The 10 Best Rivet Guns to Buy 2020

The 10 Best Rivet Guns to Buy 2020

If you spend your spare time performing home maintenance or redecoration, eventually you’ll come across a problem only a rivet can solve. Your project may involve attaching metal sheets, or perhaps you want to frame that new family portrait in the living room. No matter your reasons, rivets are a great way to connect joints as they’re far stronger and more permanent than screws or nails.

At this point a rivet gun becomes an essential purchase, but how should you choose which one to buy? In this guide, we’ll tell you which factors to consider when making your decision, analyze the best rivet guns available for purchase, and end by discussing everything you should know to choose the rivet gun that meets your needs.

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Rivet Gun

A rivet gun is a tool used to secure a rivet, which is a type of metal fastener, into a joint. Rivets are widely used on projects ranging from home maintenance to aircraft assembly. Which rivet gun you should buy depends on where and how often you intend to use it. Some options won’t be suitable for your needs while others might be overkill.

How Rivets Work

Before we take a look at the ten best rivet guns on the market today, let’s briefly discuss how rivets work and review some key terms we’ll be using in this guide. Blind rivets, sometimes referred to as POP rivets, are one of the most common rivet types. Blind rivets have their name because they’re often used when you can’t see or get to the other side of the surface you’re attaching them to.

The blind rivet has two parts: the mandrel, which is the long, thin portion that’s inserted into the rivet gun; and the body, which is the wider, shorter portion that goes through the hole you want to put the rivet in. A washer-shaped piece sits between them and is referred to as the hat. The mandrel runs through the inside of the body and the rivet gun pulls it out while keeping the hat pressed against the surface.

As the mandrel is pulled out, the body deforms and compacts, which attaches the rivet to the surface. Once the rivet is installed, the rivet gun breaks the mandrel off. You’re left with a nice, smooth finish on the visible side.

If you’ve never used a rivet gun before and want a quick breakdown of how the process works, we cover that in our How Do I Use a Rivet Gun full guide to riveting below.

Rivet Gun Types

There are several types of rivet guns available, each with its own set of pros and cons which make them suitable for different kinds of jobs. Every rivet gun you consider will fall under one of these categories.

Hand Rivet Guns

As the name suggests, your hand does most of the work with this variety since you squeeze on the handle to install the rivet. These rivet guns are usually small, so they fit in tight or narrow spaces. Hand rivet guns also tend to be cheaper than other gun types. However, these guns will strain your hands, wrists and forearms so they’re not the best option when you have lots of riveting to do.

Lever Rivet Guns

This variety gets its name from the levers it has on either side, which simultaneously increase the leverage it provides during rivet installation and decrease the amount of physical strength needed to use it. Lever rivet guns make larger projects easier to complete, but they’re often bigger and more expensive than hand rivet guns.

Battery-Powered/Portable Rivet Guns

The name says it all with this variety. It offers portability since, like a hand or lever rivet gun, you can carry it anywhere. It’s also convenient since you just have to push a button to install the rivet. This variety serves best when you’re working outside. The only real disadvantage to these guns is that you’ll need to recharge the battery sometimes.

Pneumatic/Air-Powered Rivet Guns

Like battery-powered rivet guns, this type works faster and is more powerful than hand or lever rivet guns. It uses compressed air to install the rivet and puts little strain on your hand. If you have lots of riveting to do, this is a great choice. You just need to ensure it always has a hosed connection to a supply of compressed air, which means it’s not as portable as the other types.

What to Look for in a Rivet Gun

Now that you know what rivet gun types are out there and their general pros and cons, we can start discussing which specific qualities you should take into account when browsing different products. We judged all of the rivet guns on our list against these characteristics.

Versatility

Rivets come in a variety of sizes and types, so it’s advantageous to purchase a gun that fits with a decent range. At the very least, your rivet gun must work with the size and type of rivet you’re using.

Ease of Use

If you plan on doing lots of riveting, you’ll want to choose a gun that requires less effort to use so you don’t get tired quickly. The tool’s handle and how comfortable the gun is to use are key here. Rubber handles tend to be the most comfortable. Pneumatic rivet guns are better for those with less physical strength since they don’t require you to pull hard on the trigger or keep a tight grip as you use them.

Durability

You want your rivet gun to last for the duration of your project and a long time afterward. Most rivet guns are made of metal, but the type of metal greatly impacts durability. Iron is durable but heavier than steel. Aluminum is reasonably strong while remaining lightweight. Additionally, it can be used for long periods without discomfort. Heat-treated carbon steel is another option for better durability.

