While any of these tools would be sufficient for basic stapling functions, our job was to narrow the field down to our favorite. In this case, there are three.
The Bostitch PC2K is my first pick as an all-around hammer tacker. Its easy-to-load open magazine features a load indicator, it has a medium footprint that minimizes the chance of cutting materials, and the offset handle angle is great. Plus, it runs jam-free, firing respectable 1/2-inch-long staples. Some users might not like its long length because it doesn't carry well in a tool bag, but it hangs perfectly in a hammer loop.
The Surebonder Max Impact 5800 slightly edges out the Rapid R54 for second place. It has a great grip, medium-wide nose, and easy-open magazine loading complete with a load indicator. The only downside is the low rebound spring.
The Rapid R54 is the best rear-loading model, with the widest nosepiece for protecting materials, and it drives long staples (up to 9/16 inch), which is great when tacking down thick materials like wire mesh and roll roofing quickly for later fastening with pneumatic tools.
–Mike Guertin is a builder and remodeler in East Greenwich, R.I., and is a member of Hanley Wood's JLCLive construction demonstration team.
Specialty Staplers With Special Functions
The Duo-Fast HT-755M is the same model as the HT-755, but it has a magnet mounted to an elongated nose actuator for holding tin cap discs, essentially washers for staples. This is a great feature for drying-in roofs with underlayment long before the roofer arrives. The 1-1/2- to 2-inch-diameter sheet-metal discs hold roll materials more securely than staples alone. And this feature saves the finger injuries you'd get with other models from an off-center blow while holding a tin cap in place. The HT-755M user merely sticks a disc to the nose before initiating a blow. It's faster, safer, and works very well with a little practice.
The Arrow HT65, at 3 pounds, 12 ounces, is perfect for the Hulk in all of us. This stapler drives 3/4-inch-long, 1-inch crown staples, which meet the specs for installing asphalt roof shingles. The thought of being totally hose-free on the roof appealed to me, but after the sixth shingle I felt my carpel tunnel acting up. Hitting the narrow fastener line consistently is very difficult with the long swing needed to sink the staples through the shingle and sheathing. I did find it handy for pick-up work on the roof like cutting in a rake edge, but I wouldn't (read, couldn't) use it all day. It may come in handy to cool the heels of the newest hot-shot kid on the crew.
Sources Of Supply
Arrow Fastener Co.
HT50P: $30–$35; HT65: $64–$67
PC2K: $60; H30-8: $30
Desa Specialty Products
Powerfast 10401-B: $12–$16
Slapshot: $20; HT-550: $45–$49; HT-755: $60-$70; HT-755M: $75-$100
Surebonder Max Impact 5800: $30; Surebonder Max Impact Pro 5850: $40
Isaberg Rapid AB
R11E: $24–$29; R54: $49–$59
Prebena North American Fastener Corp.
HHPF 09: $15
The Stanley Works
PHT150: $25; PHT250: $30