16 Vs 18 Gauge Nailer | Which One Should You Choose?

Are you in the market for getting yourself a nail gun but got confused thinking of which gauge to choose? The decision of choosing between 16 vs 18 gauge nail guns almost confuses all sorts of buyers. No matter if you’re a regular user or a DIY enthusiast. Both the nail guns have their own specifications, working area and separate perks and benefits. 

However, in this article, I will dive deep into the core and answer all your questions regarding the following topic. By the end of this piece, you won’t suffer from lack of knowledge. And your purchase will be one hundred percent smart and efficient. 

Fasten your seatbelt and dive deep into it, mate. What do you say?

16- Gauge Nailer 

Amongst all sorts of nailers, the following one is very delusional and provides the user with an utter peace of mind. The benefits this nailer holds are many. In the first place, a 16-gauge nailer operates with a 16-gauge nail which is certainly way stronger than 18-gauge nails. From holding power to head shape, everything is superior in terms of a 16-gauge nailer. 

The power delivered here is typically conducted by air or electricity. On the flip, in 18-gauge nailers, power is delivered via battery. However, the power delivery system mostly depends on the performance and user intent. One may find it convenient in batteries. Other users may find air power driven nailers useful. It’s relative.

No matter what, if you ignore the two considerations that have already been mentioned, a 16-gauge nailer comes with many more perks and benefits. For example, you can adjust the depth very easily here. The magazines for these nailers are way bigger than you find in 18-gauge ones. 

To be very honest, I found 16-gauge nailers extremely useful over the 18-gauge ones. Yes, you can obviously keep both these for omitting separate tasks. For light-duty woodworking, you won’t be able to find any better alternatives than a 18-gauge nailer. This can not be done by a 16-gauge. I hope you get my point. 

Another perk of using a 16-gauge nailer is, it’s very friendly and safe for newbies. No matter if you’re just starting out or a profession, this very type will get you covered. These consist of built-in safety mechanisms that prevent accidental firing in times of operation and ensure proper user safety. Implies, it’s user-friendly. 

Most of the newly built 16-gauge nailers are very ergonomic in design. The designers may have thought about the portability and ease of user while designing the products. Despite having a large magazine and a pile of features inside, the outer shell looks pretty minimal. This is fascinating. Both the 16 and 18-gauge nailer these days have been designing thinking of maximum space utilization. Impressive! 

Last but not least- more or less, all the 16-gauge nailer comes with a guarantee or warranty facility to provide the buyer with a peace of mind. This conformance makes the buyer more confident while purchasing. Many of the manufacturers also provide replacement guarantees. As in, if the product has any defects, you can claim a replacement and they will do it on their own. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

18- Gauge Nailer 

An 18-gauge nailer imparts totally the opposite view of a 16-gauge nailer. No, that really doesn’t mean that an 18-gauge nailer is bad, not at all. To some extent, it’s better than the 16-gauge one. In this segment, we will be hairsplitting all the features of an 18-gauge nailer and will draw a conclusion at the end. Here you go: 

In terms of working on soft and delicate objects, you certainly can’t operate with a 16-gauge nailer. As it’s much stronger and its holding power is more, the nailer may ruin the workpiece and will end up making an utter mess. To get rid of it, you must have to use an 18-gauge nailer. 

As you already know that a 16-gauge nailer consists of a large number of features in it. However, for all these features, the nailer becomes more bulky than usual. This bulkiness is typically responsible for the inconvenience. On the other hand, An 18-gauge nailer weighs less, and is not bulky at all. Implies, you can take the nailer anywhere you want. It always imparts a great portability. 

And yes, the most important thing is, an 18-gauge nailer is not at all expensive. By spending around $100, you can get yourself a brand new 18-gauge nailer. But the price will be cloud-kissing for a 16-gauge nail gun. That pretty much sums it up, I guess.

A Brief Comparison of 16-Gauge and 18-Gauge Nailers 

Alright, I think I could make you concerned enough about both the types of nailers, and now you know their perks clearly. However, as you’re on the buyers’ end and will be purchasing the product in the first place, I would like to render you some of the very basic differences between these types of nailers. By going through the portion illustrated below, your idea on these nailers will be much more superior than ever before. 

To start the rant, first of all, there’s this term called “nail size.” A 16-gauge nailer can drive nails thicker than 1.6mm. Point to be noted, this size is way thicker than the nail size that an 18-gauge nailer can handle. If you’re up for getting yourself a nailer, make sure to choose the right nail size. Otherwise, in times of operation, this may turn into a huge dilemma for you. 

Next up, there’s another factor which is nail head size. Basically, it’s the top view of the nail part that you see after placing the nail in a vertical position. A larger head size imparts a better handle on the nail. Here, the 16-gauge nailer holds a larger head, and the 18-gauge comes with a smaller nail. But if you know how to operate a nailer correctly, this factor won’t bother you anymore. 

Before adding the nailer to your bucket list, make sure to know about its application. Otherwise, your pain will know no bounds. For example, a 16-gauge nailer could have been used for heavy-duty woodworking, baseboards, and for crown molding. On the flip, a 18-gauge nailer is useful for light-duty woodworking, trim work, and paneling. You may see the differences now, don’t you? Though, it includes many of the works at random. I just mentioned some of the best ones. 

