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8 Best Air Compressors for Nail Guns [year]

Gone are the days of hammering away at nails. No longer will you worry about hitting your thumb and having it cartoonishly blow up. Nail guns have made the job easier and a lot less stressful. The added precision provided by the nail gun is also a welcome bonus. 

Nail guns can be powered by electricity or air power. Most people who use power tools regularly find the latter more reliable. However, air compressors do provide a more constant source of power. With the best air compressor for your nail gun, you can get the most out of it.

Portability is one of the essential features to look for in an air compressor. Another vital aspect to keep in mind is the ease of use. Nail guns are usually used for jobs covering a larger area. So, you can see why these two features would come in handy. On the other hand, the lack of these features would somewhat defeat the whole purpose of nail guns. Even for professionals, it will likely take a long time to pick the best air compressor for nail guns. But, with extensive research, I have put together this list to help you out. The BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor is hands down the best out there. It is maintenance-free, has a 6-gallon tank, and is shockingly quiet! 

If noise sensitivity is an issue for you, it’s necessary to keep that in mind. You can check out some of the quietest air compressors here. These are great options for people working indoors or who can’t handle loud noises.

If you aren’t convinced with just one option, please read on. Only the best of the best have been shortlisted here. Further, I have compiled a small guide on things to consider before investing in an air compressor. 

Here are the best air compressors for a nail gun (our picks)

1. BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor 

BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor 

The BOSTITCH pancake air compressor sits at the top of this list. It provides some great features and lives up to its claims. This compressor is well-priced but doesn’t skimp on functionality. It has a high-quality motor which runs smoothly. The 6.0-gallon tank comes with a maximum pressure of 150 PSI. It also has a  high-flow regulator. Running at 78.5 dB, it’s surprising how quiet it is. The motor is genuinely suitable for use in almost any condition. This means you can use your nail gun all through the year!

It does take a while to build up pressure. But it’ll get you the most from your nail gun for sure. The oil-free pump assures low maintenance. It’s a great choice to work your nails in with reasonable force. Lastly, at $130, it’s a definite bang for the buck.


  • Extremely affordable
  • Very quiet for its power
  • Comes with a 6-gallon tank
  • Maximum pressure of 150 PSI


  • Building up pressure takes a little longer than average

2. Craftsman CMEC6150K Air Compressor

Craftsman CMEC6150K Air Compressor

This unit is an excellent choice for low-scale jobs. The CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor works wonderfully for being so affordable.

The 6-gallon tank can easily store a large amount of air. This is further aided by the “pancake” shape of the tank. The maximum pressure of 150 PSI is sufficient for many jobs. But, like several of the others on the list, this compressor starts up quickly in cold conditions. And you know you’re getting a lot of goods for your money with this 13-piece accessories kit.

However, there is one key disadvantage to this compressor. It is best used for smaller projects than bigger ones. Yet, the $150 price point makes it well worth it.


  • Highly affordable
  • Pancake design stores a large amount of air
  • Features a highly reliable motor


  • Not suitable for larger or heavier work
  • Is a bit noisier than other compressors

3. Porter-Cable Air Compressor

Porter-Cable Air Compressor

The unit is also designed with a six-gallon pancake-style tank. The rubber feet give it stability, ensuring clean operation. It also comes with a water drain valve and an oil-free pump. The lack of daily maintenance indeed is an added convenience. In addition, the long-lasting pump is specifically designed to increase the compressor’s life.

This six-gallon compressor does all that it claims and more. Expect excellent performance from this compact package. Whether firing nails or filling tires, each job is done expertly. The machine is easy to operate and move around. It performs pretty well even on standard circuits in most houses.

The Porter air compressor comes at a great price – $120. The best part? It functions splendidly in icy weather conditions.


