Pneumatic vs Cordless Nailer: Differences Between Pneumatic and Battery Powered Nail Guns

There are various types of nail guns in terms of application. However, when it comes to power sources, there are precisely three types; Pneumatic, Electric, and Battery powered.

Fundamentally, the power sources of cordless nailers are pneumatic and battery (as electric nailers require a cord to be attached to them).

When considering various factors before buying a nail gun, power sources are usually the least paid attention to. Although an inappropriate tradition, this is generally because people lack awareness about the differences between pneumatic and battery-powered nail guns and how each is suitable for a separate set of tasks.

What is a Pneumatic Nailer?

The word ‘Pneumatic’ itself is suggestive of how this nailer functions – it uses pressurized air or fuel to generate power. It is driven by electromagnetism – seems too intimidating, right? Let’s simplify it. 

A Pneumatic nailer essentially contains an air compressor, air reservoir, and a piston. All of these three parts work together to generate the hammering force to drive nails.

The air compressor contains compressed air or fuel. This means that it has the responsibility to supply compressed air. It draws air in from the atmosphere and pushes it out to the gun.

The air reservoir acts as the delivery man. It usually is in the form of a hose that takes the compressor’s air and delivers it into a holding space.

Finally, the piston is the driver. This means that when the trigger is pulled, the air compressor is activated, and it takes air from the compressor. When the trigger is released, it pushes out the air, which acts as the force driving the nail.

What is a Battery Powered Nailer?

These are nail guns that take their power from rechargeable batteries. Although this is the simplest model and is perfect for most DIYers, the hammering force generated isn’t usually that strong, making it less of an attraction for a professional’s arsenal. 

Battery nail guns do not need any compressor or cartridge to generate driving force. Since they work on electric models, they have an electric motor that works more like a flywheel. This means that the motor rotates to generate power. 

The rotating motion of the motor creates the mechanical force to drive the nail. When you pull the trigger, the motor begins to spin and continues to do so until the trigger is released.

Key Differences Between Pneumatic and Battery Powered Nail Guns

Power SourceCompressed AirBattery
Corded or Cordless?Comes in both corded and cordless variantsCordless
ForceStrongComparatively less force
PerformanceFaster Slower
UsersProfessionals and DIYersMostly DIYers
DurabilityDesigned for long hours of work The battery needs to be recharged; hence, not suitable for longer hours 
Weight (cordless variants)Bulkier with the compressorLighter
MaintenanceDifficult and expensive to maintain (requires compressors and cartridges)Easy to maintain (requires mainly the battery to be replaced)

Pros and Cons of Pneumatic Nailers


  • It has superior power and force that drives nails into thick or tough pieces of wood.
  • The faster fire rate helps drive a lot of nails in a short amount of time.
  • Best choice for professional users who intend to use the nailer consistently and for longer hours.
  • Owing to its robust build, a pneumatic nailer is the best choice for tasks that require power, such as framing.
  • It has a pronounced reputation of giving zero ramp-up time, i.e., it fires as soon as the trigger is released.


  • Heavier in weight owing to the bulkier compressor.
  • When the nailer stops, it’s hard to identify the cause, which is a time-consuming task.
  • The maintenance of a pneumatic framing nailer would usually mean the replacement of the compressor, which is quite an expense to incur.

Also Read: Siding Nailer vs Roofing Nailer

Pros and Cons of Battery Powered Nailers 


  • Lightweight and convenient to use.
  • Quickly replaceable battery with minimal off-time to give you consistency in work.
  • Easy maintenance with the parts being relatively inexpensive.
  • Although not as potent and fast as its pneumatic counterparts, still being sturdy enough to drive nails through robust materials with the utmost ease.
  • A great choice for DIYers that require a quick fix.


  • Cannot be used for long hours and cannot exert excessive power.
  • The battery needs frequent recharging and replacement. Usually, per charge, the battery gives 400-500 nails. If there is no spare battery in hand, you’ll have to wait until the battery recharges, which usually takes quite a few hours.
  • Professional users who intend to make extensive and prolonged use of the nailer may find the battery-powered nailers inconvenient.

Also Read: Angled vs Straight Finish Nailer

Which One Should You Buy?

There is no right choice between pneumatic and battery-powered nailers. It depends upon your intended use and preference.

If you are looking for a lightweight and affordable nailer which will majorly be used for DIY projects, a battery-powered nailer must be the one!

On the other hand, if you wish to have a sturdy construct, more potent and persistent nailer, then undoubtedly pneumatic nailers are the best.

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