The Best Cordless Brad Nailers of 2022

A cordless brad nailer makes an easy-to-use tool for remodeling, DIY, and home craft projects.

By Bob Beacham | Updated Apr 20, 2022 10:45 AM

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The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option

Photo: amazon.com

From heavy-duty roofing to light upholstery work, there’s a nail gun for nearly every task. Finish nailers make great general-purpose tools; brad nailers help complete all kinds of DIY and craft jobs.

Nailers typically require a compressor for power, but manipulating the stiff high-pressure hose can make smaller tools, such as a brad nailer, awkward to operate. A cordless brad nailer, with no air hose or cable, makes a great alternative. The best cordless brad nailers can stand up to their pneumatic counterparts. Read on for some useful tips and top picks for the best cordless brad nailer for you.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Craftsman V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Freeman 18 Volt 2-in-1 18 Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Porter-Cable 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA
  4. BEST FOR DIY: Neu Master Cordless Brad Nailer Rechargeable Nail Gun
  5. BEST PROFESSIONAL: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18-Volt 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
  6. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Metabo HPT Cordless Brad Nailer
  7. BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: DeWalt 20-Volt Max Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
  8. MOST VERSATILE: KIMO 20v 18 Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer/Staples Kit
The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cordless Brad Nailer

Professionals and DIYers alike know the value of a cordless brad nailer. Manufacturers offer numerous tempting features, which makes choosing the right tool a challenge. To make the job easier, we’ve outlined below the most important factors to consider when purchasing a cordless brad nailer.

Brad Length and Capacity

Brads are made of approximately 0.05-inch-thick 18-gauge steel. Their small heads hide easily in the work surface. Often, you won’t even need to fill the tiny holes they leave before painting.

Brad length varies from 0.5 inch to 2.5 inches, but few cordless brad nailers accommodate the full range of sizes. The required length typically depends on the intended tasks for the tool.

Brads come in collated strips, which makes them easy to load. Most cordless brad nailers hold around 100 brads at a time.

Nailing Control

Cordless brad nailers use “sequential firing.” That means the nailer fires only one brad per trigger pull. Some models also offer “bump,” or “contact,” firing. In this mode, the user doesn’t have to pull a trigger to fire a brad. Instead, the nailer automatically fires a brad when the user bumps the tip against the workpiece.

In skilled hands, bump firing allows for more speed and efficiency. Experienced users might prefer this mode for use on long strips of material. However, good control takes practice. Newer users might not make as much use of this feature.

For your safety and by design, when you squeeze the trigger of a cordless brad nailer, the tip of the tool must be in contact with the workpiece in order for the gun to fire a brad. That way, you cannot accidentally fire brads into the air.

Battery and Runtime

All the cordless nailers on our list run at either 18 or 20 volts, but in raw power, they’re the same. Electric motors surge on start-up, then settle back to what’s called “nominal” voltage. Most manufacturers use the surge figure, which is 20V, while others use the nominal, or 18V.

While voltage remains constant, runtime varies considerably. Technically, runtime depends on the battery’s amp-hour capability. A 4Ah battery runs twice as long as a 2Ah battery, for example, though manufacturers often include the latter with brad nailers to keep costs down. A virtually maintenance-free brushless motor makes more effective use of battery power than an older brush motor. However, brushless motors cost more.

Some manufacturers provide an indication of the number of brads, typically from 400 to 1,600, that the nailer can fire on a full charge. However, the number depends on the length of the brad and the workpiece material, so real-world results may vary.

Durability 

When you make an investment in a cordless brad nailer, you want it to last. Make sure the design protects the motor and firing mechanism not only from accidental impact but also from dust and dirt. You’ll want a good-size slide (that holds the brads in place) and switches. The latter shouldn’t protrude too far from the body of the tool.

Some premium brands build a reputation on quality and durability, and their prices reflect that. However, the DIY user may not need that kind of jobsite toughness. While we recommend steering clear of the cheapest cordless brad nailers, good customer feedback may make it worthwhile to check a cheaper model out. Some budget tools provide very good value for the home user.

