Home » Tools » Best Pin Nailer [2020 Review]

Best Pin Nailer [2020 Review]

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High quality, accurate pin nailers bring a world of convenience to your woodworking projects. You’ll be able to quickly fasten pieces together, holding them in place until your glue dries. This makes it so that you can move quicker, but also have more precision in the finished product.

The top pin nailers combine power and accuracy, ​whereas a cheap substitute fires the pin nails everywhere. We’ve used the worst nailers on the market before, and its not fun – it can ruin a project. That’s why we’ve put together several pin nailer reviews of the top pick pin nail guns on the market. 

​Our Pin Nailer Reviews

We’ve put together the top pin nail options here in our pin nailer reviews article. Whether you’re looking for one of the best pin nailers for trim or other woodworking projects, you’ll find the top option here.

Brand
Best Overall
PORTER-CABLE PIN138
Best for the Money
Makita AF353
Best Cheap Pick
ReconPIN138R Pin Nailer
Product
PORTER-CABLE Pin Nailer, 23-Gauge, 1-3/8-Inch...
Makita AF353 23 Gauge, 1-3/8" Pin Nailer,
ReconPIN138R Pin Nailer, 1-3/8-inches
Power Source
air-powered
corded-electric
corded-electric
Item Dimensions
9.5 x 2 x 3 inches
4.8 x 13.8 x 14 inches
9.5 x 2 x 7.5 inches
Rating
-
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
PORTER-CABLE PIN138
Product
PORTER-CABLE Pin Nailer, 23-Gauge, 1-3/8-Inch...
Power Source
air-powered
Item Dimensions
9.5 x 2 x 3 inches
Rating
-
Best for the Money
Brand
Makita AF353
Product
Makita AF353 23 Gauge, 1-3/8" Pin Nailer,
Power Source
corded-electric
Item Dimensions
4.8 x 13.8 x 14 inches
Rating
-
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
ReconPIN138R Pin Nailer
Product
ReconPIN138R Pin Nailer, 1-3/8-inches
Power Source
corded-electric
Item Dimensions
9.5 x 2 x 7.5 inches
Rating
-

Best Pin Nailer Overall: Porter-Cable PIN138 23 Gauge Pin Nail​er

PORTER-CABLE Pin Nailer, 23-Gauge, 1-3/8-Inch...

Weighing in at 2.2 lbs, the ​Porter-Cable PIN138 23 gauge pin nailer is a handy pin nailer that offers plenty of durability and function. This ​Porter-Cable PIN100 23 Gauge Pin Nailer uses 23-gauge pin sizes headless and slight head pin nails that range from 5/8 to 1-3/8 inches in pin sizes and length. It also comes with 2,000 pin nails to get you started.

When using this Porter-Cable PIN100​ pin nailer, you’ll appreciate the power switch that it automatically adjusts to allow you to switch pin size with the need for a tool. There is also a low-nail indicator and dry-fire lock-out safety system for added safety, just don’t forget your safety glasses. This PIN100 pin nailer has a rear exhaust system to prevent moisture from penetrating your wood surface and can be clipped to a tool belt hook with the reversible clip.

Other features of the Porter-Cable pin nailer include a maintenance-free, oil-free motor and the ability to sink 1-3/8-inch pin nails into hardwoods. It also comes with a carrying case for added convenience.

The only drawback that we can see with this PIN100 nailer is the short length of the pin nails. You may have some issues while you use a pin nailer installing crown molding with it because of the pin length provided, yet this nailer has plenty of power and can penetrate MDF with ease. It also comes with a three-year limited warranty.

Essential Product Specs

  • Cordless
  • 23-Gauge Pin Nail​er
  • 5/8 inch to 1 3/8 inch
  • 130 Micro Pin Nail Capacity
  • 60-100 PSI
  • 3 lbs
  • 3 year warranty
PORTER-CABLE Pin Nailer, 23-Gauge, 1-3/8-Inch...
  • Uses 23-gauge headless and slight head pin nails from 5/8-Inch to 1-3/8-Inch length
  • Long life maintenance free motor to keep from staining the work surface
  • Includes: nailer, 2000 pin nails of 3/4-Inch, 1/4-Inch plug with cap, wrench, and carrying case
  • Consistent power and penetration to sink 1-3/8-Inch nail sub-flush into oak

Best Pin Nailer for the Money: Makita AF353​ 23-Gauge Pin Nail​er

Makita AF353 23 Gauge, 1-3/8' Pin Nailer,

The ​Makita AF353​ 23-Gauge Pin Nail​er is dedicated to driving headless pins that have a length that is 5/8 to 1-3/8 inches. It is sized for 23-gauge pin nail size and features a compact 2-pound weight. It uses a two-finger operation for controlled use.

