Comparison of Soldering Gun vs Soldering Iron

Comparison of Soldering Gun vs Soldering Iron

Novice soldering hobbyists do not know what to choose for their projects – soldering irons or soldering guns. The following guide will give a few hints about the uses of two different tools used for soldering.
Make sure to check the technical features before buying a soldering gun vs iron. Let’s start with the definition.

Soldering Gun vs Iron: definition

A soldering iron is the most standard instrument used for joining electrical components. The major heating part of a wand-shaped iron is a metal tip and is lightweight, like a pencil.

Soldering Gun vs Iron

Just like an iron, a soldering gun is applied to joint metal surfaces. Due to the design resembling a handgun, this instrument has a steady handle that you can easily hold with one hand. Has more power and is heavier, like a drill.

I think that you are aware of how a soldering iron works, so I want to focus on the major technical features of soldering guns.

What is a soldering gun and how is it different from a soldering iron?

An electric soldering gun can be confused with soldering irons. Guns have a step-down transformer but do not have a high-frequency converter. The rest of a soldering gun is very similar to a soldering iron. Unlike transformer soldering irons, guns can work much faster and do not need such long breaks as their counterparts.

A soldering gun is used when working with microcircuits and small electrical parts. All small contacts that need to be soldered are done with this tool. Due to its unique mechanism of action, the soldering gun provides excellent conditions for working with similar parts. The production and repair of gadgets, home appliances, radio circuits and other things – these are the major uses of a soldering gun.

The major design of a soldering gun includes such parts:

  • The tip is the main working part that contacts with the place you want to solder;
  • A holder resembling a gun’s handle – a comfortable grip of the tool when working with an instrument;
  • The heating element is necessary to heat the tip;
  • An electric cord with a plug is used to connect the soldering iron to the power grid;
  • The small shaft is part of the device that ends with the tip;

The main heaters in modern models are mostly made of chrome and nickel. It heats up under the influence of electric power. The normal heating temperature is when the solder will melt. The core of a soldering gun is usually made of copper because this metal conducts heat very well and heating takes place as quickly as possible. Most often, the tip looks like a wedge.

Soldering Gun vs Soldering Iron

Keep in mind that a soldering gun works at low voltage and has a unique design. That is why it has received a high efficiency. Soldering guns with a ceramic tip can also save the electricity bills. Current flows through the tip only during soldering. This differs from the soldering gun from the usual practice. The remaining differences relate mainly to the presence of a frequency converter.

Soldering gun vs soldering iron: comparison table

Uses Pros Cons
Soldering gun It can connect heavy electrical components like cable lugs. They produce more heat for soldering heavy elements.  Higher power voltage – up to 240 W;

Heat up faster;

Instant cool-down;

The copper wire look can dissolve quickly;

It is heavier than an iron;

Won’t be good for connecting smaller parts;

Soldering iron Great for soldering light electronics. If you don’t seek too much heat, choose an iron.  It is lighter than a gun;

Many sizes;

More flexible;

Smoother workflow;

Less effective;

Not enough voltage;

More suited for lower-power jobs;

Important notice! Soldering irons vs soldering guns, irons are easier to handle during the work. So, they are more flexible when it comes to soldering light electronics. Larger guns are great for heavy-duty jobs. Also, the guns work faster, use less energy. 

The most important fundamental difference is the method of heating of the tip. In a conventional soldering iron with a chrome-based or ceramic heater, the tip is as isolated as possible from the electric power passing through the heater. In a soldering gun, the tip is a conductor of the electric power that heats it.

Soldering Gun vs Soldering Iron

The biggest drawback of a soldering gun is that the tip can give an electric shock. Such a soldering gun can easily disable microcircuits that are sensitive to the high voltage but it is great for soldering standard wires. 

One of the benefits of a soldering gun vs soldering iron is quick heating. This factor must be considered when using a soldering iron in the open air or in the cold weather outside. Ordinary soldering iron with a chrome heater will cool down quickly under such conditions and it will not be able to warm the soldering place at an even speed.

Soldering iron vs soldering gun vs soldering station: temperature control

No matter what you choose, beware using cheap soldering tools without a leakage grounding or temperature control. Such instruments can reach 8000 F. If you need to have a stable high temperature, invest in a soldering station that may ground the tip and prevent the leakage from the AC power lines. Also, such stations include a variable transformer to regulate temperature.

Standard leaded solder will melt at 360 F, but some new lead-free solder needs a higher temperature to start melting – about 430 F. A soldering tool’s temperature must be regulated at this range. 

Soldering Gun vs Soldering Iron

Do not confuse temperature with the heat. Temperature is an intensity of “hotness”. Heat is an amount. 

You need to increase heat to make the solder melt faster. Soldering stations, unlike guns and irons, allow regulating the heating bits, according to your needs at this moment.

Things to look for in soldering irons and soldering guns

Before selecting a perfect instrument for your soldering jobs, please consider such things: 

The wattage range – 20-50 watts for soldering irons is perfect. Wattage affects the heating speed of the copper tip as well as the cool-down mode. The stable temperature during soldering is important and it’s provided due to the high wattage. 

Replaceable tips. You will have to replace the tips for a tool despite its design, so buy a few ones beforehand;

Temperature control. If you plan to do a lot of soldering, then you need to check a specific temperature. The highest temperatures are provided by soldering station kits or powerful guns; 

Price matters. A standard lightweight soldering iron can be bought under $10. But if you want to invest in a soldering gun or station, prepare to spend up to $30. Just make sure that the soldering station has an integrated stand;

The thickness and shape of a tip. Depending on your project, you may need to choose an instrument with a thick or thin tip. 

Final thoughts

Now you have the relevant information about the similarities and differences between soldering irons or soldering guns. I hope that most of your worries about the proper choice of a soldering instrument are gone. My recommendations and comparison will assist in making the wise choice between a soldering iron and a soldering gun. 

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3 thoughts on “Comparison of Soldering Gun vs Soldering Iron”

  1. I always figured a soldering gun and a soldering iron were the same. Now I know there ARE differences!

  2. I compared different soldering guns, soldering irons, and soldering stations. I want to share the results. This article is about the difference between soldering irons, guns, and stations, what makes them different from each other, and which one you should choose for certain tasks.

    There are three main categories of soldering tools: pencils, guns or hot air pencils (soldering irons), and hot air blowers (soldering stations). They all use solder rods but work differently. Solder guns are designed to do quick repairs or be used by technicians who have low soldering skills. So if your soldered joints are not stable, it’s coming from your own skills rather than the gun itself! Just kidding, but it can really happen sometimes, depending on where you’re working. With a good station, it will take barely any time to solder a stable connection.

    Soldering irons and stations are used by DIY enthusiasts, and some repairs may require you to have one of them around. However, suppose it’s just for some basic soldering jobs. In that case, I’d recommend the soldering iron instead of the station because they’re cheaper, easily available everywhere, and you won’t feel guilty when using it for small jobs.

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