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Published Nov. 23, 2021

Rivet guns don’t always make it into the average tool kit. But they should, as these tools are incredibly useful when trying to install tough joints between metal sheeting. A rivet gun is invaluable on construction sites, but it’s also a must-have if you perform your own auto repairs or vehicle exterior work. Without one of these handy guns, you can find yourself struggling to install rivets of all shapes and sizes. Make your home garage even more capable and well-stocked and add one of the best rivet guns to your tool box. With an array of different types available to choose from, you can equip yourself with everything from a blind rivet gun to a pop rivet gun, plus products for every skill level from newbie to pro. We’ve got you covered with some of the best rivet guns you can buy right here

The Best Rivet Gun

Whether you’re a first-time rivet gun user or an experienced pro, the Astro Pneumatic Tool Hand Rivet Kit is a tool you’ll enjoy using. It’s convenient, simple, and easy to master and gets its job done quickly. This gun features an innovative tool-less quick-change head and lets you easily swap out mandrels and nose pieces by hand, with no extra tools required. Plus, you’ll never have to disassemble the entire tool thanks to its spring loaded inner hex sleeve, which automatically locks the hand-installed mandrel in place. The rivet gun has six interchangeable mandrel and nosepiece sets, plus 10 rivets in standard metric and SAE sizes. You’ll also find the tool’s shorter handle paired with double compound hinges helps you maximize your leverage – a detail that’s especially great for off-road vehicles modifications.

Just make sure you lubricate the gun before using it; it arrives bone dry, making it a real challenge to use it right out of the box. Additionally, the handles don’t pull, which may require some calibration while you get used to the tool’s design.

Specification
  • Brand Astro
  • Model 1442
  • Type Pneumatic
PROS

Powerful leverage thanks to shorter handle

Includes six nosepiece and mandrels, plus 10 rivets

Never needs to be disassembled

Tool-free quick-change head makes it super easy to use

CONS

Must be lubricated before using

Handles don’t pull evenly

The Dorman 743-100 Hand Rivet Gun is an excellent buy if you’re looking for an affordable price and a lot of value throughout a tool’s lifespan. This hand rivet gun may not be fancy or offer extra features, but its sleek design and ease of use make it a worthwhile investment. Plus, with a budget-friendly price, you don’t have to spend a lot to get a whole lot of functionality. Designed to be used for window regulator installation, this rivet gun can install rivets of multiple sizes – meaning you don’t have to swap guns every time a differently-sized rivet is needed. In addition, it features long handles for extra leverage, plus an included storage bottle for your rivets that attaches right onto the handle. As a bonus, this gun is tested by a team of U.S. engineers to give you a bit more confidence in its performance.

Although this affordable rivet gun is nicely capable, it does have some drawbacks: it is a bit limited in its versatility, and since it’s hand-operated, it can be a challenge for some tough jobs. Also, the plastic grips on this gun can wear out faster than its other more durable components.

Specification
  • Brand Dorman
  • Model 743-100
  • Type Hand
PROS

Affordable

Long handles offer more leverage

Includes rivets and open end wrench

Rivet storage container attaches to the tool’s handle

CONS

Plastic grips aren’t the highest quality

Hand-powered, meaning it can be a challenge to use for some jobs

While the Marson HP-2 Professional Hand Riveter is a bit pricey compared to other hand-powered rivet guns, this is one quality tool. It’s made with premium materials, constructed out of cold-formed, heat-treated steel at the square shoulder fulcrum pin to prevent pin rotation and keep your riveting work flawless. The drop-forged carbon steel handles feature cushion-molded vinyl grips for hand comfort while you work, and the high-strength aluminum alloy body makes the centerpoint of the tool durable. It delivers professional-level quality and comes with steel and aluminum rivet heads in sizes up to 5/32 inch. You’ll find this tool to be nice and easy to work with.

