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21 Degree vs. 34 Degree Nail Guns

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  • #669666
    CB
    Spectator

    Almost a year too late, but @sevendeltafortyone, the Hitachi gun you linked to on Amazon (NR90AE) is NOT the Hitachi gun that Dirty likes so much, which is an NR83A, aka, the “California Framer” of pneumatic guns.

    I was browsing through the Pneumatic nailer section of the BTP forum looking for posts on palm nailers, and stumbled on this thread, and noticed the misunderstanding.

    It is an interesting misunderstanding… because the NR90AE can shoot a longer nail, at 3 1/2″, instead of the NR83A limit of 3 1/4″. The NR90AE can also shoot a thicker nail, at .148, instead of the NR83A limit of .131. And the thickness of the nail is sometimes an issue in California, especially since the code changes in Los Angeles area counties following the big Northridge quake. Even though I have YET to meet an inspector who questioned the thickness of a nail. They only look for round heads.

    A 3 1/4″ .131 is definitely not equivalent to a 16d framing nail, even though some nail producing companies call it a “16d Short”. But it is not only 1/4″ short, it is also merely the thickness of an 8d common nail, with 1/4″ more than the length of a 10d nail. Stepping up to .148 would be equivalent to a 12d common. A true 16d common nail would be 3 1/2″ by .162 thick, and not even the NR90AE can shoot that. For that, one has to turn to the NR90AC, but that gun is discontinued.

    I guess nobody liked it. Everyone, and I mean everyone I work with, uses the NR83A, or A2, or A3, and now they’ve got the A5. Mine is super old, like Dirty’s… just the NR83A, bought when the A may have meant “Anniversary Edition” (not sure about that, but mine was).

    Of even more interest, Amazon has the NR83A3 for $395, while the NR90AES1 is only $185. The latter is listed as “America’s most popular nail gun”. Yet I have yet to meet anyone in the trades that had one. All the carpenters run various iterations of the NR83… even the immigrant carpenters who pile into the cabs of their trucks to sleep at night. They somehow find a way to obtain the more expensive gun, that does not shoot a framing nail as long or as thick as the gun that costs half the price and is made by the same reputable manufacturer. There has to be damn good reason for this.

    That’s why I point out the distinction between the Hitachi guns that Dirty actually uses, versus the Hitachi gun that Delta thought Dirty was referring to, that Delta posted the Amazon link to.

    Back to nails… to meet some codes, it generally takes three .131 nails to match the holding power of two .162 nails on stud to plate connections. That’s not only 33% more nails, it is also more labor time in terms of nozzle placement to fire that third and sixth nail at every stud. HOWEVER, blasting out .162 ammo blows apart second and third growth timber that has about 1/4″ of gap between the grain lines, it is genetically modified to grow so fast.

    Anyways… even though I have the NR83’s like Dirty… I’ve always wondered why these more expensive guns are more popular (not on Amazon, but in the trades) than the less expensive counterparts that can shoot longer thicker nails in the same 21 degree full round head plastic collated strips.

    If anyone knows the answer, do tell, as it might help future decision makers like Delta pull the trigger that will best serve their needs.

    #669678
    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Anyways… even though I have the NR83’s like Dirty… I’ve always wondered why these more expensive guns are more popular (not on Amazon, but in the trades) than the less expensive counterparts that can shoot longer thicker nails in the same 21 degree full round head plastic collated strips.

    I think because it is lacking the safety spring cover and the spring can be easily removed. When removed you have a gun with a hair trigger that can shoot nails and leave the head a bit high to Tack or leave the nail out 1½” to hang the gun on.

    #669774
    CB
    Spectator

    Thanks Dirty for identifying the spring trick.

    I put a smooth extension on the claw nose and use a regulator at the end of a coil whip to dial down air pressure for depth control, since my gun was also made before on board depth adjustment and on board sequential trigger control.

    My gun is bump fire (contact trip), but I’ve gotten pretty good with using it for precise placement by putting my trigger finger on the very end of the trigger and sweeping my finger aft as I pull so that it loses contact with the trigger as the gun fires. This prevents the double taps without adding on the conversion kit from Hitachi, which I’m not even sure they make anymore.

