The 10 Best Framing Nailers in 2020 – Buying Guide and Reviews

A construction worker erecting a timber frame with a framing nailer

Framing nailers are an irreplaceable asset to any building site, no matter what size. While a drill or a hammer will do the same thing in a pinch, there’s nothing more efficient when it comes to quickly erecting a structure. 

In this article, I’ll introduce you to what I believe are the 10 best framing nailers you can purchase in 2020. While all framing nailers do the same thing, there’s some variation among them in things like power and even nail size. The models we’ll be looking at today include:

My Top Picks for Best Framing Nailer

In the sections below, I’ll walk you through some of the critical points, pros, and cons of each of these framing nail guns. While I’ve ranked them according to which I think are best, the best pick for you might differ depending on which features you need most. 

Top Pick – NuMax SFR2190 Full Round Head Framing Nailer

When I was searching for a framing nailer to keep at home for DIY projects, the NuMax SFR2190 immediately caught my eye. I’m a big proponent of making things yourself, and I could no longer deny the benefits of having a good framing nailer around with how much faster they are than a drill or hammer. 

The NuMax stands out initially because of its rock-bottom price, but it backs that up with a long list of helpful features and well-regarded reliability. For instance, even though this framing nailer is inexpensive, it’s constructed from high-quality magnesium. This means it’s much more lightweight and durable than tools made of plastic or other metals. 

As well as this it got almost every additional feature I expect from a top of the range product: tool-free depth adjustment; interchangeable trigger for bump fire or single fire modes; no mar tip; 360° adjustable exhaust and the list goes on.

While this framing nailer does have an anti-dry fire mechanism, it still shoots the occasional blank or even a double here and there. However, I find that these instances are few and far between – certainly tolerable for such a well-priced product. 

Power SourcePneumatic
Angle21 degree
Magazine Capacity55
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 8.6 lbs
Warranty 1 year

Pros

  • The price is incredibly easy to swallow
  • A quality product that’s reliable and built to last
  • Great features for price point

Cons

  • It tends to feel very heavy after extended use
  • Occasionally misfires

For me, all round this is by far one of the best nailers on the market today, though it might fall a bit short if you’re looking for something heavy-duty for daily job site use. If you want to learn more about it, follow this link. 

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Top Premium Pick – Paslode 905600 Cordless XP Framing Nailer

The Paslode 905600 is, without a doubt, every construction worker’s dream. This framing nailer is cordless, powerful, ergonomic, lightweight, and very expensive – the priciest I’ve included on this list by a significant margin. If you use a Paslode nailer on the job, then you know you’ve made it! Not only is it easy to maneuver, but its 30° angle makes toe-nailing effortless, too.

As amazing as this framing nailer is, I would never purchase it unless I either won the lottery or suddenly became a full-time construction worker. It’s meant to do its job quickly, powerfully, and efficiently, and it will definitely save you time and energy over other framing nailers. However, it is also expensive to use, as you’re also encouraged to use proprietary nails and fuel cartridges direct from Paslode.

As you might expect, these proprietary items can add up in price, and that’s on top of the already-expensive nailer. However, as many of us know, time is money, and that’s true in the construction world, too. It’s undeniable that this nailer can get into small spaces better, work more reliably, and feel lighter than 99% of the framing nailers on the market today.

As it works in conjunction with a fuel cell, the 7V Li-ion battery is capable of driving up to 9000 nails per charge. Providing you keep stocked up with fuel cells and collated framing nails, you’ll be good to go for a long day of framing.

Note that not only is this the only cordless framing nailer on our list but that it also comes conspicuously without a bump-fire function. If you need to do a lot of sheathing or finishing work, you might miss the bump-fire action, but I personally found that the other pros of the gun eclipsed this one con. This framing nailer uses offset nails, as well, so make sure your building codes allow those before purchasing this model. 

