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Let’s face it. It’s hard to choose a framing nailer when there are so many options on the market.
When it comes to getting your projects done quickly and efficiently, having the right tools is crucial, and a framing nailer is no exception.
This guide lists the top 10 framing nailers available based on price, quality and real user reviews. We made sure to add models at different price points as we know everyone will have different budgets.
So let’s jump in…
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In a Rush?
Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...
The Best Framing Nailers with Reviews
Here’s a list of the best framing nailers we found on the market:
1. Paslode 905600 Cordless Framing Nailer
Not so Good
The Paslode 902600 is hands down the one of the best models available which is powered by a 7.4v li-ion battery.
If your battery runs out, take advantage of the 2-minute quick charge mode to get up to 200 more nails without having to let the framing nailer fully charge. With a full charge, you can drive up to 9000 nails, more than most cordless nailers on the market. It will take an hour to get a full charge and then you’ll be good for about 1.5 hours.
They call this the light weight heavy duty nailer and it’s easy to see why. With all that power and performance, you might expect it to be on the heavy side, but it only weighs 7.5 pounds. In addition, you also get an ergonomic grip that helps make this framing nailer even easier to control.
If you’re looking for something to tackle large jobs quickly and accurately, this is it. The speed on this Paslode is phenomenal. It is the most expensive model we reviewed, but it also comes with a handful of accessories you won’t need to worry about buying including a battery, charger, safety glasses, and carrying case.
2. Hitachi NR90AES1 Pneumatic Framing Nailer
Not so Good
This framing nailer from Hitachi features their newer industrial design, the highlight of which is the head guard. It’s designed for easy removal and replacement so it’s quick and easy to do any maintenance. The NR90AES1 is a lightweight tool that’s comfortable to use on long jobs, even with overhead work.
The two piece anodized aluminum magazine is designed to provide a fast and easy reloading experience for this lightweight and well-balanced framing nailer. Switch from sequential to contact modes with the slip of a switch and adjust the depth with the turn of a know then simply continue on with your work. It has a hard claw tip to prevent it from slipping and to protect the nose from damage.
This is a really durable tool that can handle a lot of abuse. One downside that happens with this and a lot of framing nailers with tool-less depth adjustment is that it’s a little tricky to get them to the proper depth and will take some trial and error.
3. NuMax SFN64 Straight Finish Nailer
Not so Good
If you’re trying to stick to a budget but still want a reliable and effective framing nailer, check of the NuMax SFN64. It has 360 degree exhaust so you can easily adjust it so it doesn’t blow in your face while you’re working. It’s made of lightweight and durable magnesium and has a no-mar tip to protect your work surface. Remove the no-mar cover to expose the no-slip teeth for when you need some grip.
An interesting feature of this framing nailer is the adjustable trigger. If you want quick firing, choose bump fire. If precision is what you’re after, go with single fire. The depth adjuster allows you to customize the depth for different projects so you’re always getting the appropriate hold. These features combined provide a lot of customization so you can use this framer on a variety of projects.
To protect the engine from debris and dust that can cause damage, there’s an air filter and dust cap. There’s also a anti-dry fire feature which prevents the gun from firing with less that 5 nails in the magazine to protect from damage. Simply refill the magazine and you’re back in business.
4. Freeman PFR2190 Pneumatic Framing Nailer
Not so Good
The Freeman PFR2190 is made of lightweight and durable magnesium and the driver blade itself it made of hardened steel. This nailer can handle a variety of jobs and stand up to some tough environments without getting damaged.
This framing nailer can use nails from 20 – 22 degrees but 21 is recommended. The magazine is compatible with generic brands so you don’t need to worry about getting anything special or that’s difficult to find. The magazine holds 55 nails, which is about average for a nailer like this. The anti-dry fire system will stop firing when you get to the last few nails in the magazine to prevent jams and damage.
The no-mar flat tip gives you some stability without damaging your materials and the tool-less depth control makes this a very versatile tool. This one comes with a plastic case that is perfect for homeowners who won’t be using this tool daily because it gives you a nice, sturdy way to store it when it’s not being used.
The magazine can be a little tricky to load and this bulky tool has a little more recoil than some of the others but it’s a solid, reliable tool that’s a great addition to any workshop.
