10 Best Brad Nailers of 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews
Brad nailers are perfect for putting up cabinets, molding, trim, and many other things around the home. Some models can drive staples and brad nails, and there are several other things you might look for as well, including their power source.
We’ve chosen 10 different brad nailers to review for you. We’ll tell you what we liked and didn’t like about each one, and we’ve also included a buyer’s guide where we discuss how these tools work and what makes one brand better than the next.
Join us while we discuss weight, magazine capacity, power source, and more to help you make an educated purchase.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Brad Nailer||
|Best Value||Valu-Air F50Q Pneumatic Brad Nailer||
|Premium Choice||PORTER-CABLE PCC790B Cordless Brad Nailer||
|Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer||
|NEU MASTER NTC0040 Electric Brad Nailer||
The 10 Best Brad Nailers – Reviews 2020
1. BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Brad Nailer – Best Overall
The BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Brad Nailer is our pick for the best overall brad nailer, and it features Smart Point technology that uses a smaller nose for more accurate nail placement. It has a depth adjuster for driving different sized nails to the perfect depth, and it can drive 18-gauge nails without effort. It features a comfortable, ergonomic handle and a tool-free jam release helps you free up jams without stopping the work you are doing.
The BOSTITCH BTFP12233 is our favorite, and we use it for all our jobs. The only problem we have with it is that it will occasionally dry fire, especially if you are using it for an extended session. Plus, at a little over 5 pounds, it can get a bit heavy.
2. Valu-Air F50Q Pneumatic Brad Nailer – Best Value
The Valu-Air F50Q Pneumatic Brad Nailer is our pick for the best brad nailer for the money. It’s extremely lightweight at just 2.2 pounds and can drive 18-gauge nails up to 2 inches long with relative ease. The aluminum housing feels sturdy, and it features a jam release mechanism that will help keep you working through long sessions. A 360° directional exhaust will help keep air from hitting you in the face, and it has a high capacity magazine that can hold up to 100 brad nails at a time.
The Valu-Air F50Q is lightweight and inexpensive, but it’s built for light-duty work and not up to contractor work because some of the internal parts wear out quickly.
3. PORTER-CABLE Cordless Brad Nailer – Premium Choice
The PORTER-CABLE PCC790B Cordless Brad Nailer is our premium choice brad nailer, and this model is battery powered, so there is no need for an air compressor. It can drive 18-gauge brad nails up to 2 inches long, and it features a tool-free depth-adjustment window that’s easy to use. It can also free stalls and jams without tools, which means more completed work and less problem-solving. Sequential firing mode helps you work faster, and dual-LED headlights make it much easier to see your work area, especially in low light conditions. It comes with a lithium-ion battery and charger that can drive up to 1,300 nails per charge.
The downside to the PORTER-CABLE PCC790B is that it’s a little heavy at 5.1 pounds, especially when doing big jobs, and it occasionally dry fires, requiring you to open and close the nail compartment to get it working again.
4. Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer
The Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer is undergoing a name change to Matabo, but they are the same effective tools you have come to know. It’s lightweight at 2.2 pounds and has an ergonomic elastomer grip that’s comfortable to hold during long work sessions. Selective actuation allows you to select between bump or contact fire with the flip of a switch, and the tool-free jam release will keep you working. It has a depth of drive dial for properly seating different length nails up to 2 inches long. It has a no-mar tip and a 360-degree adjustable exhaust port that will help you keep the wind out of your face. It has a low-profile durable aluminum body that will help you get into tighter spaces and comes with safety glasses.
The Hitachi NT50AE2 is a great tool, but it has a few small problems. The first being that it leaves a mark on the wood despite its no-mar tip. Many times, the marks were more noticeable than with other tools. There is also no way to tell how many nails you have left, and the gun keeps firing when empty, so you need to check that the nail is present after each fire, which can slow you down considerably. There is also some decorative plastic that is poorly glued and falls off easily.
5. NEU MASTER NTC0040 Electric Brad Nailer
The NEU MASTER NTC0040 Electric Brad Nailer is an electric-powered brad nailer and staple gun that does not require a compressor. It has a 6.6-foot power cord and a no-mar nose to help prevent marks on the surface. It comes with 800 brad nails of varying length and 200 staples so you can get to work at once.
