The older I get, the more I realize just how much tunnel vision I have. For many years, we fastened wood to concrete using a Hilti powder-actuated gun, but I got sick of cleaning it and worrying about the potential fines for consumables being left out. Plus, the need for safety training for our crew and the potential for injury turned me away from that gun. Instead, we resorted to drilling and using split-drive anchors when we needed to fasten treated wood to concrete—a slow method to be sure, but safe and strong.

This is where Instagram opened my eyes. A couple of framers I follow (@morton.ben and @shevcon_custom_homes) had recently invested in the Max High Pressure system and kept telling me to look into the Max concrete pinner. Having already invested in the Max system compressor and framing nailers in 2008, it made a lot of sense for us to buy the gun if it worked as well as advertised.

I’ve written about 500-psi high-pressure systems from Max and Makita in the past but had used the system only for framing and siding. I had even tried out an earlier version of Max’s concrete pinner in 2012, but we never adopted it for use by our crew. See what I mean about tunnel vision?

Designed for use with the Max 500-psi compressor, the Max HN120 PowerLite nailer shoots fasteners up to 2 1/2 inches long into both concrete and steel. The gun comes with different tips for different materials and has a coil magazine that holds up to 50 fasteners.

The Max HN120 will shoot nails into both concrete and steel, no powder charges needed. All that’s needed is the Max 500-psi compressor. The gun comes with the different tips needed to fasten metal track to both concrete and steel and to fasten wood to concrete and steel I-beams with fasteners up to 2 1/2 inches long. It’s a coil nailer—the magazine holds up to 50 nails—and it features the standard Max swivel fitting and air filter.

I’ll be honest—I was a little nervous at first about using the gun, even though it doesn’t require a license or powder loads to operate it. Max claims that the 6.4-pound gun shoots with 2,231 inch-pounds of driving force, so I was expecting a lot of recoil. After getting a little more familiar with its operation, I felt more comfortable using it and found that it was easier on my wrist than a powder-actuated gun. When shooting into concrete less than a year old (our typical job), I found no difference in fastener performance between this gun and our old Hilti.

This gun isn’t cheap at $991, but then again, the Max 500-psi system isn’t cheap either. A Hilti DX 460-MX gas-actuated fastening tool, which works with either single fasteners or collated strips of 10 fasteners, costs about $1,380. Since we’re already invested in the Max system, the HN120 gun is a no brainer for us. The fasteners we use with this gun cost about $0.10 each, while the Hilti runs $0.14 per fastener and $0.41 per powder cartridge.