There is one tool which has completely changed the way modern construction workers do their job and that is the nail gun. Framing nailers, in particular, have been on the rise these past 10 years and have revolutionized the way woodworking is done. Not only that those nailers get the job done quicker, they are also able to create stronger and better built wooden constructions. Nowadays, there are countless of models out there and this is why we have created this guide on the best framing nailers to help you gain a better understanding of this tool and see which are the best models out there.
In this guide we will go through some of the top selling models this year, explain what exactly is a framing nailer, and show you the features that you should be looking for when out buying one. Now, let’s start with a comparison chart between our selected models which will point out their main differences.
Framing Nailers Comparison Chart
|Product||Nail Size||Nail Capacity||Price||Rating|
|Hitachi NV83A4||3 1/4"||300||$$$$||5/5|
|Hitachi NR1890DR||2" to 3-1/2"||36||$$$$||4.5/5|
|Senco 2H0033N||2" to 3-1/2"||60||$$||4.5/5|
|Makita AN902||1 3/4" to 3 1/2"||300||$$$||4.5/5|
|DEWALT DCN690M1||3 1/4"||55||$$$$$||4.5/5|
Our Top 5 Picks
When we created this top 5 list, we took a number of features into consideration including:
- The price to value ratio of the nailer
- How easy it is to use
- The overall quality
- How it handles in different situations
We also took individual reviews into account as the best way you can tell whether a product is good or bad is to just hear the opinions of hundreds of professionals. So, without further ado, here is our first pick:
Hitachi NV83A4 Coil Framing Nailer
Thanks to its numerous features, as well as one of the best price-to-value ratios we have ever seen on the market, the HV83A4 nail gun by Hitachi is one of the best models out there right now. It is very sturdy and even more powerful. With the instant power of compressed air here, you will be able to handle any woodwork task with ease and thanks to the 300 nail clip magazine you won’t have to worry about reloading for at least a day.
Still, if you use this tool on a daily basis frequent maintenance should be mandatory, especially checking for loose parts. If something goes wrong with it, though, there is a good 5 years warranty that covers most of the issues that can happen to a nail gun. To learn more about its unique features and advantages, click on the button below.
Hitachi NR1890DR 18V Cordless Brushless Framing Nailer
With its powerful 3.0Ah battery, the NR1890DR cordless framing nailer by Hitachi is one of the best tools you can take on a woodworking project out in the open. It requires no compressed air nor an outlet to function properly and is powerful enough to stand toe to toe with some of the compressed air nail guns. It uses a brushless motor which ensures economical and smooth operation. It also helps with maintenance and running costs. The 22-degree angle is ideal for tight and awkward spaces but will add up on nail magazine costs.
The nailer works with a wide variety of nails and has an adjustable drive depth option which lets you choose the depth with which it will operate. There also is a dry-fire safety mechanism to prevent the tool from breaking itself when firing with no nails in it. To learn more about this great nail gun and its quirks and features, head over to our full review about it.
Senco 2H0033N FramePro 701XP Clipped Head Framing Nailer
Having a strong pneumatic nail gun at a decent price is the goal of almost any construction worker and the Senco 2H0033N brings all that to the table. It also comes with a 60 nail magazine with clipped head nails. The magazine itself sits at a low angle meaning you will be able to work in tight spaces easier and won’t have your view obscured. The pressure at which this gun works will assure that you can drive a nail through any surface you want. Adding to all that, the adjustable depth of drive feature increases the overall convenience this tool presents as you will be able to work on different materials with better precision.
Some of the potential downsides of this model is the short warranty and the fact that clipped head nails aren’t allowed on all construction sites, meaning you might have to look for other models if that is the case with you. To find out more on the model, click the button below.
Makita AN902 3-1/2″ Framing Coil Nailer
If small straight magazines don’t pack enough nails for your line of work, then this Makita AN902 is just the right tool for your needs. It packs the whopping 300 nails and can drive them in pretty much any surface you like thanks to the adjustable drive depth and two individual firing modes.
On top of all that, it is a model that is very easy to maintain and is built to last, even though without proper maintenance, no pneumatic tool will last you more than a few months, especially if you use it on a daily basis. Still, if something happens Makita offers you a 3-year warranty period for this tool of theirs. To learn more about its unique features and see which are its strong and weak points, head over to our full review of it by clicking the button below.
