Best Brad Nailer: Top 5 Pneumatic + Top 5 Cordless = Top 10
Affiliate Disclosure: Handy Tool Adviser is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more about our affiliate association here.
Are you wondering what is the best brad nailer to buy? Have you checked different options available and have tried comparing their specifications and features but can’t make the final decision? With so many options and competing brands available in the market, it becomes hard to choose the best brad nailer for your requirement.
In this post, we will give you our top picks for the best brad nailer in cordless as well as pneumatic configuration and guide you about their pros, cons and specialties to help you make the right decision for your application.
Our recommendations are for woodworking jobs including installation of baseboards; making cabinets; trimming jobs; quarter rounds installation; crafts & hobbyists as well as DIY. The brad nailers we have reviewed are all 18 gauge brad nailers that is generally the size of nail for which the tool is said to be a ‘brad’ nailer as opposed to a finish nailer or other types.
Don’t forget to read a note on safety in the use of brad nailers at the end of the rankings. Plus, we’ve also answered some common brad nailer questions.
Overall Best Brad Nailer Pneumatic: BOSTITCH Smart Point BTFP12233
Best Brad Nailer for Trim: PORTER-CABLE BN200C
Best Brad Nailer for Home Use: Metabo HPT NT50AE2
Overall Best Cordless Brad Nailer: Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2746-20
Best Cordless Brad Nailer for the Money: Ryobi P320 Airstrike
Pneumatic brad nailers are the conventional brad nailers used by professionals, homeowners and DIYers for woodworking projects.
Pneumatic brad nailers require air compressor and hose to power them up through air pressure generally in the range of 70-120 psi. These brad nailers are smaller in size and light weight as compared to cordless brad nailers.
Our top 5 recommendations are based on ergonomic features; compactness of the tool; manufacturer’s support in the form of warranty; what’s included in package and performance of the tool with respect to woodworking jobs including installation of baseboards, quarter rounds and crown moldings; making cabinets and trims around the house as well as other professional and DIY applications.
Overall Best Brad Nailer Pneumatic | Best for Woodworking | Great Precision
Our Rating: 9.4 / 10
This BOSTITCH pneumatic brad nailer will take care of cabinet building, molding, flooring, trim work, baseboards installation, window trim, crown molding, chair rails, quarter rounds and a variety of other interior finish carpentry work.
Whether you are nailing 1-1/4″ brads on an 18mm plywood for making kitchen cabinets, working on laminate flooring in your bedroom, repairing squeaky oak chairs or building stairs, this brad nailer will sink nails smoothly. From a carpenter to a finish contractor, this tool fits all needs.
It works with 18 gauge nails of 5/8″-2-1/8″ length with a magazine capacity of 100 nails. A small window/slot in magazine gives visual cue to the user when the tool is running low on nails.
Oil free motor reduces maintenance; the depth of drive is adjustable by an ergonomic dial and jam release is tool free.
Its nose tip is optimized for precision that allows you to drive nails in tough, tight and narrow jobs much easier and better than competitor brad nailers.
Backed by BOSTITCH’s impressive 7 year warranty against defects, it is the best brad nailer for woodworking projects, however, operator needs to exercise care in using it in bump firing mode.
Compact & Light Weight | Best Brad Nailer for Trim | Best for the Money
Our Rating: 9.3 / 10
The BN200C model brad nailer by PORTER-CABLE stands out on compactness and light weight design. It drives 18 gauge nails of 5/8″-2″ length by an oil free motor and stores up to 100 nails in its magazine that has a window/slot for visual indication when it is running low on nails. The depth of drive is also adjustable.
It is best suited for installation of baseboards and crown moldings as well as trimming jobs with very low complaints about nail jams as compared to competition. From installing quarter rounds on laminate to being the tool of choice for home improvement work like cabinet and shelving projects or a kitchen remodeling project, it is a great tool.
It is also great for hobby jobs like building a small table out of pine or a bird house. Apart from nailing poplar boards and blind nailing knotty pine tongue and groove, it carries enough power to sink a 2-inch brad into hickory or cured oak.
Its all rounded performance, compact design and decent manufacturer support in the form of 3 year warranty, all at comparatively low cost make it the best brad nailer for the money.