Weight

Weight should figure heavily into your decision. A cordless brad nailer doesn’t have a hose or cable like a pneumatic nailer, but the battery makes it heavier than its pneumatic counterparts. It won’t make much difference on small jobs, but if you use the tool all day, particularly above head height, you’ll quickly learn the difference between a 5-pound model and a 7-pound one.

Additional Features

  • Each tool has a depth adjustment, usually a tool-free slider or thumbwheel, to correlate with the depth of impact needed for the workpiece. For example, pine will require a different depth from maple. The tool may include depth markings, but most users test the brad depth on a piece of scrap or an unobtrusive area first.
  • Some nailers feature tool-free jam releases. All brad nailers jam from time to time, usually due to minor inconsistencies in the brads themselves. Buy a quality product to minimize the problem. When it does jam, you’ll want a tool that clears it as quickly and easily as possible.
  • Trigger lockouts prevent dry firing when the gun runs out of brads. Dry firing can damage the surface of the workpiece, so the best brad nailers incorporate a trigger lockout to prevent this.
  • Many cordless brad nailers include one or more LED work lights. Some units have an LED light to indicate a fault or jam.
  • A belt hook makes a convenient addition, especially for working from a ladder.

Our Top Picks

Now that you’re armed with a better understanding of nailers’ technical differences, it’s time to look at some of the top models on the market.

Best Overall

The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option: CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA
Photo: amazon.com

Craftsman’s budget-friendly cordless brad nailer stands up to some of the more expensive competition. It offers tool-free depth control and jam release. The 100-brad magazine takes brads of 0.625 to 2 inches long. Cost-conscious contractors and DIYers will appreciate its sequential and bump firing, features not often found on lower-cost cordless brad nailers.

The supplied 1.5Ah battery fires a maximum 420 brads per charge, or users can sub in a larger-capacity battery. While the over-molded handle improves hand comfort, at just over 7.5 pounds, Craftsman’s brad nailer weighs in on the heavy side.

Product Specs

  • Brad length: 0.625 to 2 inches
  • Capacity: 100
  • Weight: 7.64 pounds

Pros

  • Tool-free depth control
  • Both sequential and bump firing
  • Convenient belt hook

Cons

  • Heavier than many other models
  • Brush motor

Get the Craftsman V20 brad nailer on Amazon and at Ace Hardware.

Best Bang For The Buck

The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option: Freeman 18 Volt 2-in-1 18 Gauge Cordless Nailer
Photo: amazon.com

The features of Freeman’s 2-in-1 brad nailer and stapler kit read like a DIY enthusiast’s wish list. It fires brads from 0.75 to 2 inches long and crown staples from 0.75 to 1.625 inches. It comes with two 2Ah batteries, a rapid charger, 500 staples, and 500 brads, all in a solid case.

The nailer offers both sequential and bump firing, tool-free depth adjustment and jam clearing. A pair of LED work lights and a belt hook make a variety of jobs easier. For many, it represents exceptional value for money. However, build quality appears to be inconsistent. While the majority of users report satisfaction with their purchase, a significant minority report more frequent jams and misfires than acceptable.

Product Specs

  • Brad length: 0.75 to 2 inches
  • Capacity: 100
  • Weight: 6.2 pounds

Pros

  • Takes nails or staples
  • 2 batteries included
  • Comes with 1,000 fixings

Cons

  • Some units jam or misfire
  • Occasional charger faults

Get the Freeman 18 Volt brad nailer on Amazon and at Walmart.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option: PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA
Photo: amazon.com

Porter-Cable’s cordless brad nailer takes 100 brads from 0.625 to 2 inches long in its magazine. It offers tool-free depth adjustment and jam release. At just 5.9 pounds, this tool weighs in on the lighter side and feels well balanced.

Though it doesn’t feature a dry fire lockout, a useful window in the magazine allows users to check the brad level to avoid an accidental dry fire. This model doesn’t offer bump firing.

Whereas the standard model comes with a single 1.5Ah battery, which limits nailing to a maximum of 400 brads between charges, this upgrade kit includes two 2Ah batteries. With a quick battery change, work can continue while the first battery recharges. Heavy-duty users may choose to purchase the alternative 4Ah battery.

