HealthyHandyman is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Best Framing Nailers for the Money 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews

Last Updated:

Framing Nail Gun

Framing nailers can make major jobs go a lot quicker. However, there are enough variables involved in the tool that finding the right one can be very complicated.

Our objective is to help you find the right piece of equipment for your needs. To that end, we’ve tested all the major nailers on the market. Each one has been evaluated for safety, durability, efficiency, and ease of use.

The ten best products made it onto our list of framing nailer reviews. In other words, you’re guaranteed to find something on this list that will get the job done. As we dive deeper, the goal is to find the perfect product for your unique needs. Read on!

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

ModelPriceWarrantyEditor Rating
Freeman Pneumatic
Freeman PFR2190Best Overall

Check Price
7 Years4.90/5
NuMax Pneumatic
NuMax SFR2190Best Value

Check Price
1 Year4.80/5
DEWALT Paper Collated
DEWALT DCN692BPremium Choice

Check Price
3 Years4.70/5
BOSTITCH F21PL
BOSTITCH F21PL

Check Price
1 Year4.60/5
Paslode Cordless XP
Paslode - 905600

Check Price
90 Days4.30/5

The 10 Best Framing Nailers – Reviews 2020

1. Freeman Pneumatic 21 Degree 3-1/2″ Full Round Head Nailer – Best Overall

Freeman PFR2190

The Freeman is a pneumatically powered gun with a stick driven magazine that is able to hold dozens of different nails at a time. The grip is completely ergonomic, which will make it easier to use for long periods.

The tool is also made to be both lightweight and durable. The body of the tool comes in at only eight pounds while the body is reinforced by a tough metal, and further fortified with a rubberized exterior.

It also features two different modes of operation. You can either get up close and personal with the bump and squeeze trigger mechanism, or you can switch it to a semi-automatic mode for more rapid use.

The only thing not to like about the Freeman PFR2190 Pneumatic nailer is the price. It’s one of the more expensive tools on our list which may make it better for contractors.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Ergonomic
  • Multiple modes of use
Cons
  • Pricey

2. NuMax Pneumatic 21 Degree 3-1/2″ Full Round Head Nailer – Best Value

The NuMax is our best framing nailer for the money. This is an affordable pneumatic-powered tool that will be optimal for amateurs that take their work very seriously. The grip of the gun is ergonomic so that it can be effectively used for long periods.

The unit is also extremely easy to use and alter. It can be adjusted effortlessly without tools so that you can easily alter it for different depths and nail sizes.

NuMax maximizes the durability of the tool by including a magnesium build that combines a lightweight body with an extremely tough exterior. The gun does tend to jam quite a bit which will be frustrating, especially throughout the course of long jobs. Still, it’s ultimately an affordable and effective tool for the average buyer.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Pneumatic style gun
  • Ergonomic
  • Magnesium
Cons
  • Tends to jam a lot

3. DEWALT 20V Max Cordless 30° Paper Collated Nailer– Premium Choice

DEWALT DCN692B

The DeWalt is a cordless unit that benefits from a ton of maneuverability. Because it doesn’t have to hook up to an air compressor like the other options we’ve looked at to this point it benefits from a ton of portability and workability.

It also features a sizable 55-nail capacity magazine and a specialized motor that will be able to fire at a range of different speeds for maximum versatility. Last but not least, the exterior of the nailer is extremely durable making it well suited for job site wear and tear.

Unfortunately, this unit suffers the fatal flaw common to all DeWalt products. It’s extremely pricey. You still get bang for your bucks, but understand that you’re probably paying more than you need to for the big brand name recognition.

Pros
  • Lots of maneuverability
  • Large capacity
  • Dual speed motor
  • Very durable
Cons
  • Expensive

4. BOSTITCH Round Head, 1-1/2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch 

BOSTITCH F21PL

The Bostitch is a moderately priced framing nailer that may be equally suitable for the pro, or the very serious do-it-yourselfer.

The unit benefits from a lightweight magnesium housing that keeps it durable and effective. At only eight pounds, it can be operated for long periods without causing fatigue. The motor is also specialized so that it can perform a wide range of tasks, including some not common to the average framing nailer.

We have observed that it jams very frequently. However, in general, it is an effective nailer that the average user will appreciate.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Magnesium
  • Very versatile
Cons
  • Jams frequently

5. Paslode Cordless XP Framing Nailer

Paslode - 905600

The Paslode is a cordless framing nailer that can easily be used indoors or outdoors no matter what the time of year. It is rated to be used in temperatures as low as fourteen degrees which is great for contractors that find themselves working in a wide variety of different environments.

It also features a solid battery that lasts roughly 50% longer than most comparable options, and it is extremely lightweight. At just seven pounds, it is actually one of the most portable units on our list.

Unfortunately, you’ll pay for all these features. It is one of the most expensive products on our list, which may be tough for the buyer on a budget to manage.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent battery
  • Work in wide range of environments
Cons
  • Pricey

6. Metabo HPT Pneumatic Framing Nailer

METABO NR90ADS1

The Metabo is a moderately priced pneumatic framing nailer. At just seven pounds, it is extremely lightweight. It can be adjusted effortlessly for depth to work with a wide range of different nails.

