August 11, 2010

Bosch BNS200-18 Brad Nailer - Review

bosch_brad.jpgLast year, Bosch got into the pneumatic game with a lot of fanfare, most of it centered around something they called Full-Force Technology. In a normal pneumatic gun, a portion of the air blast enters a reserve chamber and is used to reset the firing pin. Bosch removed these chambers and figured out a way to create an entirely separate second blast of air in order to do the dirty work of pin resetting. Without these chambers, a lot of bulk could be removed from their guns, and without a portion of the air used to reset the firing pin, the guns could be more powerful, 10% according to Bosch.

Well they recently sent us the BNS200 brad gun to check out and we put it to the test, first in regular use and then in the shop. In this second setting we directly compared it to two other solid guns that we have; our old reliable Porter-Cable and the gold standard of brad guns, the Cadex 18.50.


The first thing that we noticed about the Bosch is it's weight. The BNS200 comes in at a helium-based 2.1 lbs, almost a pound lighter than the Cadex. When we first picked it up, it honestly felt like a toy, like it was hollow or something. And while the profile of the gun isn't any smaller than the other two (the Cadex is quite a bit shorter, actually), without those reserve chambers, the body is very streamlined and thin.

bosch_brad_top.jpgThe gun has some nice features, but they're all pretty basic; an adjustable exhaust, an easy-to-use depth-of-fire gauge, and a painless transition between bump fire and sequential fire. It's missing some of the touches that put the Cadex into the sports car category; the blow gun and the bottom-of-handle exhaust, but the features that the Bosch has are all well executed.

One interesting and very successful feature of the Bosch that we at least have never seen in a brad gun before is the lack of any 'firing chamber.' It's difficult to explain and only if you're familiar with nail guns will you understand what we're talking about, but in a normal gun, when the nails get pressed up to be fired, they actually enter into the nose of the gun. So when there's a jammed nail, you need to open up the nose, usually from the top. In the Bosch, the nails just get pressed into the underside of the nose, but never go any place that isn't accessible. So if a jam happens with the Bosch, you just open the magazine and there's the bent nail. There is no need to have a flip-up nose, because you'll never need access, because the nails are always right there. Like we said, it's an odd thing to explain (we tried to picture it). We should also note that over the past few weeks, we've likely shot over 500 brads and haven't had a single jam.

bosch_brad_jam.jpg bosch_brad_jam2.jpg

So what about this Full-Force power? What exactly does this added 10% get you? As far as we can tell, not a whole lot. When tested against the other guns, the Bosch did manage to sink the brads deeper, but in all instances with all varieties of wood, the other two guns had more than enough strength to complete the tasks. So, while there may be an added 10% of power, it doesn't seem to us like it's a necessary 10%. If 90% gets the job done without any problems, then what's wrong with 90%? Still, if the power is there, it's not a bad thing, and because it's a by-product of the gun being so light, we'll take it every time.

bosch_brad_nose.jpgAs a nice final touch, Bosch includes some decent safety goggles in the case. But the good kind, not the ones you had to wear in chemistry class in the ninth grade.

Overall, we liked the gun, primarily for its weight and the general look and feel of it. We also think that it has a reasonable price point. The Bosch costs about $85, which puts it in the middle of the high end guns (the Cadex is about $170, the new Porter-Cable is $100, and other reputable brands are in the $70 range).


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Posted by Doug Mahoney at August 11, 2010 5:20 AM
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