My crew and I used to hand-nail framing hardware, but as codes changed and we had to install more and more of the stuff, it became impractical to nail by hand. Now we use single-blow hardware guns. Over the years we have used many different models; for this article we tested two Senco hardware nailers that came out early this year. Both have rubberized grips, adjustable exhaust caps, dry-fire lockout, and metal rafter hooks that can be pivoted to either side of the gun.


The JoistPro 150 shoots short (1½-inch) metal-connector nails. It's designed to be light and compact, so it holds only one strip of nails at a time. As with most other tools that take 1½-inch fasteners, the tip of the nail sticks out from the end of the gun so you can locate the hole in the hardware.

We used this tool on a couple of projects, and it had more than enough power to set nails in wood and hard engineered framing lumber. And at just under 11 inches tall, it was easy to maneuver in tight quarters, so we rarely had to resort to the use of a palm nailer.


The JoistPro 250 shoots short and long (1½- and 2½-inch) metal-connector nails. Like most other guns that shoot 2½-inch fasteners, it relies on a metal probe to locate the nail in the hole.

The tool has sufficient power to drive large metal-connector nails in wood and engineered lumber. I like the magazine because it has a single slot for both lengths of nails. Some hardware guns have one slot for short nails and another for long ones; the long ones won't fit the short slot, but if you put short nails in the long slot the gun will jam. Since that can't happen when there's only one slot, you've got one less thing to worry about when using this gun.

The JoistPro 250 is one of the lighter guns around, so it's easy to use overhead (for hurricane clips and the like). While it's not the lightest gun on the market (Hitachi's NR65AK weighs about the same), it is quite compact — short both top-to-bottom and front-to-back.

JoistPro 150 Specs

Nail length: 1½"
Nail diameter: .131" to .148"
Capacity: 30 nails
Weight: 4.6 pounds
Height x length: 10.4" x 12.0"
Country of origin: China
Street price: $220

Senco Brands, 800-543-4596,

JoistPro 250 Specs

Nail length: 1½" and 2½"
Nail diameter: .131" to .162"
Capacity: 20 nails
Weight: 5.9 pounds
Height x length: 14.1" x 14.1"
Country of origin: China
Street price: $300

Senco Brands, 800-543-4596,


These two guns performed very well, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy either of them. Of the two models, I prefer the JoistPro250, because we typically shoot 2½-inch nails. Both tools have plenty of power, and we experienced no jams or misfiring. If there's a downside, it's that their magazines hold only one strip of nails. As a result, they require frequent reloading — but if you work in tight quarters, that's a reasonable trade-off for a shorter, more compact gun.

The JoistPros are very low-priced compared with similar tools, so if you're still installing hardware by hand, this may be your opportunity to move up to a gun.

Tim Uhler is a lead framer for Pioneer Builders in Port Orchard, Wash., and a TOOLS OF THE TRADE contributing editor.