The unit is of aluminum construction, which is a great way to keep the cost down while still fortifying the tool against job site wear and tear. However, aluminum is not quite as sturdy as the magnesium we’ve seen on other, higher-end units.

It will do fine for regular use, but a sudden drop could mean the end of the tool.

Pros
  • Moderate price
  • Very lightweight
  • Easy to adjust
Cons
  • Durability concerns

7. CRAFTSMAN, 2 to 3-1/2-Inch, 21 Degree Plastic

CRAFTSMAN CMP21PL

The Craftsman is a moderately priced plastic framing nailer. It features a tool-free adjustment component and a reversible hook that makes it easy to hang up on the job site. It also benefits from a lightweight design that will make it easy to use for long periods.

It is somewhat lacking in terms of power, especially when compared to the other units on our list. The plastic housing also isn’t as durable as we prefer to see with job site units. It’s still a decent piece of equipment, but it will ultimately do better in the hands of an amateur than a pro.

Pros
  • Moderate price
  • Lightweight build
  • Reversible handing hook for ease of use
Cons
  • Durability concerns
  • A little lacking in terms of power

8. Makita Full Round Head 3-1/2″ 

Makita AN924

Makita is known for making good tools and this nailer is certainly no exception. It’s a lightweight tool that features an aluminum magazine that is specifically optimized to avoid jams. You also get easy access to the nail feed so you can swiftly address problems when they do arise.

It’s also ergonomic, which means it can be comfortably used for long periods of time without issue. There are two issues for you to keep in mind. Price is one concern. As with most Makita tools, this is pretty expensive. Power is the other concern. It doesn’t quite have the same level of oomph that we found in many of the other products on this list.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Resists jams
  • Ergonomic
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not as powerful as many options on the list

9. Max “Superframer” 21° Framing Nailer

Max SN883RH3

Max SN883RH3 is a job site framer. It features a reversible mounting hook that makes it easy to hang up pretty much anywhere on the job. It also includes a swivel cord management design concept that helps you to avoid tangles as you navigate around your workpiece.

The unit weighs just seven pounds which will make it easy to use even for long periods of time. The nailer even features an open concept nose that will make it easy to clear jams. That’s good because the gun jams a lot. We were also concerned about the value. It seems that for the money you spend on this gun you can buy something with a little more power, fewer jams, and greater durability.

It is a good tool for do-it-yourselfers, but your money might be better spent somewhere else.

Pros
  • Reversible mounting hook
  • Swivel cord detangler
  • Lightweight build
  • Easy to clear jams
Cons
  • Jams often
  • Small durability concerns
  • Not quite as powerful as other units on list
  • Value concerns

10. 3PLUS 21 Degree Full Round Head Framing Nailer

3PLUS H2190SP

The 3Plus isn’t just the most affordable product on our list—it’s also about as affordable as you can ever hope to find with a framing nailer. The unit includes a “dry fire blocking mechanism” that is designed to preserve the life expectancy of the nailer. If there are no more nails in the magazine the unit won’t activate, avoiding unnecessary wear and tear.

It’s also easy to adjust. No tools are needed to adapt the tip for different depths and applications, and it can be safely used with a wide range of nails to enhance the versatility.

Why the low price then? Or, for that matter, the low spot on our list? At the end of the day, this is a light-duty nailer. It’s all plastic build doesn’t stand up very well to the stress of job site wear and tear. It also tends to jam up very frequently, and it’s fairly lacking in the department of power. This leads to an inconsistent performance you may need to compensate for with a hammer.

If you are an amateur that is building their first tool collection, nailers like this one will be what you reach for. However, if you need something that is a little more heavy-duty, you’ll be better served by some of the other options on our list.

Pros
  • Easy to adjust
  • Very affordable
Cons
  • Not very durable
  • Jams very frequently
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Lacking in power

Buyer’s Guide

You’ve seen ten great framing nailers. How well do you understand them though? If you aren’t sure which product is right for you, read on for some buying considerations that might simplify things.

Is a Framing Nailer Right for Me?

There are a number of different types of nailers so it is worth considering what this product is intended for in the first place. Framing nailers are meant to take the place of a hammer. It’s a high volume tool that is optimized for joining two pieces of wood quickly.

For this exact reason, it is often used by contractors to build homes or do large scale renovations. If you are in the position of needing to layout many nails quickly, this is without question the right product for you.

Types of Framing Nailers

A framing nailer is technically a category of tool. However, there are subcategories of framing nailers that further distinguish different options from one another.

Here are the main types of options you’re likely to come across.

Pneumatic Framing Nailer: Pneumatic framing nailers operate with the assistance of an air compressor. These tools are often favored by contractors because they can run for long periods of time at a high capacity.

Air compressors also allow you to power multiple guns at once, which is especially handy for contractors.

The downside, of course, is that you need to have additional, often quite bulky equipment on hand. Buyers of a pneumatic gun will also need to factor the cost of an air compressor in your budget.

