A finish nailer is a great tool to have in your workshop. It’s great for small projects, installing moulding, wall planking and more. After using both types of finish nailers for many projects, I wanted to break down the pros and cons of each.
I was able to score this Campbell-Hausfeld nailer and compressor combo around Father’s Day at Lowe’s for $69! (Normal MSRP is $99.) I’ve used the compressor-powered nailer for many years on an assortment of DIY projects (like my Art & Craft Studio scrap wood wall.) I haven’t had any problems with it. It’s reliable, lightweight and can fire a variety of length finish nails and U-staples. For the value, you can’t go wrong. The cons of the Campbell Hausfeld are mostly related to the compressor. It is very loud when the air tank is recharging. It’s a little bulky to store and haul around. You are limited to the length of your air hose and a power source. And you must empty the tank and maintain it periodically.
In all the ways that the Campbell-Hausfeld fails, the Ryobi Air Strike excels. It doesn’t take up as much room to store. No compressor needed because it is essentially built into the tool. As long as the battery is charged you are ready to fire nails on a moment’s notice. The light helps illuminate in dark working areas. You aren’t tethered to an air hose or compressor. This allows you the freedom to wander anywhere with the nail gun. And it is quiet (with the exception of the bang when firing the nail.)
The downsides are it doesn’t shoot U-staples. The gun itself is heavier to hold because of the battery and size of the gun. If you lose charge in the battery you have to wait a while for it to charge. Finally, the price is slightly higher than the MSRP of the Campbell-Hausfeld at $129.
Update: I’ve had a few occasions where my Ryobi Air Strike has quit firing. Usually I can get it working again by unlatching the front of the gun and checking it for jams or reloading with new nails. Recently at a DIY conference, I learned that I’m not the only person who has had this problem. So far the nail gun still works, hopefully it will continue to do so.
2nd Update: After another winter of the Ryobi Air Strike refusing to fire after every other nail, I’ve finally decided to pitch it. I’m in the process of testing a Porter-Cable 18 gauge 20 volt brad nailer and a DeWalt 16 gauge Angled Finish Nailer.
I hope this comparison helps you select your own finish nail gun.
Want to learn how to use a finish nailer? Check out my tool tutorial videos and more!