Best Cordless Finish Nailers – Head to Head

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.

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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5 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.

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