Nailers

7 Best Pin Nailers of 2020

Best Pin Nailer

Photo: Porter-Cable

When you want to fasten trim or join two small pieces of wood and do it without leaving large, unsightly nail holes, the pin nailer is always the best tool to turn to.

With the best pin nailer, working with smaller and more delicate material is much easier as you can easily join the pieces without splitting or leaving large nail holes.

These nailers shoot 23-gauge headless or slightly headed fasteners which explains why they do not leave large holes and most will use fasteners that are between 1/2 and 1-3/8 inches long.

And if you are on the market for one, this piece is for you as we make it easier for you to choose a good model by reviewing 7 top-rated pin nailers and with an in-depth buying guide.

You can also read other product reviews of roofing nailerfinish nailerbrad nailerpalm nailersiding nailerflooring nailer

7 Best Pin Nailers – Review

IMAGE

​PRODUCT

​FEATURES

Hitachi NP35A

1. Hitachi NP35A (Best Overall)

  • Higher fastener capacity for reduced reloads
  • Quick and easy jam clearing
  • More useful rear exhaust
  • Precise depth of drive adjustment
Porter-Cable PIN138

2. Porter-Cable PIN138 (Best under $100)

  • Relatively affordable
  • Durable, maintenance-free motor
  • Automatic fastener length adjustment
  • Highly consistent penetration
Bostitch HP118K

3. Bostitch HP118K (Best Headless)

  • Headless nailers laves even smaller holes
  • Lightweight and long-lasting aluminum housing
  • Low-profile nose for clear line of sight
  • Compact and easily maneuverable body
Freeman PP123

4. Freeman PP123 (Best Budget)

  • More budget-friendly
  • Durable and lightweight aluminum body
  • Safer trigger mechanism
  • Handy reversible belt hook
NuMax SP123

5. NuMax SP123 (Best under $50)

  • Fantastic quality for the price
  • Versatile enough for various applications
  • Durable aluminum housing
  • Ergonomic and comfortable grip
Grex P635

6. Grex P635 (Best for Hobbyists & DIYers)

  • Enough power and versatility for DIYer and hobbyists projects
  • Powerful motor for penetrating hard materials
  • Safer double trigger safety
  • Narrower nose for reaching tight spaces
Grex P650L

7. Grex P650L (Best for Pro Woodworkers)

  • More power and features for professional woodworking
  • Narrow nose for nailing hard to reach areas
  • No adjustments required for different fastener lengths
  • Handy lock-out mechanism to prevent dry firing

PRODUCT

1. Hitachi NP35A

(Best Overall)

Hitachi NP35A
  • Higher fastener capacity for reduced reloads
  • Quick and easy jam clearing
  • More useful rear exhaust
  • Precise depth of drive adjustment

2. Porter-Cable PIN138

(Best under $100)

Porter-Cable PIN138
  • Relatively affordable
  • Durable, maintenance-free motor
  • Automatic fastener length adjustment
  • Highly consistent penetration

3. Bostitch HP118K

(Best Headless)

Bostitch HP118K
  • Headless nailers laves even smaller holes
  • Lightweight and long-lasting aluminum housing
  • Low-profile nose for clear line of sight
  • Compact and easily maneuverable body

4. Freeman PP123

(Best Budget)

Freeman PP123
  • More budget-friendly
  • Durable and lightweight aluminum body
  • Safer trigger mechanism
  • Handy reversible belt hook

5. NuMax SP123

(Best under $50)

NuMax SP123
  • Fantastic quality for the price
  • Versatile enough for various applications
  • Durable aluminum housing
  • Ergonomic and comfortable grip

6. Grex P635

(Best for Hobbyists & DIYers)

Grex P635
  • Enough power and versatility for DIYer and hobbyists projects
  • Powerful motor for penetrating hard materials
  • Safer double trigger safety
  • Narrower nose for reaching tight spaces

7. Grex P650L

(Best for Pro Woodworkers)

Grex P650L
  • More power and features for professional woodworking
  • Narrow nose for nailing hard to reach areas
  • No adjustments required for different fastener lengths
  • Handy lock-out mechanism to prevent dry firing

1. Hitachi NP35A Best Overall

Hitachi NP35A Pin Nailer

Photo: Metabo HPT

  • Nail Size: 5/8” – 1-3/8”
  • Power Source: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 2 pounds

Hitachi NP35A is a great all-round pneumatic nailer that will be exceptional to have in the workshop for both hobbyists and DIYers as it will be handy for a variety of projects.