Power SourceFuel cell & Battery
Angle30 degree
Magazine Capacity1 strip
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ¼ inch
Item Weight 7.2 lbs
Warranty 5 year

Pros

  • Very lightweight – the lightest nailer on this list
  • Just as powerful as pneumatic nailers, despite being cordless
  • Sturdy and reliable
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • No bump-fire action for speedy framing work
  • Proprietary nails and fuels cells advised
  • The magazine is a bit small and requires frequent refilling

All in all, if you can afford both this Paslode gun and the materials to use with it, you will notice a difference in your efficiency. However, if you don’t plan to use it all day, every day, you might not recoup that cost in time saved. 

If you want to do more extensive research into the Paslode 905600, follow this link.

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Freeman PFR2190 Full Round Head Framing Nailer

I found myself drawn to the Freeman PFR2190. While this framing nailer doesn’t quite match the NuMax in terms of budget-friendliness, it does come close.

Soon enough, I noticed that, surprisingly,  Freeman and NuMax are both owned by Prime Global Products (PGP), and you might be able to see by the nailers’ product descriptions and product numbers (as well as their respective websites) that they are very similar – enough that they look like re-brands of the same tool. No wonder I was drawn to the Freeman!

As such, if you like the look of the NuMax but can’t get your hands on one, the Freeman PFR2190 is an almost perfect substitute. 

Like the NuMax, the Freeman comes in both a 21° full head version and a 34° clipped head version, so you can choose whichever one is allowed in your area. As you might expect, it has all of the same benefits (and downsides) as the NuMax we looked at above. 

Unlike the NuMax however, the Freeman comes with a 7 year limited warranty. For some it might be worth paying just a little bit more to get 6 additional years peace of mind. 

Power SourcePneumatic
Angle21 degree
Magazine Capacity55
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 8.6 lbs
Warranty 7 year

Pros

  • Well priced
  • Reliable
  • Virtually the same as the NuMax SFR2190
  • 7 year warranty

Cons

  • Sometimes jams or shoots blanks
  • Tends to feel heavy and unwieldy after extended use

All in all, the Freeman PFR2190 is a great alternative option to the NuMax and a great entry-level framing nailer for the at-home DIY-er. However, like the NuMax, it might not hold up to professional use. 

If you want to look into the Freeman PFR2190 a bit more, you can at this link.

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Bostitch F21PL Full Round Head Framing Nailer

Bostitch is a power tool brand that has been around for a long time, so I tend to view their products with a lot of trust. However, the Bostitch F21PL excited me in some ways and disappointed me in others. It has some intriguing features, but it’s also missing some things that I’d consider essential in a framing nailer. 

The thing that intrigues me most about the Bostitch is that it also comes with a metal connector attachment. If you don’t know what these are, it’s a more precise nozzle that makes it easy to aim nails when you need to put them in specific places – i.e., in the holes in a metal bracket or connector. You can swap between the normal framing nailer nozzle and the metal connector nozzle freely. 

However, this pneumatic framing nailer doesn’t come with a hose attachment to affix it to your air compressor! While the attachment you need is not expensive, it’s annoying that this framing nailer isn’t ready-to-use out of the box. Also, virtually every other nailer on this list comes with one (except for the DeWalt).

Other than that snag, this framing nailer is quite impressive. It comes with dual triggers, meaning it’s appropriate for either fast-paced or precise work. However, my favorite feature is the addition of several rubber skid pads on the side of the framing nailer. These pads help hold the nailer in place when you rest it against a surface, which is immensely helpful for delicate jobs.

Power SourcePneumatic
Angle21 degree
Magazine Capacity60
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 8.1 lbs
Warranty 7 year

Pros

  • Trustworthy Bostitch name
  • Comes with a metal connector attachment
  • Extremely accurate tool-less depth adjustment
  • 7 year warranty

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with an air hose attachment
  • Included plastic rafter hook has questionable durability

While the lack of an air compressor attachment is more a pet peeve of mine than a real problem, it still dampens my enthusiasm about this nailer. However, that shouldn’t distract you from the fact that this is a flexible, dependable, high-quality product.

If you want to learn more about this Bostitch framing nailer, you can do so at this link.

