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Best Manual Caulking Gun for 2021

Matt By Matt April 14, 2021

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Manual Caulking Gun

Caulking is a super important tool to have in your home maintenance kit. As homes age, small cracks and holes develop, which lead to water intrusion. If you don't seal these up within a few months, the moisture accumulation can cause serious damage. This is where a caulking gun comes in handy.

To create this article, we spent hours researching product data and user reviews for different manual caulking guns. After reviewing the data, we've compiled a list of our top picks.

Tip: If you need help, then we recommend skipping ahead to our buying guide which lists important things to consider when purchasing a manual caulking gun.

Best Manual Caulking Guns: Our Top Picks

Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Caulking GunNewborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Caulking GunBest for Thin CaulkTube Type: CartridgeThrust Ratio: 10:1Total Price: $VIEW LATEST PRICERead Our Analysis
SolidWork Professional Hand Caulking GunSolidWork Professional Hand Caulking GunBest for Thick CaulkTube Type: CartridgeThrust Ratio: 26:1Total Price: $$VIEW LATEST PRICERead Our Analysis
Albion Engineering B12S20 Sausage GunAlbion Engineering B12S20 Sausage GunBest Sausage TypeTube Type: SausageThrust Ratio: 12:1Total Price: $$VIEW LATEST PRICERead Our Analysis
Red Devil 3989 Extreme Duty Caulk GunRed Devil 3989 Extreme Duty Caulk GunGreat ValueTube Type: CartridgeThrust Ratio: 26:1Total Price: $VIEW LATEST PRICERead Our Analysis
Dripless Caulking Gun ETS2000Dripless Caulking Gun ETS2000Best Drip FreeTube Type: CartridgeThrust Ratio: 12:1Total Price: $VIEW LATEST PRICERead Our Analysis
Albion Engineering B12 Caulking GunAlbion Engineering B12 Caulking GunGreat for Thin CaulkTube Type: CartridgeThrust Ratio: 12:1Total Price: $$VIEW LATEST PRICERead Our Analysis
Albion Engineering B26 Caulking GunAlbion Engineering B26 Caulking GunGreat for Thick CaulkTube Type: CartridgeThrust Ratio: 26:1Total Price: $$VIEW LATEST PRICERead Our Analysis

More Details on Our Top Picks

  1. Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Caulking Gun

    Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Caulking Gun

    Best for Thin Caulk

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    The Newborn 930-GTD cartridge caulk gun is ideal for low viscosity caulk. It has a 10:1 reduction ratio, making it perfect for thinner caulk, such as silicon-based products found at your local hardware store. A seal punch tool, ladder hook, and caulk tube cutter are also included with the 930-GTD.

    A steel construction half-barrel frame that fits 1/10 gallon cartridges and a smooth ratchet-style pressure rod are also design features. The rod itself is designed to be drip-free. When you let go of the trigger, the rod slightly retracts, relieving pressure on the tube and preventing dripping.

    • Tube Type: Cartridge
    • Thrust Ratio: 10:1
    • Total Price: $
    • Drip-Free Feature: Yes
    • Integrated Piercing Rod: Yes
    • Integrated Ladder Hook: Yes
    • Caulk Capacity: 10 ounces
    • Integrated Tube Cutter: Yes
  2. SolidWork Professional Hand Caulking Gun

    SolidWork Professional Hand Caulking Gun

    Best for Thick Caulk

    Shop Now at Amazon

    The SolidWork professional caulking gun is intended for heavy-duty caulking. It has a 26:1 thrust ratio for added leverage and a patented pressure screw for fine-tuning the grip. The frame is also of high quality, made of aluminum for long-lasting performance and easy cleanup.

    A built-in ladder hook, 360-degree rotating assembly, integrated seal punch, and a handy storage box are among the other features. The only drawback we discovered was the lack of a tube cutter on the handle.

    • Tube Type: Cartridge
    • Thrust Ratio: 26:1
    • Total Price: $$
    • Drip-Free Feature: Yes
    • Integrated Piercing Rod: Yes
    • Integrated Ladder Hook: Yes
    • Caulk Capacity: 10 ounces
    • Integrated Tube Cutter: No
  3. Albion Engineering B12S20 Sausage Gun

    Albion Engineering B12S20 Sausage Gun

    Best Sausage Type

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    For the price, the B12S20 B-Line is an excellent manual sausage caulk gun. It has a thrust ratio of 12:1, which is ideal for standard viscosity material. The B12S20, like Albion's other caulk guns, features a double gripping plate technology for increased lifespan and reduced wear.

