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Pneumatic Framing Nailers-Coil vs. Stick

JFink's picture

Hi everybody,

I'm more of a finish guy, but I've got enough framing to do in my upcoming remodel projects that it's time to get myself a pnemuatic framing nailer. I'm sure this topic has been discussed before, but as the rolling membership in this forum continues, there are always bound to be new opinions.

So which do you choose, coil or stick... and why?

Justin Fink - FHB Editorial

Your Friendly Neighborhood Moderator

Justin Fink - FHB Editorial

(post #124674, reply #1 of 18)

Next framing job I'm going to get a Hitachi coiler for the shear nails. In earthquake land we drive a LOT of them thru plywood sheathing when building walls, and doing it with a stick nailer means continuously being out of nails. Also handy nailing off the subfloor and roof deck.

Truthfully, one guy can make good use of 2 guns while framing alone... one for 16s and one for 8s... and for that purpose I made a splitter that lets me set two different pressures as well.

(post #124674, reply #2 of 18)

I'd start by eliminating clipped head guns. Although, testing shows that the clipped heads have as much strength as round heads, if they are not overdriven, the clipped heads are not very attractive for nails that show. Most strip nails are held together by plastic or paper. The plastic makes a mess. Shards of it get pulled under the nail heads, bits fly in the air and there is debris where you are working. Nice on the knees. Paper isn't too bad but some can get trapped under the nail head. Coils nails are held together with wire, for the most part. These don't leave any debris. Coil guns usually carry more nails and you don't have a long magazine sticking out, possibly, with sharp nail points sticking out. They take a little longer to load and the nail boxes are large.

I use my framing gun for other purposes. On utility items like fencing or novelty siding on a shed, exterior trim, having a full round head without debris is important to me. I would prefer to have either paper or wire collated nails. This would be my starting point. I'd look for a gun that shot the variety of nails I might need and how readily they were available locally. Depth of drive adjustments and consistency are also important. The inexpensive guns are often weak in this area. Some of the entry level guns have a hard time driving through KD spruce. Bargain guns aren't much of a bargain if you are going to use them daily.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

(post #124674, reply #8 of 18)

Thanks for the thorough response Hammer, I appreciate it. I should have mentioned that I would like to be able to use this gun for some exterior trim (occasionally) as well - so being able to do that without the chance of flagging would be great.

I'm going to go with the coil - I've had great luck with Bostitch nailers, so I went with one of their coil models.

Justin Fink - FHB Editorial

Your Friendly Neighborhood Moderator

Justin Fink - FHB Editorial

(post #124674, reply #9 of 18)

I've got bostitch coil framing and siding nailers. I've been very happy with them. Just make sure tkeep them oiled. 


Douglasville, GA

Tom Wilson, Zionsville IN

(post #124674, reply #10 of 18)

pray tell - what are the differences between the coil siding and framing nailers?

Justin Fink - FHB Editorial

Your Friendly Neighborhood Moderator

Justin Fink - FHB Editorial

(post #124674, reply #11 of 18)

I beleive it is the size of the head on the nail. I know can't shoot 8d nails for the framing gun in the siding nailer. The siding gun is also a bit smaller and lighter weight. Has very nice depth adjustment as well. Used it to put on over 40 sq of red cedar shingles so far this year. I think the newer framing guns have the same depth adjustment as well but maybe not. I picked up a used one in good shape for a hundred bucks. Works great.

siding gun is N66C1

framing gun is N80CB1


Douglasville, GA

Tom Wilson, Zionsville IN

(post #124674, reply #13 of 18)

Hi Justin,

If I could only have one framing gun (oh the horror!), I'd choose a Hitachi stick nailer over the coil nailer.  Expecially if I were doing remodeling jobs like you're doing where you will probably be swapping different lengths of nails more frequently.  IMO, the coil nailers are designed for a production atmosphere like loads of subfloor or whole roofs of sheathing.  The stick nailers are much faster to load than the coil nailers and much easier to swap sizes with as well.  FWIW, we use both types of nailers.  We use coil nailers for decking and sheathing with 2 3/8" ring nails.  And we use stick nailers for all spike framing with 3 1/4" stick nails.

But I wouldn't use either gun for exterior trim.  We use coil siding nailers for that stuff.  You're most definitely going to want a nailer with a depth of drive adjustment that is fairly accurate and consistent and I don't believe the Bostich you chose has one.  At full bore without an adjustment, a framing nailer is going to make a mess of your trim unless you really wind down the compressor.... which is still a finicky approach at best.  Just my opinion, of course.

A coil siding nailer is also lighter, smaller, and less powerful than a coil framing nailer.  But is also far better suited to siding and exterior trim.  With a coil siding nailer, you also have the added benefit of being able to use plastic collated coils which are great because they don't leave those little pieces of wire trapped beneath the head of the nail.

