Best Cordless Finish Nailers – Head to Head

Cordless Finish Nailers

Finish carpentry has been relying on pneumatic nailers since the first one was introduced in 1950. Fast forward to 1986 and Paslode introduced the first cordless framing nailer utilizing a gas “fuel cell” and battery. In an effort to eliminate the need for a gas cartridge, SENCO introduced their Fusion finish nailers in 2010, which uses a combination of battery power and a self-contained compressed air cylinder to eliminate the need for “fuel cells”. More recently in the last couple of years many manufacturers have introduced battery-only, cordless finish nailers.

Cordless Finish Nailer Head to Head

Today throughout our industry finish carpenters are using a combination of pneumatic, gas powered, and battery powered finish nailers on a regular basis. In an effort to provide an accurate snap shot of the cordless options available to finish carpenters we gathered some of the top options available on the market and spent the day testing them head to head against each other in several categories. We hope you’ll find the following information useful in helping determine the best cordless finish nailer for you and your crew.

Tool Box Buzz Crew Testing Cordless Finish Nailers

Cordless Finish Nailers Lineup

For this comparison article we compared popular 15 and 16 gauge finish nailers in both straight and angled configurations. The entries include three different types of cordless nailers including:

  • Gas cartridge nailers from Paslode and Hitachi
  • Sealed compressed air / battery from SENCO
  • Battery-only from DEWALT, Ridgid and Ryobi

Below are the entries in alphabetical order:

DEWALT DCN660D1 – 20V 16ga Angled Cordless Finish Nailer Kit

  • DEWALT dcn660d1 Cordless Finish NailerDrives 16GA 20 degree finish nails 1-1/4″ to 2-1/2″ lengths
  • Sequential Mode and bump mode
  • Up to 800 nails per charge (20V MAX* 2.0Ah Battery Included)
  • Tool-Free jam release to quickly and easily clear nail jams
  • Multi-functional lights provide both workspace illumination and tool diagnostics
  • Tool-Free depth adjustment
  • Integrated Tool-Free stall release lever
  • Magazine capacity 110 nails
  • Weight: 6.1 lbs
  • $400

DEWALT DC628K – 18V Cordless XRP™ 1-1/4″ – 2-1/2″ 15 Gauge 34° Angled Finish Nailer Kit

  • DEWALT dc628k Cordless Finish Nailer34 degree angled magazine (up to 110 nail capacity), will accept DEWALT or any competitive brand 34 degree 15 GA standard DA type nails
  • Engine design allows the tool to work as fast as the end user with consistent nail penetration into both soft and hard woods
  • Sequential and bump operating modes
  • Easy access to the nosepiece for tool less removal of jammed nails
  • Contact Trip Lock-Off allows trigger to be disabled when not in use
  • Integrated LED lights for long life and durability
  • Top cap is impact resistant and easy to remove for troubleshooting
  • Reversible belt hook
  • 6 position depth of drive dial
  • Rear-load magazine
  • Weight: 8.1 lbs
  • $359

Hitachi NT65GS – 2-1/2″ Gas Powered 16-Gauge Straight Finish Nailer

  • Hitachi NT65GS Cordless Finish NailerPowered by a gas fuel rod and Lithium Ion battery
  • Double action nail feed and reciprocating piston system drive up to 2 nails per second or 1,000 per hour
  • Quick clear nose with tool-less jam release
  • Double lock fuel compartment latches securely and keeps the fuel rod seated firmly
  • Hitachi’s 3.6V Lithium Ion batteries drive up to 2,000 fasteners per charge
  • Finish nailer fuel rods power 1,200 shots each
  • Low battery indicator light alerts the user of battery status
  • Elastomer handle provides comfort and ensures a secure grip
  • Tool-less depth of drive adjustment
  • 1-Hour AC/DC charger with car adaptor
  • Detachable no-mar nose cap snaps onto the side of the magazine for storage
  • Dry fire lockout prevents blank activation
  • Variable position hook for either left or right-handed users
  • Straight magazine holds 100 16-gauge fasteners in 1″ to 2-1/2″ lengths
  • Weight: 4.2 lbs
  • $220 (plus the cost of fuel)

Hitachi NT65GA – 2-1/2″ Gas Powered 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer

