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This article appeared in Quake 4  

Production information
Technical specifications
Damage Per Hit


Magazine Size
  • 50
  • 100 (upgraded)
Maximum Ammunition


Fire Mode


Ammunition Type


Rate of Fire

375rpm (600 with the first upgrade)


Quake 4


In Quake 4, the Nailgun is a powerful, compact, full-auto Strogg rotary cannon that shoots Nails; which are un-aerodynamic flechettes which shatter on impact, inflicting splash damage. At first, the Weapon is a little bit slow with below average accuracy, but upgrades throughout the single player game make the Nailgun very powerful and useful.


  • Firepower - The first upgrade is obtained at the start of the Aqueducts. Before one enters their SMC Hovertank, a tech marine will upgrade it so that it shoots much faster and has a 100-round magazine, if Kane fires more than 50 rounds, he needs to reload 2 magazines, but he has more firepower before the need of reloading. The visual difference is the magazine changing from a rectangular shape to a banana shape and having a second magazine wedged into the gun as well.
  • Nail Seeker - The second upgrade is obtained at the start of the Recomposition Center. After saving Sasaki, he'll upgrade your Nailgun so that it can home in on targets if they're locked on and a small scope to allow you to lock onto targets. Aim at your enemy in the small orange circle on your scope to lock targets, the nails will find their mark themselves. Remember to keep scoping in to let the nails guide to their target, the guided nails will not work against the enemy taking cover though, thankfully, only Tactical Stroggs will do this.


Single Player[]

  • In Single Player, the Nailgun does almost twice as much damage as the Machine Gun or Hyperblaster, but also has a noticeably slower rate of fire as well as below average accuracy at long range. It also has a very brief split-second spin-up time between when you press the fire button and when the weapon actually begins to fire, somewhat identical to a minigun. Additionally, after you stop firing the Nailgun, it needs to cool down for a second or so before it can be fired again. As a result, it cannot be effectively fired in short controlled bursts to save ammo, and instead must be fired in a single long full-auto burst. Still, it's a very powerful weapon at medium range, and more effective at taking out medium or heavy enemies than the Machine Gun or Shotgun. And if you do run into trouble with powerful enemies, feel free to fire it like a minigun.
  • Similar to the Plasma Gun in Quake 3, the nails generate a small amount of splash damage, which can result in self-inflicted damage if they hit within the vicinity of the user.
  • It can take out medium-powered enemies, with a small volley of nails. The low rate of fire makes it difficult to down an enemy quickly, so make sure you can retreat before using it. The Nailgun's Nails often cause enemies to flinch in pain, interrupting their attacks, which can be very useful, especially against Berserkers, but the nails may have trouble stopping charging Grunts, so take them down quickly is still recommended.
  • Its upgrades give it a major power boost. The first one increases it's magazine size to 100 and gives it a faster rate of fire. This makes the Nailgun deadly, as it can tear through medium-powered enemies in a matter of seconds. It also gives it a chance against strong enemies, as a stream of nails can down even a Light Tank before it does too much damage, especially if you aim for the head. The 100-round magazine takes longer to reload, but the extra firepower is more than worth it.
    • Even with 50 round magazine, the Nailgun takes a few seconds to reload, so do that before heading to combat.
  • The second upgrade allows nails to home in a on a target if seen through the scope. This is extremely useful if the enemy is faraway or trying to hide behind something, aerial targets or your target is agile. Also it can aid your accuracy if you fire while moving. When fired, the nails will take the straightest path to the target, even if it means hitting a wall. Make sure that you have plenty of room in front of you before you fire, try to use this lock-in ability to conserve ammo.
  • A good strategy to use against bigger ranged opponents like the Heavy Hover Tank after getting the homing upgrade is to lock on a target, then (while still locked on) hide behind cover and fire your nailgun in a way that the nails curve around the cover and hit your enemy. This way you can kill or weaken stronger enemies from relative safety. However, this tactic is not too useful against enemies that move quickly towards you, as they will soon blow your cover. Therefore this tactic is best used against slow or stationary opponents like bosses.
  • Try to conserve ammo, as Nail ammunition pickups are quite rare in the game, as you are the only one using this weapon. (Gunners also use this weapon, but they do not drop ammo)


  • In multiplayer, the Nailgun's slow rate of fire and slow projectile makes it difficult to use it against one person. Even against groups it's low rate of fire can mean that you'll be spotted and blown away before you can kill most of the people in the group.
  • Keep the barrels rotating, you can be ready to fire in no time.
  • If one caught someone by surprise with the Nailgun, one can use the firepower of its rounds, despite the slow rate of fire, to her or his advantage.
  • However, it is useful as an area-denial weapon like hyperblaster (but more powerful), as a large volley of nails coming for a corridor is sure to dissuade an enemy from attacking.
  • The scope may still exist, but the homing ability is canceled.


  • The Nailgun is based on the Quake weapon of the same name. It more closely resembles the Super Nailgun, though, in terms of damage and its rotating barrel.
  • The Nailgun's mechanics greatly resembles the Quake 2 Chain Gun, as both require a brief spin-up time before fully unloading towards enemies. However, the Nailgun does not consume ammo nearly as quickly, nor does it continue to fire until the weapon has spun down. This makes the Nailgun much easier to control than the Chain Gun.
  • When the Nailgun is given to the player for the first time, at the Perimeter Defense Station, the giving Marine states that it was obtained from a Strogg. This is quite notable, as most encountered Strogg feature built-in weaponry, and Tactical and Failed Transfers, the only Strogg enemies in Quake 4 that carry external weapons, appear far later in the game. It is possible that the other Marines were already facing Tactical Transfers long before Matthew Kane did. Or the Nailgun itself is another experimental Strogg weapon like the Lightning Gun, and was intended for Tactical Strogg use. The latter is superior, as Tactical Strogg never use the Nailgun in gameplay. Another possibility is that the Nailgun is a Strogg tool. In that case, it is likely used by Strogg that perform maintenance, which we never happen to encounter.
  • There are only two Nailguns in the entire game; the one given to you by the Marine, and the one found shortly after Anderson is killed. In most cases, Kane will find nail magazines instead.
  • The Gunner uses a similar weapon. They do not drop ammo for this weapon on death, like all other Strogg in Quake IV.
  • While the nail magazines in the view model and pickup in the single player campaign are curved, the world model (as seen in the picture above) clearly depicts two straight ones.