The Best Electric Brad Nailers Reviews 2019: Buying Guide

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For any serious project, a person needs the best tool for the job at a price they can afford. If your project involves carpentry, the nail gun will be your best friend. As such, these tools must be evaluated carefully. You might be interested to find out which is the best electric brad nailer, but the truth is that it's not a simple question. 

Top Rated Electric Brad Nailers

  1. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA Cordless Brad Nailer (our pick)
  2. Ryobi ZRP320 ONE Plus 18V Cordless Lithium-Ion 2 in. Brad Nailer (budget pick)
  3. DEWALT DCN680B 20V Max XR 18 Gauge Brad Nailer (premium pick)
  4. Craftsman C3 19.2v Brad Nailer
  5. DEWALT DC608K 18-Volt 18-Gauge 2-Inch Brad Nailer

Our Top Picks for the Battery Powered Brad Nailer

Our pick

PORTER-CABLE

Premium pick

HITACHI

Our top pick for the best electric brad nailer is the PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit.

It is the only nailer on this list that does not suffer from even one flaw. PORTER- CABLE provides a high-quality tool at a reasonable price. Technically, the DeWalt was by far the highest-quality model on the list. However, its high cost is a problem for most people. With a list of features that match our criteria so nicely, it would be hard to give the top spot to any other.

Best electric brad nailer reviews

1. Our Pick: Porter-Cable PCC790LA

Specifications

  • Type: 18GA
  • Fastener Length: 5/8" - 2"
  • Weight: 5.9 lb
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    Dimensions: 13.88 x 5 x 12 in
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    Power source: battery-powered
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    Battery included: Yes
  • Voltage: 20V
  • Nails per charge using 4Ah: 1300
  • Magazine capacity: 100 nails 

Key Features

  • Tool-free stall release lever
  • Depth adjusted window
  • Tool-free depth adjustment free
  • LED lights
  • Tool-free jam release

Features and benefits

  • This one is the first on my list because is a good buy for both amateur and professional contractors.
  • The PCC790LA is relatively inexpensive. Be sure to buy the entire kit so that you will have a battery and a charger.
  • The 20V Lithium battery is said to be capable of 450 nails per charge, which is more than enough for the occasional user.
  • The best thing about this model is that it is consistent and reliable. Its failure rate is extremely low, even after sitting unused for months. It can take brads of up to 2 inches.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Reliable functioning
  • Thick, durable casing
  • Easy to use
  • Takes brads up to 2 inches

Cons

  • A little bulky and large
  • 2. Budget pick: Ryobi P320 Airstrike

    Specifications

    • Type: 18GA
    • Fastener Length: 5/8" to 2"
    • Weight: 5.0 lbs
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      Dimensions: 12.8 x 4.9 x 12 in
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      Power source: battery-powered
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      Battery included: No
    • Voltage: 18V
    • Nails per Charge using P108: 1700
    • Magazine capacity: 105 nails 

    Key Features

    • Mode variability
    • Tool-less depth of drive adjustment
    • Belt hook
    • LED lights
    • Low nail indicator
    • Toolless jam release

    Features and benefits

    • The Ryobi P320 is an affordable option. Despite its relatively low cost, this model delivers a lot of quality.
    • It is sturdy and well-padded for durability, and it is also very easy to grip.
    • It's a little heavier than the DeWalt, but not by much. One thing I like is the fact that the nose piece is very easy to access and clean. This also makes it much easier to remove a jammed brad.
    • The depth adjustment wheel is easy to use, because you can see the movement of the mechanism as you turn the wheel. This makes it easier to avoid turning in the wrong direction.
    • The P320 also has a power adjustment to ramp up the pressure of its internal air compressor.
    • This nailer has a very long battery life and is confirmed to fire about 1500 brads on a single full charge.
    • It takes nails up to 2 inches long and has a very robust and simple magazine setup.
    • My favourite feature is the separate trigger button to control the work lights. This separate trigger can do a lot to prevent unplanned nailing incidents.

