Top 10 Best Brad Nailers | Tips For Choosing A Brad Nailer

best brad nailers

Last updated on August 26th, 2020 at 05:33 am

A brad nailer is just one type of the different types of finish nailers. It is used for firing 18 gauge finish nails which are normally used for trim work, such as installation of crown moldings.

Brad nailers are used for trim work because they make use of tiny 18 gauge nails which are very small in diameter and leave little to no visible trace of their existence once they’re been sunk into the wood.

The tiny size of the nails prevent them from splitting the trim, panels and moldings, and they’re easier to conceal or might not even need any concealment.

You need a brad nail gun if you want to engage in some trim work such as panel installation or crown molding installation.

In this post, we’ve reviewed the best brad nailers out there, covering their features and factors you must consider when choosing a brad finish nailer.

Our Top Picks

Senco FinishPro

Best Pneumatic

Senco finishpro brad nailer
  • Pneumatic
  • 18 Gauge
  • 5/8 to 2 inch Nails


Best Cordless

porter-cable pcc790la brad nailer
  • Battery Powered
  • 18 Gauge
  • 5/8 – 2-1/8 inch

Numax SBR50

Budget Pick

numax sbr50 brad nailer
  • Pneumatic
  • 18 Gauge
  • 5/8 to 2 inch Nails

Here are the 10 best brad nailers

1. Bostitch BTFP12233 Brad Nailer

After comparing several brands of brad nailers, it was easy for us to come to the conclusion that the Bostitch BTFP12233 is at the top of the order. With the BTFP12233, Bostitch upped their game with a feature that is rarely found in other brad nailers, known as Smart Point Technology.

With the smart point, there is no need for you to compress the contact tip to actuate the tool, thereby reducing damage to your work piece. The smart point also makes it easy to place nails accurately at the right position on the work piece, due to the smaller nose as compared to other brad nailers. If you’re out shopping for a precision brad nailer, then this is your best bet.

One other important feature of the BTFP12233 brad nailer is that it runs without oil. This means there’s no need to add oil to the nailer, which further eliminates any risk of oil stains on the work material.

Bostitch BTFP12233 brad nailer

There’s also little or no jams with this tool. It buries your brads well into the wood even if it is hardwood. Even if there’s any jam, the BTFP12233 features a tool-free jam release mechanism which make it very easy to remove nails.

With all the features pack in this nailer, it only weighs 3.1 lbs which is incredible, because you can use it all day without getting tired.

The magazine is also very easy to load, and you’ll have no misfire with this brad nailer. All theses features packed into this nailer plus the ones you’ll discover while using it qualified it to sit at the top spot in our list.

Related: Top 10 Best Framing Nailers | How To Choose The Best Framing Nailer

2. DeWalt DWFP12231 18 Gauge Brad Nailer

dewalt dwfp12231

DeWalt manufactures a lot of quality woodworking tools, and the DWFP12231 brad nailer is just another representation of their class in the industry.

The ease at which you can sink brad nails into wood with the DWFP12231 will surely leave you in awe of the tool, and if you’ve not used a finish nailer before, you’re wonder how manage you’ve gone so long without it.

When compared to other nailers, there are not many that can perform just as well as the DWFP12231.

It features a tool-free depth adjustment that makes it possible for the user to easily adjust the depth through which the nails are fired. You can handle several types of woodworking projects with this tool, because it can drive from 5/8 inch nails to 2 inch nails. Whether you’re tasked with a cabinetry work, paneling or upholstery project, the DWFP12231 brad nailer is up to the task.

Another important feature of this nailer is that the exhaust is located in the rear side of the nailer, which is cool because you’re able to avoid any form of contamination from getting to your work.

You can use it with your little pancake compressor any other compressor that can provide from 70 to 120 PSI consistent pressure.

You will rarely encounter any case of jamming if you’re using this brad nailer. However, if it does jam, it is very easy to clear up, as it is equipped with a tool-free jam release mechanism which just makes it very easy.