  • Hitachi NT65GB Cordless Finish NailerPowered by a gas fuel rod and Lithium Ion battery
  • Quick clear nose with tool-less jam release
  • Double lock fuel compartment latches securely and keeps the fuel rod seated firmly
  • Hitachi’s 3.6V Lithium Ion batteries drive up to 2,000 fasteners per charge
  • Finish nailer fuel rods power 1,200 shots each
  • Low battery indicator light alerts the user of battery status to prevent unexpected downtime
  • Elastomer handle provides comfort and ensures a secure grip
  • Tool-less depth of drive adjustment
  • 1-Hour AC/DC charger with car adaptor
  • Detachable no-mar nose cap snaps onto the side of the magazine for storage
  • Dry fire lockout prevents blank activation
  • Variable position hook for either left or right-handed users
  • Angled magazine holds 100 15-gauge fasteners in 1-1/4″ to 2-1/2″ lengths
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs
  • $250 (plus the cost of fuel)

Paslode 16 Ga Angled Finish NailerPaslode IM250A-Li – 16 Ga 2-1/2″ Angled Li-ion Cordless Finish Nailer

  • 2-Position Battery Lock – secures battery in “off” position to prevent battery drain
  • Lightweight
  • Tool-free depth-of-drive nail adjustment
  • No-mar tip
  • Swivel belt hook
  • Nail lockout prevents blank driving
  • Rechargeable 7.4V Li-ion battery
  • Use with Paslode Universal Trim Fuel
  • $347 (plus the cost of fuel)

Ridgid R09892B – HYPERDRIVE 18-Volt Brushless 16-Gauge 2-1/2 in. Straight Nailer

  • Ridgid R09892K Cordless Finish NailerBrushless motor
  • Magnesium construction for lighter weight
  • Selectable mode switch allows contact actuation or single sequential actuation mode
  • Tool-free depth of drive accurate depth control to protect work surface from overdriving
  • Tool-free power adjustment regulates power for optimum results
  • Dry-fire lockout
  • Tool-free jam release for easy access to clear jams
  • 2 non-marring pads
  • Grip light engages light independently of trigger to illuminate work space
  • Belt clip mounts to right-side or left-side
  • Sold as Bare Tool
  • $368 (Made up Kit)
    • Nailer ($269) plus Charger and 4.0 Ah 18V Li-Ion Battery Pack ($99), Storage Bag

Ryobi P325 18-Volt ONE+ AirStrike 16-Gauge Cordless Straight Nailer

  • Ryobi P325 Cordless Finish NailerDrives nails 3/4″ to 2-1/2″
  • Airstrike technology provides cordless convenience, eliminating the need for a compressor and bulky air hose
  • Selectable drive shift with single sequential or contact actuation
  • Tool less depth-of-drive adjustment
  • Single sequential mode
  • Convenient adjustment dial regulates air pressure
  • Dry-fire lockout
  • Low nail indicator
  • 2 non-marring pads
  • Sold as Bare Tool
  • $238.97 (Made up Kit)
    • Nailer ($179) plus Charger and 1.5 Ah 18V Li-Ion Battery Pack ($59.97), No bag

Ryobi P330 ONE+ 18-Volt 15-Gauge AirStrike Cordless Angled Nailer

  • Ryobi P330 Cordless Finish NailerDrives 1 in. to 2-1/2 in. angled finish nails
  • Airstrike technology provides cordless convenience, eliminating the need for a compressor and bulky air hose
  • For use with 15-Gauge angled finish nails
  • Up to 750 nails per charge using 18-Volt ONE+ high capacity lithium+ battery (P108 – sold separately)
  • Selectable drive switch with single sequential and bump mode
  • Grip-light technology illuminates LED by grasping the tool handle
  • Tool-less depth-of-drive adjustment
  • Convenient adjustment lever regulates air pressure
  • 2 non-marring pads
  • Dry-fire lockout
  • Belt clip mounts to right-side or left-side
  • New and improved Grip-Zone over mold
  • Sold as Bare Tool
  • $258.97
    • Nailer ($199) plus Charger and 1.5 Ah 18V Li-Ion Battery Pack ($59.97), No bag

SENCO Fusion F-15 – Cordless 2 1/2″ Angled Finish Nailer

  • Senco F-15 Cordless Finish Nailer15 Ga. 34° Angled Strip Finish Nails
  • Range: 1″ to 2-1/2″
  • Thumb wheel Depth-of-Drive
  • Nose-Mounted LED Light
  • Rapid charge battery reaches 80% in just 15 minutes
  • Patented Instant Shot Design
  • Tool Free Depth-of-Drive
  • Jam EZ-Clear
  • $305
    • Price Includes: Nailer, Soft Case, Charger, and one 1.5 Ah 18V Li-Ion Battery.

