Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer

Welcome to my article about pin nailers vs brad nailers!

Below I’ll go through the similarities and differences between these two nail guns, plus reviews of some of the best pin and brad nailers available on the market today a bit further down the article.

But first, a quick summary between pin nailers and brad nailers for those who are in a hurry!

Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer – A Summary

Pin nailers typically use 23 gauge 1 inch long nails that are so small they won’t split thin wood or leave holes, but they have very low holding power, making them suitable for delicate work such as trimmings. Brad nailers typically shoot larger 18 gauge 2 inch nails that offer more holding power and versatility, but can split thin wood and leave visible holes that require filling, making them suitable for more robust jobs such as crown moldings.

Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer – Comparison Chart

Here is a quick comparison chart so that you can compare pin nailers and brad nailers side by side.

Brad Nailers
Pin Nailers
Typical Nail Gauge
18 Gauge
23 Gauge
Typical Nail Length
2 Inches
1 Inch
Holding Power
Price Point
Best For
Robust jobs like crown moldings, baseboards, wainscotting
Delicate jobs such as thin trimmings and shoe moldings

Brad Nailers

What is a Brad Nailer?

A brad nailer is a nail gun that is ideal for home and woodworking projects.

It uses 18-gauge nails that are typically 3/8” thick and 2 inches long.

These nails have small heads and, therefore, only leave a small mark after they are driven into a piece of wood.

This means they are not very noticeable, however generally it’s still best to cover up the hole with some putty.

Brad nailers use gas or pressurized air which provides a highly powerful output. This allows you to work your way up a long piece of wood and add nails as you go along.

A high-quality brad nailer will allow you to drive nails into thin pieces of wood without splitting them, but most standard models might cause the wood to split.

Pros and Cons of a Brad Nailer

Brad nailers have their share of pros and cons. These are as follows:

  • Versatile: Brad nailers can be used for a variety of projects including home renovations, crown moldings, woodwork and more.
  • Superior Holding Power: The 18 gauge nails the brad nailer shoots provides superior holding power and can be used to hold thick pieces of wood together.
  • Good for Base-Boarding: Because the brad nailer is so powerful, it can be used for base boarding.
  • Can Split Thinner Woods: Although high quality brad nailers can shoot through thinner woods without breaking them, most will cause the wood to split.
  • Leaves Nail Holes: The brad nailer leaves holes that are relatively small, but they will still need to be covered up to produce an aesthetically pleasing look.

When to Use a Brad Nailer

Brad nailers are powerful and will work in most applications. If the wood you are using is relatively sturdy, the brad nailer is the way to go.

It is ideal for installing crown moldings, baseboards, shoe molds, wainscotting, window castings and more.

Pin Nailers

What is a Pin Nailer?

A pin nailer is a nail gun that shoots smaller nails that are typically 23 gauge and one inch long.

Like a brad nailer, it works using air pressure or gas and can shoot nails into long pieces of wood shooting as you move along. It can shoot through various surfaces with ease.

Because the pin nailer shoots smaller nails, there is no need to cover them up as they hole they leave is practically invisible.

Pros and Cons of a Pin Nailer

The pin nailer has its shares of pros and cons. Here are some to consider.

  • Does Not Split Wood: Pin nailers shoot small nails that are not likely to split thin pieces of wood.
  • No Visible Holes: Because the nails the pin nailer shoots are small, they do not need to be covered up.
  • Good for Delicate Trims: Pin nailers will not break thin pieces of wood, so they are ideal for delicate trims.
  • Less Holding Power: The nails the pin nailer shoots are small and thin, so they do not hold as well as the pins the brad nailer shoots.
  • Not Versatile: The pin nailer cannot be used in as many applications as the brad nailer can be used for.

When to Use a Pin Nailer

Pin nailers are not as versatile as brad nailers, but they are recommended in certain circumstances.

They are ideal for fixing thin trims, quarter rounds and shoe moldings and for holding pieces of wood together that later need to be glued.

Similarities and Differences Between Brad and Pin Nailers

There are various similarities and differences between a brad nailer and a pin nailer. Here are a few to consider.