A rubber grip is integrated into this tool to make handling it very comfortable and you can work for long hours with it.

Overall, the DeWalt DWFP12231 18 gauge brad nailer is a tough and reliable professional grade brad nailer which will serve you very well whether you’re just a hobbyist working on a small diy project at home, or you’re craftsman handling a large woodworking project.

Related: Top 10 Best Air Compressors | How To Choose The Best Air Compressors

3. Hitachi NT50AE2 Brad Nailer

I’ve reviewed several hitachi nail guns, and I’ve discovered one thing about all the ones I’ve tested and reviewed. They are very lightweight. The Hitachi NT50AE2 brad nailer is no different. It is also very lightweight.

Weighing just 2.2 lbs, it is the second lightest brad nailer in this list. The first is the Porter-Cable BN200C brad nailer.

When choosing a brad nailer, it is important that you also consider the weight of the nailer. The less weight it has, the better it will be. Trust me, if you’re a contractor that works with these things all day, the weight of your tools should definitely be your concern.

If you’ve read through the features to look for when choosing a brad nailer, then you’ll remember that I talked about nose design.

The nose of a brad nailer should be narrow enough to fit into tight space. Though, that of the hitachi is the narrowest nose I’ve seen, but it definitely fits the description. The nailer also comes with a no-mar tip that can be attached to the nose of the nailer to prevent damage to the workpiece.

Hitachi equipped the NT50AE2 with a solid magazine capable of holding up to 100 brads. This will definitely reduce tool downtime because, the more nails the magazine can hold at ones, the longer you can work with it without reloading. The high capacity magazine is definitely a plus for the NT50AE2.

hitachi nt50ae2 brad nailer

I would also not forget to mention the dual firing modes of the NT50AE2. With just the flip of a switch by the side of the nailer, just close to the trigger, you can change the firing mode from sequential to bump firing, and vice versa, depending on what you prefer.

Depth of drive adjustment is also something important in a brad nailer, and Hitachi did not fail to equip the NT50AE2 with one. It consist of a simple dial just beneath the handle and trigger. Just by turning the dial, you can adjust how deep you want your brads to sink into the wood.

The exhaust vent to release used air is located at the rear of the nailer, and you can easily adjust the direction so as to prevent the puff of air from getting into your face.

Conclusively, I would say the Hitachi NT50AE2 is definitely the type of brad nailer suited for both DIY users and professional contractors that use this type of tools day after day in the job site.

4. Numax SBR50 Brad Nailer | Budget Friendly

numax sbr50 brad nailer

A good brad nailer shoot brad nails without jamming, and the Numax SBR50 brad nailer does that effectively. It comes with all of the great features you need in a brad nailer and seems to be in a class of its own.

The operating pressure is between 60 PSI to 100 PSI. This you want to adjust according to the thickness and hardness of the wood you are nailing.

Apart from adjusting the compressor pressure to fit the type and thickness of the wood, the Numax SBR50 has a depth of drive adjustment dial just beneath the handle to enable you adjust how deep you sink the brads into the wood.

The exhaust is located at the rear of the nailer and the direction is adjustable just like the other brad nailers I reviewed here.

With the Numax SBR50 , you can sink brads ranging from 5/8 inches to 2 inches in length, which really increases the range of applications you can use it for.

In terms of ergonomics, the Numax SBR50 did not fall behind in any noticeable area. The handle is well designed, with a rubber wrapping around it to make it comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

When holding the tool, you’ll also discover that it is well balance. Wen really took care of most of the little details, making sure it’s good for the end users like you and I.

In addition to that, the Numax SBR50 brad nailer is not the most lightweight nailer on this list, but with a weight of just 3 pounds, it certainly fit the description of a lightweight nailer.

Having considered all these features, one would have thought that the Numax SBR50 has some steep price attached to it. Wrong! It is so modestly priced that I had some doubts about its quality when I first saw it.

But after testing it, you will still come to discover why it’s one of the best brad nailers there is.

