I purchased the Airwave 3 n 1, a Ryobi nail gun and stapler combo, about a year ago.
The following review and conclusion is a personal opinion derived from my use of the tool. Other’s may have different experiences, but I have tried to be as thorough as possible with the use, features, and my personal experience with the Airwave.
When I originally purchased this tool, I really just needed a brad nailer – but I was lured in by the “3 n 1” capability that Ryobi touted – an ability to shoot both C Series and C1 series brad nails as well as 6000 series staples. Did I need a stapler? No. I can count on one hand, using half the fingers, how many times I have opted for staples over nails or screws, but look, it had three capabilities in one – so why not? I’m sure I would start using staples more if I had a good gun, right?
Model Name: Ryobi 3 n 1 Brad Nailer/Stapler
Model number: RA-NBS1664-S
Power source: Compressed Air
Brad nail range: 15-64 mm
Staple range: 16-40 mm
Magazine capacity: 100 x nails/staples
Working Pressure range: 4.8 – 8.3 bar (70 – 120 psi)
This is not a small brad nailer. It comes in at 2.5kg, which isn’t the heaviest on the market, by any means, but for some reason I find the balance all off.
In my use, I have found this nail gun big and unwieldy for its applications. On paper, the size and weight aren’t much different to many other brad nailers, but for some reason, it just doesn’t feel easy or comfortable to use, for me. This may be because I am comparing it to other guns that are just brad nailers, and I am cognizant of the fact that this gun is trying to fit three different applications into one body.
As for the actual firing – there isn’t too much kickback and the trigger has a relatively nice, even feel when pressed.
The handle itself has a good, rubber coating that improves grip.
Features and Kit
The Ryobi Airwave 3 n 1 comes with a carrying case, a variety of brads and staples, as well as a small oil applicator. I really appreciate whenever a tool comes with a case, so that’s a bonus for me. It is also nice that it includes the small oil bottle – pneumatic guns really need to be oiled at every use!
The gun also features a depth adjustment knob which allows for a more precise setting directly at the gun when driving in your nails.
The depth adjustment works in terms of making sure the nail gets driven far enough into the wood, but it doesn’t keep the anvil of the gun from marring the wood – more on that below.
As far as driving in brads and staples the 3 n 1 works as it should. As I mentioned above, the depth adjustment works well, and I find that I can set nails and staples to ensure that they don’t blow through my project. I have had no problems thus far with jams or misfires, but there is easy access through a lever at the front of the gun to allow for simple removal of jammed nails.
The tool works well in both hard and softwoods provided you spend some time adjusting your air pressure at the compressor, the depth adjuster at the gun, and testing on some scrap beforehand.
The magazine is easy to load and allows for easy changing between staples and brads.
Because the 3 n 1 has a wide head to accommodate for staples, it is sometimes hard to accurately pinpoint where your brad nail will end up – I definitely prefer brad nailers with small noses that allow you to see exactly where you will be driving your nail into.
There is one big thing that makes me regret my purchase of this nailer/stapler combo – and that is the marring of the wood from the anvil.
I believe the biggest negative for this tool isn’t specifically a problem with Ryobi’s version, as opposed to it being a problem with all types of brad/stapler combos.
When driving in a brad I have been unable, on a consistent basis, to eliminate the unsightly marring of the wood. After trying several different settings, I took to the internet to try to find a solution and was dismayed to find many people struggling with the same issue.
This seems to come down to the fact that the anvil which drives in the staple is the same anvil that drives in the brads. This means that instead of having a nice hole through which the nail has been driven, as you would in a regular brad nailer, you are left with a long staple mar in the wood.
There have been suggestions that I have found to help eliminate this – such as not placing the head of the gun directly flat on the surface of the wood and instead holding it at a slight angle to eliminate the full surface of the anvil connecting with your project. However, after trying many of the different suggestions, I’ve been unable to have a consistently good result and therefore cannot use the gun on any surfaces that will be visible. This effectively eliminates the usefulness of the brad nailer in terms of front-facing pinning applications. A small hole is easy to fill and relatively unnoticeable in the finished product – a long-staple hole, on the other hand, is a different story.
If you are predominantly working on surfaces that aren’t being seen or don’t need a fine finish, then this gun is a pretty good deal for having the capability to drive two different types of brads as well as staples.
However, if you want the true capability of a brad nailer, (ie. nice, easily filled nail holes on front-facing surfaces) this isn’t the tool for you.
If I had to go back, I would have simply purchased a brad nailer itself as opposed to the combo tool. Staplers aren’t that expensive, and I don’t find myself using them that often to have sacrificed the convenience of a good brad nailer.
In fact, I disliked the staple marring so much, that I did recently purchase the Ryobi cordless brad nailer, and am much happier with it. Look out for a coming review on that!
It doesn’t always pay off to get a tool that can do many things okay, but none of them well – and that’s the exact case with the Ryobi Airwave 3 n 1.
Do you have this tool? If so what are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments!