So, I had the chance to pick up the Ridgid 18 Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Angled Finish Nailer, model number R250AF18, while at the Ridgid RoundUp. Actually, I'm on my 2nd one in less than a week (will be explained below). Overall, I'm tempted to give it a thumbs down. Here's my reasoning:
Finish/Cosmetics - the new colour pattern on this tool (primarily grey and black with orange highlights, rather than the standard orange and grey) is actually a very nice pattern. It's very visually appealing, and looks like an amazing tool. On looks and design alone, you could almost overlook the other flaws, it's that purdy of a tool. However, once you delve deeper, there appears to be some issues. The dark charcoal-grey overmolding is all marked up. I went through multiple units at the store to get the least out of them all, but they were all the same. It looks like the tool was thrown around and beat up before it was packaged up. Lots of scuffs, marks, etc. The overall tool housing is plastic, rather than magnesium or something like that. I figure that this is to enable a bit of a weight savings since the motor/flywheel assembly in it adds a lot of weight, and they are trying to keep the weight down on this. Finish/Cosmetics Score: 7 out of 10 (the design itself I would give a 10 out of 10, but the completed manufacturing finish pulls this all apart).
Nail Magazine - light plastic, not as robust as other Ridgid nailers. With some compression/warped molding issues, you need to give the interior of the slides within the nail magazine a little bit of a squirt of WD-40 to enable the nails to move and slide. But, this is something that wears in very easily. This magazine holds about 100 nails (two of the standard 50-nail clips). However, on the bottom front of the nail magazine, there is a horrible and ugly mark - it seems to be from where they cut off a molding tab on the orange magazine housing. True, it's better to not have a sharp edge that could catch and damage something. But this cut/filing/etc. is just way too obvious and ugly. This also ties in to the Finish/Cosmetics for me. Nail Magazine Score: 8 out of 10.
Belt Clip - very nice. Strong, steady, and protrudes out far enough from the battery for easy usage. It easily can be moved from one side or another, depending on if you use your right or left hand for this. Belt Clip Score: 10 out of 10.
Weight & Balance - pretty good, considering the immense weight that is contained with the motor and flywheel. The plain tool weighs about 5 1/2 pounds (sorry I can't give a more exact number right now - the batteries are dead in my digital scale). With a compact 18 volt lithium-ion battery on it, it's just over 6 pounds, about 6 1/2. Regarding the balance, it's amazing. This nailer, when there's a battery on it, and it's loaded with nails, just feels perfect in your hands. It's bulky enough to allow easy recoil aversion, while at the same time, it's not too bulky that it makes it hard to work with, even overhead. True, the overall tool would be beautiful to be up to a pound lighter. But it just feels good and natural how it is. Weight & Balance Score: 8.5 out of 10.
LED Headlights - almost perfect. There's two of these, placed to either side, just below the main, silver metal front housing. There's one button that turns these on an off, which is plainly marked, and easily turned on and off. The only thing that doesn't give the LEDs a 10-out-of-10 from me, is that there is a slight shadow from the workpiece contact at the nose of the nailer. However, there isn't really any way to avoid this - the placing of the LEDs where they are make the best of any situation, and works quite good. Score: 9.5 out of 10.
Battery Connection/Housing - works great. I like the angled connection - it works well with the balance and design of this product, and makes it easy to hold. Even though this unit comes with the compact 1.5 Ah battery, it will accept and work with the larger 3.0 Ah lithium-ion battery also. This doesn't affect the comfort of gripping the tool - it just works within the placement of where your hand and wrist/forearm are when holding it. Battery Connection/Housing Score - 10 out of 10.
Included Stuff - so so. I would prefer to have a hard case for this item, rather than another bag. Also, it would be nice to have an additional rubber/silicone pad for use on the workpiece contact / safety mechanism - mine's already got a tear in it. The solo compact battery is fine for this unit, as many purchasers will likely have other Ridgid tools and other batteries. Included Stuff Score: 6.5 out of 10.
Nailer Operation - here is where it blatently fails. This machine spools up nicely, and fires well. [Side note: this is actually my 2nd one of these. The first one I returned/exchanged yesterday (yes, drove back over to Michigan to do so), because when it spooled up, there was a very noisy and feelable vibration from the motor/flywheel inside. If it was running/spooled up, and you changed the axis that you were holding it (not shaking it, but that type of motion), then things seemed to move around inside, and vibrate/grind/rattle. This was very unlike the demo one that ProBrand had at the RoundUp for us to play with. So, I exchanged it for this one that I've done testing with, and all is fine it appears now.] It cycles fairly fast and operates well, considering it's battery powered, and it's fairly quiet in doing so. However, those are it's saving graces. There are a few major issues:
So, for Nailer Operation Score: 3 out of 10.
- No "dry-fire lockout". Once you're out of nails, it still allows itself to operate, which fires the hammer/pin into your work surface, allowing it to imbed itself and become stuck/jammed. Frustrating.
- Depth of Drive adjustment. This goes from 1 to 6. Well, 1 to 3 are pointless. Also, this thing should have more adjustability within the depth of drive, like from 1-to-10 or 1-to-12. But the biggest thing, after firing three 50-nail "clips", is that the depth of drive is...absolutely not consistent!!! This is the most important thing with a nailer, especially a finish nailer. I found that the depth ends up varying by about 1/8" both above and below the workpiece surface - ie., about 1/4" total variation, which is unacceptable. In a span of a few nails, I got this type of variation. This is on settings of either 3, 4, or 5, or anywhere in between. I tried this on a variety of surfaces and materials, from nailing pieces of spare MDF and pine/spruce/fir trim into a 2x4, and also nailing into the wide (4") side of a solo 2x4, and using some finished pine 1x2's into a 2x4. All of them yielded the same results - inconsistent, inaccurate depth variations. The only thing that worked fine was when the dial was turned fully to 6 - but this only worked to consistently drive the nails 1/8" or so below the surface, constantly and consistently. But this is no good for finish and trim work - best to have the nail even with, or just ever so slightly below the surface. And this nailer cannot consistently achieve this. I was using a nail punch and hammer to recess/even up the nails on about 1/3 to 1/2 of the nails fired.
This nailer, while a great idea and a nice starting point, is just that. Unless you want to use this nailer to just simply drive a nail, and consistency isn't important to you, and you will always just want to drive the nails way below the surface, then this nailer needs much improvement.
I will be returning this tool, unfortunately, and will be waiting for an 18 gauge brad nailer version of this (which hopefully also is a dual-function nailer, and will drive narrow-crown finish staples as well). Hopefully, with an 18 gauge brad version, these kinks will have been worked out. Dry-fire is almost a must, especially with trim work, and depth-of-drive inaccuracy/inconsistencies are killer.