The Best 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Reviews – 2021

As a DIYer, you have probably wondered why you should get a brad nailer. I mean, they are of the same size as finish nailers and use similar kinds of nails. However, the main difference is in the name: these types of nailers use brads.

A brad is basically a thinner gauge of the nail which is used to attach lightweight trim. That means you won’t have to use something like wood putty. In that case, finding the best 18 gauge brad nailer can definitely make a difference for you.

I will be reviewing, in this article, our top picks for brad nailers and also tell you a little bit about them.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to help you find the perfect one for yourself!

In a Hurry? Check Out Our Top 10 Picks of 18 Gauge Brad Nailer

BOSTITCH Nail Gun, Brad Nailer, Smart Point, 18GA (BTFP12233)
  • Nails: 5/8 up to 2-1/8-Inch
  • Type: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 5.16 Pounds
  • Warranty: 7 Year Limited
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Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad Nailer
  • Nails: 5/8 up to 2-Inch
  • Type: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 2.2 Pounds
  • Warranty: 1 Year
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WEN 61721 18-Gauge 3/8-Inch to 2-Inch Pneumatic Brad Nailer with 2000 Nails
  • Nails: 3/8 up to 2-Inch
  • Type: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 2.7 Pounds
  • Warranty: 2 Year
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PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA (PCC790LA)
  • Nails: 5/8 up to 2-Inch
  • Type: Battery Powered
  • Weight: 5.9 Pounds
  • Warranty: 3 Year Limited
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DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer, 18GA, Tool Only (DCN680B)
  • Nails: 5/8 up to 2-1/8-Inch
  • Type: Battery Powered
  • Weight: 4 Pounds
  • Warranty: 3 Year Limited
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NuMax S2-118G2 Pneumatic 2-in-1 18-Gauge 2' Brad Nailer and Stapler Ergonomic and Lightweight Combo Brad and Staple...
  • Nails: Brad 3/8 up to 2-Inch,
    Staple 1/2 up to 1-5/8-Inch
  • Type: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 3.08 Pounds
  • Warranty: 1 Year Limited
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DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch (DWFP12231)
  • Nails: 5/8 up to 2-Inch
  • Type: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 5.06 Pounds
  • Warranty: 3 Year Limited
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Valu-Air SF5040 2' 18 Gauge 2 in 1 Pneumatic Brad Nailer and Stapler with Carrying Case
  • Nails: Brad 5/8 up to 2-Inch,
    1/4 Crown Staple 5/8 to 1-5/8
  • Type: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 3.2 Pounds
  • Warranty:
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SENCO FinishPro® 18MG, 2-1/8' 18-Gauge Brad Nailer (ProSeries)
  • Nails: 5/8 up to 2-1/8-Inch
  • Type: Pneumatic
  • Weight: 4 Pounds
  • Warranty: 5 Year
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Hitachi NT1850DE 18V Cordless Brad Nailer, Brushless Motor, 18 Gauge, 5/8' to 2' Nails, Compact 3.0 Ah Lithium Ion...
  • Nails: 5/8 up to 2-Inch
  • Type: Battery Powerd
  • Weight: 7.3 Pounds
  • Lifetime Tool Warranty
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18 Gauge Brad Nailer Uses

Before we get into the brad nailer reviews, let’s take a look at some of the uses these tools have to offer. This can hopefully help you to make a more informed decision.

  • Great for Both Professional and Personal Use

Brad nailers are a godsend if you’re looking to do some home improvement projects. You can use it for things like fixing the window, door casing, or replacing crown moldings. Home renovations will be made a lot easier with one of these guys.

And it is not just for DIY or personal projects, of course. I believe that an 18 gauge brad nailer is almost a necessity if you’re a professional.

If you’re involved in carpentry or construction or like to do some handyman work on the side, then a brad nailer can make all the difference. It will augment speed and efficiency and keep your focus where it matters: the work itself.

