Best Screw Guns of 2020

Updated
Categories Drills
Speed up your work rate and accuracy with a screw gun. 

Like all specialty tools, the best screw guns speed up your work rate and increase your accuracy. Top screw guns make installing drywall and decking a breeze, thanks to their design and ability to countersink screws to the desired depth.

No other tool drives screws flush with such precision. We look at the best screw guns to determine which one is right for you.


Benefits of Using a Screw Gun

The first and most important benefit of using a screw gun is it increases the speed that you work. Fixing drywall requires a lot of screws, and you could use a driver to complete the task, but it would take longer.

The screws must be flush if the installation is to be successful. A screw gun allows you to adjust the depth that the screw goes in, removing the guesswork. Drywall is fragile and can easily crack, especially if you overtighten each screw.

While maybe there are no cracks now, if you get the depth wrong, the integrity of the drywall is compromised and could cause cracks later down the line.

Screw guns also have attachments that feed the screws, much like a nail gun. These clips or magazines speed up your work rate and mean you don’t have to insert the screws into the driver bit manually.

Screw Gun Vs. Drill

Comparing a screw gun and drill is like comparing chalk and cheese. Okay, so they look similar, and both drive screws, but the similarities end there.

Screw guns have one function, and that is to drive screws. They don’t have a chuck that accommodates universal attachments like a drill but instead have a “nose” with a single cross-head or Philips driver attachment for driving screws. They also benefit from adjustable depth, meaning you can set how deep you want the screws, and when they reach that depth, the motor disengages.

Screw guns also have clips or magazines that carry hundreds of screws fixed to a feed. This speeds up the work rate immensely, which is why screw guns are the go-to tool for drywall specialists and construction workers who need speed and accuracy.

Drill drivers are multi-purpose tools that can adapt to many uses. They drive screws, drill, and even have a hammer action that cuts through harder materials like concrete. Drills have more torque to cater to this multifaceted world.

The universal appeal of the drill is all thanks to the 3-toothed chuck that accepts almost all attachments. The downside with a drill is that each screw must be loaded manually, and there is no ability to set a screw depth. This reduces the integrity of the drywall and makes the task a lot harder.

Here’s a handy chart to remember the difference between a screw gun and a drill:

Screw Gun
  • Depth setting feature.
  • “Nose” instead of a chuck.
  • Fixed driver bit.
  • Low torque.
  • One use only.
  • Specialist tool.
  • Comes with a clip or magazine of screws.
Drill
  • Universal chuck.
  • Takes most attachments.
  • Higher torque.
  • Universal tool.
  • Drives, drills and hammer drills.
  • Load screws manually.

How to Choose the Best Screw Gun

Motor

This is your first and most important consideration. The motor determines the torque and speed of your device. You should consider the material you are working with before choosing the screw gun to match.

Drywall and softer materials require less torque but more precision, whereas laying decking or flooring needs brute strength.

Collated or Single Screws

Some screw guns allow you to attach a clip which feeds each screw like a magazine of bullets. It increases your work rate dramatically, so you get more done in a shorter time.

Unless you are working on a mass project that calls for numerous screws at once, you might want to consider using a single screw action. They are lighter and more agile.

Corded Vs. Cordless

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Cordless screw guns are go-anywhere tools that increase the scope and reach of the work you can undertake. If you are working on a job-site, trailing a power cord around can be a trip hazard. With a cordless model, you don’t need to worry about it.

However, a corded screw gun gives you unlimited power, unlike a battery-operated variety that needs charging constantly. You are limited because you need a power socket to plug in the device, and an extension cord should the project be a little out of reach.

Corded

PROS:
  • Unlimited power.
  • Lighter.
  • Cheaper.
  • Unlimited lifespan.
  • Cleaner for the environment.
CONS:
  • Limited reach.
  • Less convenient.
  • Requires a power socket.
  • Power cord is a trip hazard.