    A large 20-ounce capacity sausage tube (compared to 1/10-gallon cartridges), a full-size handle for added comfort, and a slew of included accessories are also highlights.

    • Tube Type: Sausage
    • Thrust Ratio: 12:1
    • Total Price: $$
    • Drip-Free Feature: No
    • Integrated Piercing Rod: N/A
    • Integrated Ladder Hook: Yes
    • Caulk Capacity: 20 ounces
    • Integrated Tube Cutter: N/A
  4. Red Devil 3989 Extreme Duty Caulk Gun

    Red Devil 3989 Extreme Duty Caulk Gun

    Great Value

    Shop Now at Amazon

    The Red Devil 3989 is a heavy-duty caulk gun for the thickest materials. The most notable feature of this model is its 26:1 thrust ratio, which translates to approximately 950 pounds of force. It's ideal for high viscosity materials that require extra power. The high thrust ratio, on the other hand, makes it slightly more difficult to control with less viscous materials like standard latex and caulk.

    A rotating barrel for true 360-degree application, drip-free technology, a seal puncture tool, and a ladder hook are also included. All that's missing is a spout cutter.

    • Tube Type: Cartridge
    • Thrust Ratio: 26:1
    • Total Price: $
    • Drip-Free Feature: Yes
    • Integrated Piercing Rod: Yes
    • Integrated Ladder Hook: Yes
    • Caulk Capacity: 10 ounces
    • Integrated Tube Cutter: No
  5. Dripless Caulking Gun ETS2000

    Dripless Caulking Gun ETS2000

    Best Drip Free

    Shop Now at Amazon

    The Dripless ETS2000 is an industrial grade caulking gun with a sturdy build and a lightweight design. It is 40% lighter than competing models and has several ergonomic features to reduce stress in your arms and hands during prolonged use.

    In terms of performance, the ETS2000 has a 12:1 thrust ratio, making it ideal for acrylic, latex, and silicone caulk. An EZ clean surface, ladder hook, nozzle cutter, and seal punch tool are also included in the design. Finally, the dripless feature on this model is one of the best on the market, resulting in less caulk coming out of the tip after releasing the trigger.

    • Tube Type: Cartridge
    • Thrust Ratio: 12:1
    • Total Price: $
    • Drip-Free Feature: Yes
    • Integrated Piercing Rod: Yes
    • Integrated Ladder Hook: Yes
    • Caulk Capacity: 10 ounces
    • Integrated Tube Cutter: Yes
  6. Albion Engineering B12 Caulking Gun

    Albion Engineering B12 Caulking Gun

    Great for Thin Caulk

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    The Albion Engineering B12 is a well-designed industrial-grade caulking gun with a 12:1 thrust ratio. The manual drive thurst delivers 375 lbf (120 psi), which is the sweet spot for most caulk used around the house.

    It's built for daily use, with a steel frame and an unbreakable black handle. The B12's standout feature is a double gripping plate for increased lifespan and extended use. Along with the two-plate design, Albion's team added a cartridge puncture wire, ladder hook, and wear adjustment screw to the gun.

    • Tube Type: Cartridge
    • Thrust Ratio: 12:1
    • Total Price: $$
    • Drip-Free Feature: No
    • Integrated Piercing Rod: Yes
    • Integrated Ladder Hook: Yes
    • Caulk Capacity: 10 ounces
    • Integrated Tube Cutter: No
  7. Albion Engineering B26 Caulking Gun

    Albion Engineering B26 Caulking Gun

    Great for Thick Caulk

    Shop Now at Amazon

    The Albion Engineering B26 is a well-designed industrial-grade caulking gun with a 26:1 thrust ratio. The manual drive thurst delivers 900 lbf (300 psi), which is more than enough for thick caulk like cold polyurethane.

    It's built for daily use, with a steel frame and an "unbreakable" black handle. The B26's distinguishing feature is a double gripping plate for increased lifespan and extended use. Along with the two-plate design, Albion's team added a cartridge puncture wire, ladder hook, and wear adjustment screw to the gun.

