The Best Hose Nozzle (2024)

The research

  • How we picked and tested
  • Our pick: Melnor XT451 Heavyweight Metal 7-Pattern Nozzle
  • Also great: Gilmour Full Size Zinc Pistol Grip Nozzle
  • Also great: Melnor R301 RelaxGrip Metal Thumb-Control 8-Pattern Nozzle
  • The competition
  • Sources

How we picked and tested

The Best Hose Nozzle (1)

Anyone who owns a garden hose needs a nozzle. Even if you rarely uncoil the hose and use only one setting, simply having a nozzle to control the water flow makes gardening or cleaning less wasteful and more efficient. Once you start dialing in settings you prefer, they’re quite satisfying—maybe we just never outgrew squirt guns, but we think channeling beams of water right where you want them is a lot of fun.

We wanted to find the best all-purpose hose nozzle. That meant finding one that’s just as easy to use whether you’re hosing off a soapy car, filling up a kiddie pool, or watering some fragile little seedlings. A good hose nozzle needs to be comfortable to hold, easy to control, and versatile.

Durability is crucial. Since a hose nozzle is simply the valve standing between you and a flooded lawn, an empty well, or a massive water bill, it must be able to tolerate some bumps and bruises.

We’ve spent years testing hose nozzles. Mostly, we’ve used them how they’re meant to be used. At multiple houses, we’ve used them to water gardens, clean cars, fill livestock troughs, rinse lawn furniture, and spray down front steps. Kids have cooled off in the mist setting and blasted one another with the jet setting. We’ve dropped the nozzles on pavement, gravel, mud, and rocks, and we’ve run them over with cars.

In addition to hose nozzles, we’ve extensively tested hoses and hose reels, which you can find in our guide to the best garden hose and hose reel.

Our pick: Melnor XT451 Heavyweight Metal 7-Pattern Nozzle

The Best Hose Nozzle (2)

Our pick

Melnor XT451 Heavyweight Metal 7-Pattern Nozzle

A basic, well-done nozzle

Durable and intuitive, with a variety of spray patterns to choose from, the XT451 nozzle is satisfying and comfortable to use.

We’ve discovered through hard experience that the vast majority of cheap hose nozzles are simply not worth it. They produce sloppy sprays—and, worse, they can leak. Among full-featured hose nozzles, we recommend the Melnor XT451 Heavyweight Metal 7-Pattern Nozzle for its durability, its range of spray patterns, and the quality of those patterns.

This Melnor nozzle’s layout will feel pretty familiar to anyone who has used a hose nozzle in recent decades. A rotating clocklike face cycles through seven settings, the most useful of which are the beamlike jet setting; a gentle, plant-friendly shower setting; and a handy mist setting, which in our tests was perfect for succulents and seedlings. The other settings—full, cone, flat, and soaker—saw less action but still came in handy during our tests. You activate the spray by using a large trigger behind the grip area; a knurled knob gives you a little control over the water pressure as you press the trigger, and a wire clip folds into the back of the handle to lock the nozzle in the on position. We tried a number of other nozzle styles, experiencing the firefighting vibe of the FireHoseDirect Aluminum Adjustable Fan Stream Nozzle and the Gilmour 855032 Professional Classic Fireman’s Nozzle, as well as the twist of the Bon-Aire Original Ultimate Hose Nozzle, and none of them offered anything near the control in spray pattern or pressure that this pistol-grip Melnor nozzle did.

What stands out about the Melnor XT451 is its feeling of durability. It’s a substantial chunk of metal. It’s a little heavier than we’d prefer, but after dealing with so many cheaper leaky hose nozzles over the years, we’ve concluded that the weight is a trade-off we’re happy to make.

Dunking this Melnor nozzle into muddy water in our tests, we noticed that the rotating face picked up some grit, which made its transitions a bit rougher; we mostly corrected that with a second dunk into soapy water, plus some submerged rotations. We don’t think this rotating face will last as long as the features of our also-great pick, the less versatile Gilmour nozzle, but so far, this nozzle has endured some deliberately rough treatment during our trials and long-term testing, and it’s still doing fine. Melnor offers a limited lifetime warranty on the nozzle.

One downside to the Melnor XT451 is that the spray-pattern labels are printed in gray around the end, which is black. Out of the box, the labels are hard to see—and once the nozzle gets scuffed up a little, reading them is nearly impossible.



Also great: Gilmour Full Size Zinc Pistol Grip Nozzle

The Best Hose Nozzle (4)

Also great

Gilmour Full Size Zinc Pistol Grip Nozzle

Excellent but limited

Simple and durable, this nozzle is a classic, but its one-size-fits-all spray pattern is not the most versatile.

Buying Options

$7 from Home Depot

$8 from Amazon

After more than five years of being left outside—on the ground, in the mud—getting dropped on concrete, and submerged in everything from 5-gallon buckets to kids’ plastic pools, the Gilmour Full Size Zinc Pistol Grip Nozzle still works as well as it did on the day we bought it. And just to be sure, we bought another one in early 2020. Still great. Actually, it’s better: The Gilmour nozzle now comes with a rubber collar on the tip, which would have been really handy to have that time we dropped our old one on the hood of a car, leaving a nice scratch as a lesson to us all.

This Gilmour nozzle lacks the typical rotating clock face of settings. Instead, it operates on a continuously variable trigger that alters the spray pattern the harder you press: Lightly squeezed, it sprays a broad mist pattern. Fully depressed, it shoots a concentrated beam that can soak trees 20 feet away. In side-by-side trials with traditional nozzles, we found that this Gilmour nozzle’s design allowed it to do a far better job of compensating for weak or inconsistent water pressure. You can adjust the overall spray pattern by tightening or backing off a set screw, which changes how much of the spray aperture you’re opening and shutting with each squeeze. That allows you to dial in a good range of spray patterns at any water pressure or to customize it for the application. If you want to spray continuously, a wire clip can hold the trigger fully depressed.

