Ryobi Battery Nail Gun Review: 18 Gauge Cordless Lithium Ion

Ryobi Battery Nail Gun
This Ryobi 18 volt battery nail gun is designed for do-it-yourselfers. Home Depot

Buy on Amazon - 18-Volt ONE+ AirStrike 18-Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer

If you have ever dreamed of the sheer ease of remodeling your home with a nail gun, this Ryobi battery-powered combined nail gun and brad nailer might be your entry point.

For example, nailing trim is possible but difficult to do accurately by hand. Finish nails tend to be large and hard to hold. Every tap of the hammer shakes the trim material.

Once the nail is in place, you still have to sink it below the surface. But with a power nailer, you press the trigger, then hear a brief whine as the tool compresses air. The nailer smacks the nail into place and sinks it in the process. No splits, no exposed heads: perfect.

Battery Nail Guns vs. Compressed Air Nailers

A compressed air nailer works in a sequential fashion. Gasoline or electricity powers a compressor. This compressor forces air at high pressure into a metal cylinder. When enough pressure is built up, a signal is sent back to the compressor to stop pumping air. Finally, when the trigger on the nail gun is depressed, a burst of compressed air travels from the cylinder to the nail gun, firing the brad or nail.

It is a clean, simple operation. Yet most do-it-yourselfers are not interested in the cost and maintenance of a complete air compressor tool system. Not only that, storing the bulky tank and hose can be a problem.

So what can you do if you want the ability to power-nail without the associated problems? That's where smaller, slimmer nailers like the Ryobi come in.

Remarkably, the Ryobi and the compressed air nailers work in a similar way. Ryobi's lithium-ion battery powers up a small, onboard motor flywheel. The motor feeds kinetic energy to a large piston cylinder, which works much like the air compressor system's tank.

No nailing action can happen until enough air pressure is built up. This operation takes one second to perform.

The Ryobi is an all-in-one 18-volt nail gun that delivers 18 gauge wire brads that come attached in long strips. These brads are meant for finish work, trim, crown, baseboards, and other light materials. The nail gun is not meant for structural work.

Powered by Ryobi's ONE+ 18 volt lithium ion battery packs, this nailer has a magazine capacity of 105 brads and fires one brad per second. However, due to the Ryobi's Dry-Fire Lockout feature, which prevents the nailer from firing the last four or so nails in order to extend tool life, it is more accurate to say that the capacity is 100 nails. The nailer fires brads from 5/8 inches long to 2 inches long. It comes delivered with two strips of 1 1/4 inch long brads, a length that tends to be perfect for trim installation work. While Ryobi does supply replacement brads, you can purchase any appropriately sized brads from other suppliers.

How Well Does This Ryobi Nail Gun Work?

  • Speed: Sixty nails per minute is Ryobi's claim. After a full battery charge and insertion of a complete strip of 1 1/4 inch brad nails, testing revealed that the claim was true. Speed was exactly one per second, accomplished with the tool's Contact Actuation feature.
  • Other Modes: With Sequential Actuation, you place the nailer, pull the trigger, fire, and then repeat the process. With Contact Actuation, you keep the trigger depressed and move the nailer down your work. As soon as the plastic No Mar Pad depresses on your work, the gun fires automatically. While this is fast, it is less precise than Sequential Actuation.
  • Strength: The tool easily nailed trim, as expected. But how strong is it? Testing proved that face-nailing 1 1/4 inch brads into 3/4 inch red oak hardwood flooring was possible. Even the heads sunk below the surface of the red oak. This is not the Ryobi nail gun's intended purpose, but it is an indicator of what the tool can do if pressed into hard service.
  • Depth of Drive Adjustment: Turn the wheel in one direction or the other to make the nails sink deeper or shallower.
  • Air Pressure Dial: On the back, this dial controls internal air pressure, giving you greater or less force.
  • Mode Selector. This toggle between Sequential or Contact Actuation is easy to identify and works smoothly.

Pros

  • Operation of the Ryobi nail gun is simple, with a minimum of dials and gauges to fumble with. After getting the lithium-ion battery pack charged up and the brad strip inserted, you will be nailing within a few minutes. You might even get started faster than that since many battery packs come with a charge already on them.
  • The LED light near the firing head is crisp and bright enough to illuminate all operations.
  • While no battery-powered brad nailer can ever be considered light-weight, the Ryobi is one of the lightest nailers on the market, at just about five pounds (minus the battery).

Cons

  • The Depth of Drive Adjustment wheel has no reference points to let you see what depth you have dialed into. A numeric indicator would be beneficial. Failing that, at least it would be nice to have a dial-and-pointer indicator, similar to the Air Pressure Dial.
  • The light near the firing head does not stay on long enough.
  • When loading brad strips, it is easy to jam up the magazine area.
  • If you are unfortunate enough to jam a brad at the firing end, it is exceedingly difficult to remove the crumpled brad. Nothing less than hard pulling with needle nose pliers and cutting with snippers will remove the twisted brad.
  • The tool draws a lot of power from the lithium-ion batteries. Since the Ryobi tools have a proprietary design and must use only Ryobi brand batteries, the operation can get expensive in the long run. You must factor battery cost into the overall operational cost of the tool.

Buy on Amazon - 18-Volt ONE+ AirStrike 18-Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer