Ryobi Nail Gun Review | Airwave 3 n 1

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.

Ryobi Airwave 3 n 1

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?

Specs

Model Name: Ryobi 3 n 1 Brad Nailer/Stapler

Model number: RA-NBS1664-S

Power source: Compressed Air

Weight: 2.46kg

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)

Ergonomics

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.

Ryobi Airwave 3 n 1 with self-oiling connector
Note: The self-oiling connector at the bottom is an aftermarket add on that I purchased and doesn’t come with the gun.

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.

Ryobi Airwave 3 n 1 depth adjustment knob
The depth adjustment knob is easy to access just in front of the trigger

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.

Use

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.

Jam removal on the Ryobi Airwave 3 n 1
Easy access to the top of the gun for jam clearance

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.

Assembling drawers with glue and brad nails

The magazine is easy to load and allows for easy changing between staples and brads.

Ryobi Airwave 3 n 1 magazine

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.

Wide tip of the Ryobi Airwave 3 n 1

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.

Staples marring in wood from the Ryobi Airwave 3 n 1
marring in the wood from the staple anvil

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.

 

Conclusion

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!

8 Replies to “Ryobi Nail Gun Review | Airwave 3 n 1”

  1. Good job on the thorough review on the Ryobi Nail Gun Airwave 3 n 1. I’m glad to hear that you didn’t experience any jams. That is one issue I have had to deal with in the past on other nail guns. The marring wood marks might be an issue for me. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I often find with quality guns jamming issues have arisen when I use low-quality nails. I believe they have less integral strength and seem to bend or twist when firing, resulting in more jams.

      As for the marring of the wood, that’s one of the main reasons I wrote this review! I don’t want someone else to purchase the gun and find the same issue I did. It was a big disappointment for sure!

      Thanks for stopping by, Justin!

  2. This product looks very interesting. My only question is that I have really small hands for a female and there are staple guns and nail guns that is hard for me to hold let alone apply pressure enough to shoot the gun. Is this designed for people with my problem. I love doing crafts and building things but certain nail guns and staple guns does not work with my hand size as well as my arthritis. What are your thoughts?

    1. Yay, another female builder! As a small female myself, I wouldn’t recommend this gun. It’s fairly large and unwieldy, and it does take a fair amount of pressure to depress the large anvil head. Makita makes a relatively small brad nailer that I love, and if you are doing smaller builds using glue, I would suggest looking into a pin nailer. They generally are much smaller, lighter, and easier to handle 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by Luz!

  3. I thought that your review relates to a real gun but on further reading, I came to know that it is to do with screws and nails.

    Yes, that was a good read and I encourage you to keep up the good work by letting your readers know about Ryobi 3 n 1 Brad Nailer.

    Wishing you all the best of luck and success.

  4. I don’t know if I could get over the damage to the finish of the wood when using this nail gun. I do many projects that require a good finish. Is the dent small enough to sand away or will you have to use wood putty to make sure your finish is good?
    I currently have two nail guns and a hand stapler, I think I will stay with my choices at this time with your articles information.
    John

    1. Hey, John!

      You’re exactly right, the marring of the wood is something I can’t get over either. In order to sand the staple-shaped marring away, you would have to take quite a lot off – filling really is the only feasible option. This is definitely not a gun for finish work! I think you’re smart to stick with the three separate nail guns as opposed to the single three in one.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Raff

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