    • Tube Type: Cartridge
    • Thrust Ratio: 26:1
    • Total Price: $$
    • Drip-Free Feature: No
    • Integrated Piercing Rod: Yes
    • Integrated Ladder Hook: Yes
    • Caulk Capacity: 10 ounces
    • Integrated Tube Cutter: No

Manual Caulking Gun Buying Guide

A manual caulking gun is an essential tool that every homeowner should have in their toolbox. It simplifies the process of sealing cracks and holes, and you can easily purchase a high-end model without spending a lot of money. However, there are many different types of caulk guns on the market, and deciding which one to buy can be difficult for some people. In this article, we will go over the important factors to consider when purchasing the best caulk gun for your needs.

Important Considerations when Buying a Manual Caulking Gun:

  • Drive Type
  • Tube Style: Cartridge vs. Sausage
  • Thrust Ratio
  • Automatic Pressure Release
  • Built-in Cutter
  • Piercing Rod
  • Revolving Frame
  • Ergonomic Grip & Comfort of Fit
  • Easy to Clean
  • Brand

Drive Type

The drive type of a caulk gun indicates how the caulk is extracted from the tube. Manual, pneumatic, and cordless caulk guns are the most common types of caulk guns.

Manual - The most common type of caulk gun used by homeowners and contractors alike is a manual caulk gun. It is available in both ratchet rod and smooth pressure rod styles. It is also the most affordable option when compared to cordless and pneumatic models. The extreme portability and low price come at a cost: user fatigue with prolonged use. If you plan on using more than 20 tubes of caulk at once, you'll feel it in your hands and figures.

Pneumatic - A pneumatic caulk gun is powered by compressed air and has an infinitely variable thrust ratio. It's simple to use and keeps your hands from getting tired after a while. The only drawback is the lack of portability due to the need for an air hose and an air compressor to power the pneumatic caulk gun.

Cordless - A cordless caulk gun is the new kid on the block and the best option for high-volume caulking. It's a battery-powered caulking gun that allows you to work without stopping. What's not to like about that? The main disadvantage is the price. A $200 electric caulking gun (without a battery) is not uncommon. However, if you already have batteries in the brand's ecosystem and a lot of caulking to do, it's clearly the way to go.

Tube Style: Cartridge vs. Sausage

The next question is whether you need a cartridge caulking gun or a sausage caulking gun.

The most common type of gun is a cartridge-style gun, which uses hard-shell tubes of caulk that resemble giant crayons. Because they are the most common, you've probably used them or seen them at your local hardware store.

A sausage caulking gun differs in that it does not use a hard-shell tube, but rather what appears to be a tube of ground beef or sausage (hence the name). Slide the soft-shell tube into the caulk gun's enclosed container, slit the end, and then attach a nozzle. The capacity and bulk pricing of a sausage-style caulk gun are advantages. A sausage tube has roughly twice the capacity of a standard tube (which means less swapping out empty tubes) and can be purchased in bulk (so better pricing).

Manual Caulking Gun Tube Type Comparison:
ModelTube Type
Albion B12Cartridge
Albion B26Cartridge
Dripless ETS2000Cartridge
Newborn 930-GTDCartridge
Red Devil 3989Cartridge
SolidWork Caulk GunCartridge
Albion B12S20Sausage

Thrust Ratio

Thrust ratio is an important consideration when purchasing a manual-drive caulk gun, but not for the reason you might think.

Let's start with the basic principles. The caulk gun pushes the plunger rod forward and forces the caulk out of the tube when you squeeze the trigger. The thrust is determined by the amount of hand pressure applied to the trigger, and the distance the piston moves in response to that force determines the thrust ratio and pushing force required.

As an example, consider the following: In a gun with a 10:1 ratio, if the trigger moves 10mm, the plunger moves 1mm. In a gun with a 26:1 ratio, if the trigger moves 26mm, the plunger moves 1mm.

The popular misconception is that the higher the thrust ratio, the better the caulk gun. However, this could not be further from the truth. A higher thrust ratio indicates how easily thicker material - i.e., more viscous caulk - can be pushed out. Viscosity can be thought of as how slowly or quickly something moves due to internal friction. Water, for example, has a low viscosity, whereas lava has a high viscosity. Lava has a viscosity 100,000 times that of water.

