You’ve been preparing for this hot date with Brad for a while. You’ve dressed appropriately, got enough cash for the day, and you can’t wait for Brad to show his stuff. Wait, we’re not talking about a person. We’re talking about a brad nailer. When you have a finishing project that you need to be done, a brad nailer can allow the process to be easy.
What are the greatest brad nailers? Find out in this post.
- First, Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Brad Nailers
- #1: DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch (Best Value – All-Purpose)
- #2: DEWALT DCN680B 20V Max XR 18 (Best Machine)
- #3: Hitachi NT50AE2 (Most Aesthetically Pleasing)
- #4: Valu-Air F50Q 2″ 18 Gauge Air Brad Nailer (Best Low Cost)
- #5: Cordless Brad Nailer, NEU MASTER NTC0023 (Best Brad Nailer that’s Low-Cost Cordless)
- What About the Cheapies? Our Best Products Under $X
- #1 Best Under $40: WEN 61720
- #2 Best Under $30: PowerSmart Pneumatic 18 Gauge Brad Nailer
- #3 Best Under $25: WEN 18 Gauge 2 Inch 2-in-1 Pneumatic Brad Nailer and Stapler with Carrying Case and Safety Glasses
- #4 Best Under $20: 18 Gauge 2-In-1 Air Nailer/Stapler
- Buying Tips: How do I Choose a Brad Nailer?
- Power Source
- Lack of Jamming
- Depth Adjustment
- Belt Hook
- Lightweight and Easy to Handle
- What’s Included
- Verdict: Your Best Brad Nailer
First, Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Brad Nailers
In order to find the brad nail gun that works for you, we looked at several key points. First, its score. What were the customers saying? Was its overall rating more than 4 stars?
We also look at certain features you may be on the lookout for. How do you want its power source? Cordless, or air? We covered those. What about nail removal? We wanted to ensure every tool could prevent jamming through nail release.
There are a lot of nail guns out there, and it can be confusing to navigate. So many names. You have the Dewalt, or the Bostitch BTFP12233. (By the way, the Bostitch BTFP12233 is a good one, but didn’t make the cut) We pick the highest quality ones so you can make the right selection easier.
#1: DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch (Best Value – All-Purpose)
In our humble opinions, the number one product should be one that offers the perfect balance between quality and value. This brad nailer, known as the DEWALT DWFP12231, has everything you need for a job, all for a fair price.
First, there’s the motor. Some nail guns have motors that are high maintenance. When you have a date with Brad, you want a low maintenance date, and this brad nailer has it in spades.
Another requirement of a good brad nailer is a tool-free jam release. When you need a nail removed fast, the DEWALT DWFP12231 can make it easy. Just press on its mechanism and watch those nails leave your brad nailer.
One feature of this brad nailer is its rear exhaust. When you are using your brad nailer, the last thing you want is the contaminants going all over your work. This one has rear exhaust to avoid that.
Another unique feature this brad nailer has is its depth adjustment or depth of drive adjustment. This allows you to set your nail heads properly. It’s easy to use and it won’t give you any grief.
Finally, the nails of the DEWALT DWFP12231. Sadly, there are no nails included, but it does drive 18 nails up to 2 inches.
By the way, this is a pneumatic tool, which means you’ll need a compressor. Later, we’ll look at some cordless nailers you can use as well.
So, what do the reviews on amazon.com say? The DEWALT DWFP12231 brad nailer has had highly positive reviews. People love how powerful this nailer is while being a fair price. You can find various pictures of completed projects and other pieces of proof that it works.
There is a vocal minority of negative reviews, saying that the nailer didn’t get the job done or broke after a couple of months. With any machine, there are going to be duds, but they are in the minority, so you can still buy this machine with confidence.
#2: DEWALT DCN680B 20V Max XR 18 (Best Machine)
In our list, number 2 goes to the highest budget product. Typically, this one is the creme de la creme, but its significantly higher price puts it at number 2. However, if you do have the budget to get a more expensive brad nailer, should you?
Yes, you should. what makes this nailer stand out is that it’s a cordless brad nailer. Most units are pneumatic, meaning you’ll need a compressor, but if you don’t want that, then a cordless brad nailer works well. Cordless units tend to be more expensive, but offer you more freedom. This brad nailer has an LED indicator, which will tell you how much battery you have left. It also will shut off automatically when not in use, saving you energy.
