Best 18-Gauge Brad Nailer in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Best 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

If you need an 18-gauge brad nailer for home renovations or moldings, you have come to the right place. We know that the process of searching for a brad nailer can be confusing, so we decided to make it easier for you. 

In this article, we have done our best to list the best 18-gauge brad nailers so that you can choose the best one for you.

Our Top Picks:

18-Gauge Brad NailerWeightDimensionsPower SourceVoltPSI
Hitachi NT50AE22.2 lbs.14.7 x 11.8 x 3.4 inAir-Powered70 -120
BOSTITCH BTFP122335.16 lbs.12.2 x 11.7 x 4.5 inCorded-Electric70 -120
DEWALT DWFP122312.65 lbs.13 x 3.7 x 13.1 inPneumatic70 -120
PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA5.9 lbs.13.9 x 5 x 12 inBattery-Powered20
RYOBI P320 Airstrike6 lbs.10 x 3 x 7 inches inBattery-Powered18
PORTER-CABLE BN200C1.24 lbs.10.4 x 2.6 x 9.2 inCorded-Electric70 -120
WEN 617205.2 lbs.3 x 13 x 11 inAir-Powered60 -100

The 7 Best 18-Gauge Brad Nailers in 2020

1. Hitachi NT50AE2 – Best Overall 

Hitachi NT50AE2

Need a brad nailer that is easy on your hands, and that can be used for over-the-head jobs? At 2.2 pounds only, this brad nailer is the one you are looking for. It drives nails of 5/8″- 2″, and is air-power at 70-120 PSI. 

It features a tool-less depth of adjustment that is so easy to use because it is placed at your fingertips. It is in the form of a simple dial that you shall turn to adjust how deep you want your brads to sink into the wood. There is also a narrow nose that helps the nailer get into tight spaces. Moreover, you will be provided with a no-mar tip that you can attach to the nose to prevent damaging the workpiece. 

Its high capacity magazine holds up to 100 brads, which is great because the more the magazine can take, the less time you have to spend reloading, the higher your productivity. 

Moreover, I must mention that Hitachi NT50AE2 has the two firing modes. By a simple flip of a switch by the side of the nailer, you can easily use whichever of the two modes. 

If you love working in clean areas, our baby here comes with an adjustable exhaust vent at the rear of the machine. You can adjust it so as not to blow dirty air on your face. 

Sadly, it can’t shoot at an angle. It is straight shots or no shots at all. 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Tool-less depth adjustment
  • Well-balanced
  • Non-marring nose pads

Cons:

  • Does not shoot at an angle 

Bottom Line

At such lightweight, Hitachi NT50AE2 is the perfect 18 gauge brad nailer for doing over-the-head jobs. Its other features, too, render it very attractive. Could you ask for more? 

2. BOSTITCH BTFP12233 – Runner Up

BOSTITCH BTFP12233

If you need an 18-gauge nailer that will put the risk of damaging your workpiece to sleep, it is BOSTITCH BTFP12233. For example, it features Smart Point Technology that is so rare to find on any other brad nailers. This technology prevents you from having to compress the contact tip to actuate the tool, thereby reducing damage to your workpiece. Moreover, it also allows you to place the nails accurately at the right position on your workpiece thanks to its small nose, and depth of drive control. 

Besides all the following features that ensure that your workpiece will not be damaged in any way, this brad nailer that drives nails from 5/8″ to 2-1/8″ length also does not require oil to run. So, there won’t be any stains on your workpiece. Moreover, you can use BOSTITCH BTFP12233 all day long without getting tired because, at 5.16 pounds, it is very lightweight.

Speaking of jams. Our baby here rarely jams, and when it does, you will be able to clear them thanks to its tool-free jam release mechanism easily. Besides, its magazine is effortless to load, and there are no misfires with this brad nailer. 

It includes a nailer, 1/4″ air fitting, sample fasteners, carrying case, and extra no-mar tips. 

Pros:

  • Smart Point Technology 
  • Narrow nose
  • Lightweight 
  • Tool-free jam release 
  • Depth of drive control 

Cons:

  • May jam 

Bottom Line 

This is a reliable brad nailer that is suitable for professionals and hobbyists alike. Its Smart point Technology, along with its other impressive features, enables it to be our runner up. 

3. DEWALT DWFP12231 – Versatile 

DEWALT DWFP12231

This brad nailer can handle several types of woodworking projects as it can drive from 5/8 inch nails to 2-inch nails. It will have your back whether you are performing cabinetry work, paneling, or upholstery projects. 

