Gone are the days when hammers were used to drive nails into walls, but today and owing to modern engineering guns aka nailers complete these tasks much more efficiently and quickly.
But things can get a bit confusing when shopping for the best nailer for the job, given the myriad types to choose from including framing, flooring, and brad nailers. Brad nailers prove handy for a wide range of applications such as trim, moldings, cabinetry, and a plethora of other home hobbies and projects.
As the name would suggest, brad nailers are designed to fire brads, which are basically thin gauge nails with small heads, yet have high holding power. Buying the best brad nailer however can be challenging, given the many options available. But we’ve done the homework and bring you the lowdown on 5 best brad nailers including wired and cordless models.
5 Best Cordless and Pneumatic Brad Nailers
PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA Brad Nailer Combo Review
The PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA tops this list of best brad nailers for several reasons, most notably its superior performance and great durability. It is powered by a class-leading 1.5 Ah 20Volt MAX lithium-ion battery, which lasts longer than NiCad batteries and eliminates the need for a hose, compressor or expensive gas cartridges.
In terms of runtime, the battery of the PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA brad nailer when fully charge can shoot up to an impressive 450 – 2-inch brads per charge. Tipping the scales at just 5.9 lbs, this nailing gun from the PORTER-CABLE lineup boasts a lightweight footprint and user-friendly design.
Furthermore, it showcases the optimal center of gravity, resulting in less strain on your body especially when working across longer periods. Adding to this, the PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA brad nailer is fitted with rubberized grip and a textured handle, which collectively reduce slippage during jobs, and considerably increase the comfort quotient of the tool.
The PCC790LA tool is designed to drive 5/8-inch to 2-inch long brad nails and can store up to 100 nails in its onsite magazine at one time. Loading and unloading the nails into the tool is a hassle-free experience, where push the red button, remove the magazine, load the nails, and then secure the magazine back in place.
Unlike cheap brad nailers, the PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA tool comes with a rich set of features to make the job easier, starting with its tool-free release mechanism, which allows you to release the integrated latch, or toggle with the knob to clear any jammed nails. Further, it comes with a tool-free depth adjustment wheel and window, which makes it easy to adjust the depth of drive through a viewing window while working.
Adding to its list of features is a trigger lock system, which works by pushing the pushing tip before pulling the trigger. With regards to safety, the PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA brad nailer doesn’t fall short with its trigger lock system, which when triggered locks the device and prevents it from shooting nails.
The PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA nailer is fitted with multifunction LED lights that offers twofold benefits – light up the workspace, and indicate battery life. It comes with a Bluetooth radio that can be connected with a compatible device to stream music including AM/FM.
The PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA nailer backed by a 3-year warranty against any manufacturer defects, so you can rest assured it will last for several years to come with proper care.
- Drives 5/8-inch to 2-inch long brads
- Trigger and safety lock
- Multifunction LED lights
- 3-year manufacturer warranty
- Adjustable depth of drive
- Does not come with carry bag
Husky Tools Pneumatic 2-in-1 18 Gauge 2 Review
Husky Tools, conceived in 1924 is today a leading name in the hand tools and tool storage segment, and the Pneumatic 2-in-1 18 Gauge 2 nailer is yet another hit addition to the company’s massive portfolio. This multifaceted tool serves as both a pneumatic nailer and a narrow crown stapler gun, which saves you cash from buying two different tools.
The Husky Tools 18-gauge brad nailer is made from robust die-cast aluminum, so it can withstand a fair bit of wear and tear. Even with its tough construction, this brand nailer from Husky Tools weighs just under 5 lbs, and is equipped with a 1-inch driver blade, and a comfort grip handle, making it a joy to work with even during longer periods.
It is a great choice for a wide range of tasks including cabinetry, decorative trim, upholstery, paneling, window casing, plastic sheeting, hobbies, and arts and crafts. In terms of compatibility, the Husky Tools DP2118G brad nailer can accept 18-gauge brad nails ranging from 5/8 inches to 2 inches, and 18-Gauge 1/4 inches narrow crown staples between 5/8 inches and 1-9/16 inches.
This rugged stapler and nail gun combo tool are fitted with a dual-mode trigger, so you get two firing options to choose from – sequential firing for superior accuracy, and bump firing when you need to get the job done quickly. Jammed nails can be cleared without breaking a sweat with the onsite quick jam release lever for better work efficiency.
