Whether you’re a professional fix-it guy or not, there’s no denying that a brad nailer is an essential item in your toolkit. This convenient power tool can help you complete a variety of projects, whether you’re building something new or using it for repairs.
But let’s face it - looking for the best brad nailer can be tricky. All the options seem so good that it’s hard to pick just one.
Luckily, we already did all the hard work for you. Here are the top brad nailers for this year - along with useful information to help you find the perfect unit.
Top Rated Brad Nailer Comparison Chart
PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Brad Nailer
Craftsman CMCN618C1 V20 Brad Nailer
Bostitch BTFP12233 Nail Gun
Metabo HPT - NT50AE2M Brad Nailer
WEN 61721 Pneumatic Brad Nailer
Dewalt DWFP12231 Brad Nailer
Makita AF505N Brad Nailer
DEWALT DCN680D1 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer
Makita AF506 Brad Nailer
Makita XNB01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Brad Nailer
Best Brad Nailer- Top 10 Product Reviews
1. Porter-Cable PCC790LA MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
First on our list is the Porter-Cable PCC790LA MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit. with its impressive battery life and consistent performance, it can easily be considered the best electric brad nailer in the market.
This electric nailer runs on a powerful 20-volt Lithium battery that’s proven to last for hours without fail. This allows it to perform consistently, even when it is already low on battery.
Since it is battery-operated, it does not have any wire connected to a compressor. This allows you to work freely for improved productivity. This also allows you to take it anywhere with you, making it great for those who work in different places.
And for added convenience, it has built-in LED lights to help you make more accurate shots.
Areas for Improvement
At 5.9 pounds, the Porter-Cable PCC790LA MAX Brad Nailer can be considered a heavy nail gun. But the weight is balanced across the nail gun, it doesn't feel heavy at all. We love how easy it is to operate, because of its tool-free adjustment options. The performance also remained consistent, even in low-battery situations - and that's impressive.
The only downside we can think of is that it can be pricey for a nail gun.
2. Craftsman CMCN618C1 V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
Another top contender for the best electric brad nailer is the Craftsman CMCN618C1 V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit. Coming from a big name like Craftsman, we all have high hopes for this unit - and we’re so happy that it delivered.
This powerful brad nailer uses a 20-volt Lithium battery that allows it to power through your projects for hours. It has an extensive runtime, so you don’t have to keep charging the battery often. This guarantees that you will always finish the job on schedule.
For maximum comfort, it comes with contoured over-molded handles to give you a solid grip. This makes it easier to control to ensure precise shots.
Areas for Improvement
What we found most impressive about the Craftsman CMCN618C1 V20 are its unparalleled shot speeds. This allows you to finish jobs faster, so you can make the most of your time.
However, you will only experience the best results if you already have a stable hand when it comes to using nail guns. Otherwise, you will only get inconsistent results. Thus, we can only recommend this for more experienced users.
The only downside we can think of is that it can be pricey for a nail gun.
3. Bostitch BTFP12233 Nail Gun
For convenience, comfort, and consistency, we highly recommend the Bostitch BTFP12233 Nail Gun.
Since it's a pneumatic nail gun, this unit can produce a consistent shooting performance. That makes it perfect for sequential operation. It has the Dial-A-Depth control system, so selecting the countersinking depth can be done without taking the gun away from your aim.
We especially love the smaller nose on this unit. Because of this, you can shoot brads with improved accuracy. So even if you’re new to operating power tools, the Bostitch BTFP12233 Nail Gun won’t be hard to handle.
This unit also features a rear-exhaust design to keep the air away from your face. That will keep you from being distracted as you work.
Areas for Improvement
There's no denying that the Bostitch BTFP12233 Nail Gun is designed with our convenience in mind. Its winning feature is the Smart Point Technology, thanks to its much smaller tip. That is combined with its oil-free operation, making it one low-maintenance and user-friendly unit. Both of these features make this pneumatic brad nailer easier to use, even if you're not yet a pro.
We also love that Bostitch provides us with a 7-year warranty. That will surely give you peace of mind, knowing you're getting the best value for your money.
4. Metabo HPT - NT50AE2M Brad Nailer
Another top contender for the best brad nailer in the market is the Metabo HPT - NT50AE2M.
Aside from its powerful performance, this unit also features an easy-to-access Actuation Switch. This feature allows you to switch between bump fire and sequential fire modes by simply flipping the switch. That gets your mind off of complicated controls to help you focus on the job better.
