The 8 Best Brad Nailers of 2018

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Best 18 Gauge Brad Nailer
Best Pneumatic Brad Nailer
Best Cordless Brad Nailer
Best Electric Brad Nailer

Brad nailers are versatile tools that are primarily used for temporary material affixing. If you need to make some decorative nailing on fabric or other materials that don’t have a high density, then this is the tool for you. Brad nails can dive deep into wood thanks to their small gauge and, unlike a finish nailer, there’s no need to mask the head of the brad nail. You might also be interested in our articles about the best multi tools and the best wood router.

A brad nailer can be an essential power tool for various projects such as professional or amateur arts and crafts. Its use isn’t limited to just decorative arts as it can be used for woodworking as well as many other projects. The market is full of a wide range of products, some very inexpensive, others are greater investments. If you want to buy this kind of tool, doing the proper research is important to get your money’s worth. Some of the most important aspects to analyze before making a brad nailer purchase are:

1. Electric or Pneumatic

At a simple search for brad nailers, you will discover various products and the most common types are electric and pneumatic. Electric units are simple to use and versatile due to the integrated battery though they aren’t as powerful and reliable when compared to pneumatic types. One disadvantage of pneumatic brad nailers is the need for an air compressor so unless you have one already, this means an additional cost. The basic idea is to find the balance between power and maneuverability.

2. Nail size

It’s a good idea to find a brad nailer that works well with the nail size needed for your project. One thing that’s worth remembering is that the longer the nail, the greater the chances of bending or breaking.

3. Depth adjustment

A high-quality brad nailer should have a mechanism for adjusting the depth-of-drive. With this feature, the tool’s versatility is greatly enhanced enabling you to adapt to multiple materials more easily.

4. Magazine size

Brad nailers come with different magazine sizes and some are capable of fitting more than 100 nails. If this is an important aspect for you, perhaps it’s best to look for electric models because they usually have larger magazine sizes.

These are in a nutshell the most important features to consider in a brad nailer. If you have a rough idea regarding where you stand in terms of budget, then let’s look at this selection of the most performant and reliable brad nailers for the money.

1. WEN 61720 Basic Model Brad Nailer

One solid solution if you’re looking for an affordable brad nailer is the Wen 61720. This one is the basic model, but it can pack quite a punch in terms of features. It operates in the interval of 60 and 100 PSI and has a 0.25 inch air inlet fitting. There are many solid capabilities so let’s take a closer look at this compact tool.

One thing that’s particularly appealing to more casual users is probably the lightweight body of this machine. The cast-aluminum material allows the nailer to weigh in at only 3 pounds, potentially reducing the fatigue if you’re working for longer. Other design elements worth taking a look at are the rubber-grip handle which makes the whole nailing experience more comfortable.

If you want to adjust the depth of your driven nails, you have a handy wheel available just for this purpose. Jammed nails can be taken out by releasing the latch in the front of the magazine. There’s enough space in the magazine to hold up to 100 brad nails with different lengths up to maximum 2 inches. In case you want to know how many nails you’ve got left, the magazine has a transparent side window.

In terms of safety, this unit offers a mechanism to prevent accidental misfires. It only fires when the contact trip is placed against a workpiece. A standard air inlet is provided for connecting the nailer to your compressor. It’s important to note that it can operate at a range of 60-100 PSI.

Besides the unit itself, Wen includes in the package for the 61720 basic model some nice goodies. You’ve got air tool oil, two wrenches for making adjustments and there’s also a handy case to keep everything in one place. For such a low price, this one is definitely a winner on the market for brad nailers considering its many powerful features.

Product Highlights:

  • Lightweight aluminum body
  • 60 to 100 PSI operation
  • Handles brads with different lengths
  • Rubber-grip handle
  • 100 brads magazine
  • Oil, wrenches, and carrying case included

Best 18 Gauge Brad Nailer

2. Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge Pneumatic Brad Nailer

Those who look for a more professional unit shouldn’t miss the Hitachi NT50AE2, a pneumatic brad nailer with lots of enhancements to ensure a superior level of performance and comfort. Some of the highlights of this model are the depth of drive dial, selective actuation, and the lightweight, ergonomic design.