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Metabo HPT NR90AES1 Framing Nailer

When I found the Metabo HPT NR90AES1, I immediately thought to myself, “this is the underdog of framing nailers.” While not much stands out about it, it’s reliable, easy to use, and packed full of convenient features. 

This best-selling nailer holds a ton of nails – 64, to be exact, which is the upper end of what you can get in a standard nail magazine –  meaning you don’t need to reload it nearly as much It’s also surprisingly lightweight despite its size (it comes in at only 7.5 lbs).

All of this together makes the Metabo NR90AES1 great for beginners and pros alike. Aside from the large magazine, the only thing that stands out about this nailer – which could be considered a good or bad thing – is that it’s made of aluminum instead of magnesium. 

This is surprising, considering that most of the framing nailers on this list are made of magnesium to keep them lightweight and sturdy (some also have areas of plastic to cut weight even further). However, it’s still incredibly lightweight despite the material change, so I don’t really consider it a con – it just comes off as a strange design choice.

Power SourcePneumatic
Angle21 degree
Magazine Capacity64
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 7.5 lbs
Warranty 5 year

Pros

  • Large magazine
  • Very lightweight
  • Full of all the features
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • No special features that make it stand out
  • Can jam (rarely)

All in all, the Metabo NR90AES1 should definitely be on your list, but it’s understandable if you overlook it. I wish the nail gun had something “more” about it to make it stand out more.

If you want to learn more about this framing nailer, check it out at this link.

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Senco 2H0133N FramePro 701XP Clipped Head Framing Nailer

My first impression when seeing the Senco 2H0133N was this: that framing nailer looks tough. That looks like it could take a drop or two from a ladder and not even flinch. While the price of the Senco made me balk, the durability soothed the sticker shock a little bit. 

However, the Senco only takes offset and clipped-head nails since it’s a 34° nailer. If these nails are allowed in your area’s building cones, this is great – an offset nailer can hold many more nails in its magazine than one that doesn’t use offset nails. However, if they’re not allowed in your area, you may have to avoid this nailer entirely. 

While the material of this framing nailer isn’t clear, it does come with dual triggers, meaning you can use it in single mode or bump-fire mode. It’s also incredibly reliable – apparently, this gun even accepts and fires Passlode full-head nails flawlessly despite not being designed for them, which gives you a bit more flexibility when it comes to nail choice.

Power SourcePneumatic
Angle34 degree
Magazine Capacity70
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 8 lbs
Warranty 5 year

Pros

  • Compact and easy to maneuver in corners
  • Holds a surprising amount of nails
  • Heavy duty – expect it to last a long, long time
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Only accepts offset or clipped-head nails

If offset or clipped-head nails are permitted in your area, you really should give the Senco a look. This is the kind of nail gun that will still function when it’s time to hand it down to your own child, so it’s worth that high price tag. If you want to learn more about it, just follow this link.

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Makita AN924 Full Round Head Framing Nailer

While I’m generally a fan of Makita tools, they don’t often make it to the top of my lists. However, this framing nailer has started to make me change my thoughts on that. While not much stands out about this framing nailer initially – just like with the Metabo HPT up above – it did surprise me in the end. 

Not only does it have a solid aluminum magazine, which will hold up to wear and tear much better than a plastic one, but it also has an integrated air filter to help extend the life of the tool’s innards, too. 

However, the true value of this framing nailer, I found, only appears when you pick it up and hold it in your hand. While it’s not our lightest framing nailer at 8.3 lbs, it’s so incredibly well-balanced that it feels much lighter. 

That’s taking into account the extended magazine, too, which can hold two full nail strips. All this together means you’ll be refilling your gun less often throughout the day, and you’ll experience less arm fatigue, too.

Power SourcePneumatic
Angle21 degree
Magazine Capacity73
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 8.3 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Incredibly well-balanced
  • Large nail magazine
  • Reliable and well-built

Cons

  • Won’t fire the last three nails in each strip

Other than that, this Makita comes with all of the features you’d want in a framing nailer, such as bump-firing action and an incredibly grippy contact tip. All in all, it’s a great option for those who like Makita tools or who are just looking for a balanced tool in general. If you want to research this tool in even more depth, just follow this link.

