How to Choose the Best Framing Nailer for Your Nailing Needs

What's a framing nailer anyway? A framing nailer, also known as a nailer or a nail gun, is an air or pneumatic tool that removes the need for a hammer and shoots nails for quick, high-powered projects. In regards to finding the best framing nailer around, this article and its product reviews might be of service to you

Best Framing Nailer

Framing Nailer Applications

All nailers and nail guns are used to make the carpenter's job easier by shooting the nail into boards, 2x4s, and planks without the assistance of a hammer to hammer the nail down. A framing nailer is best used for smaller, quicker jobs (like nailing frames, as its name suggests) because this model is smaller than your usual nail guns.

There's a model of nail gun for roofing, finishing, and framing (the last item is specifically the main application for the framing nailer in particular). They're mostly used for precision work and intricate detail work due to their compactness. This is in stark contrast with your typical nail gun that does big jobs like roofing. They're advantageous in that application because you don't need room to swing your hammer aimed at roofing nails. You can just shoot the nails into the roof.

Types of Framing Nailer

Pneumatic framing nailers come in two basic types: Coil and stick.

  • Coil : A canister or drum is used to hold the nails used in coil-style nail guns. These nails are typically held together through a wire that forms a long flexible strip rolled into a coil, not unlike a chain gun with a bandolier of bullets. This allows the gun to hold 300 nails or more.
  • Stick :This nailer can hold 20-40 nails at the same time through a stick or a long narrow configuration that houses its "ammo". This pieces of plastic, paper, and wire hold together the nails within the stick holster or clip.

Framing Nailer Features and Variant

Every nail gun variant is designed with certain features specifically to do certain applications. To wit:

  Varying Nail Sizes:

  The Two-Step Trigger:

  Ergonomics and Adjustments:

Compressor Types

There are two types of compressors you can use for your framing nailer.

  Piston Compressor:

  Compact Compressor:

How To Use A Framing Nail Gun

Five Products for Review:

Here are the five framing nailers for review that you should check out.

1. BOSTITCH F21PL Round Head 1-1/2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch Framing Nailer with Positive Placement Tip and Magnesium Housing:

BOSTITCH F21PL Round Head 1-1/2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch Framing Nailer with Positive Placement Tip and Magnesium Housing

BOSTITCH F21PL Round Head 1-1/2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch Framing Nailer with Positive Placement Tip and Magnesium Housing

This framing nailer offers standard quality specs like 1,050 inch-pounds of force, a sequential and bump trigger (the two-step trigger mentioned earlier), fastener depth control and collation, and dual 1½ inch to 3½ inch nailer modes. It's a compact nailer that allows for quick and easy nailing action for small-scale workshop projects that's typical of a device of its size. Furthermore, it's arguably two nailers in one because you can convert it for framing or metal connection jobs with its two quick-change nosepieces for good measure. If you want a versatile nailer, then avail of the BOSTITCH F21PL Framing Nailer for all of your nailing and woodworking needs.

The BOSTITCH F21PL Round Head 1-1/2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch Framing Nailer also features a tough yet lightweight magnesium housing that makes it resistant to bump and device-shattering impacts while still being light enough for prolonged use without tiring your arms out. Speaking of holding it for long periods of time, it also has an ergonomic rubber grip that doesn't damage or injure your palm. It also has integrated rubber skid pads to keep from clattering to the floor and giving it ample traction on your table surface. It's also available at a compact 14¼ by 20½ inches and weighs only 8.1 pounds. It's as lightweight and easy to aim like a gun or a hairdryer while its safety trigger keeps you from getting into unintentional accidents or potential injury.

Hitachi NR90AES1 2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch Plastic Collated Framing Nailer

Hitachi NR90AES1 2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch Plastic Collated Framing Nailer

In regards to the Hitachi NR90AES1 Framing Nailer, this device has a unique head guard design that enables you to quickly disassemble the nailer whenever you need to maintain or fix the tool. Repairs and replacements are also easy and cheap thanks to its two-piece anodized aluminum magazine. Like the BOSTITCH F21PL Framing Nailer, it's also well-balanced and lightweight to reduce user fatigue and add maneuverability ease. Meanwhile, if you want to do contact and sequential nailing work with immediate changes on short notice then flipping the switch with its "selective actuation" feature is your best bet. The depth of the nail can be adjusted without using tools to do so. It also allows you to do a flush drive or countersink on various materials.

The machine is also capable of easy and quick reloads thanks to its two-step nail loading (which works kind of like the two-step trigger feature of BOSTITCH, but only this time this is applied to reloading nails). It also has an ergonomic rubber grip to ensure comfort and grip security while mitigating fatigue. As you can see, compared to the BOSTITCH F21PL, the Hitachi NR90AES1 Framing Nailer has loads of unique features that its fellow nailer lacks as well as features they both share as nail guns. Most of the top specs that the Hitachi NR90AES1 has involve maintenance, disassembly, or setting switching without the help of tools. It's specifically recommended for tackling the roofing and rafter stages of your home improvement projects.

