Last Updated on August 14, 2020
If you’re in the market for a new pneumatic framing nailer, you know that there are a lot of models out there. It’s not always easy to know which models are a great buy and which are too expensive relative to how good they are. It’s even harder when you’re shopping online, where it’s hard to tell what’s good information and what’s marketing fluff.
We have good news for you! We’ve compiled some reviews of the best pneumatic framing nailers of 2020 so that you can learn about what works well, and what’s not so great. We also have prepared a buyer’s guide so that you can learn about pneumatic nailers and figure out which model is right for you.
|Best Overall||Hitachi NR90AES1||
|Best Value||NuMax SFR2190||
|AIR LOCKER AL83A2||
The Hitachi NR90AES1 is the best pneumatic framing nailer in our review. It features both tool-less depth adjustment and an easy switch between sequential and contact nailing. What sets this model apart, though, is its ease of use. It features one of the quickest reload times on our list, as there are only two steps required to replace nails, which will save you a lot of time in the long run. It also comes with a tool-free depth of drive adjustment, so that you don’t have to finish off nails with a hammer.
The two-piece anodized aluminum magazine is easily removed. This means in the unlikely event that the magazine is damaged, it doesn’t make the entire gun worthless. You can take the magazine off to make repairs, or purchase a new magazine and install it, as opposed to buying an entirely new nailer.
The only downside is that, like a lot of framing nailers, it doesn’t come with a hanging hook.
The Bostitch LPF21PL is our runner-up, providing a lot of features that you can find on our top pick, but packing into a much tighter package. This model is designed to easily fit between rafters and in other tight spaces, making it a superior design for when you’re working in those situations. It features a tool-free selection between contact and sequential firing modes, and it also allows for easy depth of drive adjustment, and a filter to separate out debris that might otherwise damage the internal components.
The one big tradeoff to its design is that its magazine was narrowed, which means it can only use nails up to 3-1/4 inches. This means it cannot work with the popular 3-1/2 inch nails.
The bottom line on this nailer is that if you can make good use of a compact and lightweight nailer, but don’t need to use 3-1/2” nails, then this is the nailer for you. If you do need to use the longer nails though, you’’ have to go with a different model.
The NuMax SFR2190 is our choice for best for the money. Unlike other models on this list, it doesn’t use contact and sequential modes. Instead, it comes with two different triggers, which the user can swap out which switch the nailer into two different modes. The first is single mode, which is comparable to sequential modes on other nailers, and the second is sequential, or “bump-fire,” which allows you to rapidly fire nails as you quickly reposition the nailer.
It also comes with a no-mar tip designed to prevent damage to the material you’re working on. If aesthetics don’t matter as much, you can remove the tip to reveal no-slip teeth that will give you confidence that the gun won’t move from where you place it.
This gun is a great choice if you are willing to forgo contact firing and provides great quality at an excellent price.
The Freeman PFR2190 is very similar to the previous model to the list. It features a no-mar tip that can be taken off to reveal no-slip teeth, and also uses the same interchangeable trigger system that allows for single or bump fire modes. It also has a 360-degree adjustable air exhaust, allowing you to aim where the exhaust, to keep it off your work, yourself, or both.
The reason that this model doesn’t rank higher on our list is that it adds a lot of cost over similar models and doesn’t provide a lot of value to justify that. This model does come with a case, though it’s hard to argue that justifies the extra increase in price. It also has a habit of double-firing nails, which can be a pain to deal with when you’re trying to work quickly.
One of the best things about the Air Locker AL83A2 is its weight, as it’s one of the lightest nailers we reviewed. Like other models, it comes with contact-fire and single-fire modes. That’s about where the upside ends.
The manufacturer makes a big deal out of the fact that this model’s driver, bumper, magazine, and cylinder are interchangeable with Hitachi NR83A parts. While this might seem like an upside at first glance, it suggests that the manufacturer doesn’t have a whole lot of faith in their product. Shouldn’t it last long enough that you’re not worried about replacement parts?
Likewise, is the company just using part designs from other companies? If so, why wouldn’t you just buy the other companies nailer? Ultimately, this model is just too expensive relative to the value that it provides.
Hopefully, our reviews have helped you understand what you should be looking for when you’re in the market for a pneumatic nailer. We’ve highlighted what we thought was important to note about each model in the above reviews, but his buyer’s guide is designed to give you a lot of good general information about pneumatic framing nailers so that you can buy with confidence.
If you’re looking to do a lot of construction work, then you can’t go wrong with a nailer that comes with contact-firing mode. Contact firing is dependent on a safety switch on the end of the nailer’s barrel. When the safety switch is pressed up against the wood, and the trigger is held down, the nailer fires a nail. This allows you to hold down the trigger, and quickly reposition the nailer to put down a lot of nails in a short period. This saves time, but it also saves exertion that you would have otherwise spent pulling the trigger all of those times.
All pneumatic nailers come with single fire mode, which is simple. If you pull the trigger, the nailer fires a nail. It’s that straightforward. If a model has a contact-firing mode, then you can typically flip between it and single-fire mode by toggling a switch somewhere on the nailer’s body.
Some nailers don’t come with contacting firing mode, but to try and remain competitive in the market, they will opt to add a bump fire trigger. This works by having you hold down the trigger and then using the up-and-down motion of reposition to repeatedly pull the trigger. This has two major downsides. The first is that you have to manually replace the trigger on the nailer, which can be a time-consuming process, especially relative to the switch-flipping that happens on other models. The second is that it’s not as safe as contact-firing, which uses a safety on the nose of the nailer to ensure that the tool is pressed up against whatever it is that you’re nailing, and not firing out wildly.
Not all people will need bump-fire or contact-fire mode, especially if you’re only going to do a project or two around the house. If you’re a construction worker or planning to do a lot of framing work, then you might be better served spending a little extra money to get a model with contact firing.
Hopefully, this buyer’s guide has cleared up the differences between different firing modes on different pneumatic framing nailers. The most important thing you can do when shopping for a tool is to make sure that you know exactly what kinds of projects you’re going to do, and make sure that you get a tool that will get those projects done efficiently and with a minimum of stress.
The Hitachi NR90AES1 is the best pneumatic framing nailer in our review, featuring all the aspects you should expect in a pneumatic nailer, and puts them together in a high-quality package. The Bostitch LPF21PL is our runner-up and separates itself from its competitors with a slim model that can fit into almost any space. The NuMax SFR2190 was our choice for best for the money, bringing in some of the features found on higher-end models, but at a fraction of the price. The Freeman PFR2190 had some of those features but was also expensive and had a problem with double-firing nails. And, the Air Locker AL83A2 was lightweight but failed to impress us in other areas of its design.
Hopefully, our reviews and our buyer’s guide have helped you see what features you need to pay attention to when purchasing a pneumatic nailer. With that knowledge in mind, you should be able to purchase the model that is right for you, and you’ll get good use out of it for a long time to come.
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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!