This brad nailer goes a little bit beyond that standard 2 inches maximum, going up to 2 and 1/8th inches. The minimum amount is still 5/8th.
The brad nailer is good for all kinds of jobs, whether you need it for a quickie or a long-term project. It also has all the features of the previous nailer, including tool-free depth adjustment, rear exhaust, and tool free-jam release. Many people may not need a cordless brad nailer, making the price (which is typically 3 times as much as the previous entry,) not worth it. But if you want the number one brad nailer that’s also cordless, pick this one.
This brad nailer has an almost perfect review score, with reviewers saying that it’s made projects addicting. The nailer lasts a long time and delivers the goods, with a battery that keeps up with any corded nailer.
Some negative reviews and criticisms do exist. Some say it doesn’t hold enough nails. Other people have had duds. One reviewer gave it 1 star, but also said they bought it used. With a nailer like this, never cheap out and buy it used, as you may regret it.
#3: Hitachi NT50AE2 (Most Aesthetically Pleasing)
When it comes to the greatest looking out of all of them, we have to go with the Hitachi NT50AE2, also known as the Metabo HPT. Its price can differ depending on which package you buy, but it’s a mid-range unit
The Hitachi NT50AE2 has all the features you expect. It’s lightweight, easy to grip, and it has the jam clearing, depth of drive, and comfort. In addition, it has selective actuation, a feature that drives the nail in manually or automatically. For more precise jobs, you may need the nail controlled by you. For less precise jobs, pick automatic.
The Hitachi NT50AE2 also looks great. It has this beautiful chrome look to it and its own unique style. When it comes to power tools, you can pick this one out from a crowd, it’s so nice.
All in all, it’s a nice little purchase.
#4: Valu-Air F50Q 2″ 18 Gauge Air Brad Nailer (Best Low Cost)
So, why would you choose this brad nailer over the others? Simple! It’s low cost. There’s a difference between low-cost and cheap. Cheap is a product where you get what you paid for. Low-cost is a product that is affordable without sacrificing much quality.
This brad nailer is very lightweight and easy to use. It weighs 2.2 pounds. Its brad nails are 18GA and you can put 5/8″ to 2 inches if you so wish.
This brad nailer comes with other necessities, such as oil, an allen wrench, and some nails. Also, it does have a jam clearing release mechanism, too. It’s nothing too fancy, but this nailer can get the job done.
Reviews have been quite positive. Many reviewers say that it’s a great brad nail gun for the price. While it’s not for everyday use, it’s great for the occasional project. There are some negative, “you get what you paid for” reviews, but they are in the minority. Some of the complaints have less to do with the nail gun itself, and instead the fact that they didn’t get any instructions.
Overall, this is one of those cheap nail guns that we think is worth the price.
#5: Cordless Brad Nailer, NEU MASTER NTC0023 (Best Brad Nailer that’s Low-Cost Cordless)
Cordless brad nailers can be expensive, but here’s one that’s a little more budget-friendly. While it’s not under $100, it’s still very cheap compared to other units. So, what does it have to offer? Quite a bit, actually.
Two unique features it has is an LED light. This light can help you see better whenever you’re working in a dark place. Another feature it has is a belt hook. The belt hook makes everything much more mobile and keeps your brad nailer next to you at all times.
Another feature is its rubber nose tip. The nose tip gives you a good finish, and it’s a non-marring nose tip as well, meaning it won’t damage your surface.
It does not go up to 2 inches in regards to nails. Instead, it installs crown stapes up to 1 inch and brad nails up to 1 and 1/4th. This means you should use the brad nailer for a lightweight project, and you shouldn’t use it for a heavy-duty project. This is one of the reasons why we put this nail gun at #5.
Another reason is its review score. While it still has a positive score overall, the score is a little lower than other brad nailers. Positive reviews say that it works well if you want a cordless nailer that can take care of smaller jobs. The negative reviews say it’s underpowered or it didn’t work at all.
What About the Cheapies? Our Best Products Under $X
If you’re looking for the cheapest nail gun, we have you covered. These brad nailers are a little more questionable in quality, but if you’re on a shoestring budget, you may want to check them out.
#1 Best Under $40: WEN 61720
First up is the WEN 61720, a nailer that has all the basics, from a jam release to a rubber grip. Most brad nailers have some sort of rubber grip to make it as comfortable as possible, but this one likes to show it off by mentioning it. Anyway, besides the basics, the WEN 61720 comes at a great price.