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DEWALT 20V MAX DWF83PL

This framing nailer from DEWALT is another well-balanced tool that feels pleasant in-hand. However, my good first impression was dampened by the fact that this nailer also doesn’t come with an air hose adapter. Why wouldn’t the company include such a small, seemingly-innocuous part with this tool?

In any case, the lack of a hose adapter is just a pet peeve of mine. That aside, the framing nailer is functional and accessible. Its price is surprisingly easy to swallow for a DEWALT product, too, which was a pleasant surprise for me. 

I found that the thing that impressed me most about the DEWALT was the integrated recoil-dampening system inside it. Not only is the nailer easy to manipulate, but the recoil dampener helps reduce hand and wrist fatigue over the course of a long day, too. Because of that and its other convenient features, such as dual triggers and a 64-nail capacity to keep you working longer, this nailer is one of the better options for professionals who need a “daily driver” of sorts.

Power SourcePneumatic
Angle21 degree
Magazine Capacity64
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ¼ inch
Item Weight 8 lbs
Warranty 7 year

Pros

  • Balanced and ergonomic
  • The recoil-dampening function reduces soreness and fatigue
  • Surprisingly affordable for a high-quality DEWALT product
  • 7 year warranty

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a hose adapter

In the end, if this DEWALT framing nailer came with an air hose adapter as it should, it might have ended up a few spots higher on this list. However, if you can get past that, it has a lot of useful features that can make your day easier and far more comfortable. 

If you want to learn more about this framing nailer, you can do so at this link.

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Porter-Cable FR350B Full Round Head Framing Nailer

I find that Porter-Cable is a bit of a wild card when it comes to the tool market – some of their tools are excellent, while others tend to lag behind on these lists. True to the brand, this framing nailer surprised me in some ways but disappointed me in others.

Firstly, the incredible weight of this framing nailer really took me aback. At just 7.3 lbs, it’s almost as light as the Paslode nailer, the lightest on this list, which means less fatigue as the day goes on. 

While it’s full of features, such as a low-nail lockout and a tool-free adjustable depth of drive, it has several small oversights – mostly just annoyances, but enough to curb my enthusiasm, for sure – that put it near the bottom of the list.

The bump-fire mechanism, for one, is far too sensitive on this nailer. I find that it’s way too easy to accidentally double-tap and fire off an unintentional nail with this gun.

Additionally, while its plastic housing makes it lightweight, there is a lot of it, and the plastic isn’t high-quality, either. In fact, I found that the plastic was prone to sharding, so much so that I made sure to always wear safety glasses and gloves while using it.

Power SourcePneumatic
Angle22 degree
Magazine Capacity60
Min. Fastener Size2 inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 7.3 lbs
Warranty 3 year

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Reliable and feature-packed

Cons

  • Lots of low-quality plastic
  • The bump-fire mechanism is much too sensitive

All in all, the Porter-Cable isn’t a bad option, but I do feel like the quality should be higher for the price. Too many small issues can be just as problematic as one big issue, and this nail gun illustrates that point perfectly. However, if you prefer a nail gun with a lighter touch, you might actually like this one better.

If you want to learn more about this framing nailer, just follow this link. 

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Metabo HPT NV90AGS Coil Framing Nailer

This Metabo HPT NV90AGS is the final framing nailer to round out our list, and while it’s on the bottom, it’s here for a very specific reason: it’s the only drum-style framing nailer on this list. 

From a functional perspective, this nailer is virtually the same as the Metabo HPT NR90AES1 from before – the drum magazine is the only real difference. Because of the drum design, this nailer can actually accommodate slightly shorter nails than the other Metabo – this one can support nails as short as 1.75”, while the other can only support 2” or longer. 

While the drum magazine itself feels a bit questionable (it’s made entirely of plastic), the nailer itself is surprisingly effective and reliable. Perhaps the adaptable drum magazine was what the Metabo needed to stand out all along?