Considering all the great features it’s got and considering the modest price, I can aptly say that the Numax SBR50 is definitely the best budget friendly brad nailer you can get your hands on. So, feel free to choose it if you are not looking to spend much on a brad nailer.

What I like about it

The Wen 61720 brad nailer does not have some distinct features perculiar to it alone, but it’s got almost all the great features we look for in a brad nailer.

A good jam clearing mechanism, depth of drive adjustment, lightweight and ergonomic. All these features at a great price. The later being what I really like about it.

The Wen 61720 is a top quality brad nailer at an outstanding price. It’s best for simple home owners and DIYers who are not looking to spend too much on a brad nailer.

It’s free from jams and misfires, and you will be sure to get a thousand times more than your money’s worth when you get the Wen 61720 brad nail gun.

Where it can be improved

If you read through the “features to look for in a brad nailer” part of this article, you may discover that the Wen 61720 is lacking a few.

First, the nose design is not anywhere near narrow, and the tip is not a no-mar tip. So, if you’re working with delicate trim, it will leave marks on your work piece.

So, if the appearance of what you’re working on is really of great concern to you, then the Wen 61720 might not be the best fit for you, because it may leave marks on it.

The Wen 61720 also lacks an anti-dry fire mechanism, meaning if the magazine gets empty, it will still continue firing to the detriment of the tool and the work-piece.

Considering the moderate pricing, I really don’t expect too much from the Wen 61720 brad nailer. However, if you’re a simple hobbyist or DIYer who’s in need of a budget friendly brad nailer for some home improvement projects, the Wen 61720 is your best bet.

5. Porter Cable BN200C Brad Nailer

Porter Cable bn200c

Porter Cable brings something else to the table, with their BN200C brad nailer. They in-cooperated a maintenance-free motor in it, which means you don’t need to oil the nailer in order to maintain it and keep it working in good condition.

And since you don’t have to oil it, you eliminate any risk or chance of staining what you’re working on with oil. This singular feature, though possessed by a few other nailers, is what makes the Porter Cable BN200C brad nailer among the few that stands out in the crowd.

To get the BN200C firing properly, you need to set your compressor to a pressure range of 70 to 120 PSI depending on how much force you need. Provided the pressure is within that range, the nailer will fire. I personally would set it somewhere in the middle, preferably at 100 PSI.

As for firing modes, the BN200C features only one firing mode, which is the sequential firing mode. There is no contact or bump fire mode with this brad nailer.

The BN200C can drive brad nails ranging from 5/8 inch in length to 2 inches. So, you can be sure that it’s suitable for any kind of project which will require you to use those size of nails.

Being lightweight is an essential feature of a brad nailer or any nail gun. Porter cable made sure the BN200C brad nailer is lightweight by using magnesium metal for making the body. With a weight of only 2.6 lbs, the BN200C is definitely something that can be used all day without getting fatigued.

The exhaust of the porter cable BN200C is located at the rear of the nailer. This is so, in order to keep contaminants from staining or messing up what you’re working on.

To alert you when the magazine is getting empty, the nailer is equipped with a reload indicator at the side, so that you can quickly reload and prevent any dry fire that will definitely occur if there is no brads in the magazine.

Setting brad/nail depths with the BN200C brad nailer is pretty easy. It is equipped with a pretty decent depth of drive mechanism just beneath the trigger for setting the nail depths easily.

Another useful addition to this nailer is an adjustable belt hook at the side of the nailer. This will enable you to easily hang and secure the nailer to your tool belt, in case you’re wearing one. With the belt hook, the nailer will always be within your reach.

The rubberized handle is also an essential addition to this brad nailer, ensuring you have a good grip on the tool, and maximum comfort while carrying out your projects.

The handle is not the only soft part in the tool. It also has a soft removable non-marring tip that ensures the nailer does not dent or damage what you’re working on.

What I like about it

There are many features to be admired about the Porter Cable BN200C brad nailer. But I would like to isolate the fact that it is made with a quality, tough and durable metal – magnesium.

