So you’re looking for a framing nailer, but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, you're not alone. Choosing the best framing nailer for your project can be daunting, especially with the huge variety on the market today.
When choosing a nail gun, you need to first establish what project you will be using it for and the type of material you want to nail through.
You also need to consider the various features they now come with, the types of nails you need to use, and the various manufacturers producing them today.
To help you make a final decision, we’ve created a buying guide that will take you through all the above. We will help you make a decision on the type of nail gun you need as well as the features that will best fit your job.
From there, we’re going to highlight some of the most reputable brands you can buy your nailing gun from, and give you insights into what other customers really think about their products.
Let’s get started by having a look at the multitude of features nail guns now come with:
*Notice: On mobile devices, scroll right to see entire table.
The Best All-Round Framing Nailer On The Market Today
The Best Pneumatic Framing Nailer
The Best Valued Pneumatic Nailer
The Best Cordless Framing Nailer
When choosing the best nail gun for your project, there are important features to consider.
Nailers are available with two different types of configurations: coil-style and strip-style. The style you choose will depend on the number of nails you need to use. Here is an explanation of both:
With a coil-style nailer, you won’t need to reload as often as it can hold more nails. These types of nail guns use long strings of nails that are joined together with wires. The nails are kept coiled in a round magazine and they can typically fit into places where stick-style ones cannot.
Unlike coil-style nail guns, stick-style ones can be held together with paper or plastic, as well as wire. Because the nails are not concentrated in a roll like with coil-style nailers, the tool typically offers better balance as it distributes the weight of the nails.
Once you have chosen the style of framing nailer you want to use, you need to establish how you’d prefer it to be powered. Nail guns can typically be powered in three different ways, these are:
Because a pneumatic nail gun is powered by compressed air, you need to have an air compressor that has a pound per square inch and volume that is equal or higher than that of the nail gun itself.
Pneumatic nailers do come with their own set of pros and cons. These types of nail guns are generally cheaper than others, although they do require an air compressor, which can be used for a variety of other tools and to simply inflate your car tires.
Pneumatic nail guns deliver a consistent amount of power every time you use them. They’re also known for their durability as they have fewer parts and therefore do not wear as quickly.
These types of nailers do require regular maintenance and need to be oiled often. They are also considerably louder than other types and will require you to wear hearing protection. Lastly, they do not offer as much mobility as other models because of the compressor and hose.
Fuel-powered nail guns rely on disposable gas cartridges and a battery as spark for the fuel to work.
Although they have to have a charged battery and gas to drive a nail into your chosen surface, they are awesome for heavy duty jobs. They are also a preferred choice if you need to move around as they are cordless.
Battery-powered nail guns are by far the most innovative, with many now using lithium-ion batteries for their power source. Some have the same power as pneumatic nailers, but cordless.
Aside from offering mobility as they do not require a hose or compressor, they are considerably quieter than both pneumatic and fuel-powered nail guns.
Although newer models are proving otherwise, most battery-powered nailers do not have the power of pneumatic or fuel-powered ones. They are, however, great for smaller spaces.
These types of nail guns are corded, run off mains power, and are normally only used with very small nails. They’re not traditionally used by professionals as they do not offer the power that other nailers do. That said, they are great for small projects.
If you understand how nailers are fired, you’ll be able to better establish what the best framing nailer is for your project. Your nailer’s firing method will depend on two controls: the safety tip you will touch against the material you are going to nail, and the trigger.
A contact trigger makes nailing a lot quicker as all you need to do is hold down the trigger and touch the safety tip against the surface you are nailing. Every time you bump the safety tip against the surface, a new nail will shoot out, as long as you are pushing on the trigger.
Contact triggers are more dangerous and should only be used if you are used to using a nail gun. This fast paced motion offers less control and makes it more likely for you to unintentionally fire a nail.
Similar to a contact trigger, a single sequential trigger allows you to fire nails one after the other every time the safety tip bumps on the surface you are nailing. The key difference is that every time you shoot a nail, you have to release the trigger, move the gun, and start again.
A full sequential trigger is by far the safest type and the one we recommend if you have never used a nail gun. To use this type of trigger you must bump the safety tip against the surface and then pull the trigger. This will fire only one nail.
To fire another nail, you must let go of the trigger, move the safety tip away from the surface you are nailing, and start all over again. This trigger type gives you full control.
A single actuation trigger is the same as a single sequential trigger, the only difference being that you can choose in which order you activate the safety tip and the trigger. To fire more than one nail, however, you have to release the trigger and start again.
Once you have established the above, you need to consider where you will be nailing.
For example, are you going to be nailing in large open spaces, or will you need to use your nail gun at an awkward angle?