  • Gives Better Results in Specific Aspects

Brad nailers work with smaller, thin-gauged nails, which eliminates the necessity of using wood putty to cover the holes when you work. Not only will this save time, but it will also save your precious materials. Your handiwork will look neat and clean even without it.

Furthermore, you will find that these things are better suited to more delicate materials. Sometimes, finish nailers can be incompatible. Brad nailers use thinner nails, which makes them more compatible with materials like thinner wood trim.

Unlike a finish nailer or some other heavy nailer, a brad nailer won’t tamper with the fragile wood.

  • Increases Mobility and Time Management

With a nailer, there won’t be any need for you to carry the nails around with you in a bucket. Working manually can be cumbersome and also take a lot more time.

If you buy a nailer, though, all you have to do is load the magazine of the nailer with as many brads as you need and easily carry it around.

There’s also the fact that brad nailers are quite speedy. The top 18 gauge brad nailers on the market have the ability to position up to 5 brads per second. That is pretty great if you ask me!

Best 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Reviews

So now that you have an idea about these guys, the question arises, what is the 18 gauge brad nailer? What does it look like, and should you buy it?

Hopefully, the following reviews will help you decide. Have a look!

 1.      BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA Brad Nailer Kit

1,744 Reviews

I’m starting off these reviews for one of the absolute best nailers on the market. This is perfect for those on a budget, or who are just starting out with brad nails.

If you’re an experienced user of pneumatic nailers and have a good hand overusing them (as opposed to electric nailers), you’re gonna have a good time with this one. Especially if you’re doing some DIY construction or renovation work around the house—say with cabinetry or upholstery, this is a great tool.

What makes that possible is the fact that this nailer allows for high customizability with countersinking and trigger system options unique to your project. But what’s probably most admirable about this guy is the Smart Point technology the manufacturers have built into it.

That technology manifests in the nose, which is smaller—this enables smooth, easy nail placement. And this also means that during actuation, compression of the contracted trip won’t be required.

As for specs, this nailer has the ability to drive 18 gauge brad nails from 5/8″ to 2-1/8″ length. It operates at a PSI between 70 and 120.

Furthermore, this gun is unique in that it can operate without oil, which lowers the ever-present risk of oil stains. The air fitting is ¼” with a rear air exhaust. And like any respectable tool, it also comes with a belt hook, of course.

The jam release mechanism is tool-free, and the gun features a Dial-A-Depth control slider for more precise countersinking of brads. You can also switch between contact or sequential operation—just how smooth can this nailer be?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention—since this is actually a kit instead of just a nailer, your purchase will include a few other goodies. These are sample fasteners, extra no-mar tips, and of course, a good old carrying case.

  • No-mar head
  • Great for hardwood workpieces
  • Nailing points allows you to achieve good angles
  • Doesn’t have an anti-dry fire mechanism
  • The user will require some prior experience to use this


 2.     Hitachi NT50AE2 18 gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad Nailer

1,188 Reviews

You can probably guess by now how much I love lightweight nailers. We’ve already discussed a few great models, but in terms of mobility and usability, I don’t believe any other one comes as close as this.

This little guy has an aluminum body that is literally only 2.2 pounds plus; it is so well-balanced that working with it will be like taking a walk in the park.

But that’s just a bonus. What does this pneumatic nailer itself have to offer? Well, to begin with, it’s perfect for 5/8-2 inch brad nails with head sizes from 0.075 to 1.9 mm, so if that sounds specific to your needs, there is more.

This little bad boy has a high-capacity bottom-loading magazine that has been designed for swift loading. I particularly love the visual indicator, which shows you how many nails you have left until a reload. Less downtime for you.

Now for the absolute best part about this nailer, which is its dual firing option. It features selective actuation, which means you can enjoy a tool-less transition between firing. A control slider on the nailer allows you to choose between intermittent and continuous firing.

Moreover, you can use the intermittent firing option when your project requires precise driving. On the other hand, the continuous firing option is great if you want to rapidly fire nails. They will be delivered in a bumping motion on your workpiece.