Thanks to the selective actuation feature, you can make firing transitions without requiring special tools. This makes for a very versatile brad nailer. Simply move the selection control up or down and make your choice between continuous or intermittent firing. The first is great for firing nails at a faster pace while the intermittent firing works best for jobs that demand precise driving.

Near the nose of the unit, you will find the depth-of-drive adjustment knob. This allows you to make accurate changes to the driving depth with a simple touch without relying on extra tools. Another great convenience feature is the bottom-loading magazine that enables the user to load 5/8-2 inch brad nails without too much hassle. The total capacity of the magazine of 100 brad nails (more or less, considering the size of the nail) makes it easier to go for longer times before the need to reload.

Having a performant brad nailer doesn’t mean much unless you can maneuver it with ease. This model features an aluminum body which leaves off a lightweight impression in your hand. With the help of the Elastomer grip, you can have better control and a more enjoyable experience when your work session gets prolonged. The final thing that contributes to the user-friendliness is the adjustable 360-degree exhaust vent.

As this is a pneumatic brad nailer, it will require a compressor with a 70-120 PSI operating pressure for optimal functioning. Taking into account all of its abilities as well as the comfort and construction enhancements, the Hitachi NT50AE2 is a recommended option for anyone who needs a capable pneumatic 18 gauge brad nailer.

Product Highlights:

  • Selective Actuation
  • Elastomer grip
  • Easy to clear nose
  • Depth-of-drive dial
  • Balanced weight
  • 360-degree adjustable exhaust vent

Best Pneumatic Brad Nailer

3. DeWalt DWFP12231 Pneumatic Brad Nailer Kit

Another pneumatic brad nailer worth considering is the DeWalt DWFP12231 which excels in terms of durability and user-friendliness. It’s capable of driving 18 gauge nails from multiple lengths as long as they’re within the 5/8″-2″ range. The balanced cost surely looks attractive especially when you factor in the extra accessories included.

As with many other models out there, this one too offers tool-free adjustment for the driving depth which is a must-have ability for anyone working with this kind of tool. Nails that get jammed can be released through a special mechanism designed for quickly taking care of any jamming.

Construction-wise, this brad nailer offers a strong magnesium body while maintaining a nice balance with the total weight. It’s easy to handle and a pleasure to use thanks to the integrated anti-slip rubber grip. If you need the tool close at all times, it’s good to know that DeWalt added an adjustable belt hook to the nailer.

Making sure that contaminants don’t interfere with your work is important for any brad nailer and this unit comes with a rear exhaust to deal with this issue. The motor is designed so as to not require maintenance and to work without staining the work surface. It’s able to drive 18 gauge nails with various lengths (5/8″ to 2″) and it provides a reliable sequential style trigger. The magazine capacity of 100 is fairly average but decent enough.

As this model comes as a kit, there are also some useful accessories included such as the carrying case and the 500 1-1/4” nails. Whether you need this brad nailer for crown molding or any other projects, the DeWalt DWFP12231 is hands-down one of the best pneumatic nailer for the money. It’s geared towards average consumers and homeowners and it has the potential for years of reliable service.

Product Highlights:

  • Durable motor that won’t require maintenance
  • Tool-free depth-of-drive adjustment
  • Rear exhaust
  • Tool-free jam release mechanism
  • 100 nail magazine capacity
  • Anti-slip grip

4. BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Brad Nailer Kit

The Bostitch BTFP12233 is a great tool for effective nail placement. Besides an oil-free operation and its Smart Point technology, this model comes with a precise Dial-A-Depth control feature, a selectable trigger system, and a rear exhaust. This is built for anyone who’s ready to jump into action as evidenced by the practical belt hook.

As this unit offers the Smart Point technology, its nose is much smaller than similar nailers, enabling users to reach tight spaces with less effort. Another benefit of this is that you can actuate the tool without risking to damage the surface of your project.

Visibility is key when doing more precise work so this unit offers integrated safeties which make seeing where your nails are driven more clearly. An interesting aspect regarding this machine is that it doesn’t require oil to operate which minimizes the risk of oil stains and makes for a maintenance-free experience.