Cordless Nailer Comparison Testing

To sort through this selection of cordless finish nailers we developed several simulations typical of tasks a carpenter might use a finish nailer on. The simulations included:

  • Soft Wood Trim Installation – In this simulation we used the nailers to install Pine trim over a piece of engineered lumber and 1/2″ drywall. Today’s framing continues to evolve with the expanded use of engineered lumber so this test provided that extra effort required to nail into the denser framing material. This test allowed us to evaluate penetration of fasteners and depth of drive adjustments.
  • Hard Wood Trim Installation – In this simulation we used the nailers to install Oak trim over a piece of engineered lumber and 1/2″ drywall. This was the same test as noted above with the only difference being the hard wood. This test allowed us to evaluate penetration of fasteners and depth of drive adjustments.
  • Toe-Nail Application – The final simulation we performed was installing Cedar bead board onto engineered lumber by toe-nailing the tongue of the trim. This test allowed us to evaluate penetration of fasteners, line of sight, and depth of drive adjustments.

Cordless Finish Nailer Testing Setups

In addition to the simulations each of the crew members spent time shooting fasteners into varying materials to evaluate each nailer independently. The simulations and individual evaluations were used to determine the best nailer in several categories including:

  • Ergonomics
  • Performance
  • Power
  • Value
  • Best in Class

12.6.15.NailGunH2H (164 of 187)

Best Cordless Finish Nailer – Ergonomics Category

Most Ergonomic – Paslode IM250ALi

Ergonomics play a major role in our evaluation of most tools that we test. Not only does a tool need to perform well, but we feel it’s very important that tools are comfortable, which ultimately leads to more productivity and reduced risk of injury.

Cordless Finish Nailers certainly benefit from the lack of an air hose but do pay a price due to the added weight of batteries. This is especially true of the battery only versions that do not use gas cartridges. The top two picks of our crew for ergonomics fell in the gas powered category including both Paslode and Hitachi.

Paslode Cordless Finish Nailer

The Paslode IM250ALi stood out among all the cordless finish nailers. The nailer is extremly compact, lightweight, comfortable grip, and a great line of sight. Having been an icon in our industry for many years now it’s clear that Paslode has spent considerable time and effort designing an extremely comfortable nailer.

Honorable mention has to go to the Hitachi NT65GS which is their 16 Ga straight finish nailer. This nailer is also powered by a gas cartridge which means a very light weight tool with a small body. This tool also has a great grip and one of the best line of sights in all the tools we tested.

Best Cordless Finish Nailer – Performance Category

Best Performance – DEWALT DCN660D1

This category reflects the overall impression that the tool delivered on driving fasteners in each of the test setups along with the individual evaluations for driving fasteners. For us, performance was defined as the ability to consistently  drive fasteners to the correct depth at a pace the user would install trim while using a more traditional pneumatic nailer.

DEWALT Cordless Finish Nailer 20V

In this category we all felt that the DEWALT 20V, 16 Ga finish nailer consistently drove the fasteners to the depth we wanted. The nailer was very easy to adjust for depth of drive, and the nailer could easily drive fasteners faster than we could effectively place the shot.

Honorable mention in this category went to the Senco Fusion F-15. This nailer performs very well but is noticeably slower, and has less power, than the DEWALT.

Best Cordless Finish Nailer – Power Category

Most Powerful – Ryobi P330

It seems cordless tools are an easier transition for the younger crowd while older tradesmen seem to be more skeptical. The first question that comes up when asking carpenters what they think about using cordless finish nailers seems to be power. This is certainly a fair question considering how effective pneumatic nailers have been for so long in our industry.

To evaluate power we set up two tests that we felt represented typical trim applications that carpenters are facing today. In both setups we used engineered studs for the framing lumber due to the popularity in this type of framing today. We installed a layer of 1/2″ drywall on both applications with two different types of trim. In one setup we used Pine trim (3/4″ thick) and in the other application we used Oak trim (3/4″ thick).

