There’s a new Makita 16-gauge cordless finish nailer on its way to retailers and we got an early sample in to check out. The straight finish nailer fills out a line that includes an 18-gauge brad nailer and 23-gauge pinner on the 18V platform and a similar pinner on the 12V CXT line. They’re still lacking a 15-gauge angled nailer and framing nailer for the cordless platform, but let’s not get too far off track – you’re here to find out more about the Makita XNB02.
- Excellent build quality
- Excellent jam clearance access
- Rapid charger included in kit
- On the heavy side in its class
- Typical cordless nailer firing delay
The Bottom Line
Makita competes well in the cordless finish nailer category with a quality build and excellent performance. The firing delay and heavier weight over pneumatic guns make this a tool that’s best for occasional users or punch lists rather than a primary option. Its biggest advantage will be the time and effort it saves you when you’re not having to set up a compressor, run hose, and then reverse the whole process when you’re done.
Makita opts for a metal rear loading magazine. It adds some weight, it’s more durable than plastic, and it helps the slider action work more smoothly when you reload. On the side, you’ll notice markings that will quickly tell you what size nails are there from the last project or user, though it’s in millimeters instead of inches.
Having two modes to work with isn’t that big of a deal on its own, nor is an easy tool-free mode change. Makita moves away from standard trends and puts their switch to the lower left, just above the battery. It’s covered to help avoid getting any debris inside.
The Makita 16-gauge cordless finish nailer has one of the best jam clearance mechanisms I’ve seen. Just flip the lever and lift to access the driver area. There are other systems very similar in design, but Makita’s action is much smoother and easier to work with. It’s about as effortless as you can hope for.
Chargers aren’t usually a highlight of anyone’s feature set. However, Makita includes a Rapid Charger like they do with the majority of their cordless tools. You can expect the 2.0 Ah batteries in the kit to charge in roughly 25 minutes. Even if your battery is hot, the charger will actively cool it so it can start the cycle quickly.
Hard Plastic Case
Makita packs the XNB02 in a hard plastic storage case that easily contains the entire kit and stacks beautifully in your shop, truck, or trailer.
- Dry fire lockout
- LED above the nose
- Reversible belt clip
- Two no-mar pads
- Tool-free depth adjustment
- Trigger lockout
- Rubber bumpers to protect work surface
- Narrow nose design for better tight access
Everyone expects to deal with extra weight on any cordless nailer. The Makita XNB02 is no different, weighing in at 6.9 pounds bare and 7.75 pounds with the 2.0 Ah battery on our scales. That puts it near the higher end.
Balance is very weight-forward when you’re using it in a vertical orientation. Switching to a horizontal hold when you’re close to a ceiling or floor, it’s still weighted forward. However, the top-to-battery balance is in check. Again, nearly every cordless finish nailer you use is going to have a similar weight distribution. It’s something you’ll need to get used to if you’re making the switch from pneumatics.
The handle is very comfortable with its combination of shape and rubber overmold. The diameter is a bit thicker than Makita’s driver lineup, but it’s just about perfect for the handling the weight and balance of this gun.
I didn’t have a project lined up to put the Makita XNB02 on, so I grabbed some scrap materials from around the shop to simulate the variety of materials you’re likely to use a 16-gauge nailer on.
The nailer has a reasonable amount of power to work with. Compared to our pneumatic guns, it’s a little under the strongest models. In some of our harder material, it drives 2″ nails flush on the shallowest setting and sinks them at full depth. You’ll still want to test the depth in scrap, especially in hardwoods if you’re going to push the 2-1/2″ limit.
Pro Tip: Make sure you adjust the depth in scrap material before firing into your workpiece. Wood has different densities depending on the species.
The Makita 16-gauge cordless finish nailer needs a half-second to wind up before firing when you pull the trigger. This may be a make-or-break point for you since Hitachi figured out a way around it with their models and it’s not an issue with pneumatic guns.
During the course of my testing, I haven’t had any jams or misfires. They’re going to come eventually like all nailers, but it’s not going to be due to a chronic design issue.
One thing that will come into play for a small percentage of users is the nail length. Some models get you down to a 3/4″ nail, but the smallest Makita lets you go is 1″.
Price and Value
At nearly $375 for the bare tool, the Makita 16-gauge cordless finish nailer isn’t cheap. Of the major options you have on the cordless side, it’s the most expensive. Comparatively, Hitachi’s version is $299 and Milwaukee’s is $399, both as full kits.
Makita clearly has an excellent build quality and that’s what you’ll want to weigh against your budget and performance expectations as you compare models.
The Bottom Line
Makita competes well in the cordless finish nailer category with a quality build and excellent performance. The firing delay and heavier weight over pneumatic guns make this a tool that’s best for occasional users or punch lists rather than a primary option. The XNB02’s biggest advantage will be the time and effort it saves you when you’re not having to set up a compressor, run hose, and then reverse the whole process when you’re done.
Pneumatic Vs Cordless Nailers: What’s the Best Choice?
Makita 16-Gauge Cordless Finish Nailer Specifications
- Model: Makita XNB02
- Power Source: Makita 18V LXT battery (two 2.0 Ah included in kit)
- Nailer Gauge: 16
- Nail Length: 1″ – 2-1/2″
- Maximum Capacity: 110 nails
- Dimensions: 11-5/8″ x 4-1/4″ x 12-1/2″
- Price: $372.99 (bare)
- Warranty: 3 years
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