Size

You may want to consider how big of a rivet gun you want, especially if you need it to fit into narrow or awkward spaces. Keep in mind that any size mentioned in a rivet gun’s product name refers to the handle length. The size we’ll list for each gun is its full length.

Now that we’ve discussed rivet gun types, what factors to consider when buying one, and how they work, let’s take a look at the 10 best rivet guns available today!

Top 10 Best Rivet Guns 2020

1. Best Overall Rivet Gun: WETOLS 14” Hand Rivet Nut Tool

WETOLS 14” Hand Rivet Nut Tool

Why we like it: If you’re looking for overall value, it doesn’t get any better than the WETOLS lever rivet gun. It already earns high marks for its incredibly durable construction and wide compatibility range, but when you add in the accompanying carry case and rivet nuts, you’ve got our top pick, especially with its mid-range price.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Lever
  • Size: 15-1/2”
  • What’s Included: 10 rivet nuts for M6, M8, M10, 5/16-18, 3/8-16; 20 rivet nuts for ¼-20; nosepieces for all 6 sizes, 2 nosepieces for ¼-20, 1 nosepiece for each other size
  • Compatibility: M6, M8, M10, ¼-20, 5/16-18, 3/8-16

The WETOLS lever rivet gun has a wide range of compatible mandrels, rates highly on durability and even ships with a convenient carry case for the gun, mandrels and rivets. While this option lacks the mandrel collector cup that other lever guns have, it makes up for that shortcoming with its many qualities and sells for a lower price than some of our other premium choices. If you want a great lever gun that has a collector cup, consider the Astro Pneumatic Tool 1423.

Versatility

The WETOLS lever rivet gun is compatible with a half-dozen rivet types and ships with 10 rivet nuts for each mandrel. This solid compatibility range means the tool will likely be able to install the right rivet size for your project, though there are a few rivets it doesn’t support. Always make sure you choose a rivet gun that works with the rivet size you need.

Ease of Use

The WETOLS tool provides molded grips that make it easier to control the gun and install the rivets. You will have to swap out the mandrel depending on which rivet you need at the moment, but it’s easy to do.

Durability

This rivet gun is made to last between its carbon steel arm and heat treated mandrels. The WETOLS tool was made with longevity in mind, and it’ll be a long time until corrosion sets in.

Pros

  • Case helps for storage, portability and organization
  • Better price than some other premium, all-around options
  • Incredibly durable
  • Solid grip with molded handles
  • Wide compatibility range, comes with at least 10 rivets of each size

Cons

  • Must be unloaded after each use
  • Not compatible with a few rivet sizes, such as SAE 10-24 and M5
  • No collector cup for used mandrels

2. Best Premium Rivet Gun: Astro Pneumatic Tool PR14 Air Riveter

Astro Pneumatic Tool PR14 Air Riveter

Why we like it: The PR14 is a pricier option, but it provides incredible value. It’s trusted among professionals and manufacturers for its convenience, speed and power. If you need to get lots of riveting done quickly or you work in an industrial setting, there’s no better option than the PR14.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Pneumatic
  • Size: 10-7/8”
  • What’s Included: ¼-inch(6.4mm), 3/16-inch(4.8mm), 5/32-inch(4mm), 1/8-inch(3.2mm), 3/32-inch(2.4mm) nosepieces
  • Compatibility: 3/32”, 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16”, ¼”

The PR14 installs rivets quickly and securely, making it a fantastic choice for large-scale projects or professional settings. It’s meant for frequent and extended use, which it pulls off effortlessly as long as you oil it from time to time. Combine those qualities with its longevity and ability to work at any angle, and you’ve got our best premium rivet gun.

You will have to buy rivet nuts separately, though, since none are sold with this gun.

Versatility

The PR14 has a decent compatibility range with nosepieces fitting almost every size from 3/32” to ¼”. It has three nosepieces screwed onto the base so you’re likely to have the one you need on hand.

Ease of Use

The PR14 really shines here. The tool delivers over 2400 pounds of pulling pressure, installing most rivets with just one pull of the trigger. It can also be used at any angle, so reaching awkward spaces is less of an issue. The mechanism resets quickly so you don’t have to wait too long after installing a rivet. It can be operated with or without the plastic cup on the back which catches the used mandrels. If you use the cup, be sure to empty it occasionally.