At only 2.2 pounds, the Metabo HPT - NT50AE2M is undeniably one of the most lightweight units we've handled. That makes it easy to control, so working for hours won't be an issue.
Thanks to its no-mar tip, your project won’t suffer from markings and dents from this nail gun. The result? A clean and flawless surface that your clients will surely admire.
Areas for Improvement
If you're looking for a lightweight pneumatic unit that's easy to operate, look no further than the Metabo HPT - NT50AE2M. It features simple controls that allow you to select the settings effortlessly. But despite the minimalist interface, it packs quite a punch, making it powerful enough for professional handymen to use on the job site.
5. WEN 61721 Pneumatic Brad Nailer
The WEN 61721 Pneumatic Brad Nailer proves that a good brad nailer doesn’t have to be expensive.
This affordable unit has impressive features such as a hassle-free nose latch, an easy-to-use depth adjustment wheel, and a spring-loaded magazine that makes it easy for us to operate. It operates between 60 to 115 PSI, allowing you to work more precisely than others. For its price, the WEN 61721 Pneumatic Brad Nailer is one impressive unit.
The exhaust port is also adjustable, so you can point it in any direction that's most convenient for you. This keeps any debris away from your face and your work - allowing you to focus better.
Areas for Improvement
Admittedly, we are quite impressed with how the WEN 61721 Pneumatic Brad Nailer performs. It comes with all the basic features that a brad nailer should have, but these are presented in a more user-friendly manner. So if you’re running a little low on budget, you can count on this nailer to help you get the job done.
6. Dewalt DWFP12231 Brad Nailer Kit
Dewalt is another big brand that we should consider, especially when looking for the best pneumatic brad nailers. So when we came across the Dewalt DWFP12231, we were too eager to try it.
With an operating pressure of 70 to 120 PSI, this unit will allow you to shoot more precisely for the best results. It has a depth-of-drive adjustment mechanism that sets the controls accurately. These features not only make it a precise shooter but also a user-friendly unit.
Speaking of user-friendly, the Dewalt DWFP12231 has a maintenance-free motor. This saves you the time, effort, and money from having it checked regularly.
We also love that it has a body made of Magnesium. This material is known for its superior durability but without being too heavy.
Areas for Improvement
Dewalt did not disappoint when it introduced the Dewalt DWFP12231. Its carefully-designed body is not only ergonomic but also sturdy and lightweight. Shooting accurately was not a problem, and we were quite impressed with how stable it felt even while shooting nails.
Without a doubt, the Dewalt DWFP12231 deserves recognition as one of the best in the market.
7. Makita AF505N Brad Nailer
The Makita AF505N Brad Nailer is another top contender for the best brad nailer in the market for 2021.
Thanks to its unique nose design, it can easily reach narrow areas with ease. This also helps it make precise shots since the nail is ejected through a smaller tip. But despite this design, this unit has a no-marring tip to keep your work free of marks and dents.
Speaking of clean work output, the Makita AF505N Brad Nailer has an adjustable exhaust port that you can rotate to up to 360 degrees. This keeps all the air and debris away from your work and your face.
We also love that it is designed with our convenience in mind. Aside from its tool-free adjustment settings, it also has a nail reload indicator window. We don't have to guess when it's time to reload, while we can make adjustments with our free hand. There's no need for complicated methods just to keep this unit working.
Areas for Improvement
The Makita AF505N is one of the most user-friendly pneumatic brad nailers we’ve tried. 2.2-pound weight was never too heavy on the wrists, making it easy to operate. The control panel was also simple enough, so getting it to work was a breeze. No doubt, beginners will surely love this nailer.
8. DEWALT DCN680D1 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
If you didn't like the corded Dewalt DWFP12231, then perhaps the DEWALT DCN680D1 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit is more to your liking. This model is a top choice for its powerful performance and unmatched ergonomics.
This powerful brad nailer comes with a 20-volt battery that’s combined with a brushless motor. As a result, you get unparalleled battery life compared to similar battery-operated models. This also keeps the unit low-maintenance, and that saves us a lot of money in the long run.
Since it is cordless, moving around the workstation won't be a problem. If you have to work on a big project, this is your weapon of choice.
For added convenience, it is built with multi-functional LED lights. These lights let you know the status of your unit. These lights will also illuminate the work path, so you don't have to worry about working in low-light environments.
Areas for Improvement
We love how the DEWALT DCN680D1 made life easier for us. Aside from its cordless design, it also features a convenient switch that allows you to change firing modes. This makes it easy to use, so working on different projects won’t be a problem.
