As a finish carpenter, I have long relied on Paslode cordless finish nailers for trim work. They’re bulkier than pneumatic guns, but I consider that a small price to pay for the quick setup and maneuverability that comes from working without a hose or compressor.

Paslode recently released the IM250A Li, an upgraded version of its 16-gauge angle nailer. Like previous models, it’s powered by an onboard fuel canister and battery. But the battery is a 7.4-volt lithium-ion pack instead of a 6-volt nicad, and the manufacturer has tweaked or upgraded a number of features.

I’ve had this tool for several months and have used it on everything from door casings and wainscoting to built-ins and baseboard. Here’s what I can tell you about it.

Battery and Gas Upgrades

The li-ion battery is much smaller and lighter than the nicad. This makes for greater maneuverability and a more balanced feel. Because Paslode puts its battery cartridge along the side of the magazine, the smaller li-ion also gives you a better line of sight to the tip.

One of my favorite changes is the addition of a second position to the battery compartment. With earlier models the battery was either in or out, and when it was in, it was slowly losing its charge — even when you weren’t firing nails. Now I can pull the battery back to the second position to prevent it from draining overnight or whenever I put the tool down for an extended period of time.

According to the manufacturer, a fully charged li-ion battery is capable of firing 6,000 nails (vs. 4,000 for the nicad); if you deplete it, two minutes of charging will get you enough juice for another 200 fasteners. I used this gun on nail-intensive projects, such as installing beadboard, and never had issues with runtime.

Thankfully, the gas canister has been redesigned. In the past, the stem protruded at a right angle, so it was fully exposed and vulnerable to breakage. Now it sticks straight out the top and is protected by a plastic ring. The canister is also easier to load. Since a canister is good for about 1,000 nails, Paslode sells Fuel + Nail combo packs with 1,000 nails and a canister.

Retooled Features

Paslode has improved the depth-of-drive mechanism: It operates more smoothly, and the thumb-wheel is larger than it used to be, making it easier to turn with gloves on.

The belt hook is better, too. It’s deeper than before and can be quickly flipped to either side of the tool (on earlier models it was stationary).

The contact tip has been reversed so it’s open on top, which provides a much clearer view of the nailing area. This is a great improvement because you can place nails with more confidence and accuracy when you don’t have to peer around the tip.

At 4.5 pounds, the new Paslode gun is a half-pound lighter than the previous model but about a pound heavier than the average pneumatic.

Bottom Line

At $400, the IM250A Li is much more expensive than comparable pneumatics. However, its advantages — easy setup and the lack of hoses and a compressor — justify the price for the carpenter who isn’t blasting thousands of nails per day (in which case slower cycling and the cost of fuel might be a problem). This tool didn’t make me a better carpenter, but it did make me more efficient.

Doug Mahoney is a carpenter and freelance writer in Harvard, Mass.