    Since I’m rained out of work today I’ve been brooding online, and wandered over to YouTube to look at some Hitachi company videos on their latest line up of nailguns, particularly framers.

    One thing that stood out clear… the internal cylinder and piston mechanism to the NR83A style gun was identified as mechanically superior. They showed a cutaway anime of how it worked inside, and how it was different than other piston/cylinder actuator schemes, even in some of the company’s own guns with different model names.

    Accordingly, they have appeared to have recently mounted several of their other nail racks, including paper collated racks at other degree bindings, to the latest version of their NR83A5 actuating head. They make a point about emphasizing “We’ve gone BACK to the original NR83A all metal, no plastic design” and even said the internal parts are interchangeable.

    Since details can be lost or misinterpreted in translation, I would suggest anyone interested in a new framing nailer from Hitachi first have a look at their YouTube channel to “listen between the lines” of what the otherwise infomercial video format explains. Their choice of words was carefully chosen to walk through the minefield of not dissing some of their own alternative products, while yet highlighting the stalwartness of their halo product… that NR83A piston and cylinder design, where the cylinder tube moves up as the piston moves down.

    I didn’t quite grasp the mechanical difference between it and other actuator designs, but apparently it is special. Special enough for me to not ever had a desire to use any other framing nailer other than the NR83a that I have… and special enough for Hitachi to convert some of their other angle degree and even coil nailers to the NR83A style actuator.

    #670267
    CB
    Spectator

    Too late to edit my earlier post above, but Hitachi just released (January 2018) a brand new NR90AC5 that can shoot full thickness, full length 16D common nails at 3 1/2 x .162″… yep the big boys that LA CA codes call for. The gun isn’t available for purchase yet, but is coming soon. Earlier I said the NR90AC3 was discontinued, which is true. But I didn’t realize that Hitachi had already announced a superseding model… the AC5.

    #670334
    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Thanks,, I’m going to look for the Hitachi you-tube channel now.

    #671192
    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Too late to edit my earlier post above, but Hitachi just released (January 2018) a brand new NR90AC5 that can shoot full thickness, full length 16D common nails at 3 1/2 x .162″… yep the big boys that LA CA codes call for. The gun isn’t available for purchase yet, but is coming soon. Earlier I said the NR90AC3 was discontinued, which is true. But I didn’t realize that Hitachi had already announced a superseding model… the AC5.

    It looks like the tool part of Hitachi was sold to a investment group not long ago and this seem to be a good thing. The bringing back of the old style framing gun seems to be a part of the good changes happening over at Hitachi.
    https://homefixated.com/hitachi-multivolt-news/

    #672021
    CB
    Spectator

    Thanks for the article Dirty. It looks like since you posted, Hitachi as we know it will be no more. A couple of days ago the new owners of Hitachi, who also own Toys R Us and Metabo, announced that they were dissolving the Hitachi name (since Hitachi sold them their tool business) and calling it Metabo HPT instead. Like everyone will know, or even care, that “HPT” is in the know code for Hitachi Power Tools.

    I think I’ll order an NR83A rebuild kit now.

    #672077
    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    It looks to me the new American investment group is taking Hitachi in a good direction. They are really upping the tools game.

    #673823
    CB
    Spectator

    It looks to me the new American investment group is taking Hitachi in a good direction. They are really upping the tools game.

    I’m not nearly as hopeful. The product that I am most excited about (the true 16d nailer) was already in the development pipeline before Hitachi sold off the tool division to KKR, the private equity group that now owns the division and is dissolving the Hitachi name from it (likely at the insistence of Hitachi).

    Anyone reading the news lately is no doubt aware that Toys-R-Us failed to survive its recent filing for bankruptcy, and is closing all of its stores throughout the United States. Too much debt swallowed the company. Why the debt? Paying interest on a leveraged buyout. Who did the leveraged buy out? KKR, the same company whose largest leveraged buy out in their history suffocated and eventually shuttered RJR Nabisco as well.