Of course, the device also comes with an adjustment knob to help you set the depth of the drive. All you’ll have to do is rotate the dial halfway for modification settings. Furthermore, there is also a 360-degree exhaust vent.

  • Removable nose cap increases the machine’s durability
  • Perfect for small carpentry projects
  • Good affordability
  • Might sometimes leave depressions on the workpiece
  • No dry fire stopping capability


3.     WEN 61721 3/8-Inch to 2-Inch 18 Gauge Brad Nailer

3,489 Reviews

What I love most about this nailer is how lightweight it is. Its body weighs only 2.7 pounds and has a very comfortable rubber-grip handle that will make doing jobs with it a breeze.

But don’t let its small stature fool you. This is one highly efficient nailer. It can set brad nails between 3/8 and 2 inches so effortlessly, that it’ll shock you to remember how small a price you paid for it.

This brad nailer is a pneumatic type, so you’ll need an air compressor. This little guy operates between 60 to 115 PSI and does this with an NPT air inlet fitting of a ¼ inch. The magazine can carry up to 106 brads, so you don’t have to worry about inconvenient setbacks.

Any worries about a jammed nailer will also be a thing of the past. Your purchase will include adjustment wrenches and oil, which, as we know, is all you need to set a jammed nailer straight.

Another thing I love is the adjustable exhaust port on this thing. Conveniently, it can be rotated a full 360 degrees, allowing you to control the direction of the air output.

And that’s not all, of course; you can also customize the depth your nails will be fired at, using a handy little adjustment wheel on the body of the nailer.

  • Great features despite high affordability
  • Perfect for casual users of brad nails
  • Magazine capacity higher than other
  • Not suited to heavy duty work
  • The nail-shooting mechanism may not perform as well over time


 4.    PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium Cordless Brad Nailer Kit

3,321 Reviews

There are many clear advantages to choosing an electric nailer over a pneumatic one. You don’t have to lug a hose around everywhere you go. It also means you can get more types of work done. And think of all the money you save on compressors and gas cartridges!

On those fronts, this 18 gauge nailer is definitely one of the better options on the market. Users report consistent and reliable nail sinking with this little guy, citing its handy depth adjustment wheel. If you ask me, that’s definitely one of the most important criteria for deciding whether a nailer is worth your money.

But this thing can increase your productivity in smaller, subtler ways as well. A good nailer is only as good as how easy it makes your maintenance of the tool. One of the best things about this nailer is its release lever and jam release, which are both tool-free.

Another thing to love about this nailer is its battery. The lithium-ion battery operates at 1.5 Ah, so you can be assured that it’ll last for longer and serve you better. What a huge upgrade from having to lug your hose around everywhere you go while you work!

So, this is a great one to start with if you’re looking for an electric nailer. However, I should warn you that this isn’t the most affordable option on the market.

While that’s true, remember that in the long term you’d be saving money on extra parts associated with pneumatic ones. So, it is a tool you can definitely consider paying a high price for!

  • Can deliver up to 1,300 nails per full charge
  • Tool-free wheel for adjusting the depth
  • Tool-free jam release
  • Might be a bit too heavy for some users
  • The large size might make it difficult to get into tight corners


 5.     DEWALT DCN680B 20V Max XR 18 Gauge Brad Nailer

941 Reviews

If you’re a professional on the hunt for the perfect brad nailer companion to make your job a little bit easier, then you’ve come to the right place.

What makes this 18 gauge brad nailer perfect for professionals? It can drive brads from 5/8 to 2-1/8 inches, and it does this with the help of a brushless motor. This means higher run time and overall better durability for the nailer itself, and smoother working experience for you.

One small, but very important detail, about this nailer, is its nose. DeWalt has made it small and unassuming on purpose (they call it a “micro nose,” how endearing is that?) – it is to improve accuracy by giving you a clearer line of sight as you work. I just love tools that are also thoughtful, building companions!