The term angled refers to the nail gun’s magazine. An angled gun gives you access to smaller, tighter areas. Typically, angled nailers can also more efficiently drive nails with thicker gauges. That said, they are commonly more expensive than straight nailers.
Nails come in all shapes and sizes. Construction workers normally come to a project equipped with a huge variety of nails they can use for different purposes. But, nails used in power nailers are slightly different.
They come joined with wire, paper, or sometimes plastic and are always in a straight line. Most of them have a layer of adhesive, which when fired, heats up and then cools, binding the nail to its surface, and in turn, making it stronger.
There are two types of nails: round head nails and clipped head nails.
As the name suggests, round head nails are completely round on the surface. They are known to be stronger than clipped head nails and they reduce the risk of overdrive in shear walls. They are also easier to remove if put in by mistake.
However, they need to be reloaded more often, and when using those that are joined by plastic, a residue can get caught in the hole with the nail leaving a messy finish.
Clipped head nails have a D-shaped surface. Normally, guns with clipped head nails are lighter as the magazines are shorter. These can also accommodate more nails. Also, these types of nails are normally cheaper as they cost less to manufacture.
Unfortunately, they do have less holding strength and if you make a nailing mistake, you may find them harder to remove from the surface as they are more likely to break.
When choosing nails, you must check with your local building codes as many have removed clipped head nails from construction in their areas.
It’s important to look after your tools so that they stay looking and working like new. Nailers often come with protective guards or cases. If yours does not, we recommend you buy one.
A protective guard will stop debris and dirt from landing on your nail gun and jamming it. It is also a great way to transport your nailing gun if you are traveling with it. Make sure you buy a protective guard that is replaceable as these do wear quite quickly.
Choosing the Best Framing Nailer For Your Needs
Before choosing a framing nailer, you need to establish whether or not it is the best type of gun for your project. Make sure you look at the various other types of nail guns on the market, some of which are:
When it comes to choosing the best framing nailer, only you can decide. Things you need to consider when making your choice include:
You then need to look for other features that will make your nail gun more efficient and easier to use, for example:
Your nail gun will jam, that is inevitable. But, by choosing one with a jam clearing system, your nailer will be easier to unjam and maintain in the long run. With a jam clearing feature, your gun should be easy to disassemble and put back together again.
Having a directional exhaust comes in very handy if you are using your nail gun in a particularly dusty area as you’ll be able to direct the exhaust away from yourself. You may need special tools to adjust your exhaust although some come tool-free.
Depth adjustment is handy if you need to adjust how deep your nail goes into your chosen surface. As with the directional exhaust, some nail guns require a tool to adjust the depth, but we recommend you find one that can be adjusted by hand.
Swiveling air connectors only come into play with pneumatic nail guns. If you do choose this type of nailer, we suggest you purchase a swiveling air connector as it will stop the hose from tangling.
If you do not have experience using a nail gun, a dry firing lockout feature will come in handy as it will stop the gun from firing when there are no nails in it, something that is hard to tell when you first start using a nailer.
Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about nail guns and their various features, we’re going to run you through some of our top choices based on the type of nailer, value for money, and what other customers have been saying.
Let's take a look at the best framing nailer on the market.
Taking everything into consideration, it would be hard to not vote the NuMax SFR2190 21 Degree as our top choice of framing nailer.
Aside from the fact that it comes in at a fraction of the price of others of its kind, this NuMax model is packed with features.
It is perfect for a variety of nailing jobs including wall framing, wood fencing, subfloors, and roof decking.
The SFR2190 has a dual-mode trigger meaning that you can choose between single or sequential firing, perfect for jobs that need to be done quickly as well as precision work.
Nailing at a 21-degree angle, with this framing nailer you can work with plastic collated round head nails that are anywhere between 2 inches and 3-½ inches long. You can also adjust the depth for various applications to not damage your work surface.
Lastly, the NuMax SFR2190 Framing Nailer is great for novices as it comes with an anti-dry fire mechanism that activates when there are only 5 nails left in the magazine. For extra security you can remove the no-mar tip, leaving it with teeth that grip to wooden surfaces for safer firing.
The magazine is able to accommodate 55 fasteners and operates at 70-115 PSI. It comes with a 360-degree adjustable air exhaust as well as an air filter and an anti-dust cap.
Lastly, the NuMax SFR2190 is built with your comfort and safety in mind, something that shines through in its secure, ergonomic, and anti-vibration grip. It comes with a quick start guide so that you can start using it immediately as well as a 1-year limited warranty.
As far as the pneumatic framing nailers go, check out the best one.
We voted the Porter-Cable FR350B winner of our pneumatic framing nailer category as it is an easy-to-use model that is perfect for beginners as well as more experienced handymen and women.