Similarly, depending on its chemical composition, each type of caulk has a different viscosity level. Silicone caulk, for example, is very viscous and does not require a high thrust ratio to easily remove. However, asphalt or cement caulk is a thicker material with a low viscosity, and it requires the extra power provided by a high thrust ratio to be pushed out of the tube.

You may be wondering if there is any disadvantage to simply purchasing a high thrust-ratio caulk gun and using it on all types of caulk (both thick and thinner materials). The main disadvantage of this method is the loss of control when using high viscosity caulk such as acrylic, silicone, and latex. Because these products are so fast, it's difficult to maintain control when using a high thrust ratio caulk gun. As a general rule, buy a caulk gun with a ratio of less than 15:1 for acrylic, silicone, and latex.

Manual Caulking Gun Thrust Ratio Comparison:
ModelThrust Ratio
Newborn 930-GTD10:1 ratio
Albion B1212:1 ratio
Albion B12S2012:1 ratio
Dripless ETS200012:1 ratio
Albion B2626:1 ratio
Red Devil 398926:1 ratio
SolidWork Caulk Gun26:1 ratio

Automatic Pressure Release (AKA: Drip-Free)

"Drip-free" technology is the most popular buzzword in the caulk gun industry, and with good reason. If you've never used a caulk gun before, the most common issue is excess caulk flowing from the nozzle after you've finished caulking.

This is why it occurs: The plunger applies force to the end of the caulk tube and pushes the caulk out as you squeeze the trigger. When you finish caulking a section, however, the plunger continues to apply force to the tube and caulk continues to flow from the nozzle.

If you don't have a drip-free caulk gun, you can relieve the pressure by pressing the release trigger and pulling back on the plunger. However, this isn't instant, and some caulk still leaks from the tube. It also takes more time, and you still end up with a messed-up nozzle and sticky hands.

A drip-free caulk gun, on the other hand, does not have this issue. When you release the trigger on a caulk gun with drip-free technology, the plunger automatically releases pressure! As a result, there will be less mess and you will be able to complete the job more quickly.

Manual Caulking Gun Drip-Free Feature Comparison:
ModelDrip-Free Feature
Albion B12No
Albion B12S20No
Albion B26No
Dripless ETS2000Yes
Newborn 930-GTDYes
Red Devil 3989Yes
SolidWork Caulk GunYes

Built-in Cutter

Before you begin caulking, you must cut the tip of the caulk tube. Cutting the tip at 45 degrees with a utility knife is a common practice. However, you may not always have access to a utility knife. What if you're standing at the top of a ladder? Do you really want to come all the way down just to grab your knife and cut the tube?

You can avoid the hassle of using a separate cutting tool if your caulk gun has a built-in cutter near the handle. If it does, insert the gun's tip into the spout cutter and squeeze the trigger! It couldn't be easier!

Manual Caulking Gun Integrated Tube Cutter Comparison:
ModelIntegrated Tube Cutter
Albion B12S20N/A
Albion B12No
Albion B26No
Red Devil 3989No
SolidWork Caulk GunNo
Dripless ETS2000Yes
Newborn 930-GTDYes

Piercing Rod

If you're new to caulking, you might be wondering why caulk isn't coming out of the nozzle when you squeeze the trigger after cutting the tip. Don't worry; it's a rookie blunder that nearly everyone makes.

The reason caulk does not come out is because a tube of caulk usually has a foil seal that must be pierced. But how do you do it? You can MacGyver it with a coat hanger or a utility flag you may have lying around. Alternatively, you can purchase a caulk gun that includes a piercing rod. It's usually under the cartridge holder or close to the handle. Flip it over and insert it into the cut nozzle, and you're ready to caulk!

Manual Caulking Gun Integrated Piercing Rod Comparison:
ModelIntegrated Piercing Rod
Albion B12S20N/A
Albion B12Yes
Albion B26Yes
Dripless ETS2000Yes
Newborn 930-GTDYes
Red Devil 3989Yes
SolidWork Caulk GunYes

Revolving Frame

Another thing to consider is whether you need a caulk gun with a revolving frame. How is this useful? Well, let's say you're doing some fine detail caulk work on your baseboard or trim. In those situations, you cut the tube tip at 45 degrees, align it with the baseboard, and pull the trigger to get a consistent bead of caulk in the gap.