This alone, will ensure that the nailer last for years, provided you don’t abuse it. Making it with magnesium also ensures that it is lightweight enough to be used for a long time without getting tired of holding it.

I also like the fact that it is easy to maintain. You don’t need to oil it. All you have to do is keep it safely in the case that comes with it when it’s not in use. Oh yes, it comes with a case for carrying it around.

So, once you’re through with it, just place it back in the case and put it somewhere safe out of the reach of your kids, if you have any. Don’t leave it lying around, or kick it around. Then it will not last very long.

Porter Cable is a good tool manufacturing brand, and the BN200C brad nailer is just another one of the many power tools that represent their class in the power tool industry.

Where it can be improved

Although it comes with a low nail reload indicator, I prefer that it has an anti-dry fire mechanism to prevent it from even firing in the first place if there are no nails in the magazine.

I think even with a low nail indicator, sometimes you may forget to look at it, and will not notice until the magazine gets empty and you’ll actually have some dry fires, which is not good.

Having an anti-dry fire mechanism is preferable, and it will ensure that the nailer serves it full live before breaking down in the long run.

The BN200C also have only one firing mode which is the sequential firing mode. This is bad news for those who regularly use the contact or bump fire mode.

This is not actually a big issue, but it would certainly be an improvement if they can modify the BN200C to bump-fire as well.

Considering everything about this nailer, I’d like to conclude that the Porter Cable BN200C is a top quality brad nailer that will serve you well, if you choose it.

6. Makita AF505N Brad Nailer

makita af505n brad nailer

If you’ve not used any Makita power tool before, then this Makita AF505N will give you a chance to test the true quality of Makita products.

The Makita AF505N is not only equipped with most of the top features of a good quality nailer, but also clearly built to stand the test of time.

Precision is key when it comes finish nailers, that is why the Makita AF505N is fitted with a narrow nose piece that makes it very easy for the user to nail tight corners with the nailer. Without a narrow nose piece, it would be really difficult to be very precise with a brad nailer.

The nose is not only made to be narrow, but it’s also non-marring. This is to ensure that the nailer does not mar or damage your trim or the work piece you’re working on.

Apart from that, if you use the Makita AF505N brad nailer, you’ll discover that there’s very little recoil on the nail gun when you fire a brad. A nail gun like this with little recoil helps you to be more precise when placing a nail, and also protects the surface of your work from damage.

Clearing jammed nails from the Makita AF505N brad nailer is a piece of cake, because it’s equipped with a quick release cam-lock close to the nose, to easily release any nail that gets jammed.

The Makita AF505N is not equipped with an anti-dry fire mechanism to prevent the nailer from firing when there is no nail in the magazine. However, in place the anti-dry fire mechanism, the nailer is equipped with a red nail reload indicator that lights up when there are few nails in the magazine.

This will help you reload nails into the magazine in time and avoid any dry fires. The magazine can hold up to 100 nails at once, which is very good because you can go a long way before you need to reload again.

The exhaust port that releases compressed air after you fire a nail can be rotated 360 degrees. This ensures that you are able to direct the exhaust air away from you, to make sure that you’re comfortable working with the tool.

What I like about it

When you work with the Makita AF505N, you’ll discover that it’s a very power nailer, even able to sink brad nails into any hard wood you have. It does not only sink them in, but sinks them at a consistent depth.

Makita also paid a lot of attention the ergonomics of the tool, by fitting it with a good rubberized handle so that users can be able to hold the tool comfortably while working with it.

The jam clearing feature is also something that makes it really easy to work with the tool, because it jams sometimes, but you can continue with your work almost immediately because clearing the jammed nail is very easy with the quick release cam-lock.

Coupled with the nailer is a nice rubber casing that you can use to carry the nail gun safely, and also stow it away when not in use.

Where it can be improved

The Makita AF505N brad nailer is a very high quality nailer, but it lacks one feature which I think might be important to some folks. That is the ability to bump fire, or contact fire with the nailer.

