Hitachi NR83A5 Pneumatic Framing Nailer
Following a fluke the first time around, we gave Hitachi's new flagship nailer a second shot - and it makes the most of it with outstanding performance.
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There are a lot of solid framing nailers on the job, but Hitachi’s have been a tradesman’s favorite for years now. Reliable, low-maintenance, and powerful, the NR83 and the NR90 models have built more trusses, windows, sub-floors, roofs, and all of other types of framing than anyone can count. Both the company and its customers have been reluctant to change a good formula. So Hitachi returned to the popular NR83 platform but upgraded the trigger’s actuation options. The result is the new A5 Series. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Chris Boll previewed the four new A5 series nailers recently. Today, I have one of the group’s members: the Hitachi NR83A5 Pneumatic Framing Nailer. It’s distinguished from the NR83A5(S) nailer because it has a depth of drive adjustment.
Regular readers will know that it can be tough to write novel reviews, particularly of nailers. It seems that manufacturers can only make marginal changes compared to other tool categories. This seems especially accurate in this case because Hitachi’s design has proved so good the company stuck with it! But we have anywhere between 6 and 20 jobs going simultaneously, so if there’s something to be revealed, we have the workflow to find it. My guys and I loaded up the NR83A5 and got to work.
UPDATE: In the following review, you’ll see that we had a couple issues with inconsistent depth-of-drive (leaving nails proud often) and the nail stick jams in the magazine. Well, I got a call from Hitachi’s product manager less than 12 hours after the review originally published. It was the first time Hitachi had heard of these issues with their new flagship nail gun and they immediately sent out a replacement. It’s refreshing to experience such responsive customer service. It turns out that my first gun must have been a lemon – it happens to the best manufacturers now and then. The new gun worked flawlessly and, just as importantly, I was impressed that Hitachi carefully guards the integrity and quality of its product.
Magazine and Fasteners
When I say that Hitachi maintained the original design, I mean it. The new NR83A5 shares all of the same internal parts as the original NR83. That means parts are battle-tested, readily available, and familiar to the repairman (if that’s ever necessary). Importantly, however, there are no composite/plastic parts on the new version as there was with the old one.
The Hitachi NR83A5 Pneumatic Framing Nailer fires 2- to 3-1/4-inch plastic strip collated nails from 0.113 to 0.131 inches in diameter. Its industrial steel magazine’s angle is 21-degrees – about mid-range as magazine angles go, and certainly sufficient for framing.
Now, for the defining upgrade to the original design: the trigger that can switch between single actuation and bump fire. Hitachi’s patented Selective Actuation design allows the trigger, in single actuation mode by default, to change bump fire mode by removing the Lock Pin and sliding the change rod forward.
It’s important to note the Lock Pin comes factory installed to keep the trigger in single actuation mode by default – but the user can throw it out after its removed. At first, I worried that I’d have to keep track of this tiny pin in order to return the trigger to single actuation after removing for bump fire, but that’s not the case. Simply moving the change rod toggles the actuation type.
Cylinder and Steel Tip
The Hitachi NR83A5 Pneumatic Framing Nailer – as well as the other A5 series nailers – feature a drop-sleeve cylinder valve drive system. It’s designed to fire and “recharge” quickly and generate a lot of force relative to the air pressure. The cylinder valve drive has just three moving parts and is self-cleaning, which accounts for the low maintenance reputation of the original NR83 design.
The claw tip nose is hardened steel – great for durability. It’s especially useful for toenailing accuracy and general safety.
Other Notable Features
Hitachi included a factory installed 1/4-inch inlet, an ambidextrous rafter hook, and a rubber grip. The tool-less depth of drive – the distinguishing feature between the NR83A5 and the NR83A5(S) models – is easily accessible on top of the gun behind the nose. The whole package weighs in at a very light 8.8 pounds or 9.1 with the rafter hook attached. You’ve heard other reviewers mention that a great deal of a nailer’s ease of use is its weight so that an auspicious start for the Hitachi. The gun comes with safety glasses and is backed by Hitachi’s 5-year tool warranty.
Firing On All Cylinder
We had the Hitachi NR83A5 Pneumatic Framing Nailer all over the Central Florida area. We’re always blessed to have work – but there’s an exceptional amount of work to do in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Incidentally, for that reason there’s a shortage of small dumpsters, so I’ve had to bring in 30-cubit yard rolloffs even for small jobs!
