10 Best Air Compressors For Nail Guns in 2021 – Top Picks & Reviews
What if your nail gun was useless because of a single component? To get the most out of a nail gun, you need to have the best air compressor. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for the average user to discover which air compressors to buy and which to avoid.
With our handy reviews, you can explore some of the top air compressors for nail guns available on the market. This includes their pros, cons, and which air compressors offer the most bang for your buck.
Are you ready to completely change how you use your nail gun for major projects? Keep reading to discover the best air compressors today!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor||
|Best Value||PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor||
|Premium Choice||DEWALT D55146 Air Compressor||
|Makita MAC2400 Big Bore Air Compressor||
|CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor||
The 10 Best Air Compressors for Nail Guns
1. BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor – Best Overall
Our reviews cover the top 10 air compressor choices. But which one is the best of the best? That would be the BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor.
We love the price on this compressor, but it doesn’t compromise on features. It offers a high-quality motor, 150 max PSI from its 6.0-gallon tank, a high-flow regulator, and the whole thing runs deceptively quiet at 78.5 dB. That motor is good for just about any weather, so you can feel free to use the nail gun whenever you want to.
Ultimately, this is the best air compressor if you have a high-quality nail gun. Just watch out for how long it takes this model to build pressure.
2. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor – Best Value
Depending on your budget, you may not have a lot of money to throw at your latest project. In that case, you’re probably trying to find the best air compressors for nail guns for the money. If that’s the case, you need the PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor. It lacks some of the spit and polish of the more expensive compressors on this list, but it generally offers a diverse variety of features for its price.
With the 6-gallon tank, this compressor is great for larger jobs. And the motor’s low voltage means it should work fine regardless of colder temperatures, making it a great choice for the winter.
With all this value, you may have a good question: why is this our #2 pick instead of #1? In addition to taking a bit too long to compress air, this model is noisier than we’d like. If noise is a factor, you may need to choose another machine.
3. DEWALT D55146 Air Compressor – Premium Choice
Our first two air compressors are very suitable for those on a budget. However, if you’ve got a bit more money to spend, you can get compressors with some extra bells and whistles. And the DEWALT D55146 Air Compressor is a great place to start!
With the 225 PSI max tank storage pressure, you get 80% more air from this than from comparable compressors. And this goes perfectly with the efficient motor and speedy rate of recovery for the unit.
For all of its power, this compressor also runs somewhat quiet at 78 dB. And while it’s a smaller touch, we love how easy it is to pack up and store this compressor. That’s great news for anyone whose garage is overflowing with tools!
4. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore Air Compressor
We’re starting to get into some of the more expensive compressor options. And the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore Air Compressor is proof that you truly get what you pay for!
The 4.2 twin-gallon tank is very convenient for bigger jobs, and its 130 PSI is enough to power two different nailers. On top of that, the sturdy construction means that this can withstand the rigors of the job site and nasty weather.
The inside is equally sturdy. Thanks to the oil-lubricated pump, the motor experiences less wear. It’s inching toward the loud side of the spectrum. Some users say it sounds a lot louder than its 79 dB noise rating. But the durable, cast-iron cylinder helps to protect everything inside. The one real drawback, of course, is the price!
5. CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor
The 6-gallon “pancake” design helps to store plenty of air. And the max 150 PSI provides enough power to handle a wide variety of projects. Like some of the other compressors on the list, this compressor easily starts up in the cold weather. And with this 13-piece accessory kit, you know you are getting plenty of product for the money.
Ultimately, one of the main drawbacks of this compressor is that it is better suited to lighter projects than larger ones.
6. Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor
The Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor offers a real standout design. It’s a sleek look that may just make the rest of your tools jealous!
This is a solid compressor for beginners because the oil-less pump reduces the amount of maintenance you need to perform. And the portable design plays well with the easy-to-read gauges, making this a great “on the go” compressor.