Cordless

PROS:
  • Go-anywhere.
  • Versatile.
  • Better for job-sites.
  • No power cord.
  • Snap-on the battery and start work.
CONS:
  • Expensive.
  • Heavier.
  • Batteries have a limited life.
  • Limited runtime.

Brushed Vs. Brushless Motor

Brushed motors have a finite life and require a higher degree of maintenance. They are also less efficient, meaning that if you have a cordless screw gun with a brushed motor, you will likely get less run time from your batteries between charges.

However, brushed motors are cheaper and effective with corded screw guns.

Brushless motors are far more efficient and require less maintenance. They have a longer lifespan and can add as much as 50 percent to your battery’s run time. Brushless motors cost more, but the technology is newer and more advanced.

Brushed Motor

PROS:
  • Cheaper.
  • Better with corded screw guns.
CONS:
  • Need more maintenance.
  • Less efficient.
  • Not suitable for cordless screw guns.

Brushless Motor

PROS:
  • More efficient.
  • Require less maintenance.
  • Better for cordless screw guns.
  • Longer lifespan.
CONS:
  • Expensive.
Learn More
Brushed and brushless drillThe Key Difference Between Brushless and Brushed Drills

The Best Screw Guns of 2020

Screw guns are fantastic tools that make driving screws and fixings a lot easier. Here is our take on the 7 best screw guns money can buy.

1. Makita XSF032Z LXT Cordless Screw Gun

Best Cordless Screw Gun

Makita XSF03Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Drywall Screwdriver (Bare Tool Only)
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This Makita screw gun may not sell in the same numbers as the DeWALT model (mentioned later), but it does win the applause of those who buy it. It has an 18V brushless motor to deliver a longer run time between charges, and the nose piece is adjustable to allow you to choose the depth of the screw.

It also has a battery power gauge to tell you the state of the charge and a lock-on feature for continuous use.

Why We Love It

Brushless Motor

Brushless motors are more reliable and need less maintenance. They also deliver a longer run time between charges, increasing the efficiency of your screw gun.

Extreme Protection Technology

Makita has developed this gun with XPT for improved dust and moisture protection. It makes this the ideal tool for professionals working on a job-site.

All Metal Gears

The gears are metal, and so is the housing, which means this screw gun can tackle the toughest jobs. Also, the quality of the components increases the efficiency of power delivery.

Keep In Mind

Separate Batteries

Makita sells this screw gun as the bare tool only and charges extra for the batteries. The batteries are not cheap and could double the cost of this drill.

Separate Charger

Like the batteries, the charger is an added extra, further increasing the cost of this screw gun.

Additional Specs

Weight3 pounds
Dimensions (inches)10 x 5 x 6
Batteries includedX
RPM4,000
Brushless motor
Price$$$
Warranty3-year

2. Black and Decker 20V Max Drill/Driver

Best Budget Screw Gun

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Cordless Drill / Driver with 30-Piece Accessories (LD120VA)
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Strictly speaking, this is a drill/driver, but as we’ve said previously, drill/drivers are effective at driving screws into wood, drywall and metal. This is our budget choice, and you’d think that for the price, something had to give. But this is far from the truth!

This driver has a 20V motor that creates 750 RPM, and it has 24 clutch positions to help manage the torque and avoid motor burn out. It also comes with a 30-piece accessory set to cover most of your screw driving needs.

Why We Love It

Price

What’s not to love when, for a fraction of the Makita’s cost, this Black and Decker drill/driver comes with all the kit you need to start that drywall project.

Multi-Use

When you finish the drywall, you can slot another attachment into the universal chuck and start another project. This is a versatile tool.

Accessory Set

With a 30 piece accessory set, there is a generous choice of driver bits to cover any size and shape of screw.

Multi-Use Battery

The lithium-ion battery in this driver is interchangeable with other cordless tools in the Black and Decker range.