The Hitachi pin nailer comes with a relatively larger magazine capacity for less reloading to minimize downtimes, and it will shoot different size fasteners between 5/8 and 1-3/8 inches and the magazine will adjust automatically to fit the different fasteners

It also has depth adjustment to ensure you always get the perfect depth of drive on different materials and reload indicator to alert you when you are running out of fasteners.

And this is also a convenient pin nailer to use as it has removable nose plate to make jam clearing easy and a larger housing shield and rear exhaust to protect the delicate workpieces from dents.

While the double trigger design will take some getting used to, its many benefits outweigh the cons, and it is one of the key things that make this a safer tool.

Pros:

  • Larger fastener capacity
  • Handy reload indicator
  • Simple depth adjustment
  • Easy jam clearing

Cons:

  • Double trigger takes some getting used to
  • No tool-less jam clearing

2. Porter-Cable PIN138 Best Pin Nailer under $100

Porter-Cable PIN138 Pin Nailer

Photo: Porter-Cable

  • Nail Size: 5/8” – 1-3/8”
  • Power Source: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds

With a durable and maintenance-free motor, Porter-Cable PIN138 is designed for both long service life and user convenience.

Besides durability, this top-rated pin nailer still has a lot to offer such as quick and easy loading thanks to the magazine design that automatically adjusts to different fastener lengths.

For an under $100 pin nailer, the durable aluminum magazine with a handy reload indicator is also an excellent addition.

With the included dry fire lock-out mechanism, users will also never have to worry about unsightly marks on their workpiece while the narrow nose design ensures more precise nail placement by increasing visibility.

Many users will also love the rear exhaust as it helps to protect both the user and workpiece and the no-mar tip that prevent dent and scratches on the material.

The lack of depth control is perhaps the only significant shortcoming with this pin nailer, but for its price, this should not be a big deal. And it also accommodates different nail sizes to ensure you can still choose how deep you want the nail to go using the length.

Pros:

  • Durable, maintenance-free motor
  • Quick and simple loading
  • Dry fire lock-out
  • Convenient low nail indicator
  • Narrow nose for more precise nail placement

Cons:

  • No depth of drive control
  • Quite prone to jamming

3. Bostitch HP118K Best Headless Pin Nailer

Bostitch HP118K Pin Nailer

Photo: Bostitch

  • Nail Size: 1/2" – 1-3/16”
  • Power Source: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds

For those that prefer to use headless nails on their pin nailers, the Bostitch HP118K will be a great buy as it has been specifically designed for use with these nails.

This nailer is also widely compatible with different nail sizes for increased versatility, and it has been built to last with an aluminum housing and magazine.

The low-profile and tapered nosepiece also makes this one of the best headless pin nailers as it improves sight for more nailing precision. And with a capacity of 200 fasteners, there will be fewer reloads to ensure minimal downtimes

Other convenient features that many users will appreciate include the comfortable over-molded grip that also makes it easier to control and reversible belt hook that helps to keep the tool close.

Because the nailer does not have a no-mar tip, you can easily dent delicate workpieces if you lean into it but with a little precaution and once you get used to the nailer, this will hardly even be an issue.

Pros:

  • Durable aluminum housing
  • Comfortable over-molded grip
  • Low-profile, tapered nosepiece
  • Higher capacity magazine
  • Convenient reversible belt hook

Cons:

  • Does not come with no-mar tip
  • Dual trigger safety has a learning curve

4. Freeman PP123 Best Budget Pin Nailer

Freeman PP123 Pin Nailer

Photo: Freeman

  • Nail Size: 1/2" – 1”
  • Power Source: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 3 pounds

Given that the Freeman PP123 is the cheapest option among our pin nailer reviews, it will be a perfect choice for any hobbyist or woodworker shopping on a budget.

And despite its smaller price tag, it still has a lot to offer including a durable aluminum construction that will ensure it will last for ages and an ergonomic grip for comfortable use.

With the 380-degree adjustable exhaust, you can also easily direct the exhaust air away from you and your workpiece for safer operation, and the adjustment will not require any tool.

Also, with this pin nailer, you get a reversible belt hook to help keep the nailer closer to you and one-piece blade driver for enhanced durability.

This nailer is relatively heavier when compared to others on our list, but at just 3 pounds, it is still lightweight enough for comfortable use and easy control even for extended periods.

