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Tool Test: Round-Head Stick Nailers, continued

Bostitch N88RH

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Size: 14 1/4"Hx19"L

Weight: 7.9 lb.

Nail length: 2-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.162"

Depth of drive: push-button

Capacity: 60 nails

Magazine: top-loading

Street price: $239

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The Bostitch gun is light and well balanced and has a comfortable rubber grip. It's extremely powerful and consistently fires without jamming. The nosepiece works well for toe-nailing, and the push-button depth-of-drive mechanism is easy to use. This tool is available with an optional metal tip for fastening metal framing hardware. I've used the tip, and it works very well. The only negative thing I can say about this tool is that it doesn't dampen the blow of striking 16d nails.

DeWalt D51845

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Size: 12 3/4"Hx20 3/4"L

Weight: 7.6 lb.

Nail length: 2-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.148"

Depth of drive: push-button

Capacity: 65 nails

Magazine: top-loading

Street price: $289

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The D51845 was the lightest tool we tested. It's not as tall as other guns, so it's easier to maneuver in tight spots. The nosepiece works well for toe-nailing, and the push-button depth-of-drive mechanism is reliable and easy to use. It's equipped with a trigger lock and one of my favorite features of all, a plastic rafter hook that can be pivoted out of the way. Although the gun doesn't recoil, it does not cushion the blow of firing as well as other tools.

Duo-Fast NSP-350F1 Mainframe

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Size: 13 5/16"Hx22"L

Weight: 8.6 lb.

Nail length: 2-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.131"

Depth of drive: requires tools

Capacity: 70 nails

Magazine: top-loading

Street price: $285

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The NSP-350F1 is one of the heavier guns we tested, but it was well balanced, so the weight was no big deal. My favorite thing about this tool was that it had almost no recoil. It cushioned the blow so well that it felt like firing a finish nailer. This is a good gun for framing, but I wouldn't want to use it to nail off shear, because adjusting the depth-of-drive mechanism requires the use of an Allen wrench. An earlier version of this gun took .162-inch nails, but this one only takes up to .131-inch nails.

Hitachi NR83A2

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Size: 13 3/8"Hx2 13/16"L

Weight: 7.9 lb.

Nail length: 2-3 1/4"

Nail diameter: .113-.131" Depth of drive: thumbwheel

Capacity: 64-70 nails

Magazine: top-loading

Street price: $329

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The NR83A2 is an improved version of the ever popular NR83A. The new model includes added features such as toolless depth of drive and a dial for switching between firing modes. This gun is very well balanced and is one of the lighter tools we tested. The recoil feels dampened, so you can use it to nail off sheathing without wearing out your arm. This gun rarely jams, and when it does, it only takes a minute to clear. The nosepiece allows for accurate toe-nailing, and the tool has plenty of power for driving .131-inch nails. We were able to shoot it a little faster than other guns without leaving nails proud.

Hitachi NR90AC2

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Size: 13 7/8"Hx19 13/16"L

Weight: 8.9 lb.

Nail length: 2 3/8-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.162"

Depth of drive: thumbwheel

Capacity: 64-70 nails

Magazine: rear-loading

Street price: $399

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The NR90AC2 is well balanced and a pleasure to use for framing. It won't dry-fire, and it's equipped with an air filter to keep dirt and grit from getting inside. It takes full 16d nails and has the power to drive them in engineered lumber. The nosepiece allows for accurate toe-nailing, and the toolless depth of drive works well. That said, we had mixed feelings about this gun. It was one of our favorites until we loaded it with 8d nails, which frequently jammed in the magazine.

Makita AN922

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Size: 14 3/4"Hx21 1/4"L

Weight: 8.4 lb.

Nail length: 2-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.162" Depth of drive: dial under trigger

Capacity: 64-74 nails

Magazine: rear-loading

Street price: $339

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The AN922 is a powerful gun with an aggressive nosepiece that's good for toe-nailing. It's not one of the lighter guns, but it's well balanced and comfortable to handle. Numbered detents on the depth-of-drive mechanism make it easy to reproduce previous depth settings. We used this gun to fasten shear, and it shot nails very consistently. The AN922 has a built-in air filter and will shoot up to .162-inch nails. Our only gripes were with the nose assembly, which can block your view from the right, and the pusher, which sometimes stuck when we pulled it back to reload.

Max SN890-RH

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Size: 14 1/2"Hx20"L

Weight: 8.2 lb. Nail length: 2-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.148"

Depth of drive: thumbwheel

Capacity: 64 nails

Magazine: top-loading

Street price: $333

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The SN890-RH is comfortable to use because it's well balanced and absorbs the recoil of firing. It has an anti-double-fire mechanism, a built-in self-cleaning air filter, and a swivel air fitting to prevent hose kinks. The dial-activated depth control takes some time to set, but the gun drives nails to a consistent depth in sheathing. This gun rarely jammed, and when it did, the flap on the nose made it easy to clear. The top-loading magazine was easy to use and did not get clogged. The SN890-RH was one of our favorite guns. It would be perfect if it had a rafter hook.

Porter-Cable FR350A

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Size: 14 1/4"Hx21"L

Weight: 8.2 lb.

Nail length: 2-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.148" Depth of drive: thumbwheel

Capacity: 64 nails

Magazine: rear-loading

Street price: $259

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The FR350A is relatively light and well balanced. There is no noticeable recoil, and it does a good job of absorbing the shock of firing. It has the power to drive fasteners into LVL material. The adjustable depth-of-drive mechanism is controlled by a dial that's built in to the trigger. The nosepiece did a good job toe-nailing, and the gun is equipped with an adjustable air exhaust and a nail lockout that prevents dry-firing.

Senco FramePro 602

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Size: 13 1/4"Hx20 1/8"L

Weight: 8.1 lb. Nail length: 2-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.148"

Depth of drive: requires tools

Capacity: 60 nails

Magazine: rear-loading

Street price: $249

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The FramePro 602 is a solid gun with plenty of power. It will shoot up to a .148-inch nail and is equipped with a very aggressive nosepiece that works well for toe-nailing. It has dry-fire lockout, an adjustable exhaust, and a rear-loading magazine. The magazine worked well, though we prefer top loaders. One feature missing on this tool is toolless depth of drive. The depth of drive can be adjusted, but you need a wrench to do it.

Senco FramePro 702XP

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Size: 13 1/4"Hx20"L

Weight: 8.4 lb.

Nail length: 2-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.148"

Depth of drive: thumbwheel

Capacity: 60 nails

Magazine: rear-loading

Street price: $289

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The 702XP is slightly heavier than average but well balanced and comfortable to use. It has an aggressive nosepiece that's good for toe-nailing — so aggressive that one of my guys cut his thumb on it. Depth of drive is controlled by a knurled knob with indexed stops. The 702XP has a rear-loading magazine and will shoot up to a .148-inch fastener. It's one of two guns that were equipped with a rafter hook.

Spotnails Striker YPR90

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Size: 13"Hx20"L

Weight: 8.5 lb.

Nail length: 2-3 1/2"

Nail diameter: .113-.148"

Depth of drive: optional flush drive attachment

Capacity: 70 nails

Magazine: top-loading

Street price: $249

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The YPR90 is an unusual-looking gun that's a little light on features. It doesn't have a built-in depth-of-drive mechanism, but you can add an optional flush nailing attachment. It shipped with a sequential trigger, which we quickly swapped out for the included bump-fire trigger. The gun is equipped with a 360-degree swiveling exhaust cap and a top-loading magazine. There was nothing special about this gun, but it worked well and we used it a lot.