Keep In Mind

Low Torque

You might struggle to erect metal framing with this tool. It is suitable for wooden batons and drywall but doesn’t have the grunt to tackle anything harder.

Short Run Time

Black and Decker claim that, once charged, the battery will hold a charge for up to 18 months. That’s only if you don’t use it. The battery drains quickly, even on shorter and lighter tasks.

Additional Specs

Weight4.25 pounds
Dimensions (inches)8.9 x 4 x 7.75
Batteries included
RPM750
Brushless motorX
Price$
Warranty2-year limited

3. Bosch PS21-2A 12V Max Pocket Driver

Best Lightweight Screw Gun

Bosch PS21-2A 12V Max 2-Speed Pocket Driver Kit with 2 Batteries, Charger and Case
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If you are looking for something lightweight, this could be the tool for you. It weighs just 1.4 pounds. What Bosch has managed to do is compact a driver into a pocket-size package.

It has 265 in.lbf of torque, a maximum of 1,300 RPM and a 30-minute charger. This set comes complete with a charger and a 2-amp hour battery. The dimensions of this tool enable you to get into really tight spots, and yet it also tackles larger projects like drywall and metal framing.

Why We Love It

Compact Size

It really is tiny compared to some in its class. That’s why Bosch calls it the pocket driver.

Lightweight

At 1.4 pounds, this tool will keep hand and wrist fatigue at bay for longer. It keeps you focused on the task ahead, especially if you fit a lot of drywall.

20 Clutch Settings

Set the clutch, and when the torque level is reached, the clutch disengages the motor to avoid stripping the screw.

Keep In Mind

Build Quality Issues

It seems that Bosch has cut some corners to achieve a competitive price tag for this driver. Some people have reported that the light fails, and the drill function stops working.

Hexagonal Shank

This driver only accepts hex-shaped attachments, so it isn’t a universal chuck. It might restrict you with the number of attachments you can get for this driver.

Additional Specs

Weight1.4 pounds
Dimensions (inches)5.6 x 6.5 x 2.5
Batteries included✓ (2)
RPM1,300
Brushless motorX
Price$$
Warranty1-year

4. DeWALT 20V Max XR Screw Gun

Best Screw Gun for Metal Framing

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Drywall Screw Gun, Tool Only (DCF620B)
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This battery-operated drywall screw gun is deceiving. It has more power than the corded version, and although it is a drywall tool, the 4,400 RPM it generates gives it enough torque and the ability to fix metal framing.

It comes with an optional collated magazine to speed up the work rate, and it has a brushless motor to deliver maximum run time and increase the screw gun’s longevity. It is balanced, ergonomic, has a lockable nose cone and you can set the depth of the screw.

Why We Love It

4,400 RPM

This cordless screw gun is more powerful than the corded version, and it delivers 4,400 RPM, making it the ideal tool to fix metal framework.

Brushless Motor

Brushless motors are smoother, more efficient and require less maintenance. They also increase the run time of your battery.

Ergonomic Design

This is a tool built for comfort, which benefits professionals who fix metal framing and drywall from dawn till dusk.

Keep In Mind

Separate Batteries

It’s becoming increasingly common for well-known brands to sell batteries and chargers separately. This increases the cost of the tool significantly.

Price

DeWALT batteries are not cheap, so you can double the overall costs if you want a functioning tool.

Additional Specs

Weight2.7 pounds
Dimensions (inches)8.25 x 3 x 11.13
Batteries includedX
RPM4,400
Brushless motor
Price$$$
Warranty3-year limited

5. DeWALT 20V Max Cordless Drill/Driver Kit

Best All-Purpose Screw Gun

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Drill / Driver Kit, Compact, 1/2-Inch (DCD771C2)
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This drill/driver kit comes with the battery and charger. It delivers a maximum of 1,500 RPM, and the high-performance motor generates 300 unit watts of power. This makes it a versatile tool and ideal for applications like drywall and metal framing.