Do keep in mind that drum magazines support different nails than standard magazines, taking plastic collated coil framing nails rather than the more familiar strip. However, they can hold a lot more than a standard magazine, too. If reloading your framing nailer constantly is something that bothers you, then this Metabo should be high on your list of options. 

Power SourcePneumatic
Angle16 degree
Magazine Capacity200-300
Min. Fastener Size1 ¾ inch
Max. Fastener Size3 ½ inch
Item Weight 7.7 lbs
Warranty 5 year

Pros

  • The drum-style magazine can hold a ton of framing nails
  • Surprisingly effective and reliable
  • Supports a wider range of nail sizes
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • The drum could be sturdier
  • Requires wire coil nails

In the end, the drum magazine on this Metabo really makes it stand out – arguably even more so than its cousin we looked at earlier. While it has some restrictions that might not make it appropriate for everyone, it’s great for those who want to work fast and reload infrequently.

You can follow this link if you want to dive deeper into this framing nailer and its drum-style advantages.

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What to Look for When Choosing the Best Framing Nailer for Your Job

Just because we’ve identified some of the best potential nail gun deals in 2020 doesn’t mean you should purchase our “Best Pick” right away. While I hope you’ll use our guide to help make your final pick, you should make sure your nail gun ticks all of your boxes before you make any purchases. We’ll go over some of these important features below.

​Types of Framing Nailers

The type of framing nailer you decide to buy will inevitably make a huge difference in how the tool operates. While you could potentially break framing nailers down into many categories, your two main options are pneumatic nailers and electric nailers.

​Pneumatic Framing Nailer

A pneumatic framing nailer is the type you’re probably most familiar with. Pneumatic nailers always operate with the help of an air compressor. After you purchase your framing nailer, simply hook it up to your compressor to get it to work – no batteries or cords required (except for the compressor, of course).

Pneumatic framing nailers are the most powerful because they work from an unlimited source of air pressure. They also tend to be less expensive than cordless nailers. However, this only applies if you already own an air compressor; if you don’t, you’ll have to purchase a compressor as well, which can drive your total purchase price up. 

Pneumatic framing nailers tend to be the tool of choice for many because they’re simple, easy to use, inexpensive, and powerful. However, they can be a pain to carry around – while less powerful, cordless and hoseless models are much more portable. 

Electric and Cordless Framing Nailer

Cordless framing nailers and electric framing nailers work slightly differently than pneumatic models. These nailers rely on an electrical power source, such as mains or a battery, in addition to air pressure in order to drive each nail. There are two main types of cordless nailer, one which relies entirely on electrical power and one which uses fuel cells. 

Nailers that use fuel cells work similarly to cars in that they use a fuel source and a spark to create a pressure wave instead of just pressurized air.

Fully battery powered nailers work by using an electric motor to compress a spring, when the gun is fired the energy stored in the spring is released suddenly and used to drive the nail. While conventional fully battery nailers use a mechanical spring, some modern nailers use a compressed air spring. Compressed air spring nailers provide an experience as close to a pneumatic nailer as you can get. 

Cordless framing nailers are much more maneuverable than hose-equipped models. They’re also cheaper than buying both a compressor and a framing nailer together. However, the obvious downside of battery-powered framing nailers is their reliance on electricity. If you don’t have a spare battery or two plugged in and ready to swap in, your nailer may run out of power before your job is done. 

As you might expect, this makes cordless nailers the wrong choice for professionals who plan to rely on their framing nailer all-day, every day. However, DIY-ers and homeowners will likely find that an electric framing nailer does the job nicely. 

Brushless Motors

You’ll probably see some nailers referred to as brushless nailers in marketing material. This is referring to the type of motor used to compress the spring. 

Brushless motors require less maintenance over time, so a brushless framing nailer will tend to last longer even though it has a higher initial cost.

Weight And Size

Surprisingly, the difference between battery powered and pneumatic nailers isn’t as big as you’d think, even given the weight of the batteries. While batteries do add a bit of extra weight to any tool, you also have to consider the weight of any air hose connected to your nailer. However despite this, battery powered nailers do tend to be a couple of pounds heavier than their pneumatic counterparts. 