Perhaps you might be a good candidate for a Hitachi NV-75AG coil nailer?  It will shoot up to a 3" framing nail, but is still much lighter and smaller than a full-size coil framer.  You will also still have the benefit of using plastic collated coils if you choose that gun.  It doesn't do as a good a job at framing as a full size framer.  And it doesn't do as good a job at siding and exterior trim as a siding gun.  But it does a much better job of multi-tasking than either of the other two 'dedicated' nail guns will do.  We've got one of those as well.  :)

(post #124674, reply #3 of 18)

Hey, you are talking tool purchase here -- get both! ;-)

Actually, on the one hand, I like coil nailers because they go longer between loads. The plastic collated nails are a bit of a pain due to the plastic tails that are always growing. I prefer wire collated. OTOH, I like stick nailers because they are easier to swap out nail sizes if you are going back and forth, and sometimes actually get into smaller (i.e., narrower) spaces than the coil nailer can.

I also prefer air to gas actuated. The nails are expensive enough -- I'd be really annoyed about having to shell out extra $$ for gas.

Mike Hennessy
Pittsburgh, PA

Mike Hennessy
Pittsburgh, PA
Everything fits, until you put glue on it.

(post #124674, reply #4 of 18)

Justin, I think just about every time 'framing nailer' is mentioned, the Hitachi coil framer is the leading contender.  NV83a2.  The Hitachi BT contingent twisted my arm into buying one at the beginning of the year.  I'm only on my second case of nails, so I'm not a heavy-duty user, but so far it has been a sweet gun.  It took me a bit to get used to the hair trigger on it, but once I complaints.

IIRC, "they" said if I was switching nails a lot I might want to go with the stick instead.

Hitachi NV83A2 2" to 3-1/4" Coil Framer with Depth of Drive


"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success."  --Albert Schweitzer


Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
-- Carl Sandburg

(post #124674, reply #5 of 18)

I went with coil because it holds more nails before reloading than a stick and it fits into tighter spots better.

But the coil framer costs more and the nails cost more, and it is heavier when fully loaded.  I was framing walls that were laying down on the deck at the time, and my shoulder was giving out from hammering.  I might have gone with a stick if I was constantly reaching up overhead.

Dusty & Lefty

(post #124674, reply #6 of 18)

I second what David said, 2 nailers are the way to go. My compressor has 2 outlets also therefore eliminating the need for the splitter. Having said that I started with a coil, but like the feel and balance of a stick gun better.

(post #124674, reply #7 of 18)

Two outlets on your compressor so you can have both guns up and running at the same time? It's not because of differences in psi, right?

Justin Fink - FHB Editorial

Your Friendly Neighborhood Moderator

Justin Fink - FHB Editorial

(post #124674, reply #12 of 18)

Correct. There is only one pressure adjustment. I suppose I could put another one on if I needed to. The coil siding guns are smaller than a coil framing gun and are primarily designed for that purpose only.

(post #124674, reply #15 of 18)

My main compressor has two outlets but only one regulator. When framing I almost always find that I want 8s and 16s, and that I want about 110lbs on the 16s and about 80 on the 8s when I'm nailing plywood.... so I built a splitter with two regulators. The other plus is that I can leave the tank downstairs or outside where I'm not listening to it, and have the pressure adjustments close by.

(post #124674, reply #16 of 18)

pic attached

airsplitter.jpg72.23 KB

(post #124674, reply #17 of 18)

I'd like to see a picture of your set up if you get a chance sometime.

edit: you beat me too it, thanks. Nice setup BTW.

Edited 9/25/2006 8:08 pm ET by TGNY

(post #124674, reply #14 of 18)


Go with the framing coil nailer.  That is all we use now and we frame full time (and use the same guns for siding).  We use the Hitachi NV83A2 and it is bulletproof.  We tested for, ahem, JLC the coil guns last summer and the Hitachi really is the nicest, unless. . . . .

you want to try the Max High Pressure system, then I would say get that one.  When we tested it a couple of years ago, it was amazing how cool that gun is.  It's a coil nailer, but weighs 5.something lbs.  It was so cool.  We ran it at 275psi

Here are a couple of pics of both guns.


Hitachi's with hooks


I didn't read Brian's post.  His is a good suggestion.  We have the NV75AG, but we used it for framing too much and it blew out the rings.  Now our trim guy has it for light duty framing and siding.  We've been using the NV83A2 for siding (Hardi) and using the .113 double dipped nails.  The siding nails jam up.

Edit 2:  I'm and idiot with links.

Edited 9/25/2006 6:53 pm ET by Timuhler

Edited 9/25/2006 6:54 pm ET by Timuhler From Lot 30 Muirkirk                                     

Coil or Stick? (post #124674, reply #18 of 18)

I think you find all your answer here where i try to cover up all the issues with both types of nailers.

Just have a look and please let me know if there's more info you want.



Jerry Johnson is a tech & tool geek who loves to talk, discuss and review different tools used for our day to day life. All the tools reviews and guides described in his site are completely from his personal experience and own observations.