All of the cordless finish nailers did a good job with the Pine trim and consistently drove the fastener below the surface of the trim. Add in the fact that we used engineered framing material and we felt the test creates a great baseline to show that cordless finish nailers can hold their own against comparable pneumatic nailers.

Ryobi Angled Finish Nailer

The big surprise came when we tested the hardwood (Oak) trim setup. The overall winner for most power was the Ryobi P330, 15 Ga Angled Finish Nailer. This nailer was clearly more powerful than all the other nailers we tested. It easily drove fastener after fastener (2-1/2″ length) into the Oak trim and set the head every time below the wood surface. No other tool was able to match this performance, leaving no doubt as to the king of the hill with respect to power.

Honorable mention in this category was the DEWALT DCN660D1, 20V, 16 Ga Angled Finish Nailer. Not only did this nailer do a great job sinking the fasters in the hardwood trim but the tool is able to cycle very quickly (quicker than you’d ever install trim) so that there is no lag between fasteners as observed with gas powered nailers.

Best Cordless Finish Nailer – Value Category

Best Value – Hitachi NT65GS

Purchasing decisions are almost always based on cost and cordless nailers are no different.

Not all of the finish nailers we tested came in kits so we tried to even things up by pricing an equivalent kit if the tool is sold as a bare tool only. In the product descriptions at the top you’ll see pricing and whether we added batteries, chargers, etc to create an equivalent kit.

Hitachi Cordless Finish Nailer

Hitachi has a huge advantage over the competition with initial cost to purchase. With their two nailers coming in at $220 and $250 they are even cheaper than the Ryobi line. If you consider consumables in the equation then things get a bit more complicated and an argument can be made that the “battery-only” nailers are more economical in the long run.

For those of you on a budget and looking to minimize your initial investment the Hitachi NT65GS can be purchased for just over $200 which is almost half of what the DEWALT will cost. Honorable mention should go to the Ryobi line due to their powerful performance and competitive pricing.

Best In Class Cordless Finish Nailer

This category is always tough to decide but our crew had three nailers that really stood out and rose to the surface quickly during deliberations.  These winners are decided by the entire testing group based on all the testing and individual evaluations.

#1 Best In Class – DEWALT DCN660D1 – 20V 16 Ga Angled Finish Nailer

The DEWALT DCN660D1 was quickly singled out by the entire group as the top pick. This nailer is very well balanced and offers a great grip. It’s a powerful finish nailer able to drive fasteners far quicker than any of us would typically install trim.

DEWALT Cordless Finish Nailer Best in Class

One huge factor for our crew was having a cordless finish nailer that runs on a battery platform that operates many of our tools while not needing gas cartridges. The ability to grab a battery out of the tool chest or trailer and know it’s compatible with a huge selection of tools is extremely valuable to all of us. So while the cost of the kit is certainly expensive, when you consider the value of the two batteries that are compatible with other tools, the cost seems less of an issue. At the end of the day, this is a cordless finish nailer that we would all be happy to use on a daily basis.

The only downside to this nailer which we hope DEWALT will address in future models is the LED work light. It’s practically useless and really needs to be relocated so that it illuminates the work surface more effectively.

#2 Best in Class – Hitachi NT65GS Gas Powered 16 Ga Straight Finish Nailer

The first impression of this tool was how light and slim it was. After using this nailer the crew quickly realized how well it performed and how it’s light weight and great line of sight made it another top pick.

Hitachi Cordless Finish Nailer Best in Class Runner Up

This nailer has a very smooth depth of drive adjustment and the small circular no-mar tip provides the best line of sight of all the nailers we tested. Best of all, it’s almost 2 pounds lighter than the DEWALT weighing only 4.2 lbs and it was the most affordable nailer in the group.

The only down side to this nailer is the gas cartridge. All of us think the gas cartridge can be a hassle at times and prefer options without them.

#3 Best in Class – Ryobi P330 15 Ga Angled Finish Nailer

This tool was a total surprise to our crew because of it’s awesome power. None of the other nailers came close to the power of this beast! In addition, it had the best LED light of all the nailers and is also one of the most affordable in the group. Combine this with Ryobi’s vast line of tools that run off their 18V Li-Ion battery platform and it’s hard not to add this to our list of top 3 cordless finish nailers.

