The 5 Best Brad Nailers for Your Projects
The brad nailer is a versatile power tool used for affixing materials in a temporary manner. Brad nailers use brad nails that do not have a strong holding power. But what they lack in holding power, they gain in discreet look.
The brad nailer delivers an almost invisible nailing to material that looks professional and ideal for projects like arts and crafts. Of course, the versatility of the brad nailer allows it to be used everywhere - from woodworking to decorative arts.
If you are fresh on the market for one, our brad nailer reviews will help you find the best brad nailer for the money.
Table of Contents
- What is Brad Nailer Used for?
- 5 Best Brad Nailers - Reviews
- What to Look for When Buying a Brad Nailer
- Power Sources of Brad Nailer
What is Brad Nailer Used for?
We often hear this question - “What exactly is the Brad Nailer used for? We’re glad you asked! The Brad Nailer looks very similar to the Finish Nailer. Many times newbies easily confuse them and understandably so.
If you want to know the difference between the brad nailer vs. finish nailer, then it is pretty easy to tell them apart.
The brad nailer is mostly used for temporary material affixing. They are ideal for decorative nailing on fabric or other low-density material like plywood. Brad nails have a small gauge, are thinner with a smaller nail head. They dive deep in wood and you will not need wood putty to mask the brad nail head, unlike a finish nailer.
5 Best Brad Nailers - Reviews
Without further ado, here is a list of some of the best brad nailer on the market today.
Bostitch BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA Brad Nailer Kit
Dewalt DC608K 18-Gauge Brad Nailer Kit
Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
Porter-Cable BN200B 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
Dewalt DWFP12231 Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer Kit
#1. Bostitch BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA Brad Nailer Kit
Editor's Rating: (4.8 / 5)
If this model from Bostitch has to win an award, it would be on looks and construction finish. It already won our hearts though since it is our top pick. This is a solid brad nailer that feels great in the hand and is durable. Additionally, the user has the option to purchase 3 different models that suit their need and preference the best.
This model accommodates longer brad nails of 5/8” to 2-1/8” than other models in this review, which is handy for those who work more with longer nails. Most models at this price point at limited to only a maximum of 2” so it is nice to see Bostitch going above and beyond despite the price.
There are a few features that demark this model from others in this price point. It has a smaller nose that allows the user to make more accurate nailing. Bostitch calls it “Smart Point Technology”.
Clearing a jam with this model is quite easy with the tool-free mechanism. You do not need tools and it can be accomplished in a matter of seconds, saving you precious time.
While heavier than most models below, at 3.1lbs it feels neither too heavy or too light. It’s just perfect in the hand. The handles are very comfortable to hold, even for long hours.
- Construction finish: Superb construction quality. Durable nailer.
- Nose: The smaller nose delivers accurate nailing.
- Longer Nails: This model can accommodate longer 2-1/8” brad nails.
- Easy to clear a jam in a matter of seconds.
- 3 models to choose from for your convenience - regular brad nailer, oil-free model and oil-free with smart point technology.
Who should buy?
This is a durable and quality brad nailer offered at an entry-level price. If you are short on cash and looking for a reliable nailer, this model will not disappoint.
#2. Dewalt DC608K 18-Volt 18-Gauge Brad Nailer Kit
Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)
The DC608K from Dewalt is an electric brad nailer that has many tricks up its sleeve. It is a cordless brad nailer that is powered by an 18V NiCAD battery. At 7.4lbs, it is a little bit on the heavy side but still very portable and maneuverable.
The heavy-duty 18V NiCAD battery can fire 1000 nails on one full charge. It takes only 1 hour to fully charge and a battery charger is delivered with the purchase.
You do not have to wait before firing another nail. The firing mechanism is powerful enough for fast shooting of nails. This saves you time and boosts your productivity on heavy-duty tasks.
This model can quickly and easily change from sequential to bump mode with the flick of a button. Whether you require fast shooting or accuracy, it has you covered. In fast mode, it can fire an impressive 5 18-gauge brad nails of 5/8” - 2” per second.