Another great feature is this nailer’s automatic shut-off mechanism, which prevents the battery from overworking. This is a feature that many brands somehow forget to include in their machines, although it’s of utmost importance to ensure a longer life for the tool.

The depth adjustment feature on this bad boy is also one of my favorite things about it because it’s so effortless. Furthermore, jams are infrequent and very easy to clear on this thing. On the whole, you’d be hard-pressed to find a close competitor to this thing, from a brand that really cares about its customers!

  • The Micro nose facilitates accurate nail placement
  • Be assured of greater durability with brushless motor
  • Great for securing baseboards and moldings
  • Susceptible to leaving nail holes
  • Quite heavy, which may make working with it difficult


 6.     NuMax S2-118G2 18 gauge 2 In 1 Brad Nailer And Stapler

1,292 Reviews

If you work with both brads and staples, then it only makes sense for you to opt for a gun that will allow you to shoot both. And in that regard, this guy is definitely one of your better options.

This Numax nailer can shoot 1⅝” narrow crown staples and 2” 18 gauge brad nails. It’s perfect for both interior and exterior trim and finish and cabinetry, but it is also very well suited to crafts and hobbies (yes DIYers, I’m looking at you). It operates at a pressure of 60 to 110 PSI, so yes, you will need an air compressor.

Something most users love about this gun is how lightweight it is. Despite that, it’s definitely very powerful, especially when you consider the low price, you’re having to pay for it. There are so many projects where this guy will come in handy; think baseboards, light wire fencing, crates, or window casings, among so many others.

While some users report some light denting when switching between brads and staples, do remember that this nailer, just like any other nailer, comes with a depth adjustment setting. No matter what brand you’re using, if it’s a dual nailer, then you must remember to alter the depth when switching.

Despite its relatively low price, this nailer can definitely give famous brands like DeWalt and Hitachi a run for their money. And that’s probably because of the manufacturers’ devotion to providing great customer service, which lots of users of this product have attested to.

Relevant Reading:
  • Die-cast aluminum body with aluminum cylinder makes for a strong tool
  • No-mar safety contact helps prevent accidents
  • Switch easily between brad nails and narrow crown staples
  • Might leave staple-sized dents when using brad nails
  • Not very well suited to finishing work


 7.     DEWALT DWFP12231 Pneumatic 18 Gauge 2-Inch Brad Nailer Kit

2,055 Reviews

The good thing about brands like DeWalt is that to an extent; you already know what you’re paying for. Household names have that trustworthy, reliable quality to them that others can’t beat.

Nevertheless, it’s not enough to just take their word or their name for it—that’s why I’m here to give you a rundown on this nailer.

It has quite a few attractive qualities, this nailer. The motor was built for durability and translates to fewer worries about maintenance for you. Here, the body of the nailer has been constructed from magnesium, which makes it a strong, yet lightweight tool, although you will need some prior practice with handling nailers.

Now let’s talk come down to business. Thanks to the sequential style on this nail’s trigger, you’ll be able to fire 18 gauge nails between 5/8 and 2 inches. And don’t worry about running out of nails—you’ll be able to keep the show running with its standard 100-nail magazine capacity.

And what’s not to love about good old tool-free jam release and depth of drive adjustment mechanisms? Those are just essential when it comes to a nailer. Adding to that, the manufacturers have included detents to ensure more accurate setting of nail heads.

One feature that stands out with this nailer is the removable non-marring nose tip and integrated rubber grip, which means you’ll have a more comfortable experience working with this thing.

Moreover, the adjustable belt hook is another plus, of course; you’ll always be able to work better when you’re ensured that your tools are near you!

  • Purchase includes 500 1-1/4 inch nails, owner’s manual, and carrying case
  • The jam release mechanism is tool-free
  • Rear exhaust keeps out contaminants
  • Might leak oil at times
  • Tends to jam easily, but the jam-release mechanism is very smooth


8.     Valu-Air SF5040 2″ 18 Gauge 2 In 1 Brad Nailer And Stapler

657 Reviews

Pneumatic brad nailers are definitely much easier to come by, and a great option if you’re looking to do some light DIY or construction work. The selling point of this one, in particular, is in the name itself—it’s of great value, and you can expect it to work accordingly.