  • Both are used to shoot nails
  • Both use gas or pressurized air
  • Both can be used to shoot nails up a long length of wood
  • Both shoot into surfaces without making large holes


  • The brad nailer shoots longer, wider nails that provide more holding power
  • The nails the brad shoots have more holding power
  • Brad nailers are more versatile
  • Brad nailers are more powerful
  • The nails brad nailers shoot need to be covered up while the nails the pin nailer shoots do not
  • The brad nailer can be used on thick and thin trims while the pin nailer is recommended for thin trims only

Which One Should You Choose?

If you are debating which nail gun you should use, keep in mind that the pin nailer can only be used on really delicate pieces of wood that will later be glued.

The brad nailer is much more versatile and doesn’t require any additional adhesive to hold the wood in place.

The bottom line comes down to the thickness of the wood you’re working with – if it could be split by a Brad nailer, opt for the pin nailer. Otherwise, a brad nailer is the way to go.

Best Pin Nailer Reviews

Bostitch 23 Gauge Pin Nailer

bostitch pin nailer

View Price Here!

This pin nailer shoots 23-gauge nails ranging from 1/3 to ½”.

It has a low-profile nose piece that tapers for clear sight.

It has an adjustable high low power switch that boosts depth control and longevity.

It also has a lightweight and durable aluminum housing, making it easy to use and resistant to scratches and marks.

It includes a belt hook, a ¼” air fitting, a carrying case and a selection of nails.

  • Shoots ½” and 1/3” nails
  • Tapered nose
  • Adjustable power switch
  • Durable aluminum housing
  • Comes with a variety of parts
  • Can be prone to breaking

Metabo HPT Pin Nailer

metabo pin nailerView Price Here!

The Metabo HPT pin nailer comes with safety glasses, an NPT male plug, a hex bar wrench and a carrying case.

It shoots 23-gauge headless pins and automatically adjusts for 5/8”, ¾”, 1”, 1-3’16” and 1-3/8″ fastener lengths, making it a highly versatile option and allowing it to shoot into a variety of surfaces.

It has a dual trigger to ensure fasteners are placed safely and accurately.

It is only 2 lb making it ideal for all day use.

It has been rated the Pro Preferred Nailer 7 years running.

  • Comes with a variety of parts
  • Automatic adjustment for various sized pins
  • Dual triggers place fasteners accurately
  • Shoots into a variety of surfaces
  • Lightweight
  • Highly rated
  • Sometimes unable to sink pins in all the way

Best Brad Nailer Reviews

Makita AF506 Brad Nailer

makita brad nailer

View Price Here

The Makita AF506 Brad Nailer takes 32-gauge nails that range from 5/8” to 2”. It can be used for hard and soft woods.

Its body, magazine and cylinder are strong and durable.

It weighs just 2.9 lbs and its narrow nose provides easy access in small areas.

It has a built-in air duster that provides air flow to clear work surfaces.

Its tool-less depth adjustment dial works on a variety of finish applications.

  • Takes a wide range of nail sizes
  • Lightweight, durable aluminum body
  • Narrow nose fits into small areas
  • Built in air duster
  • Tool-less depth adjustment
  • Can only be used with a certain pressure hose

Dewalt Max Cordless Brad Nailer

dewalt brad nailer

View Price Here!

This nailer works on 100% battery power eliminating the need for a compressor, hose or expensive gas cartridges.

It features a brushless motor. It takes 18-gauge nails for maximum runtime and durability.

Its micro nose provides increased accuracy and visibility.

It has a tool-free depth adjustment and jam release.

It’s LED lights allow for optimal workspace illumination and tool diagnostics.

  • Convenient 100% battery power
  • Brushless motor
  • Micro-nose for increased accuracy and visibility
  • Tool free depth adjustment and jam release
  • LED lights provide workspace illumination and tool diagnostics
  • Sometimes the machine can jam

Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer – Conclusion

I hope this article has helped clarify the differences and similarities between brad nailers and pin nailers! Here are some related articles you may also enjoy:

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