Canadian Woodworking

Ryobi P322 HP Airstrike 18 ga brad nailer


Untethered Nailing Performance

Author: Rob Brown

Pneumatic nail guns are great. Having the ability to quickly and accurately drive a pin or brad nail into material is incredibly handy. From making shop jigs and installing residential trim, to securing backs and drawer bottoms and assembling kitchen cabinets, a nail gun is mandatory. There’s one downside to a nail gun, though – the dreaded hose.

There are many types of hoses on the market, but all are far from perfect. They trail all over the shop or jobsite tripping people, they get caught on all sorts of things, they add weight to the nail gun and they’re sometimes not long enough. Don’t get me wrong. In the right situation a pneumatic nail gun is great to have around, but like any tool, it has limitations.

In a world where virtually every handheld power tool has the potential to be battery powered, it only makes sense brad nail guns would go this route, too. Battery-powered brad guns have been around for a while, but the prices are now coming down to make it possible for regular DIYers to see the value in pulling the trigger on one of these workshop guns.

Ryobi P322 HP Airstrike 18 GA Brad Nailer
MSRP: $249

When I had a large trim job looming it was a great excuse to check out one of the models on the market. I don’t do a lot of trim work and I already have an air compressor and two pneumatic nail guns so I didn’t feel the need to spend wildly on another gun. I also knew many woodworkers and DIYers have to consider cost and value when making purchases for the woodworking and home improvement projects they do. The Ryobi P322 HP Airstrike 18 GA Brad Nailer caught my eye.

At first grasp, I found the Ryobi P322 heavier than what I was used to. Having said that, it felt nicely balanced in my hand. After charging the battery I used it on a few 2×4s in my shop to see how it worked and to test out a few options it had. It will use brads between 5/8″ and 2-1/8″. Not surprisingly, it worked well. To the house to install some trim.

While installing some crown, the first few pins I drove fin­ished proud of the crown’s surface. Not to worry, as I turned up the depth of drive adjustment. From then on, the brad heads finished slightly below the surface of the crown.

Ryobi brad nailer
Just Out of Sight – The easy-to-adjust depth of drive level will allow you to sink brads just below the surface with ease.

As I mentioned, it’s heavier than the pneumatic 16ga and 23ga nailers I have, but it wasn’t so heavy to be problematic. I’m not the biggest or strongest guy around, but I could still easily manipulate the nailer over my head to sink nails at any angle or location. It was comfortable to use with its moulded grip. It also has an LED that’s easily triggered by a finger when in use, which sheds light right where needed.

I found I could easily drive the brads with precision, as the nose (Ryobi calls it the AccuDrive nose) didn’t interfere with my line of sight and within a few pulls of the trigger I was used to where the nail was driven.

Ryobi brad nailer
Shed Some Light – Brown found the handle quite comfortable to use. An LED trigger next to the main trigger can be pulled if you’re working in a dark area.

Over the next day or so I proceeded to install about 75′ of crown moulding and 150′ of baseboard. The battery held up nicely and is still going strong on its first charge well after my trim job was com­peted. The brushless motor the battery powers is efficient.

Though I didn’t have the need to use it, this brad nailer comes equipped with a tool-free, jam-release latch. I could find a use for this nailer in my workshop, even with two pneumatic nailers hang­ing on my wall. Having the ability to quickly fire brads of almost any size is incredibly handy, and this is especially true when your nailer isn’t tethered to a compressor.

Last modified: January 31, 2023

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches


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