- Electric: Does not require an external air compressor.
- Battery: Robust NiCAD XRP battery can be fully charged in 1 hour. Shoots 1000 nails per charge.
- Firing Mode: Firing mode can easily be adjusted for fast firing of 5 nails/second or accurate nailing.
- Cordless: There is no cord that gets in the way.
- Versatility: Can fire 5/8” to 2” brad nails.
- A little on the heavy side.
Who should buy?
If you are looking for an electric brad nailer that is both performing and versatile, the DEWALT DC608K is one of the best cordless brad nailer out there.
#3. Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
The Hitachi NT50AE2 is a lightweight pneumatic brad nailer that can be bought as a standalone nailer or as a combo kit with the air compressor. Despite its small weight of only 2.2lbs, it has some serious power and can shoot 18 gauge brad nails of 5/8” - 2” into either soft or relatively hard material. It will require 70 - 120 PSI from your air compressor to work efficiently.
One feature that we like about this model is the selective firing mode. You can choose to shoot nails by pressing the trigger or by nose contact. It adapts to the way you prefer to work in a seamless manner. In addition, the nose has a mechanism that allows you to further adjust the firing depth. Simply twist the nose half-way to increase or decrease the depth-of-drive.
The 2.2lbs makes it very maneuverable and you can use this model for nailing in awkward positions. It has a ergonomics and you will have no problem using this model for hours without fatigue. In addition, the elastomer grips are very comfy.
- Affordable: It will not break the bank.
- Lightweight: 2.2lbs and very maneuverable.
- Powerful: It can easily drive 5/8” - 2” brad nails in even hard materials.
- Selective Fire: You can adjust this nailer to either fire with the trigger button or on contact.
- Ergonomic: Comfortable to use for hours.
- Not the best feeding mechanism. 2” brad nails can jam easily. No such problems with shorter nails.
Who should buy?
If you require a powerful gas brad nailer and work with brad nails smaller than 2”, this is a good model to consider. It has a good overall construction and offers plenty of power.
#4. Porter-Cable BN200B 5/8 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)
The Porter-Cable BN200B has a simplistic look but still has competitive advantages and features that makes it a worthwhile brad nailer. It is a gas powered models that weighs a good 2.6 lbs that is still easy on the hands. It accepts 18 gauge brad nails of standard 5/8” - 2” in length.
This is an entry-level model but sports decent features like the tool-free depth-of-drive adjustment. Simply twist the nose half-way and it will automatically change. We also like the build contruction - made from lightweight and durable die-cast aluminum.
The motor is maintenance free and shoots with power and accuracy. The motor does not spit out oil thus will not stain your work. This has been a recurring problem with brad nailers in the past. The BN200B is not the fast pneumatic nailer on the market, but it has an excellent price to performance ratio.
It has a decent nail magazine size of 100 nails that will not require frequent recharge.
Finally, the rear exhaust mechanism evacuates air away from your nailing and from you.
- Affordable: Competitive and is affordable.
- Durable: The lightweight and strong aluminum body is very durable.
- Oil-free motor that will not stain your work.
- 100 Nail Magazine: will not require frequent recharge.
- Rear exhaust: Evacuates away from the user at the bottom rear.
Who should buy?
The BN200B is one of the best and most affordable quality nailers in its category. Many 18 gauge brad nailer reviews recommend this model and this model is usually at the top of their list.
#5. Dewalt DWFP12231 Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer Kit
Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)
Finally we have the DEWALT DWFP12231. This is another beginner-friendly and affordable solution that competes neck-to-neck with the other nailers in this brad nailer review.
It is a little bit on the heavy side at 4.8lbs but still host the features you would expect in a quality brad nailer. The motor is oil-free, preventing stains and the nose detents allows easy adjustment of the depth-of-drive.
This model can comfortably drive 18 gauge 5/8” - 2” brad nails with the exhaust at the back guaranteeing a clean nailing finish. The 100 nail magazine is pretty standard in a brad nailer at this price point, but it is nice to see its there.