It also boasts additional features like LED lights and a brushless motor that brings the others to shame. This is why we believe it’s one of the best brad nailers in the market.
9. Makita AF506 Brad Nailer
With its aluminum construction, the Makita AF506 Brad Nailer is both tough and lightweight. And at 2.9 pounds, this powerful nail gun is quite the force to be reckoned with.
It has an operating range between 70 to 120 PSI, so you can drive brads with unmatched accuracy. This is paired with the brand's notable narrow nose design, so accuracy is one of its assets.
Because of its pneumatic design, the Makita AF506 also delivers a consistent performance. Even if you have to work on an entire house, you can count on this nail gun to deliver the best results.
Areas for Improvement
The Makita AF506 is one of the items you should look out for. Its unmatched accuracy, this is one versatile nailer for a variety of users. It is also easy to operate, so even beginners won't have a hard time using it.
We also love its Aluminum construction. This keeps the unit looking great and without sacrificing its durability.
10. Makita XNB01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Brad Nailer
And finally, we have the Makita XNB01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Brad Nailer.
One of the key features of this unit is its impressive battery life. Its Lithium battery allows it to shoot up to 1,660 nails when the battery is fully charged. That keeps you from needing to recharge regularly, which can be quite a headache if you have to stop in the middle of work.
We also love how the Makita XNB01Z has an anti-dry drive mechanism that's specially engineered to prevent damage to your work. This is paired with rubber bumpers to ensure maximum protection.
Areas for Improvement
With its simple controls, protective features, and impressive performance, the Makita XNB01Z seems too good to be true. The only thing we didn’t like was it was quite heavy at 7.7 pounds.
But considering all its features - including the LED lights, superior ergonomics, and tool-free adjustments - there’s no denying that the Makita XNB01Z is one of the best in the market.
What Is a Brad Nailer?
A brad nailer is a powerful tool that functions similarly to a nail gun. It shoots thin and small nails called brads to effectively sink them onto the target. Brads are usually 18-gauge nails that are up to 2 inches long. This makes them ideal for simple repair projects, renovation, and woodworking jobs.
This power tool is now armed with impressive features that allow you to drive the nail accurately at varying depths and without much effort. You also have the option to use corded or cordless options for maximum maneuverability.
Without a doubt, a brad nailer is one of today’s most useful power tools.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Brad Nailer
At this point, you’re already familiar with what a brad nailer is, and which ones are the best in the market. But which one is the best for you?
To help you come up with that decision, here are the things you have to consider before buying a brad nailer.
One of the first factors you have to consider is its durability. This has a lot to do with its components, materials used, and construction.
Ideally, a brad nailer that’s made of metal material is more durable than those made of hard plastics. Metal is also better at containing pressure, so you know that it won’t easily fall apart, no matter how long you’ve been using it.
Also, those made of metal bodies will protect the internal mechanisms better. This results in the unit’s improved longevity. And that guarantees the best value for the money.
Corded or Cordless
Another factor that you should consider is whether you’re getting a corded or cordless unit.
Corded units are usually pneumatic brad nailers that have to be attached to a compressor to function properly. This type of nailer delivers a consistent performance every time, leaving you with evenly-sun nails across your work.
But since it has to be connected to a compressor, it will have a wire attached, and this could get in the way if you have to move around a lot. Thus, a corded unit will work best for people with dedicated workstations who do not have to move around while working.
Alternatively, cordless nailers are battery-operated units with built-in motors. These motors are responsible for producing the pressure necessary to shoot the nail. Since it does not have a cord, movement is less restricted with this type of nailer.
However, it has its downsides. The added battery and motor can make the unit heavier than air-powered ones. This can easily result in arm and hand fatigue. Also, this type of nailer is not recommended if you have to use it for a long time. Having to recharge it from time to time can be bothersome.
You should also look for a brad nailer with ergonomic handles. Whether it’s corded or cordless, the nailer should have a balanced feel to help you have better control over it.
Also, some units have shock-absorbent handles. This will absorb all the vibrations from using the unit. As a result, you can have a more comfortable grip over the nailer. This feature will also reduce hand fatigue, so you can continue working for a long time.
Another important factor is to take note of the weight of the unit. On average, brad nailers range between 3 to 5 pounds. The more lightweight the nailer is, the easier it will be for you to maintain your aim. This will also make working on your projects a lot easier.
Nevertheless, the key is to find a unit that has a balanced weight. Even if it is heavy, your arms won’t feel much of it if the weight is balanced across the nail gun.
