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May 9, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Best Framing Nailer Reviews and Head-to-Head Results 2021

Best Framing Nailer Shootout and Review: Pneumatic and Cordless

Finding the best framing nailer for your work means different things to different Pros. Are you a framer or a remodeler? Is price the biggest issue, or is it driving power, weight, or recoil? No matter what your priorities, chances are our Pro team has considered it in this head-to-head review.


Of course, we put our heads together to take this comprehensive list and rank each model at the end. As a bonus, we brought in 4 models that don’t require a hose. Buckle your seatbelt – here we go!

Best Framing Nailer Starting List

While we invited more brands to participate, here are the models that came in for testing:

Features that Matter

There are features, but some make a bigger impact than others. Here’s what our team looks for and which models have them.

Rafter Hook

This one is a pretty obvious inclusion and it shows. Every model we tested except the Metabo HPT NR90AE(S1) includes a rafter hook. Some are better than others, but most are pretty standard. The Metabo HPT 18V hook is big enough to straddle a 4 x4 – and get in the way. The Metabo HPT NR83A5 doesn’t swivel while Estwing’s swings freely.

Metal Magazine

Plastic magazines tend to work more sluggishly than the crisp action of a good metal magazine. All of our pneumatic framing nailers have metal magazines and all of the cordless models have plastic.

Best Framing Nailer Shootout and Review: Pnuematic and Cordless

Adjustable Exhaust

As the nailer fires, exhaust has to go somewhere. Most Pros prefer to turn the exhaust port away from their faces to avoid have that quick blast of air deliver a small particle into their eyes.

Best Framing Nailer Shootout and Review: Pnuematic and Cordless

Who Has it

  • Bostitch
  • Milwaukee

Who Doesn’t

  • DeWalt
  • Estwing
  • Metabo HPT NR83
  • Metabo HPT NR90
  • Makita
  • Paslode
  • Ridgid
  • Senco
  • Bostitch 20V Max
  • DeWalt 20V Max
  • Metabo HPT 18V
  • Paslode Cordless XP

Tool-Free Mode Change

In the best case scenario, you flip a switch to change between single fire and bump fire modes. Some of our nailers make it that easy. Some have a two-step process for safety reasons, but a couple require a complete trigger change – something our team hates.

Best Framing Nailer Shootout and Review: Pneumatic and Cordless

Who Has It

  • DeWalt (2-stage flipper switch)
  • Estwing (2-stage flipper switch)
  • Metabo HPT NR83 (on-trigger slide mechanism)
  • Metabo HPT NR90 (1-stage flipper switch)
  • Makita (1-stage flipper switch)
  • Milwaukee (2-stage flipper switch)
  • Ridgid (1-stage flipper switch)
  • Senco (slide mechansim above the trigger)
  • Bostitch 20V Max (1-stage switch)
  • DeWalt 20V Max (1-stage switch)
  • Metabo HPT 18V (electronic button)

Who Doesn’t

  • Bostitch (trigger change needed)
  • Paslode (trigger change needed)

* The Paslode Cordless XP model only has single fire mode

Dry Fire Lockout

Dry fire lockout helps prevent damage to the driver blade and reminds you to add more nails before you a run a line without nailing anything. In an ideal world, lockout would happen once the last nail is fired, but even the best framing nailer leaves a few in the magazine.

Best Framing Nailer Shootout and Review: Pneumatic and Cordless

Who Has It

  • Estwing (4 nails remaining)
  • Makita (4 nails remaining)
  • Milwaukee (5 nails remaining)
  • Ridgid (5 nails remaining)
  • Bostitch 20V Max (9 nails remaining)
  • DeWalt 20V Max (9 nails remaining)
  • Metabo HPT 18V (5 nails remaining)
  • Paslode Gas (5 nails remaining)

Who Doesn’t

  • Bostitch
  • Dewalt
  • Metabo HPT (Hitachi) NR83
  • Metabo HPT NR90
  • Paslode
  • Senco

Cordless/Hoseless

Not having a hose to drag around is a huge advantage for cordless/hoseless nailers. There are some trade-offs like weight and capacity, but they’re worth making for remodelers and punch list work.


Best Framing Nailer Shootout and Review: Pnuematic and Cordless
  • Bostitch 20V Max
  • DeWalt 20V Max
  • Metabo HPT 18V
  • Paslode Cordless XP (battery + fuel cell)

Next Up: Diving Deeper

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David

Toenail reality check. While the guns ya’ll tested all seemed to do well. I’ve found that after about 6 months of regular use the Hitachi/metabo will completely quit firing a toenail, The Rigid, will quit firing period, and will only fire when it wants to, The Milwaukee, has out performed them all, except my 25 year old DuoFast. The reason for the quit firing is due to the plastic trigger safety parts becoming worn in a short period of time. The plastic parts on the trigger is what makes me to not want to try the Estwing. Forget the bells… Read more »

Boy Wonder

Okay reality check on toenailing… Milwaukee 7200-20 NO (cant drive fastener completely) – Hitachi NR90AE(S1) NO (cant toe at all, the head is crap and gets no gription) – Ridgid R350RHF NO (cant drive fastener completely) – Bostitch F21PL2 YES (unfortunately the depth adjustment is crap and can only be used at full depth, [it will reset itself there at random], great for toenailing though

Rob Eggers

Now throw out all nailers that won’t take 3 1/2″ .131.

Fox & Associates

Why did you not include the Max framing nailer in the comparison test? Surely a worthwhile competitor?

Matt

FYI, compare the old 2005 era Ridgid R350RH(a) to the Milwaukee and you’ll notice they are nearly identical

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