So, here are some specs. It drives standard 18 gauge brad nails between 5/8 and 2 inches, and it also drives crown staples between 5/8 and 1 5/8 inches. Its aluminum-alloy body is also quite lightweight, and it weighs only 3.3 pounds.

You’ll need an air compressor to use this little guy, of course, as it is a pneumatic nailer. Air pressure of 70-110 PSI will do the trick for a seamless experience. Adding to that is the 360-degree adjustable exhaust and no-mar rubber tip, so you can expect smooth delivery from this little guy.

I love that despite its low price, this nailer was made to compete with standard nailers on the market. It features a tool-free depth-of-drive adjustment along with a swift jam release mechanism, so you don’t have to worry about your workflow being ruined.

Many affordable options don’t usually have such a wide range of usability. This is perfectly suited to those doing carpentry work in and around the house. Take matters into your own hands and let this nailer help.

If you’re fixing up a cabinet, putting in some trim, or doing some finish work by yourself, then this is a neat little nailer to help you do all those things.

  • Tool-free nose latch allows for quick jam release
  • Ergonomic rubber grip handle reduces discomfort
  • Purchase includes two strips of 18 gauge brad nails/staples and a carrying case
  • Not recommended for fine woodworking
  • Might occasionally misfire with consistent use

 9.     SENCO FinishPro® 18-Gauge Brad Nailer (ProSeries)

475 Reviews

I am going to end the reviews with another no-nonsense, straightforward little pneumatic nailer that also happens to be quite affordable. Don’t let the low price fool you, though; this is a very durable tool, which is a surprise considering how light it is (4 pounds or less).

It also happens to be oil-free, which is always a nice surprise, especially from lesser-known brands such as this one. As we already know, an oil-free engine means less downtime figuring out how to make the nailer work and more actual working. Plus, no oil stains!

Another pleasant surprise is its selective trigger, which lets you toggle between single or multi-shot modes and find the right fit for your particular project needs. I always appreciate trigger mode settings, because that’s the mark of a manufacturer that puts thought into their products.

This nailer also has a standard rear exhaust located at the bottom of the handle, so there are no surprises there. It is also adjustable to 360 degrees, which is, of course, something any nailer should be able to provide if you ask me.

And don’t worry—this nailer also comes with depth adjustment capabilities, so you don’t have to worry about denting your workpiece.

Moreover, this nailer is particularly well-suited to the casing and crowning jobs, so if you are a part-time professional or like to dabble in construction every now and then around your own home, then this is a great option.

Especially if you’re looking for a relatively cheap replacement of your pneumatic brad nailer, then I would definitely suggest this guy.

Click Here to check the full review of SENCO FinishPro Brad Nailer

  • Highly affordable
  • Lightweight body due to magnesium construction
  • Features an oil-free motor
  • The magazine might wear out over time
  • The piston might get stuck over time

10.     Hitachi NT1850DE 18V Cordless Brad Nailer

99 Reviews

If you’re looking for a pneumatic brad nailer on the cheaper side, then this next review is not for you. Because this Hitachi bad boy is a cordless, electric nailer, and it will cost you a little.

This nailer comes outfitted with a brushless motor and is powered by a compact 3.0Ah lithium-ion battery. Once you give it a full charge, it will be capable of sinking a maximum of 1,650 nails (5/8″ to 2″ in length) before it needs its next charge.

How does it do that? Well, it uses quite a unique air spring drive system which drives each nail by using compressed air. This translates to higher shooting speed, a non-existent ramp-up time, and a recoil that will make you forget that you’re not actually using a pneumatic nailer.

That’s also what accounts for the good flush driving, along with swift response time between drives. As if all that wasn’t enough, there are even more features to this guy that you could justifiably say have been thought up to make your life easier.