DEWALT DCN692B 20V Max XR Brushless Dual Speed Nailer

DEWALT DCN692B 20V Max XR Brushless Dual Speed Nailer

DeWalt or DEWALT continues its legacy of consistent quality hardware tool manufacturing by offering a dual speed nailer capable of accepting 30° to 34° and paper tape nails, offset roundhead nails, and clipped nails. Unlike the Hitachi NR90AES1 Framing Nailer or the BOSTITCH F21PL Framing Nailer, the DEWALT DCN692B Dual Speed Nailer has a dual speed setting that allows you to slow down or speed up the rate of your nailing depending on the application. If you want more versatility and optimization for different lengths of nail, then the dual speed feature can be quite handy for your needs. It can also shift from bump or sequential operating modes for added multipurpose usage reminiscent of the different possible settings and switches found on the Hitachi NR90AES1.

Additionally, it also has a unique brushless motor and engine design that works well on the hoseless and cordless framing nailer. This gives you more mustard or force when driving those 3½-inch nails to your frame with impunity. The sparseness of the specs of the DEWALT DCN692B Dual Speed Nailer belies its simplified approaching to nailing frames and other workshop project parts together. You can buy this compact and handy gun with 3AH batteries and a box 2½-inch nails and you'll be all set to, for example, redo pickets and railing nails or shore up a porch frame enclosure. It can also nail stairs and backdoor landings without maneuvering a hammer with enough swing space to hammer down nails.

Paslode 905600 Cordless XP Framing Nailer

Paslode 905600 Cordless XP Framing Nailer

While it's a brand that's not as famous as DeWalt, Hitachi, or even BOSTITCH, the Paslode 905600 Cordless XP Framing Nailer is able to differentiate itself from its competition by providing 15% more power from what it can normally produce through its cutting-edge motor that maximizes the otherwise limited capabilities of a light-duty nail gun with a tankless compact compressor (as mentioned above). This allows it to penetrate to older hardwoods and drive nails flush through them rather than just halfway through (so you might end up hammering the nail anyway).

Also, unlike the framing nailers on this list, the Paslode 905600 includes a temperature cooler that turns the temperature down to 14° Fahrenheit when used with the right formula of fuel (also made by Paslode). It also has a matching collation, fewer misfires and jams because of the precision nail strip, and the ability to shoot up to 200 shots after just 2 minutes of quick charge and much more with the 1½ hour full charge (that can fire up to 9,000 nails until it's fully spent). It's all thanks to its li-ion battery that's 7.4 volts. You can use it for the long haul by charging it in full for an hour and thirty minutes or charge it partially for 2 minutes in order to get quick jobs done on short notice. The lack off air hoses also makes it less unwieldy and more portable, but that can be said of all the framing nailers on this list.

Hitachi NR83A3 2 Inch to 3-1/4-Inch Plastic Collated Full Round Head Framing Nailer with Tool-Less Depth Adjustment

Hitachi NR83A3 2 Inch to 3-1/4-Inch Plastic Collated Full Round Head Framing Nailer with Tool-Less Depth Adjustment

Last but not least is the Hitachi NR83A3. This second Hitachi framing nailer delivers selective actuation or the ability to switch from contact to single actuation with smooth transitions every time. It also ensures durability because it includes a hardened aggressive toenail push lever that's quite hard-wearing and won't simply break from regular use. Like with its fellow Hitachi NR90AES1 Framing Nailer or the BOSTITCH F21PL Framing Nailer, it also has an ergonomic rubber grip that's comfortable to hold and easy to grip for a long period of time without exhausting your palm and hand.

The Hitachi NR83A3 can also do tool-free depth adjustment like its sibling product as well. It's able to go out of the shadow of the NR90AES1 by featuring unique specs like easy-replacement 2-piece steel magazine, an open-nose design to easily extract any nail jams, and a yin-yang of smooth operation and ample power for a light-duty frame nailer. It does have downsides like being less unique than the Paslode 905600 with its temperature cooler or the DEWALT DCN692B and its dual speed. It also has a fragile magazine and less bump resistance than the BOSTITCH F21PL. But in terms of having many of the best features of the Hitachi NR90AES1 and the BOSTITCH F21PL, it's a good alternative to both.


While air tools in general are powerful and rugged devices that use compressed air in order to send nails deep into a surface (the depth and strength of which is controlled by an electric-powered compressor), the framing nail is a fine-tuned and sophisticated small gadget used for smaller workshop projects like nailing frames versus roofing nail guns that nail roof tiles.

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