DEWALT DCN680 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Review

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DEWALT 18 Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer Review

Dewalt 18 gauge cordless brad nailer

Manufacturer: DEWALT
Model number: DCN680
Price: $299.00, kit, and $246.00 bare tool.
Power source: 20V MAX (18V Nom)
Weight: 5.2
The TBB crew recently tested and reviewed the DEWALT DCN680 18 Gauge Brad Nailer in our recent Best 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Head-to-Head testing. The DEWALT Brad Nailer is equipped with brushless motor technology and powered by a 2.0Ah Lithium Ion battery.

It weighs 5lbs 2 oz. (w/o battery) and utilizes a motor driven flywheel to fire the nail.

Here’s How The DEWALT DCN680 Works

The tool operates from a flywheel design.  If you are familiar with this type of technology, the brushless motor spins a flywheel at a high RPM rate and stores energy. When the trigger is pressed, the driver blade contacts the spinning flywheel, and transfers energy to the blade. The blade pushes forward to drive the nail. There are return springs, which set the driver blade back to its original position in the head of the tool. Then the cycle can repeat with either the trigger or bump guard engaged.

The great thing is that once the DEWALT flywheel spins up to its rotational speed, the DEWALT nailer is always “at-the-ready.”   Meaning when you fire the trigger, the fastener shoots with zero lag time, and the blade resets immediately.

One interesting thing about the DEWALT brad nailer is that when in contact [bump] mode, you can depress contract safety and keep it depressed down and rapid-fire trigger, as you slide, the tool along the work surface. On the other hand, you have the option in bump-fire mode to hold trigger and punch the tool rapidly.

Run-time and Capacity

The DEWALT brad nailer it is capable of driving up to 850 nails per charge. The tool’s straight magazine holds 110 nails. This 18-Gauge cordless nailer drives nails from 5/8″ to 2 1/8″ in length. There is a yellow reload indicator on magazine for easy visual recognition of low nail quantities.

The tool will lock out when the magazine has 11 brads remaining. In comparison to many of the other brad nailers we tested, this number seems way too high. Ideally, I would like the DEWALT nailer to fire all of the brads and then lock out the firing action to protect the tool.

DEWALT Brad Nailer Specifications

  • Fasteners -18-Gauge, Straight Brad Nails
  • Tool-free jam release
  • Belt Hook
  • Brushless Motor
  • Tool-free depth adjustment
  • Two LED lights
  • Low nail lockout prevents dry-firing
  • Stall release lever will reset driver blade in the event of a stall
  • 110 nail capacity
  • ⅝” to 2-⅛” fastener length
  • Height 11-⅞ ”
  • Length 10-⅜ ”
  • Width 3-¾ ”
  • Weight 5 lbs 2 oz [without battery]

DEWALT DCN680 Features

The DEWALT brad nailer features a jam clearing actuator for the flywheel/hammer mechanism, a selective actuation mode, a tool-less jam release, tool-less depth of drive adjustment, a wire-type belt hook and excellent 2 LED lighting. A selective actuation switch transitions between sequential mode and bump fire modes.

The DEWALT DCN680 has a large-size and easy-to-use quick release for a tool-less jam clearing that gives the user easy maintenance and reduced downtime. We installed approximately 1000 fasteners, and did not encounter a single jamb when testing this nailer.


The DEWALT has two bright LEDs that shines on both sides of the tool, and provides good general lighting around the tool as well as lighting for the tool tip. The TBB crew selected the DEWALT nailer as having the best lighting for the units tested.

DEWALT Depth of Drive

DEWALT has a knob that turns 7 times, and the thumb wheel is large and easy to use. Setting the depth of drive was easy, and very responsive. The DEWALT was one of the only units tested that had a visual depth indicator – a nice feature.

DEWALT Brad Nailer Power and Performance

We successfully installed brads in Maple, Oak, Mahogany and IPE boards with ease. We used the DEWALT brad nailer to install trim onto framing lumber as well as install tongue and groove bead board. We did note that the DEWALT nailer had a relatively large amount of side-to-side play in the tool head. This made it difficult to get the same accuracy as some of the other nailers. We suspect that the DEWALT users will get used to the tool well enough to adapt to this tolerance issue and put the nails where they want.


The DEWALT tip, once depressed, was accurate in brad placement in the tongue and groove nailing. It was powerful enough to toe nail into ALL of the materials we tested.

Contact Tip

It is worth repeating that with the DEWALT brad nailer, the user can, when in contact [bump] mode, depress contract safety and keep it depressed down and rapid fire the trigger, as you slide, the tool along the work.

All of the nailers fire brad nails reasonably fast, but the Dewalt seemed to be the fastest.

Line Of Sight

DEWALTs “Head” is big, and the front right section is large in relation to several of the other units. This size will slightly hinder the user’s line of sight. The nailer does have visual indications on the contact head and the user will develop a sense of where the brad nail is coming from. While not the most accurate nailer, we were easily able to achieve an adequate level of accuracy.

Belt Clip

DEWALT has a wire-type belt clip. The interesting thing we noted is that the tip of the belt clip is angled inward, toward the belt. That design may make for a more snug fit but it causes a bit more care in putting the nailer onto the belt.


The DEWALT brad nailer sells as a kit for $299.00, and as a bare tool for $246.00.

Final Thoughts

The DEWALT Brad Nailer came in second place in our recent H2H.  The DCN680 has been on the market for almost two years and remains a top contender; Milwaukee beat it by improving small areas of this already proven nailer.

The DEWALT’s mechanical switches, and straightforward design make it an easy-to-use tool. The DCH680 brad nailer consistently installed brad nails fast, at the proper depth, in hard and soft woods, and left very clean nail holes.




About the author

Stan Durlacher

Stan has been involved with Design and Construction in the commercial industry since 1975. He is currently the President of Design and Construction for a major St Petersburg, FL developer. Before that, he was a Project Executive for a prominent Boston Construction Manager, building high-rise apartment and office buildings. One of the hallmarks of his career has been innovative problem-solving. As Assistant Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Stan was instrumental in bringing the hydro mill slurry wall machinery and technology to Boston in the 1990s for use on the Central Artery Third Harbor Tunnel Project. Stan has been an avid woodworker since college and brings an innovative point of view to this field. Before Florida, he owned an 1886 farmhouse near Concord, Mass, and his skills and time were never idle for long. His barn and attached spaces serve as his ever-expanding workshop. Stan is a self-avowed tool hound. In 2013, Stan decided to design and build his own CNC router. This machine has become a centerpiece of his woodworking and craft focus. Stan will share many of the ways that this innovative technology has solved many current problems and how CNC will begin to impact the woodworking and home renovation businesses.

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1 Comment

  1. p stam

    the no mar tips keep falling off the tip under normal use. Has anybody found a good method to keeping them in place. I’ve gone thru the three factory ones in less than three jobs.

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