There are many interesting abilities that contribute to the overall ease-of-usage. For example, there’s a selectable trigger for activating either sequential or contact operation. Removing jammed nails is done with a simple tool-free release system. To ensure precise countersinking of brad nails, you can use the convenient depth adjustment control and if you prefer to carry your brad nailer everywhere you go, an adjustable belt hook is available.

In terms of included accessories, you can expect to find three standard no-mar tips, some sample fasteners, and a carrying case. The operating pressure is anywhere in between 70 and 120 PSI and there’s a 1/4” air fitting included in the kit.

All things considered, the Bostitch BTFP12233 is a considerable improvement over the previous generation and it’s strongly recommended for the value it brings to the table. It’s solid and simple to maneuver with a well-built feel overall. The design is well thought-out and the Smart Point feature is really worth it. A great buy for many hobbyists.

Product Highlights:

  • Smart Point technology
  • Can drive 18 gauge brad nails with a length between 5/8″ and 2-1/8″
  • Tool-free jam release mechanism
  • Depth of drive dial
  • Multiple accessories included

Best Cordless Brad Nailer

5. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit

If you don’t have a compressor and would prefer a more portable brad nailer, perhaps the Porter-Cable PCC790LA could be a fitting option. Even though it’s battery powered, it’s still capable of delivering a solid level of performance, rivaling with pneumatic units. This kit has everything you need including a long-lasting battery and a charger.

With the help of an ingenious motor design, driving nails can be done more consistently and different materials can be handled without too much effort. For increased productivity, this brad nailer comes with various tool-free settings which also have an effect on the overall safety.

The unit is constructed to be as lightweight as possible delivering just the right center of gravity for ensuring the best level of comfort even if you’re using the tool in different positions. The user’s fatigue can be considerably reduced. If you need to take a clearer look at your work you can activate the dual LEDs which provide ample workspace illumination.

As this is a cordless unit, you won’t need any kind of compressor or hose and the cost of expensive gas cartridges is completely eliminated. The magazine capacity of 100 is fairly standard and this model is equipped with a sequential firing mode as well as a trigger lock.

Operating the depth-of-drive dial is easy enough thanks to an indicator which allows for simple adjustment. The lack of bump fire mode could be considered a drawback, but for 18 gauge models, this is not a requirement anyway. With the right depth set, the unit performs very nicely.

The included battery is reasonably powerful and if you take everything else into account, it’s safe to say that the PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA is a must-have brad nailer for any fans of cordless options. A very ergonomic, sturdy, and simple-to-use machine, this is a recommended choice.

Product Highlights:

  • 1.5 Ah Lithium-ion battery included
  • Depth adjustment wheel
  • Tool-free release lever
  • Tool-free jam release
  • Multifunctional LED lights
  • Compact and lightweight

Best Electric Brad Nailer

6. DeWalt DC608K Brad Nailer Kit

Fans of electric brad nailers should check out the DeWalt DC608K. It accepts standard 18 gauge nails with various lengths and provides many interesting features including a sequential operating mode, simple nosepiece access, and a very ingenious engine design. Let’s see what DeWalt has in store for this brad nailer.

One of the most impressive aspects regarding this model is the engine design. It enables the tool to work more consistently whether you’re driving nails into hard or soft joints. Due to the sequential operating mode, you can use the right production speed according to the needs of the project. There’s a precision as well as a bump operating mode.

When using a low-quality brad nailer you can experience many jamming issues that require screwdrivers or other tools to resolve. This unit provides simple access to the nosepiece to take out any jammed nails and get back to your work more quickly. The accepted 18-gauge nails can range anywhere from 5/8″ to 2″ in length.

One thing’s certain about this brad nailer – it’s built with durability in mind. The box style magazine prevents any debris or dust from damaging the tool as it’s completely enclosed. The top cap is made to be shock-resistant and can be removed without too much effort for troubleshooting. The LED lights also help the user with the overall visibility.

Thanks to a 12-position dial, you can switch between jobs more easily as you won’t have to reacquire the precise depth setting. When you’re not using the tool, a contact trip lock-off feature will disable the trigger as a safety measure.

