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When you want to attach some lightweight trimming or finishing touches to your woodwork, a brad nailer is your best option.
Pneumatic brad nailers are the ones that come with air compressors. They require the air in order to work. Cordless brad nailers run on batteries and are more powerful, but they are also pricier and heavier.
Either way, you’ll want a nailer that can do its job properly, run smoothly, and last you a long while. Our review includes the best from both types of nailers so that you can make the right, informed decision perfect for you.
In a Rush?
Table of Contents
- Best 18 Gauge Brad Nailer - Comparisons
- 10 Best Brad Nailer Reviews - (Updated List)
- 1. DEWALT DCN680D1 Cordless Nailer Kit
- 2 Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8'' 2-Inch Brad Nailer
- 3. WEN 61720 3/4" to 2" 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
- 4. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium
- 5. Ryobi P320 Airstrike 18 Volt Cordless Brad Nailer
- 6. Makita AF505N Brad Nailer, 2-Inch
- 7. BOSTITCH BTFP12233 18GA Brad Nailer Kit
- 8. SENCO FinishPro® 18MG, 8-Gauge Brad Nailer
- 9. NuMax S2-118G2 18-Gauge 2 In 1 Brad Nailer
- 10. PowRyte 18 Gauge Air Brad Nailer
- How To Buy a Brad Nailer
- On A Final Note
Best 18 Gauge Brad Nailer - Comparisons
10 Best Brad Nailer Reviews - (Updated List)
1. DEWALT DCN680D1 Cordless Nailer Kit
This is very likely the most powerful and advanced battery-powered cordless nailer you can get.
It comes with re-chargeable lithium ion batteries (20V max), an efficient micro-nose for accurate placement and brad firing, as well as a brushless motor to save energy and increase efficiency.
It comes with a tough plastic exterior and makes for a highly durable nailer model.
This Dewalt model is 100% battery powered so you won’t need to worry about using gas or compressor.
The type of battery required is a Dewalt 12V-20V max lithium-ion battery is rechargeable and can last for several months.
The battery can also be charged from a vehicle power outlet so you can power up while driving or at a job site. A LED indicator on the nailer device also shows how much battery power remains as the nailer is being used.
Micro-Nose for Accuracy
A micro-nose located on the tip of the nailer improves line of sight as well as accurate nail placement.
This also helps when the brads must be fired at an angled surface. The probing tip allows the user to clearly see where the brad will end up without requiring a separate contact trip.
The nose also prevents the need to push against work surfaces so that you don’t leave a mark on where you are firing.
Having a brushless motor is like having a small computer inside your nailer. It makes the model slightly pricier but offers several advantages over simple brushed DC motors.
Without the brushes and commutator inside, there is less friction in the nailer engine. Therefore, the nailer can work at a greater speed using the same power. There will also be less heat generated from friction.
This protects your models and helps them to last longer.
The battery-powered engine runs smoothly without the need for gas or air compression. This is also one of the most durable and versatile models available, fitting 5/8 to 2 1/8” brads. We especially love the micro-nose.
Not so Good
Despite being called “lightweight” by manufacturers, it is actually quite heavy. The price may be on the high side, especially for amateur woodworkers.
2 Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8'' 2-Inch Brad Nailer
While it does require an air compressor and therefore, some added effort, this is one of the most efficient pneumatic models we have come across.
It requires 70-120 psi to function smoothly and takes air at a rate of just 0.025 cubic feet per cycle at 100 psi. Moreover, there are several features enabling you to adjust the way you would like to fire, such as the depth and the speed of firing.
It doesn’t usually jam, but if and when it does, extraction will take only a few moments thanks to this design.
Dual Firing Options
The adjustable firing options allow for precise and continuous driving depending on what your project calls for.
With the simple sliding of a switch, you can choose between intermittent firing (for jobs that require precision) or continuous firing (used to fire nails at a rapid pace using a bumping motion along the work surface).
It is a super easy way that enhances the quality of your working experience.
This particular model comes with a bottom-loading magazine that is easy to load and fits around 100 brad nails. This more or less depends on the size of nail which is between 5/8” to 2” in length with head size between 0.075 and 1.9mm.
A visual indicator also lets you know when you need to add new brads into the magazine.
Adjustable Settings for Enhanced Accuracy
The factory-installed angled air hose grip gives this model an advantage over most others.
In addition, tool-free depth adjustment allows you to determine the drive (firing) depth to be exactly as you need it. A knob located near the nose allows you to modify the depth easily with simple turns and adjustments.