Durability

This gun is built to last as it’s often used in industrial settings. Just make sure to oil it occasionally, especially if you use it frequently.

Pros

  • Good compatibility range, fits with 5 nosepieces it comes with
  • Very powerful, installs rivets quickly
  • Works at any angle
  • Meant to be used often, good for large projects

Cons

  • More expensive than most options
  • Needs oil occasionally
  • Unlike other options, doesn’t come with any rivet nuts

3. Best Budget Rivet Gun: Astro Pneumatic Tool 1423

Astro Pneumatic Tool 1423

Why we like it: The Astro 1423 is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t want to break the bank on a rivet gun. It offers many of the benefits of our top choices, but it costs notably less.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Lever
  • Size: 13-1/2”
  • What’s Included: 1/8-inch(3.2mm), 5/32-inch(4mm), 3/16-inch(4.8mm), 6mm, ¼-inch(6.4mm) nosepieces
  • Compatibility: 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16”, 6mm, ¼”

The 1423 is notably less expensive than some of our other top choices, but that doesn’t translate to a decline in product quality. With a solid compatibility range, a unique design that provides incredible leverage, and a convenient compact design, this is a great choice for anyone on a budget. On the other hand, it does occasionally have some issues with gripping rivets properly so you might also consider the Astro Pneumatic Tool 1442, our pick for the best lever gun.

Versatility

The 1423 comes with 5 nosepieces fitting sizes from 1/8” to ¼”, giving it a comparable compatibility range compared to other choices on this list.

Ease of Use

The 1423 has a unique double compound hinge design that provides significant leverage especially when installing blind rivets. Like the PR14, this gun has a plastic cup on the back to collect used mandrels. However, sometimes the 1423 has issues with setting rivets and ejecting spent mandrels into the collector cup. You may have to point the tool toward the sky, then open and close the handles to set a new rivet or make the used mandrel fall into the cup.

Durability

This rivet gun is surprisingly durable considering its price. It retains its strength after hundreds, sometimes thousands, of installed rivets.

Pros

  • Double compound hinge design gives great leverage for blind rivets
  • Fits in narrow/awkward spaces
  • Good compatibility range
  • Very durable considering the price

Cons

  • Sometimes the tool struggles to grip properly and eject used mandrels

4. Best Lever Rivet Gun: Astro Pneumatic Tool 1442

Astro Pneumatic Tool 1442

Why we like it: With its immense leverage, quick-change mandrel system, reasonable size and great compatibility range, the Astro 1442 easily earns its place as our top lever rivet gun.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Lever
  • Size: 15”
  • What’s Included: 10 rivet nuts for M5, M6, M8, 10-24, ¼-20, 5/16-18; 1 nosepiece for each size
  • Compatibility: M5, M6, M8, 10-24, ¼-20, 5/16-18

Like others of its brand, the Astro 1442 offers immense leverage with its compound hinge design, and it’s small enough to fit into awkward spaces. Add in 6 compatible mandrel/nosepiece sets and 10 pieces of each size, and you get your money’s worth.

Versatility

The 1442 is compatible with a 6 rivet sizes, half of which use Metric measurements (centimeters, millimeters, etc.) while the others use SAE measurements (inches, feet, etc.). The gun comes with 10 rivets of each type. There are also optional mandrel/nosepiece sets for 8-32 and 3/8-16 available for separate purchase.

Ease of Use

As with other Astro rivet guns, the 1442 has a compound hinge design that grants the user incredible leverage and minimizes the physical strength required to use the tool. This gun also allows for quick nosepiece/mandrel changes by hand.

Durability

Some oil must be applied at the pivot points and the knob that holds the mandrels if you buy one of these brand new. You should also make sure not to apply too much force when using this tool as you could break the mandrel. The manufacturer posted a warning with this product to exercise caution, particularly with smaller rivets. You can try to set a practice rivet in the air to get a feel for how much strength you should use. Just be sure to stop applying pressure once you feel the rivet is secure.