You can only fire the nailer with the sequential firing option, which actually makes the nailer safer to use. But for those who are very experienced with using nailers like this, they might want the option to bump fire with it, which is not available for the Makita AF505N.

Besides that, the Makita AF505N brad nailer is top-notch, high precision brad nailer that will serve anyone for a very long time.

7. Dewalt DCN680B Cordless Brad Nailer

dewalt dcn680b cordless brad nailer

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of using an air compressor and dragging air hoses with you, one of the best cordless brad nailers you can opt for is this Dewalt DCN680B.

There’re other Dewalt brad nailers, but this one tops it for me. It has a narrow nose design which improves your line of sight and helps you sink brads accurately without missing the mark or damaging the material.

With the DCN680B, you have an 18 gauge brad nailer with the capacity to drive brad nails from 5/8 inches to 2-1/8 inches in length.

It’s the ideal nailer you need for fastening decorative moldings, kitchen crown, window trims, shoe moldings and casings.

It comes equipped with a brushless motor which is more energy efficient and it can be powered by any of Dewalt’s 20V MAX Lithium-Ion batteries.

This Dewalt DCN680B has everything you need to tackle projects both on and off the jobsite, whether they’re large or small, professional or DIY.

It features a tool-free selectable trigger you can use to choose between bump firing and full sequential firing modes.

You can countersink nails at precisely the right depth you want using the tool-free depth adjustment dial it’s equipped with.

Though you’ll have very few nail jams, you can clear jams quiet easily using a tool-free jam release lever right at the nose of the tool.

If there’re no nails in the magazine, the Dewalt DCN680B will not fire when actuated. A low nail lockout prevents any dry firing that might damage your material or leave unwanted marks on the surface.

It comes with a belt/rafter hook you can fix on either side of the tool depending on which side of your belt you want to hang the tool when it’s not in use.

A really important feature it has is the tool-free stall release lever which helps you reset the driver blade in the event of a store. This really reduces downtime, allowing you to sink nails right when you want them to be sinked.

Overall, the Dewalt DCN680B brad nailer comes with everything you need in a brad nailer. It’s got features of a pneumatic nailer with the freedom only a cordless tool can afford you.

What I like about it

The DCN680B got great power and accuracy, allowing you to drive the nails flush right where you want them to be driven. There’re barely any misfires or nail jamming.

It’s cordless, so you don’t have to deal with air compressors and the hassle of pulling around an air hose that usually gets in the way sometimes. You don’t have to oil it, it requires little to know maintenance on your part as long as you don’t abuse it.

It’s also works quietly compared to pneumatic nailers.

You don’t have to charge the battery every now and then. A 4ah Dewalt 20V battery will last almost all day depending on how much nails you sink with it.

Where it can be improved

The only downside I see in the Dewalt DCN680B is that it’s a bit bulky and heavy, especially when you use a bigger battery with it.

So, you might find it difficult using it in tight spaces. If it can’t get in a space, you can always have a small backup pneumatic nailer in place to help in those few instances.

8. Porter-Cable PCC790LA Cordless Brad Nailer | Editor’s Pick

porter-cable pcc790la brad nailer

Another cordless brad nailer that dazzled me by its quality and performance is the Porter-Cable PCC790LA brad nailer.

The fact that it is one of the best-selling cordless brad nailers out there stands testament to the fact that it’s really a top quality nailer.

Just from a first look at the Porter-Cable PCC790LA, you’ll easily discover that it comes with a body that is ruggedly built, with nice rubberized ergonomic handles. Well, the performance does not betray the looks. It does perform well, and it’s got nice features as well.

The tool comes with a 1.5 Ah 20 volts Max lithium-ion battery which powers the nailer, and a charger is included as well. But it doesn’t come with a case to hold them.

Clearing jammed nails is very easy with the Porter-Cable PCC790LA, because it comes equipped with a jam release lever for opening the nose and removing any jammed nails from it.

Also included is a depth of drive adjustment dial for adjusting the depth of drive according to the thickness and hardness of the wood you’re nailing.