DEWALT DCN690M1 Brushless Framing Nailer
If you are tired of constantly having to set up your air compressor system and all of the hoses and connections, then the DeWalt DCM690M1 framing nailer is a great option for you. It generates its power from a battery and a brushless motor which can go through more than 700 nails thanks to the motor’s efficiency. The magazine holds 55 nails and is at a comfortable angle for any type of woodwork.
There is an adjustable drive depth knob on top of this nail gun which lets you select different modes depending on the surface you are nailing. The actuator at the nozzle helps with both sequential and bump firing modes and makes you forget that this tool weighs more than twice as much as a regular pneumatic model. To see more of its features and strong sides, as well as some of the downsides, check out our review on it by clicking the button below.
Before we dive any deeper into the subject of framing nailers, we must answer the most important question here…
What Is A Framing Nailer?
Framing nailers (often called “framing guns” or “nail guns”) are one of the most essentials tools used in modern home building. They are usually powered by air (pneumatic ones) and have a magazine with nails attached to them which allows them to “fire” nails faster than a skilled carpenter would nail them with a hammer. The nail gun drives the nails into the framing assembly of a structure with great precision and power, rendering this tool very useful to construction workers, as it saves time and energy to the worker.
Before buying one, what you would need to know is that there are several types of nail guns. Here, we will pay more attention to the three kinds of framing nailers currently present and most used by carpenters:
- Pneumatic Framing Nailers
- Cordless Framing Nailers
- Brushless Framing Nailers
Now, let’s take a look at each of those kinds individually.
Pneumatic Framing Nailers
These framing nailers get their power from compressed air which comes from an air compressor. What this means is that if you want to get this kind of a nail gun, you will also have to supply your tool shed with a portable air compressor.
These nail guns work by having an air connection at the bottom of their handles which connects to the compressor via a hose. Once you have those two connected, your trigger will signal compressed air to leave the tank and go into the nail gun, which on its own uses it to drive a nail into the wood. This is a process which happens in a tiny fraction of a second.
The biggest advantage of these nail guns is that they are lightweight and very, very powerful. Their disadvantage is that you can’t work anywhere you want and you will always need compressed air at your side.
Cordless Framing Nailers
These nail guns are, as their name suggests, cordless, meaning they don’t get their power from an air compressor nor an outlet. In fact, they run on a battery which is attached to them.
Most of the nail guns of this kind have enough power for roughly 500 nails before you have to recharge the battery. Most models come with two sets of batteries to make working easier – while you charge one of the batteries, you use the other.
There are also electric nailers which have to be connected to a power supply. They aren’t very famous as construction sites aren’t often conveniently electrified, meaning you will either have to use extension cords or a portable power generator.
The advantage of these nailers is that they generally require less maintenance than their pneumatic counterparts but are also somewhat less powerful.
Speaking of maintaining your nail gun, we’ve compiled an article on that particular topic where we go into great detail of the major maintenance steps you need to go through to make your nailer run smoothly and live a long life.
Brushless Framing Nailers
Brushless nailers are a special kind of cordless framing nailers which get their power from a brushless motor. They are always powered by batteries and use fuel cartridges just like the rest of the nailers.
Now that we’ve gone through the most important kinds of nailers out there, let’s check out which features you need to look for when getting your first nail gun…
Features To Look For
The features that we think are the most important when it comes to getting a good nail gun are:
- Types of nails it uses
- Trigger types
- Magazine angle
- Magazine type and capacity
- The contact tip
- Weight & Size
- Additional features
By additional features, we mean some features such as the jam cleaning one, the anti-dry fire, and many others that we will discuss under that section. Now, let’s take a look at all those features one by one.
Types of nails it uses
Framing nailers are made to drive different type of nails into the wood from 2 inch ones to 3 and a half inch ones. Still, there are different kinds of framing nails out there. There are:
- Round head nails
- Clipped head framing nails
Each framing nailer can shoot only one of those two types. It all depends on the building codes of your area. If it allows the use of clipped head nails then you can get such a nailer. Most don’t, so head for the round head ones. That way you will be able to use your nailer everywhere you want.
This feature is also called “actuation modes”. It means the way the framing nailer fires its nails. The two most used methods are the bump actuation and the sequential one. In sequential mode each firing of the trigger makes the nailer drive one nail into the wood. This is a method for more precise work as you control everything about the process.
The second way – the bump action relies on the bumping motion the nailer does if you keep your finger on the trigger. The nail gun bounces up and down from the surface towards which it is pointed. This method is good for very fast nailing in straight lines but isn’t as accurate as the first one.
