BOSTITCH F21PL Round Head Framing Nailer
Best for contractors
Aggressive framing tip and positive placement feature ensure smooth joist and toe nailing.
1 BOSTITCH F21PL Review
If you’re looking after top-end performance, check out the BOSTITCH F21PL. It can nail even through the toughest types of wood thanks to its 1050 pounds per inch of driving power, and it will never jam regardless of the workload.
A nice heft of only 8.1 pounds makes this pneumatic tool easy to carry and handle even in tighter spaces. We liked the comfortable rubber grips as well as the possibility to change the nosepiece on the go.
You’ll also be able to switch swiftly from framing nails to metal connectors, thanks to the two quick-change nosepieces it comes with. We also like you can use it for different finishing jobs, such as installing subfloors, or for small craft works.
Packing unique features and delivering the versatility of two tools in one, the BOSTITCH F21PL is an excellent tool to have in your professional arsenal.
Freeman PFR2190 21-Degree Full-Head Framing Nailer
Best for most users
Interchangeable trigger lets you switch from bump-fire to single-fire in the blink of an eye.
2 Freeman PFR2190 Review
The Freeman PFR2190 comes at an attractive price that appeals to most users. It’s a versatile tool you can use to install subfloors and wall sheathing, build pallets, or for wood box assembly, to name just a few.
It shoots 2 to 3.5-inch nails and features a no-mar tip and depth adjustment that makes it perfect for different nailing projects.
What makes it different from most framing nailers, however, is its 360-degree exhaust designed to keep offending gases away from your face and working area.
Boasting a durable magnesium construction, the PFR2190 won’t shy away from the toughest jobs and is perfect to use either on the worksite or at home.
Freeman P4FRFNCB 4-Piece Pneumatic Framing/Finishing Combo Kit
Best framing and finish combo kit
4-piece combo of tough and dependable nailers designed to fulfill all your framing and finishing needs.
3 Freeman P4FRFNCB Review
If you’re an avid amateur or contractor looking to boost your framing game, check out the Freeman P4FRFNCB. This combo kit brings all you need for framing and finishing works, either it’s mounting subflooring, crown molding, or anything in-between.
The kit comprises four heavy-duty pneumatic nailers, including a framing, finishing, and brad nailer, as well as a narrow crown stapler. All four tools are tough and dependable so that you’ll be able to make good use of them for a long time.
The convenient carrying tote adds further value. It provides the perfect storage for your tools and accessories, and it’s also perfect for transport. Depending on your budget and needs, you’ll even be able to buy the kit with or without nails.
Delivering top quality and excellent value, this combo kit is a great alternative to our best value if you need more than just a framing nailer.
NuMax SFR2190 Pneumatic Framing Nailer
Best low-cost framing nailer
Lightweight and ergonomic tool ideal for beginners and amateurs.
4 NuMax SFR2190 Review
This one is perfect for the hobbyist shopping on a budget. Undoubtedly, it’s greatest feature is the low wallet damage it will bring. Not only it’s affordable, but the NuMax SFR2190 is also durable and dependable.
It’s manufactured by the same company producing the Freeman and comes with most qualities expected from a top pick.
Like our best-value, the NuMax comes with an interchangeable trigger that allows for quick fire or single shot function. We also like how easy it is to handle. Its lightweight magnesium body and ergonomic grip reduce fatigue and ensure hassle-free continuous operation.
Other attractive features include a no-mar tip and quick depth adjustments. And even if it’s too weak for high-volume use, it can easily satisfy occasional contractors and do-it-yourselfers alike.
Best Framing Nailer 2021 Buying Guide
Power source: cordless vs. fuel-driven vs. pneumatic
The first thing to weigh in before buying a framing nailer is whether you value more mobility or power, then choose accordingly, based on the unit’s power source.
Framing nailers obtain power either from a battery, a gas cartridge, or an air compressor.
- Cordless framing nailers: Give you unlimited mobility, but don’t expect an impressive power. This solution also requires you to keep charged batteries at hand or deal with a limited runtime.
- Fuel-driven framing nailers: Boast the same unlimited mobility of the cordless kind, but you’ll have to deal with exhaust gases. Nevertheless, they may be your best bet if you need both power and mobility.
- Pneumatic framing nailers: Drive power from an air compressor tethered to the nailer by an air hose. They are not a perfect solution if you have to move freely from one job site to another, but it’s the best choice if you need unrivaled power for heavy-duty framing and other tough tasks.
Clipper head vs. round head nails
It is essential to understand what types of nails you can use with a specific framing gun before buying it.
