Best Framing Nailer Shootout and Review: Pneumatic and Cordless Framing Tool Reviews

Best Framing Nailer Review and Shootout – New Updates!


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 shootout.

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!

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Editor’s Note: Hitachi’s NR90AE(S1) didn’t make in time for our initial tests, but it arrived and we have updated the results to reflect its performance. The shootout was originally published on June 25, 2018.

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 pretty obvious inclusion and it shows – every model we tested except the Hitachi NR90AE(S1) includes a rafter hook. Some are better than others, but most are pretty standard. The Hitachi 18V hook is big enough to straddle a 4 x4 – and get in the way. Hitachi’s 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
  • Hitachi NR83
  • Hitachi NR90
  • Makita
  • Paslode
  • Ridgid
  • Senco
  • Bostitch 20V Max
  • DeWalt 20V Max
  • Hitachi 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.

Who Has ItBest Framing Nailer Shootout and Review: Pneumatic and Cordless

  • DeWalt (2-stage flipper switch)
  • Estwing (2-stage flipper switch)
  • Hitachi NR83 (on-trigger slide mechanism)
  • Hitachi 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)
  • Hitachi 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.

Who Has ItBest Framing Nailer Shootout and Review: Pneumatic and Cordless

  • 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)
  • Hitachi 18V (5 nails remaining)
  • Paslode Gas (5 nails remaining)

Who Doesn’t

  • Bostitch
  • Dewalt
  • Hitachi NR83
  • Hitachi NR90
  • Paslode
  • Senco

Editor’s Note: We originally reported that Estwing does not have dry fire lockout when, in fact, it does.

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
  • Hitachi 18V
  • Paslode Cordless XP (battery + fuel cell)

Next Up: Diving Deeper

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Fox & Associates
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Fox & Associates

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

Matt
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Matt

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

Danny A Shaw
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Danny A Shaw

I wonder why didn’t Milwaukee Cordless model make the list?

Curtis L. Hencye
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Curtis L. Hencye

I recently purchased the Milwaukee and have used it several times. Mine has adjustable exhaust and Milwaukee also lists it as adjustable. It’s by far the best framer I’ve owned/used. Had Hitachis for years but when I purchased a replacement, tried 2 and neither would drive 3 1/2″ completely, so returned and drove an hour and a half round trip to get Milwaukee!! Milwaukee keeps amazing me and I just gotta learn to go with them overall and on top of everything else you get a 5 year warranty! Can’t wait for their cordless version to come out!

Ray
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Ray

Good job. You definatly know what your s**t.. that LVL comparison test… really great info and helpful.
For the way I bang.
It’s pasload impulse gun on joist. For mobility.
Bostitch on stand by for beams.
Hitchachi for sheathing and wall production.
Pasload impulse on roof framing.
And a 2 1/4″ hitachi coil nailer for all sheathing. …

Is there a comparison test for which gun is the worse to shoot yourself with. Lol hahaha

….. but seriously!? Lol