No matter whether you are a full-time professional working with wood and trim every day, or a part time hobbyist, one of the most valuable power tools you can have in your arsenal is a decent brad nailer. No longer need you waste time fiddling with hammers and tacks, or wishing you had an extra arm to hold the hammer in one hand, the nail in the other and the project in place with a third.
Simply put, a good brad nailer will save you a lot of time and effort. As the old saying goes “time is money”, so a good brad nailer is truly an investment that quickly pays for itself.
Many manufacturers of power tools appreciate the value of producing a brad nailer. Unfortunately, this then leaves consumers with a plethora of choices.
We did some research to find the best brad nailers we could. Based on this research, we then evaluated them and picked our winners for the best brad nailers available.
When evaluating brad nailers we considered factors such as the quality, ease of use, useful features, value for money, reliability and trustworthiness of the brand.
While trustworthiness of the brand is difficult to establish, we considered longevity to be an important factor in determining this quality.
Best Brad Nailer
Runner-up Brad Nailer
Alternative Brad Nailers
Based on our research, here were our winners for the best brad nailers available.
In Our Opinion The Best Brad Nailers
The clear winner for Best Brad Nailer was the Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer.
The Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer has many fine features that one would expect from a Bostitch product.
Bostitch was founded in 1896 by Thomas Briggs. Originally known as the Boston Wire Stitch Company, Bostitch is now over 120 years old. With more than 120 years’ experience specializing in fasteners, we are confident that Bostitch is a brand that Americans can trust and rely upon.
The fact that the Bostitch manufacturing plant currently located in Rhode Island has been there for the last sixty years, is testament to the longevity and stability of the Bostitch company.
The Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer is a pneumatic brad nailer, having the features one would expect from a top-quality brad nailer.
Weighing a very light weight 3.1 pounds this eighteen-gauge brad nailer has a tool free means for precisely setting the counter sinking of your brad nails.
The Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer is capable of driving eighteen-gauge brad nails between lengths of 5/8” to 2-1/8”. Since an eighteen-gauge brad nailer is intended for attaching lightweight pieces of wood and trim, this range of lengths should adequately meet all of your needs. The brad nails are easily and quickly able to be loaded into the brad magazine, helping to make this brad nailer, simple and easy to use.
What makes the Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer unique amongst brad nailers is the specially designed nose that allows for easy, and precise, nail placement. One reviewer online went so far as to describe this as the first brad nailer they had not needed to tamper with the safety. Indeed, the Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer arose out of research by Bostitch that showed many users of their brad nailers, and indeed other brands of brad nailers in the industry, were modifying the safety in order to make it easier to use.
Bostitch took note of what users wanted, and it was from this that the Smart Point Brad Nailer was invented. We like companies that try to give users what they want, without needing to be asked. Bostitch clearly is one such company.
As I would expect from a well-designed brad nailer, the Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer has an adjustable belt hook, allowing the brad nailer, to be left in easy reach when you need your hands for other things, such as climbing ladders.
As with any nail gun, there is a possibility that a Brad nailer may jam. The Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer has a cleverly designed release mechanism, allowing jams to be cleared without needing a tool to do so. While you may never need to use this, it is nice knowing that should you need to do so, no fancy tool which you have since misplaced will be required.
Being an oil free Brad nailer makes the Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer that much easier to maintain. Ease of maintenance is definitely an important factor in any power tool.
With all these great features you can understand why we chose the Bostitch Smart Point Brad Nailer as our winner.
Our runner-up for Best Brad Nailers was easily the DeWalt Brad Nailer.
The DeWalt Brad Nailer has many of the features that we like to see in a well designed and engineered brad nailer.
DeWalt is a well-known American brand that was founded in 1924 by Raymond DeWalt in Pennsylvania. From the very beginning DeWalt manufactured woodworking tools, originally producing the electric universal woodworking machine, known as the “Wonder-Worker” invented by Raymond DeWalt.
During the 1990s DeWalt began manufacturing a wide range of portable electric power tools.
The longevity of DeWalt can give users confidence in the quality of their products.
One of the key features that we would expect in a good quality, well designed brad nailer, is that it is simple and easy to use. The DeWalt Brad Nailer does not disappoint.
Like our winner (the Bostitch Brad Nailer) the DeWalt Brad Nailer has a tool free means for precisely setting the required countersink depth of your brad nails.
The DeWalt Brad Nailer is capable of using eighteen-gauge brad nails varying from 5/8” to 2” in length. The 100-nail magazine capacity is easy to use as one would expect from such a well-designed brad nailer.
The DeWalt Brad Nailer has a removable non-marring nose tip, in order to ensure that any delicate trim, or piece of wood you are working with, does not get damaged while it is being nailed.