So what's the problem? Well, as you round a corner, your arms naturally rotate the caulk gun, causing the cut angle to become unaligned with the wall. The result is a messed up bead of caulk!

How can you avoid this problem? Easy. Just get a caulk gun with a rotating frame. It allows you to rotate the caulk tube, independently of the trigger mechanism, a full 360 degrees! You can keep the angle of the tip aligned with the wall for a perfect bead of caulk as you round a corner.

Ergonomic Grip & Comfort of Fit

If you intend to do heavy-duty caulking, the ergonomics and ease of use of a caulk gun are important considerations.

Comfortable Grip - When using a caulk gun, squeezing the trigger too hard is the quickest way to tire out your hands. A pair of leather gloves can only do so much, and your hands will be tired at the end of the day. A set of padded handle grips is a low-cost solution. Padded grips are inexpensive and pay dividends in terms of long-term comfort and ease of use.

Weight - A solid steel caulk gun only weighs a few pounds, so weight isn't an issue unless you're using it all day. However, the most obvious way to reduce fatigue is to lose a few pounds and switch to an aluminum or composite caulk gun. From a durability standpoint, an aluminum caulk gun is preferred over a composite frame.

Easy to Clean

Higher-end caulk guns are more expensive, but they last much longer because they are easier to clean and maintain. Many high-end models are designed for complete disassembly and cleaning after large caulking jobs. Some are easier to disassemble than others, so if this is a concern, you should research each model separately.

Brand

The brand of anything is important, including a caulk gun. However, unless you buy a knockoff, most manufacturers produce high-quality caulk guns. We don't have a "best" brand to recommend, but we can provide a list of well-known brands with a large number of satisfied customers.

Common Manual Caulk Gun Brands:

  • Red Devil
  • Dripless
  • Newborn
  • Albion Engineering
  • SolidWork

FAQs on Manual Caulking Guns

In addition to our guide on buying a manual caulk gun, we also want to answer some of the commonly asked questions about these types of tools. If you have a question that we haven't answered, please drop us a line, and we can get it answered and add it to this article.

What is Caulk?

Caulk is one of many specialty adhesives used in a variety of construction projects. It can be used to repair holes in walls, patch leaks in pipes, and even repair holes in boats. If you work as a handyman for a living, chances are you've used caulk at some point.

Caulk is made up of a variety of ingredients. Water, a thixotropic substance known as "microballoons," and a plasticizer known as Dimethicone are all common ingredients. More water or other solvents such as alcohol, acetone, or n-pentane can be used to thin it. Other additives, such as pigments and wood stains, can be used to color the caulk or protect the wood from rot.

What are the Uses for a Caulk Gun?

A caulk gun can be used for a variety of tasks, such as sealing gaps and cracks in wood, concrete, brick, and mortar. You can also seal cracks in window or door frames, baseboards, and countertops, as well as open joints or holes in your roof or wall.

Here is a list of some of the other things you can do with a caulk gun:

  • Make simple repairs around windows, doors, and leaks around roofs.
  • Seal gaps around tubs and showers.
  • Create a waterproof seal around pipes, HVAC systems, and sprinkler systems.
  • Create seals around foundations.
  • Create an airtight seal between walls, floors, and ceilings.
  • Create a seal around pipes and hoses.
  • Create a waterproof seal around crawl spaces.
  • Create an expanding sealant that takes up space in small gaps such as around pipes, electrical conduits, and tight spots. But it's not as good for larger gaps where spray-foam is a better choice.

A caulk gun can be used for a variety of other tasks. The most important piece of advice is to learn to caulk before you need it. The best way to accomplish this is to go to a home improvement store and observe how others use the product. Spend some time practicing on a piece of plywood to ensure your comfort before using it in your home.

How Long Does it Take Caulk to Dry?

Caulk will dry in a few hours, but it may take up to a week to achieve a complete adhesive seal. Everything is determined by the temperature and humidity of the air. If you're concerned about getting a proper seal, it's best to coat your caulk with a putty that dries in 24 hours.

About the Author
Matt
Matt is an engineer and outdoor enthusiast. He believes that one of the greatest pleasures in life is being outside and working hard. In his spare time, he enjoys working on new projects and home improvement.
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