Best Framing Nailers of 2017 – Top Picks & Reviews

As recent as a decade ago, you would only find framing nailers in the hands of professionals. Today, thanks to the growing wave of DIY enthusiasts, people from various walks of life are reaching for their framing nailers. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably one of them.

The rise in demand for framing nailers has created opportunities for power tool makers to create new and more diverse lines of products in this market. Because of this, there is no shortage of framing nailers available out there. On the one hand, this is a good thing because the abundance of choice allows you to identify the perfect machine for your needs. On the other hand, this same abundance of choice gives you lots of chances to make a mistake.

Our Top 5 Framing Nailer Picks

MODELPRODUCT DIMENSIONSITEM WEIGHTUSER RATINGPRICE
Paslode 902600 CF325Li
Paslode 902600 CF325Li
17 x 17 x 5 inches
7.5 pounds





4.7/5





$$$$$
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Freeman PFR2190
Freeman PFR2190
20 x 6.5 x 14.2 inches
8.5 pounds
4.6/5

$$
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Hitachi NR90AES1
Hitachi NR90AES1
1 x 1 x 1 inches
10 pounds

4.6/5




$$$
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BOSTITCH F21PL
BOSTITCH F21PL
23 x 16 x 6 inches
9.2 pounds


4.5/5




$$$$
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NuMax SFR2190
NuMax SFR2190
5.5 x 14.2 x 20.1 inches

8.6 pounds

4.4/5







$
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That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide for you. Using our list of the best framing nailers of 2017 and the buying guide, you can save yourself from mistakes and make sure you buy the right product for you. Are you ready to find out which is the best framing nailer out there to fit your needs? Great, let’s get started.

#1 Freeman PFR2190 – Best Pneumatic Framing Nailer

Freeman PFR2190This product delivers all the basic features, which a framing nailer must have, at an affordable price. If you’re going by the list price of pneumatic framing nailers, most of the products lie in the $350 to $450 range. So, this product is towards the lower end of the price spectrum. But, what about performance and functionality?

The main performance parameters I consider when evaluating framing nailers are nail length, type of nail head, and nail head collation. This machine accepts 21° angled plastic collated round head nails between 2 inches and 3.5 inches long. Overall, this is a good configuration.

Some of you may have an issue with plastic collated sticks because paper collated sticks are safer to use and provide a better finish. However, paper collated sticks are more expensive than plastic collated sticks. This increases operating costs. So, depending on how you look at it, paper collated sticks can be good or bad.

Now, let’s look at the functional aspects. This framing nailer offers tool-less depth adjustment, an anti-dry fire mechanism, a no-mar tip, an adjustable air exhaust, and an ergonomic grip. That’s a lot of advantages.

However, there are some things missing. This tool does not have an actuation mode selector. But, it does come with an interchangeable trigger that lets you use the machine in sequential mode and bump mode. Also, this tool does not offer tool-less jam clearing. However, these features are not typical of framing nailers in this price range.

The most exciting thing about this framing nailer is its warranty. The PFR2190 comes with a 7-year limited warranty. Considering the price of this framing nailer, that’s a massive advantage. In summary, this is the best framing nailer on the market.

Pros

  • Low-cost
  • Tool-less depth selection
  • No-mar tip
  • Anti-dry fire
  • Adjustable air exhaust
  • Ergonomic grip
  • 7-year limited warranty

Cons

  • No actuation mode selector
  • No tool-less jam clearing
  • No rafter hook
  • Plastic collated stick

 


#2 Paslode 902600 CF325Li – Best Cordless Framing Nailer

Paslode 902600 CF325LiThe Paslode 905600 Cordless XP is an improved version of the already powerful Paslode 902600 cordless framing nailer. The new model, called the Cordless XP, runs on a 7-Volt Li-ion battery and a fuel canister.

On a single charge, which takes about 90 minutes, this framing nailer can push 9,000 nails. And, one canister lasts for 1,200 nails. The nails themselves are 30° angled round head paper collated nails that are available in brite and hot-dipped galvanized varieties. The machine can take nails between 2” and 3.25” long.