Safety options on this Makita pin nailer model include a nail lockout and a reload indicator window. The reload indicator tells you when reloading is necessary. It is designed with a reversible belt-hook for easy to use and easy carrying and a rear exhaust port to keep your wood project moisture-free. A built-in air duster cleans your work surface as you drive the pin nails into it.

Additional features of this Makita 23-gauge nailer include two removable no-mar tip and a carrying case. It also is constructed of aluminum for strength and durability. It also comes with a three-year warranty for added coverage.

We only noticed one drawback with this very capable ​pin nailer. It does not allow you to use slight head pins, which provides some limitations. But, if your application requires headless pins, you’ll find this ​model can meet your expectations.

​Essential Product Specs

  • ​Pneumatic
  • Rear Exhaust System
  • 23-gauge pin nailer
  • 5/8 inch to 1 3/8 inch
  • 130 Micro Pin Nail Capacity
  • 65-100 PSI
  • 2 lbs
  • 3 year warranty
Makita AF353 23 Gauge, 1-3/8" Pin Nailer,
  • Powerful motor drives standard headless pins sized 5/8", 11/16", 3/4", 1", 1-3/16" and 1-3/8"
  • Aluminum body, Magazine and cylinder for strength and durability; Weighs only 2 pounds
  • Nail lock-out mechanism protects tool and work surface from pin-less blank fires (dry-fires)
  • Side, Drop-In loading Magazine holds upto 130 nails for maximum efficiency

Best Cheap Pin Nailer: Recon PIN138R​

ReconPIN138R Pin Nailer, 1-3/8-inches

Developed for use with both headless and slight head pins, the ​ReconPIN138R​ can utilize 23-gauge pin dimensions in 5/8 to 1-3/8 inch nail length. A 1-3/8 23-gauge pin guns like this are great for fastening all types of trim and molding without splitting the wood. 23-gauge pin guns are great for cabinet trim, for example. It features a maintenance-free, oil-free motor and has plenty of power to drive pins into oak.

A rear exhaust system eliminates moisture, and a dry-fire lock-out offers additional safety. This ​nail​er is designed with a narrow nose that allows you to get into tight corners without fighting the angle. Pins are loaded at the side, and the micro pin capacity is 130 units. A reversible belt hook clip holds the ​nailer in place, and a dual trigger safety allows for managed control of the tool. A reload indicator light lets you know when you need to add more pins.

The main drawback of this ​model is the short one-year warranty it comes with. But, it is designed to be a rugged ​nail gun so the need to use a pain nailer warranty may not be there.

Essential Product Specs

  • ​Pneumatic
  • Rear Exhaust System
  • Dual Trigger Safety
  • 23 gauge pin
  • 5/8 inch to 1 3/8 inch
  • 130 Micro Pin Nail Capacity
  • 60-100 PSI
  • 4.7 lbs
  • 1 year warranty
ReconPIN138R Pin Nailer, 1-3/8-inches
  • Uses 23-Gauge headless and slight head pin nails from 5/8 in. to 1-3/8 in.^Long life maintenance...

Best Compact Pin Nailer: Grex P635

Grex P635 23 Gauge 1-3/8-Inch Length Headless...

The Grex P635 pin nailer is a versatile and compact tool that accepts 23-gauge pin of nine different lengths. The Grex P635 nailer is also durable, which makes it perfect for worksites and DIY home projects.

One good thing about the Grex P635 tool is that it adjusts automatically to the pin nail length. So, you don’t have to worry about adjusting the settings manually. Additionally, the tapered nose allows you to get into tight spots effortlessly. 