If you want an all-purpose tool that does the work of a screw gun and adapts to so many other tasks, this DeWALT drill/driver set is a great choice.

Why We Love It

Adaptability

The universal chuck affords this drill/driver immense versatility. It screws, drills and drives fixings.

Torque

This drill/driver creates 530-inch pounds of torque. It is the ideal tool when erecting metal framing and performing other more robust tasks.

Battery and Charger Included

As you may already have noticed, many name brands like to charge you extra for the battery and charger, but not with this DeWALT set. Both are included.

Keep In Mind

Weak Battery

This set comes with a 1.3 amp-hour battery, so don’t expect it to stay charged for long. You might have to factor in the cost of upgrading the batteries to something with a longer life.

Build Quality Issues

Several buyers have complained that the batteries are defective or only last a couple of charges before dying.

Additional Specs

Weight3.64 pounds
Dimensions (inches)13.88 x 9.88 x 4.25
Batteries included
RPM1,500
Brushless motorX
Price$$
Warranty3-year limited

6. Senco DS332-AC Auto-Feed Screw Gun

Best Auto-Feed Screw Gun

Senco DS332-AC 3' Corded 2500 RPM Auto-feed Screwdriver
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This Senco screw gun takes all the strain out of hanging drywall by auto-feeding the screws. It speeds up the job, and means you don’t have to load every screw manually. And when you need to reload, the new clip comes with 1,000 screws.

It has a variable trigger with lock and reverse functions, it generates 2,500 RPM, and it even comes with 2 drive bits and a carry bag. Senco may not be as well known as DeWALT and Makita, but this screw gun is our choice for the best auto-feed tool.

Why We Love It

Auto-Feed Magazine

The auto-feed screw clip turns a screw gun into a super-efficient tool. Drywall screws should be installed every 12 inches, so if you are drywalling an entire house, imagine the time you will save with this auto-feed.

2,500 RPM

2,500 RPM is more than enough speed to tackle the daily tasks of drywalling and metal framing.

1,000-Screw Magazines

Having 1,000 screws at your disposal increases the bulk capacity of the work you can undertake. Drywalling takes a lot of screws and this magazine frees you to get on with the job.

Keep In Mind

Weight

This screw gun is heavy, weighing in at just under 6 pounds. Watch out for hand and wrist fatigue.

Build Quality Issues

Most of the issues customers have relate to the screw magazines. 3-inch screws don’t feed well, and some have complained that the quality of the screws are substandard.

Short Warranty

This tool only has a 1-year limited warranty. When you compare this to some of the other brands, that’s a short warranty.

Additional Specs

Weight5.6 pounds
Dimensions (inches)17.31 x 3.38 x 9.5
Batteries includedCorded
RPM2,500
Brushless motorX
Price$$$
Warranty1-year limited

7. DeWALT 6.0-Amp Drywall Screw Gun

Best Screw Gun for Drywall

DEWALT Drywall Screw Gun, 6.0-Amp (DW255)
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Once again, DeWALT features on the list. This is a corded screw gun, so you can keep working without worrying about loss of power. It has a set and forget nose depth to ensure that every screw drives to the correct depth, and it has heat-treated steel gears, which makes this screw gun a heavy-duty tool that can take the punishment.

It has a high-speed transmission, a rubber trigger, and it is lightweight and ergonomic so that you can use it all day without suffering from hand or wrist fatigue.

Why We Love It

Easy to Use

Set the depth, load the screw and press the trigger. It is that easy to use.

American-Made

Few power tools are made in America, so it’s nice to see that DeWALT designs and builds their tools in America. This is great if you like to buy American products.

Price

This screw gun is competitively priced, making it incredible value for money.

All Steel Gears

The gears are heat-treated steel to give them durability and strength. It would take a lot to break the gears on this screw gun.

Keep In Mind

Power Cord

While the power cord keeps this screw gun running all day, it isn’t going to suit job-site environments where a trailing cable is a trip hazard.

