DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer Framing Tool Reviews

Framing Nailers

Build Quality
Feature Set
Ergonomics
Firing Strength
Nailing Performance
Value
Final Thoughts

The DCN692 is on the heavy side, it's got a small magazine, and it's a little slow. The convenience of this tool is what wins me over. While the Pro that's using a framing nailer all day every day will likely want a more lightweight, lower cost per shot option, it has its place as a punch list tool.

Overall Score 3.6 Shootout Results

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DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer Review


Cordless nailers are becoming more readily available and more relevant as technology improves. One area that has seen little growth in that realm is framing nailers. There are certainly obstacles to overcome with these larger nail sizes. The most significant is getting enough power to fully drive a 3+” nail up to 0.131″ diameter. If you can’t achieve that, there’s not going to be much point in calling it a framing nailer.

Fortunately for those of us that want to ditch the hose and the gas, we have the option of looking to the DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer. They’ve got two models available to choose from. The DCN690 DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer is a single speed nailer while the DCN692 DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer is dual speed. Both feature a brushless motor that key in being able to make a lithium-ion framing nailer. We already reviewed the single-speed model, but we were able to get our hands on the dual speed DCN692 to see if it offered significant gains in performance and features. Aside from the speed selection, the two nailers perform very similarly.

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Features That Matter

As I mentioned, DeWalt included a brushless motor on the 20V Max Framing Nailer that helps deliver the power and efficiency required to drive framing nails. It’s capable of accepting either clipped head or offset full round head paper tape nails collated at 30 – 34 degrees. The range of lengths is from 2″ to 3-1/2″ and 0.113″ to 0.131″ diameters. While it’s capable of shooting clipped head nails, users in hurricane and earthquake-prone areas should know that their use is very limited by building codes and you’ll want to go for the offset full round heads. As it is, aside from online dealers, the ability to find clipped head nails may be an exercise in futility. I’m in Florida, and couldn’t find many brick and mortar stores that had any in stock.

DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer SpecificationsDeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer

  • Models: DCN690 (single speed), DCN692 (dual speed)
  • Power Source: DeWalt 20V Max Batteries
  • Firing Modes: Bump or Sequential
  • Nail Lengths: 2″ – 3-1/2″
  • Shank Diameters: 0.113″ – 0.131″
  • Nail Collation Angle Range: 30 – 34 degrees
  • Shank Types: Smooth and Ring
  • Magazine Capacity: 55 nails
  • Weight: 7.8 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years limited, 1-year service agreement, 90-day money back return
  • Price: $674.84 (DCN690M1) / Check on Amazon (DCN692M1)

DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer: Getting to Know the Features

Driving Depth Adjustments

There’s a lot to talk about in the features category for the DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer. Starting near the business end of the tool, you’ll find the depth of drive adjustment wheel. This can pretty easily be adjusted with your thumb and has 11 positive clicking positions to help you gauge where you’re at. In case you aren’t sure if you’re increasing or decreasing the depth of drive, a handy picture is etched in as a guide.

DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer

Jam Clearing

Jam clearing requires you to loosen three screws; two on the nose and a third on the base. This completely releases the magazine and the jam can be cleared. Also, if you’ve stalled the motor nailing into hardwoods, there is a stall release level on the top that will allow the drive cycle to reset. This disables the tool though, and you’ll need to release and reinsert the battery to reset it. In the case of a jam or stall, an indicator light will illuminate on the back of the tool next to a battery indicator.

DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer

Firing Modes

You select sequential or bump action on the side. The switch itself is actually pretty tough to move. While this should prevent accidental changing of modes, I felt like I might break it when I first flipped it. I’m hoping that it will get a little easier as I use it more. The other mode to choose is between motor speeds. You’ll find this hidden behind the rafter hook when it is tucked away. The lower speed is for 2″ – 3″ nails, while 3-1/4″ to 3-1/2″ should be fired in the higher speed mode. Using the lower speed on the smaller nails should improve efficiency for the battery. However, it’s certainly able to fire them in high-speed mode should you need more power in harder materials.

Additional Features

You’ll find that there is a trigger lock off for safety during non-use and transportation. There’s also a swiveling rafter hook that’s very handy. It is rigid and substantial enough to come across as very durable. It is wide enough to accommodate hanging on 2x material and can rotate around to either side.

DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer

Performance…Wait for It…Literally

Three main areas of performance were in my sights: power, speed, and run time. I was shooting 2-3/8″ nails and the power is adequate. I can fully drive each nail in the recommended Low speed setting without much of an issue. Bumping it up to the higher speed setting, I can easily sink each nail below the surface in softer materials like pine. Hardwoods and LVL are a different story.

