Best rivet gun buyers guide: Pop it, don’t weld it!

what is the best pop rivet gun for the money
Image courtesy Dano via flickr. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

The best rivet gun will join metal with ease. The type of rivet tool you use may vary depending on your needs. Do you need a manual or pneumatic pop rivet gun?

To help you, I have compiled a list of popular hand rivet guns and pneumatic riveters from Amazon as of June 1, 2016, based on the number of customer reviews and stars. There is also a buyers guide below if you are unsure about which type of pop rivet tool to buy.


The TEKTON 6555 is a best-seller on Amazon. It is a manual hand rivet gun, which comes with 40 rivets. Sizes range from 3/32″ x 1/4″ to 3/16″ x 1/4″.

More than 230 customers have reviewed this tool and given it 4.1 out of 5 stars.

What Amazon reviewers said:

  • “If you need a quick tool to do a few rivets every now and then, this is your tool.”
  • “Does what it should, but it can be a little bit finicky”
  • “Needed a rivet gun for a project – this one had the right quality, some included rivets, good pricing, and versatility. Checked the instructions over and project went fine.”


Astro 1426 heavy duty hand riveter

The Astro 1426 is a heavy duty 1/4″ hand riveter. It has five nosepieces, ranging from 1/8″ to 5/32″ to 3/16″ to 7/32″ to 1/4″.

The tool weighs 4 pounds and is 22 inches long, which provides leverage to pop 1/4″ rivets.

This manual hand riveter has more than 105 Amazon reviews, with an average 4.5 out of 5-star rating.

What Amazon reviewers said:

  • “I love the leverage that I can get on this thing. I put in 500 stainless steel rivets and by far the worst thing about it was drilling the holes.”
  • “This is a great rivet gun for the money. The leverage with the longer levers makes it much easier to draw the rivet tight.”


Astro PR14 pneumatic rivet gun

Astro PR14 air riveter may not be on the Amazon “best-seller” list, but it does have 128 customer reviews who have given it 4.6 out of 5.0 stars.

It is a pneumatic air gun, which includes 1/4″, 3/16″, 5/32″, 1/8″, and 3/32″ nosepieces.

It weighs 3.5 pounds, has a pulling force of 633 pounds, and average air consumption of 2.320 liter/stroke.

What Amazon reviewers said:

  • “I was skinning a trailer with aluminum using 3/16″ rivets. I set over 1000 rivets with no failures.”
  • “60 rivets on a jon boat floor was about as easy as a job could be for this tool. 99% of the rivets were ‘popped’ on the first trigger pull. I ran at full pressure with no issues.”


Types of pop riveters on the market

There are two main types of rivet guns on the market. They are based on their power source for placing the rivets in place: pneumatic and manual pop rivet guns.

They each have advantages and choice is usually dependent on how you will use it and what features you require. Despite one being “manual,” it is still can be quicker to use than welding.

Pneumatic air rivet guns

The pneumatic rivet gun installs the rivet using air power. They utilize compressed air to set the rivet into place quickly and easily. This provides quick and powerful rivet work that will endure heavy duty use in straining environments.

In order to use a pneumatic system, a suitable source of compressed air near the work place needs to be available. This can be in the form of a factory compressed air delivery system or by using portable air compressors.

These types are often found in factories where riveting is done often used for manufacturing products. An airplane factory is a good example of where you’ll find pneumatic riveters. With so much riveting work, pneumatic rivet guns allow for faster production times and higher quality rivet work.

In choosing a pneumatic rivet gun, you’ll want to choose one with the duty cycle that represents your work load. Over-buying is just as much of an issue as under-buying.

Manual rivet guns

On the other end of the spectrum are the manual rivet guns. These are hand operated and kind of resemble a hole punch.

You insert the rivet into the rivet receptacle, place the gun where you want to place the rivet, and then squeeze the handles forcefully. It’s relatively quick and depending on the material that you are riveting, it can be relatively easy.

There are two types of manual rivet guns. There is the more traditional pliers type of gun where handles are squeezed together to place the rivet gun.

There are heavier duty lever operated guns to match workloads and rivet sizes. These use levers to set the rivet and are useful for on-site work.

It’s important to remember that the force to place the rivet is born by the hands. As the amount of riveting increases, the repetitive strain involved in placing and setting the rivet can be a major issue.

For small projects with occasional riveting, manual rivet guns can be the best solution for the job.

They are safe to use and make relatively strong connections. Because of the repetitive strains, you’ll want to avoid purchasing a manual rivet gun for projects requiring frequent riveting.

One thing you will want to go with is a quality rivet gun.

You’ll want to find a gun that offers easy placement of rivets. Some lever operated guns have automatic rivet placement so you can reduce the time in placing the rivet.

Find the best rivet gun and reviews on Amazon.