This Gilmour nozzle is perfect for big, broad spraying work where you don’t mind spilling a little water in the process: washing a car, watering a large area of lawn and trees, hosing down a sidewalk or patio. Where it falls flat is on targeted, short-range tasks like watering a few container plants on a balcony. On those jobs, the Melnor XT451 is better, as this Gilmour model tends to produce either a too-broad spray pattern that wets things other than your target or a too-strong beam that blasts divots in the dirt around plant roots.

What this Gilmour nozzle lacks in versatility, it makes up for in durability. As our five-year-old test unit proves, there’s very little on it that can break, and it truly doesn’t need delicate handling to last you for years (although you may have to replace the rubber gasket after a while). Zinc can corrode after heavy exposure to saltwater, so if you live near the ocean, you might opt for the hardened-plastic marine version of this nozzle.

Also great: Melnor R301 RelaxGrip Metal Thumb-Control 8-Pattern Nozzle

The Best Hose Nozzle (6)

Also great

Melnor R301 RelaxGrip Metal Thumb-Control 8-Pattern Nozzle

Great ergonomics

This nozzle ditches the long trigger for a thumb-controlled valve that is easier to use if you have limited hand strength.

Buying Options

$13 from Home Depot

$17 from Amazon

$20 from Walmart

In general, we like traditional trigger-control nozzles for their quick-twitch on-and-off ability, but thumb-control nozzles offer benefits, too. Our favorite of this style is the Melnor R301 RelaxGrip Metal Thumb-Control 8-Pattern Nozzle. The Melnor R301 is very similar to the Melnor XT451, but it replaces the trigger with a thumb-operated valve. Because using this nozzle requires less grip strength in comparison with using a trigger, the R301 is a nice choice for those who have arthritis or limited hand strength. Adding to that advantage is the R301’s ergonomic handle, which is thinner than that of our top pick. The two nozzles offer the same rotating selection of spray patterns.

The inner mechanism of the R301’s thumb toggle is a ball valve—a sturdy and reliable style of shutoff—so we expect this nozzle to last quite a while as long as it’s not treated too harshly. The Melnor XT451 and the Gilmour Pistol Grip Nozzle both have a plunger-style valve, a design that has more moving (read: breakable) parts and might not last as long under similar circ*mstances.

Compared with our other two nozzle recommendations, the R301 presents a trade-off. Whereas the other models offer a quick on-and-off function that becomes almost unconscious in nature and is baked into how many people use a garden hose, the R301 is slower to turn on and shut off. But if you need a constant stream of water, no grip strength is necessary here, whereas the other nozzles require you to hold the trigger in place or to fiddle with a metal clip.



The competition

In 2022, we tested the Melnor 65112-AMZ Vortex Rear-Trigger 6-Pattern Nozzle, a nice, high-quality hose nozzle centered on a new vortex spray pattern. The spray on this setting is a swirling stream of water similar to what you get from the all-purpose cleaning tip found on many pressure washers. We found it a fun setting to play around with, but ultimately it didn’t bring much to the table, as there was nothing we could do with it that we couldn’t do with the regular settings.

The Dramm 12704 9-Pattern Spray Nozzle was also decent, but its spray patterns weren’t as consistent as what we saw from the Melnor XT451, and it lacked that model’s heavy-duty feel.

We also tested the Bon-Aire Original Ultimate Hose Nozzle, which was particularly limited in spraying options, going only from a stream to a messy shower. The same can be said for the FireHoseDirect Aluminum Adjustable Fan Stream Nozzle and the Gilmour 855032 Professional Classic Fireman’s Nozzle, both of which are good for hosing off a car or a wheelbarrow but aren’t as easy to use on garden beds and delicate seedlings.

The über-simple Dramm 12380 Brass Adjustable Hose Nozzle is a popular, classic design. Similar to the Bon-Aire nozzle we tested, this Dramm model has a twisting system that you use to turn it on or off and to cycle through the spray patterns. The solid-brass construction is bombproof and pretty much impossible to break. We were underwhelmed, though, with its ability to generate different spray patterns, as both our top pick from Melnor and our also-great pick from Gilmour produced not only a finer mist but also a longer throw. Note that because this Dramm nozzle is made of solid brass, it contains enough lead that the company recommends washing your hands after use.

Among watering wands, Steve Masley of Grow It Organically says that the Gardena Gentle Watering Wand is the best of its kind. “Every other watering wand I’ve tried—and I’ve tried many—had too hard a spray, and blasted the plants and soil, even when it’s set on ‘shower,’” writes Masley. However, at about $40 at the time of our research, it’s a decent investment. Also, unlike with our recommendations, you need to buy a separate shut-off valve, which adds to the cost.

We considered the Dramm 12805 Touch ‘N’ Flow, another watering wand, but it shuts off if you don’t push down on the handle.

The Melnor 301-416 5-Pattern Watering Nozzle leaked from within its body, draining Wirecutter senior staff writer Doug Mahoney’s well completely dry during long-term testing. Dismissed!

This article was edited by Harry Sawyers.


  1. Genevieve Schmidt, North Coast Gardening

  2. Steve Masley, The Best Watering Wand on the Market, Grow It Organically

  3. Stoney, Does The Job, Amazon customer review, January 9, 2012

  4. Monica Hemingway, Ultimate Hose Nozzle: Product Review, Gardening Products Review, March 14, 2013

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