The 5 Best Air Compressors for Nail Guns of 2024 (Reviewed)

Discover the best air compressors for nail guns for both enthusiasts and professionals! Find the best framing nailer compressor and start your projects.

With numerous types of nail guns available, finding the ideal one to match your needs can be overwhelming. From brad nailers for delicate trims to framing nailers for heavy construction, there is a wide range of choices. You’ll find pneumatic nail guns, which rely on air compressors, or cordless nail guns which offer the freedom of movement. In this article, I will discuss the best air compressors for nail guns, their pros and cons, and their benefits.

When speaking about air compressors they ensure a steady and reliable power source for your nailer, allowing you to work without interruptions. Also, they provide adjustable air pressure, giving you control over the depth and strength of your nail placements. 

When buying an air compressor you might consider the following questions:

  1. How large of a compressor do I need?
  2. How strong a compressor do I need?
  3. What other air tools can I use with a compressor?

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the features, advantages, and drawbacks each air compressor offers and you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to find the best air compressor for your nail gun. So, read on and discover my top recommendations!

What I Look For in an Air Compressor for Frame Nailers

PSI (pounds Square Inch) How much air pressure can be delivered?
CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) How many cubic feet of air can the compressor produce?
HP (Horse Power) What is the power of the motor?
Tank Size What is the size of the tank? How much air pressure can it store?
Portability What is the size of the compressor? How heavy is it? Does it have wheels?
Drain Valve How do I drain the moisture from the air tank? Does the compressor have a drain valve? 

The Best Air Compressors for Nail Guns Overview

Here are my current top recommendations for the best air compressors for nail guns. Especially when using a pneumatic framing nailer, a sturdy and dependable air compressor becomes crucial.

  1. Best Overall – Craftsman CMEC6150K Air Compressor
  2. Best Small Air Compressor – Makita MAC210Q Air Compressor
  3. Best Portable – Bostitch BTFP02012 Air Compressor Kit
  4. Best Premium – Dewalt DWFP55126 Air Compressor
  5. Best Quietest Air Compressor – California Air Tools 1P1060S Air Compressor

Let’s take a look at the specific models in more detail.

The Best Air Compressors for Framing Nailers Comparison

Nail Gun PSI CFM Performance Tank Size Wheels Noise
Craftsman CMEC6150K 150 2.6 150 PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI 6-gallon No 78 dBA
Makita MAC210Q 135 2 2 CFM at 90 PSI 2-gallon No 60 dBA
Bostitch BTFP02012 150 2.6 150 PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI 6-gallon No 78.5 dBA
Dewalt DWFP55126 165 2.6 165 PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI 6-gallon No 75.5 dBA
California 1P1060S 120 1.2 1.20 CFM at 90
PSI 1.60 CFM at 40 PSI
1-gallon No 56 dBA

What is The Best Air Compressor for Nail Guns?

These are my top picks for the best air compressors for nail guns for your workshop.

1. Craftsman CMEC6150K Pancake Air Compressor

Craftsman CMEC6150K - best air compressor for nail guns

Photo: amazon.com

Performance: 150 PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
Weight: 32 pounds
Tank Size: 6-gallon
Wheels: No

  • Best Value for Money
  • Portable and lightweight design
  • Oil-free air compressor
  • Comes with useful extra accessories
  • Quick recovery time for efficient operation
  • The accessory kit is of lower quality
  • Higher noise levels
  • A bit heavier
  • More suitable for lighter projects

Why I Picked It

Craftsman CMEC6150K offers a maximum pressure of 150 PSI and an airflow rate of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, making it the perfect air compressor for framing nailers. Its portable and lightweight pancake design, weighing only 32.5 pounds, allows for easy mobility around the workshop and the job site.

This 6-gallon compressor comes with a convenient oil-free pump, eliminating the need for maintenance and ensuring a long-lasting lifespan. With its 0.2 HP motor and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, you will experience excellent performance and quick recovery times. However, keep the noise level might be a bit higher than claimed.

The Craftsman CMEC6150K offers excellent value for money, with a 13-piece accessory kit included. While it’s not ideal for heavy-duty projects, it’s a reliable option for both hobbyists and professionals.