When you consider what you need to use framing nailers for – holding it all day, hoisting it above your head, and hauling it around, to name a few things – it makes sense that you’d want it to be as light as possible. Most manufacturers achieve this by crafting their framing nailers from magnesium. Magnesium is one of the lightest metals strong enough for this task.

The size of your framing nailer depends on other factors as well. The presence of a battery and an area for a fuel cartridge, for example, can make your framing nailer bigger. However, all framing nailers have the same general shape and size. The biggest difference-maker when it comes to size will be your nail magazine capacity and type.

However, make sure to take a careful look at all the measurements of your prospective framing nailer before purchasing it. Even an extra inch or two on the magazine or the gun itself can make it hard to fit into tight spaces. If you don’t usually work in small spaces, this might not bother you.

Nail Magazine Capacity

Different framing nailers can hold different amounts of nails at any given time. How many nails your framer can hold depends on the size of the nail you use, too. There are a few different types of nail magazines to choose from, and this can affect how many nails your framer can hold at any given time.

The two main types of nail magazines are standard (magazine type) and drum. The standard magazines are the straight cartridges that you’re probably used to seeing attached to a nail gun. However, you can also get a drum-type magazine that can hold quite a few more. While drum-style magazines can hold more (and often, larger) nails, they tend to feel less balanced during use, and they may not fit into small spaces either. 

Nail Type 

The nail type you use in your nail gun not only affects what materials you can build with but also how often you need to refill your framing nailer. Different framing nailers accept different types of nails, so if you plan to use your nailer for a specific purpose, such as roofing, you should double-check that it accepts the nails you need before making your purchase. 

Personally, I like a framing nailer that can use as many different nails as possible. However, I’m not a roofer, so I don’t usually need large, flat-headed nails – I can use a hammer if I need to use those. Since I usually use my framing nailer to erect frames and structures, standard framing nails do the trick for me just fine. 

The two types of nails you’ll most want to watch out for are full round head and clipped head nails. Clipped head nails have a small portion taken out of them, like a bite taken out of a cookie. This allows them to sit flush with one another when inside the magazine. When you use clipped head nails, you don’t need to refill your magazine as often.

However, because clipped head nails have a portion of the nail head removed, they don’t have as much holding power in certain applications. In fact, building codes in some areas don’t allow you to use clipped head nails at all because of this. Make sure to consult these building codes before making your purchase, as most nailers can only accept either clipped or full round head nails – not both. 

Framing Angle

If you’ve already started your research into framing nailers, you’ve probably noticed that they can come in several different “angles” as well. The only real difference that the angle makes is in what nails you need to buy and how your nailer fits into tight spaces. You’ll have to buy nails that match the angle of your framing nailer. 

The most common framing angles for nailers are the following:

  • 15 degree
  • 21 degree
  • 28 degree
  • 30 degree
  • 34 degree

Keep in mind that the angle of your framing nailer can dictate what types of nails it can accept, too. 28-degrees and below accept full round head nails, while 28-degrees and above typically only use clipped head nails. 28-degree framing nails can typically use either one (but not usually both). The higher the framing angle, the better your nailer will be able to fit into small spaces.

Noise/Decibels

All framing nailers are loud, and you should always wear hearing protection when using one, especially if you work in construction. However, pneumatic framing nailers will be noticeably louder than battery-powered and electric models. This is because you’ll be dealing with the sound of the running air compressor in addition to the nailer itself. 

Ergonomics

How ergonomic your framing nailer is essentially comes down to two things: how easy it is to use and how it feels in your hand. If the settings on the nailer are easy to change and the trigger is easy to pull, it’s easy to use. If it’s lightweight, balanced, and easy to get into small spaces, it feels good in your hand. 

Of course, it’s ideal to maximize ergonomics as much as possible, especially if you spend all day using your framing nailer. Even a difference of one pound can make your arms tire out faster, and when your arms are tired, it can feel like your nailer weighs ten times more! However, home builders and DIY-ers who only use their framing nailers in short spurts may be able to trade some of those ergonomics for better function or a lower price. 

