Simpson's tool utilizes gases from the booster explosion to advance the strip.

Credit: Photo: David Sharpe

There's a huge spectrum of PAT users, so my choice of winner comes down to what works best for my site demands–full-blast, thousand-shot production speed and comfortable one-off tasks. I am happy to say, however, that each of these tools is tough, hardy, and up to the task of working with concrete and steel day after day.

The tool that gets me there the fastest and in the most comfort is the Hilti DX460 MX. While it's the most expensive in the group, I like that I can upgrade it to fully automatic but use it as a single-shot tool when necessary. Simpson's PTP-27AL is next because it manages recoil so well and is comfortable to use all day. While it's not fully automatic (that feature will be available soon), it is well balanced and superbly designed. Add a great box and it stands tall. This tool is also the price champion–the best combination of features and cost.

The Remington 493 PowerPro comes third. It's a solid, reliable tool that is well-balanced and has smooth action. Next I like the Ramset, but wish it handled recoil a little better and that the magazine option–which may be better suited for applications different than mine–enabled me to shoot a wider range of pins and was easier to change out. The Powers P3500 rounds out the group. This is a more basic, but affordable, tool and better for one-off work.

Erik Elwell owns Thompson Construction, a high-end residential and light commercial remodeling firm in New York City, and is a frequent contributor to Tools of the Trade.