Winners

Bostitch is the clear winner–nail changing is terrific, the tool has great balance, it has dry-fire lockout, and there's no oil to fiddle with. Next comes the Ridgid. Nice balance and easy nail exchange put this near the top of the list; if they put windows in the tracks and added a dry-fire lockout, it would be a dead heat with the Bostitch. Hitachi would have ranked up there with the Bostitch and Ridgid if the nail-changing had been easier, but the balance is great and the onboard blow gun is handy. The rest all functioned dependably and I could work with any of them.

–Rick Arnold is a builder and writer in North Kingstown, R.I.

Hoseless Nailers

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Hoseless nailers take another step toward leaving the compressor and hoses in the truck.

Credit: Photo: David Sharpe

No compressor and hoses to drag around? Who wouldn't like to leave those behind? While the cordless finish nailer category is still too small for a full-on Tool Test, there are two good tools out there and more new tools in the pipeline. I evaluated the DeWalt DC616KA and Paslode Straight Finish Nailer, in the same scenarios as the pneumatics, to see how they stack up.

Power and Features. Though the Paslode and DeWalt use different drive systems–DeWalt uses an 18-volt battery to power a flywheel engine to drive nails while Paslode uses a battery and gas to generate an "explosion" to propel fasteners–both had no trouble setting 2-inch nails into solid oak. When it came to 2-1/2-inch nails, the Paslode had trouble flush-driving.

The fastener change-out on both was easy. Both have thumbwheel depth-of-drive adjustments. DeWalt's worked fine; I could turn the Paslode depth-adjustment wheel by hand one way, but I needed a nail to turn it back.

Feel. There is a price to pay for the freedom from the compressor. Tipping in at more than 8 pounds, the DeWalt felt more like a fully loaded framing nailer. But there is a saving grace: It had a comfortable handle and was well-balanced. The Paslode, much lighter at just under 5 pounds, was easier to maneuver; but the price for that is dealing with extra components: the fuel cell and battery.

Speed. The DeWalt can switch from sequential- to bump-fire; while it cycles nearly as fast as a pneumatic tool, I don't nail trim quickly enough to need a bump-fire feature. The Paslode is a sequential-fire tool that cycles nicely and lets me move down the work fine; the battery and fuel cell last quite a while. DeWalt claims its 18-volt tool drives 800 nails per charge. The Paslode has a dry-fire lockout, which is great.

I wouldn't replace my pneumatics for whole-house trim-outs, but these cordless nailers are well worth having on hand for speeding up small jobs and punchlist.

–R.A.

Sources Of Supply

Bostitch
FN16250K-2: $179
800-556-6696
www.bostitch.com

Craftsman
18175: $180
800-377-7414
www.craftsman.com

Hitachi Koki USA
NT65M: $189
800-706-7337
www.hitachipowertools.com

ITW Paslode
T250-F16: $179
800-682-3428
www.paslode.com

Max USA Corp.
NF352: $314
516-741-3151
www.maxusacorp.com

Maxus
MXN064: $159
888-241-5858
www.maxustools.com

Porter-Cable
FN250B: $179
800-487-8665
www.porter-cable.com

Ridgid
R250SFA: Unavailable
800-474-3443
www.ridgid.com

Senco
FinishPro 32: $179
800-543-4596
www.senco.com

Spotnails
XB1564: $179
800-873-2239
www.spotnails.com

Hoseless

DeWalt Industrial Tool
DC616KA: $399
800-433-9258
www.dewalt.com

ITW Paslode
902000 16-Gauge Straight Finish Nailer: $329
800-222-6990
www.paslode.com