Best Brad Nailer: Top 5 Brad Nailer Reviews and Buying Guide of 2018

Table of Contents

What is a brad nailer?

We are welcoming you to our best brad nailer review and buying guide of 2018. Today, you can find a wide range of power tools. They are all designed for varying types of projects and work differently, so understanding their features becomes increasingly important if you are looking for the right tool.

If you need precision and delicacy for excellent operation on lighter materials, brad nailers would be the right instruments to go for. They can do what other; bigger types of nailers will never be capable of doing. So if you need a tool for small home projects, a quality brad nailer would be ideal for you.


If you are looking for the best brad nailer for the money, we think we have a couple of decent options for you. We have picked five great models, which we consider the best brad nailers you can find today. They are durable, precise, versatile, and, most importantly, get the job done. We made sure to examine them thoroughly, so you are provided with a full and objective summary of each model.

Additionally, we are going to view the applications of brad nailers, their benefits, as well as help you with getting the lightest model.

Let’s now start looking into the best brad nailer review without further ado!

What is Brad Nailer Used for?

Brad nailers are perfect for gentle materials. Overall, these tools work best in projects where the appearance of the workpiece is a number one priority. Brad nails are so thin that they become almost invisible to the naked eye when driven into the material. You don’t even need to cover the nail holes with putty!

These nailers are designed for subtler and more precise projects. They thus would require a more thoughtful operation, especially considering that you are working with lighter and weaker materials. While the majority of brad nailers have bump mode to drive over five brads per second, some others come only with the more precise sequential operation mode.

18-gauge nails (also known as brads) used in brad nail gun determines the field of the tools’ application. Because 18-gauge brads are thinner than 16-gauge nails, they work better with lighter and more delicate materials because there is less risk of damaging them. On the other hand, 18-gauge brads would not be efficient in holding bulky items in place as well as piercing stronger materials.

All in all, brad nailers operate efficiently with lighter and thinner materials, where the small brads would be just enough to work with the material without damaging it. They are more suitable for smaller home projects where you just need to reattach a thin piece of wood trim, for example. You could also apply brad nailers when you want to have less hassle with the nail holes. Just put, where the looks of the material matter, brad nail guns would do just fine!

Best Brad Nailer Comparison Chart

PhotoModelPower sourceMagazine CapacityGaugeBuy Now
Dewalt DC608K 18 Volt 18-Gauge 2-Inch Brad Nailer Kit DEWALT DC608KElectric Cordless11018Check Price
Editor's choice
BOSTITCH BTFP12233BOSTITCH BTFP12233Pneumatic10018Check Price
PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer KitPORTER-CABLE PCC790LABattery10018Check Price
DEWALT Bare-Tool DC608B 18-Volt Cordless 2-Inch 18 Gauge Brad NailerDEWALT Bare-Tool DC608BElectric Cordless11018Check Price
SENCO FinishPro® 18MG, 2-1/8SENCO FinishPro® 18MGPneumatic11018Check Price

Top 5 Best Brad Nailer Reviews

1. DEWALT DC608K 18-Volt 18-Gauge 2-Inch Brad Nailer Kit

NiCad Battery
DEWALT DC608K 18-Volt 18-Gauge 2-Inch Brad Nailer Kit

Editor’s Choice: DC608K by DEWALT is one of the best brad nailer cordless powered by an 18-volt NiCad battery. Although the NiCad battery will allow you to drive hundreds and hundreds of brads and will charge quickly, it will suffer from the so-called memory effect. So, DC608K will require you to fully discharge and charge the battery to avoid losing battery capacity. Both the battery and the charger included DC608K.

Operation Modes

DC608K has two operation modes – bump and sequential. In bump mode, the brad nailer will place the brads exceptionally fast as soon as you position and press down the tool. On the other hand, the sequential mode will require you to press the trigger each time you place the tool additionally, and that’s why sequential mode is much more precise.

All in all, DC608K is capable of quickly placing brads into both soft and hard joints.

Depth adjustment

The depth of the brads’ placement can be adjusted to allow for precise countersinking of the nails.

Magazine

The magazine of the brad nail gun is straight and accepts 5/8 to 2-inch 18-gauge brad nails. The brad capacity of the magazine is 110 pieces.

Jam release

The nosepiece of the nail gun can quickly remove for unjamming the tool. You do not need any additional instruments for that.

Trigger lock

Another nice feature is the Contact Trip Lock-Off, which disables the trigger when not in use. This will both save your brads as well as will ensure that no one gets accidentally injured.

Size

DC608K’s length is 11 ½ inches. It weighs 7.4 lbs.

