Crown and Leg. All the tools in the group use staples ranging from 1 inch to 2 inches. The Duo-Fast, Paslode, and Spotnails will feed staples as short as 3/4 inch and the Fasco will accommodate staples as long as 2-3/16 inches.
They all run 7/16-inch crown fasteners, except the Paslode, which takes a 1/2-inch crown. All of the tools will fire staples from different manufacturers as well as their own brands.
When it comes to innovative design, I tip my hat to Max. The air filter built into this stapler's air input (and all of Max's air tools) is great. It's a simple strainer-like device just inside the air coupler that prohibits debris in the air hose from entering the tool and damaging internal parts. Unplugging the tool releases the pressure built up inside the cylinder and blows the grit back out of the coupler nipple.
The Senco is the only oil-less tool in the test group, and it's a convenient feature. The only problem is that it doesn't say "oil-less" anywhere on the tool, so the only way you can acquire this valuable jewel of knowledge is by reading the owner's manual. I use oil-less finish staplers and I like them. If you put this tool out on a framing job, alongside the oil-hungry nailers, the unmarked SNS40 won't be "oil-less" for long. However, Senco says that adding oil will not damage the tool in the short term. Oiling it every day over a long period, however, will eventually affect interior rubber parts.
I also like Hitachi's informative owner's manual, especially the tip for cold-weather tool operation. Hitachi recommends removing all of the staples, turning the air pressure down to 40 psi, and dry-firing the tool several times to warm up the moving parts. The company also provides an excellent safety and maintenance checklist to run through before using the tool each day. They even remind us not to use the N5008AC as a hammer. (Darn! Now I have to carry two tools!)
There are some really impressive staplers in this group. I spent a lot of time trying to pick a winner and it wasn't easy. In the end, the Porter-Cable MS200 stands tallest. Granted, it's the heaviest in the group, but good balance and solid design make up for that fact. The MS200's tool-less depth adjustment and tool-less exhaust deflector are well designed, and its selectable trigger firing mode switch is very slick. Tying for second are three excellent tools: the light Hitachi N5008AC, the Senco SNS40, and the nicely featured Max TA551/16-11. The Hitachi and Senco are terrific for overhead work, but if you like more tool-less adjustments, Max is a great choice. I also like the Paslode S200-S16 a lot, although I'd like it more if it would shoot the same 7/16-inch crown staples my other tools use. The Spotnails XS76-8650 stapler is a good all-around tool with a lot of nice features. The Duo-Fast finishes next with a comfortable trigger and fool-proof jam-clearing. Stanley-Bostitch has a dependable tool in its 650S5. Rounding out the group are the ISM and Fasco models.
Michael Davis is president of Framing Square in Albuquerque, N.M., and a contributing editor to Hanley-Wood's Tools of the Trade.