The driving depth of the Husky Tools DP2118G brad nailer can be adjusted to meet your desired specifications on the fly by simply turning the wheel located right below the trigger. This tool when in use causes no damage to your working surface, so you can expect nothing but professional results each time. It comes with 200 brad nails and 200 1/4-inch narrow crown staples, so you can get to work as soon as it arrives.
- Stapler and gun combo
- Bump and sequential firing
- Jammed nails release
- Adjustable depth of drive
- Rugged construction and weighs just 5 lbs
- Limited to 1 color option
KIMO 20V 18 Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer Review
The KIMO brad nailer is in a league of its own with its dual design, so you get a nailer and stapler in one tool. It is powered by an industry-leading KIMO 2.0Ah lithium-ion battery, which when fully charged can drive up to an impressive can drive up to 700 brads. This battery is claimed to last for up to 1000 charging cycles, so you won’t have to replace it anytime soon.
The KIMO nailing tool is compatible with 18-gauge nails that measure between 3/4’’to 2’’, and 18-gauge staples that measure between 3/4’’to 1-5/8’’. Adding to this, it offers two modes of operation i.e. sequential and bumps firing, and you can toggle between the two with modes with the onsite dual mode switch.
When switched to bump firing mode, the tool can shoot at a whopping speed of 80 nails per min, resulting in increased productivity. The KIMO cordless nailer is a highly versatile tool for several reasons, most notably for its adjustable depth of drive, allowing you to adjust the firing depth with the twist of a knob located at the top of the tool.
This nailer from KIMO boasts a compact and lightweight footprint at just over 6 lbs, which makes it easy to use in tight spaces, and doesn’t bog you down when working. Plus, the front of the tool is fitted with LED lights to help use the tool in low lit areas. It is fitted with a 2-in-1 bottom loadable magazine for added convenience and is equipped with an ergonomic grip handle.
The KIMO brad nailer is appointed with several other lights to indicate several functions of the tool including power and malfunction. It is a great choice for moldings, furniture building, trims, home hobbies and projects, and comes with 500 18GA brad nails, 500 18GA crown staples, a wrench, and a carrying bag. Furthermore, the KIMO nailer and stapler is backed by a 2-year warranty against any manufacturer defects.
- 2.0Ah lithium-ion battery
- Drives 700 brads per charge
- Lightweight at 6 lbs
- Dual firing modes
- Adjustable depth of drive
- LED lights
- 2-year manufacturer warranty
- Does not come with an extra battery
Metabo HPT Brad Nailer Review
Previously known as Hitachi Power Tools, the Metabo HPT kit includes a brad nailer, air hose, and a compressor, making it a great choice for both novice and seasoned DIYers. The brad nailer in the kit features an adjustable depth of drive, and can accept 18-gauge fasteners between 5/8″ up to 2″.
It is perhaps the most lightweight models on this list at just 2.2 lbs, and is fitted with a drive dial to easily adjust the depth of drive. It features a no-mar tip at the front, so it won’t cause any unintended markings of damage to the workpiece.
The Metabo HPT nailer comes with a 360-degree adjustable exhaust port to keep your workspace free from dust debris and oil after finishing your projects and comes with safety glasses, hex bar wrenches, and a carrying case.
The Metabo HPT compressor included in the package features a sturdy design complete with a steel roll cage, and a rubber grip to protect its components, and makes it easy to carry it across places. When powered on, it works quietly at just 59 dB, and uses industrial oil for unmatched durability, and little or no maintenance.
It is fitted with an industrial grade regulator and gauges, which collectively make it easy to and accurate PSI measurements. Lastly, but the most important component in this kit connects the generator with a compressor with the nailer, the air hose is engineered to handle 300 PSI, and offers a 3-to-1 burst ratio.
The Metabo HPT hose is spirally reinforced for enhanced durability and is approximately 40 percent lighter than traditional PVC. This kit also includes a 1000 18-gauge brad nails that are coated with a layer of zinc for superior rust resistance. To top things off, these fasteners are equipped with a 6-ball brass ring and feature a crimped-on compression ring.
- Kit includes nailer, fastener, hose, and compressor
- Nailer accepts 5/8″ up to 2” brads
- Nailer weighs just 2.2 lbs
- Sturdy design with adjustable depth of drive
- The compressor works quietly at 59 dB
- Nail slot cartridge may be a bit challenging at times
Makita AF506 Brad Nailer Review
The Makita AF506 brad nailer showcases a durable and compact footprint, offers a ton of oomph under its hood, starting with its robust motor. It can drive 18-inch brads ranging from 5/8″ to 2″ into both soft and hardwood applications and is tucked away neatly into a strong aluminum body.
