Best Pin Nailer-Top 5 Pin Nailer Reviews and Buying Guide of 2018

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What is the best pin nailer?

As you are looking for the best pin nailer, in our reviews and buying guide of 2018 we are going to help you to find the best one for your project with comparison chart and infographic.  If you are working with the most delicate materials, you would have to look for a tool that could handle it without cracking or otherwise damaging it. Finish or brad nailers wouldn’t do with the thinnest wood trims. Fortunately, there is one type of tools that can correctly manage with weak materials. This instrument is called a pin nailer. Being the same regarding overall functionality, pin nailers cannot be directly compared to other nailers as they have whole another purpose.

For those looking for a good pin nailer for the money, we have picked five models, which we consider the best pin nailers you could find out there. We have scrupulously examined them and now are ready to share our thoughts on both their advantages and disadvantages. After all, even the best products have downsides, right?

We will also provide you with more info on what pin nailers are in general and what is their purpose as well as the benefits. Additionally, we also have guidelines for an essential feature of pin nailers prepared for you. To wrap it all up, we have answered a couple of frequently asked questions.

What is a pin nailer used for?

In the matter of their application, pin nailers are much more specific than brad and finish nailers. Although brad/finish nailers each differ in the nail size, they are suitable for a much more comprehensive variety of tasks than pin nailers. Moreover, some workers even consider pin nailers to have little to no use and prefer bigger tools to them. Well, those who do not need the features of pin nailers would obviously find them useless. But many workers and we think that pin nailers are beautiful instruments.

So what’s so different between pin nailers and bigger instruments? The main and the only substantial difference is the nail size. The 23-gauge nails are super thin and thus leave almost no holes in the material, eliminating the need to putty them. Another factor hugely contributing to the absence of holes is that pin nails typically do not have nail heads. But this also means that it is nearly impossible to carefully remove the nail from the material without damaging both if you have driven it deep.

The lightness and thinness of 23-gauge nails imply that they are not useful with thicker, denser, and denser workpieces. You may find that they cannot hold the majority of materials in place.

Overall, pin nailers would be ideal for the most delicate and thin trim pieces, little furniture trim, super thin veneers, and other similar materials. Besides, pin nailers could be used to temporarily hold a workpiece in place while the glue, which will be the primary thing keeping the material, dries out. This is what we meant that pin nailers are much more specific than brad or finish nailers!

Now, let’s begin and see what those five best pin nailers are!

Best affordable Pin Nailer Comparison Chart

PhotoModelPower sourceMagazine CapacityOperating PressureBuy now
Hitachi NP35A 1-3/8Hitachi NP35APneumatic10065-100 psiCheck Price
#Editor's Choice
PORTER-CABLE PIN100 1/2-Inch to 1-Inch 23-Gauge Pin NailerPORTER-CABLE PIN100Pneumatic17060-100 psiCheck Price
BOSTITCH HP118K 23-Gauge 1/2-Inch to 1-3/16-Inch Pin NailerBOSTITCH HP118KPneumatic20070-120 psiCheck Price
PORTER-CABLE PIN138 23-Gauge 1-3/8-Inch Pin NailerPORTER-CABLE PIN138Pneumatic13060-100 psiCheck Price
Grex P635 23 Gauge 1-3/8-Inch Length Headless PinnerGrex P635 23 GaugePneumatic10060-100 psiCheck Price

Top 5 Best Pin Nailer Review

1. Hitachi NP35A 1-3/8″ 23-Gauge Pin Nailer

Hitachi NP35A 1-3/8

Editor’s Choice: NP35A is the lightest and as well as one of the best affordable/quality pin nailer in the market we will be reviewing today. While it has some useful features, it is not the most potent pin nailer out there. Mainly, the users complained that NP35A doesn’t reliably drive over 1-inch pins. So overall, this model will be a good choice for less demanding projects.

Magazine

NP35A has a high-capacity magazine, which automatically adjusts to 5/8, ¾, 1, 1 3/16, and 1 3/8-inch pins. This will allow you to avoid manually setting up the magazine.

The reload indicator will remind you about the low nail quantity so you can refill the magazine when necessary and avoid dry firing.

Dual trigger mechanism

The dual trigger safety mechanism is some double-edged sword. With such a trigger, you would first need to pull the safety trigger and then the primary trigger to get the tool ready for driving. On the one hand, you won’t fire nails accidentally with such construction. On the other, it needs some getting used to. Besides, forgetting that you are holding the safety pin and firing a nail into the air can pose entirely of a safety issue.