The Porter-Cable PCC790LA brad nailer is one of the few ones that comes with a LED light to illuminate what you’re working on. This will be especially useful and help you to be more precise when nailing the inside of cabinets, or any area of your work that is not properly illuminated.

Weighing just 5.9 lbs, it’s the lightest cordless brad nailer in its class. With all these features, I’m sure you can see why the Porter-Cable PCC790LA makes this top 10 list of the best brad nailers.

What I like about it

For a brad nailer to be effective, it has to deliver consistent power and driving force to sink the brads to the set depth consistently. That is where the Porter-Cable PCC790LA really shines a lot.

You don’t have to wonder whether it will leave some nails above or below the wood surface, it really sinks them to the same depth every time you pull the trigger.

Obviously, I also like the fact that you don’t have to use a compressor and drag and air hose around with the Porter-Cable PCC790LA in your hands.

Like I said earlier, I also like the overall rugged look of the nailer. It really makes you feel confident that it will hold up over time.

Where it can be improved

After firing one nail, the Porter-Cable PCC790LA takes about a second to fire another nail, which is a little bit slow compared to other nailers in its class. It’s not very slow, but some might view that as slow, and I think that little delay can be removed to improve the overall performance of the nailer.

To me though, a less than 1 second delay is not really a big deal to me, provided brad nailer sinks the nail properly, which the Porter-Cable PCC790LA brad nailer does exceptionally well.

Plus it’s a battery powered brad nailer, it may not catch up with a pneumatic nailer in terms of speed, but you get to escape the stress and noise of a compressor and dragging a hose along with you.

9. Ryobi P320 Airstrike Cordless Brad Nailer

Ryobi P320 airstrike brad nailer

The RYOBI P320 Airstrike is another cordless brad nailer that affords you the chance of dumping that air and a noisy air compressor, which you need for a pneumatic brad nailer.

With the P320 Airstrike, you can easily sink brad nails from 5/8 inch to 2 inches and size easily. The nailer sinks the nails well and leave no proud nails for you to set.

It’s equipped with a lot of features which are found in most of the other nailers I’ve talked about in this article. For instance, you can fire nails easily with the two firing modes, which are the sequential and contact firing modes, and you can easily switch between the two modes depending on what you prefer.

If there are no brads remaining in the magazine, the RYOBI P320 Airstrike will not fire because it’s equipped with an anti-dry fire lock that prevents it from firing in such cases. That does not only protect your work from damage, but also ensures the longevity of the tool.

You can also increase or reduce the depth of drive with an attached depth of drive adjustment dial. And like the Porter Cable, it’s equipped with two LED lights to illuminate what you’re working on.

An ergonomic rubber grip handle makes it easy and comfortable for you to hold and use the nailer for long period of time.

Let’s be frank, Ryobi are not the most popular power tool manufacturers, and personally, I’ve not reviewed a lot of Ryobi tools. They might not even be your favorite power tool brand. But after using the RYOBI P320 Airstrike, I’m sure you’ll begin to notice more of their tools, because this one’s just awesome.

What I like about it

There are many features of the RYOBI P320 Airstrike brad nailer that really appeals to me. But the most important one, and actually the one that really matters to most people is that it really sinks the brad nails well. It got enough power for that.

No matter how many fancy features any nailer has, if it does not sink nails well, nothing else is going to matter. The RYOBI P320 Airstrike sinks the brad nails really well, and that really sells it for me.

Ergonomically, it’s very comfortable to use, and I’m sure you’ll come to love it if you actually purchase it.

Where it can be improved

There’s pretty not much to be improved about the RYOBI P320 Airstrike brad nailer. The only think is that it becomes a little bit heavy with the 4 Ah battery installed, and you may feel the weight when doing overhead work.

Besides that, the RYOBI P320 Airstrike is one hell of a brad nailer, and I’m sure it will exceed your expectations.

10. SENCO FinishPro Brad Nailer

Senco finishpro brad nailer

We probably would not post this article without mentioning the SENCO FinishPro 18 gauge pneumatic brad nailer in it.

