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


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.


Sources Of Supply

FN16250K-2: $179

18175: $180

Hitachi Koki USA
NT65M: $189

ITW Paslode
T250-F16: $179

Max USA Corp.
NF352: $314

MXN064: $159

FN250B: $179

R250SFA: Unavailable

FinishPro 32: $179

XB1564: $179


DeWalt Industrial Tool
DC616KA: $399

ITW Paslode
902000 16-Gauge Straight Finish Nailer: $329