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15 gauge vs. 16 gauge

tals's picture

Hello everyone:

I'm a longtime reader, and now a firsttime poster to this forum.

I have read numerous threads about the different finish nailer pro's and con's, but I have never seen anyone discuss what type of carpenters prefer what type of nailer. Or for that matter, the kinds of jobs that are better suited to which gauge gun and nail.

Any thoughts would be appreciated,


(post #121961, reply #1 of 9)

Hello JonnyP.

I'm new here!

Seems everyone carries 16 gauge nails,(handy if you travel). The only 15 gauge I know of, is the Bostich FN nailer.

(post #121961, reply #2 of 9)

I've seen 15g in about every possible brand of gun.


(post #121961, reply #3 of 9)

I really don't see the fuss.  I've had a large crew of trim and cabinet men working for me for 14 years now, and I've seen a lot of work done with both 15g and 16g nails.  None of the work has failed because of wire nail thickness.

For trim and cabinets, either will do.  The 15g we use most often are for Porter Cable guns.  They come straight in the clip.  The 16g we use most of are for Porter Cable and Senco guns.  They come in an angled clip and are inchangable between the two brands of guns. 

It really comes down to what style of gun do you feel most comfortable shooting.  A gun with straight clips or a gun with angled clips.  I prefer the angled because that's what I started out with.  But my 18g are all straight.  Oh, and don't forget the 23g micro pinner.  What a sweet gun.  Great for small delicate mouldings or returns.

In my opinion, the wire size between 15g and 16g is so miniscule as to render the argument moot.  But people will argue anything.

Ed. Williams

(post #121961, reply #4 of 9)

Thanks for the replys guys:

The point about the thickness is accurate to me, but you wouldn't believe how many people tell me otherwise. I have done an experiment with hand nailing 2" 16 ga. nails and 2" 15 ga. ones, and the 15 ga. are less susceptible to bending and seem to perform more like hand drive finish nails (2d?). Whether or not that translates to greater shear strength or pullout resistence, I don't know.

I have had some awkward situations with positioning a PC 16 ga. gun on inside crown corners. The comfort level is a consideration for me as well.

My desire is to get the most versatile gun for the money. I do remodeling, so I'm not strictly a trim carpenter. Nor do I have to bang out trim work on a super fast production schedule.

Along with versatility, I want quality, and I've recently come to feel that my PC gun is lacking in that area. I started out with a PC trio of guns: framer, 16 ga, and 18 ga. After a few years I replaced the framer with a Paslode 350, and the difference is night and day in terms of feel and sense of quality. That "upgrade" is what I'm looking for now.

Please keep the comments coming.


(post #121961, reply #5 of 9)

I like the 15ga. better for exterior trim work.

A bit more beef for the weather.

(post #121961, reply #6 of 9)

Id go with a 15 guage, I have an old senco sfn1 and a sfn40 and never have problems. The old one has been rebuilt 1 time in 10 years or so and I bought it used. Then id get an 18 guage that shoots to two inches or more and that would bypass the 16 guage. That would be the most versatile combo in my opinion.

(post #121961, reply #9 of 9)

Have you considered the 16 guage Paslode Impulse.  Sounds like it might fit your needs well.  Available in both straight and angled.  I prefer the feel angled. 

(post #121961, reply #7 of 9)

15 ga for door jambs and 18 for everthing else, all i ever use except for a 23 ga for cabinet trim

caulking is not a piece of trim

caulking is not a piece of trim

(post #121961, reply #8 of 9)

Yeah, what Steve said.