It’s highly durable and feels solid and sturdy when held in the hand. It’s also very lightweight because it’s made with high quality magnesium components. As mentioned earlier, it’s a pneumatic brad nailer. Which means, you have to own a compressor to use it.

With the SENCO FinishPro brad nailer, you can fire nails from 5/8 inches in size to 2-1/8 inches flush into any wood you intend to use it for.

It equipped with a selective actuation trigger to easily switch between sequential firing and bump firing modes.

When firing nails you have to check the red indicator that warns if the nail in the magazine is running low, because it will dry fire if there is no nail in the magazine. Though there is no anti-dry fire mechanism, but with the indicator, you can reload your magazine in time and prevent any dry fires.

The tapered nose design really makes the nose very narrow and makes it possible to fit the nailer into tight spaces and place brads more accurately.

If you looking for a good brad nailer to carry out any kind of finish cabinetry work, install door and wind casing, or install moldings, then consider choosing the SENCO FinishPro. It’s portable, countersinks brads well, easy to adjust, and it’s definitely one of the best brad nailers you can get your hands on today.

What I like about it

With a tool weight of 2.48 lb, it’s really lightweight and easy to use. If you’re going to be sinking nails for a very long time, especially overhead, you can be sure that a lightweight tool will definitely make a difference on how your hand feels at the end of the day.

Where it can be improved

The nailer will dry-fire and leave an impression on your work if you forget to watch the reload indicator and reload the magazine, which will probably happen at times because you may be focused on the work at hand, and forget to watch the indicator.

I think, a better option is for it to have an anti-dry fire system to prevent the nailer from firing when there are no brads in the magazine.

The SENCO FinishPro is a very good is a very good top quality brad nailer. However, I think having an anti-dry fire mechanism will definitely make it a better nailer in the long run.

Features to look for when choosing a brad nailer

Nose Design

The nose of the brad nailer is the part that makes contact with your work piece when you’re nailing with it. It can also be known as the tip.

The nose design of the brad nailer you choose is pretty important because the nose design affects how precisely you can sink nails with it.

Narrow noses allow more precision by making it possible for you to reach tighter spaces with the tip of the nailer.

Sometimes you want to sink a nail/brad into a particular spot and want to make sure that the tip of the nailer is on that spot. A narrow nose gives you a better line of sight to place your brads exactly at that spot.

Bostitch incorporated a very small nose into their bostitch btfp12233 brad nailer using smart point tech, which like I said earlier, makes you to work more precisely with the nailer and offers you a better line of sight.

Dewalt also featured a micro nose in their Dewalt DCN680B brad nailer, making the nailer much easier to work with.

These two brad nailers and some other nailers in this article use a narrow nose design to offer better tool precision. Precision, which you will find very useful as you use the tool.

Tool-Free Jam Release

No matter how good a brad nailer is, it might jam someday. A brad or nail will get stuck in the nose of the nailer and you need to remove it quickly and continue with your work.

That is why any brad nailer you choose needs to have a tool-free jam or nail clearing mechanism in order for you to remove a jammed nail easily.

You don’t need a tool like an allen wrench to do this. More recent brad nailers offer a tool-free jam clearing mechanism in the form of a lever which you can flip open right at the nose of the nailer, to remove the jammed nail. This is what you should look for.

If a certain brad nailer needs to be loosened with an allen wrench for a stucked nail to be remove. That is your cue to run away as quickly as you can.

Depth Adjustment

The depth adjustment feature is a must have feature of any brad nailer. Depending on the size of nails you are using and the thickness of the material you are nailing into, you might need to adjust how far the nailer sinks the nails or brads into the wood.

In most nailers, it is usually in the form of a dial or wheel close to the nose of the nailer. By turning the dial clockwise or anti-clockwise, you either increase or reduce the depth through which you sink the nails.

So, check for the depth of drive adjustment feature when you’re shopping for a brad nailer, so that you can be able to adjust the nail depth, and not sink the nails too deep or too shallow.