Rear exhaust

The rear exhaust is designed to direct the oil and debris away from the work surface to avoid damaging or dirtying it.

Depth adjustment

The depth adjustment will allow you to achieve flush drives with different pin lengths and materials.

Jam release

The removable design of the nose plate will allow you to eliminate jamming quite quickly, although you will have to use the included wrench to remove the jammed pin.

Size

NP35A measures 12.8 x 11.8 x 4.5 inches. While it is not the most compact tool on our reviews, it certainly is the most lightweight. According to the Amazon product description, it weighs only about 2 pounds!

Accessories & warranty

NP35A comes with a plastic case for transport and storage, two no-mar tips, safety glasses, and a 3mm hex bar wrench. A 5-year warranty covers this tool.

What we liked:

  • Auto-adjusting magazine with reloads indicator.
  • Dual trigger mechanism for safety.
  • The dear exhaust will keep oil and debris away.
  • Depth adjustment.
  • The lightest model reviewed.
  • Won’t leave marks on the material with the no-mar tips.
  • Covered by 5-year warranty.

What we didn’t like:

Doesn’t drive pins longer than 1 inch well. You could try to firmly press the device against the material, but you will get marks even with the no-mar tips.

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2. PORTER-CABLE PIN100 1/2-Inch to 1-Inch 23-Gauge Pin Nailer

PORTER-CABLE PIN100 1/2-Inch to 1-Inch 23-Gauge Pin Nailer

PORTER-CABLE PIN100 is the next pin nailer in our reviews and buying guide of best pin nailer. Regarding driving pins, it is less versatile than NP35A. On the other hand, it doesn’t have issues with firing the supported pin sizes.

PIN100 has some considerable downsides. Firstly, the manufacturer didn’t put a depth adjustment mechanism on this tool. Additionally, it seems that PIN100 doesn’t have rear exhaust mechanism. But maybe, PORTER-CABLE just didn’t bother to put this data in their product description?

Another sad downside is that this model doesn’t come with no-mar tips. So if the integrity of the materials is essential for you, PIN100 is not the best choice.

All in all, PIN100 will be a good pick if you do not need a very versatile tool and do not need depth adjustment that much. Otherwise, you should probably look for something more functional and flexible.

Magazine

PIN100 accepts ½ to 1-inch long pin nails. Not as great of variety, but you can be sure that the tool will reliably drive any nail that the magazine can take. By the way, the magazine holds up to 170 pin nails!

PIN100 has a low nail indicator as well to remind you about reloading the magazine.

Dual trigger mechanism

The dual trigger feature has also made its way onto PIN100. It is no different than with NP35A, so you already know what’s right and bad about it.

Jam release

Again, you would have to remove the nosepiece to unjam the tool. Sadly, the tool doesn’t come with a wrench.

Size

As it seems from the product description, PIN100 is more compact than NP35A but weighs more. PIN100 measures 10.4 x 2.9 x 12.9 inches and weighs 4.2 pounds.

Accessories & warranty

PIN100 comes with a carry case, oil, and a set of pins. Would be great if PORTER-CABLE also puts some no-mar tips! As for the warranty, this model is backed up by a 1-year warranty, which is much shorter than with other models.

What we liked:

  • Auto-adjusting magazine.
  • 170 pin capacity.
  • Reliably drives every supported pin size.
  • Has dual trigger safety mechanism.
  • Is backed up by 1-year limited warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • No rear exhaust and drive depth adjustment.
  • Does not come with no-mar tips. Not a good choice if you need to keep the integrity of the workpiece.
  • Only supports ½ to 1-inch pin nails.
  • The warranty is shorter than with other reviewed models.
  • Not shipped internationally.
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3. BOSTITCH HP118K 23-Gauge 1/2-Inch to 1-3/16-Inch Pin Nailer

BOSTITCH HP118K 23-Gauge 1/2-Inch to 1-3/16-Inch Pin Nailer

Unlike previous models, BOSTITCH HP118K is more about longer pin nails. It is both quite reliable and functional, so it would be a much better choice if you want to buy a versatile and durable tool. Although it has a couple of downsides like no no-mar tips in the kit, we think that HP118K is overall better than the previous two reviewed models.

Magazine

The magazine capacity of HP118K is quite impressive – it holds up to 200 pin nails! As for the automatic adjustability of the magazine, it is not mentioned in the product features, so we can’t say for sure if it is there.

HP118K accepts ½ to 1 3/16-inch 23-gauge pins. The magazine also has no reloaded indicator.