If you are worried about the Grex P635 nailer leaving marks on your products, the no-mar tip will take care of that issue as it has high pressure that pushes in the pins smoothly without leaving a trace.

The Grex P635 pinner also comes with a rear exhaust to give you an easy to use time when cleaning. The exhaust provides optimal convenience to ensure you clean up debris away easily. 

Another good thing about the exhaust is that it comes with a built-in silencer that minimizes noise production while removing debris away. Although this pinner is small, it boasts of a powerful motor that can go through any type of wood.

A reversible belt hook also comes in the kit to allow you to attach it on your belt hook while carrying it around. The P653 nailer pinner works with different fastener lengths up to 1-⅜ inches and all wood types including hardwoods. 

Essential Product Specs

  • Adjusts to the pin nail length automatically
  • Accepts nine different lengths
  • Reversible belt hook
  • Easy to clean
  • Rear exhaust
  • No-mar tip
  • Built-in silencer
Grex P635 23 Gauge 1-3/8-Inch Length Headless...
  • Powerful motor penetrates fasteners through the hardest materials
  • Shoots fasteners up to 1-3/8-inch length easily, even-inch hardwoods
  • Patented design eliminates need to adjust for different fastener lengths
  • Double trigger safety prevents accidental firing of tool

Best Versatile Pin Nailer: Metabo HPT Hitachi NP35A

Metabo HPT Pin Nailer Kit, 23 Gauge, Pin Nails -...

The Metabo HPT Hitachi NP35A Pin Nailer ticks all the boxes of a good pin nailer. Well constructed, this Hitachi NP35A pin nailer’s magazine capacity accepts several pin lengths, including 23-gauge pin. It also offers versatility as it can hold up to 100 fasteners ranging from ⅝ inches to 1-⅜ inches. 

The Metabo Hitachi NP35A nailer pinner also comes with a visual reload indicator that helps you monitor the number of fasteners remaining. The indicator will also help you know whether the fasteners are jammed. This kit also include other tools, like a hex bar wrench.

In case they are jammed, the Hitachi NP35A nailer’s removable nose plates will allow you to unjam the fasteners. However, it is not a common occurrence since most people have not experienced jams while using this tool.

Well-engineered, the Hitachi NP35A features a rear exhaust, a large housing shield, and no-mar tips that ensure the pinner won’t damage the material you are working on.

When it comes to performance, the Hitachi NP35A air-powered nailer delivers impressive results with its depth adjustment and depth control functionality. You can adjust the depth adjustment and depth control drive easily to allow you to work on different types of materials.

This Hitachi NP35A pin nailer is also easy to maneuver as it only weighs 4.7 pounds. This makes the Hitachi NP35A pin nailer a great pick for most users as it is lightweight. 

Essential Product Specs

  • Magazine capacity adjusts automatically
  • Large different fastener magazine capacity
  • Depth Adjustment
  • 23-gauge pin size
  • The double trigger safety
  • Visual reload indicator
  • Durable construction
  • Rear exhaust
  • Lightweight
Metabo HPT Pin Nailer Kit, 23 Gauge, Pin Nails -...
  • 23 Gauge Pin Nailer with depth adjustment
  • Includes: NP35A Pin Nailer, Carrying Case, No Mar Tip (x2), Safety Glasses, 1/4" NPT Male Plug, Hex...
  • Same tools. New name. Hitachi Power Tools has renamed to Metabo HPT
  • Magazine automatically adjusts to 5/8", 3/4", 1", 1-3/16" and 1-3/8" fastener lengths for use on a...

Best Portable Nailer Pinner: Bostitch HP118K 23-gauge

BOSTITCH Pin Nailer 23 Gauge, 1/2-Inch to...

People looking for a portable option may find the Bostitch HP118K 23-gauge an excellent choice. The Bostitch HP118K 23-gauge pin nailer only weighs 2.3 pounds so you don’t have to worry about straining your arms while using the tool.

While it does not accept a vast range of pin size as the Bostitch HP118K can only accommodate ½ inches to 3/16 inches pin size, a pin size of 3/16 inches it’s still a great option for most woodworkers. What the Bostitch HP118K 23-gauge nailer lacks in versatility, it compensates for it when it comes to ease of use.