Anti-dry fire

One more feature you need to check for, which is not a must but also essential is an anti-dry fire mechanism to prevent the brad nailer from firing if there are no nails in it.

When a nailer or nail gun fires when there is no nail in the magazine, it is called a dry fire. The nail gun will fire, the plunger or piston inside the nailer will try to push a nail out, but since the magazine is empty, no nail will come out from it.

This is not good because, the force of the piston going down will leave an impression on your workpiece, which is something you may not fancy if you are working on something delicate. Remember, the main reason people use brad nailers is because they are working with delicate trim.

So a dry fire might damage or dent what you’re working on. Apart from that, a dry fire is not good for the brad nailer itself.

If the dry firing continues, it will eventually damage the gun itself in the long run. Personally, I like my tools to last for very long. So, if you’re like me, you need to prevent dry fires in your nail guns, as much as you can.

The easiest way to do this is to buy a nail gun that comes with the anti-dry fire mechanism. This detects if there are no nails in the magazine, and it will not allow you to fire the nailer.

Exhaust air control

A pneumatic brad nailer is powered with compressed air from the compressor. When you fire the nailer, the compressed air gets into the nailer, and powers the mechanism that drives the nails into the wood.

Once the air has done its job of powering the nailer, it’s not going to remain inside the tool or go back through the hose into the air compressor tank (I wish that was possible). It needs to go out of the nailer through an opening or exhaust, so that you can fire another nail.

Since there must be an exhaust on the nailer, this is what you should look for. The exhaust needs to be at the rear of the nailer, not at the front or nose.

The reason is simple. Just like a car, the air that goes into the nailer from the compressor is no longer pure when it comes out through the exhaust. It’s already missed with contaminants like oil which is used in many nailers for lubrication.

So, if the exhaust air comes out through the front of the nailer, it might stain your work piece, which I doubt is something you want happening.

So to prevent your work piece from stain or contamination, opt for a brad nailer with the air exhaust at the rear of the nailer.

Secondly, you should be able to control the direction of the rear exhaust. Because the exhaust is at the rear of the nailer, the air will usually blow directly to your face and into your eyes every time you sink a nail.

This not sometime you want. So check for a brad nailer that affords you the ability to control the direction of the air coming out of the rear exhaust, so that you direct it away from your face and get your work done comfortably.

Nailing Modes Control

The ability to choose how you want to nail is one of the most impressive features found in top quality nailers.

There are two common nailing modes, the bump or contact nailing and the sequential nailing mode. The contact or bump nailing mode is meant to increase productivity or speed up your work. It is also called speed nailing.

In this mode, all you have to do is pull/squeeze the nailer trigger, and each time you bump the nailer on the work piece a nail is fired. You can go as fast as you can and a nail or brad will be fired each time.

The second nailing mode is the sequential firing mode. This mode is geared toward safety. To fire a nail in this mode. You have to compress the nose on the work piece, then pull the trigger with the nose still compressed, then a nail will be fired.

In this state, with the nose still compressed, you cannot fire another nail even if you release and pull the trigger again.

To fire another nail, you have to lift the nailer from the work piece, recompress the nose of the brad nailer on the work piece, then you pull the trigger again, then another nail will be fired. This is slower but safer. It also helps you to be more precise when you fire a nail.

So, when choosing a brad nailer, you need to check that you can easily switch between the two firing modes without requiring a tool to do so.


Depending on what you’re working on, you may need to use the brad nailer for a pretty long time at a stretch. As a result, you might begin to feel some sweat inside your palm as you hold the nail gun.

This is where a well-designed ergonomic handle will help you out. Check for brad nailers with rubberized handles or wraps around the handle, as this will afford you a better grip on the nailer and prevent it from slipping if you develop sweat in your palms.

Even the trigger should be rubberized, because you will constantly be pulling on it. It should not be made of metal.

This is something you really need to check and take seriously because it can affect how long and how efficient you can work with the tool.

A good rubberized handle and trigger gives you a soft grip on the tool and affords you more comfort while using the tool.

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