Speed is a factor that you’ll notice a difference in. It wasn’t difficult to find a rhythm that the DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer could keep up with in bump-fire mode. It was much slower than I have been able to use with a compressor powered nailer, however. There’s also a significant difference in speed in sequential fire mode. That’s because you’re having to wait for the motor to spool up the flywheel before each shot.

DeWalt 20V Framing Nailer Depth Wheel 1

Runtime is pretty solid with this nailer. Firing framing nails is no joke when it comes to producing enough power and using a 20V battery to do it. I was able to get in more than 500 shots before stopping to recharge the battery. While there was still some juice left, it’s not a good idea to completely discharge a Lithium-ion battery if you’d like to maintain your battery and extend its lifespan. For the Pros out there, 500 shots are good, but you’re probably going to want a second battery as a spare while the other recharges.

One thing that stood out to me as I was using the DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer is that I did not experience any jamming. There were a couple of attempted shots that didn’t go during testing, but that was due to the nailer still resetting the drive cycle while I had gotten ahead of it.

Parting Shots (Get it?) and Recommendations

The DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer performed well in my tests. While I’m content in that department, there are a few considerations that may limit who the best end user is for it. Weight is one of the biggest considerations here. At 9.1 pounds, the DCN692 is heavier than most framing nailers on the market. It also only has a 55 nail capacity and a 7 – 9 nails remaining dry fire lockout. This means you’ll be reloading one strip at a time and more frequently. Bump fire moves along at a decent clip, but sequential requires you to wait for the motor to spool up which slows down production.

When it comes to value, the compressor powered nailer is still the way to go. 30-degree nailers aren’t that widespread in our area, and there is a premium on the price of the nails. I’d love to see DeWalt retool this with a 21-degree magazine that would make this cordless nailer about the same price as a Pro level pneumatic with a Pro level compressor. The cost per shot would then be equal and we’re talking a major win in value.

DeWalt DCN690 Cordless Framing Nailer Magazine Load Button

Recommendations

For these reasons, it’s the professional end user that needs a framing nailer for occasional use that is going to benefit the most. Pros that are using a framing nailer for the majority of the day or a lot of overhead work will likely prefer the lighter weight and faster action of traditional compressor powered or gas assisted nailers.

Don’t let that sway you from a performance standpoint though. The DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer did very well for me. I’m in the boat of occasional framing nailer user and the DCN692 has found a home in my arsenal. The fact that I have no compressor and hose to drag around, nor gas cartridges to keep replacing gives this nailer a convenience factor that outweighs its limitations. If you’re a pro needing a framing nailer for occasional use and want to go cordless, the DeWalt 20V Max Framing Nailer is for you.

Editor’s Note: This review was originally published on February 5th, 2015. Its ratings have been updated to reflect its performance in our recent shootout.

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Rocco
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Rocco

Just got the 2-speed DCN692 model for a future finished basement project, and probably use it on a few other projects. I’m not a pro, just a diy homeowner, so this should fit my needs well. Was looking for recommendations on the best nails to use.

Don
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Don

This review is very good and confirms my impression that this is a very useful third framing gun, but doesn’t replace the air nailers. The only thing I don’t agree with you about is, the fact of it using paper collated Paslode nails is the best thing about it! I wouldn’t want one if it didn’t. Also, now that these have been out for a few years, I wonder and hope the durability and reliability are improved. Thanks for the info. Keep up he good work.

Dameon Franks
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Dameon Franks

Do not buy this nail gun. In just over a year I’ve had it replaced twice and had to send it to the factory twice and once again is isn’t working right now. When it works it’s great, I build fences so I air guns are a bit of a hassle, my gas powered gun has worked for 20+ years and is starting to show it’s age,I liked the idea of not having to buy gas cartridges so I tried to replace it with this guy, no good, I’m gonna fix this one one last time and sell it, I… Read more »

Ron
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Ron

Just letting you know the dewalt framing nailer shoots offset paper collated full round head nails not just clipped head so it is compliant in florida

Terry Small
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This nail gun definitely has its place. Often there are jobs that some small thing didn’t get done or needs correcting, and the convenience of not having to load an air compressor, hoses, extension cords or deal with gas cartridges is a big time and stress saver. Electricians on my last job let me borrow theirs to nail a few 2×4 braces in the attic and the gun performed flawlessly, and got me out of that hot attic quick. Can’t wait to try the trim nailer as well. The pics in this article are a little confusing, as it appears… Read more »