I am a contractor with over 10 years of experience in wood works and have since used several pin nailer tools for cases, moldings, panel doors, and mantle building. I rarely give reviews but with all the different pin nailers advertised around, I feel the need to share my few cents worth with regard to what I consider the best cordless pin nail gun around. Let’s take a look at some pin nailer comparisons…
Pin Nailer Reviews – What To Consider When Comparing Pin Nailer Tools?
For the newbies in wood craft, before you make a choice on what cordless pin nailer to buy, it is best to first understand if it would be appropriate to your specific type of activity. Basically, pin nailers allow pieces of wood to join without the need for clamps. It tacks trim to wood so it would be held securely in place while the glue sets. You can also install small crowns or baseboard as well as trim moldings and outside corners.
If you will be working with baseboards, however, you should use a finish nailer to drive those 2 1/2” galvanized nails right through. On the other hand, if you will be working on light trims such as window or door casings using 2” nails, a brad nailer can do the job just fine.
But if you will be working on intricate mouldings such as outside corners, use the pin nailer. It has the capability of firing the longest nails into hardwood without leaving marks on the surface (I cannot say the same thing with brad nailers).
Now, there are a lot of 23-gauge pin nailers in the market from premium to bargain brands but I will be discussing three of the most popular and best pinners in the market:
- Hitachi NP35A 23-Gauge Micro Pin Nailer
- BOSTITCH HP118K 23-Gauge 1/2-Inch to 1-3/16-Inch Pin Nailer
- (PIN138) 23-Gauge x 1-3/8 in. Pin Nailer
1. Hitachi NP35A 23-Gauge Micro Pin Nailer Review
The Hitachi NP35A pneumatic pin nailer is quick to catch your attention right as you pick it up. Its molded rubber grip allows you to fit all of your fingers without brushing the trigger. It levels up the safety feature as you need to deliberately reach the trigger with your index finger to engage the trigger.
The Hitachi pin nailer allows flawless nailing on either softwood or hardwood through its plastic tip nose. It further ensures your working place is clean as it an exhaust on its rear which gently blows any debris away from the surface.
Its depth adjustment feature allows you to easily adjust your settings for your different nails or materials for more precise flush and countersink nailing. I was able to use 65psi pressure on various sheets… no problem!
It can load a hundred nails at a time so it takes generally less reloads, meaning fewer interruptions. When the nail case is running low, a red indicator will light up signaling you to reload.
The NP35A being very light – weighing only 2 lbs – I found it easy to carry around or slip into my belt carrier. It is cheap, costing around $85 only so I’d say it is not a bad investment if you will only be working around soft mouldings in the house.
It is a different a story if you are using pinners for a living! If you are a professional carpenter and deal often with hardwood like maple and oak, you will agree that the Hitachi pin nailer is not something you would recommend. (Read further below and you will understand.)Otherwise, if you don’t use this every day, you will do just fine. It perfectly works on soft pine paneling, soft cedar door stop, soft board sheathing, soft pine door casing, and hickory cabinet frames.
HITACHI NP35A: All about safety, comfort, and finesse!
There are several bad reviews though, claiming that it works inconsistently, or could not set the nail right. For some it doesn’t even work at all. In my opinion, considering the price, it is a really good pin nailer –almost invisible (you can hardly see marks on the wood after nailing), light as a feather, easy to use, has undoubtedly reliable safety trigger, and comes with a 5-year warranty.
2. Bostitch HP118K 23-Gauge 1/2-Inch to 1-3/16-Inch Pin Nailer
You can get a full review of the Bostitch HP118K just here. But for the sake of this piece I have a short overview (albeit my conclusion is not identical to the other reviewer!).
Actually I am a tad disappointed with this Bostitch pin nail gun, primarily because I have had good experiences with the other Bostitch tools so I am expecting a similar level of performance with their pin nailer.