It features a tool-free depth adjustment with detents that allows you to easily adjust the depth at which you want to sink your nails. Moreover, it features an exhaust that is located at its rear end so that your workpiece does not get damaged; however, it is not adjustable so it may get into your face. 

It can be used with any kind of compressor that provides a consistent pressure of 70 to 120 PSI. 

In case of jamming, the tool-free jam release will help you clear jams very easily. For your comfort, it has a rubberized grip that will allow you to work with it for long hours without getting tired. 

Sadly, this model is prone to stop working because the piston sealer ring develops cracks. 

Pros:

  • Tool-free depth adjustment 
  • Three-year warranty 
  • Comfortable grip 
  • Well-balanced 
  • Tool-free jam release

Cons:

  • No nails included 
  • Prone to stop working 
  • The rear exhaust is not adjustable 

Bottom Line 

This 18-gauge brad nailer is suitable for hobbyists and professionals alike as it is reliable and durable. 

4. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA – Cordless 

PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA

This 18-gauge cordless brad nailer does not only have better looks but provides high-quality performance as well. It comes with a powerful 1.5 Ah 20 volts Max lithium-ion battery that delivers consistent power, and a charger. 

Moreover, since it is cordless and lightweight, you can easily take it with you from one place to another. This feature is such a great plus because you won’t be limited or confined to a specific place. Furthermore, its lightweight allows you to easily and comfortably use it for over-the-head jobs. It also has beautiful rubberized ergonomic handles. 

If you get this babe, you won’t get worried about exerting much effort while using it because it features many comfort-bearing functions. For example, it enjoys a tool-free jam release, so that you can very quickly clear jammed nails. Simply, you can do this by opening the jam release lever that opens the nose. 

Moreover, it features a depth of drive adjustment dial that allows you to adjust the depth of drive according to the thickness and hardness of the wood you’re nailing. It is also one of the few models that feature an LED light. Why is it essential, you may ask. Well, what if you use the brad nailer to make holes inside a cabinet? Will you be able to work in the dark or dim light? I don’t suppose so, and that is when the LED light comes to the rescue. 

The one negative thing that I have to tell you about is that it is a bit slow. After firing a nail, you must wait for literally one second before firing the next one. Some people might view this as the nailer being slow, yet I do not think that it is a deal-breaker in any way. It also doesn’t come with a case.

Pros:

  • Consistent power 
  • Comes with a battery and a charger
  • Sinks the nails properly 
  • Tool-less jam release 
  • Depth of drive adjustment 
  • Cordless
  • Quiet 

Cons:

  • A bit slow 
  • Doe not come with a case

Bottom Line 

What is not to like? It is powerful, has excellent features, and is quiet.

5. RYOBI P320 Airstrike – Both Firing Modes 

RYOBI P320 Airstrike

Here we have another cordless 18-gauge brad nailer that will spare you from the hassle of an air hose and an air compressor. It does not require compressors, hoses, or pricey gas cartridges.

Its 18-volt battery enables it to drive up to 1700 nails per charge, which will prove to be pretty efficient as it will enhance your productivity. 

With it, you can quickly sink brad nails from 5/8 inch to 2 inches. If you are wondering about how well it sinks the nails, rest assured that it can sink the nails well and that you will never have to deal with proud nails on your own. 

Moreover, this babe allows you to use both fire modes: the bump mode and the sequential mode. This feature is truly great as it gives you the freedom to choose whether you need accuracy or speed. Also, switching between them is a piece of cake, so you won’t get frustrated or anything.

Besides, to protect your workpiece from damage and to increase the lifespan of RYOBI P320 Airstrike, it’s equipped with an anti-dry firelock. If you do not know what this means, it means that the tool will not fire nails if the magazine is empty. Moreover, it features a low-nail indicator that tells you when it is time to reload. 

Speaking of comfort-providing features, our tool here also has an attached depth of drive adjustment dial, so that you can increase or reduce the depth of drive. Also, it comes with an LED light, which allows you to see where you are driving the nails if you are working in a dim area, or if you are using the nailer inside a cabinet, for example. 

You will also enjoy the ergonomic handle that allows you to use it for more extended periods of time without suffering from severe hand pain. 

Sadly, you have to buy the battery separately because it is not included. This would definitely add to the cost of the tool, but it is definitely not a deal-breaker. Moreover, it is heavy, especially with the 4 Ah battery installed. 