The Paslode 905600 Cordless XP comes with all the features that you expect from a high-performing framing nailer. Tool-less depth adjustment, tool-less jam clearing, heavy duty rafter hook, lightweight design, ergonomic grip, and compact frame. The improved design also reduces the number of jams during operation.

The tool comes with the Paslode 2-year service promise and 5-year limited warranty. However, the downside is that this tool is expensive. But, in general, cordless framing nailers are more expensive than pneumatic framing nailers.

If you work in a situation where you can’t work with a compressor, you should get the Paslode Cordless XP, it’s the best cordless framing nailer on the market. In addition to high mobility, you don’t have to worry about tripping on cords or sorting out tangles, kinks, and bends.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Paper collated nails
  • Durable, compact, and lightweight
  • Battery and charger included
  • Amazing purchase protection

Cons

  • Expensive
  • High operating cost


#3 NuMax SFR2190 – Best For The Money

NuMax SFR2190NuMax and Freeman are brands marketed by the same company, Prime Global Products Inc. That’s probably why I found the NuMax SFR2190 remarkably like the Freeman PFR2190. In fact, the two products have the same features. Even the dimensions and weight of the two machines mirror each other.

So, everything I said regarding the performance and functionality aspects of the Freeman PFR2190 applies to the NuMax SFR2190. Here’s a quick recap of what you get – tool-less depth adjustment, anti-dry fire mechanism, a no-mar tip, adjustable air exhaust, and ergonomic grip. What you don’t get are an actuation mode selector and tool-less jam clearing. If you haven’t already guessed it, they use the same type of nails too, 21° angled round head plastic collated nails between 2 inches and 3.5 inches long.

Surprisingly, the NuMax SFR2190 costs only half as much as its twin, the PFR2190. So, what’s the reason for such a huge disparity in their costs? Well, it’s because of the warranty. The NuMax SFR2190 comes with a 1-year limited warranty, not a 7-year limited warranty.

This is where you must decide what’s important. If you can afford the risk, then there’s no doubt that the NuMax SFR2190 is the best framing nailer for the money. But, if you’re a cautious buyer who values extra purchase protection, then go for the Freeman PFR2190.

Pros

  • Extremely low-cost
  • Tool-less depth selection
  • No-mar tip
  • Anti-dry fire
  • Adjustable air exhaust
  • Ergonomic grip

Cons

  • No actuation mode selector
  • No tool-less jam clearing
  • No rafter hook
  • Plastic collated stick
  • 1-year limited warranty


#4 Hitachi NR90AES1 – An Honorable Mention

Hitachi NR90AES1If you’re open to stretching your budget a little, consider buying the Hitachi NR90AES1. I say this because it offers the features that are missing in the Freeman PFR2190, our top pick. Are these features worth the extra money? Let’s see.

Both machines accept 21° angled plastic collated round head nails between 2 inches and 3.5 inches long. No difference there. Plus, the two models come with tool-less depth adjustment. However, the Hitachi model does not have a no-mar tip, adjustable exhaust, or anti-dry fire mechanism. At this point, our top pick has an edge over the Hitachi NR90AES1.

Now, the Hitachi framing nailer does have an actuation mode selector. You can switch from sequential mode to bump mode by flipping a switch. Also, this model gives you tool-less jam clearing. The Freeman model does not have these features.

What’s the impact of this? These two features reduce time and effort involved in framing. In the light of this advantage, the features missing in the Hitachi NR90AES1 don’t matter much. As for our last point of comparison, warranty, this tool comes with a 5-year limited warranty. It isn’t as good as Freeman’s 7-year warranty. But, I am happy nevertheless.

The reason the Freeman PFR2190 is our top pick, and not the Hitachi NR90AES1, is that the Freeman framing nailer’s price. Had the Hitachi been a little cheaper, it could have been our top pick.