Similar to the Bostitch Brad Nailer, the DeWalt Brad Nailer has an adjustable belt hook for your hands-free convenience and also provides a tool free means to release any jams, should they occur.
The DeWalt Brad Nailer is a pneumatic brad nailer, with an electrically powered, maintenance free, long life motor. With all these great features it has no doubt obvious to you why the DeWalt Brad Nailer was runner-up and our best Brad nailer category.
While the Bostitch and DeWalt Brad Nailers were easy choices to be our winner and runner-up, the following three brands of brad nailers are considered by us to be good alternatives.
Porter-Cable produces a good quality brad nailer that cannot be ignored.
Porter-Cable was founded in 1906 out of a garage in Syracuse, New York. In the 1920s Porter-Cable began to specialize in the manufacture of portable electric power tools. It was during this time that they invented amongst other things the portable electric belt sander, the helical drive circular saw and the floor sander.
Being more than 110 years old, Porter-Cable is a brand that is trusted and well known by many Americans today.
The Porter-Cable Brad Nailer is powered by a lithium-ion battery and does not require the use of an air compressor, gas hose or expensive disposable gas cartridge. There is a lot to be said for the convenience of not needing an air compressor for operating.
This will be especially true for a smaller, simpler jobs, where getting an air compressor out and setting it up may make it difficult to justify using a brad nailer at all. The Porter-Cable Brad Nailer is ideal for those small basic jobs, where you would normally just use a hammer instead of spending the time setting up the air compressor.
Being battery operated the Porter-Cable Brad Nailer will require the appropriate rechargeable lithium ion battery as well as the requisite battery charger. Porter-Cable supplies these with the brad nailer when it is purchased, unlike some other brands of battery-operated brad nailers.
The Porter-Cable Brad Nailer is capable of adjusting the countersink depth without requiring a specialized tool to do so.
The Porter-Cable Brad Nailer is able to use eighteen-gauge brad nails, varying in lengths from 5/8” to 2”.
As with any good brad nailer, the Porter-Cable Brad Nailer is easy to use and provides a tool free means for releasing any jams that may occur.
When looking for a cordless brad nailer that does not require an air compressor, the Porter-Cable Brad Nailer is a good alternative to pneumatic brad nailers.
Ryobi was founded in 1943, and has been manufacturing power tools since 1968. With almost 50 years history in the manufacture of power tools, Ryobi has drawn on this experience when producing the Ryobi Brad Nailer.
The Ryobi Brad Nailer is a cordless, battery-powered Brad nailer. Like the Porter-Cable Brad Nailer, the Ryobi Brad Nailer has the advantage of not requiring an air compressor to use. This makes the Ryobi Brad Nailer ideal for those simple jobs where getting out the air compressor and setting it up is almost more trouble than it is worth.
Like all good quality brad nailers, the Ryobi Brad Nailer is capable of using a variety of different length eighteen-gauge brad nails (from 5/8” to 2” in length). It also has the ability to set the countersink depth without requiring any specialized tools.
One feature we especially like about the Ryobi Brad Nailer is the inclusion of a dry fire lockout mechanism. In the event that the magazine is empty of brad nails, the Ryobi Brad Nailer will not fire. This feature has the benefit of extending the life of the brad nailer.
The Ryobi Brad Nailer has an adjustable belt hook for hands-free convenience that can be used on the left or right-hand side of the belt.
The Ryobi has a tool free jam release mechanism with all the advantages one would expect and not requiring additional tools, or specialized tools, in the event of a jam.
The Ryobi Brad Nailer has been cleverly designed to include two LED lights, making it easier when working in dim or poorly lit work areas. A brad nailer is often used for pieces of trim and light materials, and as such precise placement of the brad nail is important. The addition of LED lights to the Ryobi Brad Nailer has the advantage of making precise placement easier, with the obvious benefit of reducing the chance of damaging your materials when in poorer lit areas.
As an aside note, it is important to be aware that the Ryobi Brad Nailer is not sold with a battery and charger provided; these are however easily obtainable at the same time as buying the Ryobi Brad Nailer and are compatible with many other Ryobi cordless tools.
Hitachi was founded in 1910, originally producing a five-horsepower induction motor. Hitachi has been manufacturing electric power tools since 1948. Amongst one of its many interesting achievements was the introduction of the world’s first electric power tool to be equipped with a microprocessor in 1982.
The Hitachi Brad Nailer is a pneumatic eighteen-gauge brad nailer capable of using the standard-length Brad nails (from 5/8” to 2” in length). As with any good Brad nailer, the Hitachi is able to easily set the countersink depth without requiring any specialized tools or equipment.