This Bostitch HP118K nailer comes with a low/high power control to allow you to adjust effortlessly the depth control drive without the need to tweak the air compressor’s settings. 

This makes working with the tool faster, especially when handling different types of projects and materials. The nailer’s low-profile nose piece is another great design feature that will give you a clear visual line.

With this feature, you are assured of perfect placement so that you don’t end up with inaccurate results. Another incredible thing about this pinner is that it can hold up to 200 pins.

So, the Bostitch HP118K might be a good choice for you, especially if you do not like being bothered by reloading in between your projects. Additionally, the Bostitch HP118K pin nailer boasts of a non-slip handle that prevents the tool from slipping accidentally.

Essential Product Specs

  • Durable aluminum casing
  • Adjustable power switch
  • 23-gauge Pin
  • Low-profile nose piece
  • Non-slip handle
  • Ease of use
  • Portable
BOSTITCH Pin Nailer 23 Gauge, 1/2-Inch to...
  • 1/2 Inch to 1 3/16 Inch 23 Gauge Pin Nailer, Low Profile Nose Piece Tapers for Clear Site
  • Adjustable High/Lower Power Switch for Depth Control and Longer Life
  • Lightweight and Durable Aluminum Housing
  • Includes Nailer, 1/4 inch Air Fitting, Oil, Nail Selection, Carrying Case, and Belt Hook

Our Pick for the Top Pin Nailer

When choosing the best pin nailer for your workshop, we recommend the ​​Porter-Cable PIN138 Inch Pin Nailer. This ​nail​er comes with plenty of features at a moderate price tag. While you’d do well with any of these models, the Porter Cable PIN100 model is our top pick because it offers a variety of applications as well as durability. It is the perfect pick to add to your toolbox.

When To Use a Pin Nail Gun

Not to be confused with a brad nailer, a pin nailer shoots headless nails (nails without heads) into wood.

​While these small nails may not offer the best hold by themselves, they offer a virtually unnoticeable hole (after sanding) which is a huge plus when you want an extra layer of hold with your wood projects without having nail heads visible.

Pin Nailer Uses

​Utilizing small nails that resemble pins, a pin nailer is more of a specialized tool that is great if you do a lot of projects that require clamping to help the wood glue dry.

Due to the smallness of the nail, these nails are not ideal for being the main holding force when you are woodworking. Instead, these are the perfect companion for wood projects that mainly rely on wood glue to create a strong hold.

Two pin nailers side by side

The pin nails work as an inner clamp to hold the glue while it dries. Since the nails are so small and don’t leave a large head on the top, then these are the perfect choice for a clamp that stays inside of your projects to help dry the glue and continue to support the project long after.

​The only con is that without the helping adhesive power of wood glue, then the nail will not give you a good hold and it won’t be comfortable to hold.

Projects Suited for a Nail Gun

​When you decide to invest in a good pin nailer, then you want to have multiple reasons to use it. Thanks to its small nail, ​its a great choice for thin to medium thick wood projects.

It can be used on thinner more delicate wood projects like moldings, framework and other small projects like bookends.

A good majority of nail gun owners use this great tool for installing detailed trim work and molding. This is mainly due to the almost invisible hole that remains after you shoot a nail into the trim to help stabilize it.

This is also a great clamping tool to keep on hand when you are glueing pieces of wood together and you just want something quick to keep the wood still while it is drying. Just apply the glue, press the wood pieces together and pop a pin nail in to keep the pieces together while it dries.

There is no one use for the nail gun and you are only as limited with it as you choose to be.

Features to Consider in Your Pin Nailer

​There are some factors you need to keep in mind. You need to think about how you will use ​this ​your pin nailer and what type of applications it should be best suited towards. 

This will allow you to select a model that is tailored to your needs and provide you with a tool that you’ll use frequently.

Pin Nail Length​

​One of the most important nail gun features is the pin nail size it can drive. This will determine the type of projects your pin nailer can help you complete. A pin nail size that’s bigger will help you penetrate hardwoods like oak while a short pin nail size can be used for trim work or softer woods like pine.  

We prefer the option of having depth adjustment and depth control to go deeper with our pin nails. In general, having the flexibility of depth adjustment and depth control is better.

