15g vs 16g Finish Nailer: Which One is Best?

15g and 16g nailers both have a special reputation for perfect finishing jobs. Carpenters and DIYers use 15g and 16g nailers to hold and mold different parts of the materials for their versatile utilities. 

But the question has to be asked which one to be used at which work? To answer, we have to bring in a comparison of 15g vs 16g finish nailer.

The main differences between a 15 gauge and 16 gauge finish nailer are the nail size and the types of woodworking applications they are best suited for. A 15 gauge is heavier and can handle larger, harder nails for heavy-duty woodworking, while the 16 gauge is more versatile and produces a smaller hole size, making it ideal for lighter, non-weight holding jobs. Additionally, the 15 gauge can shoot nails at an angle for narrow reach and tight grip, whereas the 16 gauge shoots nails straight for a smooth finish.

Comparison Chart: 15g vs 16g finish nailer

Let’s quickly go through the differences between a 15g nail gun and a 16g nail gun for easier understanding.

Feature15 Gauge Finish Nailer16 Gauge Finish Nailer
Nail Size15 gauge16 gauge
Length1 1/4″ – 2 1/2″3/4″ – 2 1/2″
Magazine Capacity100-110100-120
Power SourcePneumatic or CordlessPneumatic or Cordless
UsesHeavy-duty woodworking, trim, baseboards, crown moldingLight to medium woodworking, trim, baseboards
Nail strengthCan handle larger and harder nailsCannot handle larger and harder nails
Angle shootingShoots at an angle for narrow reach and tight grip in infrastructureShoots nails straight for a smooth finish in lighter
Suitable forHeavy-duty applicationsNon-weight holding jobs
Hole sizeLeaves larger holesSmaller hole size
Wood splitMay split softer woodsLess likely to split wood
WeaknessesHeavier and more difficult to maneuver, larger nail size may cause damage to delicate wood or trimLess holding power, not as suitable for heavy-duty woodworking

What is a 15 gauge finish nailer used for?

The common uses of a 15 gauge finish nailer are,

  1. Cabinet installation
  2. Furniture making
  3. Trim work
  4. Door and window casings
  5. Stair treads and risers
  6. Paneling and wainscoting
  7. Hardwood flooring.

What is a 16 gauge finish nailer used for?

The common uses of a 16 gauge finish nailer are,

  1. Trim work
  2. Cabinet installation
  3. Furniture making
  4. Door and window casings
  5. Paneling and wainscoting
  6. Stair treads and risers
  7. Light framing.

15g vs 16g Finish Nailer – Key Differences

The comparison chart shows us the basics and application of 15g or 16g nailers. Let’s explore these nailers’ further specifications. 

Which finish nailer produces a smaller hole size?

Due to the low diameter of the 16 gauge finish nailer, it produces smaller holes. On the contrary, a 15 gauge nailer drives 15 gauge nails that leaves larger holes.

15g or 16g finish nailer- Which has more application?

15g and 16g finish nailers both have different sets of applications. Carpenters usually prefer a 15g nailer for exterior trim and thick woodwork since 15 gauge nails have a higher diameter. And in delicate interior jobs, they prefer 16g nailers since th. Usually, the interior of a home requires more light and delicate tasks. In that sense, we can say 16g has more application.

Do they use the same size nail?

No, 15g and 16g nailers use different sized nails. The difference in the application requires an appropriate nail for finishing. 15g nailers usually use 1-1/4” to 2-1/2” inches long nails. On the other hand, 16g nailers use 3/4” to 2-1/2” inches long nails.

Is 15g finish nailer costly than 16g finish nailer?

The price of 15g and 16g nailers depends on the brand you choose. Usually, 15g nailers cost more than 16g nailers. 15g best nailers are priced between $250-480. 16g best nail guns would cost $200-400. But there are cheaper alternatives available. 

Do both finish nailers require the same using processes?

15g and 16g nailers have different use processes. Although some carpenters or DIYers would tell, they are similar. The 15g nailer shoots nails at a certain angle, offering much holding power and narrower reach. In contrast, a 16g nailer shoots nail straight, making a smaller hole and offering a thorough finishing job.

Which one comes with the bigger diameter?

15g nails come with a bigger diameter. 15g nails are heavier and thicker compared to the 16g nails. The thicker the nail is the bigger diameter it has. 

Which one is suitable for a hardwood floor?

Both can work well. But for aesthetic beauty, you should go for the 15 gauge nailer. We have a guideline to compare 15 and 16 gauge nailers only for hardwood. You can check it out here. Also, you can get the proper suggestions for the best 15 gauge nailer here.

Do the same company manufactures both finish nailers?

Companies like Metabo, Dewalt, and Makita manufacture 15g and 16g finish nailers. And nailers from these companies are considered the best nailers for finishing projects.

So Which One To Pick

If you are a professional carpenter or woodworker who frequently handles heavy-duty projects such as crown molding or baseboards, a 15 gauge finish nailer would be a more suitable choice. It can handle larger, harder nails and has a greater holding power, making it ideal for these types of projects.

However, if you are a DIY enthusiast or someone who works on lighter woodworking projects such as trim or baseboards, a 16 gauge finish nailer would be more versatile and produce a smaller hole size, providing a more refined finish.


Let’s shed some light on a few confusion and questions regarding 15g and 16g finish nailers.

Which one is better: 15 or 16g finish nailer?

There can be no direct comparison on which one is better, between 15g and 16g nailers. Each of these nailers has specific applications for which they are best suited. 15g is best for a more powerful holding job. And 16g is best for delicate and precise molding jobs.

Can you use a 15g finish nailer instead of a 16g finish nailer?

No, you can not use a 15g finish nailer instead of a 16g finish nailer. The reason behind this is 16g finish nailer is required for crowing and molding jobs. If you chose a 15g nailer, it would crack or split those frames and molds. This is the last thing a homeowner or carpenter wants to happen.

15g or 16g finish nailer: which one can split small molding easily?

15g finish nailer can split small molding very easily as it is designed for stronger holding jobs. Besides, it has thicker nails, so when it penetrates with force, the damage is surely expected. For small molding jobs, it is safe and best to use a 16g finish nailer.

What gauge finish nailer is best?

The gauge in the finish nailer determines the thickness of its nails. Nails with a higher gauge number are thinner, and nails with a lower gauge number are thicker in size. Every nail size has its respective application at the finishing job. Among many sizes, carpenters usually choose 16g nailers for better finishing performance. 

Can a 15 gauge finish nailer be used for lighter woodworking projects?

Yes, a 15 gauge finish nailer can be used for lighter woodworking projects, but it may cause damage to delicate wood or trim.

Which gauge finish nailer is easier to use for beginners?

A 16 gauge finish nailer is generally easier to use for beginners due to its smaller nail size and smoother finish.


After going through the whole article, you now have a detailed idea about the application of 15g and 16g nailers. Even professional carpenters sometimes make a mistake by choosing the wrong nailer for the wrong job. That is why we have tried to cover a 15g vs 16g finish nailer comparison.

Of course, both the nailers have a specific usage in their respective fields. But which one does a good finishing job? It is a 16g nailer which is designed to take care of delicate finishing jobs. 

Just because we are concluding 16g does a better finishing job, don’t mistake it by thinking you can interchange their jobs. 15g and 16g jobs can not be alternatives for each other except for very few cases. So bear that in mind and happy carpentering. 

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