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Nailer Reviews, continued

Hitachi NR83AA Clipped-Head & NR83A Round-Head

These guns are identical with the exception of the magazine. They are essentially the same gun that I purchased 12 years ago, and like that gun they have features that I like and dislike. On the positive side, the Hitachi guns have good balance and feel light for their size. However, there is no depth-of-drive adjustment so depth must be adjusted by air pressure. Exhaust is not adjustable. There is no access to the nose to clear jams if one occurs. The NR83A has a very strong magazine follower and will crush the plastic collation on the full-head nails if it is allowed to drop into place. Because a magazine full of uncollated nails is worse than useless, on this tool you have to control the release of the follower. All in all, a reliable performer.

Hitachi NR90AC Round-Head

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This gun is a real winner and was one of the top two in the full-head category. It has great balance and has a screw-type depth adjustment on the front of the gun. There's plenty of power, and it will shoot a 31/2-inch nail. It's heavier than the NR83A (9 lb. vs. 7.9 lb.) but that weight is distributed well and is not really noticeable. Again, you have to let the follower down or the spring will crush the collations and increase misfires and jams. The well-designed nosepiece makes toe-nailing a breeze and the exhaust port rotates easily by hand.

Interchange Brands ICB-DF88 Clipped-Head &

ICB-FN88 Round-Head

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ICB-DF88

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ICB-FN88

These two guns arrived late in December, so they did not get the workout that some of the others did. The clipped-head and round-head guns look and feel exactly the same and seem to have all interchangeable parts with the exception of the magazines. They are on the large and heavy side, but handle okay, have adequate power, and will do the job. The nosepiece is not very aggressive, but it works. There's no depth-of-drive adjustment and the exhaust ports are fixed, leaving these guns firmly in the middle of the group. The only unique feature of these guns is the hanger found on the round-head nailer, which makes it convenient to hang the gun on nearby framing.

ISM Propower 933 or 928 Clipped-Head, 921 Round-Head

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921

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928

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933

At first glance everyone thought that this was another of those cheap generic nail guns. This will teach you to never rely on first impressions. This gun proved to be a reliable performer and it shot whatever nails happened to be around. It had plenty of power, was well-balanced, and proved to be my helper Bob's favorite gun. Depth adjustment required the use of a hex key, but even with the nosepiece adjusted all the way out it still drove the fasteners deeper than I would have liked in sheathing. Exhaust was deflected through the front of the gun and is not adjustable. There is no access to the nosepiece to clear jams. The gun toe-nailed well even with its not-so-aggressive nosepiece. All in all, a well-made, comfortable, no-frills gun. The 933 uses a 33-degree paper-collated fastener and the 928 uses a 28-degree wire-collated fastener.

Makita AN922 Round-Head & AN942 Clipped-Head

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AN922

 

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AN942

These two new tools from Makita might make you think that the engineers were actually listening to contractors like you and me - they excited everyone who used them. How about a no-mar tip that detaches and stores on the gun? And it only starts there. Under the trigger is an easy-to-turn nine-position knob that adjusts depth-of-drive. On the left side of the gun is a three-position trigger selector switch that allows the trigger to be changed from contact-trip action to single-shot to off. This is a great feature - if you have it, you use it. The tools are a little on the heavy side (8.4 lb.), but the other features more than make up for this. The nosepieces are well-designed for toe-nailing, but the exhaust is fixed. Whenever I lined up all the test guns on the deck, these were the first ones everyone reached for.