Ryobi Cordless Finish Nailer Best in Class 2nd Runner Up

The big downside to this nailer is it’s weight. Weighing in at 8.7 lbs this tool is more than double the Hitachi and over 2 lbs more than the DEWALT. However, if you’re looking for a cordless nailer than won’t let you down on hard applications like Oak trim then this tool needs to be on your short list!


The Future of Nailers

As I pointed out in the opening of this article things have been changing quite a lot in this sector over the last 10 years or so. There has been steady advancements and innovation all leading to the demise of pneumatic nailers, especially in the finish category. It’s clear to our team that cordless finish nailers are a viable option for any finish carpentry task.

One big take away from our crew was how well “battery only” cordless options performed. In fact, all of us felt the battery only options performed as well or better than the gas powered versions and they are also much quicker.

TBB Crew Testing Cordless Finish Nailers

I remember a time not that long ago when cordless gas powered nailers were the wave of the future. Then came along SENCO with their innovative solution that eliminated the need for gas cylinders. After reviewing all these nailers our crew felt that the advantage now belongs to the battery only nailers, especially the models that utilize popular battery platforms like DEWALT, Ridgid, and Ryobi. These Brands offer so many tools on their battery platform that there’s no need to have a special battery and charger kicking around.

While all of these nailers perform very well at finish carpentry tasks, it’s clear to us that battery powered cordless finish nailers are the future and our bet is on tools that work on larger battery platforms that match up with a majority of the tools in our trailer.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

Todd Fratzel is the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and the President of Front Steps Media, LLC, a web based media company focused on the Home Improvement and Construction Industry.He is also the Principal Engineer for United Construction Corp., located in Newport, NH. In his capacity at United he oversees the Residential and Commercial Building Division along with all Design-Build projects.He is also the editor of several other sites including: Home Construction & Improvement and Today's Green Construction

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7 Comments

  1. CC

    Did you guys test the Ridgid? I see it mentioned and listed with specs but no comparison in usage to the others. I own a couple of their pneumatic guns and like them quite a bit. Lightweight too.

  2. Anthony

    This was a great comparison, but, in my opinion, and in my experience from owning a contracting company for more than 25 years is that you really cannot include the gas guns in a true scenario for the everyday use of these guns. With gas cartridges costing $12-$18 each you can easily spend the cost of the tool in 2-3 weeks just buying gas cartridges. For me the older Dewalt DC628K (18V 15 gauge 34° finish nailer) is still my clear winner. I’m sure the newer DCN660D1 is a great tool, but until Dewalt releases the DCN650D1 which will be the 20V 15 gauge 34° finish nailer with the new pinpoint accuracy tip I’ll keep the 2 older Dewalt versions. They have given a release date yet and the only place you can even get a look at the new model mentioned is on Home Depots website. I have no idea how they got the pictures of the tool, but I did email Dewalt about trying to buy one and they told me ” there is no release date set for the DCN650D1 yet”. If you guys can find any info on this tool please let me know as I cannot find anything on the internet about bit other than Home Depot.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Anthony – Thanks for the input. It’s certainly interesting watching how things are developing in this category. We’ll try to look into the new model, likely when we visit DEWALT later this year at the Media Event.

      1. Anthony

        Hi Todd, I actually heard back from DEWALT. After asking them about the DCN650D1,they told me that it is going to be released but they haven’t set a release date. I responded to the rep from DEWALT telling him that it was on home depots website, but no way to order it, only photos and specs. I tried the next day to find it on home depots website and it has now been removed. I did download the images of the new model if you would like to get a look at the new model. I plan on buying 1 as soon as its released. It’s got some great features built in, such as the pinpoint tip, dual led lights on the sides, the lights are back by the battery, and the newest style quick release nose to clear any jammed nails. Looks to be a very well designed tool. Can’t wait to get one on the job. Wish they would make a cordless pin gun. Maybe in the 12v range.

        1. Todd Fratzel

          I bet we’ll see it later this year at the Media Event.

  3. Jim Coolen

    Why wasn’t milwaukee tested

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Their nailers were not available / on the market at the time we did the testing.

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