The 10 Best Brad Nailers

Updated February 14, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best Brad Nailers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Both DIY enthusiasts and professional construction crews will find one of these brad nailers perfect for their next project. Their small nail size and high speed prevents wood from splitting, making them ideal for building cabinetry, installing trim, securing window and door casings, and arts and crafts projects. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best brad nailer on Amazon.

10. Stanley TRE550Z

The Stanley TRE550Z is a fine choice for the builder or DIY enthusiast who doesn't own an air compressor, as it's powered by a standard electrical outlet. It has high- and low-power modes to suit the density of your materials, and also works with staples.
  • ample 8-foot cord length
  • some units fail quickly
  • doesn't sink longer nails completely
Brand Stanley
Model TRE550Z
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. DeWalt DWHTTR350

The DeWalt DWHTTR350 is not professional grade, but it's easy to use for casual woodworkers or homeowners who need to tack down some loose molding or upholstery. Keep in mind it is hand-powered, so all-day jobs may wear you out.
  • also works as a staple gun
  • difficult to use with small hands
  • some units have poor penetration
Model DWHTTR350
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Wen 61720

The pneumatic Wen 61720 is a great choice for hobbyists or as a backup tool for the professional carpenter thanks to its low cost, though it's not reliable enough for all-day use at a busy worksite. Its magazine holds up to 100 3/4- to 2-inch brads.
  • includes wrenches and carrying case
  • weighs only 3 pounds
  • may jam with heavy use
Brand WEN
Model 61720
Weight 5.3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. DeWalt DWFP12231

The DeWalt DWFP12231 is a pneumatic model that's well-powered for smaller jobs. It's compatible with 18 gauge nails up to 2 inches long and offers easy pressure adjustment, so you can control its depth of penetration without interrupting your workflow.
  • tool-free jam release mechanism
  • rear exhaust keeps particles away
  • piston seal is prone to cracking
Model DWFP12231
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

6. NuMax S2-118G2

If you're on a budget but can't compromise on power, the pneumatic NuMax S2-118G2 is a sure bet that won't wreak havoc on your wallet. It boasts a die-cast aluminum body that works with 18-gauge nails and staples alike, and comes with a one-year warranty for peace of mind.
  • includes lubricating oil
  • dust cap protects intake from debris
  • tends to leave imprint marks
Brand NuMax
Model S2118G2
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Hitachi NT50AE2

The Hitachi NT50AE2 allows its users to easily move between trigger or contact-fire modes with the flip of a switch, making it easy to go from one task to the next with little interruption. Its depth-of-drive selection dial ensures a professional finish.
  • textured grip for a secure hold
  • lightweight at just over 2 pounds
  • tends to jam increasingly with age
Brand Hitachi
Model NT50AE2
Weight 4.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Senco FinishPro 18MG

The Senco FinishPro 18MG is lightweight yet rugged and durable thanks to its magnesium construction, making it perfect for all-day use, even as you go up and down ladders and move around your job site. It features a sturdy rubber grip for enhanced control.
  • oil-free operation
  • pressure-selective trigger
  • swiveling hose connection
Brand Senco
Model 1U0021N
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. Bostich BTFP12233 Smart Point

Thanks to its small nose, the Bostich BTFP12233 Smart Point is a precision tool perfect for when the job has to be done right the first time, every time. It comes with an exceptional seven-year manufacturer's warranty and a helpful owner's manual.
  • simple dial-a-depth control
  • trigger or contact operation
  • ample 100-nail magazine capacity
Model BTFP12233
Weight 5.4 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Makita AF595N

With its ultra-narrow machined nosepiece complete with non-marring rubber bumpers, the Makita AF595N allows for precision finishing even in tight spaces. It features a tool-free depth adjustment and an easy-access cam-lock that makes clearing jams a breeze.
  • adjustable directional exhaust port
  • dual reload indicator windows
  • includes a one-year warranty
Brand Makita
Model AF505N
Weight 6.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. DeWalt DC608K

The DeWalt DC608K puts all the power of pneumatic or plug-in models in your hands cord-free, thanks to its battery-powered design. It's one of the safest options on the market due to its trigger's automatic lock-off function that disables the gun when not in use.
  • impressively consistent penetration
  • includes safety glasses
  • can drive 600 nails on one charge
Model DC608K
Weight 14.7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

More Nail, Less Gun

As it turns out, a nail gun makes a miserable weapon. Throughout the history of weapons development, one of the primary goals has been to increase the distance between you and your intended target, an accomplishment that both minimizes risk to your person and helps to decrease empathy for your enemy in times of war.