Pros

  • Great compatibility range with 6 nosepieces and 10 rivets of each size
  • Double compound hinge design provides significant leverage
  • Easy to swap mandrels and nosepieces

Cons

  • More expensive than most options
  • May require lubrication on pivot points and the knob
  • Per manufacturer’s recommendation, exercise caution with smaller rivets

5. Best Lever Rivet Gun Set: REXBETI 14” Rivet Nut Tool

REXBETI 14” Rivet Nut Tool

Why we like it: The REXBETI kit is a reliable upper mid-range price option, offering many of the benefits of the higher-ranked items on this list like great leverage, immense durability, wide compatibility, and a carrying case.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Lever
  • Size: 15-3/10”
  • What’s Included: 10 rivet nuts for M6, M8, M10, ¼-20, 5/16-18, 3/8-16; 2 nosepieces for ¼-20, 1 nosepiece for each other size
  • Compatibility: M6, M8, M10, ¼-20, 5/16-18, 3/8-16

The REXBETI serves as a great all-around, mid-range choice since it’s incredibly durable, easy to use, has a good compatibility range and a carrying case for the tool and its accessories.

The only drawback is that sometimes the nosepieces can break easily. Luckily, REXBETI offers free replacement nosepieces. If you want a rivet gun where nosepiece durability isn’t an issue, then try the WETOLS Rivet Nut Tool, which is also cheaper than the REXBETI—but keep in mind that it’s a hand rivet gun, so it won’t be suitable for anything more than light-duty projects.

Versatility

As with others on this list, the REXBETI is compatible with 6 different rivet sizes and 10 pieces of each type. Half of the rivets use Metric measurements while the other half use SAE measurements.

Ease of Use

The REXBETI has long arms and soft handles to make installing rivets as easy as possible. Additionally, you can quickly change the mandrel and nosepiece by hand. A carrying case is included with purchase, containing a specific spot for each component so all items can be transported without fear of damage.

Durability

The tool is made of heat-treated carbon steel, which resists corrosion and ensures it will last a long time. As we mentioned before, the mandrels can break, so be sure to contact the manufacturer for a free replacement if that happens.

Pros

  • Extra durable since it’s made from heat-treated carbon steel
  • Longer arm and soft handle make it easy to use
  • Decent compatibility range with 6 nosepieces and 10 rivets of each size
  • Comes with a carrying case for convenient storage, organization and portability
  • Can swap mandrel and nosepieces by hand

Cons

  • Nosepieces can be a bit brittle

6. Best Hand Rivet Gun: Marson 39000 HP-2 Professional Hand Riveter

Marson 39000 HP-2 Professional Hand Riveter

Why we like it: The HP-2 is a good hand rivet gun for anyone on a budget. While it lacks some of the features of other rivet guns on this list, it delivers with durability and a comfortable grip, making it a great choice for home projects.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Hand
  • Size: 10.2”
  • What’s Included: Service wrench, 4 mounted nosepieces (3/32”, 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16”)
  • Compatibility: 3/32”, 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16” (only compatible with stainless steel rivets up to 5/32”)

If you’re looking to save some money and you only need to install smaller rivets for a personal project, then this is the rivet gun for you. This tool provides reasonable durability and works for rivets up to 3/16”. Unfortunately, the HP-2 doesn’t come with rivets, so you’ll need to buy them separately. Autlead’s Hand Rivet Gun does come with plenty of rivets, though, so you can take a look at that one if you’d rather not search for rivets as a separate purchase.

Versatility

The HP-2 offers a compatibility range between 3/32” and 3/16”. Its four compatible nosepieces are mounted on the front of the tool.

Ease of Use

This rivet gun has cushion-molded vinyl grips for greater comfort. You’ll need that extra cushion since this is a hand rivet gun, meaning you’ll need decent grip strength to operate it, especially for lengthy projects.

Durability

The HP-2 has an aluminum alloy body and a carbon steel upper handle, which grants it decent durability. If you’re making frequent, extensive use of it, the HP-2 will eventually require replacement. However, if you only plan to use it occasionally for home or vehicle maintenance, it will last much longer.

Pros

  • Durability good enough for home/personal use
  • Comfortable grip
  • Decent compatibility range
  • Smaller than most other options, good for fitting in narrow spaces

Cons

  • Purchase does not come with rivets
  • Might not be durable enough for commercial/industrial use without the occasional replacement
  • Not the best for long projects due to reliance on grip strength

7. Best Hand Rivet Gun Set: Rivet Gun With 100-Piece Rivets

Rivet Gun With 100-Piece Rivets

Why we like it: This rivet gun set from Autlead is durable, small and offers a decent compatibility range. Combine that with all of the rivet nuts and nosepieces included with a purchase, and you get your money’s worth!

