Recently, Hitachi updated its classic framing nailers and sent me its new coil framing nailer and its stick nailer. I’ve been using them for the past few months and am ready to give a review.

UPDATES. The nail gun I learned to frame with was the original NR83 and that gun is still going strong 20 years later. What Hitachi has done with both of these guns is to keep the classic design, but update it so that it requires less maintenance - meaning that they will feel like the Hitachi guns of yesterday.

For example, the trigger has been redesigned so that the adjustment between sequential (one shot at a time) and bump fire is on the trigger itself. According to Hitachi, this “lowers the number of parts and eliminates all composite parts.” This makes repairs easier, as well as reducing the likelihood they'll be needed.

The nosepiece is made of hardened steel and is more aggressive than our old guns, which results in better toenailing in engineered wood like LSL. The nosepiece has an open design, too, making jams easier to clear. The coil nailer by design is easier to clear jams because you have complete access; there is no magazine that blocks access to jams.

One feature I always liked on the Hitachi NR and NV83 series is the “cylinder valve driving system.” There are only three major moving parts in the firing cycle: the exhaust valve, the cylinder, and the driver blade. The way this works is that the cylinder itself drops, allowing air into the chamber to push the driver blade.

This is a very smooth operation and for those of us used to using the 83 series, it feels like a more cushioned action. Other nail guns rely on a valve opening and closing. In my 15 years of using nail guns and comparing them side by side, I’ve always found the Hitachi 83 series the most comfortable from that standpoint; there is less shock to my wrist. But this isn’t a big deal with other guns. To me, it is like the sound of a BMW door closing compared with that of a Subaru: It sounds nicer, but who cares?

Hitachi claims too that this design means that the cylinder is self cleaning and won’t get build-up. I never had a problem with the old gun, and it was always very clean in the cylinder. Is it cleaner than other guns? I have no idea. The different guns I’ve opened up have always been clean. We oil every day and drain the air out of the compressor, so I think that good habits lead to clean guns.

Both guns have an easy-to-use dial-type depth adjustment, with rubber grips that actually feel like they won’t come off right away like the ones on older guns did.

In Use First off, I will say that I prefer a coil nailer. Using both of these guns, I found that the coil framer is better balanced, because the nails are centered on the handle. The framing nailer feels off balance because the magazine length is so large. The coil of nails balances this out.

I’ve read that a lot of guys complain that a coil nailer is too heavy; it’s true that it is heavy, but the load capacity is more than twice that of a stick nailer. We’ve found the weight of a coil nailer not to be too big of a problem. To me, it beats carrying extra sticks of nails in my bags, so the capacity of a coil nailer offsets the weight issue for me.

When comparing these guns with some older A2 models, it seems as though they sound different and I thought at first they were a little slower. After running them head-to-head, I don’t think that is the case at all - it was just a perception at the time.

I have to say that the trigger itself on both guns bothered me. It is wider and has a ridge where it connects to the gun that bothered me. I used these guns to nail off subfloor, which helped me get a good feel for them. When I’m nailing off subfloor, I switch hands often. Both index fingers were bruised, but another guy on my crew had no problem and I checked with a framer from Canada, Joe Canning (@canadiancarpenter on Instagram), who was using the NR83A5, and he didn't have any problem either. So the issue I have with these triggers is a personal preference.

Each gun shipped with a belt hook that I found to be horrible. For starters, while the hook is adjustable, you need an Allen wrench to set the direction. This was an issue for us since I hang guns from the left, and the other guys I work with hang from the right, so we had to pick a side and stay with it. Secondly, the metal is weak: the weight of the coil framer bent the hook the first hour just simply hanging on a joist between uses, and I can easily flex the hook. I would throw it away and replace it with a Dead On Tools DOGH 2 Dead-On 2 Gun Hook hook off Amazon. It is perfect for Hitachi 83 series guns. If that isn’t available, buy a Pneuhook.

Should You Buy Either Nailer? If you love the previous models of this gun, by all means buy the new version. My experience with this series is that they don’t break or die. We’ve dropped them top-first onto concrete from a height, and they dent but don’t break. I think the only way to kill these guns is to drive over the magazine, in which case you just buy a new magazine. Both these guns are built like tanks.

On the power side, nothing about these guns made me wish for more power. They did fine shooting into LVL and Doug fir.

Online, I found the NV83A5 for $400, and the NR83A5 for $330.

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