The first thing to check is what type of nail head the nailer can accommodate. The most common types are the clipper head and round head nails.
- Clipper head nails: Are smaller than their round head counterparts. They occupy less space, thus a cartridge of clipper head nails contains more units than one of round heads. These nails are also cheaper, but also weaker than their full-head counterparts. For this reason, regulations in some states don’t permit the use of clipper head nails.
- Round head nails: Can be used in all areas due to their robustness, but they are costlier and heavier to carry.
You must also check the nail length and type of collation.
Most framing nailers can accommodate a variety of lengths, usually between 2 and 3.5 inches. You will need the longer ones for framing, so make sure the gun you like can handle them.
Shorter nails are employed for a range of purposes other than framing; a tool that can handle most nail lengths brings the most versatility, as you’ll be able to use it in a variety of woodworking projects.
What is nail collation and why does it matter?
Understanding nail collation could be confusing if you’re not used to technical jargon. Simply put, it refers to the method employed to hold the nails together in a cartridge. The most common is the plastic collation, in which nails are held together by a strip of plastic.
The main advantage of these nails is their durability, alongside affordability. Just make sure to wear protective equipment when using them to prevent plastic bits from hurting you.
Other options include paper and wire weld collations. The former are held together by a strip of paper, while the latter by a thin wire.
Paper collated nails provide the cleanest finish, but they have poor durability and are expensive. Wire weld collated nails are also costly and pose higher safety concerns than plastic, but they are the most durable from the three.
Framing nailer magazine types
Framing nailers can have either stick or coil magazines.
- Stick magazines: Are the most popular despite their lower capacity due to their hassle-free loading. These work with nails that come in a strip, and thanks to this arrangement, they are easy to load. Stick framing nailers are lighter than their coil counterpart, another feature that makes them the preferred choice.
- Coil magazines: Use nails that are gathered into a twisted sequence that gives them a coil-like appearance. The magazine is round and has a higher capacity than the stick kind, but the nails are trickier to load. The main advantage of this type of nailer is the narrower tip profile that fits into tighter spaces.
Weight and size
The weight of a framing nailer can vary widely from model to model and is influenced by a series of factors including the power source, materials, as well as the type of magazine.
Generally speaking, professional nailers are heavier than entry-level models. On average, you can expect your gun to weigh anywhere between 6 and 10 pounds, and at first, you may believe that a small difference in heft doesn’t matter. The truth is that it does matter, as a heavier tool will tire you faster.
Our advice is to choose the lightest possible unit in the class you’re interested in.
A word on size
Most people believe that weight and size go hand in hand, but that’s not necessarily true. You can have a compact but heavy machine, as well as a lightweight but extremely bulky one. Now, if you’ll only work in open spaces, forget about the size and just get a lightweight and well-balanced machine.
If you want to use the tool in tighter spaces though, it is advisable to look for a low-profile unit.
Collation angle degree
If you’re not familiar with framing nailers, perhaps the degrees measure stated by the manufacturers alongside the product’s name does nothing but confuse you. This measurement refers to the collation angle, which basically is the angle at which your tool feeds nails from the magazine.
Most framing nailers have a collation angle of 21 degrees, although some tools can have higher angles between 28 and 34 degrees.
This number is important to know if you need to fit the tool in narrow spaces. The higher the number the narrow the tool. Thus, the narrower the space it fits into.
In a nutshell, a 21-degree framing nailer is perfect if you mostly work with the tool in an upright position. If you frequently work in constricted spaces though, a machine with a collation angle higher than 28 degrees will serve its purpose better.
You can choose between the bump and single fire (also known as sequential) triggers.
- Single fire triggers: Require you to press the tip against the workpiece and pull the trigger for each nail you fire.
- Bump-fire triggers: Allow you to hold the trigger and only require to bump the tool’s nose onto the workpiece to fire.
While bump-fire is faster, single fire allows for more controlled and precise driving. Some of the best framing nailers come with interchangeable triggers that allow you to switch freely between the modes.
Other important features
Besides all the above, there are other important features you should weigh in before buying:
- Depth adjustment: Gives you the possibility to set the desired depth at which you want to drive the nail into the surface so that you can use the gun for more than just framing.
- Rafter hook: Allows you to hang the tool on a wall when not in use.
- Anti-dry fire: A feature that prevents the nailer from firing when the magazine is empty, prolonging the unit’s lifespan.
- Tool-less jam clearing: A true lifesaver on those moments when a nail gets jammed in the machine. You won’t have to use any tools to clear the jam, saving you precious time and frustration.
- Protective guards: Keep you protected from flying debris and make the gun safer to use.