The winners in the framing category are the Hitachi NR90GR and NR90GC; both tools performed exceptionally well regardless of application. Their soft-grip handle was easy on the hand and helped absorb the impact of firing the tool. Though these were the best all around, a tool-free depth adjustment would make them even better.
In second place are the Max and Powers tools. Since they are virtually the same tools, I'm not really able to choose one over the other based on performance. I suppose the selling price would influence my decision.
The Paslode framer is a capable tool, but I didn't like its plastic follower mechanism.
My favorite angled finish nailer is the DeWalt. Its features and ability make it a standout despite it being the heaviest of the trim tools. The Senco 15-gauge angled nailer is my second choice.
My choice between the two 18-gauge brad nailers is the Senco.
The design and weight of the battery-powered tools make them obviously more cumbersome to carry around compared to the gas-powered Paslodes, but, as I see it, the ability to bump-fire and the lack of a fuel cell outweighs any weight disadvantage. While I trust Paslode to get any job done and appreciate the compact size and weight, I just can't get past the continuous extra fuel cell costs.
–Steve Veroneau owns Transformations, LLC in Falls Church, Va., and is a contributing editor for Tools of the Trade.
Too new to test
Arriving a bit too late for this test was the new DeWalt DC628KA 15-gauge finish nailer. Identical in features to the 16-gauge DeWalt we tested, this tool provides for the thicker nail size and steeper magazine angle that some carpenters prefer and shoots 1-1/4- to 2-1/2-inch nails. Basic testing in my shop revealed great power and speed capabilities. Shooting through 1-1/8-inch hard maple was no challenge at all, so I turned the board on its side and buried dozens of 2-inch nails just as fast as I could bump-fire. This feat impressed me enough that I believe the DeWalt nailer could serve as a substitute for my trusty pneumatic gun, but at nearly 9 pounds, I'd better start working out first. The only problem was that it tended to over-drive nails, even at its highest depth-of-drive setting.