Reviews have been mostly positive, with some people saying that it gets the job done. For the price, many people find even its shortcomings difficult to complain about. Some reviewers say it stopped working after a while, but the majority seem to like it, so we recommend the WEN 61720
#2 Best Under $30: PowerSmart Pneumatic 18 Gauge Brad Nailer
This brad nailer is very cheap and has all the essentials. A rubber grip, tool-free jam clearing, and adjustable exhaust. This all is rolled up into a cheap package.
One thing you must remember when purchasing this brad nailer is that as of this post, there aren’t any reviews we could find. If you want to be the first one to give this brad nailer a review, you’re making some history! For under $30, we say it may be worth the risk.
#3 Best Under $25: WEN 18 Gauge 2 Inch 2-in-1 Pneumatic Brad Nailer and Stapler with Carrying Case and Safety Glasses
This is a cheap brad nailer that even has glasses to keep your eyes safe, as well as its own carrying case. It has all the features you need if you want to put some brad nails in, and reviews have been quite stellar. All on Walmart’s website have been positive, saying it’s a good little nailer for the price.
#4 Best Under $20: 18 Gauge 2-In-1 Air Nailer/Stapler
If you’re looking for a brad nailer that’s the cheapest around, this one has you covered. This one still has all the features you’ve come to expect, from handling brad nails up to 2 inches and having a tool-free jam release. It also has the unique feature of 360 degrees rotatable exhaust, so you can put the debris anywhere you want.
This lightweight brad nailer does have mostly positive reviews, with some reviewers saying it worked well for the job, while others saying it’s a dud. For under $20, we say it may be worth the risk.
By the way, what are air nailers? They’re simply pneumatic brad nailers. You may also hear them called compressed air nail guns.
Buying Tips: How do I Choose a Brad Nailer?
Choosing a brad nailer can be harder than you think. Most brad nailers look the same, but they may have certain features that make or break your decision. Here are some ways you can decide if a nailer is right for you or not.
First, figure out what power source you want. You can pick pneumatic nailers, which are the most common. This is a nailer powered by an air compressor. No air compressor, no use for it.
Then, you have an electric nailer. This is powered by a cord and doesn’t need an air compressor. They’re good for quick jobs where there is a power cord nearby.
Finally, there’s the cordless nailer. This power source tends to be more expensive, but they offer the most freedom.
There is no right power source to choose from.
Lack of Jamming
You want to pick a nailer that doesn’t get jammed as much, and if it does, then you use its jam clearing release mechanism. Nail guns will get jammed, and when you have a nail stuck in there, you want one that can make clearing the blockage easy. Stuck nails can ruin your tools, especially your brad nailer.
Nailers nowadays have depth adjustment. Depth adjustment, or depth of drive, can make driving in the nail a whole lot easier. When you have a project that requires the nail to be a certain depth, depth adjustment can make it easy to do. It’s always possible to put the nail in too deep, or too shallow. Depth adjustment is quick and takes out all the guesswork.
The belt hook is a convenient little feature that allows you to put the nailers on your belt without having to carry it around all the time. It’s good for a tough job.
Different nailers can hold different amounts of nails. For a small job, you may care less about the nail capacity of your tools, but if you’re going to use it more seriously, tools with a low nail capacity can be annoying. For example, you may end up having to reload your nails constantly. With a higher nailer capacity, this can make the process so much easier.
Lightweight and Easy to Handle
You want to make sure your nailer has a comfortable rubber grip so it will not hurt your hands. In addition, you want one that is light. Depending on different factors, such as its power source, its size, and how many nails it can carry, its weight can vary. Heavy tools can wear you out after a while, and it can be much harder to spread the nails in a consistent fashion. Always look at the weight of the tools before you purchase them. It should be easy to determine if it’s light enough for you.
“Batteries not included” isn’t just a disclaimer used in children’s toy commercials. It can apply to brad nailers as well. Many nailers may not come with batteries, and if you purchase an air-powered one, you’re going to have to have a compressor.
Some nailers may include nails, while others you have to buy separately. Meanwhile, others may come with a carrying case. When you purchase the nailer, see what is included. Other units may come with packages, where you pay more to get accessories. Buying a bundle can help you save money in the long run, but on the other hand, some can be a waste of money, too.
