Ryobi 16G One+ AirStrike Nailer review in a well-nailed nutshell: this high-end nail gun in 16G and 18G variants is a proper pro tool.
There are very few tools out there that are as satisfying to use or as overtly macho as one of the best nail guns out there. Why so testosterone-tickling? Well, you grip it (like a gun), pull the trigger (like a gun) and it fires out a nail with the sort of velocity that could do quite a bit of damage (like a gun).
But hey, we don’t condone violence, nor do we think guns are cool, but there’s something bizarrely satisfying about blamming a few nails into a piece of dead tree. What’s more, a nail gun is essential if you’re taking on any large-scale woodwork project that requires lots of nails, simply because using a hammer is insanely boring, tiring and time consuming.
They are great for easily attaching skirting boards, rapidly pinning picture rails, hanging fabric, upholstering furniture or even tackling that massive outdoor decking project that has been on the to-do list since last summer. All you need to know is that nail guns come in two distinct, common flavours (four if you count the corded ones, or those that require compressed air): the brad nailer and the finishing nailer.
The former uses a smaller gauge nail, which confusingly boasts a larger gauge number (18G, for example), to put the final touches on more delicate projects, such as making picture frames and pinning pieces of furniture together, where burying the nail deep into the wood and out of sight is essential.
Finishing nailers use a larger nail (16G, like the one tested here) for more heavy duty tasks, like constructing a wooden office in the garden, tackling decking or generally ensuring much larger slabs of wood stay in place.
This 16 gauge model (it deals with 1.6mm nails between 19 and 65mm long) is an absolute beast and loves taking on those more serious DIY tasks, happily smashing a nail interior exterior wood trims, hard flooring and loads more. Better still, it’s cordless, which means it creates its own jet of compressed air and doesn’t require hooking up to a compressor or power outlet.
Instead, you’ll need to ensure the tool comes with one of Ryobi’s expensive 5.0Ah One+ battery packs, or you’ll have to purchase one separately. It’s not the end of the world, as this battery will power an entire range of Ryobi tools.
Ryobi 16G One+ AirStrike Nailer review: price and availability
Ryobi sells the bare tool (no battery) for £229.99 on its own website, but it can be currently found on Amazon UK (opens in new tab) for just £169.95. An official Ryobi 5.0Ah One+ battery is £74.95 from Amazon or £82.99 if you want the charger. You’ll definitely want the charger.
Bunnings (opens in new tab) is your place to go for Ryobi tools in Australia and New Zealand, where this tool retails for $269AUD or $299NZD. This does not appear to be available in the USA, however.
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Ryobi 16G One+ AirStrike Nailer review: design & build quality
Without wanting to provoke a Kenneth Williams-esque response from the audience, this is a big tool and one that certainly takes a bit of manhandling. It weights 2.5kg without the battery pack in place, so you expect to have to deal with over 4kg worth of nail gun during projects.
This is in part thanks to the overtly robust build of the body, which packs ergonomically placed rubber grips, the bulky nail holster on the front and the firm’s own AirStrike technology, which essentially acts as a mini compressor to fire the nails.
On top of this, the tool has a few additional features that stand it out from a similarly priced crowd. There’s a dual firing mode for a start, which includes a classic triggered sequential mode, as well as a contact actuation, which sends a nail into your chosen material as soon as the tip is pressed into a surface. For safety reasons, you’ll have to ensure this tip is depressed, even when using a triggered mode.
It’s also possible to adjust the depth of nail drive without the need for additional tools, which is as simple as turning the air pressure dial up on the back and fine tuning it with a dial on the front of the tool. You’ll also benefit from a low nail indicator that will let you know when it’s time to reload and an additional safety feature that won’t allow the tool to fire without a nail in the chamber.
Ryobi 16G One+ AirStrike Nailer review: performance
The names that you most commonly see on a proper building site (Milwaukee, DeWalt, Bosch Professional et al) all produce a cordless nailer like this one but you can expect to part with twice as much for one of those and the required battery packs.
The Ryobi 16G One+ AirStike Nailer might not be able to replace the reliability and bomb-proof build quality of these pro units but it gets bloody close. I was impressed by the unrelenting way it shot nails into dummy pieces of wood with astounding accuracy. Dialling in the correct nail depth was also extremely easy and made a fairly daunting task seem like a walk in the park, even for the uninitiated goons like myself.
What’s more, there’s no annoying compressed air hose to wrap around arms and legs, nor is it as noisy as those tools. Yes, it’s a fairly heavy thing to use for extended periods of time, but anyone spending all day building a tree house or laying down some decking is bound to pack enough muscle to work with this thing.
Ryobi suggests users fire a few nails into a scrap piece of project wood before starting on the real thing and this is sage advice, because retrieving one of the nails from a surface is essentially impossible and more often than not, they need to be cut out, which is a bit galling when you've spent so long on a project but testament to the power this cordless tool possesses.
Ryobi also knows its audience and includes things like bright LEDs at the front of unit to assist in low light situations, an optional belt loop for easily hauling it up a ladder and tool-less depth adjustment and nail jam release, which just makes the whole thing a lot more approachable and easier to use.
Ryobi 16G One+ AirStrike Nailer review: what the customers say
From Amazon UK
* “I was concerned that this would be too heavy and 16 Gauge would be too thick compared to 18 gauge unit and brad nails. This was not a concern once I got this unit and used it, the nailer has weight but it's manageable even upside down (4.2Kg incl 5.0Ah battery) I'm 50+.”
* “As a hobbyist, I've spent much time (and money) on nail/brad guns - mainly due to the gas ones being too expensive when not using it as a trade. For my tasks in recycling pallets, this is just the ticket. It fires fast, I'm yet to have it jam and it is virtually recoil-less.”
* “Don't generally do reviews but most for this product are a load of bull and felt the need to as this brad / pin gun is as good as the Senco equivalent but half the price. Well impressed, it’s nicely weighted, well made and feels robust. As a joiner by trade I've been using it for the last month without a problem. Firing pin leaves minimal damage on surface of timber and fires 40mm pins into oak no probs”
Ryobi 16G One+ AirStrike Nailer review: verdict
This is another solid tool from Ryobi and one that could tempt many professionals into purchasing it as a handy tool box addition. Yes, the pneumatic, compressor-activated variants tend to be lighter and a little easier to use for longer periods of time, but they just don’t offer the freedom that this tool does.
Quite simply, the Ryobi 16G One+ AirStrike Nailer allows its user to fire nails into even the most awkward places, work overhead, reach tricky spots and work quickly while remaining safe throughout. Ryobi suggests its 5.0Ah battery packs, which are expensive and heavy, but we’ve found it works just fine with much smaller packs. They just need charging more often.
Anyone who deals with a lot of woodwork, pinning or nailing will find this beyond handy and while the 16G unit does deal with thicker nails, we found that the tool is accurate and refined enough to provide a neat finish on more delicate projects. For those who appreciate the finer things in life, there’s an 18G variant, which is just as good and a bit cheaper still.