Hammer Tacker vs Staple Gun: Comparison and Contrast

When you do a lot of DIY projects and you deal with fabrics often, then sooner or later you’ll need a good stapler for fastening tasks.

You can use a staple gun for this, but a hammer tacker may work as well.

These tools can be used for a variety of tasks, such as to secure carpet padding, fabric, screening, poster board, fencing and ceiling tile.

You can use them on wire and weather stripping too.

But which particular tool will work best for a specific task?

Let’s take a closer look at these 2 tools to find out more—although you may think of them as 3 distinct types of tools.

Staple Gun

This is also known as the trigger gun, and its design is pretty much like a gun. You hold the grip in one hand, while you use the other hand to place and secure the fabric or item you want to fasten.

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The term “trigger gun” is sometimes reserved for the manual tool that’s powered by a spring. When you close your hand on the grip, you compress the trigger and then you activate the spring mechanism that drives the staple gun.

These manual staple guns can be designed for light-duty, but others are heavy-duty models. These are affordable but your fingers may get tired squeezing on the trigger. Still, a staple gun doesn’t need much space to use.

Electric Staple Guns

These are electrically-powered staple guns that do things faster and easier. With this, you’re not as quick to suffer from muscle fatigue. You may have to deal with kickback, and so you may need to use 2 hands for this tool.

One hand can still hold the grip and squeeze the trigger. The other hand is needed to press down on the housing to prevent the kickback.

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Since these staple guns are much easier to fire up, you’ll want to get a staple gun with a safety switch to prevent accidental firing. The safety switch locks the trigger as a precaution, somewhat like the safety of a real handgun.

These tend to be more expensive, and the electric cord can be bothersome. However, there are cordless models you can use that are powered by rechargeable batteries.

Hammer Tacker

As the name implies, this time you don’t fire the tack from a gun. Instead, you use this much like a hammer and the staple is your nail. You don’t need electrical power or even a spring system that can malfunction. Basically, you just nail the staple home.

The staples are typically inserted through the handle, and then you just swing it to where you want to put the staple. You don’t need to actually hold the staple in your other hand to drive it home.

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However, this method doesn’t give you the chance to put the staple precisely where you want to put it. But if you practice and gain experience, you can learn to put the staple pretty much in the bull’s eye.

This method does need a bit of space so you can swing back the hammer and drive the staple by force. If you’re in a cramped area or you’re positioned awkwardly, this isn’t going to go very well.

However, this tool is great if you’re tacking down vapor barriers, carpet padding, and other large materials.

Check best palm nailer reviews here.

Staples Used

Light duty staple guns can load in 3 sizes of staples. These are the ¼-inch, 5/16 inch, and ⅜-inch staples. Keep in mind that often a staple gun can only accept the staples made by the same manufacturer.

The heavy-duty staple gun can also load the ¼-inch, 5/16 inch, and ⅜-inch staples. In addition, they can also use the ½-inch and 9/16-inch staples.

With the light-duty hammer tacker, you need the ¼-inch, 5/16-inch, and ⅜-inch staples too. The heavy-duty hammer tacker can use these staples along with the ½-inch staples. There are extra heavy-duty hammer tackers that can drive a heavy-gauge ¾-inch staple, as these hammer tackers are often used to put down roofing shingles.  

So why get the light-duty staple guns and hammer tackers when the heavy-duty versions can use more types of staples?

The answer here is that the light-duty versions are much lighter. The heavy-duty versions are often twice as heavy and therefore can tire you out more quickly.

Hope you enjoyed this.

Jerry Jhonson

Jerry Johnson is a tech & tool geek who loves to talk, discuss and review different tools used for our day to day life. All the tools reviews and guides described in this site are completely from his personal experience and own observations.