Additional Specs

Weight2.9 pounds
Dimensions (inches)12 x 10.25 x 3
Batteries includedCorded
RPM5,300
Brushless motorX
Price$
Warranty3-year limited

Screw Gun Comparison Chart

ProductBestWeightDimensionsBatteries includedRPMBrushless motorWarranty
Makita XSF032Z LXT Cordless Screw GunCordless3 lbs10 x 5 x 6″No4,000Yes3-year
Black + Decker 20V Max Drill/DriverBudget4.25 lbs8.9 x 4 x 7.75″Yes750No2-year limited
Bosch PS21-2A 12V Max Pocket DriverLightweight1.4 lbs5.6 x 6.5 x 2.5″Yes1,300No1-year
DeWALT 20V Max XR Screw GunMetal Framing2.7 lbs8.25 x 3 x 11.13″No4,400Yes3-year limited
DeWALT Cordless Drill/Driver KitAll-Purpose3.64 lbs13.88 x 9.88 x 4.25″Yes1,500No3-year limited
Senco DS332-AC Auto-Feed Screw GunAuto-Feed5.6 lbs17.31 x 3.38 x 9.5″No2,500No1-year limited
DeWALT 6.0-Amp Drywall Screw GunDrywall2.9 lbs12 x 10.25 x 3″No5,300No3-year limited
Jump to the Full Screw Gun Reviews

How to Use a Screw Gun

As with all power tools, safety is paramount, so for this task, you will need goggles and a face mask to protect against dust.

1. Set Up the Screw Gun

If you want the screws to be flush in the drywall, you will need to set the driver bit to sit proud of the nose by 1mm. This ensures that once the correct depth is reached, the clutch disengages the motor.

2. Check the Depth

To check you have the screw set at the correct depth, drive one into a scrap piece of drywall. If it sits flush and there is no damage to the drywall, you are good to go.

3. Brace the Drywall

Ensure that the drywall is secured temporarily and in the correct position. You might get someone to hold it in place, at least until you have driven the first couple of screws.

4. Load the Screw

Place the screw onto the driver bit. Raise the screw gun, so it is level with the drywall, with the tip of the screw resting on the surface. Don’t worry about the screw falling out as most bits are magnetic.

5. Drive the Screw

Press the trigger and gently push the screw against the surface of the drywall until it bites. At this point, the screw will feed itself in. When you have reached the desired depth, the clutch will disengage the motor.

Top Tip

Clutch-driven motors can create pinch points, so keep your fingers away from the driving area to avoid injury.

FAQs

How Deep Should Drywall Screws Go?

Drywall screws should penetrate to a depth of between 0.625 inches to 0.75 inches. The screw should be no less than 0.25 inches from the edge of the drywall sheet. This ensures that there is no cracking or stress on the drywall that might later develop into a crack.

How Often Should You Screw Drywall?

Drywall screws should be installed every 12 inches. If you are fitting a sheet of drywall measuring 48 inches wide, you will have 5 screws in each stud. That equates to 2 on the edges and 3 in the middle.

Do I Need a Pilot Hole for Drywall Screws?

It depends on the screws you are using. If you are using specialist drywall screws, they are threaded all the way to the head and have a straight body. These do not require the drilling of pilot holes.

Other screws are cone-shaped and fatter at the head-end than the tip. Also, the threads don’t run along the entirety of the shaft. If you are using this type of screw, it would be a good idea to drill pilot holes.

Top Tip

If you are holding the drywall in place before marking out where the screws will go, you could use nails to fix the drywall temporarily. These could then become your pilot holes when the nails are removed.

Get It Done With a Screw Gun

Screw guns have one task, and that is to drive screws into wood, metal and drywall. They make large projects easy because they take the guesswork out of driving every screw to the correct depth.

The next time you are thinking of fixing some metal framing or hanging drywall, invest in a screw gun, and you will thank your lucky stars you did.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.
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