The Makita AF506 pneumatic brad nailer tips the scales at just over 2.5 lbs, making it a pleasure to work with, and take with you on the go. Further, it features a narrow nose, allows you to fire nails in restrained spaces, and an integrated duster that provides a surge of air to get rid of dust and debris on the work surface.
It is equipped with a depth adjustment dial, which allows you to flush drive nails into a wide range of material without the use of any tools, and adjusting the compressor pressure. The front of the Makita AF506 brad nailer comes with a cast and machine ironed nose piece for accurate contact, and an n0n-marring rubber nose to prevent any scratches or damages on the work surface.
The Makita AF506 brad nailer is a great choice for baseboard, trim work, flooring, crown molding installation, and other woodworking applications. It comes with a side-loading magazine, which can accommodate up to 100 nails for optimal efficiency. In terms of comfort, the Makita AF506 brad nailer doesn’t fall short with its rubber soft grip, which is designed to prevent strain on your hands even when working across longer periods.
But that’s not all, this feature-rich brad nailer from Makita is equipped with a multi-directional exhaust port that can rotate 360 degrees to direct the air exiting the exhaust away from the user. It is backed by a 3-year limited warranty against manufacturer defects.
- 100 nail magazine capacity
- Accepts 5/8″ to 2″ brads
- Lightweight at just 2.5 lbs
- Onsite duster and exhaust port
- 3-year manufacturer warranty
- Included safety glasses may be a bit flimsy
Electric and Pneumatic Brad Nailer Buying Guide
Brad nailers are becoming increasingly popular among novice and seasoned DIYers for several reasons, most notably for their versatile use. When shooing for the best brad nailer, the choices can be overwhelming, given the long list of options available. But here are a few important factors to consider to ensure you make the right investment.
Type of brad nailer – brad nailers can be had across two common types pneumatic and electric models. Pneumatic brad nailers are often the preferred choice when compared to electric brad nailers, owing mostly to their ability to drive nails faster, and deep into workpieces.
With a pneumatic brad nailer, all you really have to do it ensure that you’ve configured the right settings on your compressor to drive nails without any hiccups. On the downside, pneumatic brad nails can be a bit bulky than their electric counterparts, which may be something you should pay attention to especially if you’re going to be using the tool for long hours.
Adding to this, you will need an air compressor to power a pneumatic brad nailer, which equates to additional costs if you do not already have one, and what could be a pesky hose to drag around. Electric brad nailers contrarily are powered by rechargeable batteries, which in most cases are included in the box.
However, they offer weaker performance compared to pneumatic nailers, making them an ideal choice for softwood applications. And given that cordless brad nailer run off a battery, you may be able to drive a smaller number of nails before needing to recharge.
Nail size – most if not all brad nailers use 18-gauge nails, but all can fire nails that measure between 5/8- to 2-inches in length. To know the right length brad nails you will need, it is a good idea to consider the size of the board you’re working with.
Depth adjustment – the best brad nailers come with depth adjustment, which basically allows you to decide how far you’d like to shoot the nail into the wood. This is a handy feature if you’re going to be shooting nails of varying lengths because the last thing you want is to drive shorter nails too far into your workpiece.
Magazine capacity – the best brad nailers can be loaded with roughly 100 nails, which lets you work without having to frequently reload the magazine.
Sequential vs. bump firing – sometimes referred to as contact firing, bump firing allows you to press the nailer against the surface to continuously fire nails. In sequential firing mode, you have to depress the tip against the work surface, and then pull the trigger. To drive a second nail, you have to move the tool from the workpiece, and then repeat the process.
No-mar tip – this is a soft rubber tip set at the nose of the tool that is designed to prevent scratches and damage to the work surface.
Brad Nailers FAQs
Q: Is a brad nailer the same as a finish nailer?
Answer: Brad nailers can be easily confused with finish nailers, but the latter uses 15 or 16 gauge nails, whereas the former uses much smaller nails between 18 to 23-gauge brads.
Q: Can you use finish nails in a brad nailer?
Answer: The short answer is no, and here’s why! Finish nails are much thicker than brad nails, hence they will not fit in a brad nailer.
Q: Is a brad nailer good for installing baseboards?
Answer: Both finish and brad nailers are a good choice for installing baseboards, door and window casings, chair rails, door frames, and crown moldings.