Product Specs

  • Brad length: 0.625 to 2 inches
  • Capacity: 100
  • Weight: 5.9 pounds

Pros

  • Brad viewing window
  • Lightweight and well balanced
  • 2 batteries allow continuous working

Cons

  • Performance can suffer when working at an angle
  • Some are critical of Porter-Cable support

Get the Porter-Cable 20V brad nailer at Amazon, Walmart, and Ace Hardware.

Best For DIY

The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option: Cordless Brad Nailer, NEU MASTER NTC0023 Rechargeable
Photo: amazon.com

For light-duty nailing or stapling tasks, Neu Master’s cordless brad nailer and stapler fires brads from 0.625 to 1.25 inches long and 0.25-inch crown staples from 0.625 to 1 inch long. It offers tool-free depth adjustment.

Heavier than the other products on this list, Neu Master’s nailer may not make the best choice for long work sessions. The manufacturer’s specs claim the 2Ah battery fires up to 1,100 fixings on a full charge, though that sounds a little optimistic. This product meets ETL testing standards for electrical safety.

Product Specs

  • Brad length: 0.625 to 1.25 inches
  • Capacity: 100
  • Weight: 7.54 pounds

Pros

  • Fires nails and staples
  • Useful LED light and belt hook
  • Very competitive price

Cons

  • A little heavy
  • Nailing figure is optimistic

Get the Neu Master brad nailer on Amazon.

Best Professional

The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18-Volt 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
Photo: homedepot.com

Milwaukee has a proven reputation for tough jobsite tools. Its M18 brad nailer uses an unusual spring drive mechanism to deliver a powerful, consistent drive for brads from 0.625 to 2.125 inches at a very fast speed. Milwaukee says this nailer readies itself to fire in 0.05 second. In reality, a user can’t squeeze the trigger any faster than that. The nailer fires in bump mode, too.

A precision tip allows users to see what they’re doing and get accurate brad placement. The tool stores two replacement tips on deck. A brushless motor maximizes runtime. But users must buy a battery and charger separately, which makes a significant addition to an already premium-priced tool.

Product Specs

  • Brad length: 0.625 to 2.125 inches
  • Capacity: 110
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds

Pros

  • Powerful air-spring mechanism
  • Rapid firing rate
  • Brushless motor

Cons

  • Premium price
  • Battery and charger extra

Get the Milwaukee M18 brad nailer at The Home Depot and Ace Hardware.

Best Heavy-Duty

The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option: Metabo HPT Cordless Brad Nailer
Photo: lowes.com

Pneumatic nailers earn their place as the industry standard because of their powerful nail driving ability. Metabo’s spring drive system offers comparable performance without an air hose or compressor. It drives brads from 0.625 to 2 inches with the speed and consistency that trade professionals demand.

Metabo’s above-average, high-capacity 3Ah battery and brushless motor join forces to drive up to 1,650 brads on a single charge. After a job well done, DIYers can toss the nailer and charger into the included carrying bag. Though this is physically quite a large, heavy tool, the price makes it attractive for professionals who need dependable, heavy-duty brad nailing.

Product Specs

  • Brad length: 0.625 to 2 inches
  • Capacity: 100
  • Weight: 7.3 pounds

Pros

  • Up to 1,650 nails per charge
  • Brushless motor
  • 3Ah battery included

Cons

  • Fairly bulky
  • Heavy

Get the Metabo HPT brad nailer at Lowe’s and Walmart.

Best Lightweight

The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option: DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA
Photo: amazon.com

DeWalt boasts a near-legendary reputation for durable, high-performance power tools, and the 20V Max cordless brad nailer meets that expectation. It drives brads from 0.625 to 2.125 inches long, as large a range as any competitor. The efficient tool features sequential firing, bump firing, and a brushless motor.

Despite its power, DeWalt’s 20V MAX weighs in as the lightest cordless brad nailer in its class. However, while the easy-to-view micro nose allows great precision with brad positioning, the body remains quite large. This tool may not fit into some tight spaces. An included 2Ah battery fires around 800 nails on a charge. Contractors will want a larger spare. The kit includes a charger and bag.

