Pin Nailer vs. Brad Nailer: What’s the Difference?



Pin Nailer vs. Brad Nailer

So, you are working on a project and looking for a finish nailer. That’s simple, but then you realize that there are more types of finish nailers than you thought. 

Even if you know that you want a small 16-gauge tool, there are still two choices left: pin or brad nailer. Which one is for you?

At a glance, both are similar and good for small finishes. But the difference lies in the nails that you can use.

It is crucial to choose the right nailer for an optimal result. In this post, I will look at how these two tools compare. Let’s go!

Pin Nailer

What is a pin nailer?

A pin nailer is, in essence, a nail gun that can shoot extremely small nails. By this, we actually mean the smallest kind of finish nails you can find. 

This is also why we call it pin nails, because they are so small that they look like pins. Pin nails measure 23-gauge and come in various head forms.

Pin nailer example

In general, a pin nailer looks and functions like most nail guns. They are mostly pneumatic, which means you have to connect it to an air compressor. 

Just load some nails into the tool and start shooting. You will also have similar controls, just like any other nail gun.

Pin Nailer Benefits

One of the main benefits of pin nailers is the size of pin nails. These pins will make holes that are so small that you can mask it with paint. 

With other finish nails, you may need to use a specific filler. But that’s not the case with pin nails!

Another benefit to using tiny pin nails is the fact that they will not split the wood material. It’s crucial if you are working with delicate trims, which normal-sized nails may split. 

Moreover, you can choose from a headless or slight-headed variety.


  • Holes can be filled with paint
  • Nails can’t split wood
  • Choose from headless or slight-headed option

Pin Nailer Disadvantages

Unfortunately, while the size of the pin nails can be advantageous, this also provides some of its disadvantages. 

A pin nailer has quite a weak holding power, especially when compared to most other nailer types. You cannot use it to hold on any trim or baseboard, as they are not that strong.

Moreover, pin nailers are not the most versatile either. The tiny size of pin nails makes it good only for a few, very specific use. That means it is a specialty tool more than anything else.


  • Weak holding power
  • Not very versatile

Brad Nailer

What is a brad nailer?

A brad nailer also shoots small nails that measure less than 15 and 16-gauge. On the other hand, brad nails are still a lot larger than pin nails. This is a great option if you are looking for something in between.

Brad nailer example

In terms of the tool itself, a brad nailer works much like other finish nailers. However, it is actually quite versatile compared to other types. 

This is because most brad nailers nowadays come in cordless, battery-based options. You can also find some that are still pneumatic.

Brad Nailer Benefits 

The great thing about brad nailers is that they offer the middle choice between regular 16-gauge finish nails and smaller pin nails. 

Therefore, it is easy to use them for almost any project where you need a finished nail. Whether that is standard trim work, crown molding, or building furniture.

This versatility is perfect if you are looking to tackle an array of jobs. Moreover, a brad nailer has a decent holding power for small trims. There is also a cordless option for easier use.


  • Versatile with various applications
  • Quite strong holding power
  • Available cordless

Also read: Porter-Cable PCC790LA Cordless Brad Nailer Review

Brad Nailer Disadvantages

On the other hand, this is not an indication that brad nailers are always the best choice for you. It is not great for small trims because the 18-gauge nail could split the wood material. 

If that’s the case, then you may be better off using a pin nailer. In addition, brad nailers are most likely to leave a large and visible hole in the wood.


  • May split the wood
  • Leaves a hole


All in all, choosing a pin nailer or brad nailer depends on what you are planning to do. For smaller trims and specific projects, a pin nailer would be the better choice. 

Meanwhile, you can choose the brad nailer for more standard works that require higher versatility.