15g vs 16g finish nailer. Why both?

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Forum topic by Eric posted 08-14-2011 10:07 PM 28968 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Eric's profile


221 posts in 2441 days

08-14-2011 10:07 PM

What is the different between a 15g and a 16 finish nailer? Obviously the thickness and strength of the nail and, yes, the 16 leaves a rectangle head and the 15 leaves a round head showing, but other than that why have both? Don’t they both pretty much serve the same function? Am I missing something here?

-- Eric

12 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10081 posts in 3578 days

#1 posted 08-14-2011 10:40 PM

15 ga collated nails are widely available at a steeper angle; gets into tighter spots.

View Eric's profile


221 posts in 2441 days

#2 posted 08-14-2011 11:56 PM

so why have a 16g?

-- Eric

View syenefarmer's profile


485 posts in 3010 days

#3 posted 08-15-2011 01:27 AM

Myself, I own a 15, 18 and 23 gauge nailers but not a 16 gauge. I think its more a matter of usage than anything else. To me a 15 gauge nailer isn’t really a woodworking tool but more of a carpentry tool. A 16 gauge nailer on the other hand is more times than not overkill for a job that an 18 gauge nailer could easily do. Of couse, as with most anything in life, YMMV.

View Loren's profile


10081 posts in 3578 days

#4 posted 08-15-2011 01:34 AM

Dunno. I never owned one. I own a couple of 15 ga nailers though. That
way they take the same nails.

In some situations the bigger head of the 15 ga nails holds work better
in the more carpentry oriented situations like forcing a moulding into
a curve to follow a wall.

The 15 Ga. nailers have a bigger air piston too, and pack a pretty good wallop.
They are heavier though. Different brands balance power with weight
differently. The Hitachi is nice and easy to handle (my favorite so far)
but it is not as powerful as my Senco 35.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2614 days

#5 posted 08-16-2011 12:43 AM

a year ago I was asking the same question…ended up buying both on Ebay (16g brand new in box), 15g sold as used but you wouldn’t know it.

At the time I listened to people that said 15g was the “pro”. After a year of finishing out a new home, I find that 16g is more than adequate for trim work and the big gun rarely makes an appearance…it is BIG and has a lot of power that scares me at times, especially around windows. We are finishing the house ourselves which usually means I hold/align, the Mrs. nails…she hates the big gun…hard for her to keep the nose to the trim and repeats are frequent.

btw…IMHO 18g is too light for final work but we use it to hold pieces until we are happy (they are much more adaptive to a “tap” here or there), then we drive in the bigger nails.

View Eric's profile


221 posts in 2441 days

#6 posted 08-16-2011 01:11 AM

Thanks everyone. I have a 16g. I was trying to decide if I wanted/needed a 15g as well. It ended up I couldn’t resist eBay. Bought a Bostitch 15g angled and a newer Bostitch 18g brad nailer ($20) too. This brad nailer will shoot the 2” PC brads I bought at a garage sale this summer.

How bout that! You buy the nailer to match the nails you already have…isn’t that backwards? ha.

teejk, I’ve tried my older 18g brad nailer for finish work and i agree: not a good choice.

loren, I like your observation about the 15 having a bigger wallop. I suppose that a 15 would be able to deal with harder woods with ease.

-- Eric

View xraydav's profile


217 posts in 1900 days

#7 posted 10-10-2016 12:43 AM

In the mood to chime in. I just had a big home improvement job and needed a nailer. I wanted something that could handle a 2×4 and replacing baseboard moldings. I was going to go Paslode but by the time I bought the gun and the lubricant and the fuel cartridges and the nails and the battery and the charger.. I was looking at 700 bucks. I have some 18v Ryobi tools.. so I decided to spend 199 on their 15g angled nailer which handles up to 3” nails. It rocks!
No hoses, no fuel, not much noise, and it will bury the head of a 3” 15g nail through hardwood board into studs all day long. Good tool and not just for the price.

-- David, Norwood Mass,

View bigblockyeti's profile


5051 posts in 1650 days

#8 posted 10-10-2016 02:20 AM

I personally wouldn’t hang crown moulding with a 16ga nail as the head is too slight and diameter of the nail shank is inadequate for something that will have gravity working against it for the next 50+ years. The angle at which a 15ga nails are glued allows getting into corners (specifically when working overhead) much easier. Smallish baseboard I would use 16ga nails for as the stress placed on them is lower. Another consideration is that 16ga nails are actually less expensive, it’s just a function of using the right hardware for the job. Like another mentioned, I have a 15ga, 16ga, 18ga, and 23ga nailers as they all have their place.

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 832 days

#9 posted 10-10-2016 02:39 AM

All hitachi tools are on sale at lowes right now if anyone needs a good nailer. I highly recommend 15 over 16 due to the angle and extra beef.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5587 posts in 2743 days

#10 posted 10-10-2016 03:56 AM

15 gauge nailers used to be the standard for many builders. I now use 16 gauge for hanging doors (plus long screws on the hinges and strikeplate). All other trim work is done with an 18 gauge nailer. I reserve the use of a 23 gauge pin nailer for small thumbnail trim and small cove molding.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View MrRon's profile


4667 posts in 3173 days

#11 posted 10-10-2016 05:43 PM

According to my Senco fastener guide, 15 ga nails are available in bright, galv and stainless steel while 16 ga is available only in galv.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4874 posts in 3890 days

#12 posted 10-10-2016 08:48 PM

I have 16, 18, 23, etc.
Never had a need for 15, but that’s just the way I’ve always trimmed.
Never had a molding fall down/off.


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