The dual-firing options allow for both precise and continuous firing depending on your needs. The magazine stores up to 100 nails each time so you don’t need to worry about running out. Many adjustable features allow you to fully exercise your craftsmanship.
Not so Good
Requires a compressor and constant air to work. Cannot tell when you eventually run out of nails as the compartment is not transparent.
3. WEN 61720 3/4" to 2" 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
This handy nailer has multiple features that make it one of the best at a highly affordable price.
One of the most ergonomic models in terms of its comfortable use and efficiency. Lightweight and free-running, it is a breeze to use and will last you a great while.
Multiple Adjustable Features
This model comes with a 1/4” NPT air inlet hook which connects to any fitting compressor and air hose of your choice.
It also has a depth-adjustment wheel that allows you to select the depth of firing based on the requirements of your project.
The directional exhaust can also be adjusted, allowing you to set the direction for the air’s output while using your nailer. This high-functioning model operates from 60 to 100 PSI.
Comfortable Usage and Safety
At three pounds, this is one of the most lightweight models we have listed. Its cast-aluminum body with rubber-grip handle gives it the combined qualities of maximum ease and comfort.
Despite weighing so little, it can hold up to 100 brads ranging 3/4” to 2” in length. Moreover, the safety is enhanced by a contact-trip feature which operates only if the nose is pressed against a workpiece.
Jamming is easy to clear with the quick-release magazine, which can be opened by releasing the latch in front of the magazine.
Keep Track of Your Supply
Keep track of your brad supply via the transparent side window located along the magazine. You’ll be able to easily tell when you are running low and avoid empty firing.
Lightweight model also comes with a depth adjustment wheel and adjustable exhaust port allows you to arrange the direction of air output and firing depth. Also a price that cannot be beat for the quality of product.
Not so Good
A little difficult to fit 2” long brads, as some have said. Few other complaints for this great product.
4. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium
This cordless nailer requires no compressor as it is battery-powered, saving you money and energy on the long run.
It also ensures increased productivity and works great with more than one type of rechargeable battery.
The built-in LED system is distinct in this model since there are lights along the nose for working in dark spaces and alerting the need for a battery recharge or jam release.
No Compressor Needed
With this model, you won’t have to worry about using a compressor, hose, or expensive gas cartridges. Those cartridges can be quite costly and aren’t sold everywhere. Indeed, some brands can be quite hard to find.
With the cordless finish nailer, you won’t need to bulk up your toolbox with those accessories. Moreover, the special motor design of this model allows you to fire consistently into various materials and conditions much better than most pneumatics.
This model has a better run-time when compared with pneumatics thanks to its 1.5Ah 20V MAX Lithium-ion battery power. It also works with NiCad batteries from the same manufacturer. However, lithium-ion is preferred.
There is also a tool-less release lever, jam release, and depth-adjustment wheel as in previously mentioned models.
However, some have reported a delay of one second or less for a nail to fire after they have pressed the trigger. This has more to do with adjusting the depth adjustment to the appropriate level rather than the model itself.
Built-in LED Lights
In addition to being well-built and fairly lightweight, the model is praised for its LED light display. Featuring multi-functional dual LED lights, the model has a small ‘flashlight’ for illuminating work surfaces as well as an ‘alert system’ for errors.
In case of low batteries, the work lights will flash and turn off completely as the battery dies down. In case of a jam, the lights flash repeatedly. until the nose is cleared.
Multiple adjustable features to increase productivity and convenience while operating. It also feels quite lightweight and even comes with some LED lights to light up the workspace and detect errors.
Not so Good
Some say it can be a little slow when working with this nailer. About a second between pressing the trigger and actual firing.
5. Ryobi P320 Airstrike 18 Volt Cordless Brad Nailer
A particularly high-charge battery-powered nailer which goes above and beyond in its efficiency and capacity. It contains all the tool-free adjustments that allow you to customize firing depth and brads being fired.
It also features an LED indicator which tells you when you have to re-load. It’s truly an awesome model to have and be working with.
High-Power and Capacity
This is one of the rare brad nailers that can be comparable in power to gas-powered nailers of the same size. Additionally, it comes with the convenience of a cordless hand-held power tool.
It is capable of delivering best results for any project you may have- from installing roof tiles to reinforcing pre-existing attachments.
A single charge with a 4Ah lithium-ion battery from the Ryobi One+ system lasts for 1,700 nails. The extra-spacious magazine has a 105 brad capacity and holds 18 Ga 5/8” to 2” brads.
Tool-less Adjustable Features
The firing depth is easily adjusted with an on-board dial that allows you to get at the precise depth needed. You can even adjust the air pressure.