Product Specs

  • Brad length: 0.625 to 2.125 inches
  • Capacity: 110
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Pros

  • Lightweight yet powerful
  • Precision tip
  • Brushless motor

Cons

  • Modest nailing with 2Ah battery
  • A little bulky

Get the DeWalt 20-Volt brad nailer at The Home Depot and Ace Hardware.

Most Versatile

The Best Cordless Brad Nailer Option: Kimo 20v 18 Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer Staples Kit
Photo: walmart.com

KIMO offers a competitively priced alternative brad nailer with lots of features. It fires brads from 0.75 to 2 inches long and 0.25-inch narrow crown staples from 0.75 to 1.625 inches long. KIMO’s cordless brad nailer offers both sequential and bump firing.

Although physically larger than many rivals, this nailer weighs only 6.2 pounds. KIMO states its 4Ah battery fires up to 1,400 times on a single charge. However, the kit includes a 2Ah battery rather than a 4Ah, which will fire 700 fixings, so the description seems misleading. Dual LEDs on deck help brighten dark corners.

Product Specs

  • Brad length: 0.75 to 2 inches
  • Capacity: 100
  • Weight: 6.2 pounds

Pros

  • 2-in-1 nailer and stapler
  • Sequential or bump firing
  • Wide range of fixings

Cons

  • A little bulky
  • Included battery 2Ah, not 4Ah

Get the KIMO 20v brad nailer on Amazon and at Walmart.

Our Verdict

The Craftsman cordless brad nailer makes a high-quality tool for DIY or pro use. Professionals might want to upgrade the standard battery or add a higher-capacity spare. The Freeman nailer/stapler kit offers tremendous value—if you get a good one. However, quality control seems inconsistent.

How We Chose the Best Cordless Brad Nailers 

I have remodeled two homes and have owned a couple of brad nailers. The first brad nailer taught me how frustrating frequent jams can be. The second, a high-quality tool, rose to the occasion. To support my own experience, the Bob Vila team researched recent models from manufacturers of battery-powered nailers to ensure we had up-to-date technical information.

Each of these cordless tools fires the necessary sizes of brads or staples, so major differences lie in other features of the tools. The number of brads per charge is one key figure, but comparisons prove difficult. For example, one manufacturer may supply a 1.5Ah battery, while another offers a 2Ah. Several manufacturers don’t provide figures. Brushless motors also affect battery life. Practically maintenance-free, they last longer and make better use of energy but come at a higher price.

We have tried to offer a broad selection. We chose models that showcase the wide variety available and, in doing so, hope to provide solutions for both DIY and professional users on all budgets.

FAQs

This guide should help you find the best cordless brad nailer for your needs. However, a few general questions may crop up. Keep reading to find frequently asked questions along with their answers.

Q: What’s the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer? 

Brad nailers are a slightly smaller tool than a finish nailer, and they use 18-gauge brads, which are slimmer and have a smaller head than nails. Brads are better for fixing lightweight trim that a finish nailer might split. Finish nailers, which fire 15- or 16-gauge nails, are better for baseboards and other jobs that need a stronger hold.

Q: How do you load a brad nailer?

The magazine contains slots to hold different-length brads. The user simply slides a strip of brads into the relevant slot so the front end of the brad falls nearest the nose. A spring clamp slides up from the bottom of the magazine, holding the brads in place and advancing them each time the user fires the nailer.

Q: How do you use a brad nailer? 

Rest the nailer’s nose against the workpiece and pull the trigger. Find tips for safe and effective nailer use in this handy guide.

Q: How long should brad nails be?

Many experts say that brad nails should be three times longer than the thickness of the material being fixed. So for a ½-inch board you would need a 1½-inch brad. However, sometimes this causes the brad to protrude through the material, which you will probably want to avoid. In that case, use the longest brad that can be accommodated.

Q: Can you use a brad nailer for baseboards? 

You can use a brad nailer for baseboards, though a finish nailer is the professional’s choice. It has more power and provides a stronger fix.

Q: How do I maintain my cordless brad nailer? 

Dirt can cause jams in cordless nail guns, so experts recommend a quick cleaning of the tool after each use. The mechanism should be lubricated periodically according to the manufacturer’s instructions.