There’s barely enough space for my three fingers (yes, I am a big person) to grab the gun and gripping the gun automatically deactivates the safety so it will fire if you accidentally push the primary trigger.
It sure will need a lot of getting used to for it to become second nature, but I am not the patient type. Not only that it has a small space for the grip, but it also has a long plastic trigger. Double whammy!
I tried to use this nailer at 90 psi and it left dimple marks on pine around the nails. I tried to adjust the pressure switch above the trigger into low setting, but those dimple marks still surfaced around the nails. I also tried using different settings to drive 1 3/16” nails into oak wood just to see what it would do… to my dismay.
So I likewise wouldn’t recommend Bostitch for thick and hardwood. If you’re only working on small trims on furniture projects, this gun could be your perfect Father’s Day gift for yourself.
Also just a reminder: don’t attempt on trying to drive a 2” pin on your piece of wood unless you want to draw a good dent on your wood. As for those of you who could not get their settings right even on soft woods, try using air pressure of 85 psi. It should work just fine.
If there is one positive thing I can say about the Bostitch cordless nail gun, I never experienced trying to wrench out jammed nails. Funny thing only is that the pin heads slightly shows up. You can feel their exact rough position when you brush your finger over them. It is slightly larger than the other guns and weighs double that of Hitachi gun but nevertheless still a lightweight at 4 lbs.
BOSTITCH HP118K: Just look for a nail punch!
This gun is priced about $40 higher than the Hitachi pin nailer, and includes carrying case, belt hook, nails and oil, as well as a 7-year limited warranty. In my opinion, this gun is overrated, costing more than what it should be worth. It can be a good choice for hobby applications, but definitely not for pro!
3. Porter Cable PIN138 23-Gauge x 1-3/8 in. Pin Nailer
Porter Cable’s PIN 138 is one of the premium cordless pin nailers in the market. Porter Cable justifies this, however, with its promise of performance even on oak, pine, and maple.
The kit includes 2,000 pins along with a wrench, reversible belt clip, and ¼” plug with cap. Among the three, Porter Cable is the only one to successfully drive a 1-3/8” pin sub-flush into oak. With Hitachi and Bostitch, you will just spend time unjamming pins when trying to fire into oak or related hardwoods. I was perfectly satisfied with how the nails ended just below the surface even on oaks.
One interesting feature of Porter Cable is it automatically adjusts for different fastener lengths. I find loading easier and had fewer problems with using pins out of spec. It conveniently has adry-lock feature which will prevent the nailer from shooting pins when your magazine is almost empty of pins, eliminating the possible empty nail holes.
This is very helpful especially when you are in the zone and did not notice the low nail indicator. Another added convenience is the gun does not require oiling unlike the other guns. No hassle of removing oil right after prepping the gun? Check!
The Porter Cable guys designed the gun well as it has a narrow nose tip design perfect for close joints, as well as a removable non-marring nose tip to prevent leaving marks on the work surface. It also has a rear exhaust similar to the Hitachi gun to keep debris away from the wood surface. It is just quite large but surprisingly it works quietly and you don’t need to use those pretty little ear plugs.
Porter Cable (PIN 138): Power, Performance, and Convenience!
If you’re willing to spend almost twice as that of Hitachi or Bostitch, then go for Porter Cable’s PIN 138.It is very easy to flip around (only 2 lb weight) and includes a 3-year limited warranty plus a 90-day money back guarantee. If this hasn’t whetted your appetite enough then check out this full PIN 138 review.
Who Nailed It – The Best Cordless Pin Nailer?
Based on the value of performance, comfort, and security, I will give the nailing test trophy to Hitachi NP35A. It is sensibly priced that delivers the desired outcome of flawless finish, reliability, and safety.
Other Cordless Nailer Comparisons That You Might Be Interested In:
- Best Cordless Brad Nailer
- Best Cordless Finish Nailer
- Best Cordless Framing Nailer
- Best Cordless Roofing Nailer