Best Brad Nailer for Home Use
Our Rating: 9.0 / 10
The Hitachi NT50AE2 18-gauge brad nailer packs outstanding performance in a light weight and compact design as well as low price point. Whether it is finish nailing trim molding and shoe molding, installing door jambs, building window jambs, making a baby gate on stairs, installing shiplap wall or installing the everyday baseboards, this tool gets the job done.
It features magazine capacity of 100 nails of 5/8″-2″ length and 18 gauge thickness with an adjustable depth of drive. Low nails level in the magazine are visible through a small window/slot.
The only reason we didn’t give this tool a higher rating is because we found relatively higher complaints about nail jams when compared to competitor products. Moreover, it does not feature an oil free motor that is available in majority competitor tools. Nonetheless, it is worthy to become the top choice for homeowners and DIYers.
Great for Trim | Great on Baseboards & Crown Molding
Our Rating: 8.7 / 10
The DEWALT DWFP12231 is a decent brad nailer with very good customer feedback for working on baseboards and crown molding installation as well as trimming jobs.
From making nail finger-joints of MDF and baseboards with studs and installing shoe molding to redoing trim work of all the door frames in your house, putting up a shiplap ceiling or sinking hundreds of nails in wood headboard in your bedroom, this tool won’t give up on you.
It features magazine capacity of 100 nails of 5/8″-2″ length with a window/slot for visual indication of low nails charge. The depth of drive is adjustable with a wheel (with detents).
We found the tool to be lacking on contact firing option i.e. it cannot be used for bump firing. Moreover, jam up complaints are not the lowest in competition.
Nonetheless, it is a great all rounder tool backed by a solid 03 year warranty against defects by DEWALT.
A Good Brad Nailer for Trim
Our Rating: 8.6 / 10
BOSTITCH appears again on our list with BT1855K pneumatic brad nailer that works with 18 gauge nails of 5/8″-2-1/8″ length with a magazine capacity of 110 nails.
Use to for common jobs like installing baseboards, door and window trim work, and kitchen cabinet work to special work like assembling a mitered picture frame,
From driving 1-inch brads into African Padouk for your kitchen cabinet frame, assembling a mitered picture frame to the everyday door molding and baseboard installation, this tool is versatile. You may use it for floor and ceiling trim in drywall without worrying about the studs as well as tack 2×4’s and assemble drawers and chairs.
A small window/slot in magazine gives visual cue to the user when the tool is running low on nails. Oil free motor reduces maintenance; the depth of drive is adjustable by an ergonomic dial; jam release is tool free and a rear muffled exhaust prevents air from blowing at your face during work.
Backed by BOSTITCH’s impressive 7 year warranty against defects, it is a decent tool for trimming jobs.
Cordless brad nailers bring flexibility in woodworking projects by eliminating the need to spend dollars as well as carry an air compressor and hose to your job site.
However, this advantage comes at a higher cost and comparatively higher tool size and weight. For a vide variety of applications, the advantage and flexibility cordless variants bring to the job outweighs the disadvantage of their added size and weight.
In order to find the best cordless brad nailer, we compared specifications, features, compactness, performance, ergonomics and manufacturers support for the product to give you our top 5 recommendations. Without further due, let’s begin.
Best Cordless Brad Nailer for Woodworking
Our Rating: 9.7 / 10
The Milwaukee cordless brad nailer 2746-20 is powered by a brushless motor and drives 5/8”-2” brad nail (18 gauge) with an adjustable drive depth.
It features large slots for giving a very convenient visual cue to the user regarding the number of nails left in the magazine vs. a small slot/window available in competitor tools.
Its control buttons are located all at one place for convenience of the user. A dedicated electronic system (REDLINK) is designed for preventing overheating of tool due to overload.
From installation of baseboards, crown moldings, door casings, shoe molding, wall bases, quarter rounds and other trim work to home use, DIY applications and crafts, it is the best cordless brad nailer for woodworking because of its successful combination of portability, performance and ergonomics.
Best Cordless Brad Nailer for the Money | Under $150 | Compact & Light Weight
Our Rating: 9.5 / 10
The specialty of Ryobi P320 is its compact design. At 5 lbs weight and tool length of 10″, it reduces user fatigue and fits in tight spots such as when you are making small cabinets.