UPDATE: As mentioned above, the first gun intermittently left nails proud but the replacement gun drives a consistent depth without any issues.
In any event, Hitachi has always been known for its nailers’ comfortable ergonomics, and the NR83A5 is no different. It’s super light, maneuverable, and comfortable. You can do a lot of work with it and have some energy left to drive home. We found that the gun intermittently left nails 1/4-inch proud, which is a little disappointing. This gun has the chops to drive every nail, so hammering one in every so often is a pain.
I like the bump fire feature a lot. The jobs for which this nailer is designed require less finesse than finish work. You can pull the trigger and work efficiently by just bumping the nose against the work. The claw tip bites in nicely for toenailing. And if you wanted to switch back to single actuation, it’s simple to move the trigger’s change rod.
There’s no adjustable exhaust but that’s no big deal at all. For framers, the exhaust is usually pointed away from your face. It’s not like a lot of finish nailers that can blow dust and dirt into your eyes. There’s also no swivel on the air inlet but that’s also OK. As Jeff Crisp recently pointed out, a swivel air inlet is another potential point of failure or air leak!
Getting Bunched Up
For as solid as this nailer is, we had chronic issues when loading the magazine. It worked fine with one rack of nails, but the problem appeared with two racks in the magazine. Quite often when we loaded a new strip with several nails left in the first rack, we’d release the ribbon spring and there’d be a nail pileup in the magazine. You can see the issues in the photos. Perhaps the ribbon spring tension is too high? Or there’s too much play in the magazine’s channel? It doesn’t take too long to fix, but it makes the Hitachi NR83A5 Pneumatic Framing Nailer less user-friendly. It’s a bit of a bummer because this gun is so easy to work with otherwise.
UPDATE: The jamming issue isn’t present in the new nailer they sent. So far, I haven’t had a single jam on this one.
The Bottom Line
Hitachi built the NR83A5 on the trusty NR83 platform but upgraded the gun to exclude plastic parts and give the trigger an actuation option between single and bump. The old and new platforms even have interchangeable parts – you have to stick with what works, right?
We’ve seen Hitachi hit several home runs recently and the replacement NR83A5 feels like another one. The intermittent proud nails and magazine jams we experienced with the first gun seem to be a fluke, and Hitachi’s excellent customer service quickly replaced it with a gun that worked without a hiccup. It has excellent ergonomics and is exceptionally lightweight. And, as we found out, a company that quickly addresses any performance issues that pop up. That’s impressive.
Hitachi NR83A5 Pneumatic Framing Nailer Features
- Cylinder valve drive system for rapid response and increased durability
- Selective actuation on trigger allows for either sequential or contact nailing
- Rafter hook is included for convenience on the jobsite
- Tool-less depth of drive adjustment for improved control and flexibility when fastening into various types of wood
- Equipped with an industrial 2-piece magazine that can withstand jobsite abuse
- Accepts two strips of nails at a time and locking feeder system makes replenishments quick and easy
- Open nose design for easy extraction of a jammed nail
- Ergonomic non-slip rubber grip on handle helps maintain a secure hold and comfort during use
- Hardened claw tip resists wear on the nose and minimizes slippage when driving at an angle or “toe-nailing”
- 8.8 lbs (or 9.1 lbs if the rafter hook is installed) lightweight and well balanced for easy maneuverability
Hitachi NR83A5 Pneumatic Framing Nailer Specifications
- Fastener Type: Full Round Head, Plastic Strip Collation
- Magazine Angle: 21 Degree
- Fastener Length Capacity: 2- to 3-1/4 inches
- Fastener Diameter Range: .113 to .131 inches
- Magazine Capacity: 64
- Magazine Loading: Top
- Fitting: 1/4″ Industrial
- Operating Pressure: 70-120 PSI
- Jam Clearing: Open Nose
- Depth Setting: Tool-Less
- Actuation Selective: (Sequential/Contact)
- L x W x H: 21-13/16 x 4-1/4 x 13-3/8 inches
- Weight w/o Hook: 8.8 pounds
- Weight w/ Hook: 9.1 pounds
- Price: $329
Editor’s Note: This review originally published on December 12, 2017 and is being republished as a part of our Framing Nailer Shootout series. To see how the NR83A5 did head to head, check out the results here!