The best heat gun

A heat gun is a relatively simple yet surprisingly flexible tool used for everything from stripping paint and thawing pipes to circuit board repair and vehicle wraps.

If you need help choosing the right one for the jobs you need to do, keep reading our concise buying guide, which gives you the lowdown on all the technical details and a few product suggestions, too. Our top pick from Porter-Cable is a powerful, high-quality tool that offers great versatility at an excellent value.


Considerations when choosing heat guns

Heat control and range


If you're warming up a frozen pipe or stripping paint, you don't need specific heat, you just want a flow of hot air. Other tasks like shrink-wrapping insulation onto electrical cables or welding PVC require greater control. Entry-level heat guns may only offer one or two temperature settings, which is fine for DIY but insufficient for many production jobs. Better models have a variable control dial, and top-quality guns can be set by inputting the desired temperature on a digital display.

While watts or amps may be quoted, most heat guns -- regardless of price -- have very similar figures. What's more important is their temperature range. Some budget models might only run from around 110°F to 600°F. High-end models can exceed 1,000°F.

There's also air flow to consider, measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). On many heat guns it's fixed, but some have switchable speeds. It's a feature that may not be necessary for many tasks, but if you find it on a mid-range model it certainly adds versatility.


Heat and cool time

If you're using a heat gun for your job, how quickly it heats up and cools down can both be important. Some take under ten seconds to hit the required temperature. On the other hand, some need a rest period before they can be put away safely.


A built-in stand is very useful so there's no risk of you damaging surfaces by putting a hot gun down. On a couple of models these are designed to hold the gun upright, freeing both hands for the workpiece if you need to.


Corded vs. cordless

Cord lengths on corded models can be frustratingly short, meaning you have to keep looking around for an extension cable. Six feet is a workable minimum, though 10 feet is preferred.

Cordless heat guns free you from this restriction and are becoming increasingly popular, though they are an expensive alternative.

Overheat protection

If your gun overheats, it can not only be dangerous but can also shorten the life of the heating element. Good models have protection built in. It may be frustrating that the gun cuts out occasionally and you have to wait a minute or two until it cools down to the proper working temperature, but it extends the life of your tool.



You can find an inexpensive heat gun for around $15, and as long as you don't need great flexibility or very high temperatures, it's fine -- you might even get a selection of nozzles. Quality tools with variable temperature control and twin air speeds run from $20 to $40 and satisfy most people's needs. Cordless and high-performance models are a big step up and can reach $150.


Q. Can I use a heat gun for shrink wrap packaging?

A. It depends on the size of the item. Heat guns are great for shrinking tubing on cables and small wrapping jobs but may struggle to provide sufficient hot air over a wider area. Specialist guns are available for this.

Q. Is a heat gun safer than solvents and gels for stripping paint?

A. You avoid the use of potentially dangerous chemicals, but be careful. Never use a heat gun on lead-based paints because it releases harmful toxins. These products were banned in 1978 so they are no longer common, but when in doubt, use a gel stripper instead.


Heat guns we recommend

Best of the best: Porter-Cable's Heat Gun

Our take: Powerful, versatile, and very affordable tool for homeowner or pro.

What we like: Adjustable temperature from 120°F to 1,150°F via simple dial. Two air speeds. Integrated stand keeps gun upright for hands-free operation. Useful hanging hook. Outstanding value for money.

What we dislike: No nozzles included. Occasional (rare) failures.

Best bang for your buck: BLACK+DECKER's Heat Gun


Our take: Low-cost, versatile all-around choice for DIY use.

What we like: Understand its limited capabilities and you shouldn't be disappointed. Generates plenty of heat (either 750°F or 1,000°F). Light and easy to use. Convenient built-in stand.

What we dislike: Very little. A few buyers report faulty units, but nothing consistent.

Choice 3: DeWalt's Heat Gun

Our take: Feature-packed high output tool for professional use.

What we like: Temperatures from 120°F to 1,100°F, controlled in precise 50° steps via digital LCD. Overload protection. Useful kickstand and hanging ring. 10-foot power cord.


What we dislike: High price puts it firmly in the pro bracket. More fault reports than expected.

Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.