As it’s capable of driving approximately 600 nails with one charge, this cordless unit from DeWalt is worth a shot. The performance is excellent and the design seems to be well balanced between robustness and lightness. All in all, this tool can exceed your expectations at this cost.

Product Highlights:

  • Sequential operating mode
  • Consistent nail penetration
  • Accepts 18-gauge nails from 5/8-inch to 2-inch lengths
  • Convenient nosepiece access
  • Contact Trip Lock-off
  • Rechargeable 18-volt battery

7. NuMax S2-118G2 Pneumatic Brad Nailer and Stapler

If versatility is one of your primary concerns, maybe the NuMax S2-118G2 would be a good choice. It’s a 2-in-1 brad nailer combined with a stapler and so it’s capable of accepting two fastener types. This looks like a reliable tool for various decorative trim jobs or shoe moldings.

Customizing the depth adjustment for driving nails is important for achieving consistent results and you can do that easily with this tool. Sequential firing mode is available for those projects where precision is key and you need to fire just a single fastener at a time.

The construction of this unit received certain durability improvements such as the die-cast aluminum for the body and the aluminum cylinder. The rubber o-rings also contribute to the toughness of this tool. An anti-dust cap is installed to keep any dirt from penetrating the internal parts through the 1/4” NPT fitting. This fitting should fit most air hose couplers to connect your compressor.

This pneumatic brad nailer comes with a 2-in-1 design as you can drive 18 gauge nails while also narrowing crown staples to increase your versatility and productivity. When you’re running low on fasteners you’ll be aware thanks to the visible reload indicator.

Unless the brad nailer comes in contact with the work surface, there shouldn’t be any firing. This is due to the no-mar safety contact and the tip also prevents dents and dings. An adjustable exhaust will keep the air away from your face during work or it can just get rid of debris that gets in the way.

Your compressor needs to be set within 60 to 110 PSI for this pneumatic brad nailer and stapler to work properly. When you consider everything about the NuMax S2-118G2, the final conclusion is a very positive one. It’s clear from looking closely at it and handling it that this has been manufactured under very strict quality guidelines. A very cost-effective tool for any hobbyists or anyone needing to do some finishing and trimming work.

Product Highlights:

  • Adjustable depth
  • Versatile as it can use two fastener types
  • No-mar tip
  • Durable construction
  • 360 degrees adjustable exhaust
  • Comfortable grip

8. Ryobi ZRP320 1+ Cordless Brad Nailer

The convenience of using a cordless product is tough to beat and one brad nailer that looks like a satisfying option is the Ryobi ZRP320 1+. Like many other models on the market, this one is an 18-gauge brad nailer but it stands out due to its powerful abilities including the Airstrike Technology.

With the help of the Airstrike Technology, this tool is able to offer the unmatched convenience of using an electric brad nailer. You’ll no longer be required to rely on a bulky air hose and a compressor.

This tool offers various modes to customize nail driving. Using the selectable drive switch you can toggle to different actuation modes, either for extra precision or for superior contact. The fact that this brad nailer’s depth-of-drive adjustment system is tool-less means that you can protect the work surface and you will always benefit from optimum results.

Thanks to the Grip-Light technology you can activate the LED light to illuminate the way with a simple firm grasp of the tool’s handle. During work, you might stumble upon jams, but they can be easily cleared through a convenient release mechanism that provides access to the jammed nails. This brad nailer comes with two non-marring pads to maintain a clean work surface.

One way that Ryobi used to extend the life of this tool is by integrating a dry-fire lockout feature. Those who like having their tool always at hand will be pleased to find out that it comes with a belt hook which mounts to both the right or left side.

A lifesaver in many situations, the Ryobi ZRP320 1+ works flawlessly and is a valuable tool in the hands of many hobbyists or DIY enthusiasts. It handles different brad sizes and is well-designed. The design is a bit bulkier compared to other cordless units, but this is not a big issue. Overall, it’s worth the investment.

Product Highlights:

  • Selectable drive shift
  • Dry-fire lockout feature
  • Low-nail indicator
  • Tool-free depth-of-drive adjustment
  • Tool-less jam release
  • Belt hook mounts