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10 Best 18-Gauge Brad Nailers 2020 – Reviews & Buying Guide

man using CRAFTSMAN CMCN618C1 Cordless Brad Nailer

If you have a lot of molding to put up, you’re going to need a brad nailer, but there are a few types to choose from, and it’s not uncommon to have a few questions about which brand is best. We’ve chosen ten different brands of 18-gauge brad nailers to review for you. We’ll give you the pros and cons of each brand and tell you about any special features they may offer. We’ve also included a short buyer’s guide where we take a look at the brad nailer and what makes one brand better than another.

Join us while we look at weight, strength, adjustability, type, and more to help you make an educated purchase.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favoritess

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
DEWALT Brad Nailer DEWALT Brad Nailer
  • Maintenance-free motor
  • Tool-free depth of drive adjustment
  • Tool-free jam release
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Valu-Air 18 Gauge Air Brad Nailer Valu-Air 18 Gauge Air Brad Nailer
  • Lightweight body
  • Drives nails ⅝-inch to 2 inches deep
  • Durable aluminum housing
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    PORTER-CABLE Cordless Brad Nailer Kit PORTER-CABLE Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
  • Powered by lithium-ion batteries
  • Drives 1300 nails per charge
  • Depth adjustment window
  • Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer
  • Two fire modes
  • Lightweight and well balanced
  • Tool-free adjustment
  • CRAFTSMAN Cordless Brad Nailer CRAFTSMAN Cordless Brad Nailer
  • Battery-powered
  • 20-volt lithium-ion battery
  • Consistent firing power
  • The 10 Best 18-Gauge Brad Nailers – Reviews 2020

    1. DEWALT DWFP12231 Brad Nailer – Best Overall

    DEWALT DWFP12231 Brad Nailer

    The DEWALT DWFP12231 Brad Nailer is our pick for the best overall 18-gauge brad nailer. It features a long-life maintenance-free motor with all self-contained parts. No need for oil means there is no need to worry about any drips staining the surface where you are working. It drives 18-gauge nails to any depth between ⅝-inch and 2 inches. Tool-free jam release is also quite convenient and allows you to empty jams without stopping your work. The cartridge can hold up to 100 nails, and the soft rubber grip handle is easy to hold for an extended period. The rear exhaust helps keep debris away from the work surface, and an adjustable belt hook makes it easy to keep with you.

    The primary downside to the DEWALT DWFP12231 is that it requires a compressor that you will need to purchase separately.

    Pros
    • Maintenance-free motor
    • Tool-free depth of drive adjustment
    • Tool-free jam release
    • Rear exhaust
    • Drives nails from ⅝-inch to 2 inches deep
    • Adjustable belt hook
    • Rubber grip handle
    • 100 nail magazine capacity
    Cons
    • Requires a compressor

    2. Valu-Air F50Q 18 Gauge Air Brad Nailer – Best Value

    Valu-Air F50Q 18 Gauge Air Brad Nailer

    The Valu-Air F50Q 18 Gauge Air Brad Nailer is our pick for the best 18-gauge brad nailer for the money. It features a lightweight body made from durable aluminum and a nail cartridge that can hold up to 100 nails and features a nail reload indicator that lets you know when the nail count is getting low. It can drive nails ⅝-inch to 2 inches long and has a quick jam release that fixes jams without tools and keeps you working. A 360-degree exhaust adjustment lets you point the air where it won’t get in the way of your work. The rubber grip handle is easy to hold and helps keep your hands from getting fatigued while you are on the job. It also comes with two strips of nails, oil, and an Allen wrench so you can get started right away.

    We enjoyed using the Valu-Air F50Q budget brad nailer and can only complain about its lack of instructions and that it requires you to buy the air compressor separately.

    Pros
    • Lightweight body
    • Drives nails ⅝-inch to 2 inches deep
    • Durable aluminum housing
    • Quick jam release
    • Includes nails, oil, and Allen wrench
    • 360-degree exhaust adjustment
    • 100 nail magazine capacity
    • Rubber grip handle
    • Nail reload indicator
    Cons
    • Requires a compressor
    • Not good instructions

    3. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit – Premium Choice

    PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit

    The PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit is our premium choice brad nailer. This model does not require an air compressor because it is battery powered. It uses lithium-ion batteries, which are much more powerful than the old NiCad batteries, and they last longer as well. It comes with a battery and charger so that you can get started right away, and it can drive up to 1300 nails per charge. A depth adjustment window lets you make accurate adjustments, and it provides a consistent driving depth. A multifunctional L.E.D. lets you know various conditions of the tool, like power level and nail jam, and it also features a tool-free release lever, jam release, and depth adjustment.

    The PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA is a great brad nailer that won’t require you to make any additional purchases, but it’s quite a bit heavier than air compressed tools and quite a bit larger as well due to the battery mechanism.