5. DEWALT DCN692B Cordless Framing Nailer
- Brushless Motor and engine design provides the power to drive 3-1/2" nails
- Sequential or bump operating modes
- Dual Speed optimizes the motor for different nail lenghts
- 33° magazine holds up to 55 paper collated nails
- Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 20 volts. Nominal voltage is 18
Not so Good
6. BOSTITCH LPF21PL Pneumatic Framing Nailer
Not so Good
Bostitch is a well-known name in power tools because their products are really good quality. This low profile framing nailer is no exception. With a 21 degree angle, it’s an ideal size to squeeze into smaller gaps and spaces, like between rafters. At 9.5 pounds, it’s on the heavier end of the weight range for framing nailers that we reviewed. It’s not so heavy that it will be difficult to control but, despite the over molded rubber grip handle, you will probably need to stop and take a break every so often.
A cool thing about this nailer is that it has tool free adjustments. There’s a selectable trigger for switching back and forth between single and multi-drive and the drive depth adjustment is also tool free.
You’ll need an air compressor to use this framing nailer and it provides between 70 – 100 psi. Air-powered tools can sometimes get particles and dirt in the engine which could cause significant damage. Bostitch have designed this best framing nailer with air filter to protect it from internal damage.
As for price, this is a mid-range tool. It’s worth every penny, though. With a 7 year warranty and a trusted brand name, there’s no reason not to invest in this nailer, especially if you already have access to an air compressor.
7. BOSTITCH MCN-150 Framing Nail Gun
Not so Good
The Bostitch MCN-150 was made tough and to tackle some big jobs and was specifically designed to cope with metal strapping. It’s compact and designed to fit into tight spaces and it one of the lightest nailers in its class at only 4.6 pounds. It uses 1.5 inch paper tape collated metal connector nails, the kind now preferred to meet some tougher building regulations.
Because this nailer is made for metal strapping, it’s designed to be tough enough to handle coming in contact with metal constantly. The tip is made to instantly fit directly into the connector holes so your work will be fast and precise. There’s actually a safety feature that prevents the nailer from firing unless the tip is lined up just so. It stops firing when there are less than 5 nails left in the magazine to prevent jamming.
One downside to this nailer is it only holds 25 nails, when means frequent stops to refill it. This is made a little more of an issue when you take into account that it’s going to stop shooting when you get down to 20 nails. All in all, you’ll need to reload frequently which will be a bit of a pain.
If you’re looking for a nailer that’s made for 1.5 inch nails and metal strapping, this is a great choice. It’s not as versatile as some other options but how much that matters really depends what kind of job you’re planning to do.
8. Makita AN923 Framing Gun
Not so Good
This Makita framing nailer is a really powerful, reliable choice. It has in an internal air filter to keep the engine free from dust and debris that could otherwise cause significant damage. It also has a back-pressure function that can clear any dust from the tool when released.
A unique thing about this tool is that it has a 3-mode selector – contact, sequential, and lock. This gives you a lot of nailing options. The retractable hook allows you to hang it when you need to work on another part of your project while still keeping it close by. It has comfortable rubber hand grips for easy control.
This nailer has tool-less depth adjustment so you can get nails flush and the tip has pronounced spurs to grip the wood for more control. You get nine different settings to choose from which makes this a really versatile choice.
One downside is that it has a relatively small magazine capacity and stops shooting when there are 3 nails left. For big jobs, you’ll need to reload pretty frequently. Luckily, reloading is designed to be quick.
9. PORTER-CABLE FR350B Air Framing Nailer
Not so Good
The Porter-Cable FR350B is great for professionals and DIYers alike. It’s lightweight and portable. The built in rafter hook is a great feature. It allows you to easily hang the nailer up to keep it and the compressor tubing out of the way if you’re taking a break or working on another part of your project.
This is another framing nailer with tool-less depth adjustment so it’s a little tricky to get the precision you need, but this one seems to perform pretty well. You also have the option to choose between single and rapid firing.
The Porter-Cable FR350B is really powerful and has a bit of an unexpected recoil. It uses standard collated nails that you can find in any hardware store relatively cheaply. There’s a selectable trigger and a trigger lockout so you can use either restrictive or contact actuation.