2. Makita MAC210Q Mini Size Air Compressor

Makita MAC210Q - best air compressor for nail guns

Photo: amazon.com

Performance: 135 PSI and 2 CFM at 90 PSI
Weight: 44 pounds
Tank Size: 2-gallon
Wheels: No

  • 1HP motor with low noise
  • Oil-free dual-piston pump for maintenance-free operation
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Durable roll-cage construction
  • Powerful 135 PSI maximum pressure for nail guns
  • More Expensive
  • Hose or accessory kit not included

Why I Picked It

The Makita MAC210Q air compressor is a great choice for powering pneumatic tools with its 1HP motor and 2-gallon tank, this compressor provides up to 135 PSI and a steady 2 CFM at 90 PSI. This ensures you never run out of air pressure while using a framing nailer or other tools. What sets it apart is how quietly it operates, producing only 60 decibels of noise, making it one of the quietest air compressors in the market. The added convenience of the oil-free dual-piston pump eliminates the hassle of oil changes, saving you time and effort during operation.

Weighing just 44 pounds, this compact compressor is easy to move around the workspace. Its roll-cage construction adds to its durability, providing protection from potential damage during heavy-duty tasks. However, keep in mind that it doesn’t come with an accessory kit or air hose, which may require additional purchases.

3. Bostitch BTFP02012 Air Compressor Kit

Bostitch BTFP02012 - best air compressor for nail guns

Photo: amazon.com

Performance: 150 PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
Weight: 29 pounds
Tank Size: 6-gallon
Wheels: No

  • No maintenance thanks to an oil-free pump 
  • Narrow pancake design, easy to carry
  • Powerful motor outputs 150 Max PSI, 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI
  • High-flow regulators and dual couplers for easy airflow control
  • Small size, portable, and easy to carry
  • Hose length suitable for nail gun
  • The noise made it a bit loud (80 decibels)
  • Might be a bit expensive
  • It gets hot quickly

Why I Picked It

The BOSTITCH BTFP02012 is a powerful tool designed to fuel your framing nailer and more. Its motor delivers a robust performance, producing up to 150 PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, ensuring excellent airflow for powering framing nailers. The compressor features a narrow pancake shape and a 6-gallon tank, yet weighs only 29 pounds, making it easily portable. Plus, it features an oil-free pump, which requires no maintenance and ensures smooth operation without maintenance for extended periods. 

I like the compressor’s lightweight design, it is highly mobile, measuring only 17x17x19.25 inches. Although the compressor produces a bit of noise at 78.5 dBA, it is not excessively loud, which is easily overlooked in the workshop and on the construction site.

The BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor stands out as one of the best choices for nail guns and cleaning purposes. Its high PSI and large compressor tank capacity guarantee effective performance in remote corners and on roofs. However, it may not suit all applications (such as spray painting) and could be slightly challenging for beginners.

4. Dewalt DWFP55126 Air Compressor

Dewalt DWPF55146 - best air compressor for nail guns

Photo: amazon.com

Performance: 165 PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
Weight: 30 pounds
Tank Size: 6-gallon
Wheels: No

  • Powerful motor
  • Lightweight, easy to carry around
  • Oil-free pump, low maintenance
  •  6-gallon air compressor, long runtime
  • Universal couplers for convenient tool connections
  • Steady power supply, minimal defects
  •  Ideal for professional work
  • Higher noise levels
  • Excessive pressure can affect performance

Why I Picked It

The DEWALT DWFP55126 pancake air compressor offers a pressure of 165 PSI and an airflow rate of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, which is more than enough to handle most framing nailers. Its 6-gallon tank ensures a solid runtime, and the two universal couplers make connecting to other pneumatic tools very easy. Plus, its lightweight 30-pound design makes it very easy to carry around the workspace.

When it comes to precision tasks such as fixing walls, glass, and others, this Dewalt air compressor is a great choice. Its efficient motor operates flawlessly throughout the year, thanks to a constant 120V, 60Hz, and 10amps power supply. Plus, its lightweight design makes it easy to carry and maneuver in any situation.

This model is an oil-free compressor, which means you won’t have to worry about maintenance. It’s designed with console covers to protect it from accidental damage. Moreover, the compressor includes a ball drain valve for quick and easy cleaning and an outlet tube that helps prevent any catch points.

