September 30, 2013

Ryobi AirStrike 18-Volt 18 Gauge 2-inch Brad Nailer - Review

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So it's no secret that we're on board with the cordless Paslode for all of our finish nailing needs. If we can take the compressor out of our routine, we're going to do it. But what about a cordless brad gun? Ryobi was kind enough to get one of their new 18-volt AirStrike Brad Nailers in our hands and we've been playing around with it for a little while. Here's what we think:

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First off, we've long been proponents of the Ryobi cordless system. If you're a DIYer or a carpenter who's just getting into the game and you want quality tools, readily available, at a good price, you really can't go wrong with Ryobi. Their 18-volt platform is massive and once you collect a few batteries, you can just start picking up bare tools to add to the mix. It's a good deal. They company also has a proven loyalty to their users, so all of the batteries of the different generations can be mixed and matched. If you have some older gear, you're not left out in the cold.

The AirStrike is sold as a bare tool. And it's a good one. At $129 you could still buy a battery and a charger separately and come out at less that $200 for a very cool little nailer.

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The AirStrike has some sort of on-board compressor system so that when you pull the trigger, there is a quick cycling noise and then the blast of the brad. It takes a half second to engage, longer than a pneumatic (but less than the flywheel motors that some cordless nailers have), but it's not really a big deal. If you're properly using a brad gun, you shouldn't be moving too quickly anyway. Once you get into the rhythm of the tool, you hardly notice the delay.

There are a lot of nice features on this tool, mostly standard nail gun things like adjustable depth of drive, dry fire lock-out, and a low-nail indicator. There's an easy to use toggle between sequential and contact mode, but if you really need to shoot off 60 brads in a minute, you should re-examine your work methods. There's also a nifty little LED that shines on the workpiece. LEDs are always a good move and we liked this one quite a bit.

We used the tool to install some shelves and edge band some poplar strips to 3/4 birch ply. We also did a bunch of wainscotting with it. This is a really slick tool. It's much heavier than our pneumatic, but that's no surprise at all. It's a cordless tool and it needs to lug around a battery, so of course it's going to be heavier. That's the tradeoff to not having to deal with a compressor or a hose. Also, it's unlikely that brad gun is going to spend the entire day in your hands like a framing gun would, so weight is less of an issue anyway.

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The AirStrike is certainly strong enough too. We had no problem burying a few test nails into some mahogany 2x4s.

So we really liked this tool in person, but we also like it in concept. We're not going to get all romantic and wet-eyed about it, but we think this one is a really big deal in the tool landscape. Here is a successful cordless nail gun at a great price and it's part of a battery system that is very much out there and in the hands of DIYers. What Ryobi has done here is really open up the concept of nailers to be inclusive to those who might not have a lot in the way of tools. We're not talking about all of you summer deck builders out there, but rather the guy who is sorta handy and probably owns a drill and a saw and that's it. They're not about to go blow a bunch of cash on a compressor, hoses and a nail gun. But if they're building enough birdhouses with their kid or fussing with small trim repairs around the house, they might start to seriously consider dropping the cash for the AirStrike.

One of our amigos are Ryobi was telling us that they're having a hard time keeping these things on the shelves. We can understand why. It's a tool that appeals to the entire range of the tool using world. Contractors are going to like it's usability and inexperienced DIYers are going to like it's simplicity backed up by the Ryobi battery systems and an easy purchase at Home Depot.

But beyond all of that, the AirStrike is a great tool and one that we definitely recommend to anyone considering it.

At Home Depot

Read More in: Air Tools | All Reviews | Cordless | Lithium-Ion

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at September 30, 2013 10:00 AM

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Recent Comments

I am on my second Ryobi Airstrike nailer. The first one kept jamming, and they couldn't fix it at HD. So they recommended I return it. I did, and now I'm having the same exact problem with the second one. This tool is not as well designed as the article indicates, in my experience.


Posted by: Peter at June 7, 2014 2:57 PM

very interesting technology by ryobi. I had a ryobi one stapler/brad nailer from years ago that was not all that impressive, the brads were underpowered, and the staples often jammed. Looks like Ryobi hit this one out of the park this time. Hopefully the local depot has a demo stand.


Posted by: Kevin at October 2, 2013 9:11 PM

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Posted by: Phil at October 2, 2013 3:24 PM

I totally agree with you. At first you notice the weight but as you get going the weight disappears and you notice the lack of an air hose. This tool is a homerun. The only interior nailer I use with a hose any more is the pin nailer.


Posted by: jeff_williams at October 1, 2013 9:10 AM
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