Along with its slightly higher price, this rivet gun also doesn’t come with rivets. While it includes the heads you’ll need to work with rivets of different sizes, you’ll have to buy the rivets themselves separately.

Specification
  • Brand Sherman
  • Model 3900
  • Type Hand
PROS

Made with durable, premium materials

Cold-formed, heat-treated steel prevents pin rotation

Cushion-molded grips enhance comfort

Includes interchangeable rivet heads

CONS

Rivets aren’t included

Price is somewhat high

The Milwaukee Electric Tools M12 Rivet Tool may be small, but this is one powerful rivet gun. And if you’ve been using a hand-powered version, you’re going to enjoy how speedy, easy, and efficient your work becomes with this tool. This cordless rivet gut works quickly and maintains consistent performance; it doesn’t require any compressors or hoses but instead runs on a rechargeable M12 battery. It pulls 3/32, 5/32, and 3/16 inch rivets and can handle up to 450 rivets on a single battery charge. Plus, it’ll reduce your muscle effort by more than 60 percent compared to a basic hand rivet gun. And thanks to its rechargeable battery, you can take your rivet gun anywhere and work with ease.

The biggest drawback to this powerful but small rivet gun is that it doesn’t actually come with the battery you’ll need to power it. Instead, you have to purchase the M12 battery separately. Additionally, some users note that the head can feel a little loose while working.

Specification
  • Brand Milwaukee
  • Model 2550-20
  • Type Electric (rechargeable battery)
PROS

Speedier and more efficient than hand-powered guns

Reduces muscle effort and fatigue

Compact size is nicely portable

Rechargeable battery doesn’t require any cords or extra tools

CONS

Battery must be purchased separately

Head can feel loose for some users

If you’re looking for a tool that can withstand rough daily use on construction jobs and hours of auto work, then you might find your fit in the Stanley Contractor Grade Riveter. Designed for contractor-grade riveting performance, this 10-inch rivet gun is made out of tough die-cast metal, making it nicely durable. It’s equipped with a removable ejector spring, which quickly shoots out spent rivet shanks to save time. A long handle gives you better leverage (and makes squeezing for rivet installation easier), and the easy-change nose piece lets you swap between different rivet sizes easily. You can use this gun with aluminum, stainless steel, and steel rivets of various sizes. It can also be used for marine applications, giving you more versatility.

This rivet gun does have a few drawbacks, though. For example, it can jam, and when it does jam, you’ll have to disassemble the entire tool, which can slow you down and frustrate you. Plus, you’ll have leverage, but you may need added strength to get the job done with your hands alone.

Specification
  • Brand Stanley
  • Model MR100CG
  • Type Hand
PROS

Durable die-cast metal construction

Longer handles for better leverage

Easy-change nose piece lets you work with an array of rivet sizes

Works with aluminum, stainless steel, and steel rivets

CONS

When it jams, it has to be completely disassembled

Can be tough to squeeze and requires a lot of muscle

The handles of your rivet gun determine just how much leverage – and power – you’ll have when working with a hand-powered model and the Astro Pneumatic Tool Heavy-Duty Hand Riveter delivers. Designed with extra-long handles and a total length of 20.75 inches, this tool is specifically meant to increase your leverage and give you more strength without more effort. It offers a strong grip in addition to its great leverage, making it easier (and less exhausting) to work with rivets. In addition, the hand-powered gun comes with five standard sizes of nose pieces so that you can work with different rivet sizes, and all of your spent mandrels are collected in an included plastic container for added safety.

Just keep in mind that this tough, leverage-enhancing rivet gun can wind up with a stripped head after a lot of use. Once the head becomes stripped, it’ll become more challenging to pull rivets and work with overall.