Pros

  • Affordable, but not inexpensive
  • Tool-less depth adjustment
  • Tool-less jam clearing
  • Actuation mode selection switch
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • No no-mar tip
  • No adjustable exhaust
  • No anti-dry fire mechanism


#5 BOSTITCH F21PL – Worth Considering

BOSTITCH F21PLBefore we wind up the product review section, I just had to talk to you about this product, which is a little different from the others. On first glance, it may just seem like an expensive framing nailer. But, when you look closely, you will realize that it’s not. The reason is that this machine combines the benefits of two machines – a framing nailer and a positive placement nailer.

Now, who would benefit from a positive placement tip? People who do a lot of work with metal connectors. If you’ve ever worked with metal connectors, you know how hard it is to get the contact tip to match the holes on the connector.

That’s where the positive placement tip comes in. The positive placement tip is a special kind of tip that can fit into the connector’s holes. Even on blind corners, you can feel the tip sink into the holes. This makes nailing connectors extremely quick and easy.

In addition to the positive placement tip, this machine comes with the usual good stuff – tool-less depth adjustment, tool-less jam clearing, and an adjustable rafter hook. But, it also has the usual disadvantages – plastic collated nails, no actuation mode selector (but it comes with a contact trigger), and no anti-dry fire mechanism.

On top of the positive placement tip, you get a 7-lear limited warranty and a 1-year full warranty on this framing nailer. In conclusion, this is an awesome buy for people who need a framing nailer that works well with metal connectors.

Pros

  • Positive placement tip
  • Tool-less depth adjustment
  • Tool-less jam clearing
  • Rafter hook
  • 7-year limited warranty
  • 1-year full warranty

Cons

  • No actuation mode selector
  • No anti-dry fire mechanism
  • Plastic collated nails


Framing Nailer Buying Guide

A good framing nailer costs $350 to $450, at full price. This is not a small investment. So, you have to make sure that you get the most out of every dollar you spend. You can do that only if you know what to look for and what you’re looking at. It takes a lot of time and a considerable amount of effort to do this on your own. That’s why we have created this buying guide to put you on the fast track to owning a framing nailer. So, let’s begin with nails. After that, we’ll move on to the nailer itself.

What are the specifications I must consider when selecting the nails for my framing nailer?

The first step in buying the right framing nailer is to understand parameters that relate to nail selection. Mainly, you must consider three factors: nail length, type of nail head, and type of collation. Let’s look at each of these factors:

Nail Length: Check the range of nail size the nailer will accommodate. For framing purposes, carpenters use 3.5-inch nails. Make sure the framing nailer has the capacity to nail 3.5-inch nails.

Nail Head Type: Selecting the right type of nail head is important. Clipped head and round head are the two common types of nail heads. The two types of nails require different firing mechanisms. Clipped head nails occupy less space. Consequently, clipped head nail cartridges carry more nails per inch than round head cartridges. This increases your carrying capacity and reduces the cost. However, clipped head nails aren’t as strong as round head nails. So, some areas, such as hurricane zones, don’t permit the use of clipped head nails. Before buying a framing nailer, have a look at your local building codes to check whether they permit the use of clipped head nails.

Nail Collation: Nail collation refers to the method manufacturers use to hold the nails in a cartridge together. The common collation methods are as follows:

  • Paper: In paper collated nails, a strip of paper holds the nails together. Paper collated nails provide the cleanest finish and pose the least safety concerns. However, they are more expensive and less durable than plastic collated nails. When exposed to water, paper collated nail cartridges unravel easily.
  • Plastic: In such nails, a strip of plastic hold the nails together. Plastic collated nails don’t provide the clean finish that paper collated sticks do. But, these nails are cheaper and more durable than paper collated nails. Also, using plastic collated nails is more dangerous than paper collated nails because the plastic bits can ricochet off the surface and hurt you.
  • Wire Weld: In wire weld collated nails, a thin wire tack-welded to the nails holds the cartridge together. These are extremely durable. But, they are expensive and raise safety concerns. The finish is not as good as paper collated nails either. Buy this type of nails only when you’re working under rough conditions.

What features should I look for in a framing nailer?