Holding the power of the nails is yet another important thing to look after. If your purchased nail is rusty and corroded, you will no longer use it for good. Even the durability here matters a world. So, to make your work efficient, selecting a durable nail is a must. Otherwise, nothing would work as you planned. Less durability of nails causes low holding power. And it ultimately ends up making your work less efficient and causes you some extra effort. 

Last but not least, in many reviews, they often ignore talking about this. But in reality, this is the most important parameter of all. That is the price. Yes! A 16-gauge nailer is very expensive. If you’re willing to buy nailers for industrial uses, having one of these may be worth all your bucks. But for DIY or home-using purposes, nothing could be replaced by an 18-gauge nailer. Based on the price, I can put an annotation on it. Makes sense now, I guess.

However, we are at the very last of this segment. In the table illustrated below, a brief comparison has been referred to for your further convenience. If you don’t have time to read all our rants, just roll your eyes at this table. You will get the ideas. 

Feature16-Gauge Nailer18-Gauge Nailer
Nail Size1 1/4″ to 2 1/2″5/8″ to 2 1/8″
Nail Head SizeLargerSmaller
Nail Holding CapacityFewer nails per magazineMore nails per magazine
Nail Shank DiameterThickerThinner
Holding PowerStrongerWeaker
ApplicationHeavy-duty woodworking, baseboards, crown moldingLight-duty woodworking, trim work, paneling
PriceMore expensiveLess expensive

5 Things to Look While Selecting Between 16- Gauge and 18- Gauge Nailer 

We have come to a very significant portion of our piece. Till now, I tried to illustrate the main differences between a 16 and 18-gauge nailer and also, their characteristics at random. However, you may have been wondering whether to purchase a nail gun between these two. Here’s some consideration you may look after while buying: 

Type of Project 

Type of project is the most prior thing that should be in your consideration. If the workpiece requires a strong hold, you will need to introduce a 16-gauge nailer in that case. To insert nails on furniture and house construction, a 16-gauge nailer works well. 

However, in terms of objects that require delicate touch and pseudo handling, there’s no usefulness of a 16-gauge nailer. Instead, make yourself go with an 18-gauge nailer. It will make your operation smooth like a knife in butter. 

Wood Thickness 

The thickness of wood is yet another thing to look at while choosing between a 16-gauge nailer and 18-gauge nailer. Typically, woods that are thick and dense require a much stronger nail gun that has better hold. You may assume now. Yes, for denser wood, using a 16-gauge nailer is the smartest option of all. 

On the flip, for thinner and softer woods, you can use an 18-gauge nailer. The fact is, you must have to check the wood thickness before starting the insertion of nails. Because, if you apply the wrong nailer to the wrong wood, the wood may crack or get wrecked unexpectedly. Who wants that, huh?

Nail Capacity 

If you’re getting confused about the size of nails you should penetrate within the workpiece, you must consider this following term. Which is “nail capacity”. Apparently, the size of nail a nailer can insert is called the nail capacity. From the very beginning, we have been seeing a 16-gauge nailer doing better than an 18-gauge.

From that annotation, you can always drive larger and longer nails with a 16-gauge nailer. Well, an 18-gauge nailer can also drive bigger nails. But not as big as a 16-gauge can. If you want to drive short nails, you should go for selecting a 18-gauge nail. Because, it would be way more cost efficient. Go for the 16-gauge if you want to work on stiff woods and like to insert long nails into the woods. 


Here comes the main thing to keep strongly in mind. That is nothing but the budget. From the beginning, the 16-gauge nailer was one step ahead of the 18-gauge nailer. How much will their price be? Will they differentiate much? What do you think? 

Well, in terms of buying a 16-gauge nail gun, you have to invest more bucks than usual. As it consists of several features, perks and benefits, the budget is a bit high. Which is pretty normal. You will get what you pay for. 

On the other hand, the price of an 18-gauge nailer is not that much. By spending somewhat between $50 to $200, you will be lucky enough to get yourself a good grade 18-gauge nail gun. But no matter what, always look at the price tag before you put the product in your cart. It matters. 

Skill Level 

If you’re a novice nail gun user, you should start your journey by operating with a 18-gauge nailer. However, if you’re using the nailer for industrial purposes, or you know the tactics already, I would suggest you go for the 16-gauge one. 

Skill level matters a lot. If you don’t make yourself control the nailer, then there’s no actual meaning of using that nailer. As a matter of fact, if you use the wrong nailer, you may get injured. For omitting all these very inconveniences, safety precautions should have been measured. 


We are at the end of this article. Till now, I have tried to direct you with the benefits and features of 16 vs 18 gauge nail guns and also illustrated a brief comparison between these two guns. There is a portion as well for the buyers who have been thinking of purchasing a nail gun. I think I could get you covered. 

If you think you have missed anything or any of the parts, just go and read the para again. Your concept will be cleared. And yes, share this directory with your friends and mates. 


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