Specification
  • Brand Astro Pneumatic Tool
  • Model AST1426
  • Type Hand
PROS

Extra-long length of 20.75 inches

Increases leverage for easier riveting

Includes nose pieces in five different rivet sizes

Comes with a mandrel collection container

CONS

Head can become stripped with significant use, making it more challenging to work with

Best Swivel Head

The Craftsman Pop Rivet Tool offers something that other rivet guns can’t: Its head swivels and twists, giving you 360 degrees of full rotation. It’s a handy detail that allows you to reach into tight spots and even overhead, making it much easier to get a grip on the rivets you’re working with. You can rivet from right angles or straight on with just a little twist of the gun’s head. It works with different sizes of steel and aluminum rivets, and it includes knurled nose pieces that you can swap out easily. Built with heavy-duty die-cast housing, the gun itself is also quite durable. Plus, there’s a detachable container included that collects the spent mandrels for extra safety. It’s easy to work with and angle in any direction necessary.

The one weak spot in this rivet gun is the included mandrel-catching container. Unlike the rest of the tool, it’s made out of plastic, which makes it the least durable component.

Specification
  • Brand Craftsman
  • Model CMHT82674
  • Type Hand
PROS

Rivet head rotates 360 degrees

Can be used straight on or from right angles

Heavy-duty die-cast housing

Works with aluminum and steel rivets

CONS

Spent mandrel collection container is plastic

Not all rivet guns are built for heavy-duty use cases, but the Arrow Heavy Duty Riveter Kit is. Designed to stand up to professional-level use and all kinds of riveting work, this is more than just a gun. It’s a gun and an assortment of 120 rivets in sizes from 3/32 to 5/32 inches. This tool is built for all kinds of riveting tasks, with 100 percent steel construction, a spring-loaded loading system, an extended nose for longer reach, and four interchangeable heads. Additional perks, like spring-loaded molded grips that won’t slip and a handle lock, make it even more convenient for an array of different jobs. In particular, the steel construction makes the gun durable enough to handle almost anything. And you’ll have everything you need, from portability to the right reach for awkward or tight spaces, to make riveting easier.

However, this rivet gun can’t be used with all-steel or stainless steel rivets, as it’s only recommended for aluminum. It’s also worth noting that this gun has a very wide opening distance—you’ll have to open it fully after each pump, and this makes it a two-handed tool if you want it to stay steady.

Specification
  • Brand Arrow
  • Model RH200SKITAM
  • Type Hand
PROS

Includes rivet gun and 120 individual rivets

100-percent steel construction

Non-slip spring-molded grips for comfort

Extended nose offers more reach for tight spaces

CONS

Only recommended for use with aluminum rivets

Wide opening, and you may need two hands for stability

Best Simplified

If you don’t need a whole lot of extras from your rivet gun, the Malco 2IN1 Hand Riveter is a great, streamlined, simplified choice. It’s a stripped-down rivet gun without frills and features. But it’s so easy to use and control that you can operate it with just one hand. This tool features a single long stroke and a short ratchet action so you can set larger-diameter rivets in place, and it offers three different nose pieces – 1/8, 5/32, and 3/16 inch each – to choose from. All of the nose pieces store conveniently in the gun’s handle, too. You’ll be able to set the most popular rivet sizes with this handy gun. A slim nose lets you get into hard-to-reach places, giving you a bit more versatility. And it’s built to last, thanks to its heavy-duty steel body, polished finish, and a layer of nickel-chrome plating. A vinyl cushion grip helps add a little extra comfort to your hands.

The biggest downside is the price, as this rivet gun is expensive for its simplified design. Also, the nose pieces aren’t labeled, which can make picking out the right size for your rivets a bit of a challenge.