Now that you know what sort of nails you require, it’s time to look at the framing nailer itself. I’ll walk you through the important features you should have in your framing nailer:

  • Magazine Angle: The magazine angle refers to the angle the magazine makes relative to the ground when you hold the nailer upright. The greater the angle, the easier it becomes for you to access hard to reach places. At the same time, as the angle increases, the cost of operating the machine increases because the nails become more expensive. If you mostly work with the machine in its upright position, a 21-degree angle is good enough. However, if you frequently work within tight spaces, you need a machine with a 33-degree magazine angle. Remember, any increase in the ease of access comes with an associated increase in the operating cost.
  • Magazine Type: The stick magazine is the most common type of magazine. However, you will also find coil type magazines. The coil magazine can carry more nails than stick magazines can. However, coil magazines are cumbersome and get in the way when you need to work at an angle. If accessibility is important, I recommend you go for a stick type magazine.
  • Actuation Mode: The actuation mode sets the rule for firing a nail. Sequential and bump actuation are the two most common actuation mode. In sequential actuation mode, the nailer fires one nail each time you press the trigger. In bump actuation mode, if you keep the trigger pressed, the nailer fires one nail each time you bump the contact tip against the surface. Bump actuation mode allows you to fire many nails in rapid succession. I suggest you go for a machine that allows you to switch between the two modes without using any tools.
  • Depth of Drive: This term is self-explanatory. Depth of drive determines how deep the machine drives the nail. But, the mechanism for setting the depth of drive varies. You should go for a framing nailer that allows tool-less depth of drive adjustment.
  • Jam Clearing: Occasionally, a nail goes out of alignment and jams the nailer. When this happens, you must clear the jam before using the machine again. If this process requires tools, clearing a jam becomes a hassle. So, look for nailers that have tool-less jam clearing.
  • Anti-Dry Fire: When the machine fires without any nails in it, it’s called a dry fire. Dry fires damage the tool and the work surface. An anti-dry fire mechanism prevents the machine from actuating when the magazine is empty. This is a great feature to have.
  • Rafter Hook: When you’re up in the rafters, you’re not going to find any flat surface to safely rest your tool. So, check whether the framing nailer comes with an adjustable rafter hook. This may seem trivial, but a rafter hook is a great advantage from operational point of view.
  • Contact Tip: Some framing nailers come with different types of contact tips. For instance, the nailer may have a no-mar tip that prevents the tip from leaving marks on the work piece. There’s also the positive placement tip that allows you to nail accurately metal pieces, such as metal joists.

Considering these factors, what are my options?

The purpose of our list of the best framing nailers of 2017 in this comprehensive guide is to introduce you to products that have most of the desirable features that we discussed. So, revisit that section because there’s a good chance you’ll get what you need without looking anywhere else. But, if you want to do your own research, I suggest you look at framing nailers from Bosch, Hitachi, Bostitch, DEWALT, Paslode, Senco, and Porter Cable.


Conclusion

Before my final verdict, here’s a quick recap of the products discussed. The Freeman PFR2190 and the NuMax SFR2190 are nearly identical in terms of performance and function. Although the PFR2190 costs twice as much as the SFR2190, it comes with a 7 times longer warranty period. Both these machines lack tool-free jam clearing and actuation mode selector. If these features are important to you, you can go for the Hitachi NR90AES1. Alternatively, you can consider buying the DEWALT DW325PL if your budget allows it.

Here’s the thing. Not having an actuation mode selector is not a big deal. You can use the contact trigger on the Freeman PFR2190 and the NuMax SFR2190 in place mode or contact mode. Since the place mode works the same way as the sequential trigger does, you’ll not miss having an actuation mode switch. Now, it doesn’t make sense to me to invest $70 to $100 just for tool-less jam clearing. So, my final verdict on the best framing nailer is the Freeman PFR2190. But, if you’re okay with a 1-year warranty, then please take advantage of the NuMax SFR2190’s pricing.

As you can see, choosing a framing nailer isn’t as easy as it looks. In recent years, the product has developed so much that there are many features to choose from. This can get confusing. But, if you’re sure about the fundamentals, choosing a framing nailer isn’t hard. Hopefully, I’ve made it easier for you to find your dream tool.