Most of these types of nail guns cap out at around 1″, meaning that you are restricted to using pin nails that have a length (or depth) of 1 inch. Some of the models in our review have depth adjustment control or go deeper, and we even have one brand with depth adjustment control deep as 2″.

​If you think you’ll be needing to consistently use nails that are longer than 1″, you could also consider picking up a good brad nailer. A Brad nailer use brad nails that are thicker, and have some drawbacks, but most models that we reviewed have nail lengths that exceed 2″, so you won’t probably need a brad nailer.

While being able to drive a deeper nail, you need to make sure that you keep your hands clear of the pin nail’s driving area just in case the nail is driven too far in. This can happen, especially with a ​pin gun that can go 2” deep.

You also need to factor in how thick/thin the wood is and the level of PSI that is selected.

nails best pin nailer on the market

PSI

​​Pneumatic pin nailers are attached to an air compressor. An air compressor is what gives them their power to fire the pin into the material. And, PSI (pounds per square inch) is the measure of how powerful the air is fired. In other words, the higher the PSI, the more powerful the gun.

A good air compressor can provide you faster recovery time for improved performance while delivering industrial power for tough job site conditions.

​Most brands provide a PSI wide range for their nailers, which automatically adjusts how much power you use. This wide range is key, as it automatically adjusts depending on the material you are using the pins in.

Thicker materials require a higher PSI to push the nail into, whereas thinner, softer materials use a lower PSI. Consider what you’ll be using your pain nailer for. In general, a PSI wide range of your nailer means it’s more versatile.

Nail Capacity

​The beauty of this type of nail​er is that you can work fast. The downside of that is that you’ll go through pin nails quickly. So you’re not having to reload ​it every minute, pay attention of the capacity of nails that it can be comfortable to hold.

We find that a minimum of 100 nails is a good starting point, but the more the better. All of the nailers on our pin nailer reviews can hold at least 130 at at time.

Safety Features

​There are some built-in features that make ​nail guns safer to work with. These safety features work to keep you safer while working with the high dry firing power tools. That being said, don’t remember other safety measures like your safety glasses.

Trigger

​If you have a choice, it is best to pick ​one that offers a full sequence dual trigger safety or double trigger safety system. This means that in a nutshell, just squeezing the trigger won’t allow the gun to fire freely.

In order to drive a nail​, you have to meet certain pressure points to unlock the full dual trigger. The safety tip of the gun needs to be pushed into a surface that you will be driving a nail into, and then you can squeeze the full trigger to release a nail.

While this is a slower responding gun that won’t be as quick to fire off multiple nails per minute, the trade off is that you really can’t misfire ​it into the air potentially harming yourself or others.

Dry-fire Lockout System

​When you run out of nails, pulling the double trigger on an empty gun can result in strike marks that can damage your small wood projects. Dry firing your nail gun can also potentially damage the tool by allowing the hammer inside to strike against the opening and other firing pieces inside of the machine.

By having a dry-fire lockout system, you are preventing any damage that can happen to your projects in the long run and prolonging the life of ​your model.

Indicator Lights

​These lights are very important to consider when you are looking for ​a top pick. This is because indicators lights are the power tools specific way of communicating with you about important things.

Man showing the indicator lights on his pin nailer

Some common indicators you will find on pin nail guns are:

  • On/Off light – This light will alert you that the machine is pulled in and powered on. When you see this light it is important to know that ​it is on and ready to be used, so you need to practice OSHA safety when handling this pin nail gun.
  • Low Nail Count – This light lets you know that you have a low nail count or pins inside of the machine. It is important to turn ​it off to reload so that you don’t accidentally dry fire the machine and risk damage to your nailer or the project that you are working on.
  • ​Battery – If you own a cordless model, then you may have a battery indicator light to inform you that your battery is getting low. This light will also blink or stay solid as it is charging so that you know the status.

When it comes to ​safety, you really want to make sure that you are following safe practices while you are around the best pin nailers. Always take a moment to pause before you use ​the nailer to make sure that you are aware of it, wear your safety glasses and make sure you’re not distracted while operating it.

These built in safety features were created to help keep you safe, but if you aren’t careful when using ​it, then you can be at risk for harm.

