The Craftsman, Hitachi, Porter-Cable, and Senco are also exceptionally well balanced and comfortable to hold in awkward positions, and I was happy to use any of them throughout the day. The Max felt somewhat nose-heavy, which I particularly noticed during overhead use where the tool wanted to fall backward, and it put more pressure on my wrist than the other tools.

At 5.5 pounds, the Makita is a full pound heavier than most of the group, and you can feel the weight difference. Nevertheless, its good design provides good balance and the tool was easy to use all day. The ISM weighs the most–5.8 pounds–and you can feel it.

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The jam-clearing function on the Stanley-Bostitch nailer is great. Instead of popping the nosepiece up, the slide disengages, allowing full access to the jam and the driver.

Credit: Photo: David Sharpe

Operational Details

Depth-of-Drive Adjustments. Thankfully, each nailer has a tool-free adjustable depth-of-drive, which is ideal for setting nails to the proper depths and minimizing how much filler is needed to repair holes. The Craftsman, Makita, Max, and Spotnails models' depth-adjustment wheels are near the trigger. Of these, the Max was easiest to operate. The Makita worked well, too. Craftsman's adjustment functioned properly, but was small and a little awkward to reach. Spotnails' adjustment worked, but was tucked away and difficult to reach.

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Since most of us don't have three hands, DeWalt's tool-hanging hook is a great feature.

Credit: Photo: David Sharpe

The adjustment wheel on the Hitachi, ISM, Porter-Cable, Senco, and Stanley-Bostitch is located near the nosepiece. The Hitachi, Porter-Cable, and Senco adjustment wheels all worked well and easily. The Stanley-Bostitch wheel is on the small side, but works well, too. The ISM jammed on first use and was hard to use throughout the test. I found almost no difference between adjustment wheels located near the trigger or the nosepiece. The difference is in how the adjustment operates.

DeWalt's adjustment is located at the trigger, too, but it's a slide adjustment and works differently: Push a button, then slide the lever to one of five depth settings. I like this–it's easy to operate and worked well on everything I nailed. It's different than the adjustment wheels because you are limited to five settings. If you need more than five settings (I didn't), the wheels offer a more customizable range.