    Pros:

    • Good battery life
    • Magazine is easy to load and unload
    • Separate trigger for work lights
    • Durable padded frame

    Cons:

    • A little bulky
    • Slight ramp-up delay
    • Takes all but the largest brads

    3.  Premium Pick: DeWalt DCN680

    Specifications

    • Type: 18GA
    • Fastener Length: 5/8" to 2-1/8" 
    • Weight: 5.3 lbs
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      Dimensions: 11.8 x 3.7 x 10.3 in
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      Power source: battery-powered
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      Battery included: No
    • Voltage: 20V
    • Nails per Charge: Depend on the battery model
    • Magazine capacity: 100 nails 

    Key Features

    • LED battery indicator
    • Automatic shut-off
    • Tool-free jam release
    • Tool-free selectable trigger
    • Adjustable belt hook
    • Compatible with all DEWALT 20V batteries
    • Brushless motor
    • Tool-free depth adjustment
    • Multi-functional LED lights
    • tool-free stall release lever

    Features and benefits

    • This is another cordless model and is probably the best if you can afford it. The price tag is intimidating, but this really is a top-of-the-line model.
    • For one thing, there is no trigger delay at all.
    • It is very light, weighing about 5 lbs in total, and can take any sort of brad.
    • Because of its lack of ramp-up time, the bump mode works great, and can be very helpful when doing a big job. I remember doing a large roof one time and being slowed down by the ramp-up time of our inferior nail gun. I would love to have had something like this.
    • The 20V DeWalt batteries are powerful and charge rather quickly.
    • The guide lights are bright and well-aimed, and the depth control is incredibly precise.
    • I also like the little belt hook on the side, as it is very handy when you're using multiple tools.
    • Another great aspect of the DCN680 is the anti-marring system with which it is equipped.
    • The magazine has an automatic cut off so that you don't mark up your wood surface with a dry-fire.
    • The tip is also padded to prevent any marring that might otherwise occur.

    Pros:

    • No ramp-up delay in spite of being cordless
    • Light
    • Takes all brads
    • Powerful, long-lasting battery
    • Jams are easy to clear

    Cons:

    • Expensive
    • Occasionally jams

    4. Craftsman C3

    Specifications

    • Type: 18GA
    • Fastener Length: 5/8"-2"
    • Weight: 5.5 lbs
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      Dimensions: 11 x 3.25 x 9 in
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      Power source: battery-powered
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      Battery included: No
    • Voltage: 19.2 V
    • Nails per Charge: 400
    • Magazine capacity: 100 nails 

    Key Features

    • Single sequential mode and contact mode
    • Tool-less jam release
    • 2 LED lights
    • Tool-less depth-of-drive adjustment
    • Low-nail indicator
    • belt hook

    Features and benefits

    • This nailer is reasonably priced and is a cordless model. Like all Craftsman tools, this one comes with a lifetime warranty, which is almost worth the cost in itself.
    • The battery weighs in at 19.2 volts, making it a little weaker than some of the others on our list, but its simpler design justifies this.
    • It can take any brad up to two inches and is sturdy enough for serious professional work.
    • As you would expect from a Craftsman, the C3 operates smoothly and efficiently with almost no noticeable recoil. Although it may be small, it does its job very well.
    • It has all the features you would expect from a high-end nail gun, including bump fire mode. work lights, depth adjustment, air pressure adjustment, and a near-total lack of trigger delay.
    • It is equipped with something called "speeds hot technology". I have no idea what that is, but it obviously works.
    • My favourite thing about this brad nailer is its slim profile. With this skinny little guy, you can easily get those brads as close to the floor or ceiling as you want.

    Pros:

    • Lifetime warranty
    • Contains a good variety of features
    • Slim profile
    • Very little ramp-up delay

    Cons:

    • Relatively small battery
    • Can take any brad up to 2 inches

    5. DeWalt DC608K

    Specifications

    • Type: 18GA
    • Fastener Length: 5/8"-2"
    • Weight: 7.4 lbs
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      Dimensions: 11.5 x 3.5 x 11 in
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      Power source: battery-powered
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      Battery included: Yes
    • Voltage: 18 V
    • Nails per Charge: -
    • Magazine capacity: 110 nails 

    Key Features

    • Contact Trip Lock-Off
    • Sequential operating mode
    • Easy access to the nosepiece
    • Integrated LED lights
    • 12-position dial
    • Reversible belt hook

    Features and benefits

    • We've already looked at one DeWalt brad nailer, so let's look at its cousin: the DC608K. This one is a little heavy at 7.4 pounds, but it offers a level of reliability that is worth the high price tag.
    • The DCN680 was known for occasional jamming issues, but this model seems to have eliminated the problem nicely.
    • At 18 volts, the battery is neither very weak nor very strong, but it is certainly enough to do the job.
    • This model offers precise power adjustment, a bump fire mode, and the thick, durable construction that DeWalt normally employs.
    • It takes brads up to two inches long, and opening the magazine is as easy as pie.
    • This gun does have a significantly longer ramp-up time than its cousin. This means that your work will be a little slower, but that is the price you pay for superior reliability, at least in this case.
    • Another great feature is the safety lock-out switch. This is great for traveling to and from a job site because it allows for worry-free transport.
    • I also really like the jam clearing mechanism, which tends to spit the nail out as soon as you raise the cover.
    • I would characterize this tool as a tortoise; slow but steady.

