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Selecting the Right Nail Gun for Fencing Projects: A Complete Overview

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If you’re in the process of collecting information on how to build your own fence, you might wonder if using a nail gun is worth the extra cost rather than a simple hammer.

I wholeheartedly say yes to using a nail gun rather than a hammer.

A nail gun will make your fencing project go by much easier and way faster than if you try to hammer each nail for fence picket boards. It may even save several bruised and battered hands by not hammering them by mistake.

Your next question should be which nail gun do I need for my fencing project? Below is a quick answer, while we elaborate on each choice in detail further in the article.

Table of Contents

Quick Take Away

Choosing between a “stick style” framing nail gun or a “coil” framing nail gun for your fence project will come down to your tool budget and how fast you need to put up your new fence. A “stick” framing gun is cheaper, while the “coil” framing gun holds 4x the amount of nails for less reloads.

The nail gun type we feature will be for installing fence boards, slats or pickets to the fence rail.

We advocate using screws or metal fence rail hangers for attaching fencing rails to posts, rather than nails.

Depending on the size of your fence, you could be looking at installing several hundred or several thousand fence boards. A nail gun will make it go by very quickly.

Nail Gun Types

There are many different types of nail guns on the market and to a DIY newbie, it can be very confusing on how to choose a nail gun. Many are used for interior projects such as 16 gauge finish nailers or 18 gauge brad nailers. Nail guns used for outside projects will include framing nailers, roof nailers, siding nailers and even palm nailers.

You want to use a framing nail gun for your fence project with ring-shank nails. Ring shank nails have small rings on their body or “shank” which have more holding power than a smooth shank nail.

As the wood fence boards expand and contract, a smooth shank nail will come loose compared to a ring-shank nail. The framing nail gun will also be versatile to use in different projects, such as framing a lean-to shed or framing a deck. The list is endless.

Now the question is which type of framing nail gun should I choose. There are strip and coil collated framing nail guns.

Stick vs Coil is referencing the way the nails are stored or collated in the gun. Sticks have nails that are collated vertically while coil nail guns are stored in a circular or “coil” shape.

Stick Framing Nail Gun

Stick or Strip framing nail guns shoot nails ranging from 2 inches up to 3.5 inches long. Most common stick nailers are classified as either 21 degree or 30 degrees. This is the degree that the nails are collated together, not the degree to which the nail gun shoots the nails.

I always use a 21 degree nail gun because it uses full head nails where as the 30 degree nail gun only uses clipped nail heads.

For holding strength and many local building codes, the full head nails are required rather than the clipped nail heads.

For building a fence or any exterior project, you will always want to use exterior hot dipped galvanized or stainless steel nails as they are exterior rated meaning they won’t rust as fast as other metal nails.

The downside of using the 21 degree is it holds approximately 70 nails at a time, which will required a lot of reloading when installing fence pickets. Also, be sure to use eye protection since the 21 degree framing nail guns uses plastic collated nails and bits of plastic will become projectiles when the nails are shot.

Metabo HPT Framing Nailer, The Pro Preferred Brand...
1,978 Reviews
Metabo HPT Framing Nailer, The Pro Preferred Brand...
  • NAILER: 21 degree plastic collated framing nailer
  • APPLICATIONS: Great for flooring and framing, truss build-up, window build-up, sub flooring, roof decking, wall sheathing and housing construction
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: At only 7. 5 lbs and well-balanced allowing for ease of maneuverability and less user fatigue

Coil Framing Nail Gun

Coil framing nail guns are very similar to their strip framing counterparts with the biggest difference being they hold 3-4 times the number of nails. There are several different types of coil nail guns, with roofing and siding being two of the most popular, but I’m specifically just talking about coil framing nail guns which use bigger nails than the roofing and siding specific coil nailers.

The biggest downside to the coil framing nailer is the cost. You will pay 2-3 times more than a strip nail gun for the advantage of having more nail storage. The other con is that it weighs more than the strip nailer, largely because of the increased nail storage.

Metabo HPT Coil Framing Nailer | Pro Preferred...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: Only 8.8 lbs (or 9.1 lbs if the rafter hook is installed) lightweight and well balanced for easy maneuverability
  • POWER AND SPEED: Cylinder valve drive mechanism provides quick response and rapid, powerful driving
  • AWARD: Rated the Pro Preferred Nailer for 9 years running (2014 - 2022) by Builder and Developer Magazine

Which Should I Use?

The Coil Nailer will help you get through your fencing project faster but it will cost 2-3 times the amount of a strip framing nailer. If time is a bigger motivation than money, then the coil framing nail gun will be the best choice.

But, if your tool budget is tight, then the strip framing nailer will be your best choice. In my case, I choose to buy a stick nail gun because I could also get a compressor and heavy duty air hose for the same costs as just a coil framing gun.

Either framing nail gun will do a good job and if you’re curious which brands are good choices, stick with brands that have been around a long time. Bostitch, Metabo (formerly Hitachi) and DeWalt all make good nail guns.

The Metabo nail guns are consistently ranked high on any best of lists and I personally have used the same strip framing nailer for over 10 years without issue. I went with the strip nailer for the low price, but either would be a good choice.

The key to long life with nail guns is to oil it with every use!

stick framing nail gun

Below I list two popular Metabo framing nailers and compare the features between the strip collated and coil collated.

product imageproduct image
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Model NumberNR90AES1MNV83A5M
Housing MaterialAluminumPlastic
Maximum Nail Length (Inches)3.53.25
Minimum Nail Length (Inches)22
Maximum Nail Diameter0.148-in0.131-in
Fastener HeadRound headRound Head
Depth ControlTool freeTool Free
Weight (lbs.)7.59.1
Minimum PSI7070
Maximum PSI120120
Inlet Size in Inches3/8-in1/4-in
Collation MaterialPlasticWire
Magazine Capacity70300


Regardless of which nail gun you choose, I’m sure your fence project will be successful. Check out some of our other fence articles if you have further questions.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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