It features magazine capacity of 105 brad nails of 5/8″-2″ length and the standard 18 gauge thickness. Tool free jam release; adjustable depth of drive and no-mar tip are also included.
It has returned positive customer feedback for use in installation of baseboards and trimming applications while jamming up complaints are quite low.
This tool is light on the wallet and powerful enough to nearly flush sink 2-inch brads into 3/4″ kiln-dried white oak flooring. It will work great on 3/4″ pine as well as 1/2″ maple. As a hobbyist, it will help build birdhouses with cedar. Crown molding, floor molding and baseboard work is a breeze as well.
Comparison of its performance, features and 03 year manufacturer’s warranty with its price of under 150 bucks (at the time of this review) makes it the best cordless brad nailer for the money.
Our Rating: 9.1 / 10
DEWALT DCN680B features a micro-nose to improve line of sight and assist in improving accuracy of nail driving. From using on a small handicap ramp to the everyday door and window trim work or something like installing pine baseboards, it gets the job done. It will drive brads up to 2-inch into oak, cherry and walnut without any problem.
It has a magazine capacity of 110 brad nails of 5/8″-2″ length and the standard 18 gauge thickness. Tool free jam release and adjustable depth of drive are available.
DEWALT has used brushless motor in this model for improved efficiency and reduced maintenance. The 3 Year Warranty with 01 year free service and 90 days money back guarantee is also a major plus for this tool with respect to securing your investment.
Great for Home Use | Great on Baseboards, Quarter Rounds & Crown Molding
Our Rating: 8.8 / 10
This PORTER-CABLE brad nailer features a magazine capacity of 110 brad nails of 5/8″-2″ length and the standard 18 gauge thickness and adjustable depth of drive.
This model has returned high positive feedbacks on a variety of woodworking applications including installation of baseboards, quarter rounds and crown moldings and other trimming applications. It will sink 2-inch brads into 3/4″ pine, poplar, birch, Adler, old growth Douglas fir and 1-1/2″ oak without a problem.
However, its jamming up complaints are comparatively high and its large size and weight can increase user fatigue and prevent the tool from working in tight and narrow spaces.
Nonetheless, it is the brad nailer of choice for home projects from installing crown and floor molding in your living room, hardwood crown on kitchen cabinets and garage cabinetry to applying baseboard and installing plank ceiling during remodeling project or maybe install cedar trim in your sunroom.
Nonetheless, the 3 Year Warranty with 01 year free service and 90 days money back guarantee outweighs doubts about its performance and ease of use making it a very good choice for homeowners and DIY enthusiasts.
Our Rating: 8.1 / 10
CRAFTSMAN is a renowned name in power tools industry. This model features an adjustable depth of drive for 5/8″-2″ brad nails of 18 gauge standard thickness.
From repairing your wooden driveway gate and fixing trim around the house, this tool gets the job done. It will help you in your wall or ceiling panels installation projects. It works on 3/4″ pine and 5/8″ hardwood without any problem.
Its magazine has a capacity to hold 100 nails with windows/slots to give a visual cue to the operator when tool is about to run out of nails.
It gives decent woodworking performance, however, lacks no-mar tip, dry fire lockout and bump firing ability for professional applications due to which it didn’t get higher rating from our side.
Nail guns are responsible for an estimated 37,000 emergency room visits each year including fatal injuries. More than half of these injuries are to the hand and fingers.
The above statistic is presented in the guide for construction contractors on nail gun safety by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in United States.
What does it tell us?
Safety is of utmost importance in using brad nailers (or any nail gun for that matter).
While a common user may not pay any serious attention towards the trigger mechanism used in nail guns, it is a big deal with respect to safety.
The importance of trigger – a seemingly trivial thing – can be judged from the fact that The International Staple, Nail and Tool Association (ISANTA) in United States has specifically defined the different types of nail gun trigger mechanisms in their standard developed for nail guns. The same have also been defined the the OSHA and NIOSH guide we referred above.