Weight

​You also want ​a model that is lightweight. This feature is a no-brainer because this is a handheld tool, you’ll spend a good majority of your time holding the device, and a lightweight model will be comfortable to hold and help eliminate exhaustion as you work.

The weight of ​your specific ​nailer model can vary between lightweight models that are 2 lbs, to a little heavier models that can weigh almost 5 pounds. While this isn’t a large stretch between the weight, you need to keep in mind how much you will be using ​it for work or during your hobby time.

A higher weighted ​option can exhaust your hand and forearm quicker than a lightweight one.

In order to keep the weight down while creating a quality tool, many models are constructed of lightweight aluminum with a rubberized grip for added durability and ergonomics.

Corded vs Cordless

​As with most tools, you have the option of deciding between one that has a cord and one that is cordless with a rechargeable battery.

To make it easier, here is a breakdown of what each is better for:

Corded:

  • Long jobs – when you need to work for longer periods of time, it’s easier to have a constant supply of power in the long run so you aren’t interrupted while you are in the flow of working.
  • ​Reliability – you don’t have to worry about packing, finding or forgetting to recharge a battery. You also don’t have to deal with ​one that just stops working halfway through a job, as long as you have a plug-in then you have power.

Cordless:

  • ​Freedom – take your pin gun anywhere, as you’re not tethered to a wall. This is a great option if you have a lot of smaller projects that require you to move around, or if you don’t need to use the nailer for long periods of time.
  • Carry power with you – you can use a cordless nailer in places that don’t have power connected. So whether you need to use it during a blackout, or take it to help build in places that don’t currently have power.

When it comes to deciding on a corded versus cordless option, it really depends on what and how often you will be using your new ​nailer. Weighing the pros and cons of each model will help you find the ​right option that has a good quality rating and offers the right features for your tool needs.

Warranty

​Finding ​an option that meets all the requirements you need and also offers a limited warranty is ​a plus. Not to say that these things break a lot, but due to the mechanics of how they are built, it’s nice to have a limited warranty to back them up.

A warranty of at least three years is recommended to ensure you have the support you need should you have any issues with your nail gun down the road.

Keep in mind that purchasing used or refurbished ​pin nailers won’t come with a standard manufacturer warranty.

Additional Features

​We have touched on the main features that you should consider in our pin nailer reviews. There are a few other features, that while not as important are great for you to still consider so that you can find the best pin nail gun for you

Looking for options such as an oil-free motor, a case to carry it, and narrow nose can also provide you with a multi functional ​model that will excel in a range of fastening applications..

Pin nailer in its carrying case
  • Oil-Free Motor: ​An oil-free motor is exactly what it sounds like. You won’t need to deal with adding or messy oil cleanups when you opt for this type of pin ​gun. An oil-free motor will also eliminate the need to perform any maintenance on the nail pin throughout your ownership.
  • Carrying Case: ​Most ​of these types of pin nailers will come with these. They help you keep your pain nailer protected while you are traveling or to give you an organized storage solution. For higher-priced models, you can get a hardshell case that not only keeps your parts together but it also protects it against being damaged if you take it to work daily.
  • Narrow Nose: ​A narrow nose will allow you to get into tight areas with ease. This is a great feature for a nail gun if you are doing a lot of smaller projects or working in tight spaces. The narrow nose won’t hinder you in day to day projects.
  • Dual Trigger: This is mostly a safety measure. A nailer that uses a dual trigger system prevents accidental misfiring. With a dual trigger in place, you have to depress one trigger to engage and then a second one to actually fire.
  • No-mar Tip: Any lost, worn-out or glue smeared tips are a problem when using your pinner. It’s always good to have some no-mar tips to spare just in case. A no-mar tip have a 4-point alignment guide to help you locate the best position to drive pins.

You also need to factor in how thick/thin the wood is and the level of PSI that is selected.

Conclusion

For many, brand new pin nailers are exactly what is needed to breeze through a wide variety of home DIY projects. If you’re in the market for a high quality nail gun, consider each of the pin nailer reviews we’ve provided.

Raised with a fix-it and improvement mindset, my wife and I completely restored our Craftsman-style home. Learning how to DIY a variety of home improvement projects, I started SawsHub with my father. He's the fine woodworker, I'm the DIYer!