Home Air compressors What size air compressor do I need for a nail gun

Facing a large variety of air compressors available on the market, many craftspeople find it challenging to choose the most suitable model. This article is for nail gun users. After reading it, you will know how to make a well-informed decision.

Parameters that matter


PSI (pounds per square inch) is an indicator of air pressure. The higher the PSI is, the more air can be compressed in the tank. This parameter is important for nail guns since they are intermittent devices that function well under specific conditions.


CFM (cubic feet per minute) is throughput and the key exploitation parameter for compressors. It shows whether a certain model would be able to process an expected air stream. If you choose too low CFM, a nail gun would process air faster than a compressor can supply it and annoying pauses would impair your labor process.

To make a correct choice, find out what CFM is recommended by the manufacturer of your nail gun. Are you planning to use only one compressor at a time? If yes, it is better to buy the most powerful model. If no, you can opt for several weaker devices and sum up their CFM.

The win-win option is purchasing a compressor with CFM 1,5 higher than recommended by the manufacturer of a nail gun. In such a case, you would have a sufficient throughput gap and perform even the most energy-intensive operations without overloads.

Tank size

Even though tank size is not critical for ensuring the smooth operation of a compressor paired with a nail gun, experts say that a large model is always an advantage. If there are 1-gallon and 15-gallon options sold for the same price, be sure to choose the latter. It is much easier for a device with a large tank to maintain a required CFM provided its pump has higher throughput.

Analyze your work style. Does your tool operate for long and continuously or with short strokes? In the latter case, a less powerful model quite will do.

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