Modern nail guns, however, have little safety catches on their tips, which prevent you from firing off a single nail until you position the gun before the material you intend to fasten and depress the safety catch against it. As a safety feature, it's one of the things that makes these brad nailers incredibly safe and easy to use, even if it decreases their effectiveness as a means of self defense.

Of course, nail guns aren't intended for violence, nor would we ever condone their use as such. The function of a nail gun, however, is remarkably akin to the function of an automatic firearm in just about every way but the incendiary.

What made the German Luger an exceptionally useful pistol in the early 20th century was its self-feeding magazine, a long cartridge of bullets that fed upward into the chamber with each shot. These brad nailers utilize a similar mechanism, a spring-loaded cartridge that pushes the nails into a primed position for use.

Unlike a gun, however, which uses the small, contained explosion of gun powder to project its bullets outward, these brad nailers power their nails forward by one of two means: electric or pneumatic.

We can further divide electric nail guns into two categories depending on how they wind the heavy spring inside them. That spring is ultimately what drives the nail forward, as it's coiled around a piston with a pointed blade that makes contact with the head of the nail. Electric brad nailers wind this spring with either a motor or by the force of two positively polarized electromagnets.

Pneumatic brad nailers are the strongest of the bunch, as they draw the power that moves their pistons from compressed air. If you look at the images of these nailers, you'll notice a small nozzle that lives at the bottom of each gun's handle. That nozzle hooks into a compressor that runs at the other end of an air hose and provides the necessary pressure.

Filling Out The Shed

If we put our focus on budget at the outset, it's important to note that selecting a pneumatic brad nailer also means that you have to invest in an air compressor. If you've already got yourself a nice air compressor for other pneumatic tools in your collection, then this choice is a no-brainer.

On the other hand, if you're just beginning to build out your collection of tools, or if you have a vast collection of electrically-powered tools, your choice is a little more complicated. For example, if you already own electric tools by DeWalt, the company that puts out the only battery-operated brad nailer on our list, that might be your best bet simply because you already have batteries you might be able to exchange between tools.

You might also be at the outset of a tool collection, in which case you have to ask yourself what you want your outfit to look like, how you want it to function, etc. Air compression will provide more power and durability in the long haul, but adding a compressor to your work space might not be a viable use of your square feet. It's also worth noting that compressors can be terribly noisy while building pressure, a problem that does not exist with electric brad nailers.

A final consideration is a little more practical, and that's your immediate intended use. Most people don't go about researching brad nailers if there isn't a job on the horizon. Make sure the nailer you choose is strong enough to get the job done, but also that it's maneuverable enough.

If your upcoming construction project requires you to squeeze into some tough spaces in remote areas of a build, you can't get much use out of a giant pneumatic nailer attached to a hose. Something like the battery operated gun at number one will give you the most articulation on our list.

A Narrative Tough To Nail Down

When we look into the history of the nail gun, its comparison to automatic pistol designs isn't entirely unfounded. While gravity-fed nailing machines found use in construction applications dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, these were often one-off designs, cobbled together by crewmen on a particular site. They had no commercial viability.

One such cobbling is often credited to Morris S. Pynoos, an engineer who worked on Howard Hughes' infamous Spruce Goose aircraft. The story goes that Pynoos developed a gun that fired nails into the fuselage of the plane which were later removed once the glue between the plane's panels had set.

Another story, one that more closely connects to a nailer as a weapon, states that a group of World War II vets sitting around a Legion Hall one night dreamed up a nailer that could operate with the same ferocity as a machine gun. They put their collective minds to it, and introduced the first pneumatic nailers to the market in the mid-50s.

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Last updated on February 14, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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