    Pros
    • Does not require a compressor
    • Tool-free release lever, jam release, and depth adjustment
    • Consistent driving depth
    • Powered by lithium-ion batteries
    • Drives 1300 nails per charge
    • Depth adjustment window
    • Multifunctional L.E.D.
    • Includes battery and charger
    Cons
    • Heavy and bulky

    4. Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer

    Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer

    The Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer features a lightweight and durable housing made from durable aluminum. It has two firing modes, bump fire and contact fire, that you can select with a switch for the workflow you desire. Tool-free adjustments make it easy to release jams, and a simple dial adjusts your depth of drive. It has safety measures built into its design, and an elastomer grip cuts down on hand fatigue while you are using it, and it’s well balanced and easy to line up. The no-mar tip helps to prevent marks on your work area, and a 360-degree adjustable exhaust keeps it out of your face and away from your work area. It can hold up to 100 brad nails in its cartridge.

    The only downside we experienced while using the Hitachi NT50AE2 was that the nails would frequently get jammed in the cartridge due to the faulty spring-loaded mechanism this tool uses.

    Pros
    • Two fire modes
    • Lightweight and well balanced
    • Tool-free adjustment
    • Tool-free jam release
    • Depth of drive dial
    • Elastomer grip
    • Engineered for safety
    • No-mar tip
    • 360-degree adjustable exhaust
    • Durable aluminum housing
    • The cartridge holds up to 100 nails
    Cons
    • Nails get jammed in the cartridge

    5. CRAFTSMAN Cordless Brad Nailer

    CRAFTSMAN CMCN618C1 Cordless Brad Nailer

    The CRAFTSMAN CMCN618C1 Cordless Brad Nailer is a battery-powered brad nailer from a company well known for making durable tools. It uses a 20-volt lithium-ion battery that comes with it, and it includes the charger. It delivers consistent firing power and can drive up to 420 nails per charge. Despite the battery, it’s lightweight and well balanced.

    The downside to the CRAFTSMAN CMCN618C1 is that it is extremely expensive and doesn’t feature a bump fire mode, which makes it much easier to drive several nails in quick succession. We also like that it comes with the battery and charger, but there are not a lot of other tools you can use the battery in compared to other brands like DeWalt and Hitachi.

    Pros
    • Battery-powered
    • 20-volt lithium-ion battery
    • Consistent firing power
    • Tool-free jam and stall settings
    • Lightweight and balanced
    • 420 nails per charge
    • Includes battery and charger
    Cons
    • No bump fire
    • Expensive

    6. TACKLIFE TK5040 Brad Nailer

    TACKLIFE TK5040 Brad Nailer

    The TACKLIFE TK5040 Brad Nailer is a two in one tool that can drive nails as well as staples and includes 200 of each to get you started immediately. Safety glasses also come with it to help keep you safe while you work. It has a durable heat-treated aluminum housing, and the cartridge can hold up to 100 nails and features a nail reload indicator to let you know when it’s getting low. It’s lightweight, and the ergonomic handle has a soft grip, and a 360-degree exhaust is easy to point to where it’s most convenient. Tool-free jam release minimizes downtime, and a safety trigger helps reduce misfires.

    The downside to the TACKLIFE TK5040 is that, like most air-powered brad nailers, you will need to purchase the compressor separately, which can add quite a bit to the cost of the tool. We also found that the nails frequently got stuck it the cartridge.

    Pros
    • Drives nails and staples
    • Includes 200 nails and 200 staples and safety glasses
    • Durable heat-treated aluminum housing
    • The cartridge holds up to 100 nails
    • Nail reload indicator
    • Rubber grip handle
    • 360-degree adjustable exhaust
    • Tool-free jam release
    • Safety trigger
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • Requires compressor
    • Nails get jammed in the cartridge

    7. Makita AF506 Brad Nailer

    Makita AF506 Brad Nailer

    The Makita AF506 Brad Nailer features a powerful motor and a durable aluminum body. The narrow nose design helps you get into tighter areas, and a built-in air duster helps keep your work area free of debris. Tool-free depth adjustment allows you to make changes while you work, and the comfortable handle is easy to hold.

    The downside to the Makita AF506 is that it requires an air compressor, and we experienced frequent jams that slowed our work time considerably. We also noticed it was a little heavier than other models, especially other air powered brands.

    Pros
    • Powerful motor
    • Aluminum body
    • Narrow nose design
    • Built-in air duster
    • Tool-free depth adjustment
    Cons
    • Requires compressor
    • Jams frequently
    • Heavy

    8. NuMax SBR50 Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

    NuMax SBR50 Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

    The NuMax SBR50 Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer is a lightweight tool with durable construction. The side-loading mechanism is convenient, and it also features a nail reload indicator, so you know when it’s time to add more nail. A 360-degree adjustable exhaust makes it easy to keep air out of your face and away from your work area, and it includes a bottle of oil to keep the machine running at peak performance.