Toe-Nailing Evaluation 

Toe-nailing with a framing nailer can be easy or difficult depending on the contact tip you’re dealing with. Unfortunately, this really depends on the individual framing nailer, and there’s not a good way to tell if it will be easy or not unless you test it yourself. 

As a rule, more powerful nailers tend to do better with toe-nailing, and a contact tip with a better “grip” will also make the process easier. 

Features to Look for

In the sections below, I’ve listed out a few extra nailer features that you may or may not find useful in a nailer for framing. Most of them are designed to make your job easier, so make sure to check for their presence before making your final purchase.

Nail Loading

There are several different types of nail loading systems, but you’ll only see three on this list: top-loading, two-step (rear) loading, and drum loading. These loading types really come down to personal preference – you should pick whichever one feels most convenient for you.

Top loading, as the name implies, loads nails through the top of the magazine. Two-step loading typically loads through the rear of the magazine. Drum-style magazines are special and typically load by opening the drum like a book and loading nails into the center of the drum. 

Contact Tip

The contact tip on your nailer also comes down to personal preference. Some contact tips are designed to be smooth, while others have bumps or teeth to help you grip the wood as you work. Typically, a “grippier” contact tip is better if you plan to do lots of angular shots, such as toe-nailing. If you usually send nails straight through instead, you probably won’t notice your contact tip as much. 

Depth Adjustment

As the name suggests, the depth adjustment on a framing nailer controls how deep your nail will go into the wood. The goal is to have it on the perfect depth setting to drive the nail flush.

Virtually all framing nailers have tool-less methods of depth adjustment today, whether that’s with a button or, more commonly, a dial or wheel. All of the nailers on this list follow this rule. 

Sequential / Bump Fire Mode

Framing nailers can fire in one of two ways: sequential mode or bump fire mode. In sequential mode, you must first press the framing nail firmly against your surface, then depress the trigger to fire. You must release the trigger and repeat this process each time you want to drive a nail.

With bump fire mode, however, you can hold the trigger and fire a nail each time the tip of the framing nailer is pressed firmly against a surface. This is a great way to sink lots of nails quickly, but it tends to be less accurate. 

All framing nailers can fire sequentially, but not all can fire in bump mode. 

Rafter/Belt Hook

A rafter hook is an optional accessory that many construction workers choose to attach to their framing nailers. As the name suggests, a rafter hook is just a hook that’s designed to let your nailer hang from the rafters. It’s very helpful if you’re moving up and down a ladder or working from a scaffold and need a place to set your nailer aside. 

Anti-Dry Fire Mechanism

An anti-dry fire mechanism, also known as dry fire lockout, is a common framing nail feature that prevents the tool from firing when there are no nails in the magazine. While the vast majority of framing nailers have this feature, some do not. 

Dry fire lockout prevents unnecessary wear, and it’s great for when you don’t realize you’ve run out of nails – I’ve personally been halfway down a piece of sheathing before I realized I wasn’t driving any nails, and it can be frustrating!

No-Mar Tip

A no-mar tip is an optional accessory that covers the harsh, “toothy” tips on some framing nailers. Some framing nailers come with them included, while others must be bought separately (I’m looking at you, Paslode). You might not deem them necessary at all, but no-mar tips are great for finishing materials that you don’t want to damage with the tip of your framing nailer.  

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has taught you everything you need to know to choose the best framing nailer for your next job.

While I’m personally a fan of all of the framing nailers on this list, I think it’s clear why some rise to the top and others fall to the bottom. In particular, you just can’t beat the price-to-function ratio of the NuMax framing nailer. That’s why I picked it as the best overall option, and even if you don’t necessarily agree, I hope you see my logic. 

If you have ever sat on the fence, debating about whether to get a framing nailer as I have, then I encourage you to take the plunge, regardless of whether that’s with the NuMax or another model. For any building project that requires framing or sheathing, regardless of whether it’s professional or DIY, you just can’t beat the convenience that a good framing nailer brings to the table.

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