    Pros:

    • Highly reliable
    • Very durable
    • Takes almost all brads
    • Jam-clearing mechanism
    • Safety lock-out switch

    Cons:

    • Long ramp-up delay
    • Large and bulky
    • Expensive

    Buying Guide 

    Before buying an electric brand nail gun, you need to understand the difference between a standard finish nail gun like 15 gauge finish nail guns and a brad nailer.

    The main difference is simply that a brad nailer is a smaller tool that fires smaller nails (called "brads"). A brad nailer is used for situations in which a large nail would be unnecessary or carry a high risk of splitting (source). It's one of those handy power tools that anyone working on wood projects should have.

    Choosing an Electric Brad Nailer

    To evaluate the relative value of your brad nailer, you need to look at several different qualities.

    Your choice should reflect the way in which you most commonly use your nailer. I suggest evaluating your candidates based on the following criteria:

    Weight and Balan​​​​ce

    When you are using your nailer, you may be using it for hours at a time. As such, you need to think about its weight and balance.

    Remember, a nailer that is too heavy or awkward will only become more cumbersome and tiring as you continue working. As such, it will slow you down and impede your work. This factor is especially important for nailing overhead.

    Although it is less important, you should also consider the recoil. This factor is less important because nail guns generally have very little recoil.

    Ease of Loading

    Most nailers today use a simple loading system that involves inserting a clip of nails into a slotted magazine. However, there are many small variations that can be found.

    loading a electric nailer

    When evaluating a nailer, you should take a look at the loading procedure. It might not be possible to actually load the nailer before you buy it, so do your research.

    Reload time is another factor that can reduce your efficiency and cause your jobs to take more time than necessary.

    I would also recommend looking at magazine capacity when thinking about your reload time.

    Durability

    You certainly don't want to waste your money on something that is not sufficiently durable.

    You should always look at the materials of which a nailer is made. The outer parts of a nailer can be made from plastic, metal, rubber, or a number of other materials.

    Most nailers are made with a plastic outer casing, but the thickness of the plastic can tell you if the manufacturer places a high value on durability.

    You should also carefully examine the warranty information of your chosen model. Any good company should stand behind their work, and if they don't, it might be a good idea to avoid their products.

    Ambidextrous Use

    Many nailers are made in such a way that a person can use them with either the right or left hand.

    If you are right-handed and your gun is only for personal use, this factor will not be particularly important for you. However, if you are buying for a work crew, this factor becomes much more important.

    If you force your workers to use a tool with the wrong hand, and they have an accident, you could potentially be held liable. Choosing a nailer that can be used with either hand will ensure that no one can accuse you of negligence and sue you accordingly!

    Safety Features

    Safe operation of the nailer is of the utmost importance. While tool safety is largely determined by the user, it is a good idea to select a nailer that makes it easy to be careful.

    One common safety feature is a thermal overload shutdown sensor. This is made to protect the tool, and also the money you have invested in it. Like any motorized tool, a nailer can become too hot with repeated use.

    This is why it is advisable to avoid rapid-firing your nailer for extended periods. The better models will usually have a sensor that automatically shuts the tool down when it becomes too hot.

    It might seem frivolous, but you should look for a nailer that has a clear and visible LED power indicator light.

    This will tell you if the tool is on or off at any given time so that you can use the appropriate level of caution. As a side benefit, it will also tell you when the battery is running low on cordless models.

    Bump fire Mode

    Many nailers like the best 23 GA pin nail guns will have a rapid-fire option that allows you to simply press the tip of the gun against the surface to engage the trigger.

    This can be very helpful for certain jobs. However, a brad nailer does not actually need this feature. This is because a brad nailer is meant to be a small, high-precision tool. Thus, it is not practical to use the tool in a rapid and haphazard way.

    I would consider this feature to be a low-priority one because of the skill required to use it properly.

    Adjustable Power and Depth

    Most nailers can be adjusted to fit the job at hand. You can control the depth to which the nail is inserted and the amount of power used.

    When considering the purchase of a brad nailer, you should look for these adjustments because without them, certain jobs will be much more difficult if not impossible.

    Normally, a nail gun will leave a small hole that should be sealed with wood putty. Going too deep will make this task much harder and going too shallow will expose the nail and defeat the purpose of the tool. This is especially true when using cordless framing nailers.

    Battery Powered Cordless Vs. Electric Corded

    When choosing an electric nailer, you can choose between a corded electric brad nailer and an uncorded electric brad nailer. Both have their upsides and downsides.