Specification
  • Brand Malco
  • Model 2IN1
  • Type Hand
PROS

Heavy-duty all-steel construction with plated finish

Easy to use for larger rivets

Includes nose pieces in three sizes

Slim nose gives more reach

CONS

Expensive

Nose pieces aren’t labeled with their sizes

If you plan to work with all kinds and sizes of rivets, the Ares Professional Pop Rivet Gun might be what you need. This versatile tool, which comes with 60 individual rivets, is designed to tackle everything from sheet metal to automotive uses to ductwork and will work with rivets up to 3/16 of an inch in size. The rivet gun features a high-strength aluminum body, a drop-forged carbon steel upper handle, and a cold-formed, heat-treated steel fulcrum pin for overall strength. In addition, it comes with four nose pieces in common sizes, plus a service wrench so you can swap out the nose pieces as needed. You’ll be able to tackle all kinds of rivets and tasks with this one tool, and it’ll maintain great grab in the process. Plus, it’s backed by a Performance Assurance Limited Lifetime Warranty for a bit of extra peace of mind.

The one potential drawback to this rivet gun is its short handles. Their length limits your leverage and can make it a challenge to tighten rivets, even if you have good hand strength.

Specification
  • Brand Ares
  • Model: 70017
  • Type Hand
PROS

High-strength construction

Includes four nose pieces in different sizes

Cushioned grips for increased comfort

Works with common rivet sizes

CONS

Handles are on the shorter side

Shorter handles require a lot more leverage and muscle strength

How We Selected the Products

In order to choose the best rivet guns available online, we took a look at the many different types and sizes of tools available. We considered rivet guns of all kinds, including hand-powered models, rechargeable battery or electric models, and pneumatic models. In order to identify which guns offered the best performance, longest durability, and most consistent performance, we took a close look at the material of each rivet gun, the strength of that material, and the performance of the nose pieces and handles over time, based on users’ reviews. In the process, we also considered extra details that could help rivet guns offer more comfort and easier use, like the handle length, nose pieces included, and ability to rotate or offer increased reach.

Best Rivet Gun Buying Guide & FAQ

What is Riveting?

Before buying a rivet gun, it is a good idea to know exactly what riveting is in the first place so that you can make sure that you definitely need a rivet gun at all. In short, a rivet is a form of permanent fastening. A rivet itself is metal and is made up of a cylinder that has a head on just one of the ends. The end without a head is known as the rivet’s tail.

To install a rivet, the rivet is put into an already made hole and then the tail end of the rivet is bucked. This means that it actually gets bigger so that the rivet is held in place. Bucking the rivet essentially means that by hitting the head, the tail actually becomes bigger as the rivet is being hit so hard that the tail end is flattening.

When the rivet has been installed, tension loads can be supported by it as there are two head ends in the now dumbbell shaped rivet. It can also take loads that are at right angles to it, which is a rivet’s primary purpose.

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What to Consider When Buying a Rivet Gun

While the use of a rivet tool is easy and straightforward, with little to no specialist training needed, there are still a number of things to consider before you buy a rivet gun. Firstly, you should really think about the amount of rivets you will want to install and how frequently. This will have a big bearing on the product you buy in terms of cost but also in terms of different features that you will want to see in your chosen rivet gun – ie whether you want a pneumatic pop rivet gun or a blind rivet gun amongst others.

Additionally, have a long think about where you will be using your rivet gun. For example, if you out in the open air with no access to electricity, you will need a battery

Type of Rivet Gun

Before you can start narrowing down your rivet gun options and pick out a quality product, you’ve got to decide which type of tool will work best for you. There’s an array of different types to choose from, including single- and two-handed models that are operated with nothing but your own strength and rechargeable battery-powered models that do all the hard work for you. It’s a good idea to think about which style of rivet gun is the most comfortable for your needs, then shop for that exact type.

Frequency of Use

How often you’ll rely on your rivet gun is a key factor to consider when you’re shopping. If you don’t need to turn to your rivet gun very often, a hand-powered model will suit you just fine. However, if you’re frequenting working with rivets – and you’re installing a high number of rivets – you’ll want more speed and comfort. That means you may want a pneumatic or electric model. 