In conclusion, the Dewalt air compressor is an excellent choice for most frame nailers. It is also a great tool for various smaller fixations, home projects, as well as larger projects such as automotive repairs.

5. California Air Tools 1P1060S Low Noise Portable Air Compressor

California Air Tools 1P1060S - best air compressor for home

Performance: 120 PSI and 1.20 CFM at 90 PSI and 1.60 CFM at 40 PSI
Weight: 29 pounds
Tank Size: 1 gallon
Wheels: No

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Operates quietly
  • Produces less heat
  • Thermal overload protection
  • Quick tank fill-up
  • Oil-free pump
  • Smaller tank size
  • Limited CFM capacity
  • Not suitable for heavy-duty tasks
  • Pressure may not be sufficient for certain tools

Why I Picked It

The California 1P10S 1-Gallon compressor pleasantly surprised me with its remarkable performance. Operating at a mere 56 decibels, it’s notably quiet and creates a peaceful working environment. It weighs only 29 pounds, which makes it incredibly lightweight and easy to carry around. Thanks to its oil-free pump, maintenance costs are kept low, which is a huge plus.

The compressor features a 0.6 HP motor, and delivers steady performance, offering 1.20 CFM at 90 PSI and 1.60 CFM at 40 PSI. These features make it efficient for both various home tasks as well as more demanding jobs. The compressor’s maximum pressure of 120 PSI is perfect for handling nail gun projects, making it a great addition to any workshop.

The compressor is equipped with a quick universal connector, a high-flow regulator, and two universal couplers. For added safety, it includes a thermal overload protector. Its durable construction protects against accidental damage, and the tank can be filled up within just 50 seconds.

Wrap Up

To wrap up, the selection of air compressors presented here offers a range of great options. While each compressor has its own strengths, my favorite is the CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K as the best air compressor for framing nailers due to its amazing features.

The Craftsman CMEC6150K offers a maximum pressure of 150 PSI and a quick airflow rate of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, making it perfect for framing nailers. With its portable and lightweight design and oil-free pump, it provides excellent value for money, ideal for both hobbyists and professionals.

What to Consider While Looking for the Best Air Compressor for a Nail Gun?

Before you go ahead and buy a new air compressor, let’s take a moment to explore the essential features you should consider. Understanding your project or usage requirements will help you pick the perfect air compressor that fits the job just right.

Power Source

When it comes to power sources, air compressors have two main types: gas and electric.

  1. Gas-powered compressors are larger, more powerful, and offer great mobility without needing an electrical outlet. However, they can be challenging to transport due to their size.
  2. On the other hand, electric-powered compressors are smaller, more portable, and can run on either an outlet or a battery. They are quieter but provide slightly less power. Your choice between the two depends on your needs, with electric compressors being great for most DIY tasks, while gas-powered ones are ideal for heavy-duty jobs or when mobility is crucial.

PSI and CFM

When looking for an air compressor, two key specs to focus on are CFM (cubic feet per minute) and PSI (pounds per square inch). These numbers tell you all you need to know about the compressor’s performance capabilities. 

  1. PSI plays a vital role in determining their performance capability. A higher PSI value means more air pressure delivered, which translates to increased efficiency for your nail gun. For regular nailing tasks, a compressor with a pressure between 120 to 200 PSI or more is recommended. While using any nail gun, specific pressure is necessary to ensure the nails are fixed properly into the object. For regular nailing, a higher PSI is advantageous, especially when working on multiple nailing projects. Most compressors on the market come equipped with functional PSI, making them suitable for various tasks. It’s good to have a higher PSI as an extra feature, providing flexibility for other tasks beyond nail gun needs.
  2. CFM indicates the volume of air the compressor produces in one minute. It works together with PSI to deliver both air volume and pressure for your specific needs.

    When selecting an air compressor for your nail gun, pay attention to the CFM rating to ensure uninterrupted airflow during your work. Different tasks require different CFM levels, e.g., nailing and stapling need lower CFM, and spray painting or sanding demands higher CFM. To avoid hiccups and delays, ensure a proper match between the CFM rating of your compressor and the requirements of your pneumatic tool.

Horsepower

Horsepower is essential as it determines the power delivered by the compressor’s motor.