Built-in LEDs tell you when it’s time to reload and lights up your work space when you grasp the tool handle. A belt hook allows you to clip on the nailer for added convenience.
Compact Battery and Automatic Charger
With a battery that can be fully charged in half an hour, you’ll be ready for your job in no time. The nailer fits many 18V Ryobi ONE+ batteries including the P100, P101, P102, P103, P104, P105, P107, and P108.
Moreover, the P117 charger used to recharge them work for both lithium-ion and Ni-Cad (nickel-cadmium). The charger is designed with IntelliPort technology allowing it to turn off right after your battery is fully charged saving you even more power.
Quiet and powerful model that is said to be comparable to some gas-powered nailers yet conveniently cordless. Also comes with LED lights to light up workspace.
Not so Good
First battery and charger does not come with model. Some complaints are of the brads getting stuck and the need to oil the driver frequently.
6. Makita AF505N Brad Nailer, 2-Inch
This efficient aluminum model has all the tool-less adjustments required for you to customize based on what nails are needed and the firing depth.
It’s another great pneumatic nailer that uses non-standard batteries and requires nailer oil. Operating from 60 to 115 PSI, it has works wonderfully well and does not leave marks on work surfaces. Its optimal comfort comes from its rubberized soft grip and weight of merely 2.2 pounds.
Tool-less Depth Adjustment
The easy-to-use ‘tool-less’ depth adjustment dial allows you to adjust the depth of firing based on project needs. Multi-directional exhaust port rotates full circle (360 degrees) to direct air away from the direction you work.
This model also comes with a quick release cam-lock that easily opens to clear jammed nails.
Narrow Nose Reaches Tight Spaces
The non-marring rubber nose (small, but not a micro-nose) and bumpers that come with this nailer allow you to work while leaving absolutely no marks behind. There is also a tool hook that can rotate 180 degrees so that the nailer never comes in the way.
The rubberized soft grip allows you to hold the nailer more tightly with greater comfort and control. You can work for hours with this lightweight and comfortable tool. Ideal for trim work, crown molding installation, flooring, and other detailed woodwork.
Easily prevents jams and works great. The narrow nose particularly allows you to access small spaces that other nailers might not be able to access. Highly durable.
Not so Good
Requires cord connection and does not have an LED light display for lighting work spaces. However, the product works great and meet all your needs.
7. BOSTITCH BTFP12233 18GA Brad Nailer Kit
This high-power tool is easy to use and allows you to work almost effortlessly in tight spaces. With its Smart Point Technology, you won’t need to apply pressure to place a brad in such spaces.
In addition, the tool-free jam release and depth control enhance accuracy of placement. The driving power especially for this pneumatic is quite incredible.
Smart Point Technology
The smaller nose on this model allows for easy nail placement. There is also the ability to fire brads without needing to compress the contact trip and therefore apply pressure on especially sensitive parts of your work.
You can also choose between trigger and countersinking options (single or continuous) based on project needs.
Tool-Free Jam Release and Depth Control
The tool-free jam release allows for easy nail removal when the nose is jammed (which does not happen often).
The dial-a-depth control allows for precise firing that you can’t go wrong with. A trigger system also allows you to choose between contact and sequential (continuous) firing.
Fantastic Driving Power and No-Mar Head
The no-mar head and firing power of this nailer is just great. Many users have remarked how they can easily fire 2” brads through both softer and hard surfaces such as hardwood oak.
This feat can be accomplished with just 80% of the max pressure!
Oil-free operation. Nailer works with all standard brads from 5/8” to 2-1/8” (longer than the standard 2 in.) in length. Allows you to choose between sequential or contact operation depending on your need.
Not so Good
Requires the use of an air compressor and does not come with a dry-fire lockout which some would have preferred. At times, requires re-firing to set a brad.
8. SENCO FinishPro® 18MG, 8-Gauge Brad Nailer
This nailer comes equipped with rubber grip, LED display, adjustable exhaust port, and belt hook for maximum quality and comfort.
It works wonderfully while seldom getting jammed and can be dislodged easily when it does. It’s can fit extra-long 18 Ga brads (5/8” to 2-1/8”) and is one of the best choices for finish and woodworking, cabinets, paneling, casing, and many more.
This nailer made with magnesium has a lightweight body and oil-free motor. This enables you to work without worrying about making a mess. It also comes with a metal cylinder for increased durability and operates at a pressure of 70-120 psi.