Durability should also be a factor when you think about how frequently you’ll use your rivet gun. If you’re turning to it daily, you’re going to want a professional-level or contractor-grade model, as these can withstand the harshest work environments and use cases. On the other hand, if you’re using your rivet gun infrequently, you won’t need that same level of tough performance.

Versatility in Rivet Sizes

While most rivet guns come with nose pieces that’ll accommodate different rivet diameters, it’s a good idea to consider just how versatile a tool you need. Do you need a gun that’ll cover just a couple of common sizes of rivets? Or do you need a wider range for your work? Take a look at each rivet gun’s included nose pieces in determining just how versatile that particular tool can be and how it’ll suit the rivets you’re working with most frequently. If you’re a first-time user, keep versatility in mind – the more versatile your riveting tool is, the more you’ll be able to do with it, especially as you advance and use it more widely.

operated riveter or a least a riveter that can be operated by hand. However, this obviously has repercussions on the amount of rivets you will be able to install. If you are inside, in a factory for example, a pneumatic rivet gun would be better as it is faster and far more efficient, especially when the repeat setting is used.

Benefits of Riveted Joints

There are a whole host of benefits to employing the use of a riveted joint, which is why they are so commonly used in so many common situations. The benefits of them are:

  • Being far more reliable than typical welded joints when it comes to be exposed to vibrations, shocks and impacts.
  • Non ferrous metals can be used to make a riveted joint as well as non metal materials. This means that far more materials can be used like aluminium alloy, plastic, brass, asbestos or copper.
  • There is no after effect from heat as no heat was ever used to create the joint making it much more stable and reliable.
  • It is easy to see whether a riveted joint has been installed properly and can be used.
  • Dismantling a riveted joint results in the component parts being less damaged than when a welded joint is taken apart.

Different Types Of Rivet Guns

Standard Riveter

A standard riveter is your basic rivet gun – it features two handles, swappable nose pieces, and works with your own muscle power. You’ll use the handles to get leverage to place rivets, and the gun will eject the spent mandrels after each use. This kind of rivet gun does require some strength, and the length of the handles will determine just how much power (and leverage) you have at your disposal.

Two-Handed Riveter

A two-handed riveter, which can also be called a long arm riveter, is a hand-operated rivet gun that’s designed to be used with both hands. These guns have significantly longer arms than your standard riveter, and are designed to provide more leverage for larger rivets. As a result, you’ll get more reach, and you’ll be able to use both hands to compress the handles to deliver more pressure, but they can be a bit trickier to keep stable and steady.

Lazy Tong Riveter

This unique kind of rivet gun isn’t all about the handles or arms, but rather, the body. A lazy tong riveter features an extendable body, which is constructed out of latticed metal. To install a rivet, you’ll push and pull the handles open and closed. It’s a more specialized kind of rivet gun and not one most beginners will need. 

Long Nose Riveter

If you’re trying to install rivets in tight places or at hard-to-reach angles, a long nose riveter is a right fit for you. These rivet guns feature a longer-than-typical or extended nose piece, which gives you anywhere from a little extra length to inches of reach. In addition, they let you stand back a bit and fit your rivet gun right into wherever you need to place your rivets. 

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How to Use a Pop Riveter

Using a pop rivet gun is easy when you know how, which is fantastic news given how useful pop rivets and a pop rivet tool can be. Above, we have listed a few of the best pop rivet guns, but here we look at how to use them.

  • Drill two pieces of metal or plastic to a size that is ever so slightly bigger than the rivet.
  • Pass the pop rivet through the holes in both sheets.
  • Use the rivet gun to push the pin in by squeezing the handles together.

Best Rivet Gun FAQ:

Q: What is a rivet gun?