    A corded nailer is more convenient in the fact that it does not have to be charged beforehand. A cordless nailer is more convenient in the fact that it does not require you to tether yourself to a socket.

    For a roofer, the cordless one is probably the better choice. Becoming tangled in the cord could be a serious safety hazard when roofing.

    roofers with cordless electric brad nailer

    However, the corded model will tend to have more power, and will fire faster. A battery powered nailer has to use an internal mechanism (such as an electromagnetic flywheel or an air compressor) to amplify the power of the battery. This creates a slight delay between shots as the mechanism powers up.

    Also, there are some other models on the market powered by air like 18 gauge pneumatic brad nailers.

    Reliability

    For a cordless model, battery life is very important. Manufacturers will tell you how many nails you can (supposedly) fire from one fully charged battery, but I have found that these numbers tend to be inflated slightly.

    Care & maintenance

    For your brad nailer to last longer, you need to do regular maintenance on it. Make sure you turn off your brad nailer before performing any maintenance task on it to prevent personal injury and damage of the tool.

    • Use the tool on appropriate work surfaces only. Firing brads into hard surface may lead to damage of the tool
    • Never fire brads at yourself or another person. A single misfired brad can lead to severe injury.
    • Inspect the tool before each use to check for loose or damaged parts. Do not use the tool if any part is damaged or missing.
    • You also need to inspect the battery every few months and make the necessary replacements.
    • Clean the external part of the brad nailer with a soft damp cloth to remove dirt, dust, oil, and grease.
    • Avoid using solvents to clean plastic parts of your brad nailer. Most plastics are prone to damage from commercial solvents.
    • Store your brad nailer in a clean, dry location and out of the reach of children and untrained persons.

    Electric Brad Nail Gun: Tips

    • If you plan to use your nailer in dark or low-light conditions, you should seek out a model with a built-in lighting system. This is simply a set of lights mounted on the front of the tool, which will light up when the nailer is powered on or in use.
    • You should also think about angled shots. There will be times when you are unable to nail a flat surface, and you will need to go in at an angle. This practice is colloquially referred to as "toenailing", at least where I'm from. If you expect to use this technique frequently, it would be a good idea to contact the manufacturer and find out if your model was designed for it.
    • One final thing to consider is versatility in terms of the kind of brads you can use. Brads are made from 18-gauge wire and are thus of a standard thickness. However, they range length from 5/8 of an inch to 2 and 1/8 inches. If you want one that fires brads of two inches or greater, you will likely pay more.

    FAQ

    Q: How do cordless brad nailers work

    A: Most brad nailers use a flywheel technology in which a spinning flywheel provides the driving force needed to fire a nail. However, some cordless brad nailers known as Paslode nailers have a canister of fuel that provides the driving force for the nail.

    Q: How to load an electric brad nailer

    A: Loading an electric brad nailer is similar to the way you load your stapler. You need to first ensure that your brads can fit into your nailer. Most brad nailers take between 5/8" and 2" brads.

    Slide the brad strips carefully into the magazine with the nail heads pointing toward the tool’s handle. Then push the magazine cover over the brads until it is snapped into place.

    Q: Are electric brad nailers good for trim

    A: Yes, electric brad nailers can be used to nail thin wood trim. Use a finish nailer for larger and bulky wood pieces.

    Q: Are electric brad nailers good for quarter round

    A: Yes, the most preferred tool for nailing quarter round is an electric brad nailer. A brad nailer automatically recesses small nails and nails boards with great accuracy.

    Q: Are electric brad nailers good for baseboard

    A: Yes. Brad nails are thin and fine, this makes them suitable for holding thin boards in place without splitting it.

    Q: Pneumatic or cordless brad nailer

    A: The major difference between a pneumatic brad nailer and a cordless brad nailer is their mode of operation. Pneumatic nailers use compressed air to drive nails while cordless brad nailers use a spinning flying wheel.

    Pneumatic brad nailers are used most times by specialists because they offer more power than a cordless brad nailer. They also cost less than brad nailers but when you include the cost of air hoses and compressors, pneumatic brad nailers are costlier.

    What is the best electric brad nailer: Our Pick

    Our top pick for the best electric brad nailer is the PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit.

    It is the only nailer on this list that does not suffer from even one flaw. PORTER- CABLE provides a high-quality tool at a reasonable price. Technically, the DeWalt was by far the highest-quality model on the list. However, its high cost is a problem for most people. With a list of features that match our criteria so nicely, it would be hard to give the top spot to any other.

    Resources & Further Reading

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