We like that you get a 10-piece inflation kit at this price point. This offers buyers a lot of value while helping you unlock the full potential of your new purchase.
Depending on your needs, though, this 3-gallon tank may not be big enough. And at the end of the day, this compressor is better at inflating tires than powering your nail gun.
7. Metabo EC710S HPT Pancake Air Compressor
Are you looking for a tough, no-nonsense compressor that gets the job done? In that case, look no further than the Metabo EC710S HPT Pancake Air Compressor.
Despite the “no-frills” design, this cheaper compressor has many good features. We like the 6-gallon “pancake” tank and the 150 max PSI. And the fact that it can power multiple nailers makes it a solid choice for handling those tougher jobs.
Unfortunately, it’s rated at 75 dB, which is quite a bit noisier than we were expecting. And while the price point is good, you can honestly get more features and reliability in this price range from other compressors.
8. Hitachi KNT50AB Brad Nailer and Compressor Combo Kit
Whether you call it “Hitachi” or the newer name of “Metabo,” this is a company known for quality. Unfortunately, the Hitachi KNT50AB Brad Nailer and Compressor Combo Kit misses the mark.
The “kit” part includes some nice touches, including a lightweight nailer. And the 6-gallon compressor certainly makes this suited to longer jobs. Unfortunately, the compressor itself is disappointingly slow to fill. And at this price point, you will be missing out on several features that are available in comparable models.
Ultimately, Hitachi/Metabo is still a great brand. But we’d skip this particular kit when you have a major nail gun project ahead of you!
9. 3PLUS HCB050401 Quiet Air Compressor
With the 3PLUS HCB050401 Quiet Air Compressor, we are moving back into “budget compressor” territory. Unfortunately, this is a compressor that will make you wish you had shelled out for something a bit better.
The included 18-gauge nailer is a nice touch, and we like the roll bar that protects this compressor during those really hard jobs. Its 65 dB noise rating is decent, but some of the design elements are downright frustrating, including the weird fact that it does not automatically shut off after you reach the desired pressure level.
The compressor is also prone to jamming, and the included hose is rather short. These drawbacks are quite disappointing despite the surprising power of this budget compressor.
10. California Air Tools 2010AGK18 Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
When buying an air compressor for a nail gun, your mission is simple. You want to spend as little as possible while getting all of the features you need. Unfortunately, that can’t happen with the California Air Tools 2010AGK18 Ultra Quiet Air Compressor.
This compressor looks sleek and has a premium design as well as a premium price tag. And we do enjoy the 60 dB quiet operation and powerful motor. But there are some serious drawbacks you must contend with.
For example, many users run into unexpected drops in pressure. And noise from the relief valve often outweighs the otherwise quiet design of the compressor. Finally, the shoddy design can cause unwanted air leaks while you work.
Our reviews have given you a solid guide to the different air compressors for nail guns. However, you may need a bit more information to finalize your decision.
That’s where our buying guide comes in handy. This guide walks you through some of the most important terms and factors you need to understand to find the right compressor.
Between the reviews and the buying guide, you will become a certified expert in the world of air compressors. In addition to helping you buy the best equipment for your needs, this knowledge will help you plan and execute those DIY plans you could previously only dream of!
What Is PSI?
In our reviews, PSI was one of the main factors we considered. To buy the best air compressor, you need to fully understand PSI.
This is an acronym for Pounds per Square Inch. It’s how we measure the actual force of air that is coming out of your compressor.
To be honest, a really high PSI is basically an “extra” when it comes to nail gun needs. Most PSIs can power a nail gun without difficulty. However, if you’ll be powering multiple nail guns or will use the air compressor for other tasks, PSI may be a consideration.
Long story short? To use a nail gun, you should consider a high PSI an extra feature. It’s good to have “just in case,” but not really necessary for your specific needs.
What Is CFM?
Another acronym you’ll encounter quite a bit with nail guns is “CFM.” This refers to “cubic feet per minute.”
