to use, or more efficient or longer-lasting. All the products on our list had the extras that really spoke to us and made us want to champion them. For example, the Paslode had a left- and right-handle feature for easy carry and convenient handling. The Dewalt had an extended battery life with its 18-volt battery. Its things like this that set our selections apart and made them the top contenders early on. Once we weighed them up against each other, we were able to evaluate each one and come up with the top three and our budget pick relatively easily.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

We were able to find our top three and our budget pick after a lot of testing. We put the tools to work on a wide variety of jobs to make sure that they would easily stand up to anything we asked them to do. We looked at the power, the motor, the grip, the adjustment features, the magazine, the nail capacity and the precision level to be sure they were truly the best in the market. We are confident that we found the nailers that can handle any job quickly and efficiently. If you have a job now, or one coming up, consider any one of our picks. We promise it will make your life that much easier.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Northern Tool. Dewalt 18 Volt XRP Cordless 16 Gauge 20 Angled Finish Nailer Kit, Model #DC618KA. July 11, 2013.
  2. M. Kellum. Detailed Review of the Dewalt DC618K XRP 18-Volt Finish Nailer Kit. September 10, 2014.
  3. A Concord Carpenter. Paslode 16 Gauge Lithium-Ion Angled Trim Nailer 902400 Review. July 6, 2012.
  4. John. Review- Hitachi NT65MA4 15-Gauge Angle Finish Nailer.
  5. Bradnailer24H. Hitachi NT54MA4 1 ¼-Inch to 2 ½-Inch 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer. May 18, 2016.
  6. Power Equipment Direct. Freeman 2 ½-inc 16-Gauge Straight Finish Nailer. 2016
  7. Big Sky Tool. Freeman Tools PFN64 16g Straight Nail Finisher. 2016

Pin It on Pinterest