It’s a little too big to fit into tight spaces and has an anti-dry fire feature which prevents it from firing when there are only a few left. While these things might be a bit annoying, they’re not enough to take away from the power and performance of this nailer.
How to buy a framing nailer
As with most tools, the one that’s right for you will depend on how you’re going to use it. If you’re a homeowner looking for a cool tool to add to your collection you won’t have the same needs as a professional contractor who needs something to handle daily, intense work. Once you know what features you need, you’ll be able to make a better choice.
Here are the things you need to know before buying a framing nailer.
The most common source of power for framing nailers is an air compressor. If you already have on or have access to one, you’ll save yourself a lot of money. If not, you’ll have to buy or rent one.
There are a few framing nailers, including our top choice, that are powered by fuel cells and batteries. They have an internal engine that that uses the battery to ignite the fuel and power the tool. Framing nailers with this fuel source are not the norm, but they are out there. That you don’t need to have them attached to an air hose is a huge plus. It makes it much easier to move around the jobsite with and it’s not tied down to anything. Unfortunately, though, you do lose a little bit of power.
Throughout this guide and on any framing nailer you look at, you’ll see that each is measure in degrees. This is the measure of the collation angle that the magazine feeds the nails from. It contributes not only to how compact the tool is but also what kind of nails it take.
Nailers that are 21 degrees are the most common. You’ll also find the in 28, 30, and 34 degrees. One big thing to remember is the higher the angle, the narrower the space you’ll be able to fit you framing nailer in. There are some other differences, like whether the nails are collated with paper or plastic and how long the magazine will be.
Weight and Handling
The best framing nailers that we reviewed ranged from 4.6 to 11 pounds. That’s quite a spread! The most important thing to keep in mind about weight is that you’re going to be holding and carrying this tool around for the duration of the job. Make sure you get one that is lightweight enough for you to use for extended periods of time.
Of course, there are some features that will make handling a little easier. Sometimes, the framing nailer will be designed with an ergonomical handle that will make it more comfortable for you to hold.
It’s important to keep in mind that just because a framing nailer is large doesn’t necessarily mean it’s heavy. A lot will determine the weight, mostly the materials that the tool is composed of.
If you’re planning to use your tool atop a ladder putting in rafters or trusses, a rafter hook is invaluable. They’re integrated into the design of the tool and allow you to hang the nailer on a rafter that’s close by. This means you won’t have to climb up and down the ladder to retrieve your tool.
Some of these hooks are better designed than others. You’ll find they’re made of different materials, though most are composed of plastic. Some are more accessible than others because of how they’re mounted. Choose one that is sturdy, easy to position, and isn’t too difficult to clip and unclip.
Depth of Drive
Each brand will have a different mechanism for adjusting the depth of drive, or how far into the material the nail goes. Some will have switches while other will use dials, buttons, or even manual controls that will require an Allen wrench to manipulate.
Tool-less depth adjustments are convenient and easy to use but they may not be as accurate as a manual adjuster; however, tool-less has become the industry standard and improvements are being made all the time.
The magazine is the where the nails are loaded. The more nails a magazine can hold, the less frequently you need to reload which can save you time in the long run. Some are top loading and some are rear loading. This is a choice that is solely based on personal preference so choose whichever is the easiest one for you to work with.
It’s not uncommon for framing nailers to jam so make sure whichever one you choose has an easy way to clear them and features in place to prevent them from happening in the first place. A dry-fire lockout is one such feature. It stops the gun when there’s only a few nails lest in the chamber. This keeps the nailer from firing blanks and saves you time of having to go back over patterns.
When deciding on the best framing nailer, we had to go with the Paslode. It’s the only one that runs on a fuel cell and battery, eliminating the need for an air compressor and the need to drag around an air hose. The battery charges quickly and the kit includes a chargers and carrying case. This one is affectionately known as the lightweight heavy duty nailer and we can see why.
If this doesn’t sound like the right one for you, use our reviews and guide to figure out which one is. No matter what kind of job it is you’re trying to tackle, the information we provided will help you make an informed decision.