  • Sturdy build
  • Stores a lot of air in its “pancake” tank
  • Very affordable, definite “value for budget”
  • Durable in the long run


  • Definitely on the noisier side 
  • Issues with air leakage (easy to solve)

4. Dewalt D55140 1 Gallon Air Compressor

Dewalt D55140 1 Gallon Air Compressor

DEWALT is a well-known brand name in home tool manufacturing. It is a popular choice both at home and in workplaces. This small 1-gallon trim compressor is ideal for quick DIYs around the house. The maximum pressure of 135 PSI is sufficient to operate nail guns. But, it also works great for interior trimming and other personal projects. When working indoors, the low noise level of 71 dBA guarantees a reasonable work volume.

If you buy an air compressor for smaller jobs, this is your best bet. It’s highly convenient to carry around at 24 lbs. The small size also makes it incredibly easy to store. But for the size and power, the $157 tag may seem just a little high. This is because most other bigger air compressors also cost the same. 


  • Lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Great for small projects and DIYs
  • Works very efficiently with nail guns
  • Very quiet, thus, more suitable for indoor work


  • Tank has a low capacity and lasts a little under 30 minutes

5. Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP Big Bore Air Compressor 

Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP Big Bore Air Compressor

The tool offers strong industrial power for greater productivity. It sports a 2.4 HP motor outputting 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI and 4.8 CFM at 40 PSI. The oil-lubricated pump operates quietly at low RPM. The lower RPM and APM help extend the life of the motor and pump. This ensures superior long-term performance.

The compressor also features a cast-iron cylinder. Plus, a larger piston diameter. This assures faster recovery time and enhanced performance. It can easily resist severe worksite circumstances as well. All credit goes to its increased durability, efficiency, and power.

The roll-bar handle design aids portability. The sturdy build of the unit protects it from external damages as well. However, retailing at $319 may be one of the more expensive compressors.


  • Functions quietly
  • Highly durable under tough work conditions
  • Extremely low maintenance
  • Recovers quickly


  • Comparatively expensive
  • Build quality seems a bit poor

6. Dewalt D55146 Hand Carry with Wheels Air Compressor

Dewalt D55146 Hand Carry with Wheels Air Compressor

Most of the previous compressors have been on the economic side. But, if your budget is flexible, you should consider this option with its extra features. The Dewalt D55146 has some strong points backing it up.

The unit operates at a significantly higher capacity. This is due to the maximum power of 225 PSI from its storage tank. The quick recovery of the motor is in tandem with its efficiency. 

The most surprising part is this – the unit is super quiet. For the power it packs, it works at a mere dB! So while the price may be steep at $350, you can put all your tools to use with this compressor.


  • Higher air storage capacity in the tank
  • Collapsible handles make storage easy
  • Super quiet, especially given its power
  • Very durable in the long run


  • Can not be affordable for all given the price range
  • Extension cord sometimes may fall short which can be annoying

7. California Air Tools 10020C Powerful Air Compressor

California Air Tools 10020C Powerful Air Compressor

At 70 dB, this has to be the quietest air compressor on the list yet. The oil-free pump on this compressor, too, assures low to no maintenance. In addition, it has a potent motor and works great even in cold weather. 

The controls are incredibly user-friendly. This makes it an excellent choice for first-time users. Built for longer-lasting performance, the model has a very sturdy design. The tank on this thing is huge at 10 gallons. But the wheels at the bottom make sure you can move it without hassle. 

The $435 is excellent for such a high-capacity tank and efficient functions. But, the build of the compressor leaves you wanting more.


  • The quietest air compressor yet working at 70 dB
  • Easy to maintain in the long run
  • Easy to use even for first-timers
  • 10 gallon tank


  • Poor build quality 

8. Metabo HPT Pancake air compressor EC710S

Metabo HPT Pancake air compressor EC710S

The simplicity of this air compressor is its appeal. It does not show more than it does. It is an air compressor and gets the job done.

You can work multiple nailers with this, which is a testament to its power. The 6-gallon tank and the pancake build are pretty standard. The maximum capacity is 150 PSI – more than enough for a nail gun. In addition, the air compressor is relatively durable in the long run.

Alas, the Metabo air compressor works at a noise level of 75 dB. So while its $179 price tag is pretty great, it’s also very noisy. This compressor is not for people with noise-sensitivity issues. 