    You will need to buy an air compressor to use the NuMax SBR50, and there is no way to adjust the depth of drive except to lower and raise the pressure of the compressor, which is not accurate or ideal. The safety switch also tends to hang up, and you will often need to use two hands to operate the machine. We also noticed that the nozzle has no padding and would leave marks on the surface we were nailing, and when the machine jammed, it was difficult to remove the nails causing the problem.

    Pros
    • Lightweight
    • Durable
    • Sideloading magazine
    • Nail reload indicator
    • 360-degree adjustable exhaust
    • Includes oil
    Cons
    • No depth control
    • Hard to clear jams
    • Safety hangs up
    • Leaves marks in wood

    9. Freeman PBR50Q Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

    Freeman PBR50Q Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

    The Freeman PBR50Q Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer features durable anodized aluminum construction. It’s well balanced and features finger depth adjustment for changing depths mid-job and a quick-release design that lets you free up nail jams with ease. A dual spring magazine makes sure your nails are loaded and ready to go with each trigger press. A reversible belt hook makes it easy to carry with you, and the reload indicator lets you know when you need more nails. Safety glasses, oil, and an adjustment tool all come with the purchase.

    The Freeman PBR50Q will require a compressor, but our biggest problem with this model was that it fired two nails almost every time we pulled the trigger. After expensive practice, we were able to cut the double nailing down to every four or five nails, but we found it frustrating and wasteful. The depth adjuster was not very accurate, and the machine continuously left nails sticking out of the wood.

    Pros
    • Durable construction
    • Finger depth adjustment
    • Easy to clear jams
    • Dual spring magazine
    • Reversible belt hook
    • Reload indicator
    • Includes safety goggles, oil, adjustment tool
    Cons
    • Requires compressor
    • Often fires two nails
    • Inaccurate depth adjustment
    • Leaves nails sticking out

    10. Senco FinishPro 18 Gauge Sequential Brad Nailer

    Senco FinishPro 18 Gauge Sequential Brad Nailer

    The Senco FinishPro 18 Gauge Sequential Brad Nailer is the last model of brad nailer on our list, and this model includes a handy carrying case, oil, and adjustment tool so you can get started right away. It allows you to adjust the depth of dive, and it features an easy-open latch for quickly reloading nails when you get low. It’s also lightweight and has a soft-grip handle that reduces hand fatigue.

    We didn’t like the flimsy plastic housing on the Senco FinishPro 18 and were disappointed we didn’t receive the metal one that we saw in the ad, and we don’t feel it will be very durable. It also jams frequently, and we spent at least as much time attempting to release jams as we did driving nails. Most of the nails we did put in were not flush with the surface, which made hammering a part of the job.

    Pros
    • Includes case, oil, and adjustment tool
    • Adjustable depth of drive
    • Soft grip handle
    • Easy open latch for quick loading
    Cons
    • Plastic housing
    • Does not drive nails flush with the surface
    • Jams frequently

    Buyer’s Guide

    Here are some of the most important things to consider when purchasing a brad nailer.

    Type

    There are two main types of brad nailer, pneumatic and battery powered.

    Pneumatic Brad Nailer

    A pneumatic brad nailer is a type that uses an air compressor to acquire the strength to drive the nails. Unfortunately, you will need to purchase the air compressor separately.

    Battery-Powered Brad Nailer

    Modern battery-powered brad nailers use lithium-ion batteries to drive the nails. These units often require you to buy a battery and charger. The battery also makes the tool heavier, but you get the advantage of portability.

    Weight

    Since many of the nails you need to drive are overhead, the weight will be an important part of your decision. Pneumatic brad nailers are considerably lighter than battery-powered units.

    Adjustable Depth of Drive

    Most brad nailers can drive nails between ⅝-inch and 2 inches long. Having an adjustable depth of drive is vital to making use of different sized nails. Some tools take it a step further and allow you to make these adjustments without tools. Others include the tools required.

    Jam Release

    Even top-shelf brad nailers will jam up from time to time. Having a mechanism in place that allows you to clear the jam is important to a continuous workflow. Some models feature tool-free jam releases, and we tried to indicate those in our reviews.

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    Conclusion

    When choosing a brad nailer, we recommend DEWALT DWFP12231 Brad Nailer. It’s a pneumatic brad nailer that features tool-free adjustments and jam release, large cartridge, and pointable exhaust. The PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit is our premium choice and ha all the features as our top model but uses battery power. It’s more expensive and quite a bit heavier than our top choice, but it’s well suited to large jobs that cover a lot of area.

    We hope you have enjoyed reading over these reviews and they have helped you pick a brad nailer for your project. If you think it could be helpful to others, please share these 18-gauge brad nailers on Facebook and Twitter.


    Featured Image: Amazon

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