How to Clear a Jammed Nail Gun?

If you’re someone who does DIY projects regularly, then you know how frustrating any hindrance can be while you’re working.

But there are few setbacks as absolutely annoying as a jammed nail gun. When you go to pull the trigger and no nail is produced, that’s when you know you have a jammed nail gun on your hands.

In this article, I’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to deal with this unsavory situation.

Safety First

You hopefully don’t need me to tell you how dangerous an errant nail can be. They’re sharp, sneaky little things. The last thing you want is to be caught in the eye by one. They might even get in your hand.

As such, you should always wear two things when you are working with a nail gun. Especially, when you are trying to clear one out.

Even if they make you feel stupid, put on a pair of safety goggles. Then, get some thick gloves that are made for heavy duty.

You should already have these things if you DIY often, but if not, buy them right away!

Disconnect Power Source

This is a no-brainer, but it’s of utmost importance for your personal safety. The last thing you want is to fire your nail gun on accident!

If your nail gun is corded, unplug it. If it uses batteries, take those batteries out. Make sure there’s no possibility of the gun suddenly starting up on its own.

Clean the Gun

Now it’s time to clean your gun. You don’t need much, just a clean rag.

Use that rag to wipe underneath the gun. Why do you need to do this?

Once you succeed in ejecting the nail that’s jamming up the gun, you’ll want to see it right away. When you’re cleaning, remember to face the gun away from you.

Take Off the Barrel

Now we’re getting down to business. Your next task is to open the barrel of the gun.

Now, this is not applicable for every nail gun out there, but yours may have a release lever. The very function of this lever is to assist you in releasing the jammed nail.

If your nail gun does come with this release lever, the good news is that you won’t have to read beyond this step.

But what if your nail gun has no release lever? Well, first sit down and re-think your life choices. Then, I guess you’re just going to have to keep reading, won’t you?

Find the Jammed Nail and Remove It

Now you’ll have to manually search the barrel for the stuck nail. This might take some time, but you have to be patient.

For this step, your first tool of choice should be your fingers. In most cases, that will be good enough to help you move the offending nail or nails.

But if the obstruction is really bad, you can use either a pair of pliers or another nail.

Now, it’s time to start pulling and tugging. Using whatever tool you’ve selected, try to prise the nail or nails that are jamming up your nail gun.

Once you have succeeded, now you have to remove the nail.

Once again, this is a time-consuming task. If you’re hasty and impatient, it will likely take even more time to get through this step. You also want to avoid damaging the barrel of the gun.

Once you’re done, make sure to check the nail path and nose piece of your gun for any damage.

Refill Your Nail Gun Barrel

Once you’ve removed all the errant nails that have this far succeeded in making your life hard, it’s time to celebrate your victory.

Once you have been reinstated as the master of the nail gun, now you must refill it to replace the nails that were behaving badly. Make sure all the nails are facing in the same direction.

This is also a good time to oil your nail gun. Lubrication is of utmost importance.

Close Up the Gun and Do A Test Run

Once you’ve replaced the errant nails, the final step, obviously, is to close up the gun. But all your work means nothing if the jam is not clear yet.

Accordingly, it’s time to do a test run.

Plug your nail gun’s cord back into its power outlet, or put the batteries back in.

At this stage, your nail gun should be able to fire properly. If you’ve done the job properly, there won’t be any jams, of course.

Remember, when you are trying out the newly unjammed nail gun, you have to be very careful. Make sure to direct it away from yourself. Once again, nail guns are dangerous, and one accident can ruin your life forever.

What If the Nail Gun Fails to Work?

You’ve been through so much to try getting this nail gun to work. How will you possibly handle it if it still doesn’t work?

You know the old saying –  “have you tried turning it off and on again?” You must do exactly that. Sometimes our problems really do have the simplest solutions.

Gun still not working after you’ve rechecked the power source?

Yes, it’s exhausting, but now you have to reopen the nail gun. You must now look thoroughly for signs of a malfunctioning nail gun. These are usually in the form of coil wire or jammed fasteners.

If after this you’re still unable to work the gun, at this stage there’s little else for you to do. Your best bet is probably just to take the gun to a hardware store and have it checked.

Learn to Avoid Nail Jams in The Future

I know, it seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people neglect their tools.

There is no magical solution to avoiding jams in your nail gun forever, of course. However, you can start by oiling your nail guns regularly. It’s a time-consuming task, yes, but it’s necessary. And it only takes a few drops.

Just insert the drops of oil into the mouth of the gun. The lubrication will keep the nails inside moving smoothly. It will also prevent dryness, which can, in turn, cause friction and leave you with a jammed nail gun.


Now that you know how to clear a jammed nail gun, this shouldn’t be a problem for you in the future.

If it does, let me know in the comments section, and I’ll be there to help you.

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