For example, Full Sequential Trigger is a trigger mechanism that requires the user to first push the contact tip and then squeeze the trigger. If not done in the same order, nail won’t fire. After one fire, both steps will have to be repeated for a second fire. Therefore, Full sequential trigger cannot bump fire and is the safest trigger mechanism out there.
A Contact Trigger is a trigger mechanism which will fire a nail as long as both the contact tip and the trigger are squeezed. It will allow a second fire even if trigger is kept squeezed and contact tip is bumped. Therefore, it allows bump firing. However, it will fire only when contact tip is pushed into the workpiece. It is the safest trigger mechanism for bump firing.
You can check out all of the different trigger mechanisms in the guide we referred, however, the point we are trying to make here is that you, being the user, must understand that trigger mechanism matters. You must always check manufacturer details of trigger mechanism before buying it. A professional may go ahead to buy a riskier trigger mechanism but a novice must try to stick with the full sequential trigger.
Don’t be too lazy to use a hammer. We understand you are buying a nail gun to eliminate the need for using a hammer. However, if you are nailing in a tight or awkward spot, don’t compromise proper nail gun placement just to try to sink the nail completely. A tap or two of a hammer won’t hurt as much as a nail injuring you due to improper placement of nail gun.
Beware of flying brads. Always observe the surface you are firing a nail into. A knot in the wood grains or an already embedded nail can set the brad flying like a projectile after being fired.
Try to nail it with one hand only, the dominant hand. Develop a habit of nailing the workpiece with just one hand (the dominant hand) in which the nailer is held. Avoid using the other hand to eliminate the chances of a nail coming out of the workpiece from the wrong place and nicking your other hand. If you are using the other hand, keep it well away from the vicinity of the area being worked upon.
Don’t bump the trigger with yourself. Try to avoid hooking your brad nailer to your tool belt while climbing ladders or doing other such work that gets your body in a lot of bending action. The safety tip may get pressed with your thigh leaving behind just one more step to fire a nail.
Never bypass safety of the nail gun. Not even for once. If the nail gun is not firing properly, just don’t use it until you get it fixed.
Man makes habits then habits make a man. Therefore, don’t let risky nailing techniques get into your habits. Develop a habit of always wearing proper PPEs and using proper techniques. Don’t let that voice misguide you that says doing it improperly just one time won’t result in an accident.
Buyer’s Guide Questions
The best brad nailer for you is the one that suits your specific requirement. A DIYer can go with a brad nailer of comparatively lower performance but better price as compared to a professional carpenter looking for a tool to drive a thousand brad nails a day. Similarly, you might have your own preference with respect to if you want a conventional pneumatic brad nailer or a cordless one. All these factors come into play when deciding what is the best brad nailer.
As per our evaluation of performance and customer feedback we found the following choices best suited to particular applications,
Best brad nailer cordless : Milwaukee Cordless Brad Nailer Model 2746-20 (M18 Fuel Series)
Best brad nailer for baseboards & cabinets : Hitachi NT50AE2 18-gauge brad nailer (Metabo HPT)
Best brad nailer for trim & quarter rounds : PORTER-CABLE Cordless Brad Nailer Model PCC790LA
Best brad nailer for DIY & beginners : Ryobi Cordless Brad Nailer Model P320 Airstrike
Best brad nailer for the money : PORTER-CABLE Pneumatic Brad Nailer Model BN200C
Best cordless brad nailer for the money : Ryobi Cordless Brad Nailer Model P320 Airstrike
Yes. In fact, it is one of the primary applications of brad nailers. Brads are thin nails (18 gauge) that carry enough strength to hold baseboards in place and brad nailers are ideal for driving brads into baseboards quickly and efficiently.
Yes you can. Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) is weaker than wood and can easily crack if larger nails are driven into it. Since brads are very thin (18 gauge), you get good support and fixation on MDFs by using brad nails without running the risk of splitting or cracking the material. Therefore, brad nailers are a good choice for driving thin nails into MDF, however, it is advisable to also use glue instead of solely relying on brad nails.
Yes you can. Quarter round can easily be nailed with brad nailers as illustrated below.
(Video Credit: YouTube Channel ‘Ask The Builder’)
If you like our post and the information we have presented, please share this article with your friends.