Nailers that allow you to easily switch between those two methods have an advantage over other models which can use only one of those modes (usually the sequential one).
This refers to the angle the magazine makes relative to the surface you are nailing when the nailer is held in a 90-degrees angle. The bigger this angle is, the easier it is for you to reach hard places. With bigger angle the nails become more expensive as well.
For workers who use the nailer in an upright position most of the time, we recommend sticking to a 21-degree angle which will be good enough for most work. If you find yourself often in tight spaces then get a nailer with a bigger magazine angle (a 33-degree, for instance).
Magazine type and capacity
There are two kinds of magazines out there:
- Stick magazines
- Coil type magazines
The stick ones are the most common although there are more and more coil ones appearing on the market. The reason for that is that coil magazines have a much higher nail capacity than stick ones but they are heavier and bigger and it usually is harder to work with a coil magazine attached to your nailer. This is especially valid if you are working with weird angles.
Some nailers have the option of having both types of magazines, depending on your choice but others are limited to just one type so be sure to take that into consideration.
The contact tip
The is an often ignored feature which is just as important as the rest. Some nail guns come with a few contact tips for you to choose from (which are interchangeable). For example, the job you do might require a non-marring tip which will prevent any marks left on the surface you are working on from the tip of the nailer.
There are also tips which increase your accuracy of nailing when it comes to working with metal pieces like metal joists.
Weight & Size
You might think that the dimensions of your nailer play no major role in how good it is as a model but you would be wrong. There might not be much difference between a 5 pound and a 7 pound model but if you have to hold each of them 5 hours a day, you will definitely go for the lighter one, right?
This is why the weight of the nailer has a very important role when you choose which one to get. Furthermore, most construction workers already carry a lot of weight when going to work on a project. Adding extra weight just because they didn’t choose the right model is a no-brainer.
The dimensions are just as important as any big nailer won’t be fit for more precise woodwork and/or in spaces where you will have to squeeze at awkward angles.
Some of the additional features you need to be looking out for are:
- Depth of drive
- Jam clearing
- Anti-dry fire feature
- Rafter hook
The depth of drive is pretty self-explanatory. It means how deep can your nailer drive the nail into the surface you are working on. Some nail guns have a mechanism through which you can precisely choose the depth you want the tool to work with. Opt for these when making your choice.
The jam cleaning feature is also very obvious but most people don’t even know about it. When a tool jams you will have to disassemble it and clear the jam with additional tools. Some nail guns have tool-less jam clearing options which are very welcome in a time-sensitive environment.
The anti-dry fire feature prevents your nail gun to fire when there are no nails loaded into it. This prevents the tool from damaging itself by shooting blanks. If there are no nails in the magazine the gun simply won’t actuate.
Last but not least is the rafter hook. This is something we very much love about some framing nailers as they can be easily hung on almost any surface around you. Most nailers can have this hook adjusted which is even better.
Do you want to learn the basics on how to use a framing nailer? Head over to our dedicated article on the topic to learn more about this subject.
What size nails are used for framing?
When it comes to framing interior walls, nail size is one of the most important things to take into consideration. Too long of a nail and you can split the wood, not to mention that it will be hard for you to drive it through. Short and/or thin nails just won’t cut it as well, metaphorically speaking. The golden size is 3 and a half inches wide nails. These nails are also called 16-d or 16-penny nails.
Can I use a framing nailer for sheathing?
The short answer is – yes. Let us explain why now…
Framing nailers are sometimes used in siding installations, considering the used nail is long enough for it to be able to attach the siding nicely to the exterior wood sheathing.
Even if we recommend using a proper siding nail gun for these types of jobs, in some cases you might just get away with using your framing nailer but don’t let this become a habit, as it will sooner or later impact the quality of your work.
What is the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer?
To answer this question you will have to take the size of the nailer into consideration. The brad nailer doesn’t possess the same power as a finish nailer because it simply doesn’t use nails like its finish sibling. Brad nailers use a thinner gauge of nails which are used to attach trims which are lighter.
When out shopping for the best framing nailer, there will be multiple things to consider, including the nails with which the specific nail gun works, what type it is, the magazine type and angle, and so much more. To ensure that you make the right choice, we made this guide for you so that you can see clearly which are the features to keep your eyes on when getting your first nail gun. If you have any questions regarding the matter you can always reach us on our contact page.