For most home projects, a horsepower rating of 0.7 to 1 HP is more than enough to handle tasks like nailing, drilling, and ratcheting. Commercial purposes might require higher horsepower, but for framing nailers, air compressors with horsepower ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 HP are sufficient.

Tank Size

The air tank stores the air pressure that will be delivered to the pneumatic tool. A larger tank allows for more air pressure storage, leading to a longer runtime before needing to refill the tank.

For powering framing nailers, a 5-gallon air tank is considered a sweet spot. However, tanks come in various sizes, from 1 to 6 gallons, suitable for most DIY tasks. If you need continuous airflow for tasks like paint sprayers or sanding, consider a larger tank, ranging from 10 to 80 gallons, for consistent pressure.

While a larger tank provides longer runtime, it may compromise portability. The choice between tank size and mobility depends on your specific needs.

TIP: Remember to drain your compressor after use to prevent rusting, especially in coastal areas.

Portability

Look for compressors made of lightweight materials like plastic or aluminum, as they are easier to transport. Having wheels and a large handle on the compressor, especially for vertical models, makes a significant difference in portability.

  • When it comes to power and portability, there’s a trade-off. Higher horsepower compressors may be bulkier, while lower-power models offer better portability. If you need to move the compressor frequently between job sites or projects, a lightweight and portable design is the way to go.
  • Some compressors are designed to be compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry around your house. Portable compressors often come with wheels and handles for easy manipulation. While these features may require occasional maintenance, they offer great convenience when transporting the compressor.

Pump Type

When it comes to air compressors, one key distinction is the type of pump they use: oil-free or oil-lubricated.

Oil-lubricated air compressors require manual lubrication of their cylinder walls, while oil-free compressors come pre-lubricated, making them easier to maintain and cleaner to use. Oil-free pumps are lighter, more portable, and usually cost less, making them a popular choice for many users. They offer a convenient solution for occasional projects, lasting around 2,000 to 3,000 working hours. On the other hand, oil-lubricated pumps are more commonly used in industrial settings due to their longer lifespan with regular maintenance.

Noise Level

For a better experience, I recommend choosing an air compressor for framing nailers that produce no more than 80 decibels of noise. Louder compressors can be inconvenient and annoying, especially if you work in noise-sensitive environments. To reduce noise, consider belt drive compressors, which are generally quieter than direct drive ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve got you covered with all the essential info on nail guns – check out the FAQs below to clear any doubts.

What size air compressor do I need for a nail gun?

For optimal performance, most nail guns work efficiently with a compact air compressor featuring a tank size between 2 to 6 gallons. Look for a minimum CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating of 2.5 to ensure a seamless and hassle-free operation.

How strong an air compressor do I need for a nail gun?

An air compressor with a horsepower (HP) rating between 1.5 to 2 HP should provide enough strength to run most nail guns effectively and consistently.

Do I need an air compressor for a cordless framing nailer?

No, cordless framing nailers do not require an air compressor. They are powered by rechargeable batteries, providing convenience and portability for various nailing tasks.

What is the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer?

Brad nailers are specifically designed for delicate trim and molding projects, using thinner brad nails. Conversely, finish nailers are perfect for larger woodworking tasks like baseboards and crown molding, as they handle thicker finish nails with ease.

What is the difference between a frame nailer and a finish nailer?

A framing nailer is suitable for heavy construction projects and uses large framing nails to assemble structures like buildings and decks, whereas a finish nailer is designed for finishing work and uses thicker finish nails for attaching trim and molding.

Can you use a pancake air compressor for framing nail guns?

Absolutely! Pancake compressors are a perfect fit for framing nail guns, offering a portable and lightweight design while excelling in delivering ample air pressure. This makes them a highly effective choice to power most framing nailers, ensuring smooth and precise nailing in all your projects.

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About the author, Lukas
About the author, Lukas

Meet the creator of AllFlavor Workshop! As a passionate DIYer and woodworking enthusiast, Lukas is always looking for ways to make things himself rather than buying them off the shelf. With a keen eye for design and a knack for working with wood, Lukas enjoys sharing his craft with others and helping them discover the joy of building. Whether you're an experienced woodworker or a novice looking to try your hand at a new hobby, you're sure to find plenty of inspiration and tips on AllFlavor Workshop.