Pneumatic vs Cordless Nailer: Which is Better?

Although you can find nail guns that run on gas canisters, the vast majority of nail guns are powered through the use of pneumatic or electric power. Now, when you are buying a nail gun, your chief concern probably isn’t how it is powered, but it should be.
Pneumatic vs cordless nailer
Both pneumatic and cordless nailers have their own set of pros and cons that you need to be aware of. In this comparison guide, I will explain you about the various differences between the two kinds of nail guns, As well, I will also detail what pros and cons of each kind are.

Air Vs Cordless Nailer Comparison

The m advantage of a pneumatic nail gun is the amount power it can exert whereas the major benefit of cordless nailer is its portability. Below you can see the comparison chart that explains the major differences between the two power nailers.

Pneumatic (Air) Cordless
Power Source Compressed Air Battery powered
Force Powerful Comparatively less power
Performance Faster firing rate Slower
Portability Difficult to move around Highly portable
Ease of use Need to setup air compressor Ready to go. Easy to work.
Size & Weight Lighter Bulkier with the battery
Maintenance Easy to maintain Replacement parts can be expensive
Cost * Inexpensive Expensive
*The cost of pneumatic nail gun is cheaper assuming that you have an air compressor.

Now let us see a more detailed comparison between the two power nailers.

Electric Nail Guns

What is an Electric nailer?
Electric nail guns, as the name suggests, are powered using an electric cable or battery (cordless). The voltage of the battery varies greatly depending on what nail gun you buy. Some nail guns opt to have larger batteries, which makes them more powerful, but also bulkier. Other nail guns opt for smaller batteries to increase maneuverability at the expense of power.

Cordless nail guns are very popular, especially among amateurs, because they operate off battery power as opposed to a more cumbersome power source, like compressed air.

 Corded vs cordless Nailers

Electric nail guns are subdivided into two separate categories, corded models, and cordless models.

Uses of an Electric Nail Gun

Corded models need to be plugged into an outlet to operate. On the other hand, cordless models operate entirely off battery power. Depending on the kind of electric nail gun, you will need to either charge the battery or replace it when it runs out.

Battery powered cordless nailer

Cordless electric nail guns are the far more common variety. They are so much more common, that many people just assume that you are talking about cordless nail guns when you use the term “electric nail gun.”


A cordless nail gun is very easy to move around with when compared to pneumatic nail guns. As you can guess cordless electric nailers don’t have any cords, wires, or hoses to inhibit movement. This makes them very popular on large job sites, where easy movement is valuable.

For instance, consider the work of a roofing contractor. A cordless roofing nailer makes his job way more comfortable when compared to an air nailer.

Now, you might think that doesn’t apply to corded electric models, but you would be wrong. While corded models are not as maneuverable as cordless models, they are still a lot easier to move around with when compared to their pneumatic counterparts.

Another major advantage of an electric nail gun is quicker setup time. With an electric model, you either just put in the battery or find the nearest plug, and you are ready to go.

One thing that makes electric nail guns especially attractive to people in residential areas is the amount of noise that they make. Electric nail guns are by far the quietest nail guns available on the market.

Corded electric nail guns are probably the least expensive option of the three different kinds of nail guns (corded, cordless, and pneumatic).


Because they run off battery power, the amount of force that an electric nail gun can generate is going to be limited. Also, the fire rate of electric nailers is limited. When compared with other kinds of nail guns, electric nail guns (both cordless and corded models) shoot significantly fewer nails per minute.

Cordless electric nail guns are quite expensive. On average, a cordless electric nail gun is going to cost roughly double what a similar pneumatic model will cost you. Plus, the costs can add up in the long-run as well because of the need to buy replacement batteries.

Finally, the battery pack adds extra weight and bulk to the power tool. This is not a big deal when working with a lighter nail gun such as a brad nailer or a pin nailer. However, the extra weight could cause fatigue in case of larger nail guns such as framing nailers.

Pneumatic Nailers

A pneumatic nail gun runs off compressed air. On its own, a pneumatic nail gun is useless. However, once you hook it up to an air compressor, it becomes an extremely versatile and useful tool.
Pneumatic Framing Nailer
Pneumatic nail guns are common, but you are more likely to see them in the hands of professionals than in the hands of amateur DIYers. But, don’t let that dissuade you, as both professionals and amateurs alike can get a lot of use out of an air nailer.


The most obvious benefit to a pneumatic nail is the superior power and fire rate that it offers. Simply put, if you want to be able to drive a nail into thick or tough pieces of wood, then your best bet is to use a pneumatic nail gun. The same applies to fire rate as well. If you need to drive a lot of nails into material in a short amount of time, then a pneumatic nail gun can do that better than any other kind of nail gun.

Assuming you already own an air compressor and you don’t work anywhere besides your garage or workshop, then a pneumatic nail gun is both cheap and easy to set up. Just screw the hose onto the bottom of the nail gun and you are ready to go.


The major drawbacks of a pneumatic nail gun relate to its mobility. In order to move around with a pneumatic nail gun, you not only need to lug around the hose but also the bulky compressor.

Of course you can get a portable air compressor for nail guns since nailers doesn’t require lot of CFM. However, if you have lot of nails to drive a small portable compressor may not be sufficient.

Likewise, if you move around a lot, then setting up the pneumatic nail gun can be a hassle. You have to find a place to plug in the air compressor, and then you have to actually set up the compressor.

Comparing the two types of nailers

Now that you have seen the pros and cons of both types of nailers, let us compare the tools to find out which is best for you.


In terms of efficiency and power, pneumatic nail guns are the best option. However, I will say that unless you are a professional carpenter or woodworker, cordless nail guns will have more than enough power to meet all your needs.


In terms of cost, corded electric nail guns are the least expensive model, but not by much. Pneumatic nail guns are fairly inexpensive assuming that you already own a compatible air compressor. Even if you have to buy an air compressor, they tend to be less expensive in the long run when compared with cordless electric models.


When it comes to performance the air nailers have faster firing rates. They are quick and fire as soon as pull the trigger assuming that you have a decent compressor. The battery powered cordless nailers often has a slight delay between the trigger actuation and actual nail firing. However, most of the newer models have vastly improved performance.

You should also know that some of the cordless models have heating problem when fired in quick succession for a long time.

Ease of Use

Really, the only area where I would say that electric nail guns have a decisive advantage is in ease of use. I can’t understate how useful it is to not have to lug around an air compressor. It is also nice to not have to worry about tripping over hoses.

What is the best nail gun for home use?
If you have an air compressor at your garage go for the pneumatic version. For everyone else a battery powered cordless nailer is easy to use and produces less noise which is important for home users.
For professionals I would recommend you to get both. You need the pneumatic version for heavy duty work such as framing, building decks etc. On the other hand the cordless version will offer you a lot of portability when comes to trims, roofing, etc.
I hope that this has answered all the questions you have about pneumatic and electric nail guns. If you were on the fence as to which to buy, this guide should give you enough information to make an informed decision.