The downside to the NEU MASTER NTC0040 is that it’s not very powerful and quickly loses more power when used with an extension cord. It left many nails sticking out and is better suited to small jobs. It also gets heavy fast at 5.34 pounds.
6. CRAFTSMAN Cordless Brad Nailer
The CRAFTSMAN CMCN618C1 Cordless Brad Nailer is another battery-powered nailer that removes the need for an external air compressor. The battery is a 20-volt lithium-ion battery that can drive up to 250 2-inch nails per charge. It has tool-free depth adjustment for using different length nails and tool-free stall and jam release to prevent interruptions while you work. It comes with the battery and charger as well as 400 different sized brad nails to get you started.
The downside to the CRAFTSMAN CMCN618C1 is that it is quite heavy at 7.64 pounds, and it leaves a lot of nails sticking out, especially the 2-inch nails.
7. Makita AF506 Brad Nailer
The Makita AF506 Brad Nailer is a compressor-driven brad nailer that’s lightweight at 2.9 pounds, and it can drive nails up to 2-inches long. The narrow nose design helps it be more accurate and fit into tighter spaces. The built-in air duster helps keep your work area free of debris, and the tool-less depth adjustment allows you to change nail sizes easily. It has a multidirectional exhaust port to keep air out of your face and a 100-nail capacity.
The Makita AF506 only has one problem, but it’s a big one. It frequently jams while you are working. We rarely made it through a whole cartridge without needing to stop and unjam it. In many cases, we had to stop more than once.
8. SENCO FinishPro® Brad Nailer
The SENCO FinishPro® Brad Nailer is a compressor powered nail gun that features an oil-free design. A selective trigger allows you to choose the operation method and an adjustable depth of drive allows you to use different sized brad nails. It’s fairly lightweight at a little over 4 pounds and features a rubber grip handle.
The downside to the SENCO FinishPro is that it’s hard to pull the trigger, and you can end up with significant hand cramps. It also tends to leak air around the collar.
9. Campbell Hausfeld Brad Nailer
The Campbell Hausfeld CHN10499AV Brad Nailer is a 2-in-1 gun that drives nails and staples for more versatility. A no-mar tip helps reduce damage to the wood. It comes with a high-impact case, 1,000 brad nails, and 1,000 staples.
The downside to the Campbell Hausfeld CHN10499AV is that it leaks air around the trigger. It’s not very strong and often leaves nails and staples sticking out. We also found that it often fires twice, requiring you to pull nails out. While the no-mar tip prevents damage from the tip, the plunger that drives the nails still leaves a mark.
10. WORKPRO 18-Gauge Pneumatic Brad Nailer
The WORKPRO 18-Gauge Pneumatic Brad Nailer features a durable aluminum body with an ergonomic rubber grip handle. It has an improved magazine latch that prevents dropouts that plagued earlier models. The 360° adjustable exhaust put it where you need it, and it’s fairly lightweight at 4.14 pounds.
We liked the comfortable handling of the WORKPRO but it didn’t drive the nails in far enough and it left marks on the wood. After a few weeks, it began to leak air out of the trigger and the collar which further reduced its nail driving ability.
Let’s look at a few important things to look for when choosing a brad nailer.
There are three ways brad nailers are powered: air compressor, battery, or power cord.
Air compressors are the most popular way to power a brad nailer. A suitable air compressor will deliver constant, continuous power. These machines are usually the most powerful of the three and are often lightweight. Air compressors are the recommended source for contractors and large jobs.
The downside to compressors is that you must purchase them separately, and they can be quite expensive and difficult to move around. The length of the air hose between the gun and the compressor determines your range.
Electric nail guns plug into the wall. This type of gun can be as powerful as air compressors and are often just as lightweight. The downside to electric nail guns is that, like air compressors, you can only move as far as the power cord allows. Another downside to electric nailers is that if you try to use extension cords with them, they often lose quite a bit of power, depending on the length, so you typically have less range than an air compressor. They can also get hot and tend to be much less durable than those that use air. Electric nail guns are suitable for most light-duty jobs and are what we recommend for most people.
The invention of the lithium-ion battery has made it possible to use battery-powered tools in the workshop. While fully charged, battery power tools can be just as strong as those powered by electricity or an air compressor. The downside to these tools is that the battery and charger are often sold separately and can be quite expensive. They lose charge quickly and often need to be recharged, which can take several hours. The batteries add weight, so they are heavier than electric or pneumatic nail guns. However, battery power portability allows you to use these tools on remote jobs and those without electricity. You can also use the same battery in other battery power tools by the same company.
