The 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Showdown: PC vs. HF vs. Bostich vs. Senco and MORE!

The 18 gauge brad nailer is one of the most popular nailer sizes for woodworkers… mainly because using one means that YOU HAVE ENOUGH CLAMPS AFTER ALL ;) It’s also widely used as the goto for putting up trim. Since just about every manufacturer under the sun makes one I researched to bring you the consensus of the woodworker on the street. Enjoy!

Top 5 Uses for a Brad Nailer
The Brad Nailer Stigma: is it Cheating?
A Note on Electric Brad Nailers…
The 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Showdown
My Brad Nailer Opinion Sources:

Top 5 Uses for a Brad Nailer:
I copied this list from an article in Wood Magazine – for me it helped to outline the main uses of a brad nailer as opposed to, say, a framing nailer for example.

1) Free up clamps in short order. Apply the glue and clamp the assembly, punch in a few brads to secure the joint, and reclaim your clamps immediately for the next glue-up.
2) Speedy, glueless assembly. You can assemble birdhouses and craft items in no time flat. Cabinet backs go on in a flash.
3) No-stick stack-cutting. Instead of using double-faced tape to hold together workpieces for stack-cutting on a bandsaw or scrollsaw, tack them together with brads fired into the waste area.
4) Reinforce mitered joints. End-grain to end-grain joints, such as the mitered corners of a picture frame, are stronger when fortified by a steel fastener.
5) Less splitting. A brad’s small diameter and speed of penetration lessens the likelihood of splitting–even in small moldings and fragile workpieces–without predrilling.

From Brad Nailers for $100 or less in Wood Magazine >>

The Brad Nailer Stigma: is it Cheating?
I never knew this until I started researching brad nailers, but apparently some folks think that Norm Abram is a little over reliant on his brad nailer. Further, that if you’re using a brad nailer you’re, well, you’re cheating. This is a minority position, but apparently it’s a vocal minority. Anyways, here’s a funny brad nailer poll from Sawmill Creek, followed by a great quote regarding the morality of the brad nailer.

Funny Brad Nailer Poll from Sawmill Creek:
36 Votes: I use a brad nailer all the time
12 Votes: I have one, but don’t use it very often
05 Votes: I use one, but hide the brads so well that you will never know, and I won’t tell
03 Votes: Real woodworkers use glue, brad nailers are cheating

This quote from Creeker Todd Burch sums it up nicely: “My advice would be that if you are recreating a museum piece, use what the original used. Otherwise, spend more time with your family and get a brad nailer!”

A Note on Electric Brad Nailers…
Don’t use them. As an overall category they received very poor reviews and comments in a couple different threads I visited. Namely this one at Sawmill Creek: Electric Brad Nailers – Any good? That said, I found one professional at Lumber Jocks raving about the $300+ Dewalt 18 Gauge 2″ Cordless Brad Nailer – DC608K: “I officially will be retiring my air compressor when installing in the field.” Your mileage may vary when it comes to electric brad nailers.

The 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Showdown: PC vs. HF vs. Bostich vs. Senco and MORE!
Here’s the show down itself – I counted recommendations from forums and one magazine review I found to compile this list. I haven’t tested or used any of these tools myself. To check out my sources scroll down to the “sources” section.

Porter-Cable Brad Nailers: 16 Votes
Porter Cable BN200A: 5

Porter-Cable 2″ Brad Nailer BN200A review in epinions

Porter-Cable BN125A: 3

Porter-Cable 18 Ga. Brad Nailer (#BN125A) Review by Tom Hintz >>

Harbor Freight Brad Nailer: 8 Votes
Note: t here’s more than one HF 18 Gauge nailer – most folks in forums aren’t specific about which one they liked. HF nailers consistently come up though, with folks saying they work “good enough” for light use.

Harbor Freight 18-Gauge Brad Nailer/Stapler (review by Tom Hintz who trashed his HF brad nailer)
Harbor Freight Buying Guide (don’t go to HF without it…)

Bostich Brad Nailers: 7 Votes
Bostitch BT200K-2: 2 votes

Bostitch BT200K-2 – 2″ 18-Gauge Oil-Free Brad Nailer Kit

18 ga. Bostich BT125k

Senco Brad Nailers: 5 Votes
18 gauge (Senco FinishPro XP-25)

Senco Brad FinishProTM 18 Nailer – PC1010 Compressor Kit Review by Tom Hintz

Hitachi Brad Nailers: 5 Votes
Hitachi NT32AE2: 3 Votes

Hitachi NT50AE2: 2 Votes

NT50AE review in Epinions

Paslode Brad Nailers: 3 Votes
t200 paslode

Omer Brad Nailers: 3 Votes
Omer 18g 12.40

Dewalt Brad Nailers: 2
Dewalt DC608K: 1

New DeWalt 18 volt, 18 gauge brad nailer Review in LumberJocks.

Makita Brad Nailers: 1
Makita AF503

2″ Brad Nailer – AF503 Product Reviews – was not well liked at Builders Square…

Grizzly Brad Nailers: 1
Grizzly H5527 (known to mar wood)

Grizzly H5527 Brad Nailer – Review

Ridgid Brad Nailers: 1 Vote
Ridgid R213BNA

Ridgid R213BNA Oil-free Brad Nailer review by Tom Hintz

Max Brad Nailers: 1 Vote
Max NF255-ST/18

Brad Nailer: The Max NF255-ST/18 – from Jude Herr at Toologics

My Brad Nailer Opinion Sources:
Magazine:
Brad Nailers (Tools of the Trade)
Forums:
Brad Nailers?
HF Air Brad Nailer
Brad or Finish Nailer
What gauge nailer do I need?
Need pin/nail nailer…. which one to get?
Electric Brad Nailers – Any good?
Brad Nailers
Hitachi or Porter cable Brad nailer?
Which nailers for trim work?
Nail Guns
Bostitch BT200K-2 – 2″ 18-Gauge Oil-Free Brad Nailer Kit
New DeWalt 18 volt, 18 gauge brad nailer

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2 Responses to The 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Showdown: PC vs. HF vs. Bostich vs. Senco and MORE!

  1. Rams Fan says:

    I use my DeWalt ‘electric’ gun exclusively when setting finish. I have done at least 20 houses since I purchased the nailer and have finally the batteries are showing signs of needing replaced. It is great not having to lug around or listen to a compressor on the jobsite!

  2. Chuck Hotze says:

    Another FINE Italian made line of Brad tools comes from Fasco America, Inc. Several models with various power levels for every type of trim nailing requirement.

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