Dual trigger mechanism

The dual trigger safety mechanism is quite common with pin nailers, so it is no surprise that HP118K has it.

Rear exhaust

Fortunately, HP118K has a rear exhaust to keep oil and debris away from the workpiece. But unfortunately, you won’t be able to retain complete cleanness of the materials as this tool doesn’t have no-mar tips.

Depth adjustment

BOSTITCH states that HP118K has an adjustable power switch for depth control. It is somewhat unclear whether the same switch controls both or not. Maybe that’s some marketing trick to make HP118K seem different. Nonetheless, this tool has pin drive depth adjustment.

Jam release

The jam release mechanism is the same as with the previous models. Too bad that HP118K doesn’t come with a wrench to help you with removing the nosepiece a little bit.

According to some user reviews, this tool is exceptionally prone to jamming, although it seems that those are some individual cases rather than a product defect.

Size

Regarding dimensions, HP118K is neither too big nor compact. It measures 11 x 12 x 3 inches and weighs 4.6 pounds.

Accessories & warranty

The accessory kit of HP118K is quite lovely. It includes the tool itself, ¼-inch air fitting, ½, ¾, and 1-inch pins (500 each), tool lubricant, and carry case.

The warranty on this tool is 7-year!

 

What we liked:

  • The magazine accepts up to 200 pins.
  • Has rear exhaust and depth adjustment.
  • Dual trigger mechanism for more safety.
  • Moderately sized.
  • Comes with quite a rich accessory kit.
  • Backed up by a 7-year warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • Comes with no no-mar tips.
  • Some complaints on frequent jamming.
  • Unclear whether the magazine is auto adjustable or not.
  • Not shipped internationally.
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4. PORTER-CABLE PIN138 23-Gauge 1-3/8-Inch Pin Nailer

PORTER-CABLE PIN138 23-Gauge 1-3/8-Inch Pin Nailer

Regarding pin length, PIN138 is as versatile as Hitachi NP35A, but unlike the latter, it has no problems with driving pins. PORTER-CABLE has done a pretty good job in designing one of the best pin nailers in its price range. It is excellent for an extensive range pin nailer tasks and doesn’t have any significant downsides. Sure, it won’t drive pins as well as high-end models, but it does a pretty good job for its price tag.

Magazine

PIN138’s magazine holds up to 130 pin nails, which is quite low compared to other models we reviewed. If you are working on larger projects, you may need to reload more frequently compared to more capacious models. This tool accepts 5/8 to 1 3/8-inch pin nails. The magazine automatically adjusts for different pin sizes.Lastly, the magazine has a load indicator, which will alert you when the tool begins to run out of nails.

Dual trigger mechanism

Yes, the dual trigger mechanism is still here with all its upsides as well as inconveniences.

Rear exhaust

PIN138 has a rear exhaust mechanism to drive oil and debris away from the material you are working on.

Depth adjustment

This pin nailer boasts quite convenient depth controls, which will allow you to drive nails of varying length into different materials precisely.

Jam release

The jam release mechanism is still the same – you have to remove the nosepiece. Fortunately, PIN138 comes with a wrench to help you with it.

Size

PIN138 is the most compact pin nailer we reviewed today! It is quite lightweight as well, although not as light as Hitachi NP35A. PIN138 measures 9.5 x 2 x 7.5 inches and weighs 3 pounds.

Accessories & warranty

Apart from the pin nailer itself, PIN138’s kit includes 2000 ¾-inch pin nails, ¼-inch plug with cap, a wrench, no-mar tip, and carrying case.

This model is also backed up by a 3-year warranty.

 

What we liked:

  • High versatility for a reasonable price.
  • The magazine has auto adjustability and load indicator.
  • Dual trigger mechanism.
  • Features a removable no-mar tip.
  • Has rear exhaust and depth adjustment.
  • The most compact pin nailer reviewed today!
  • Covered by 3-year limited warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • Would be great if PORTER-CABLE put some other pins besides ¾-inch.
  • Not shipped internationally.
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5. Grex P635 23 Gauge 1-3/8-Inch Length Headless Pinner

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

And the last tool on our reviews of best pin nailer of 2018 is P635 by Grex. This is without a doubt one of the most high-performance pneumatic pin nailers you could get. It pierces the hardest materials a pin nailer could deal with, even hardwoods. It accepts a massive variety of pins. And it is reliable. But unfortunately, it doesn’t have pin depth adjustment, which means that you would have to rely on the right pin length choice.