Pros:

  • Cordless
  • Ergonomic handle 
  • LED light
  • Does not dry fire 
  • Features a depth of drive adjustment dial 
  • Features both fire modes 

Cons:

  • The battery is sold separately 
  • Heavy 

Bottom Line 

With all the great features of RYOBI P320 Airstrike, it is hard to find anything unattractive about it except for its heavyweight. So, if heaviness is not an issue, go and get it ASAP. 

6. PORTER-CABLE BN200C – Maintenance-Free Motor

PORTER-CABLE BN200C

The BN200C can drive brad nails ranging from 5/8 inch in length to 2 inches, which means that it can handle a variety of different woodworking projects. It works with an operating pressure that ranges between 70 to 120 PSI. 

One of the great features of this nailer is that its motor is maintenance-free. In other words, it does not require oil, which means that your workpiece can never have oil stains on it. It also has a soft removable non-marring tip that prevents your workpiece from getting damaged.

It features an exhaust that is located at its rear end so that the contaminated air doesn’t get pushed out at your face. Moreover, to prevent dry firing, the nailer has a reload indicator on its side that tells you when the magazine needs to get reloaded. 

For setting the depth of the nails easily, it features a depth of drive mechanism just beneath the trigger. Moreover, it is pretty lightweight and has a rubberized handle, so you can use it without getting tired at all. 

There is another attractive addition, which is the belt hook at the side of the nailer that allows you to hand the nailer to your belt. This way, it will always be within your reach.  

Sadly, it only has a sequential firing mode.

Pros:

  • Rubberized handle 
  • Lightweight 
  • No-mar tip 
  • Reload indicator 
  • Maintenance-free motor

Cons:

  • Allows you to use the sequential firing mode only 

Bottom Line 

This is a great brad nailer if you do not want to use the bump mode. Its strength, reliability and attractive features render it one of the most amazing 18-gauge brad nailers on the market. 

7. WEN 61720

WEN 61720

WEN 61720 sinks brads between 3/4 inches to 2 inches in length so that you can use it for a variety of applications. Its operating pressure is between 60 PSI to 100 PSI. Not just that, you can also adjust the operating pressure according to the thickness and hardness of the wood you are nailing. 

Besides, it has a depth of drive adjustment dial beneath the handle to enable you to set the depth at which you want to sink the nails. In case you hate cleaning, or working in dirty areas, this babe comes with an adjustable exhaust that is located at the tool’s rear end. The adjustable exhaust is a great feature because it lets you adjust the direction of the exhaust away from your face. 

In terms of ergonomics, this lightweight babe has a rubberized handle that makes it comfy for you to use it for a long time. It is also well-balanced, which is something that you will feel when you are using the tool. 

It includes oil, two adjustment wrenches, and a custom carrying case. 

Sadly, you cannot use WEN 61720 for working on delicate trims because its nose is not anywhere near narrow, and it lacks a no-mar tip. In other words, it will leave marks on your workpiece. 

It also does not have an anti-dry fire mechanism, so if there are no brads in the magazine(that holds 100 brads), it will shoot, nevertheless, which means that the tool may get damaged as a result.

Pros:

  • Lightweight 
  • Rubber handle 
  • Adjustable rear exhaust 
  • Depth of drive adjustment dial
  • Adjustable operating pressure 

Cons:

  • No anti-dry fire mechanism 
  • No-mar tip 
  • The nose is not narrow 

Bottom Line  

I believe that WEN 61720 is not a suitable brad nailer for professionals, yet it is a great one for hobbyists. 

What to Look for When Buying a Brad Nailer?

1. Nose Design 

The nose of the brad nailer, also known as its tip, is that part that is in contact with your workpiece when you are nailing with it. The design of this nose is crucial because it affects how precisely you can sink nails with it.

For example, if you want your brad nailer to be able to reach tighter spaces and perform with precision, you should choose a brad nailer that features a narrow nose. Moreover, a narrow nose helps you sink a nail/brad into a particular spot by giving you a better line of sight. 

2. Tool-Free Jam Release

Any brad nailer is bound to jam, no matter if it is of a poor or high quality. So, if you are smart enough, you would fish for a brad nailer that allows for easy jam clearing. 

Models that feature tool-free jam release do not require an Allen wrench nor any other tool to clear jams. All you would need to do is flip open the lever that is right at the nose of the nailer, and then remove the jammed nail. 

