Launch Slideshow

Framing Nailers

Framing Nailers

  • BOSCH SN350-34C

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    600

    The SN350-34C is one of our favorites, a powerful gun with a slimmer-than-normal piston housing that makes for a good line of sight to the tip. It has a couple of unique and useful features: a metal strike plate on top for tapping studs into position and a quick-release magazine that can be removed to clear jammed fasteners. The ribbed rubber grip is comfortable to hold, and the aggressive tip grabs well when toenailing. Our one complaint is that this tool does not include a rafter hook; the manufacturer sells an optional one, but it’s hard to find and will set you back $25.

  • BOSTITCH F28WW

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    600

    The F28WW stands out less for its performance than for the 28-degree wire-collated fasteners it uses. Popular in parts of New England, these fasteners are far less common than the paper- and plastic-collated nails most carpenters use. We like the pivoting rafter hook and push-button depth-of-drive mechanism of this tool. It has good power, but we had occasional problems with double-firing.

  • BOSTITCH F33PT

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    600

    The F33PT closely resembles Bostitch’s wire-weld nailer but is a half-pound heavier. Features include a pivoting rafter hook, a push-button depth-of-drive mechanism, and an accessory tip that allows you to use it in place of a metal connector nailer. This is a powerful gun, but it feels somewhat bulky and occasionally double-fired on us.

  • MAKITA AN943

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    600

    The AN943 works well and has all of the latest features: a switchable trigger, dry-fire lockout, a built-in air filter, and a three-position metal board hook. Unfortunately, it’s noticeably heavier than other models and weighted too much toward the nose.

  • MAX SN883CH/34

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    600

    Weighing a mere 7.2 pounds and measuring 12 1/4 inches top-to-bottom, the SN883CH/34 is extremely light and compact. This makes for easier handling overhead and in narrow joist bays. For a gun of its weight, it has surprisingly little recoil. It has a switchable trigger and a built-in air filter but lacks a board hook and a dry-fire lockout mechanism.

  • PASLODE PF350S

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    600

    The PF350S is our favorite model because it is light and wellbalanced and has the power to consistently set nails in dense material. The contoured rubber grip is comfortable to grasp and the steeply angled air fitting makes it easy to connect the hose while wearing gloves. With tool-less depth-ofdrive, dry-fire lockout, and a substantial rafter hook, it has all the features we look for in a framing gun.

  • DEWALT D51825

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    600

    Based on the specs, the D51825 does not stand out in any way. Even so, it was a crew favorite. We simply like the way it feels to hold and use this gun, which — while heavier than average — is very well-balanced. Among its better features are an oversized swiveling plastic board hook and a push-button depth-of-drive mechanism that is very easy to adjust.

  • GRIP-RITE GRTFC83

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    600

    Lighter and more compact than the other models, the GRTFC83 is in other respects an average gun. It does the job but there’s nothing very special about it. The nosepiece grips better than most when toenailing, but the small nail slot makes loading the tool slow. The oversized metal rafter hook fits thick material but projects so far forward it can pivot around and hit your wrist.

  • HITACHI NR83AA3

    http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/1434364754_FramingNailersSlideshow-9_tcm80-1902004.jpg

    600

    This solid, no-frills gun operates smoothly and powerfully. There have been multiple generations of NR83 series tools, so we are confident this gun will be durable. We’re also aware that it’s somewhat dated. It does not have a dryfire lockout or rafter hook, and it’s the only gun we reviewed without adjustable depth-of-drive — and yet it was one of the better tools at setting fasteners to the proper depth. This is a good nail gun, but it is one of the heavier and bulkier models around.

  • PORTER-CABLE FC350A

    http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/1532747676_FramingNailersSlideshow-10_tcm80-1902009.jpg

    600

    Other than its low price, there is nothing very special about this tool. The FC350A can do the job, but it had a hard time setting nails in dense engineered lumber — it scored third lowest in our nailing test. Although it is light and short front-to-back, the gun does not feel particularly compact.

  • RIDGID R350CHA

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    600

    This lighter-than-average gun has every feature a framer could ask for, including a swivel air fitting, a pivoting rafter hook, and dry-fire lockout. However, the depth-of-drive mechanism and covering housing stick out far enough to obstruct your view during toenailing. Of greater concern is this gun’s tendency to leave nail heads above the surface, especially in dense material.

  • SENCO SN901XP

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    600

    The SN901XP is extremely light and compact, but the tip does not grab very well when toenailing and the gun is unable to consistently set nails in dense engineered lumber. We experienced more recoil with this tool than with most other models.

Favorite Models

Over time, the carpenters on our crew gravitated toward the same three framing guns. In descending order of preference they were the Paslode, the DeWalt, and the Bosch.

Paslode's gun feels powerful in use and came out on top in our nailing test. It's lighter than average and has a comfortable contoured grip and trigger. The metal rafter hook pivots to several positions and is wide enough to fit over thick engineered framing members.

With its comfortable grip and trigger, the DeWalt was a crew favorite. The board hook pivots freely and will fit over thick framing material, and the push-button depth-of-drive mechanism is very easy to set. Although not particularly light, the tool is well-balanced and easy to handle.

The Bosch proved its power in the field and was the No. 2 model in our nailing test. It has a sharp aggressive nosepiece, a comfortable ribbed grip, and a quick-release magazine that makes it easy to clear jams. The slim piston housing makes for a very good view to the tip. This gun would have placed higher if it came with a board hook.

Tim McNamara is a framing carpenter and contractor in Rochester, N.Y.



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Of the guns with rafter hooks, only DeWalt's (far left) and Paslode's are wide enough to fit over thick engineered material. The Makita's hook (left), while sturdy and made from metal, is barely wide enough to fit over 2-by lumber.

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The thumbwheel on the nose of the Paslode (above) is typical of the depth-of-drive mechanisms found on most framing guns. The thumb-activated mechanisms on the DeWalt (right) and Bostitch guns are particularly easy to use.

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A quick-release lever allows the Bosch tool's magazine to be removed without tools when clearing jammed nails.

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