Accessories & warranty

Besides the battery and charger kit, DC608K comes with a reversible belt hook, safety glasses, and plastic carry case. No no-mar tips to keep the work surface clean, unfortunately. Also, DC608K is covered by a 90-day money back guarantee and 3-year manufacturer defect warranty.

As for the downsides of this tool, it would be nice if it had built-in lights to help you with illuminating the working area. Additionally, the included safety glasses and carried case are not that high-quality. Not to mention the memory effect of the NiCad battery.

Overall, DC608K is an excellent tool with no significant cons. Battery operation will be great for those who need high mobility. It is somewhat narrow and lightweight, which will allow for convenient use in tight areas. The NiCad battery is the only more or less serious issue with this model.

What we liked:

  • Battery-powered.
  • Drives 5 brads per second.
  • Accurate sequential and fast bump modes.
  • Precise depth control mechanism.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Tool-free unjamming mechanism.
  • Contact Trip Lock-Off to disable the trigger.
  • 90-day money back guarantees, 3-year manufacturer defect warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • No inbuilt lights.
  • Doesn’t come with no-mar tips.
  • Low-quality safety goggles and carry case.
  • The NiCad battery is susceptible to memory effect.
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2. BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Brad Nailer

Pneumatic operation
BOSTITCH BTFP12233

BTFP12233 is a little bit different. The most significant difference is that it operates on compressed air instead of a battery. Thereby, BTFP12233 will be much less mobile, but if you don’t want to hassle with batteries and do not need mobility, it won’t be an issue. This tool operates at 70-120 psi.

Operation Modes

The selectable trigger will allow you to quickly switch between the precise sequential mode and much quicker bump contact operation mode.

A noteworthy feature of this brad nailer is that it doesn’t need compressing the contact tip for activation, letting you work much quicker.

Rear exhaust

The rear exhaust will keep away from the operator’s face and the materials he is working on. Additionally, BTFP12233 works oil-free, which will ensure little to no oil stains.

Depth adjustment

With the Dial-A-Depth controls, you will be able to quickly and precisely countersink the brads.

Narrow nose

A remarkable feature of BTFP12233 is its small-point nose, which will allow you to reach much tighter corners safely.

Magazine

The straight magazine accepts 100 5/8 to 2 1/8-inch brad nails.

Jam release

The jam release handle is designed for quick brad removal on site without the need for any instruments.

Size

BTFP12233 measures 3.2 (W) x 9.5 (H) inches and weighs 3.1 lbs. It is a more of a compact and lightweight model.

Accessories & warranty

This model comes with a carry case, standard no-mar tips, ¼-inch air fitting, and adjustable belt hook. And it’s covered by a 7-year warranty!

From the downsides of BTFP12233 is its less mobility. The second con is that although it works well in tight corners, it doesn’t have onboard lights. They are often necessary for those places, where there could be little to no illumination!

Otherwise, BTFP12233 is a great light and compact tool for those who do not need mobility that much. Just make sure that your air compressor can deal with this brad nailer!

What we liked:

  • No hassle with batteries.
  • Sequential and bump operation modes.
  • Oil-free will allow you avoid stains.
  • Rear exhaust to drive contaminates away from your face and the workpiece.
  • The Dial-A-Depth feature will help you with brad countersinking.
  • Compact and light. Fits into tight corners.
  • Narrow nose with a no-compression operation.
  • Tool-free jam release mechanism.
  • Swiveling hose attachment.
  • Comes with no-mar tips.
  • Covered 7-year limited warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • No inbuilt lights.
  • Less mobility.
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3. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit

Li-Ion Battery
PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit

PCC790LA is yet another battery-operated brad nailer on our reviews of best brad nailers. But unlike DC608K, it features a 1.5 Ah 20V Lithium-Ion battery, which is not sensitive to the memory effect. Additionally, the battery lasts longer than typical NiCad batteries. PCC790LA comes with both a battery and a charger.

Sequential mode

Interestingly, PCC790LA has only sequential firing mode. This means that the device is much more precision-driven and is more suitable for slower and more certain projects.

Depth adjustment

The depth adjustment wheel allows for consistent brad nail countersinking. Paired with the sequential mode, the right depth setting will deliver outstandingly precise brad nail positioning.

Magazine

PCC790LA features a 100-piece magazine, which works with 5/8 to 2-inch brad nails.

Size

PCC790LA is quite bulky and heavy. It measures 13.9 x 5 x 12 inches but only weighs 5.9 lbs. Less than DC608K, despite more significant dimensions!

