If you have ever dreamed of the sheer ease of remodeling your home or tackling weekend building projects with a nail gun, the Ryobi 18-Volt AirStrike Brad Nailer might be your entry point. This battery-powered cordless nailer delivers 18-gauge wire brads that come attached in long strips. These nails are suitable for finish work, trim, crown, baseboards, and other light materials. This is not a nail gun meant for structural work.
Overall, the 18-volt AirStrike nailer is a solid performer with plenty of power for trim and other finish carpentry tasks, but there are a few areas where Ryobi could make improvements.
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 appropriately sized brads from other suppliers.
A few key features of this nail gun include:
- 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.
Basic performance testing revealed that the nailer generally lives up to the manufacturer's claims and offers more than enough nailing power for its intended use.
- 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.
- Operating 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 to your work. As soon as the plastic No Mar Pad depresses onto the work surface, the gun fires automatically. While this is fast, it is less precise than Sequential Actuation.
- Strength: The tool easily nailed trim, as expected. Further testing showed that it could also face-nail 1 1/4-inch brads into 3/4-inch-thick red oak hardwood flooring. 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.
While no battery-powered brad nailer can ever be considered lightweight, the Ryobi is one of the lightest nailers on the market, at just about 5 pounds (minus the battery).
The LED light near the firing head is crisp and bright enough to illuminate all operations.
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 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, 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 needlenose pliers and cutting with snippers will remove the twisted brad.
The tool draws a lot of power from the lithium-ion battery. 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.