Overall, P635 would perfect for those who are not going to save on an air pin nailer and want to get a durable and powerful tool.

Magazine

Compared to other pin nailers reviewed, the magazine capacity of only 100 pins is quite ridiculous. You will have to reload P635 much more frequently.

The magazine of P635 accepts 3/8 to 1 3/8-inch pin nails. The auto-adjusting magazine construction will free you from the need to regulate the fastener for each pin length. The magazine also has a reload indicator.

Dual trigger mechanism

The triggers are positioned close to each other, which, on the one hand, will require you to stretch out your fingers less, and on the other, may make distinguishing between the safety and main trigger a little bit more difficult.

Rear exhaust

The rear exhaust of P635 is remarkable for its built-in silencer, which reduces the noise level of the tool when removing oil and debris.

Jam release

The jam release mechanism is similar to the ones of all the pin nailers we already reviewed. You just need to remove the nosepiece with the provided hex wrench.

Size

P635 is not exactly compact. But it is lightweight for sure! Although the manufacturer could have been more clear on the weight in the product description – it says that P635 weighs 2.21 pounds while the tech specs show 3.9 pounds. Either way, P635 is quite lightweight. This tool measures 11.2 x 12.9 x 3 inches.

Accessories

P635 comes with a no-mar tip, a 1 3/8-inch headless pinner, carry case, a bottle of tool lubricant, and set of hex keys.

The warranty on this model is just 1-year.

 

What we liked:

  • The most versatile and powerful model on the list.
  • Comes with a no-mar tip.
  • Supports a wide range of nail lengths.
  • Magazine with reload indicator and auto adjustment.
  • Closely put triggers are quite convenient.
  • Has silenced rear exhaust.
  • Rather lightweight.
  • 1-year warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • Short warranty.
  • No depth adjustment.
  • May be difficult to distinguish between the triggers.
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Types of pin nailers

There are two types of pin nailers – pneumatic and electric. With the latter, the majority of the tools you can find are cordless and operate on a battery. In this regard, pin nailers are identical to brad and finish nailers, which can also be either air- or battery-powered.

Each type has its specifications as well as upsides and downsides. Let’s now examine them one by one.

Pneumatic (air-powered)

Pneumatic pin nailers operate on compressed air, which is delivered by an air compressor. This means two things – firstly, your compressor needs to provide the tool with enough pressure and capacity; secondly, you need to have an air compressor in the first place.

A good thing about air tools is that the runtime will depend on the air compressor, so you could pretty much get the pin nailer working for as long as you need it to.

Air tools are cheaper but cost much more in the long run because they require more maintenance, which may be more related to the compressor and not the tool. Knowing that you would need to take care of not only the tool itself but the air compressor as well is quite crucial in determining your budget.

Besides, if your air compressor operates on electricity, you won’t be able to work on job sites with no power.

Let’s now see what the pros and cons of air pin nailers are:

What we liked:

  • Cheaper.
  • More compact.
  • The specs of your air compressor dictate the tool’s runtime.
  • Will be a good choice if you already have a compressor.

What we didn’t like:

  • Cost quite a bit in the long run.
  • Less powerful than electric analogs.
  • Less mobile. Won’t work without power (if the compressor is electric).
  • All the reviewed tools are pneumatic.

 

Electric

Electric cordless pin nailers operate on batteries. It means that as long as you have battery charge, you will be able to work anywhere you need.

Electric pin nailers are more powerful and thus less compact. They have higher price tags, which are compensated by the less need of maintenance in the long run.

There is one downside regarding the batteries. Though there are quite a lot of models with Li-Ion batteries, some tools feature NiCad batteries, which lose capacity due to the memory effect if not drained and then fully recharged regularly.

What we liked:

  • More powerful.
  • Mobile. Can be used anywhere in the battery has charge left.
  • Less costly in the long run.

What we didn’t like:

  • Bulkier.
  • Cost more.

 

How to choose the best affordable pin nailer

Your Pin Nailer Buying Guide

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Now rises the next question – how do you know which model is the best quality pin nailer?

To answer this question, you will need to know three things – your needs, budget, and the features of pin nailers you need. While the first two are upon you, we can help with the features by examining what’s important and what you should look for.

Power source

We have already researched and examined the differences between the two main types of pin nailers. If you need a portable, powerful tool, and you don’t care about its compactness or the price tag, an electric cordless pin nailer would be an ideal choice. Otherwise, if your requirements are the other way around, e.g., you need a cheaper and more compact instrument and want to get or already have an air compressor, go for a pneumatic pin nailer. Just don’t forget about the higher maintenance costs!