LED lights

Unlike the other reviewed tools, this model has inbuilt LED lights to help you illuminate your job site and quickly discover errors.

Jam and stall release

As you would expect, PCC790LA features tool-free stall release and jam release.

Accessories & warranty

Unfortunately, the package includes only the tool, the battery, and the charger.

What about the downsides? The first one to come to mind is the absence of bump contact operation mode. But we feel that it is more like about the narrow specification of PCC790LA. Those who just do not need to drive the nails quickly won’t even notice the absence of bump mode. If you want to complete projects in short time, PCC790LA won’t be the right pick for you.

PCC790LA is quite a bit bulkier than the previously reviewed models. It measures 5 x 13.88 x 12 inches, which will make fitting it in tighter areas a little bit of a struggle. How would it weigh with such dimensions?

Most of the buyers would probably also want to get more accessories with the nailer.

Apart from this, PCC790LA can be one of the best brad nailer if you need a precise one with inbuilt light, which you won’t be sticking into too confined areas.

What we liked:

  • Precision-driven.
  • Depth settings for secure brad countersinking.
  • Has inbuilt lights, unlike the previous models.
  • Features tool-less stall and jam release mechanism.
  • The Li-Ion battery is not susceptible to memory effect.
  • 3-year limited warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • Quite big. Won’t be suitable for very tight spaces.
  • No bump operation mode.
  • Comes with only basic accessories.

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4. DEWALT Bare-Tool DC608B 18-Volt Cordless 2-Inch 18 Gauge Brad Nailer

DC608B is another NiCad battery-operated tool by DEWALT. It is almost identical to DC608K we reviewed earlier, but there are some remarkable differences as well.

NiCad Battery

You already know the downsides NiCad batteries, although if you can provide it with the necessary maintenance, the memory effect will be postponed. Too bad that DC608B comes with neither the battery nor the charger. This model is compatible with DC9096 18V XRP battery pack and the DW9117 charger.

Operation Modes

DC608B features the already known sequential and bump operation mode. The former is used to precisely drive the nails where you need them while the latter is best for high-volume projects.

Depth adjustment

Depth settings are also here. These allow for consistent penetration into both soft and hard kinds of wood as well as other similar materials.

Narrow nose

The tool’s reasonably narrow nose is capable of fitting in confined areas.

Size

Compactness and lightweight significantly contribute to the overall easiness of use of DC608B. Speaking of dimensions, DC608B measures and weighs the same as DC608K – 3.5 x 11 inches and 7.4 pounds.

LED light

The most noteworthy difference of DC608B is its inbuilt LED light, which will make this unit a better suit for darker job sites.

Magazine

The 110-brad magazine accepts 5/8 to 2-inch 18-gauge nails.

Trigger lock

DC608B also has the Contact Trip Lock-Off feature, which disables the trigger when the tool is not in use.

Jam release

DC608B features the same jam release mechanism as the other tools we examined.

Warranty

Lastly, DC608B comes backed up by a 3-year limited warranty.

The downsides of this model are pretty obvious – it comes bare, although this relates more to the package and not the tool itself. Nonetheless, this is enough for some to consider looking for a complete kit.

Besides, DC608B shares the issue with the memory effect with DC608K.

But all in all, DC608B would be an excellent alternative to DC608K if you need built-in LED lights. Otherwise, they are almost identical. Just keep in mind that the battery and charger will impact your budget additionally.

What we liked:

  • Precise and quick operation thanks to sequential and bump operation modes.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • The narrow nose easily fits tight areas.
  • Has built-in LED light to illuminate the job site.
  • Tool-free jam release mechanism.
  • Contact Trip Lock-Off to disable the tool when not in use.
  • Covered by 3-year limited warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • The NiCad batteries DC608K works with are sensitive to the memory effect
  • Comes with no accessories.

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5. SENCO FinishPro® 18MG, 2-1/8″ 18-Gauge Brad Nailer (ProSeries)

And the last model on our list of best brad nailer under $100 is another air tool, FinishPro delivered by Senco. It is an entirely affordable model with some useful features.

Pneumatic operation

FinishPro is connected to air compressors via the standard ¼-inch plug, so you should not have any problems with pairing the tool with your compressor. The nailer works with 70-120 psi, which again is something that the majority of compressors will be capable of providing you with.

Operation Modes

FinishPro features two operation modes – bump and sequential – which can be easily switched with just a flip of the selectable trigger.

Depth adjustment

The depth setting can be adjusted via the onboard wheel, which will help you with countersinking your nails into the material without damaging it.