Also, you do need to think about the cost of the nailer as well. Depending on your budget, you may have some money to play around with, or you may not have too much.
Most people have enough to buy a mid-range unit, which can go for about $80. This one offers a balance between quality and value, making it useful for most jobs.
If you have more money to play around with, you can go for a higher budget nailer. These go for about $200, give or take, and one of the biggest allures of these nailers is that they are truly cordless. Cordless nailers can offer the most freedom, but you have to pay a lot.
For those who have a tight budget, or they don’t need to use the nailer much, you may want to go with a budget nailer. These go under $50, and they have the basics. These nailers may jam more, have less room to play with in regards to nail size, and they may use air or electric, but never cordless.
Which one you choose depends on your needs. Don’t go over your budget, but also don’t go too low if you need a nailer to last you a very long time.
Are Electric Brad Nailers any Good?
If you looked at our list, you may have noticed a lack of electric brad nailers. What gives? Do we have a bias against them? Not really; this is just how the list turned out.
Electric brad nailers are powered by cords. You just plug them in and use them. They can be good, offering a little more freedom than an air compressor brad nailer, but still not as much freedom as a cordless unit.
Should I get a Brad Nailer or a Finish Nailer?
Getting a brad nailer or a finish nailer is a tough call. Honestly, it depends on what you need it for. Let’s look at these two, compare and contrast them, and then you can decide which one you need.
When you’re new to the tool world, you may wonder what the term “brad nailer” even means. Was there a guy named Brad who created it? Nope. Brad is a type of nail that’s thinner and is used to attach a trim that’s lightweight. Brad nails are 18 gauge and are for woodwork jobs that require delicacy. They go from half an inch to 2.5 inches.
Because these nails are slim, they’re good for jobs where you don’t want to split the wood. They’re good for decorative trim, framing, birdhouses, and other delicate pieces of woodworking.
These nails are more versatile and are meant for thicker pieces of wood. They go up to 3.5 inches. Because they are heavier, these nails can hold quite a bit more compared to brad nails. They’re great for casings of doors and windows, treads of stairs, cabinets, and similar jobs.
So, should you get brad nailers or finishing nailers? It all depends on what you need the job for.
What is the History of the Nail Gun?
A nail gun is an example of automation, where machines are used to make a job easier. In the case of the nail gun, it was designed to make hammering in nails much quicker. Before the nail gun, people had to hammer in every nail one by one, which could take hours.
Meanwhile, the nail gun can put in multiple nails in more than half the time. The original designer was engineer Morris Pynoos, who made the first air-powered nail gun. The nail gun hasn’t been around for a long time in the grand scheme of things. The first one was introduced in 1950. Seventy years later and it’s still one of the most popular tools for any builder.
How do You Assemble the Nail Gun?
Follow the instructions that came with your machine. Usually, it’s quite easy to put it together and get started. Usually, it involves connecting it to its power source, loading in the nails, and making other adjustments. Since a nail gun can be a little dangerous, make sure to read the manual fully before you get to nailing.
Verdict: Your Best Brad Nailer
There we have it. We think we’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. Or rather, driven it in with power tools. Let’s summarize which nail guns are our favorites.
First, there’s the DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch. This nail gun is overall the most balanced, giving you the most features for a balanced price. If you want your typical air powered nailer, it’s worth the purchase, and one of the best brad nailers for the job in our opinion.
Second, we have the DEWALT DCN680B 20V Max XR 18. This has much more power than the first one and even has cordless capabilities. If you want a machine that operates on battery power, this is one of the most useful tools for the job.
Third, we have the Hitachi NT50AE2. This has the typical features of your standard unit, but it has an awesome look to it. Plus, it’s much easier to pick and choose how the nails go in.
Fourth, there’s the Valu-Air F50Q. This is a brad nailer that is extremely affordable, yet it still manages to deliver a good product. It’s not meant for heavy-duty use, but for the occasional job, we think it’s well worth the purchase.
Finally, we have the NEU MASTER NTC0023. This has the lowest score on Amazon, but it is still decently reviewed. If you’re looking for a cordless power source, this is the cheapest you can get.
There you go. If you’re wanting to do some woodwork this spring, these nailers can help get you started. Whether you’re a veteran to the craft, or you’re a newcomer, picking a good nailer can make the process a whole lot easier. Pick the nailer that sounds the most appealing and see if it’ll work for your needs. Good luck.