Pros:

  • Highly affordable
  • Ergonomic and comfortable grip
  • Reversible belt hook included
  • 360-degree adjustable exhaust

Cons:

  • Relatively heavier

5. NuMax SP123 Best Pin Nailer under $50

NuMax SP123 Pin Nailer

Photo: NuMax

  • Nail Size: 1/2" – 1”
  • Power Source: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 2.25 pounds

For the woodworkers/DIYers shopping for a pin nailer on a budget, the NuMax SP123 is another fantastic budget model that will not disappoint.

It also features a lightweight and durable aluminum body and with an ergonomic handle that makes it comfortable to operate and easy to control with minimal user fatigue.

There is also a handy pin size selector that will be very useful for those that use different pin sizes often, a reversible belt hook to help keep it close and trigger safety mechanism to prevent accidental firing.

Users will also love the anti-dust cap and the fact that for an under $50 model, the nailer is well-balanced which will ensure you get an even easier time.

Given that this nailer will only accommodate fasteners that are between 1/2 and 1-inch long, it might not be very versatile. But the good news is that most pin nailer users will in many instances use nail sizes within this range.

Pros:

  • More fairly priced
  • Ergonomic comfort grip
  • Trigger safety mechanism
  • Reversible belt hook
  • Handy pin size selector

Cons:

  • Limited nail size compatibility
  • Air exhaust is not adjustable

6. Grex P635 Best Pin Nailer for Hobbyists & DIYers

Grex P635 Headless Pin Nailer

Photo: Grex

  • Nail Size: 3/8” – 1-3/8”
  • Power Source: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 2.21 pounds

With the ability to accommodate a wide range of nail sizes between 3/8 and 1-3/8 inches long, the Grex P635 is perfect for DIYers and hobbyists as it comes in handy for a variety of projects.

This headless pin nailer also includes a self-adjusting magazine to ensure quick pin change as you will not need to waste time with adjustments when you put in a new pin size.

With its narrow nose design, it will easily fit into tight corners and provide greater visibility to make it ideal for detail work.

And this is also a safer pin nailer to use as it has a double-trigger that prevents accidental firing and no-mar tip that protects the workpiece from dent and scratches.

Given what you pay for this pin nailer, many users expect it to come with some pins but it does not. However, this should not be a deal breaker as you can always order some with it as they are quite cheap.

Pros:

  • Versatile enough for DIYers and hobbyists
  • Convenient narrow nose design
  • Safer double trigger design
  • Self-adjusting magazine for easy pin change
  • Protective no-mar tip

Cons:

  • Should come with some pins for its price
  • A little on the pricier side

7. Grex P650L Best Pin Nailer for Pro Woodworkers

Grex P650L Headless Pin Nailer with Lock-out

Photo: Grex

  • Nail Size: 1/2" – 2”
  • Power Source: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs

Professional woodworkers need a pin nailer that is not only feature-rich but also dependable, and if you are on the market for such a tool, the Grex P650L will be one of your best options out there.

It is also a headless pin nailer which means it will work well for those that do not want visible nail holes on their workpiece.

Some of its key features include a wide range of nail size compatibility as it can accommodate fasteners between 1/2 and 2-inch long which makes it one of the most versatile on our list. And it also has a self-adjusting magazine for fast loading and some handy reload indicator windows.

The narrow design allows it to fit in tight corners while the no-mar tip helps to protect your workpiece from scratches, dry fire lock-out prevents dry firing and belt hook helps to keep close when not in use.

Being the priciest model on out pin nailer reviews, some woodworkers might find it a little too expensive, but you always get what you pay for, and if you are professional woodworker, this nailer will be worth every cent.

Pros:

  • Self-adjusting magazine
  • Wide nail size compatibility
  • Dry fire lock-out mechanism
  • Extended and narrow nose design
  • Convenient belt hook

Cons:

  • Quite pricey
  • Still prone to jamming

Pin Nailer vs. Brad Nailer

Pin Nailer vs. Brad Nailer

Photo: Porter-Cable

Pin Nailer 

Pin nailers are designed to shoot some of the thinnest fasteners among all finish carpentry nailers. These fasteners are typically 23-gauge and will either be completely headless or slight headed.

The thinner gauge and lack of a head mean that these nailers will not leave any visible nail holes like the 18-gauge brad nailers. Also, these fasteners will hardly ever split wood even when dealing with delicate trim and thinner pieces of wood.

But, the small size of the fasteners means that they will not provide a lot of hold power, and so many woodworkers will prefer to use them to hold two pieces of wood as the glue sets as they are also easy to pull out.

Pros:

  • Does not leave visible nail holes
  • Will not split wood
  • Great for keeping wood together as the glue dries

Cons:

  • Not much holding power
  • Limited applications

Brad Nailer

The brad nailers shoot 18-gauge fasteners which are larger than the 23-gauge pin shot by a pin nailer and this means they provide more hold power.

