Triggers, Switches, and Comfort
Paslode's engineers figured something out–pulling a trigger all day long can be tiring. Their solution is so simple it's elegant: an extra long, very comfortable trigger that allows you to use two fingers instead of one to engage it. This may not sound like a big deal, but after eight hours of stapling sheeting, your fingers will be so happy they'll want to write a thank-you note. The Duo-Fast also features a two-finger trigger, but its fit and finish don't quite match Paslode's.
Safety Switches. You can adjust the firing settings on the Fasco, Max, and Porter-Cable models for bump-fire or single-fire, or shut them off with a switch located on or near the trigger. The Fasco employs a lever in front of the trigger; when pushed out, the tool single-fires only. Then you have to release the trigger and remove the nosepiece from the work to reset the tool before it will fire again. This may be extra safe, but it's also extra difficult to use. To make the Fasco bump-fire, you have to place a small plastic actuator cap on the switch. It works, and the tool keeps pace, but I'm certain I would lose the little cap in no time flat.
The Porter-Cable sequential-fire/bump-fire adjustment is tool-less. The unit has a red button on the side of the trigger: Push the pin out and flip it up to bump-fire; flip it down for sequential mode. It's fast, easy, and useful as a training and safety feature. Max's tool has a switch on the side of the tool that locks the trigger. Rotate it into the locked position and the tool cannot be fired, which is a nice safety feature.
Comfort. Light tools are good, no question, and the lightest tools in the group are the Senco at 4.15 pounds and the Hitachi at 4.4 pounds. If you do lots of overhead work (like nailing OSB to the bottom of a roof eave for a stucco soffit), the Hitachi or Senco are the way to go.
The heavyweights are the Fasco G-55 at 5.8 pounds and the Porter-Cable, which weighs in at 5.875 pounds. While I liked the easy-to-handle Hitachi and Senco tools, I really didn't mind the extra weight of the Porter-Cable. The Porter-Cable model felt good in my hand, most of its weight is in the cylinder and handle, and its magazine is light; the overall effect is a solid and substantial feel. The Fasco G-55 weighs slightly less than the Porter-Cable, but with its heavy magazine assembly and lighter handle it ends up feeling awkward. If you picked up the two tools; you'd swear the Fasco weighs more than the Porter-Cable.
Exhaust Deflector. I was encouraged to see that the Fasco, Paslode, Porter-Cable, ISM, and Spotnails staplers have tool-less exhaust deflectors; it means that these manufacturers are listening to the people who work with their equipment. Most of the time, it doesn't matter which direction the exhaust blows, as long as it's not blowing in your face. But if you've ever used a stapler to secure a base-nailing strip along the wall in a dusty house, you know about face-fulls of dust; swallow enough and you'll appreciate how important a tool-less adjustable exhaust deflector is. Of the five, Paslode's is the smoothest to turn while I needed a wrench to loosen Fasco's and ISM's the first time before they would work.
You need an Allen wrench to adjust the deflector on the Stanley-Bostitch. The Hitachi, Duo-Fast, Senco, and Max are not adjustable, even with a wrench.