My crew and I used to hand-nail framing hardware, but as codes changed and we had to install more and more of the stuff, it became impractical to nail by hand. Now we use single-blow hardware guns. For this article we tested two Senco hardware nailers that came out early this year. Both have rubberized grips, adjustable exhaust caps, dry-fire lockout, and metal rafter hooks that pivot to either side of the gun.

JoistPro 150

The JoistPro 150 shoots 1 1/2-inch metal-connector nails. The tip of the nail sticks out from the end of the gun so you can locate the hole in the hardware. This tool is designed to be light and compact, so it holds only one strip of nails at a time. We used it on a couple of projects, and it had more than enough power to set nails in sawn and engineered framing lumber. And at just under 11 inches tall, it was easy to maneuver in tight quarters.


JoistPro 250

The JoistPro 250 shoots 1 1/2- and 2 1/2-inch metal-connector nails, and relies on a metal probe to locate the nail in the hole.

The tool has sufficient power to drive large metal-connector nails in sawn and engineered lumber. I like the magazine because it has a single slot for both lengths of nails. With two-slot magazines, the gun will jam if you put short nails in the long slot.

The JoistPro 250 is one of the lighter guns around, so it’s easy to use overhead (for hurricane clips and the like). It’s also quite compact — short both top-to-bottom and front-to-back.

The Bottom Line

These two guns performed very well, and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy either of them. Both have plenty of power, and we experienced no jams or misfiring. If there’s a downside, it’s that their magazines hold only one strip of nails. As a result, they require frequent reloading — but if you work in tight quarters, that’s a reasonable trade-off for a shorter, more compact gun.

The JoistPros are very low-priced compared with similar tools, so if you’re still installing hardware by hand, this may be your opportunity to move up to a gun.

Tim Uhler is a lead framer for Pioneer Builders in Port Orchard, Wash. This article first appeared in Tools of the Trade magazine.