Cordless Framing Nailer: The cordless nailer is pretty much the exact opposite of the pneumatic. Because it is cordless, you have lots of mobility. These tools are easy to move around a job site, but they tend to be lacking in power.

Cordless units tend to be operated one of two ways. They might be battery-powered, in which case, you can expect a run time of roughly 30 minutes or so. Power tool batteries often require a recharge that can take several hours.

Some cordless units also feature portable air compressors. While these won’t have the same run time as a pneumatic system, they tend to be more powerful than battery-driven units, and they can also be re-juiced with ease in a matter of minutes.

Corded Electric: Finally, not all electric framing nailers are cordless. Tools of the corded variety are powered via an electric outlet. This feature ostensibly means that the nailer can run forever without needing a recharge. However, it’s not without its own cons.

Corded electric units tend to be less powerful than pneumatic options. They also are very limited in their mobility. It’s a decent product for amateur use but it probably won’t cut the mustard for professionals.

Weight

Framing nailers are a hand tool. This means that the weight of the unit will also play a major role in its ultimate effectiveness. Ideally, you will be able to get something that offers a combination of durability and transportability.

The good news is that most tools are specifically made to be easy to transport and wield. However, there are always variations.

The power source can have a big impact on how lightweight a nailer is. For example, pneumatic guns tend to be lightweight for the fact that they are powered externally. The same is true of corded electric nailers. However, battery-driven tools will be heavier. Why? Power tool batteries can themselves be very hefty which adds to the overall weight of the tool.

Durability

Jobsites are notoriously tough on tools. This is especially true of nailers, which are frequently used on heavy-duty products such as home additions or renovations.

Naturally, durability becomes a major factor. Pro-grade tools are made with this in mind. A rubberized exterior can go a long way towards fortifying a nailer against wear and tear. Others feature tough metal housing that will protect the unit against drops and other wear and tear.

Durability features will add to the weight of your tool but they will also add to the life expectancy. A worthwhile exchange, in the long run, to be sure.

Comfort

Any nailer is going to be more comfortable than a hammer. Still, ergonomic features can go a long way towards improving your user experience. Ergonomic designs can actually help to prevent and avoid injury over long periods of use.

The good news is that ergonomics is an increasingly common feature. However, it’s not entirely ubiquitous. If this is an important feature for you, make sure the product you are considering has implemented it before you finalize the buy.

Max SN883RH3 Superframer

Magazine

Nails are fed through the nailer via a magazine. There are two main types of magazines: the coil and the stick. Coil magazines hold nails in long flexible strips. They can to hold hundreds of nails at a time, making them a great option for high volume work. For that reason, coil magazines are often favored by contractors.

Stick guns, on the other hand, can only hold 20-40 nails at a time. So why would anyone choose a stick gun? The main reason is that they tend to be much more affordable. For that reason, they are generally favored over by amateurs.

Trigger Mechanisms

There are also several different types of trigger mechanisms. Let’s take a look:

Bump and Squeeze: Bump and squeeze triggers require two steps to fire. First, you press the barrel of the gun against the workpiece, then you squeeze the trigger. This feature is handy in that the gun tends to be very accurate.

One for One: Then there is the one for one style gun. With these tools, you pull the trigger one, and one nail is driven from the tool.

Squeeze and Release: Finally, the squeeze and release. These guns are extremely quick but they are also dangerous in the wrong hands. They operate in an automatic mode firing multiple nails with a single pull of the trigger. It’s good for volume work but can do much more harm than good in the wrong hands.

Swivel Tube

The swivel tube basically makes it easier to untangle corded units. It’s not a necessary feature but it can be a very convenient element to have on hand especially if you are using your tool on hectic worksites like most people.

Easy Access to Nail Feed

Nail guns are notorious for jamming. It will happen, probably much more often than you care for. Some manufacturers account for this by giving you easy access to the nail feed. Though optional, this feature may wind up saving you literal hours of time over the long run.

Depth Adjustment

It’s easy to adjust for depth when you are using a nail and hammer. It can be a little bit more complicated when you are using a nailer.

If you want to maximize the precision of your tool it will be in your favor to look into something that includes easy to use depth adjustment features.

Nail Sizes

Finally, you will also want the ability to use a variety of different nail sizes. Most guns are able to accept nails that come in a wide variety of different sizes. However, if you want to be sure your tool is up for any task you might end up throwing at it, you will want to look into the range of nails it can accept before you buy.

Conclusion

Between the framing nailer reviews and the buying guide, you probably know a good deal about these products. But, do you know which is right for you? If you want the best product you can get your hands on you’ll probably favor our top choice the Freeman PFR2190 Pneumatic 21 Degree 3-1/2″ Full Round Head Framing Nailer.

However, it’s also a pretty pricey tool. If you want something that brings value to the equation you’ll probably prefer the NuMax SFR2190 Pneumatic 21 Degree 3-1/2″ Full Round Head Framing Nailer. Fortunately for you, when the products you have to choose from are this good, the risk is pretty low.

More buying guides like this:

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!