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Hand
  • Size: 9-1/16”
  • What’s Included: 25 rivet nuts for 3/32”, 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16”; nosepieces for each size included on the handle, user manual, Kraft paper box
  • Compatibility: 3/32”, 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16”

If you were wondering which option on our list will offer the most value for the lowest price, then this is it. As long as it’s compatible with the rivets you want and you don’t mind the typical drawbacks of hand rivet guns, this option could be your go-to riveting tool.

Versatility

This rivet gun offers a decent compatibility range between 3/32” and 3/16” and comes with 25 rivets for each size. It also works for aluminum, steel and stainless steel rivets. However, this option doesn’t come with a carrying case, so you’ll need to buy a storage unit separately.

Ease of Use

Although this tool relies on grip strength as all hand rivet guns do, this one is still relatively easy to use. The rivet head can be changed tool-free.

Durability

This tool is made to last as it features an aluminum alloy body and a handle of heat-treated carbon steel.

Pros

  • Great durability due to its aluminum alloy body and heat-treated carbon steel handle
  • Works for aluminum, steel and stainless steel rivets
  • Decent compatibility range
  • Small size allows you to fit it into narrow spaces

Cons

  • Relies on grip strength
  • A carrying case would have been nice to help organize all the rivets

8. Easiest Rivet Gun to Use: TACKLIFE 14” Auto Pumping Rod Rivet Nut Tool

TACKLIFE 14” Auto Pumping Rod Rivet Nut Tool

Why we like it: The TACKLIFE Auto Pumping Rod Rivet Nut Tool features a unique design that speeds up the rivet installation process. With this option, you can say goodbye to threading rivet nuts by hand.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Lever
  • Size: 14”
  • What’s Included: 5 rivet nuts for M5, M6, M8, M10, 10-24, ¼-20, 5/16-18; 1 nosepiece for each size, plastic carrying case
  • Compatibility: M5, M6, M8, M10, 10-24, ¼-20, 5/16-18

The TACKLIFE tool features a great compatibility range with 7 mandrels and a storage case to keep them safe and organized. It has strong durability as well, but the star of the show here is the pumping rod, a signature design choice which greatly speeds up the rivet installation process.

Versatility

The TACKLIFE tool features an exceptional compatibility range with 7 mandrels, but unfortunately it only comes with 5 rivet nuts of each size.

Ease of Use

The mandrels/nosepieces can be easily changed by hand. The pumping rod also makes installing rivets faster than ever since you won’t need to manually thread each nut. Once you’ve attached the right mandrel, simply open the handles, pull out the rod, and place the rivet nut on the head with one hand while pushing the rod with the other hand. Next, you use the tool to install the rivet like with any other lever rivet gun and then pull the rod to remove the nut.

Durability

The TACKLIFE tool consists of an iron body and carbon steel arms, allowing for a durable construction. Normally, iron noticeably increases a rivet gun’s weight, but this product clocks in at just 2.4 pounds.

Pros

  • Remarkable compatibility range with 7 mandrels
  • Works with aluminum, steel and stainless steel rivets
  • Comes with its own storage case
  • Thick carbon steel arms and iron body provide significant durability
  • Pumping rod speeds up rivet installation

Cons

  • Only comes with 5 rivet nuts for each mandrel

9. Best Large Rivet Gun: Dorman 743-100 Hand Rivet Gun

Dorman 743-100 Hand Rivet Gun

Why we like it: It’s the largest options on our list, but it justifies its greater size with its ample leverage and an attached mandrel collector cup and nosepieces on the handles that you can use to swap out the one on the head at any time.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Lever
  • Size: 17-3/4”
  • What’s Included: 10 rivet nuts for 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16”, 7/32”, ¼”; nosepieces for each size; service wrench
  • Compatibility: 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16”, 7/32”, ¼”

The Dorman 743-100 has a good compatibility range, great leverage and is light on your wallet. It also has a bottle attached to the handle you can use to store your rivets.

Its greatest strength is also its weakness, however, since the long handles that provide more leverage make it larger than most other options and harder to fit in cramped spaces. If you want another great lever rivet gun that won’t make working in tight spaces quite as hard, take a look at the Astro Pneumatic Tool 1423.

Versatility

The Dorman 743-100 has a good compatibility range from 1/8” to ¼”. It works with 5 rivet sizes and comes with 10 rivets for each one.

Ease of Use

Here is where the Dorman 743-100 really shines. The tool offers outstanding leverage due to its longer handles, which means you won’t need as much physical strength to operate it. You might need to apply a bit of oil to its joints the first time you use it, as the tool can be stiff when brand new.

