As a finish carpenter by trade, a brad nailer is a very important tool in my box. I pull that nail gun out at least 5 times a week. But along with that lightweight pneumatic nailer, I have to lug my air compressor around and contend with the inevitably tangled mess of an air hose. So of course, the idea of only needing a self contained nailer without the hassles of typical pneumatic setups was definitely interesting. I was intrigued by the new Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer. Ridgid boasts that it has all the power of pneumatic nailer in a cordless tool. That’s saying a lot, so I thought I’d take the time to put those claims to the test.
Over the past week I’ve had the pleasure of using the new Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer. I had reservations considering my less-than-excited experience with other cordless nailers that required gas. However, as soon as I read that the 18 gauge could shoot 2000 nails in one charge I began to see a new perspective on cordless nail guns. Could this cordless brad nailer earn a spot in my toolbox? Was it possible it could replace my current pneumatic set-up? Visions of my hoses, compressor, and pneumatic nailers collecting dust flooded my mind. Oh the convenience!
Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Specs
- Power Source: Ridgid HyperLithium 18V Battery (sold separately)
- Nails per Charge: Up to 2000
- Weight: 5.8 pounds
- 18 Gauge Nail Range: 5/8″ – 2-1/8″
- Price: $229
- Warranty: Lifetime Service Agreement
Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer First Impressions
Upon picking up the box, the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer felt a bit heavy. With the nailer weighing in at 5.8 lbs, it was already nearly 3 pounds heavier than my pneumatic brad-nailer and I still had to put a battery on the thing. My concerns were quickly thwarted once I picked it up and held it in my hand. The gun is incredibly well balanced for its weight. In addition to looking really cool with Ridgid’s trademark orange finish and charcoal accents and grip, it’s also very comfortable. However, I still felt the weight could be a problem in certain overhead applications, such as installing a large amount of crown molding in one day. Coincidentally, I did just that.
Set up of the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer was very easy and straightforward. There aren’t a whole lot of attachable items that come with the nailer. In fact, there’s only one attachment apart from securing the battery and that’s the metal belt clip that can be installed on either side of the gun for convenience. That only required a Philips tip screwdriver to secure. I did have to pry the belt clip slightly more open so it could more easily clip onto my nail apron but that was more preference than problem.
The process for loading the gun with nails is pretty self-explanatory. I won’t go into any details other than to say that it’s a quick and easy process that is pretty much the same as loading pneumatic nailers.
I was pleased with the construction of the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer. It has a magnesium body, which makes the guns durable while also keeping the weight to a minimum. The handle is wrapped in Ridgid’s typical rubberized Hex-Grip material and makes the grip comfortable. Overall, the gun feels… well, rigid (pun intended).
Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Favorite Features
- Brushless motor for durability
- Ability to select between single actuation and contact “bump”actuation
- Tool-free depth control and power adjustment
- Dry-fire lockout that prevents nailer from firing when no nails are loaded
- Tool-free jam release
- Included belt clip
Putting the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer to Work
I got quite a bit of use out of the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer this past week. I mentioned before that I thought the weight of this nailer could become a problem if one were to do an extended amount of overhead work, so I thought I’d test that theory. My dad and I worked together installing about 400 ft of crown molding and it was the perfect opportunity to put the 18 gauge nailer to the test.
I’m pleased to say that the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer performed very well and exceeded expectations. It was incredibly consistent and I didn’t encounter a single jam or misfire. The dry-fire lockout came in handy on a few occasions when I wasn’t aware that I was running low on nails and saved me from marring up the trim. I was able to precisely set the depth at which the nails were driven using the power adjustment and depth of drive adjustment, both of which are tool free adjustments.
I didn’t have a use for the LED light that is mounted on the front of the nailer considering I was working in a well-lit area. I did appreciate, however, that there is a separate button on the grip to engage the light. This kept me from wasting battery life.
Speaking of battery life, that was one of my main concerns with this gun. During installation I didn’t need to throw the battery on the charger at all, and it still had plenty of life left at the end of the day. That honestly has to be the most impressive part for me. All the batteries need is a morning charge, and I can work all day.
I have to note that there is a slight delay pulling the trigger. It’s a short delay, and is definitely shorter than a gas powered nailer I had used in the past, but it was noticeable. It would be nice if the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer fired instantly like a pneumatic nailer, but the slight delay is far from a deal breaker and frankly had no affect on my rate of firing. To combat the delay, using the contact actuation setting on the gun helps reduce time between firing.
The weight, which was another major concern of mine, didn’t really become a problem until later in the day. This could just be an effect of working overhead for 8 hours but I did have some fatigue in my right forearm. I found myself wishing the gun weighed a bit less. However, when I consider the hassle of lugging around an air compressor and dealing with unruly air hoses, the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer still comes out on top.
I have to confess – I wasn’t really expecting much from the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer. I had already made up my mind that it would be too slow, too inconsistent, the batteries would run out quickly, and it would be too heavy. I absolutely didn’t expect it to earn a spot in my tool bag let alone supersede my trusty pneumatic brad and finish nailers. However, after spending a week with them my expectations were exceeded to the point that I was downright giddy with excitement. I can’t wait to get it out of its bag and back to work.
I’m impressed. Very impressed. I’m not going to say that the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer will completely supplant my pneumatic nailers at the moment, mainly because backups are always needed. But I fully expect my compressor, hoses, and pneumatic nail guns to be spending some time in the garage. The real test is time. If it holds up over extended use, which I have no doubts it will, the Ridgid Hyperdrive 18 Gauge Brad Nailer will be swept into my “game-changer” category.