CFM plays an important role in how smooth your nail gun experience is. When the CFM syncs up properly, you will be able to avoid stalls, delays, and other unwanted malfunctions. Basically, focusing on the CFM before you buy your tools and start a project can help you avoid many annoying headaches down the line!
The Noise Factor
The relative noisiness of an air compressor and nail gun is a subject of some debate. For example, many people consider outside DIY projects to be inherently noisy and don’t care about the noise factor. Others are very conscious about disrupting life for their families and the surrounding neighbors.
The noise ratings of air compressors generally range between 60 dB and 80 dB. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, here’s some food for thought: a quiet compressor is not exactly a luxury item. In other words, you don’t have to break the bank to get something that runs a bit quieter.
And you may be thankful for making the quieter purchase. Even if you aren’t overly sensitive to noise, keep in mind that these projects may mean several long hours of intensive work. If there is an easy way to spare yourself the literal headaches that come from this, you should definitely take advantage of it!
The Mobility Factor
In some ways, deciding between air compressors is like deciding on other major DIY accessories. And that means you must eventually determine how important mobility is to you.
Some compressors are simply easier to move than others. This is mostly a function of the components it uses. For example, a unit with assorted cast iron parts is going to be heavier than others.
Mobility is also a matter of the extra features on the compressor. Some compressors have wheels and handles to make them easier to move. And these may seem like small features, but they make a world of difference when it comes to mobility.
At the same time, features like handles and wheels may require additional maintenance over time. If these components are damaged, then you may lose out on the mobility that you may have needed.
The Size Factor
As you might imagine, size and mobility are two sides of the same coin. In many ways, these two sides represent the main debate when it comes to buying an air compressor.
For example, many people are driven by the philosophy that “bigger is better.” A larger tank means that you’ll be able to run the nail gun easier and for a longer period. This typically translates to a smoother experience for the user.
At the same time, a larger tank makes the compressor more unwieldy. If you want a mobile compressor, then you may need a smaller tank. Ultimately, only you can determine the “sweet” spot between the size and mobility of the compressor.
We saved the price for the last air compressor factor. Depending on your budget, though, this may be the most important consideration of all!
At the end of the day, air compressors are like any other major purchase. There are very high end and very low-end models in terms of price. However, price does not necessarily correlate to the quality of the compressor.
There are some very expensive models, for instance, that effectively charge you too much for the features they have to offer. And some cheaper models offer a surprising amount of bang for your buck.
As you know, no two home projects are exactly alike. Typically, the compressor you choose is going to come down to the features you need to complete that project.
We encourage you to use our reviews and buying guide to find the best compressors for your own needs. When you get the exact features you need at the exact price you’re willing to pay, every project will feel that much sweeter!
More buying guides like this:
- Reviews of the newest portable air compressors out there
- Our top 5 best overall air compressor picks
- Best Air Compressors for Impact Wrenches 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews
Hopefully, our reviews and guide have helped you navigate this confusing array of choices. But now that you’ve read our reviews and our buying guide, it’s come down to this: which are the best air compressors for nail guns that you can buy today?
In terms of overall quality, your best bet is the BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor. It offers the features and options you need for just about any project, and it is the perfect combination of versatility and affordability.
In terms of best overall value, though, we have to give it to the PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor. This is a perfect choice for those on a budget, letting you power your nail gun while making very few compromises in terms of quality and performance.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Air Compressors for Nail Guns
- 1. BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor – Best Overall
- 2. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor – Best Value
- 3. DEWALT D55146 Air Compressor – Premium Choice
- 4. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore Air Compressor
- 5. CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor
- 6. Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor
- 7. Metabo EC710S HPT Pancake Air Compressor
- 8. Hitachi KNT50AB Brad Nailer and Compressor Combo Kit
- 9. 3PLUS HCB050401 Quiet Air Compressor
- 10. California Air Tools 2010AGK18 Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
- Buyer’s Guide