Narrow nose

FinishPro works excellent with tight corners! It is the most compact and lightweight model we reviewed today, measuring only 9.75 (H) x 10.5 (L) x 2.5 (W) and weighing just 2.48 lbs. FinishPro is so light thanks to the magnesium body, which additionally makes the tool quite durable. The over-molded rubber grip adds up to the overall convenience of FinishPro.

Magazine

The 110-piece straight magazine accepts 5/8 to 2 1/8-inch nails.

Jam release

FinishPro comes with a tool-free jam release mechanism. Besides, it features rotatable rear exhaust, which will keep the debris away from you and the job site.

Accessories & warranty

This model includes the nailer, a carry case, swivel plug, and a wrench. A 5-year limited warranty also covers it!

Despite having a not so mobile design, FinishPro works well with hoses and provides a good comfort level. The swiveling plug will rotate to adapt to your working position, although it won’t be able to free you from hassle with the hose completely.

As for the drawbacks, FinishPro features a plastic magazine, which will be much less durable than metal analogs. But that is what you get for the low price of the tool.

If you don’t need LED lights and won’t get disappointed with the plastic fastener, FinishPro would be an excellent choice for the majority of tasks!

What we liked:

  • Bump and sequential modes.
  • Depth adjustment.
  • Convenient rubber grip.
  • Compact and lightweight thanks to the magnesium body.
  • Great for tight corners.
  • Has jam release mechanism and rotatable rear exhaust.
  • 5-year limited warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • Less mobility.
  • No LED lights.
  • Plastic magazine.

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Types of Brad nailer

When it comes to brad nailer types, there are pneumatic (air) nailers and electric nailers. They both get the job done but differ quite substantially in the price and applications.

Pneumatic brad nailer

Pneumatic or air brad nailer operate on compressed air. That air has to be delivered via a hose, which puts particular limitations on the tool’s mobility. You can’t move it anywhere you need quickly. Besides, the hose can be a little bit of a headache because it may get in your way or even tangle.

The pneumatic brad nailer is a popular choice for their typically lower price. Additionally, they allow you to work efficiently with no time wasted. You will be able to work neatly and professionally, which will be great for more complex tasks. But although you will get better results with air brad nailers, there are a couple of serious downsides you would have to consider as well.

First, you would have to make sure that you have an air compressor, which is compatible with the brad nailer. Luckily, the majority of the compressors will provide almost any nailer with the necessary pressure, but you should check on that nonetheless.

Another problem is the high cost of pneumatic brad nailers in the long run. Over time, expense on oil checks, oil replacements, etc., will undoubtedly affect your budget.

Electric brad nailer

On the other hand, electric nailers are much powerful and efficient. That’s what you would expect from an electric motor. The models powered by batteries are much more mobile than hose-connected pneumatic tools and could be moved around quickly.

By default, electric nail guns are bulkier because of their motors. You shouldn’t expect them to be compact as well. Electric brad nailers are exceptionally efficient but somewhat cumbersome.

Regarding cost, electric nailers will cost you more initially, but over time, the expenses won’t add up as much as with pneumatic nailers. Overall, electric nailers are much more cost-efficient.

Electric brad nailer requires important safety precautions. Because they are powerful, you could severely injure yourself if you mishandle the instrument. Some models feature trigger-locking functions, but you should keep a first aid kit on hand nonetheless when working with an electric device.

To summarize, the pneumatic brad nailer is more delicate, more compact, and cost more in the long run, while electric brad nailer is more powerful, more massive, cost more, but require less maintenance. Cordless nailers are mobile as well! So when choosing the best brad nailer, don’t forget to consider your needs.

How to Choose the Best Brad Nailer in 2018?

Your best Brad Nailer Review and Buying Guide of 2018

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If you want to get the best brad nailer possible for your needs, you will have to look into their features, keeping your demands in mind. Let’s now examine the essential elements you should be looking for.

Trigger Modes

These affect the speed and precision of nailing. The most common modes seen today are sequential and bump. With sequential mode, you need to compress the nose and then press the trigger, while in the case of bump operation; the tool drives the brad as soon as you touch the device down. The bump-fire mode is much quicker and better suitable for mass production applications. On the other hand, the sequential mode will be ideal for delicate and accurate projects.

Pneumatic/battery-powered

We have researched and examined the differences between the two. To recap, pneumatic nailers, are less mobile, more compact, and require more maintenance. Electric cordless nailers are mobile, bulky, require less maintenance, but have higher prices.

Additionally, you would need to consider buying an air compressor if you are going to purchase an air brad nailer. In this case, you would need to think about compressor pressure and capacity, among another no less important features.

