why is my nail gun not shooting nails
Tips & Tricks

Why Is My Nail Gun Not Shooting Nails?

If you are a DIY enthusiast or in the construction industry, you must know how a nail gun is an essential tool. But having a malfunctioning device can be very frustrating when you have some woodwork to do. And like any other machinery, your nail gun is subject to these kinds of breakdowns.

Every once in a while, your nail gun will start shooting blanks when you pull the trigger. Several reasons can cause this, but the most typical reason is a flow problem. The best way to also prevent this is regular preventive maintenance of your nail gun.

Fortunately, since a nail gun is a simple tool, making it considerably easy to identify the problem and troubleshoot the nail gun. We have come up with common reasons and solutions to your nail gun, not shooting nails.

A Nail jam

A jamming nail gun is a prevalent cause for your nail gun, not shooting nails. It happens when you pull the trigger, the nail fires, fits an object, and diverts back in the barrel, blocking the flow of nails.

How to unjam your nail gun

  • Remove all the power sources connected to the nail gun: batteries, air hose, or an electrical cord.
  • Remove all the other unfired nails.
  • Unscrew the two front screws on the nose to separate the nose from the magazine and locate the jammed nail or nails.
  • Dislodge the jammed nail from the barrel using a screwdriver or a pair of pliers. Ensure there are no other obstructions.
  • Close the front nose.
  • Reload the gun with the nails.
  • Plug-in the source of power and test the nail gun by firing it.

Air pressure or battery issues

Whether it’s air pressure or batteries, your nail gun’s power source powers your nail to work; if your battery is empty or outdated, it will prevent your nail gun from shooting or will shoot intermittently. Low pressure is a common cause for not shooting nails when using a pneumatic nail gun. Most pneumatic nail guns use an air pressure of 100 psi to 120 psi. Wear and tear within the machine or the air hose can cause air to leak.

Dealing with air pressure or battery issues

If you’re using a battery powered nail gun, replace or refill your battery.

For a pneumatic gun, replace O-ring. If the air is leaking from the gun’s back, you have to open the gun to reset the seals. If the air leak is at the front, then the trigger valve is the problem, and you have to replace the whole trigger assembly. If the problem persists, open up the gun, inspect it for other worn out parts and replace them.

Using the Wrong nails

If you’re a beginner in using nail guns or using a new brand for the first time, it is a common mistake to use the wrong type and size of nails. Your nails have to be compatible with your nail gun. Otherwise, it can cause jamming or not fire at all.


Verify from your instruction manual the right size and type of nails to use with your nail gun.

Loading the Nails Improperly

If you do not correctly feed the nails into the nail gun, they won’t be in line with the hammer. You will fire the hammer with no nails coming out. There are various nail gun designs, and they have slight differences in the loading mechanisms.


Every manufacturer designs their tools differently, so read your instruction manual. Familiarize yourself with the parts and follow how to load the nail gun. Here are the two nail loading mechanisms:

  • The slide-type- Press the magazine release and then slide the magazine backward. The magazine does not pull all the way out but leaves enough space to load the nails. Drop the strip of nails with the tips facing downwards. Pull back the magazine and make sure it clicks back securely in place.
  • The coil type- This type holds a coil of nails instead of a strip. Press the release button to open the cylindrical case that contains the nails. Place the first nail of the coil facing downwards in the slot and then close the case.

Poor lubrication

When you don’t use your nail gun often, you can forget to oil it before using it. Regularly lubricating a nail gun’s moving parts is essential to prevent parts from wearing down too quickly and reduce friction just as it would on a garage door.

When parts wear down, it may prevent your gun from shooting nails. An example is the O-rings can dry up and cause the nail gun to malfunction. The moving parts also need to move smoothly to release the nail with enough force to go through the wood.


  • Switch off your nail gun’s power source. Pour 5-10 droplets of oil in the air inlet and nozzle.
  • It is crucial to use the right kind of lubricant for your nail gun. You can always check with your manual for your manufacturer’s suggestions.
  • If you are working in temperatures below the freezing point, use lubricants that contain antifreeze and formulated for use below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Also, avoid oiling the magazine as this will draw dust and clog the nails or staples.

A clogged nail gun or guide with dirt

There will always be dust and dirt where woodwork is involved. Tools can also gather dust in storage. When the dust mixes with oil, it clogs up the nail preventing your gun from shooting successfully.

How to clean a nail gun

  • Unscrew the two screws on the nose to separate the magazine from the handle, giving access to the and air filter under the cap.
  • Remove the grill and air filter and wash them with soapy water to remove dirt and grease.
  • Spray the gun’s head, inside the sleeve and combustion chamber with a degreaser and allow to pour out with the dirt.
  • Use a lint-free towel to wipe down the blade, seal rings, and spark plugs.
  • Lubricate the seal rings and motor assembly, then reassemble the nail gun.

Consult your user manual for recommendations on cleaning products to use, but soap and water are safe to use on most nail guns.

To prevent a clogged nail gun, clean it after every use before using it after a long time.

The best way to prevent these issues from arising is with proper and regular tool maintenance.

  • Have the proper nail gauge and length for your nail gun.
  • Check your nail gun’s power source. Ensure the battery is charged and up-to-date. Inspect the air compressor tank and hose for leakages.
  • Most importantly, clean and lubricate your nail gun frequently.
  • Replace worn out parts to avoid stressing the nail gun and causing it to malfunction beyond repair.

Overall, if your nail gain is shooting blanks, we hope this article will guide you on identifying the problem, how to fix it, and preventing future occurrences. If the problem persists, always seek expert advice or a replacement to avoid damaging your nail gun or even injuring yourself.