Durability

The Dorman 743-100 has solid durability for its price. Plus, if it breaks during normal use because of faulty manufacturing, the manufacturer offers a limited lifetime warranty to replace the tool for free.

Pros

  • Good compatibility range from 1/8” to ¼”
  • Has storage bottle for rivets attached to the handle
  • Has limited lifetime warranty
  • Longer handles provide more leverage

Cons

  • At nearly 18” long, could have trouble fitting into small spaces
  • You may need to apply some oil to the tool the first time you use it

10. Best Portable Rivet Gun: Milwaukee Electric Tools 2550-20 M12

Milwaukee Electric Tools 2550-20 M12

Why we like it: If you’re riveting outside or otherwise far from any outlets or power supply, then a handheld, battery-powered rivet gun is the way to go. When it comes to handheld options, you’d be hard pressed to find one better than the M12 Rivet Tool.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type: Portable
  • Size: 10-3/4”
  • What’s Included: Nosepieces for all compatible sizes
  • Compatibility: 3/32”, 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16”

Featuring a decent compatibility range, 2,000 pounds of pulling force, a compact design and the ability to install hundreds of rivets per charge, the M12 is a great all-around handheld rivet gun.

Versatility

The M12 is an incredibly versatile tool. Not only does it work for rivets between 3/32” and 3/16” in size, but it’s also compatible with aluminum, steel and stainless steel rivets.

Ease of Use

The M12 demands far less grip strength than a typical hand rivet gun, allowing you to take on large projects more easily. It also works much faster than a typical hand or pneumatic rivet gun.

Durability

The M12 is remarkably durable, capable of installing up to 450 1/8” steel rivets or 250 3/16” stainless steel rivets per charge. The downside is that the spent mandrels from smaller rivets can get stuck, forcing you to remove the jaws and take out the mandrels. There’s also a risk that the tool’s jaws can break or crack.

Pros

  • Decent compatibility range from 3/32” to 3/16”
  • 2,000 pounds of pulling force
  • Little strain on hands and forearms
  • Installs hundreds of rivets per charge
  • Works for aluminum, steel and stainless steel rivets

Cons

  • Used mandrels from smaller rivets can get jammed in the waste tube
  • Jaws can break or crack
  • Doesn’t come with carrying case or rivets

Complete Guide to Riveting

rivet gun being used

Obviously you’ve got a lot to think about when choosing a rivet gun. There are plenty of great products out there, but you need to buy one that fits your needs. Keep reading for a discussion on how to determine which rivet gun is the best for you as well as answers to some common questions new riveters may have.

How Do I Use a Rivet Gun?

The exact method of using each rivet gun varies a tiny bit, but in general there is a standard procedure that you can follow when riveting. After drilling a rivet hole and attaching the appropriately-sized rivet to your gun, all you do is place the rivet through the holes, hold the gun tight against the surface, and pull the trigger.

It’s a pretty simple process, but if you’d like to see it in action it might be helpful to watch this video before you get started.

What Kind of Project Are You Attempting and Where Are You Doing It?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise by now that if you’re undertaking a large-scale project or buying a rivet gun for frequent factory use, a small hand gun isn’t your best option. Similarly, a large industrial-grade gun is hardly suitable for a quick home maintenance job. Think about how often you’ll need to use your new rivet gun.

You should also consider your immediate surroundings. A larger rivet gun won’t help you if you need to reach tight spaces, but that’s not a problem if you’ll be using it in an open area. If you’re working outdoors, a battery-powered rivet gun works best.

Large Industrial Projects

If you’re working in an industrial area or taking on a big project, a pneumatic gun is your best bet since they’re meant to handle frequent use and install rivets quickly. In this case, consider the Astro Pneumatic Tool PR14. If you’re working in an open area and need a cordless rivet gun, take a look at the 2550-20 M12.

Small Household Projects

If you’re doing a smaller project or just need a rivet gun for occasional use around the house, then a hand or lever gun works fine. If you’ll only rarely use your rivet gun, then a hand rivet gun like the Marson 39000 HP-2 will be enough.

The Mid-Range Option

If you need something with more power that requires less physical strength to use or you think you’ll need to rivet more often, then try a lever rivet gun. For those, you’d be best off with our top choice, the WETOLS Hand Rivet Nut Tool.

