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I always thought of air nailers like exotic European sports cars: very cool, nice to look at, and totally out of my league.  Guess what?  I was wrong.  Some of Ridgid’s models — like the R2138NA 2-1/8” brad nailer — are quite affordable and simple to operate.  After spending some time with one, I can’t believe I didn’t buy one long ago.  Read on past the jump for my hands-on experiences.


When I tore off the cardboard packaging, I found a sturdy, jobsite-worthy carrying case.  We don’t normally get worked up about cases, but this one is very slim and super strong — both good things.  So after a second or two admiring the “armor,” we popped the steel latches and had a go at the contents.

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The nailer itself is extremely light, but feels very durable.  It has a light magnesium, and sweet gray grippy-rubber wrapped around the handle — all of which makes for a nice feel in your hand.


After a quick rummage through the rest of the box, we found a pair of safety glasses that Ridgid had thoughtfully included plus a swivel air hook-up which we quickly mounted on the rear of the unit.

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We also took the time to latch and unlatch the breach mechanism on the nose to get familiar with how to clear the unit if a nail jam occurred.  I must say, however, that after extensive use I have yet to see it jam — or have any issue whatsoever other than running out of fasteners.


Then it was back to checking out its other more “active” features.  Though the Ridgid’s controls might confuse a newbie, they’re actually very simple to understand and operate.  Two major controls sit near the trigger.

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The first is a dial that adjusts the depth of the drive on the fastener. Turn it left for deeper and right for shallower.  The easiest way to find out if it’s set correctly is to drive a test nail into a spare piece of what-you’re-working-on to check levels.  If it’s wrong, just turn the dial the other way a bit — simple but effective.

The second feature is the mode selector which is located on the trigger itself.  It has two modes: single fire and contact mode.  Single fire means that when you press the orange nub at the front of the nailer to a surface then pull the trigger, the Ridgid drives one nail.  Contact mode means that you can hold down the trigger and every time you touch the nub to a surface it drives another nail.  As you can imagine, single fire is for more precise work and contact mode is for faster (less accurate) work.

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To load brads into the nailer, depress the large orange button at the back of the gun and pull. The chamber is now completely open and ready to receive ammo.  Though the nailer can handle 18-gauge brads of any size up to 2-1/8”, we stuck with the box of 1-1/2” nails that Ridgid included in the case.

We placed a single 100-brad load in the channel and pushed the slide shut with an ear-pleasing click.  The nailer was now loaded and we confirmed it by looking though the peep window on the side of the slide.


With a quick connect to an air hose and about 80-pounds of air from a compressor behind it, we moved on to testing.

Read on to page two for our in use experiences.

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7 Responses to Hands On: Ridgid 2 1/8” Brad Nailer

  1. Rick says:

    Nice review Sean. Thanks for making me feel even worse at not having won the Ridgid Pneumatic giveaway 😀

    just kidding.. but some good stuff there.. I picked up a cheap compressor – mostly to inflate my daughter’s kiddie pool. But it’ll go to 120 psi – so I should be able to run a nailer like this without any problem.. Until I can pick up a real compressor.

  2. Chris Byrne says:

    I have this nailer, and I love it. It’s my go-to tool for cabinetry and finish carpentry.

  3. l_bilyk says:

    Air nailers = exotic European sports car? Really? Everybody i know has a few

  4. Rick says:

    For what its worth a 18 gage air nailer is wonderful. I have a $19.90 one from Harbor freight http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=40116 18 GAUGE 2-IN-1 NAILER/STAPLER KIT It is wonderful. I was doing some pretty big projects with it and used about 1000 staples (I guess, maybe a little less). I only had 1 jam, and that is my fault as I shut of the compressor and the air pressure was way low. It does require a allen key to clear the jammed brad. But for the price I was able to justify getting one, Wish I had done so earlier, very very useful!

  5. great review, thanks.

  6. cedime.org says:

    Using an air nailer can make remodeling easier than ever. Imagine the speed and accuracy you can achieve when installing new counter tops or building a new deck. The benefits of an air gun eliminates the need of having an extra hand. You can position the item you are nailing and place the nail gun directly on the target of where you want to drive in the nail. The speed and accuracy of the nail gun gets the nail in with the squeeze of the trigger. This also prevents splitting of wood in woodworking projects.

  7. Michael Bolton says:

    I found your site on Google while looking for reviews on this Rigid 18 gauge stapler. I learned a lot from your review and it has convinced me that this is the stapler I will be purchasing. Thanks, and I’ll be back.

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