Ergonomics is also promoted quite extensively in this model, and the handles are coated with elastomer making it very comfortable to hold. It will make the extra weight of this model a non-issue.
- Good Quality: Good quality construction and durable.
- Tool-less Jam clearing mechanism.
- Can drive industry-standard 18-gauge brad nails of 5/8" - 2"
- Great ergonomics and feel great in the hand.
- A little bit on the heavy side for a pneumatic brad nailer at 4.8lbs.
Who should buy?
This is not a brad nailer to write home about. However, it does offer standard features that makes it both useful and versatile on the job. This model is recommended if you prefer a Dewalt power tool. Else, there are better models in this review like the Bostitch BTFP12233.
What to Look for When Buying a Brad Nailer
There are a few important factors to take into consideration before buying a brad nailer:
#1. Pneumatic vs Cordless Brad Nailer
The are several types of brad nailers. You will need to choose one that is more convenient for you. Here is breakdown:
- Pneumatic brad nailer - It is the most powerful brad nailer but you will need an air compressor to operate it. If you don’t own one, it can quickly become an expensive investment.
- Electric brad nailer - The electric brad nailer is the most versatile of all. It is usually cordless with a robust NiCAD battery that can shoot a fair number of nails on one charge. It is very efficient and usually hosts many “professional” features. They are also heavier because of the motor that delivers the firing, and more expensive as well.
Penumatic brad nailers offer more power and cordless brad nailers more portability and maneuverability. You will need to choose what is more important for your need.
2. Nail Size
Most brad nailers are 18 gauge. That is not very big and can easily bend. The longer the nail, as in a 2” 18 gauge nail, the more likelihood that it will break or bend. Choose a model that fits a nail size that suits your work the best and not one that can accomodate the longest nail.
3. Depth Adjustment
The depth adjustment in a brad nailer makes the device more versatile and allows you to adapt to the material you are nailing. It should be easy to use. Most good quality brad nailers have a detent twist mechanism at the nose that allows you to adjsut the depth-of-drive with a simple twist.
4. Other factors
- Magazine Size: In general, most “entry-level” brad nailers accommodate 100 nails per magazine. If this is not enough, you should look for high-end models that can fit more. If you opt for a cordless model, it should fire at least 1000 nails before requiring a recharge.
- Belt Hook: Optionally, look for brad nailers with a belt hook. It makes it easier to carry around by hooking it to your belt.
- Brand and Warranty: By going with a branded brad nailer, you get the reassurance that it is a quality build device that will last. The warranty is also an important aspect to consider. You never know.
Power Sources of Brad Nailer
As pointed out above, there are 2 major types of brad nailers. Gas (also called pneumatic) and Electric.
#1. Pneumatic Brad Nailer
Pneumatic brad nailers are the most powerful. They use an air compressor and to operate. This type of brad nailer usually requires 70 - 120 PSI to work efficiently. This is mostly because they lack an elaborate motor compartment and have a fairly simplistic inner design.
They are very lightweight but the air compressor attachment can sometimes negate this benefit and make them more cumbersome. You will also need to carry your air compressor along to work a gas brad nailer.
#2. Electric Brad Nailer
Electric brad nailers are heavier and usually cordless. This means greater portability but at the expense of power - as they are not as powerful as gas brad nailers. However, they are more than adequate for general purpose brad nailing in a wide variety of material.
Electric brad nailers are much more heavy than their gas counterpart mostly because of the motor (and NiCAD battery). What they lost in power, they gain in portability and versatility. You can carry an electric brad nailer everywhere and most good-quality brad nailers can fire a decent number of nails before discharge - usually around 1000 nails. Which is plenty!
All the brad nailers in this review offer incredible benefit and value for money. Some are better than others, as with anything, but it may simply boil down to a question of preference for you. Our top pick is our favorite brad nailer out of the lot, but you can go with your own preference. If you have still not found a good brad nailer for your need, go through them one more time.