What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for a Nail Gun
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What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for a Nail Gun?

For most people, DIY tools are a mind boggling enigma that may eventually dissuade even the most seasoned home improvement enthusiast. And one of the most popular tools for home improvement projects is a nail gun. It is the primary tool when it comes to any construction projects making it a staple tool.

But to power a nail gun, you need pneumatic pressure that is mostly attained using an air compressor. And while a standard-sized air compressor is a life changer for powering air tools, it can be a little too expensive for a primary nail gun. This begs the question; what is the best air compressor for nail guns?

How much PSI do you need for a nail gun?

The best operating pressure for a nail gun is 70-90 PSI. Only large tools require PSI above 100. This means that even the smallest pancake air compressor in the market can be able to power your nail gun.

How many CFM is needed?

These are the CFM measurements for different types of nailer guns.

Pin Nailer0.32.0 CFM, 2 GallonPancake/Portable
Brad Nailer0.32.0 CFM, 2 GallonPancake/Portable
Finish Nailer0.52.0 CFM, 2 – 3 GallonPancake/Portable
Upholstery stapler0.32.0 CFM, 1 GallonPancake/Portable
Sheathing nailer2.04.0 CFM, 4 – 6 GallonPortable
Framing & Fencing Nailer2.24.0 CFM, 4 – 6 GallonPortable
Roofing Nailer2.24.0 CFM, 4 – 6 GallonPortable
2 – 5 nailers at a time7.0+ CFM, 6-8 GallonWheelbarrow

On account of the minimal air pressure needed to power a nail gun, you can use a small air compressor to power it. This is because you do not require continuous air pressure compared to using the air compressor for painting or power washing.

However, if you need the air compressor for multiple tools, especially those that need continuous pneumatic pressure, you would be better off getting a larger air compressor instead of buying two different air compressors.

The Best Air Compressors for Nail Guns

BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor (BTFP02012)

The Bostitch 6-gallon oil-free air compressor features an oil-free, maintenance-free pump that delivers 2.6 SCFM* @ 90PSI. It has maximum tank storage of 150 PSI, which provides long tool run time with quick recovery.

The pancake air compressor has a 78.5 dba** noise rating, making it ideal for a quiet work environment. It also has a highly efficient motor that provides easy start-upstart-up in cold weather or extension cord application. The air compressor’s high flow regulator and couplers also help to maximize air tool performance. It comes with two universal couplers to easily support two users. The air compressor only weighs 29 lbs. weight, making it easy to carry and store.


  • 150 max PSI
  • 6.0-gallon tank
  • High-efficiency motor
  • Easy start-upstart-up in cold weather
  • Noise rating: 78.5 dba


  • High flow regulator
  • Durable
  • Maintenance-free pump


  • Too loud

PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor (C2002)

The Porter air compressor has a max tank pressure of 150 PSI. It stores more air in the tank for more comprehensive tool run times. Its 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi allows for quick compressor recovery time, per ISO1217. The air compressor features a six-gallon pancake-style tank for stability. It also features a water drain valve and rubber feet.

The air compressor is powered by a low-amp 120-volt motor that starts quickly in cold weather or with an extension cord. It also has a durable oil-free pump for increased durability and no maintenance.

It comes with two regulated, factory-installed air couplers to support two users. It only 30 lbs. for easy portability, and its handle and console cover protect vital components and makes the unit more comfortable to carry.


  • 150 psi max tank pressure
  • Cord wrap
  • Six-gallon pancake-style tank
  • Water drain valve
  • Rubber feet
  • Low-amp 120-volt motor
  • Weight: 30 lbs.


  • Starts quickly in cold weather or with an extension cord
  • Durable
  • Oil-free pump
  • Comes with a console cover


  • You need to buy the accessories required to use it.

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor

The Makita air compressor features a cast iron pump with a big bore cylinder and piston engineered to provide faster recovery time for improved performance. Its low AMP draw reduces incidences of tripped breakers at start-upstart-up.

The air compressor uses a 4.2-gallon twin stacked tank that sustains an operating pressure of 130 PSI and delivers 40 PSI (4.8 CFM) and 90 PSI (4.2 CFM). The pump is oil-lubricated for cooler running temperatures and reduced wear.

It features a built-in thermal overload for additional motor protection. The air compressor also features roll cage construction that provides complete protection to withstand extreme job site environments.

The durable cast-iron cylinder reduces wear and increases pump life. It also has a sizeable automotive style industrial air filter for increased air intake and greater efficiency. The roll bar handle provides portability and additional protection, helping it withstand harsh job site environments.

Other additional features include a convenient oil drain and oil sight glass, a tank drain valve that supersedes standard petcock design for easier maintenance, and finned discharge tubing that dissipates heat more efficiently.


  • Cast iron pump
  • 4.2-gallon twin stacked tank
  • Orating pressure of 130 PSI
  • Roll cage construction
  • Oil sight glass
  • 2.5 HP 4 Pole motor
  • Copper finned discharge tubing
  • Noise rating: 79dB


  • Built-in thermal overload protection
  • Durable
  • One-year warranty


  • Very heavy


The best air compressor for a nail gun should be portable, durable, easy to start-upstart-up, and operate. It should also have a low noise rating and a highly efficient motor that can drive different types of nails. Lastly, it should be lightweight to make it easier to carry.