For one, there is, of course, a low battery indicator, but you’ll also be able to enjoy selective actuation (between a sequential mode and bump fire mode) and tool-less depth adjustment and jam release.

Especially if you’re a professional carpenter on the hunt for the right brad nailer, I’d say you probably don’t have to look much farther than this. It is perfect for things like installing trim or molding, wainscoting, or door and window casing.

  • Comes with an LED light, great for low light working conditions
  • Prevents accidental firing with side-lock switch
  • Very well suited to professional carpentry work
  • Quite large and heavy compared to other models
  • The safety is on the nose, making it non-ergonomic


 11.     PORTER-CABLE PCC790B 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Brad Nailer

3,331 Reviews

Here’s another great Porter-Cable electric brad nailer for you to consider. As usual, this guy is fully battery-powered, which means you don’t have to worry about spending on a compressor or a hose.

This nailer, in particular, will help you to increase productivity and do a better job of ensuring your safety, with its multitude of tool-free settings. It can also fire up to 1300 nails with one full charge, so you’re pretty much set for a smooth and unencumbered workday.

Also, this gun works great with brad nails between 5/8 and 2 inches and boasts a 100 nail magazine capacity. Coupled with its trigger log and sequential firing option, there won’t be much left for you to desire once you’ve used this gun for your carpentry jobs.

Something that’s worth noting about this nailer is its motor, which has been crafted using a special design. It allows you to enjoy a consistent firing power, no matter what materials you’re using, or what climate conditions you’re working in.

One other thing that I really appreciate about this nailer is how the manufacturers have put LED lights into it. If you’re working in a darker area, your gun will light your way for you, without you having to worry about finding a light source.

The manufacturers also take pride in how lightweight this gun is, ensuring comfort for the user. However, it is worth remembering that this is an electric nailer and not a wind-powered one, so it’s not as light as you would have wished it to be.

  • Features a sequential firing mode
  • Comes with multi-functional LED lights for use in darker workspaces
  • Tool-free jam release and stall release lever
  • Is relatively heavier compared to pneumatic models
  • Likely to start jamming over time with consistent use


 12.     BOSTITCH BT1855K 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

1,753 Reviews

This is a straightforward nailer that can fire 5/8-inch to 2-1/8-inch 18-gauge brad nails without any hassle. This is owed in part to its oil-free engine (manufacturers claim), which means less downtime for you. Oil stains, of course, will also be a thing of the past with this handy device.

The selectable trigger system also allows you to switch between contact and sequential mode, according to your needs. This nailer also features a trigger lockout mode that will definitely come in handy when you’re working in a closed space.

I also love the filtered air inlet, because that means the engine on this thing will be that much more durable, for longer. The rear exhaust is super quiet and won’t make you regret spending money on a tool only for it to ruin your life with its noise. That’s always a win in my books, folks!

And it wouldn’t be a real nailer without depth adjustment, of course, so Bostitch has put in something they call Dial-A-Depth control, which they claim will help you to set fasteners to desired depths and that too, much more quickly and easily.

Oh, and did I mention that this thing weighs only 2.7 pounds? The more lightweight the nailer, the better, in my opinion—tools should assist the user and not weigh him or her down! Despite this, however, the machine has a tough, industrial design, so it will definitely last you longer.

Adding to the tool’s balance and weight is an over-molded handle for better grip and increased comfort. Especially if you’re doing overhead applications, you know how important that little detail can be.

  • Features a reversible belt hook
  • Comes with an integrated pencil sharpener
  • Great for finishing applications
  • Might not be well-suited to poplar or pinewood
  • The Smart Point may take some getting used to


 13.     WEN 61718 18 Gauge 2″ 2-in-1 Pneumatic Brad

362 Reviews

This pneumatic nailer is a great choice if you’re doing more intricate trimming work with smaller, more lightweight brads. This bad boy can shoot brads between from 5/8 and 2 inches in length.

Not just that, it can also fire crown staples between ¼ inches and 5/8 to 1-5/8 inches in length. It does this at an operating pressure between 60 and 100 PSI. You will, of course, require an air compressor to run this baby; at 90 PSI, it’ll take up 0.5 CFM of air for each nail.