Feel free to browse any of the options we’ve presented in this guide when making your decision. If you don’t think the specific choices we just recommended work for your needs, that’s okay, but the general guidelines regarding which rivet gun types suit which kinds of projects still apply.

When Should I Use a Rivet Instead of a Screw?

rivet gun and rivets

As this article explains, solid rivets possess more shear strength than screws. That is, when they are installed in a direction perpendicular to the ground, they do a better job than screws at fighting gravity. They are also near-perfect at resisting vibration, which is why they’re often used on steel bridges and aircraft. Rivets are meant to last, and consequently they’re far harder to remove than screws. If you need a fastener to bear a strong shear load for the long haul, a solid rivet is your best bet.

Pop rivets are like a less extreme version of solid rivets. Unlike solid rivets, they have a hollow shaft, which makes them weaker. On the other hand, it also makes them easier to remove.

What Safety Precautions Should I Take When Using a Rivet Gun?

Safety is always essential when you’re working with power tools. Make sure you wear safety glasses at all times and never point your rivet gun at yourself or any other person or animal. You should also tie back any long hair and consider wearing a jacket and gloves for maximum protection.

Finally, read your owner’s manual for directions on proper use if your purchase comes with one and check the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.

How Many Types of Rivets Are There?

While we’ve spent most of our time discussing blind rivets, there are actually three other types as well: tubular, solid and split. Each of the four types have their own advantages for certain applications and there are plenty of options for each type. If you want to learn more about rivet types and their uses, read this article.

How Often Do I Need to Oil My Rivet Gun?

There’s no universal consensus on this question. Normally, however, if your rivet gun requires initial assembly, you should oil it before you start using it. You should also oil the rivet gun before each work session and whenever you perform cleaning or maintenance on it.

Keep in mind this advice only applies to pneumatic and lever rivet guns. Hand and battery-powered rivet guns like the Marson 39000 HP-2 Professional Hand Riveter won’t need oiling.

How Do I Remove a Rivet If I Make a Mistake?

Rivets are meant to be more permanent than nails or screws, so it’s recommended you exercise caution when deciding where to install them as they’re harder to remove than other fasteners. However, there are a few ways you can remove them if you make a mistake.

Using a Drill to Remove a Rivet

One option is to use a drill to force the rivet out through the surface. For this method, you’ll need a hammer, punch, some lubricant and a drill.

  1. First, hold the punch against the top of the rivet and hit the flat end of the punch with the hammer to make a divot.
  2. Then, attach a drill bit that’s roughly the same size as the divot you just made and lubricate the bit so it doesn’t overheat when you drive it through the rivet.
  3. Next, place the drill bit against the divot and start drilling at a slow, steady speed.
  4. Continue to apply pressure until the rivet has been forced through the surface.

Grinding off a Rivet

Another option is to grind the top of the rivet off before drilling the rest of it out through the surface. You’ll need a grinding wheel, punch, some lubricant and a drill.

  1. Start by holding the grinding wheel parallel and close to the surface, then turn it on and slowly cut through the rivet head until it’s removed.
  2. Then, place the punch in the middle of the rivet and hit the flat end with the hammer like in the previous example to make a divot.
  3. Next, drill a pilot hole all the way through the rivet that’s roughly the same size as the divot you just made, making sure to lubricate the drill bit before using it.
  4. Finally, attach a larger drill bit that’s about the same size as the rivet, lubricate it, place it into the pilot hole and drill all the way through again, applying firm and steady pressure to push the rivet out.

Hammering or Chiseling out a Rivet

You could also try using a hammer and chisel. Begin by wedging the chisel’s sharp end between the rivet head and the surface, then hit the end of the chisel with the hammer to break off the rivet head. Now you just have to place the chisel’s sharp end on top of the rivet and hit the dull end with the hammer until the rivet is pushed through.

Rivet Removal Tools

One last option is to use a rivet removal tool. There are a number of these tools available for purchase, just make sure you buy one with a drill bit that matches the size(s) of the rivet(s) you want to remove, and follow the product’s instructions for proper use.

For a more in-depth look at rivet removal and the methods we just discussed, you can read this article.

Time to Get Riveting!

woman dressed as rosie the riveter

After reading this riveting guide to riveting you should have a solid idea of what types of rivet guns are available, what attributes determine a rivet gun’s overall quality, and how to find one that suits your particular needs. If you have any remaining doubts, just remember the words of the most famous riveter of all time, Rosie.

We can do it!