Durability is further increased by the tool’s galvanized finish. The plastic bumper on the nailer’s nose can be removed and stored separately.
The dual-action (contact-actuation) trigger allows you to operate your nailer via at least two modes.
The first mode, single fire, requires you to press the workpiece contact against the work surface. Then, press the trigger and fire. A single brad will have been driven where you aimed it.
For the second mode, you first pull the trigger then depress the workpiece contact against the work surface. Consequently, each time you push the workpiece against the surface, a fastener (brad) is driven. This feature is suitable for high-production and rapid placement.
This nailer offers you maximal comfort via an over-molded rubber grip, swivel plug, and reload indicator to tell you when you need more brads.
There is also an LED headlight which can be easily activated using a red on/off button. The exhaust port, located on the back of the tool, can be directed anywhere you like so that it points away from you. The belt hook can also be rotated to the top or side.
Air outlet located at the bottom of the handle so it does not get in the way. Highly durable with dual firing settings and lightweight magnesium body. Compressor comes installed on tool.
Not so Good
No dry-fire lock; however there is an indicator to show that the magazine is empty.
9. NuMax S2-118G2 18-Gauge 2 In 1 Brad Nailer
This is a versatile nailer that does more than just fasten brad nails. It also works with narrow crown staples, making it a one-of-a-kind 2 in 1 tool.
With its aluminum construction and anti-vibration grip, it is also lightweight and comfortable to use. You’ll have to find a specific air compressor that works with this tool; however, these compressors are often quite easy to find online or at a hardware store.
Versatile 2-in-1 Does More
This nailer is compatible with two types of fasteners: 18Ga brad nails and 18Ga narrow crown staples. The range in length for the brads is 3/8” to 2” while the range for staples is between 1/2” and 1-5/8”.
This two-in-one feature makes this tool useful for an even wider than usual range of projects. It also works powerfully with an operating pressure of 60 to 110 psi.
Work With Comfort
The quality and comfort is enhanced with durable and lightweight aluminum construction, anti-vibration comfort grip, and adjustable depth.
It is capable of fulfilling your needs for a variety of applications including trim installation, light wire fencing, base boards, picture frames, crates, window casings, cabinetry, and any other projects you can think of.
Specific Compressor Required
One of the drawbacks for this tool may be the fact that it does not come with an air compressor.
You will need to buy a compressor with specific features including a minimum 2.5 CFM at 90 psi, a tank capacity of at least three gallons, that can provide at least 60-110 psi.
Depending on the speed and power required, you’ll need a higher capacity compressor.
2 in 1 feature offers maximum versatility for a wide range of projects. Optimal quality in terms of comfort and durability. Easy to use.
Not so Good
Requires air compressor and oil. Some have complained about marks being left on their work, which can be alleviated by adjusting depth settings.
10. PowRyte 18 Gauge Air Brad Nailer
This lightweight nailer weighs only 2.1 lbs and will be comfortable to use even for long work hours. It’s small yet mighty, with an operating pressure of up to 110 psi.
It also comes with a narrow nose that allows for easy access of confined areas. It also comes with a reload indicator window which alerts you when you are low or have run out of brads so you can replenish.
At 2.1 lbs, this lightweight and well-balanced nailer is easy to use and has a convenient rubber grip. It is made of aluminum and while small, works mightily at a pressure of 70-110 psi.
The air inlet required for the nailer is 1/4”-18 NPT which is around the standard for pneumatic nailers but weighs even less. The nailer also comes with a narrow nose allowing it to fit into small areas with ease.
Keep Track of Your Supply
With a magazine capacity of 100 nails, this nailer also comes with a reload indicator so you can keep track of your supply. With the clear window on the side of the magazine, you will be able to see when you have run out.
Tool-Free Jam Release and Adjustable Exhaust Port
With its 360 degree adjustable exhaust port, you can be sure to keep air and dust away from your work space.
Also, with the tool-free jam release, if your nailer ever gets stuck, all you need to do is disconnect your air supply, release the pusher and front latch, remove the front door near the nose and allow the stuck brads to be dislodged.
Great pricing with multiple features required for an excellent brad nailer. Quite a powerful and lightweight tool that enhances the user’s experience woodworking. It also works quietly and is a good fit for most projects.
Not so Good
There is no depth adjustment and may not be as powerful as some other models. May have some difficulty doing work on angled surfaces and only fits up to 2” brads.
How To Buy a Brad Nailer
Choosing the best brad nailer for your work can be quite a challenge. Sure, there are some features that can be found in almost all of the nailers: tool-free jam release, adjustable exhaust port, and being ‘lightweight.’