Since the main function of a brad nailer is to shoot nails, then you have to pick one that guarantees precise shots every time. This may not be an issue for the experienced woodworker, but it can be challenging for beginners.
If you need help in making precise shots, look for a unit that has a tip or nose that will guide the nail into place. This will guarantee more accurate shots to ensure the best results.
When it comes to any power tool, a priority is to look into its safety features. Make sure that the unit is armed with a feature that prevents it from accidentally shooting nails. This is one of the most common nailer-related accidents, so it’s best to prevent that from happening.
And finally, you shouldn’t forget about your budget. Luckily, brad nailers have varying price tags, so you will surely find one within your budget range. Always remember that the best unit isn’t always the most expensive one - especially if you won’t be using all of its features.
Design Components of a Brad Nailer
To dig even deeper, we also want to discuss the design components of a brad nailer. Design components vary depending on the type of nail gun you’re using, but here are the basics for your reference.
This is one of the most prominent parts of the nail gun. As much as possible, the handle has to be comfortable enough to help you get a firm grip on the nail gun. This will ensure the best control while operating the unit.
This component is responsible for shooting the brad onto your target. As much as possible, look for a nailer that has a comfortable trigger. If you have to work with it for hours, your hands mustn't feel pained throughout.
The jam-release mechanism
Otherwise known as the latch, this is one of the most essential components of the nailer. Without it, you have to deal with jammed nails manually, which can be time-consuming and bothersome.
This component holds all the brads in place. If the magazine can store a lot of nails, then there is little need for you to keep reloading once in a while. This is why it’s important to look for a high-capacity magazine for your nailer.
The depth gauge
Most brad nailers come with a depth gauge that you can adjust according to the length of the nail. This allows more accurate countersinking.
This is where the nail shoots out from. Some nailers are designed with narrow tips to help make more accurate shots.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Brad Nailers
If you’re unsure if brad nailers are for you, then you might want to consider the following advantages and disadvantages of this power tool.
The smaller and thinner brads do not cause any damage to the material you’re working with. If you have to work with delicate materials or wooden pieces with intricate designs, using a brad gun will keep it from splitting or falling apart.
Brad nailers are excellent for beginners. Since it does not cause any damage, beginners can learn from it without sacrificing the quality of the finished product.
Brad guns are easier to aim, thanks to their smaller tips.
Since it uses smaller nails, this type of nailer is more lightweight than its counterparts. This makes it easier to operate, even with just one hand. Not only does this reduce arm fatigue, but this also prevents injuries to your free hand.
This type of nailer can only accommodate 18-gauge brads. While brads are great for more delicate pieces, it is different if you have to strongly bond pieces together. In this case, you would need thicker nails that can only be shot by bulkier nail guns.
Because brad nails are thinner and smaller than other nails, it cannot easily work their way through thicker material. If you have to work with hardwood, consider other options.
Types of Brad Nailers
Generally, there are only two types of brad nailers: pneumatic and electric.
Pneumatic Brad Nailers
Pneumatic nailers are air-powered devices that are often attached to a compressor to function. Because of this, pneumatic brad nailers will produce consistent pressure for a more uniform shooting performance. This is the ideal unit for professionals who have to make a clean and consistent output every time.
The downside to this type of nailer is that it can be limiting in terms of movement. To work, you always have to bring your compressor with you, which can be quite troublesome. It also has cords, and this can be annoying if you have to move a lot as you work.
Electric Brad Nailers
On the other hand, electric brad nailers are those that are equipped with batteries. They have built-in motors that allow them to produce the necessary pressure without being connected to a compressor. They are also cordless, so movement and portability are never a problem.
However, since its performance is dependent on the battery, the motor’s performance will be affected as the battery loses its juice. Having to charge it regularly can also be time-consuming.
Thus, we recommend electric brad nailers to hobbyists or people who simply want a nail gun in their emergency toolkit.
18 Gauge Brad Nailer vs. 16 Gauge Finish Nailer
One of the most common questions we get asked relates to the difference between an 18-gauge brad nail and a 16-gauge finish nailer.
We understand where the confusion lies. After all, they both look similar at first glance. But once you get to know these two nail guns, identifying one from the other won’t be a problem anymore.
To start, 18-gauge brad nailers use thin nails called brads. This power tool is ideal for attaching thin moldings and similar delicate pieces. They are also more lightweight, so it would be easier to aim them at your target.
On the other hand, a 16-gauge finish nailer uses a thicker type of nail. Because of the nail’s larger diameter, it can be used for projects that require a stronger bond between materials. This makes it ideal for repairs and similar renovation work.
