If you are like me, then efficiency is everything, mostly because you don't like to cleanup! So, putting away a compressor, hoses, and oiling guns, while also having to climb over a hose while working in a shop environment can get quite annoying. I've been moving down the path toward cordless nailers for awhile now, and a few weeks ago, I won an incredibly generous instagram contest from Tool Barn (@tool_barn) and Jason Mollack of JPM Construction (@jpmcontructioninc) for a cordless Milwaukee 18 gauge brad nailer.
I already had a Senco cordless 15 gauge angled finish nailer that I purchased from my friend Josh, who always has good tool deals available, that I've been running for awhile now and have been quite happy with.
While this is not a great comparison since the guns are not in the same class, each brand's line is similar in build and operation so I thought I'd do a side by side comparison for you and highlight the weaknesses and strengths of each for those looking into cordless nailers.
Here is a side by side of the two nailers, they are roughly similar in size, but the Senco is a finish nailer and the Milwaukee is a brad nailer.
Weight: Both of these have a 2 amp hour battery, but the Senco weighs almost a pound less.
Feel: the balance and ergonomics of the Senco are much nicer, making the weight difference seem even greater, although the MIlwaukee is not uncomfortable.
Nails: Senco recommends only using Senco brand nails with their nailers (and this is supported by user reviews), and while their cost is not any greater, you have to always plan ahead or, like me, keep several thousand nails on hand in every length. I'm in a shop environment so this is of little consequence, but for someone in the field this could present difficulties. The Milwaukee works great with pretty much any brand
Setting: The Milwaukee has a much more satisfying sound than the Senco, and the depth adjustment is very even and smooth. The Senco is a little sensitive, and it has so much power, sometimes it can't be backed off enough for lighter work and drives too deep on its most shallow setting.
Misfires: I have run about 1,000 brads/nails through each of these and have yet to have a misfire in either, that's pretty solid!
Battery life: I have not shot more than 500 nails in one run with either, and the expected number is approx. 2,000 per charge on both of these. Remaining battery life at 500 suggests they will easily hit that if not significantly more.
Belt Hook: Senco wins this by a mile, I don't mind either placement, but the thin edges on the Milwaukee seem to catch on other things and rivets on my jeans, etc. the Senco just feels better.
Nose: Milwaukee wins this by a mile, providing better site lines, softer, smaller for better nail placement. The Senco is too large and doesn't provide a good approach to specific nail placement.
Magazine: I like both, the all metal Senco feels great is super smooth, doesn't add much weight and is quite strong, important for something so exposed on a nailer to take a beating. I didn't expect to like Milwaukee's, it appears to be a glass reinforced nylon plastic, but it glides quite smoothly and the lock mechanism is strong but easy to use.
Jam clearing: While I haven't has to clear a jam yet, the Milwaukee opens much more easily and I suspect it will be easier to clear, but I cannot confirm until I experience a jam. The Senco isn't difficult but it isn't the easiest to open either.
Other thoughts: The button on the Milwaukee takes too long to turn on and off, its quite hard to depress, but holding for 6 seconds is a bit much, choose one or the other to prevent it from accidentally turning on. The Milwaukee sounds and feels much more solid and like it will hold up to more abuse in the long run, but that isn't necessarily true. Milwaukee is a complete cordless tool line, whereas Senco only has nailers and a few other things, so for some, going with an existing platform will be a decision maker.
Please let me know if you have specific questions about either nailer! Hope this helps if you are looking at some of these cordless nailers! Matt