A rivet gun is also sometimes known as a pneumatic hammer. It is used to install rivets which are a form of joint in various carpentry and metal work projects. They work by hammering the large head end of a rivet into a hole at such a force that the tail, or narrow end, is flattened out to fill the hole it was initially placed in. The force is large in all rivet guns, but especially ones that are pneumatically powered. Rivet guns themselves can vary in shapes and sizes, like a pneumatic pop rivet gun versus a simple blind rivet gun. They also come with a variety of handles, all of which are suitable for different uses. The aforementioned pneumatically powered ones also come with a regulator so that the amount of air that enters the tool can be controlled. The user then controls this with the trigger in the handles. It activates the piston which works back and forth to hit the rivet head that then works in conjunction with the bucking bar to flatten the tail of the rivet.

Q: Should I use protective equipment to operate a rivet gun?

Given that a pop rivet gun is a tool that is used to install rivets into metal, they are very powerful pieces of equipment so we should all be wearing protective gear to ensure our safety at all times. In addition to this, there are number safety precautions we should take on board. For instance, users should ensure that they have thoroughly read the instruction manual before they start using their rivet gun – even if they have used other rivet guns before. Each gun will vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer so users need to be aware of any differences. In terms of protective equipment that should be worn, remember that safety goggles are an absolute must so that your eyes will always be protected from flying particles or debris. In addition to goggles, users should make sure that they wear gloves as well as a jacket. Anyone that is in the same working environment should wear the same kit too, even if they are not operating the gun itself. Avoid wearing loose clothing too as this can get in the way of eyesight as well as the gun itself. Long hair, as a consequence, should be tied back. Other safety precautions to take are, not to use your gun in the presence of explosive materials. Lastly, always point the gun away from yourself as well as other people and when you are finished using it, store it in a safe place.

Q: Does my riveter need any servicing?

Rivet guns should have regular services by a trained professional. Rivet guns can cause a lot of damage if they are not performing correctly, but they are also a piece of kit that should only ever be serviced by an experienced mechanic.

Q: How to remove a rivet if I drive it wrong?

There are a number of ways to remove a rivet if you drive it into a hole incorrectly, regardless of whether you have used a hand rivet gun or a pneumatic model You can remove rivets with a grinder and drill by grinding off as big an amount of the wrongly placed rivet as possible using the grinder and grinding wheel. Care needs to be taken here though that the metal around the rivet is not damaged. Then use a hammer and punch to push or hit the pin part of the way through the rivet. This is a starter hole that will help guide the drill bit. Then, obtain a drill bit that is a whole size smaller than the rivet itself. It is now that you can drill out the last remaining part of the rivet pin. By ensuring that the drill goes right into the center of the pin, the hole won’t get any bigger. The last part of this method is to change the drill bit to a size that is the same as the rivet and then drill out the rivet pin. You can then replace with a new rivet. You can also remove rivets with a chisel. This can be done by literally shearing of the head of the rivet when a chisel is placed flush with the metal surface the rivet has been forced into. Hammer the end of the chisel so that it starts to work under the rivet head. A punch can be used to pull out the pin of the rivet that is left. Lastly, if a rivet has been installed incorrectly, it can be removed with a specialised rivet removal tool. You will need a drill bit the same size as the rivets you are using, though most rivet removers come with a variety of drill bit sizes. Attach the appropriate sized one to your drill and slide the guide and bits in to the correct position on the rivet remover. Start to adjust the drill depth so that when it is turned on, only the rivet is removed. Then, simply drill out the rivet.

Our Top Pick

Astro Pneumatic Tool 1442 13″ Hand Rivet Nut Setter Kit – Metric & SAE W/ 60pc Rivnuts.

Of all the rivet tools on the market, be they a blind rivet gun or a pneumatic pop rivet gun, this is by far our most favored model. We love its ability to have its nose pieces and mandrels changed quickly as well as the sheer amount of power that it has.

Users will not be disappointed when they purchase what, quite simply, the best rivet gun on the market. At least in our humble opinion.

Sources:

  1. How to Use a Rivet Gun – wikiHow
  2. How to Use a Brake Riveting Tool – howstuffworks

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