While the holding power might not be as much as what you get from other nailers such as the 15-gauge, it is still enough to make the brad nailer one of the most popularly used finish nailers.

Brad nailers are ideal for various applications such as base-boarding, trim work cabinetry, and crown molding. However, the larger fasteners with flat heads that they shoot are more likely to split delicate pieces and will leave larger nails holes that often require filling.

Pros:

  • Relatively more hold power
  • More versatile and ideal for various applications
  • Great for base-boarding

Cons:

  • Can easily split delicate pieces
  • Leaves relatively larger nail holes

Buying Advice: Both pin and brad nailers will be very useful to have around, and if you can afford both the better. However, if you are looking for something more versatile and with more hold power, go for the brad nailer. But, if you want a nailer that will not split your delicate pieces and does not leave noticeable nail holes that require filling, the pin nailer is your best bet.

How to Buy the Best Pin Nailers

How to Buy the Best Pin Nailers

Photo: Metabo HPT

Picking the best 23-gauge pin nailer from the many options is not rocket science as you only need to consider the following things.

1. Pneumatic vs. Electric Pin Nailers

The power source will determine how powerful and efficient the pin nailer will be, and it will also affect other things like the cost. You will typically need to choose between the pneumatic and electric pin nailer when shopping

Pneumatic Pin Nailers

Pneumatic pin nailers are powered by an air compressor which means you need to buy one if you do not already have it for powering other power tools.

They are generally more powerful than most electric types, and this explains why they are the preferred option for professional woodworkers. And besides the cost of buying an air compressor, pneumatic pin nailers are relatively more affordable.

However, with these nailers, the cost of operation is relatively higher and they are also not very portable as you have to drag the air compressor along with you.

Electric Pin Nailers

Electric pin nailers run on a motor that can either be battery-powered or plugged in depending on the type. And they are highly convenient nailers that are very popular with hobbyists and DIYers.

These pin nailers offer the convenience of not having to buy or use an air compressor, and this also makes them relatively more portable despite being relatively heavier than the pneumatic pin nailers.

The only significant shortcoming with the electric pin nailers is that they are relatively pricier when compared to the pneumatic types, but the good news is that they have a lower operation cost.

2. Nail Size

The nail size that the pin nailer uses will determine the applications you can use it for, and so it is also an important factor to consider when shopping.

A pin nailer that shoots nails that are between 1/2 and 1-inch long like Freeman PP123 should be good enough but those that can accommodate 3/8 to 2-inch long nails are more preferable.

The projects you intend to use the pin nailer for should guide you when determining the nail size you need. Generally, short pins are ideal for softwoods while longer ones are what you need for hardwoods.

3. Depth Adjustment

Given that you will probably be dealing with different material sizes and thicknesses, a good pin nailer is one that allows for depth adjustment to suit different materials.

With depth adjustment capability you can easily determine how deep you sink the pins and hence the amount of hold power you get.

But, besides having depth adjustment, the pin nailer should make the depth control easy and those with a simple tool-less depth control knob or wheel are the best choice.

4. Magazine Capacity

Magazine capacity might not be important to those that only have to fire a few pins to hold two pieces together as the glue dries and do it occasionally. But, for woodworkers that use their pin nailer regularly the magazine capacity matters.

The magazine capacity or the number of nails the pin nailer can hold will determine how much you can do before you have to reload.

A larger magazine is always the best as it will reduce the reloading frequency which minimizes downtimes and increases productivity.

And while the right magazine capacity for you will depend on how you use your pin nailer, something that can hold at least 100 fasteners like the Bostitch HP118K is often good enough.

5. Extra Features

Many pin nailer manufacturers will always give their tools a few extra features to make them more efficient and convenient for the user.

Some of these extra features to look out for is tool-free jam clearing as it will help minimize downtimes, dry fire lock-out mechanism to prevent dry fire damages and a dual trigger safety lock to prevent accidental firing.

Also, a pin nailer that comes with a no-mar tip to protect the workpiece from dents and scratches, rear exhaust system, safety glasses, and a carry case will also make a good buy.

Conclusion

Pin nailers are highly useful power tools for those that deal with delicate trim and wood pieces or want something to keep wood pieces together as the glue dries.

And because we also review 7 top rated models, all you now need to do is just pick one that suits your specific needs and budget.

And from this reviews, the Hitachi NP35A is the stand out and best overall product as it has the power, versatility, features and also comes at a fair price tag.

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