As for electric nailers, their battery may become a concern. NiCad battery-operated tools are susceptible to the memory effect, which, simply put, reduces the charge of the batteries if not fully drained and then fully recharged. Li-Ion units won’t have such problems.

Swivel tube

With pneumatic brad nailers, the hose becomes some problem. The swiveling tube makes things a little bit easier for you by allowing the hose to move freely. Such a construction won’t let the hose become an obstruction on the work site.

Jam release mechanism

Most of the modern brad nailers come with the tool-free jam release mechanism. As its name implies, it will help you with removing jammed brads without the need of resorting to additional tools, saving your time.

Nail depth adjustment

Almost all brad nailers feature regulated brad driving depth. Some may find this feature not as necessary, but if you are working more delicately, adjustable depth will be an advantageous feature.

Supported nail sizes

Although these nailers typically accept 5/8 to 2-inch brads, you shouldn’t ignore the importance of brad sizes. Whether you are working with a wide range of brad sizes or just one, you should consider the nail sizes supported by the nailer’s magazine.

Magazine capacity

Although brad nailers typically come with about 100-brad magazines, some accept much more. If you don’t need nearly 200 brads in your magazine, skip this feature, otherwise, look for something with more capacity.

Benefits of the best Brad nailer

Brad nailers have some benefits to working manually as well as some other types of nailers. They are less potent than more significant tools, like finish nailers, but this doesn’t make them worse in any way!

No need to cover the nail holes

Smaller and thin-gauged nails mean that you won’t need to use wood putty to cover the nail hole. This will save both your time and materials. Besides, you won’t have to think about including the putties to make the workpiece look good.

Works great with delicate materials

Where finish nailers would be overkill, a good brad nailer would be just right. Brad nailers use thinner nails, which allows you to use them with thinner wood trim or other similar materials. More prominent instruments would only destroy the fragile wood while a brad nailer would get the job done without damaging it.

Gets the job done quicker

No experienced worker can drive nails as quickly as a brad nailer. The quickest nailers can position about five brads per second! What do you think, could anyone drive nails as quick?

Safe fingers

When you drive the brads manually, there is a high risk of you hurting your fingers at the very least. With a brad nailer, your hands will be kept away from the materials and the brads themselves. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should forget about safety precautions!

No need to carry around brad nails

If you were to work on a material manually, you would have to carry nails as well. This would become more difficult if you have to carry buckets of nails around! With a brad nailer, you could just load the magazine with hundreds of brads and easily carry it!

Mobility

Apparently, this applies regarding cordless nailers. With such a tool, you would be capable of transporting the instrument quickly and easily. Also, you would be able to work on job sites without electricity!

Read our benefits of framing nailer here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Can a brad nailer replace a finish nailer?

When it comes to more substantial and thinner materials, no, a finish nailer cannot be replaced by a brad nailer. They both have their applications, that’s why there are separate nailer types, right? We would discourage you from trying to use a brad nailer instead of a finishing tool and vice versa. If you need the features of both, you should buy both and not try to save on one of them.

Could I use other nails other than 18-gauge with brad nailers?

If you are thinking about using 16- or 15-gauge nails with a brad nailer, just know that it won’t work as they are bigger and won’t fit into the magazine.  Do not experiment and have the tools you need.

When would I need a pneumatic brad nailer?

If you have an air compressor and do not need the mobility and power of a cordless nailer, a pneumatic nailer would be a right way to go. Additionally, an air nailer would be a good choice if you do not mind to spend more on its maintenance in the long run. Otherwise, you should look for an electric cordless brad nailer.

Read our Top 10 Best Framing Nailers Reviews and Buying Guide of 2018.

In Conclusion

The five nailers in our best brad nailer review and buying guide of 2018 are quite similar but still entirely different. While they work with generally the same brads and offer the same magazine capacity, it is the subtler features that distinguish each of them. The DEWALT models have a trigger lock, BOSTITCH BTFP12233 doesn’t require you to compress the nose to drive the nails, PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA is precision driven. Pneumatic models are lighter, more compact, and cost less.

Got lost in the variety of those five models? To help you with choosing the right tool, we have presented you with the main features you should be looking for. There is nothing too convoluted about buying a brad nailer; you only need to know what functions you require precisely!

Brad nailers work accurately and delicately. They are ideal for smaller projects and as well as in woodworking, where you don’t work with heavy and thick materials. Besides, they would be good if you are concerned with the nail head size. These nailers are much more preferable than working manually because they are safer, quite mobile, and get the job done quicker.

If all this sounds good for your demands, maybe you should consider buying one of the above best brad nailer!

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