In my opinion, a good nailer is one that doesn’t wear you out on the job but rather makes you grateful for its unobtrusiveness. This one certainly fits the bill with its conveniently lightweight body. Combined with its rubber-lined handle, your life will be made at least a little bit easier by this nailer as you work.

The adjustable exhaust port on this thing is also one of my favorite features. Pneumatic nailers must always have this feature if you ask me; it’s important to be able to ensure the output of the air in whichever direction suits your work best.

Also, the ability to reload easily is also imperative to the overall smoothness of work. The magazine of this nailer is spring loaded and has the ability to hold up to 100 nails. So, the flow of your work won’t be broken by this device.

  • Nail gauge is shown in a transparent window to alert the user when brads are running low
  • The body is coated with powder, which prevents scratches
  • The purchase will come with safety glasses, lubricating oil and carrying case
  • Tends to double-strike at times
  • Not suited to those who work with brad nails a lot

How to Choose the Best Quality 18 Gauge Brad Nailer

Now that we’re done with my 18 gauge brad nailer reviews, here’s a little more information on how to find the right brad nailer for yourself. Here’s what you need to know.

The Function

Of the several types of finish nailers, brad nailers are just one kind. So, what sets them apart from the others? In short, a brad nailer can shoot 18 gauge finish nails. The gauge basically refers to the number of nails or wires per inch in the nail strips. As the name suggests, 18 gauge nails have 18 pieces of nails per inch.

What you need to know is that nail diameter is inversely proportional to gauge. The higher the gauge, the smaller the diameter of nails.

Because brad nailers are used with thin-gauged nails, they are very compatible with thinner or lighter trim moldings. So, if you’re worried that larger nails (15/16 gauge) will split your moldings, that’s when you should start considering a brad nailer instead. That’s because they will tend not to split wood or leave holes in it.

Tip Design

The tip of the nailer, also known as the nose, is the part that comes into contact with your work material. The reason the design of the nose matters is because it determines the precision with which you can use it to sink nails.

You might want one with a narrower nose, as this will allow higher precision by enabling you to reach tighter spaces. It will also give you a better line of sight.

Depth-Adjustment Capability

This is a very important feature. It depends on the thickness of the material you’re working with or the size of the nails you’re using. To get the best results, you’ll always have to adjust the depth at which the nailer will sink the nails into the material.

To that effect, look for a wheel or dial which is, once again, situated near the nose of the nailer. The dial can be turned to increase or decrease the depth.

So as not to accidentally sink the nails too shallow or too deep, this is obviously an important feature.

Tool-Free Jam Clearing Mechanism

It doesn’t matter how good your nailer is; there is every chance that one day, it will become jammed. That is why it’s important to choose a brad nailer that has a tool-free jam clearing mechanism.

This usually manifests as a lever which can be flipped open right at the nose of the nailer. Ideally, the brad nailer you choose should have one of these, instead of one that needs to be fixed with an Allen wrench.

Anti-Dry Fire Mechanism

A “dry fire” is basically when your nailer fires despite not having any nails in it. And if this happens, the piston will leave an impression on your work material, which can tamper with the material, damaging it or denting it.

Dry firing is also bad for the nailer itself and will affect its durability.

Therefore, you should look for a nailer that has a mechanism in place to prevent it: if there are no nails in the nailer, the mechanism won’t allow you to fire it.

Regulating Nailing Modes

The best nailers on the market will allow you to decide how you want to nail, and the two common nailing modes are contact/bump nailing and sequential nailing. Although the former is good for ensuring safety, the latter increases speed and productivity.

Being able to switch between the two modes is of utmost importance for smoother work experience. Therefore, you should look for a brad nailer that allows you to switch easily between the two modes.

Types of Brad Nailer

The two main types of brad nailers are pneumatic nailers and electric nailers. Of course, they’ll both work, but the difference lies in their application and affordability.