  • One of the more economical air compressors
  • Reliable design 
  • Durable build


  • Extremely noisy when in use
  • There may be other units at a similar price level that are better options

Air Compressors for Nail Gun Buyer’s Guide

Here are the things you should consider before investing in an air compressor for nail guns –

Design and Size

The design and size of the air compressor indicate its storage capacity. A larger tank will store more air. But a “pancake” design also helps with air storage.

In the same vein, some designs are easier to store than others. For example, a vertical model will take up less space in the garage than others. 

When it comes to size, it’s easy to admit that the smaller compressor will store better. But, this is just one of the many things to consider


The size and power of the air compressor you choose could depend on its use. How do you intend to use the compressor with the air gun? For small DIY projects, compressors with a small tank would work perfectly. Anywhere between 1-4 gallons would be more than enough for the same. But, bigger projects require larger power output. 

Air compressors can also be used with other power tools, apart from nail guns. If you intend to go for a broader range of work, you may easily invest in one with a higher power. Air compressors can also be used for tasks like spray painting. Here, you can find the best air compressor you can buy to paint a car!

Air Pressure

CFM stands for cubic feet per meter, and PSI is pounds per square inch. The higher the CFM at a level of PSI, the more the nail gun can work. On average, you see output like 2 CFM at 90 PSI. And the smaller the nail gun, the more efficiently it works at this level. So for a heavy-duty nail gun to work well, you would need a higher number. Think about 4 CFM at 90 PSI, if not more.

You can follow this link to learn more about CFM and how to increase it.

A maximum output of 150 PSI is perfect for nail guns. But, if you plan to use the air compressor with other tools, you would want to look at more powerful compressors.

Engine Lubrication

Some motors or engines use oil to lubricate, whereas others don’t. Oil lubrication can get messy. It will require regular maintenance and oil change to keep the machine functioning. Further, oil spills can cause stains and lead to a mess in the end. Therefore, it is usually best to go for oil-free tanks.

Noise Level

Closer the noise level to 70 dB or lower, the happier your ears will be. Working under loud noise levels can be distracting and dangerous in the long run. Opt for compressors with a quieter noise range, especially when working indoors. 


Portability with air compressors is a big deal, especially if you’re working over a large area. Lugging around heavy machinery is not ideal in any situation. It gets even more annoying if you’re frequently moving within your workspace. So a lightweight and portable air compressor is always a wise choice.


Considering a price point is an excellent option before planning any purchase. Setting a budget helps you narrow down your choices. At the same time, it helps find great options that fit comfortably within budget. For example, air compressors can range anywhere between $100 – $500 or more. Thus, there is a good option for every user out there.

How does an air compressor powers a nail gun?

Air compressors power nail guns by using air pressure. Changes in air pressure below and above the piston allow the nails to get fired. When the pressure above the piston is higher, it forces the driver to hit the nail. This pressure change is controlled by holding the trigger down on the nail gun. Releasing the trigger also releases air pressure in the cylinder.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size air compressor for a nail gun?

Air compressors come in different sizes. But, powering a nail gun does not require much power. Compressors with 4-6 gallon tanks with a maximum output of 150 PSI are more than enough.

Do you need an air compressor for a nailer?

If your nail gun is pneumatic, yes. Other nail guns may work with electricity or even be battery operated. But pneumatic nail guns specifically require air compressors to work. 

Can you use a nail gun without an air compressor?

You can, as long as they are not pneumatic. However, if you want to skip the air compressor bit, consider opting for an electrical nail gun, especially if you do not intend to do heavy-duty work.

Wrapping Up

Nail guns are a highly efficient way of replacing hammers. They work much faster and are a lot more precise. However, pneumatic nail guns require air compressors to work. Air compressors are pretty affordable. In most cases, they can also be used for other purposes, like spray painting. Investing in an air compressor is a wise choice for someone who tinkers around a lot. It saves a lot of time and takes a lot of stress out of your work. So, a small DIY or a bigger project, an air compressor for a nail gun is a great buy!