Swiveling tube

With air-powered pin nailers, the necessity of connecting the tool to the air compressor can become inconvenient during work. The hose can get under your feet and tangle. A swivel tube will provide you with additional comfort and will allow you to move more freely on the work site.

Nail Sizes

While some pin nailers accept 5/8 to 1 3/8-inch pin nails, others work with 1/2 to 1 3/16-inch nails. Thereby, you will need to find out which size of nails you need your pin nailer to support. This will be critical in two cases – you either want to use specific sizes of nails on your workpiece or already have pin nails from an older device (or maybe they are just lying around) and want to use them. So make sure that the pin nail sizes supported by the tool are the ones you need.

Depth adjustment

Adjustable nail drive will allow you to gain control on how thick you drive the pin nails. This will surely depend on the thickness of the material you are working on as well your goals. Additionally, you would probably need to adjust the depth if you switch to longer or shorter nails, even if the material and your task remain the same.

Magazine capacity

This may or may not be vital for you. If you are specifically looking for a tool requiring less frequent reloading, a tool with a large magazine would be perfect.

Benefits of the pin nailer

As rather specific tools, pin nailers have both advantages and disadvantages. While pin nailers probably won’t be able to hold the majority of materials in place and will struggle with piercing stronger pieces, they have some undeniable benefits that can turn out to be the ones you need.

Works with the most delicate materials

Thanks to their thinness, 23-gauge nails can be driven into the most sensitive materials without even slightly damaging them. Where the thick 18- or 16-gauge nails would merely utterly destroy your workpiece, a pin nailer would shine and show what it has indeed got.

Almost invisible holes

23-gauge pin nails are so thin that they leave little to no holes in the material. Plus, those nails mostly have no nail heads, which additionally enforces the hole-less effect of 23-gauge nails.

No need to putty the nail holes

This benefit is directly related to the size and the head-less design of pin nails. Compared to finish nails, which often leave awful holes in the material, and brads, which are an entirely bit better in that matter, pin nails mostly won’t require you to putty the nail hole. This will be great if you want to save your time and materials. Additionally, if you are after the looks of the material, the tidier appearance of the pin nail holes will surely help you.

Can be used to fix a workpiece temporarily

While pin nails probably won’t work as permanent fixers even with light materials, they could do a pretty good job of holding two pieces of equipment in place while the glue between them dries out. Just drive the nails as thick as necessary for you to be able to remove them then quickly and without damaging the material and wait until the glue dries!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

So is there a point in getting a pin nailer?

If you have a piece of material that you know will break down if you try to use even a brad nailer, you should get a pin nailer. Having it would be a much better option than trying to accurately pierce a workpiece without damaging it with a more prominent tool, which poses higher risks of fracturing the material. All in all, if you know that you need the features of pin nailers, you should buy one.

Do pin nailers have multiple trigger options like a bump or sequential?

No, pin nailers mostly do not have those features.

What’s the difference between pin nailers and brad/finish nailers?

Brad and finish nailers are more alike than pin nailers and brad/finish instruments. Pin nailers typically do not have multiple trigger modes, unlike Brad and finish nailers. Another noteworthy difference is that pin nailers have higher magazine capacity, which is the result of the less thick nails. Not to mention more than 23-gauge nails.

As for other features, they will depend on the specific models and will differ from one unit to another.

Can a brad nailer replace a pin nailer?

Not if the material is so delicate that even 18-gauge brads damage it. Apart from the damage, brads have nail heads while pin nails do not, which means that you won’t be able to replicate the functions of a pin nailer fully.

Click here to read our Best Framing Nailers Review?

Read our Best Brad Nailer Review.

In Conclusion

Pin nailers designed for quite particular purposes, yet it doesn’t mean that they cannot be useful for you. Although some operators have not discovered a use for the features of pin nailers, it doesn’t say that you will not. If you wanna work with the most sensitive materials, a good pin nailer will be irreplaceable.

If you are looking for the best affordable pin nailer, you should have all the data you need to make the right decision after you are done reading this material. We have presented you with the purpose and the benefits of pin nailers. You already know what features are essential and what you need to consider. Besides, you have seen five great tools, which should at least give you some perspective of what you can find out there.

If you have found the best pin nailer, do not hesitate and get it! Otherwise, if you haven’t discovered the perfect tool, you will have to continue to look further. Just remember the points you need to account for, and you will surely find what you are looking for!

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