There aren’t many tools that bridge the gap between delicate artists and burly builders, but glue guns do: you’ll find them in the hands of hobbyists as well as repairmen and women. That’s because hot melt adhesives, or HMAs for short, offer all the benefits of solvent-based glue without the whole solvents-melting-your-brain thing. Because the glue can bond rubbers, metal, glass, wood and plastics it can be used as an alternative to solder in some electronics projects, as a way to create jewellery or other delicate items, to seal packages, to bind fabrics and even to bind books.
How to choose the best glue gun for you
When you’re looking for the best glue gun comfort is a key factor: if you’re going to be using it a lot, even minor differences in comfort soon become really big differences. For occasional use battery powered guns are fine, if a little slow to heat, but for regular sticking you’re better off with a corded model. Make sure you can get the glue sticks for it: the most common glue gun sticks are 7mm or 11mm but some models have manufacturer-specific sticks. We’d avoid manufacturer-specific ones, though. Generic sticks are really cheap and widely available, so there’s not much point in prompting for an option that’s likely to be more hassle and more costly too.
5 best glue guns 2017
1. Stanley Heavy-Duty Glue Gun
RRP: £9.95 | Power: 25W | Type: corded | Sticks: 11.3mm dual melt | Weight: 150g | Size: 28 x 18.5 x 6cm
If you’re looking for a reliable glue gun that’s quick to heat up and offers maximum flexibility, Stanley’s model is hard to beat: it has dual heat modes, enabling you to work with delicate fabrics as well as solid stuff such as metal, there’s a stand for when you’re not using it and the reviews are all very positive. Unlike other glue guns it doesn’t come with a million glue sticks - the price you pay is for the gun and nothing else - but it uses standard 11mm sticks and 11mm dual melt sticks. It’s very slightly more expensive than some rivals but it’s a solid choice that should last for a long time. It’s comfortable to hold, too, which is important.
2. Anyyion Hot Melt Glue Gun
Best for big projects
RRP: £68.89 | Power: 150/300W | Type: corded | Sticks: 11mm | Weight: 540g | Dimensions: 26.2 x 3.3 x 21.3cm
Like the Stanley, this gun uses standard 11mm glue sticks. And that’s about all they have in common, because this one’s designed for frequent use. It’s adjustable between 150W and 300W, boasts thermal insulation, an internal safety fuse and an anti-overheating case, and it heats up in just 60 seconds. At 590g it’s much heavier than most glue guns, but it’s really designed for people who want to glue everything in sight: if you’re looking for something for delicate jobs, this one is overkill and overly hot. However, if you’re running a business empire from your garage and need to glue a whole bunch of stuff - products, packaging, passers-by - as fast as possible, this is the gun for you.
3. Bosch PKP 18E Glue Gun
Best for running repairs
RRP: Not listed | Power: 200W | Type: Corded | Sticks: 11mm | Weight: 350g | Dimensions: 24.2 x 17.4 x 5.2 cm
Bosch’s glue gun uses standard 11mm glue sticks and has two heat settings: 200W for warming up and 16W to keep the glue gloopy. The nozzle is longer than most, which means it can reach the places other glue guns can’t, and it has an automatic glue retraction mechanism that stops drips, ensures that the nozzle doesn’t dry out and enables the gun to deliver a constant stream of glue. It’s a little on the heavy side at 458g but if you’re serious about sticking things together the lack of drips means you won’t mind the slightly heftier weight of the Bosch. It’s just a shame that Bosch decided not to put a power switch on the gun itself: if you want to turn it off you need to do so at the plug.
4. Dremel 930 Glue Gun Hobby
Best for having fun
RRP: not stated | Power: 105/165 degrees C | Type: corded | Sticks: 7mm | Weight: 200g | Dimensions: 21.5 x 15.6 x 6.1 cm
Dremel - now part of Bosch - is famous for its eponymous rotary tools, but it makes all kinds of hobby products including this rather charming glue gun. It’s a dual-heat model that takes 7mm glue sticks, and in a nice touch the included sticks feature a rainbow of colours instead of the familiar clear sticks, which you can use as decorative elements in their own right as well as as adhesives. It’s comfortable to use, heats up in five minutes and has a drip control nozzle to reduce unwanted extras from spoiling the join or design. It’s backed with a two year guarantee, which suggests it’ll last a lot longer than some of the other low-cost glue guns on the market.
5. Prima Tools GG10 Hot Melt Glue Gun
Best for really tight budgets
RRP: Not listed | Power: 10W | Type: corded | Sticks: 8mm | Weight: 200g | Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 7 cm
This one’s so cheap you’ll need to buy something else too: Amazon classes it as an add-on item, which means it’s too cheap to deliver on its own. At £3.50 it’s about the price of a Pritt Stick, and while you shouldn’t expect serious specifications for the price of a skinny latte it offers a respectable 10W, includes a couple of glue sticks (although reviews say the actual number often varies) and a wire stand. It uses 8mm, not 7mm sticks, so beware: they can be trickier to find and often cost a lot more. However, if you really don’t want to spend much money and don’t intend to do a great deal of gluing there’s no real reason to shell out on anything even a bit more expensive.