However, it takes some deep information drilling to find the absolute best.
You have to look in the details on how it is powered, what it is made of, and what it comes with. There are several key features only available in some brad nailers which make them distinctly the best.
You’ll know it when you have made the right purchase. You start working with less fatigue, producing greater more effortless results, and simply enjoying the woodwork that you do.
We want you to be in that state so we compiled all the data we could, based on our own experiences and research, to share with you some tips and tricks on what you want to look for when buying your ‘perfect match’ brad nailer.
Pneumatic vs. Battery-Powered (Cordless) Nailers
One of the biggest differences you will have noticed between the brad nailers we featured are that some of them are ‘air-powered’ while others are cordless and battery-powered.
There are several pros and cons to each, but generally, you get more for a higher price with cordless nailers. Battery-powered engines run more smoothly and do not require gas or air compression.
The batteries are also rechargeable, and last for a long time. You definitely get the advantage of convenience and overall long-term savings if you choose to invest in a battery-powered nailer.
Brushed vs. Brushless Motors
The decision to go with either brushed or brushless motors becomes important if you buy electric or battery-charged nailers.
Brushless motors for reasons aforementioned in our article are somewhat pricier but are much worth the extra mile.
Since they have less friction, they work with greater ease and are guaranteed to last longer. They also have greater speed using the same amount of power.
Probably all of the nailers we have mentioned come with a 100+ brad capacity. It’s also important to check the length compatibility as some brads may be slightly longer than 2”.
Only some models will fit 2-1/8” brads and if you ever use those, it’s important to find a matching nailer.
Moreover, a few models made for brad nailers can also work with crown staples, which adds to their versatility. You may want to look into this if you want a tool that can do both.
Narrow (Micro) Nose
Most but not all models come with a narrow nose that allows you to easily reach tight spaces. Of those that do, still only some allow you to fire without pressing against the surface.
Contact-actuation which fires immediately upon being in contact with a surface lets you leave the worry of applying pressure to a susceptible area of your work space.A tip is to go to your local hardware store and examine the size of the nose for models you are interested in. You can always buy the one you want online where the price is usually better.
LED Lighting and Indication System
LED lighting and indication is a special feature only available with some models. LED lighting is usually located around the nailer nose, allowing you to see clearly in darker work spaces.
On the other hand, a built-in indication system can inform you of when you are running out of brads (many find this more efficient than an indication window near the magazine). It can also tell you when your battery is running out if your model is battery powered.
Dual Firing Options
A feature that many find useful is the dual-firing option which allows you to choose between precise and continuous firing.
This is great since some projects can require you to fire nails at a rapid pace along a straight line or small area. Being able to choose either mode saves you time and allows you to work more accurately, enhancing your overall experience.
Aluminum vs. Magnesium Build
While aluminum and magnesium are both lightweight, there are actually several important differences between the two metals.
Aluminum is resistant to corrosion, has a greater density, and is more stable. it does not bend or warp easily under stress as it is much harder. In certain reactions, magnesium can react with water and dissolve whereas aluminum cannot be weathered by water or many of the aqueous solutions.
Magnesium on the other hand, is more lightweight than aluminum. However, it has a higher tendency to corrode, is less stable, and more expensive to die cast.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if my nailer does not come with a charger or compressor?
Certain nailers, that is if they do not come as part of a ‘kit’, may require you to buy your own compressor or charger.
Be sure to check the pricing and what the purchase includes all the required parts. Often, the necessary parts can be purchased through the company catalog online or at your local hardware store. Most of the parts can be located with little to no difficulty.
What is the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer?
The two types of nailers are around the same size and use similar types of nails (however brads are smaller and less deep).
Brads are generally smaller and do not have the same holding power due to their thinner gauge.
This being the case, they leave smaller holes behind and are best for delicate woodwork and trimming.
On A Final Note
There are a few more things to note before buying your new brad nailer, so you can really find one that’s best for you.
The Dewalt DCN680D1 Cordless Nailer kit accompanied with one lithium-ion battery and replacement parts, deserves a top spot because of its well-engineered model and efficiency.
It comes with a distinct micro-nose that improves line of sight and accuracy, brushless motor, and a LED system that indicates charged, charging, replacement required, or even whether there is a technical problem with the battery.
If you are more familiar with or prefer a pneumatic nailer, you can’t go wrong with a Hitachi NT50AE2 nailer which features an angled air hose grip, high operating pressure, and bump/contact switch firing modes.
Our other models also stand out each in their unique way and you’ll definitely find one or more that works right for you.