The magazine for the Hitachi Brad Nailer has a 100-nail capacity and includes a low nail indicator. The low nail indicator allows you to easily recognize when you are going to need to reload the magazine.
All pneumatic brad nailer is come with an exhaust outlet for excess air. One nice feature about the Hitachi Brad Nailer is the directional exhaust outlet. This allows the air outlet to be altered to suit you.
We like the fact that the Hitachi Brad Nailer has a tool free jam clearance mechanism, as we would expect from any good quality brad nailer. The Hitachi Brad Nailer is very robust made, while also being incredibly lightweight at 2.2 pounds (as a result of its aluminum body).
The Hitachi Brad Nailer comes with a handy carry case allowing for easy storage and transport.
One way in which it does differ from the other for brad nailers mentioned here is the lack of a belt hook. This may be a minor inconvenience, but certainly does not detract from the other great features that this brad nailer has.
A brad nailer is a wonderful tool to have when everything is working correctly. If you have never used a brad nailer before, you will wonder how you have managed to live without one for so long. A brad nailer can make the slowest and most mundane of projects faster, and frankly more enjoyable.
There are however significant differences between the different types and brands of brad nailers. Should you choose the wrong brad nailer, in error, you may be unable to do some of the things that motivated you to buy the brad nailer in the first place. As an example, I read of one first time user who bought a pneumatic brad nailer for an urgent job, unaware that it also required an air compressor to function.
Needless to say, when the pneumatic brad nailer arrived, they were more than a little unhappy to discover that they could not use it before going and buying an overpriced air compressor from their local hardware store.
If you have decided to buy a brad nailer, I am sure that you understand the importance of choosing the right brad nailer for your needs.
The real question though that we should be asking ourselves is:
What should I consider when buying a brad nailer?
There are several different factors that you will want to consider when choosing the correct brad nailer.
There are many different manufacturers of brad nailers available on the market today. After all, with such a popular and useful tool, it makes sense that many manufacturers would produce one.
Will there be young companies producing good quality brad nailers?
Yes – of course there are.
The main problem with choosing an unknown, young brand though, is that they have no proven track record for lasting the distance. No proven track record of looking after their customers. No proven track record of looking after customers when things go wrong. When considering a generic or unknown brand they could be a great company or they could be a real dog.
The problem almost everybody has, is the difficulty in telling the two apart. We recommend choosing an established brand that has had the time prove that they are trustworthy and reliable.
The two different types of brad nailers that we have looked at in this guide are the pneumatic and cordless nailers. There are strengths and weaknesses to each type. If you are looking for a convenient, ready to use brad nailer, for simple or low nail projects, especially if they are inside types of projects, then a good quality cordless, battery operated brad nailer may be what you need.
If on the other hand you are going to continuously need to use many brad nails during the course of a day, you will probably want a pneumatic brad nailer. Yes, it will take a little bit of time to set the air compressor up but it will generally provide consistent driving power and does not have a battery that can go flat.
Also, if you are going to be using it over some time, then setting up the air compressor is going to be very minor compared to the actual time you will spend using the brad nailer.
Many good quality brad nailers will have a variable depth adjustment setting that can be easily changed without needing any special tools. This may seem like a minor feature but you will want to change the depth adjuster depending on the materials you are using.
Some brad nailers will make this easy, while others will not. Go for the brad nailer that makes it easy and does not require any specialized tool to change the depth adjuster.
All brad nailers, no matter how good their quality, can potentially have a jam occur. Some manufacturers choose to ignore this and pretend that their brad nailers are perfect (not TRUE!!) however a good manufacturer acknowledges this possibility and provides an easy means to clear jams. All of the brad nailers discussed in this guide have a tool free jam release mechanism. Sure, you may never need it but at least it beats the alternative.
Most brad nailers are capable of handling a range of different length brads. For the sake of versatility, we recommend choosing one that uses brads ranging in length from 5/8” to 2”.
You may only be planning on ever using one length of brad but give yourself the choice to be able to use different lengths. Who knows what other uses may crop up from time to time.
As discussed above, when comparing pneumatic with cordless brad nailers, one of the main factors to consider is what you are intending to use the brad nailer for.
If you are planning on only ever nailing 2” x 4”, then frankly I would be surprised if any brad nailer could provide the amount of structural support that you are likely to need. We recommend making sure that you know in advance what you want to use the brad nailer for, and making a purchasing decision based on that need.
A brad nailer is a wonderful tool to have in your power tool arsenal. If you have never used one before, you will wonder why you never got one sooner. As with any power tool however, there are several factors that should be considered when buying one.
This guide provides you with the information you will need to make a wise choice. In our opinion however, you can’t go wrong choosing one of the brands mentioned above. We know you’ll be more than just satisfied if you do.