We recommend battery power for people who only use their brad nailers occasionally, for those who do a lot of remote work, and people who already have other battery-powered tools.
Bump and Sequential Firing
There are two ways in which a nail gun drives nails, and they are bump and sequential firing.
Bump firing is also called contact firing and is when the nail gun fires when you press the actuator tip against the surface. You can fire many nails quickly with this method, and it is perfect for situations where accuracy isn’t that important. Bump firing is fast, but it’s not safe, so you’ll need to use extreme caution when selecting this method.
Sequential firing is a safer method and is also more accurate. With sequential firing, you must press the safety chip against the surface then pull the trigger to release a single nail. You must then release the trigger and the safety tip and repeat the process to fire another nail.
Single sequential firing is a type of sequential firing where you don’t need to lift the gun off the surface after each nail, and you can instead drag it, leaving the safety tip pressed.
Single Actuation Firing
Single actuation firing is a type of sequential firing that acts like bump firing on the first nail, but you must lift the gun and squeeze the trigger between nails.
When using a brad nailer to put in trim or molding around the home, it can get quite heavy, so It’s best to choose a lightweight nail gun with a comfortable grip and easy squeeze trigger that you can use for a long work session.
Adjustable Depth Control
Adjustable depth control is a feature on many brad nailers that allows you to set how deep it drives the nail into the surface, which will enable you to use different size nails. You want your nail to be perfectly flush with the surface, or you will have to hammer it in, which can create marks on the surface, or it will drive too deep, which can damage the wood. Most of the brad nailers on our list allow you to adjust the depth, but some aren’t as accurate as others.
There are a couple of things you want to think about when considering the trigger. You want it to be easy to squeeze because pulling the trigger several-hundred times can lead to hand cramps and discomfort. It also needs to be in a comfortable position that doesn’t go against your hand’s natural position, or you won’t be able to get accurate nail positions.
Some models also have two triggers or a dual-purpose trigger that allows you to switch between bump and sequential firing in real-time. This type of device can be extremely convenient to an experienced operator but can be confusing for a novice. We tried to list any models with a dual-purpose trigger in our reviews and any that didn’t come with adequate instructions.
One major downside to pneumatic nail guns is that they often spring air leaks around the collar where the air hose inserts into the gun or at the trigger. This defect is a bigger problem in budget models. Still, it’s something you should be aware of because it can significantly reduce your gun’s power and reduce the accuracy of the depth adjustment causing your nails to stick out. We tried to list any models prone to air leaks in our reviews.
Safety is a major concern when working with brad nailers, especially if using the bump or contact option. We always recommend wearing safety glasses and heavy-duty gloves. Wear boots or heavy-duty shoes when using a brad nailer on the floor.
When choosing a brad nailer, our pick for best overall is a perfect choice. The BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Brad Nailer is powerful and features depth control and tool-free jam release though it rarely jammed while we used it. The Valu-Air F50Q Pneumatic Brad Nailer Is our pick for the best value, and this lightweight nail gun is more than suitable for most people. It features a high capacity magazine and a durable aluminum housing.
We hope you have enjoyed our reviews and found our buyer’s guide informative. If we have helped you choose your next tool, please share these 10 best brad nailers and Facebook and Twitter.
Other new articles regarding brad nail guns:
- Looking for a cordless brad nailer instead? See our top 5 picks
- Ryobi AirStrike P320 Brad Nailer Review
- 16 Gauge vs 18 Gauge Nailer: Which is Best For Your Needs?
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Brad Nailers – Reviews 2020
- 1. BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Brad Nailer – Best Overall
- 2. Valu-Air F50Q Pneumatic Brad Nailer – Best Value
- 3. PORTER-CABLE Cordless Brad Nailer – Premium Choice
- 4. Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer
- 5. NEU MASTER NTC0040 Electric Brad Nailer
- 6. CRAFTSMAN Cordless Brad Nailer
- 7. Makita AF506 Brad Nailer
- 8. SENCO FinishPro® Brad Nailer
- 9. Campbell Hausfeld Brad Nailer
- 10. WORKPRO 18-Gauge Pneumatic Brad Nailer
- Buyer’s Guide