In short, an electric nailer is much more powerful and less affordable but will increase efficiency in the long run. A pneumatic nailer, on the other hand, is far more compact and delicate.

Keep reading for more details.

Pneumatic Brad Nailer

Pneumatic-Brad-NailerAlso called an air brad nailer, pneumatic nailers operate using compressed air. A hose is used to deliver the air.

Pneumatic brad nailers are a more popular choice if you’re on a budget. They are good for more complex tasks and will offer a decent level of efficiency depending on your work type.

But as with everything, you should consider the downsides.

As you can imagine, the nailer’s mobility is affected by the hose. You will be unable to move the nailer around as efficiently. The hose can also prove to be an inconvenience as it’s likely to get tangled up or get in your way.


There is also the fact that you will have to make sure you have an air compressor that suits your brad nailer. Fortunately for you, most compressors will supply almost any nailer with the required pressure, but you should always double-check.

Another issue is that pneumatic brad nailers will actually cost you more in the long run. You will have expenses such as oil check and replacements, etc., which will not only use up a lot of money but also resources.

Electric Brad Nailer

Electric-Brad-NailerI won’t beat around the bush: electric brad nailers are significantly more efficient and powerful. They should be, as they are operated by electric motors. They are much more mobile and therefore, will make your life easier with whatever you’re working with.

However, due to their motors, electric nailers are definitely more bulky, large and heavy. So, despite the relatively higher mobility, they might actually slow you down depending on what sort of work you’re doing.

You may have already guessed that electric nailers are much more expensive. However, that’s only the initial cost. Over time, you’re actually saving a lot more money in terms of other related expenses, so electric nailers are actually the more cost-efficient option.


Also, consider the fact that electric nailers are cordless, and therefore much easier to work with. However, this depends entirely on your individual needs in terms of the workplace environment.

Finally, consider the extra safety precautions you will have to take with an electric nailer. Mishandling the tool can lead to some severe injuries as they are much more powerful.

You will find some models on the market which come with a trigger-locking function, which is definitely worth more of your consideration. However, you should always keep a first-aid kit around, no matter what electric tool you’re working with.

Brad Nailer Safety Tips

There are safety measures you should always take, no matter what construction tool you’re using.

The first order of business is making sure you are well-acquainted with the method of operating your brad nailer. Understand the proper procedure for loading nails.

If you are using an air-powered one, you should wear hearing protection. Because they’re too noisy, they can definitely impair your hearing over time.

When using a pneumatic nailer, place the air compressor on a stable surface so it can’t topple over. Make your workspace clutter-free so that your hose can’t cause an obstruction.

Safety goggles and steel-capped boots are also a must. Remember to tuck or tie up your hair. Remove any jewelry that you’re wearing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What kind of brad nailer should I purchase if I am on a budget?

Between the two types, the pneumatic nailer is definitely more affordable. However, the long-term cost is higher. So, it depends on the type of work.

  1. Should I go for a contact firing or sequential brad nailer?

Once again, it depends on your work. Contact firing nailers are best for increased accuracy, whereas sequential firing prioritizes speed. There are models with both modes as well.

  1. Can I use a brad nailer to build furniture?

These types of nailers are actually not very well suited to furniture-building. They are designed to fire brads between 5/8 and 2 inches, making it difficult to use them to fasten 2×2 or 2×4 inch frames.

  1. What is the best way to keep up the maintenance of my brad nailer?

Make sure to use nails of appropriate size. Oil the tool well before using it. Your nailer should also be securely connected to your compressor.

  1. What kind of work are brad nailers best suited to?

Because they are used with thin-gauged nails, they are very well suited to light trim moldings without the threat of splitting wood. They are therefore good for trim work.

Final Words

Without a doubt, finding the best 18 gauge brad nailer can definitely be a time-consuming task.

However, with the help of reviews and an awesome buying guide like the one I’ve provided, you can hopefully begin to understand how to go about it.

I wish you all the best of luck with your DIY trims!

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