Aside from its comfortable ergonomic grip, the FR350B weighs a very modest 7.3 pounds making it easy to transport and use for larger, longer projects.
Despite its lightweight, this Porter-Cable model does not lack power. It is able to drive nails of up to 3-½ inches by 0.131-inches into engineered wood.
It has an interchangeable trigger system whereby you can choose between restrictive or a contact actuation mode depending on your project needs.
Thanks to its tool-free adjustable depth of drive you can also be sure that the nails will not damage your working surface.
Great for beginners, the Porter-Cable FR350B framing nailer has an anti-dry fire mechanism that will tell you when you need to reload your gun.
With a magazine angled at 22 degrees, the FR350B takes 22-degree plastic collated nails. It also comes with a reversible rafter hook that enables you to hang tools on both sides of it. It is worth noting that the Porter-Cable FR350B does not come with a carrying case.
Second in line on our list of the best pneumatic framing nailers is the Bostitch F21PL which comes in a magnesium housing unit making it extremely durable and light- great for framing, sheathing, subflooring, and bracing jobs.
One of its most prominent features is its interchangeable nosepieces which allow you to switch between plastic collated framing nails and metal connector nails quickly and easily.
The magazine can accommodate up to 60 plastic collated framing nails of anywhere between 2 and 3-½ inches long or 60 metal nails of 1-½ to 2.½ inches long.
The Bostitch F21PL round head framing nailer is advertised as offering “the best-in-class power-to-weight ratio” with 1,050 inch-pounds of driving power.
It operates with a standard air compressor and has two trigger options, sequential and contact, for maximum security.
Lastly, this Bostitch model is built with durability in mind as it is made with integrated rubber skid pads and a rubber grip. It also comes with an outstanding 7-year limited warranty.
As far as the best valued pneumatic nailers go, look at the winner we chose.
We have voted the NR90AES1 framing nailer our favorite pneumatic nail gun based on value for money, as it comes in Hitachi’s next generation “industrial design” making it extremely reliable, durable, and guaranteed to stand the test of time.
Weighing a mere 7.5 pounds, this Hitachi model is designed to be able to pack a serious punch while being light enough to travel with and use for longer construction projects. It is also designed with balance in mind, making it easily maneuverable while causing less fatigue.
The Hitachi NR90AES1 accommodates 2 to 3-½ inch long plastic collated framing nails and has a selective actuation switch enabling you to change from bump to sequential nailing quickly and easily.
This model is designed with a new head guard and open nose jam clearing system making tool assembly and disassembly easier for tool maintenance.
It also comes with a two-step nail loading feature and has a two-piece anodized aluminum magazine that is angled at 21 degrees, can accommodate up to 64 nails, and is easy and cheap to maintain and replace if necessary.
The Hitachi NR90AES1 framing nailer comes with tool-less depth adjustment allowing you to decide between flush driving your nail into your surface or countersinking it, without adjusting the pressure at the air compressor.
Lastly, its rubber grip has been designed to offer you maximum comfort and safety.
Cordless framing nailer is very practical, so if you are considering buying one, check out out choice for the best one.
There is no doubt in our mind that the Paslode 902600 CF325Li is the best cordless nailer on the market today.
Powered by a rechargeable 7.4volt lithium-ion battery, this model does not require a compressor, and thanks to its portable design, you’ll have significantly more mobility when undertaking your project.
Aside from being light and portable at a mere 7.25 pounds with its battery, the Paslode 902600 CF325Li is able to drive 6,000 nails per drive, that’s 50% more nails per charge.
The framing nailer takes one hour to fully charge but can drive up to 200 nails from a simple 2-minute quick charge. It also holds its charge 5 times longer than others of its kind.
This Paslode model has been designed with a heavy-duty nose piece so that you can toe-nail at any angle you want and it comes with all the equipment you need to keep yourself, and your new gun safe from any harm.
The framing nailer comes with a 1-year, no questions asked warranty, its rechargeable battery and charger, a carrying case, a pair of safety glasses, and a 5/32-inch hex wrench.
Choosing the best framing nailer for your needs will depend on the project you are undertaking, the experience you have using nail guns, and your budget.
The products outlined above are all fine nail guns with a huge variety of amazing features.
If you need something more portable and are able to splash a little extra cash, we recommend the Paslode model.
On the other hand, if you are looking for something powerful that will stick with you through thick and thin, the Hitachi nail gun could be your best choice.
Both the Bostitch and Porter-Cable models can pack a serious punch, and that’s not to mention the 7-year warranty that comes with the Bostitch.
Of course, If you are looking for a framing nailer that is versatile, powerful, comfortable to use, extremely reasonably priced, and comes with the adequate safety features, our favorite is still the NuMax SFR2190.