Steer away from brad nailers that need to be loosened with an Allen wrench to remove jammed nails. 

3. Depth Adjustment

This, too, is a must-look-for feature. You would need to adjust how far the nailer sinks the nails or brads into the wood, depending on the size of the nails and the thickness of the material you are driving the nail into. 

You will find it in the form of a dial or wheel close to the nose of the nailer in most models. If you want to increase the depth, turn the dial clockwise, and if you need to reduce it, turn it anti-clockwise. 

It is needless to say that the depth of drive adjustment feature is essential because it’s the only thing that can prevent you from sinking the nail too deep or too shallow. 

4. Anti-dry fire

Dry firing is when a nailer fires when its magazine is empty. Why is this dangerous? For a number of reasons, actually. 

When the nail fires, the plunger or piston inside the nailer will try to push a nail out, yet since there are no nails, none will come out. What happens next? The force of the piston -God forbid- will leave an impression on your workpiece.  

Moreover, aside from damaging your workpiece and making it look like a low-quality piece of work, dry firing also damages the machine itself as it will damage it in the long run. 

5. Exhaust Air Control

A pneumatic brad nailer needs an air compressor to work. This is precisely how it goes: when you fire the nailer, the compressed air gets into it, and powers the mechanism that drives the nails into the wood.

Do you believe that this compressed air is going to stay inside the nailer? Nope! So, this is when the exhaust air control comes in handy. The brad nailer must feature an exhaust air control to allow the compressed air to escape. However, make sure that the exhaust is at the rear of the nailer and not on the front or nose. Why? Since the air that comes out of the nailer is contaminated with oil and debris, it will stain your workpiece.

Moreover, make sure that the exhaust is adjustable; otherwise, you would find all the air coming out at your face, which is very unpleasant. So, having an adjustable air exhaust will give you more comfortable work time. 

6. Firing Modes  

There are two modes of firing: the bump/contact mode and the sequential mode. Choosing whichever mode depends on your priorities. 

For example, if you are looking for speed, you would better use the bump mode. What is this mode? Bump mode is when you pull/squeeze the brad trigger, and each time you bump the nailer on the workpiece, a nail is fired. 

On the other hand, the sequential mode prioritizes safety and precision. What you need to do in this case is compress the nose on the workpiece, then pull the trigger with the nose still compressed, then a nail will be fired. So, with the nose still compressed, you cannot fire another nail even if you release and pull the trigger again. To fire another nail, you must recompress the nose of the brad nailer on the workpiece, and then you pull the trigger again. 

I recommend that you buy a brad nailer that allows you to switch between the two modes without using any kind of tool.

7. Ergonomics 

You may use your brad nailer for a long time, and this is why you need to get one that is comfortable to use. 

Get a brad nailer that has a rubber handle or that features a wrap around the handle. This is not only for your comfort but also for your safety because it will prevent it from slipping from your grip if your palms get sweaty. 

For added comfort, get a brad nailer that has a rubberized trigger as well because metal will hurt your hands since you will constantly be pulling on it. 

18-Gauge Brad Nailer Uses

Since they are thin and come in lengths up to 2″ long, they leave smaller holes and are less likely to split thin workpieces. Such nailers provide a strong bond between wood objects while reducing the need to apply putty to holes that are not very visible. 

They are especially great for home renovations since they attach narrow, thin pieces of wood to larger wood objects. They are also great with attaching cove, stop rail, baseboard shoe molding, installing detailed trim on the face of a cabinet, building small wood furniture pieces, and making picture frames.

How Long is an 18-Gauge Brad?

They mostly range from 5/8 to 2 1/8 inches in length. These are the smallest kind of nail and are almost invisible over a wood surface. 

Safety Tips: 

  • Make sure you are properly trained before using a brad nailer
  • Do not direct it at yourself or others even if it is off
  • Wear gloves and goggles
  • Wear appropriate footwear to prevent any foot injuries
  • Lift your finger from the trigger as soon as you finish using the tool 

Final Thoughts

Finding the best 18-gauge brad nailer is not a difficult task anymore. You can easily choose one from the above products. 

If you need our opinion, we recommend you get Hitachi NT50AE2 if you need a brad nailer that works with a compressor. It is great for its lightweight and other attractive features. We believe that this product is the best one for over-the-head jobs.  

In case you need a corded-electric brad nailer with a Smart Point Technology, BOSTITCH BTFP12233 is the one you should get. Moreover, it ensures that your workpiece will not get damaged. 

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