Because of the finish nailer’s larger nails, this power tool is also heavier than the brad nailer. It is also harder to aim because of its larger tip. This is why finish nailers are more popular among experienced handymen.
To conclude, brad nailers are beginner-friendly nail guns that are used for delicate attachment work, while finish nailers are the more heavy-duty power tools that can reliably work on hardwoods and similar pieces.
What do you use a brad nailer for?
Brad nailers can be used for a variety of projects. These projects can range from interior renovation and repair to woodworking projects. It can be used for fastening trims and moldings, paneling, and similar projects that involve attaching two wooden pieces.
Can you use a brad nailer for a trim?
It can be said that brad nailers are perfect for projects using trims. Brads are thin enough to pierce delicately through trims. Since it uses a thin 18-gauge nail, it does not split the trim so it maintains its aesthetic moldings.
Can you use a brad nailer for paneling?
Yes. Because of the size and length of brads, you can efficiently use a brad nailer for paneling. Brad nailers will only leave small holes, so it will not cause any visible marks as you're working on the paneling.
Can I use a brad nailer for baseboards?
It is not recommended to use a brad nailer for baseboards. Brads are thin 18-gauge nails that are usually 2 inches thick. While they may be long enough to pin the baseboard to the wall, they are not thick enough to do so effectively. Thus, we recommend using finish nailers instead.
Should I get a 16 or 18 gauge nailer?
The answer to this question largely depends on the projects you will be using it for. If you have to use it on projects that require stronger bonding, then the 16-gauge nailer would be more practical. But if you’re only using it for minimal patching work, then an 18-gauge nailer would suffice.
Can you use finish nails in a brad nailer?
It is not recommended to use finish nails in a brad nailer. The size of finish nails generally run between 10 to 16-gauge, indicating that they are much thicker than brads. Brads are 18-gauge nails, making them smaller and thinner than finish nails. Thus, using thicker finish nails on a brad nailer would not be ideal.
Brad Nailer Safety Tips
Above all, we cannot emphasize the importance of keeping yourself safe while using brad nailers and similar power tools. Bear in mind that improper handling of this tool can lead to serious accidents and injuries, so you have to be cautious always.
With that said, here are some safety reminders that you should remember while using a brad nailer.
Before anything else, it’s important to read the manual that came with your unit. The instruction manual will contain everything you need to know about operating your brad nailer. This ranges from loading the magazine, proper shooting, and maintenance advice.
Bear in mind that manufacturers produce their gadgets with different features. The manual will show you how to activate these features to make the most of your unit, including how to enable its safety modes. Thus, no matter how experienced you may be at operating power tools, this is an essential tip to take to heart.
Always wear the appropriate safety gear. Brad nailers are classified as power tools, and it uses an impressive amount of power to successfully sink the nail into the surface of your target.
At times, this can cause pieces of wood to fly through the air, so it’s best to wear goggles to keep the eyes protected. It’s also advised to wear work gloves to protect your hand against splinters. Work masks are also advised to keep you from inhaling the debris, especially if you’re operating a pneumatic brad nailer.
Make sure that your hand is nowhere near the pointer. Unlike manual hammers, you don’t have to stick your hand out to keep the nail from moving out of place. This is the convenience offered by using these power tools.
Since the nailer will be responsible for shooting the brad in place, you don’t have to keep your hand near the pointer. Just point it to your target and pull the trigger. Otherwise, you will only end up hurting yourself.
Similarly, do not aim your brad nailer against anyone. While it may seem like a funny joke, no one will start laughing if you accidentally pull the trigger. Thus, it's only logical to keep yourself from pointing it at anyone.
In case you experience a jam, make sure that the unit is completely turned off before you check. This depends on whether you’re using battery-operated or pneumatic ones. So even if you accidentally pull the trigger, the unit will not shoot a brad that could potentially harm anyone.
All things considered, we guarantee that all ten items listed here can potentially be the best brad nailer. It all depends on what you’re planning to use it on, whether you prefer corded or cordless operation, and how much you’re willing to spend on it.
Thus, the key to finding the best depends on whether you know what you need. The key is to assess before you buy anything. This way, you're sure to get the power tool that will serve you well for a long time. And not to mention, it will also give you your money's worth.
Brad is the ultimate DIY expert. Mostly self-taught, he has a lot of knowledge about the “do’s and donts” of nearly any home project. Brad routinely reviews new tools in the marketplace and provides a handful of helpful tips for aspiring do-it-yourselfers along the way. He is a lover of all things regarding building and creating.