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Thread: What's the difference between 15 ga and 16 ga?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Franklin, Tennessee
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    What's the difference between 15 ga and 16 ga?

    Answer: 1 ga

    I am fixing to buy a finish nailer, and I've got it narrowed down to a couple (unless someone here talks me out of it). I've been looking at the Hitachi NT65M2 16 gauge nailer and the Hitachi NT65MA2 15 gauge nailer. (I already own the Hitachi NT50AE2 18 gauge brad nailer & like it).

    So, what are the advantages/disadvantages of a 16 ga vs a 15 ga? Strength, power, weight, cost of fasteners? What criteria do I use to pick between the two?

    Anybody have one, the other, or both & can pass along any learnings?

    Any insight you have will be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by John M Wilson View Post
    Answer: 1 ga

    I am fixing to buy a finish nailer, and I've got it narrowed down to a couple (unless someone here talks me out of it). I've been looking at the Hitachi NT65M2 16 gauge nailer and the Hitachi NT65MA2 15 gauge nailer. (I already own the Hitachi NT50AE2 18 gauge brad nailer & like it).

    So, what are the advantages/disadvantages of a 16 ga vs a 15 ga? Strength, power, weight, cost of fasteners? What criteria do I use to pick between the two?

    Anybody have one, the other, or both & can pass along any learnings?

    Any insight you have will be greatly appreciated!
    15ga Nailers in a nutshell, drive thicker nails. So thus they have more power behind them, weigh a tad more(shouldnt be an issue unless you do construction all day lugging them around), and unfortunately the nails probably cost about a penny/doz more than 16ga.

    Essentially from what I read: 16 guage is good for tacking on things (Ex: a moulding on the edge of a piece of plywood being used as a keyboard tray). Whereas 15 guage holds better for things that take more abuse(Ex: Tacking on the slides to the desk)

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    The typical 16ga finish nainler fires a nail/brad very much like a 18ga brad nailer. It looks just like an 18ga brad but slightly bigger. Probably should be called a 16ga brad. Slightly more strength in the shank and a tiny bit more head than 18ga brad. The big difference compared to 18ga is the capacity for 2.5".

    The typical 15ga finish nailer is the angled feed type and fires a round nail with a round head. Very much like a finish nail that you drive with a hammer. Alot more holding power, particularly where the size of the head is important for holding power. Huge hole to fill if you are not covering it up with something.

    There are unusual varients of at least one of the above but the ones you mentioned follow the norm. If you were doing the finish work in an entire house you would want both along with the 18ga.

  4. #4
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    The 15ga is just a tad hevier. I have a 23ga, 18ga (1 brad 1 stapler), 16ga and framing nailer, never ran into anything that made me feel like I needed anything else.

  5. #5
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    Ditto what Greg said. 16GA is an over grown brad, maybe good to hold basic base molding, back bands, smaller bed moldings, panel mold set at an angle that 18ga wont quite reach. I would not hang large casings or most crown with a 16ga. 15 ga has more in common with a framing nailer than a brad nailer in terms of build and power. It has that "your going to stay where I put you" sort of effect on moldings. It also has that "big darn entrance hole that must be filled" sort of effect, so I only use it where its needed, and it has that "I will blow small moldings to smithereens" type of effect too. I remember the first time I tried to shoot a small cove in with mine. Stupid. Boom, cove molding split and crushed!

    There is a place for both, I use the 18ga and 15ga mainly. Mine is a PC, so I can't help on brands, but most hitachi guns I have used have been very good.

  6. #6
    You need to have both. If there was a 15.5ga, you'd need that one too.

  7. #7
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    Since you have an 18 gauge brad nailer, I suggest skipping the 16 ga. and get the 15 gauge. It shoots real nails.

    John

  8. #8
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    Hmm. Well, all the actual answers have been given. So, since 16 ga is truly the sweetest gun to use for bird hunting:
    16 ga is the size of a bore that will hold 16 lead balls that add up to a pound. 15 ga is a wee bit bigger, 15 balls filling it will add up to a pound. But really, 15ga is too much, and 12 gauge is WAY too much gun...
    Thread on "How do I pickup/move XXX Saw?" http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?p=597898

    Compilation of "Which Band Saw to buy?" threads http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...028#post692028

  9. #9
    Great thread....
    I plan to install a bunch of shelf supports, made from Maple, about 3/4" thick...the supporting structure will be Maple or Baltic Birch Ply...

    My fear of 15g was, it would split the hard Maple, it is 1.25" wide. ... I know the 16g has no problems, cause I use it all the time, but as mentioned previously, the 16g brad is quite wimpy for this applicaiton..... I don't have a 15g nailer....yet....

    Any wood cracking or blow-out with 15g into hard woods?

  10. #10
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    The 15ga is just a tad hevier. I have a 23ga, 18ga (1 brad 1 stapler), 16ga and framing nailer, never ran into anything that made me feel like I needed anything else.
    +1 to that.
    I have more or less the same setup.

    However...

    I'm planning on replacing the nastly old hollow core bedroom doors with some six panel oak ones @ some point. I've budgeted in a 15 ga. nailer for that project.
    I've hung numerous hollow core pre hung doors w/the 16 ga, but, my gut feeling is that 16 ga isn't enough for the oak doors.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    15 ga is better suited for door trim, inside house trimwork. The larger diameter and heads have better holding power. For most woodworking tasks, a smaller gauge is more than adequate and leaves smaller holes. 18ga or 23ga usually fits the bill.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Franklin, Tennessee
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    Thanks!

    Once again, SMC provides such great feedback! Based on the discussion, I just "pulled the trigger" on a Hitachi NT65MA4 15 gauge nailer (updated version of the NT65MA2).

    I figured I had the brad world about covered with the 18 ga I had, and needed the holding capability of nails with real heads.

    Thanks for all the advice & Happy Nailing!

  13. #13
    John....ditto, I just did the SAME!

    I always felt the 16's were too close to the 15's to justify another nail gun, but after this thread, and an upcoming project which needs more holding power, I searched the Amazon reviews and went with the same Hitachi you did!

    Of course, owning a few Hitachi nail guns, it would take some really negative reviews to steer me away from future Hitachi gun purchases. But as expected, the 15g have the same glaring reviews as the other Hitachi gauges I own. The Dewalt scored high, but at the same price point, so I excecuted my brand loyalty. It seems some makers excel at certain product lines, and yet, fall short in other lines. Hitachi routers and corded drills are mediocre.

    Festool is the exception, but considering their consistent top tier pricing, its to be expected.

  14. #14
    I have a Hitachi NT65MA2 15-ga nailer.

    Most of the 16 ga. nailers are straight base and the 15 ga. are angled - easier to get in corners.

    I bought mine to nail casing thru our house.

    No problems with the Hitachi

  15. #15
    Interesting thread. I asked the same thing a couple of months ago and the answer was totally different. That thread indicated that the 15 ga is for hanging doors and the 16 is for inside trim.

    Hope my base and case does not fall off with the 16 ga nails in it.

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