    Here’s just a snipet of what Mark Dunbar, a writer for In These Times, has to say about KKR and their leveraged buyouts in this most recent fall of Toys-R-Us:

    “Vornado Realty Trust, KKR and Bain Capital financed 80 percent of the purchase of Toys “R” Us, so while the company sold for $6.6 billion, the trio only contributed $1.3 billion. As part of the purchase agreement, the companies also agreed to take responsibility for all of Toys “R” Us’s long-term debt obligations, which at the time totaled $2.3 billion. Once Toys R Us was taken over, however, the debt Vornado Realty, KKR and Bain used to acquire it was pushed back onto the company, skyrocketing its debt obligations to $7.6 billion.

    Toys “R” Us has been paying $400 million a year to service these debts. This money could have been used to lower prices or improve the company’s website—not to mention raising pay to its employees—but instead went to paying off creditors. Last year, the company reported a loss of $29 million. If it weren’t for these debt payments, Toys “R” Us would have run a substantial profit.

    Vornado Realty, KKR and Bain tried to cash in by taking Toys “R” Us public from 2010 to 2013 but ultimately failed. Since then, Vornado has incrementally “written down” their investment in the toy company to zero, meaning they see their shares as essentially valueless.

    The pattern followed by Toys “R” Us is typical in private equity takeovers. Management is bought off: John Eyler, CEO of Toys “R” Us, was compensated $65.3 million upon the buyout’s completion. Employees have no say in the matter. Then come the layoffs, debt transfers and shortsighted asset sales. Funds are earmarked to pay down debts—Toys “R” Us was spending more annually on debt payments than it was on its website and stores—even as cash reserves are depleted. Before the buyout, Toys R Us had $2.2 billion in reserves.”

    Pretty scary. Like I said, now is the time to be buying parts and service kits for our old NR83A nailers, and any other Hitachi nailers we fancy. In 10 years, it is just as likely nothing will be left of the former legacy that Hitachi established. This is said based on past history with other LBOs that KKR has sunk its fangs into to for profit, not for the enduring value of the product or brand.

    #673865
    smallerstick
    Pro
    North Bay, ON

    It looks to me the new American investment group is taking Hitachi in a good direction. They are really upping the tools game.

    I’m not nearly as hopeful. The product that I am most excited about (the true 16d nailer) was already in the development pipeline before Hitachi sold off the tool division to KKR, the private equity group that now owns the division and is dissolving the Hitachi name from it (likely at the insistence of Hitachi).

    Anyone reading the news lately is no doubt aware that Toys-R-Us failed to survive its recent filing for bankruptcy, and is closing all of its stores throughout the United States. Too much debt swallowed the company. Why the debt? Paying interest on a leveraged buyout. Who did the leveraged buy out? KKR, the same company whose largest leveraged buy out in their history suffocated and eventually shuttered RJR Nabisco as well.

    Here’s just a snipet of what Mark Dunbar, a writer for In These Times, has to say about KKR and their leveraged buyouts in this most recent fall of Toys-R-Us:

    “Vornado Realty Trust, KKR and Bain Capital financed 80 percent of the purchase of Toys “R” Us, so while the company sold for $6.6 billion, the trio only contributed $1.3 billion. As part of the purchase agreement, the companies also agreed to take responsibility for all of Toys “R” Us’s long-term debt obligations, which at the time totaled $2.3 billion. Once Toys R Us was taken over, however, the debt Vornado Realty, KKR and Bain used to acquire it was pushed back onto the company, skyrocketing its debt obligations to $7.6 billion.

    Toys “R” Us has been paying $400 million a year to service these debts. This money could have been used to lower prices or improve the company’s website—not to mention raising pay to its employees—but instead went to paying off creditors. Last year, the company reported a loss of $29 million. If it weren’t for these debt payments, Toys “R” Us would have run a substantial profit.

    Vornado Realty, KKR and Bain tried to cash in by taking Toys “R” Us public from 2010 to 2013 but ultimately failed. Since then, Vornado has incrementally “written down” their investment in the toy company to zero, meaning they see their shares as essentially valueless.

    The pattern followed by Toys “R” Us is typical in private equity takeovers. Management is bought off: John Eyler, CEO of Toys “R” Us, was compensated $65.3 million upon the buyout’s completion. Employees have no say in the matter. Then come the layoffs, debt transfers and shortsighted asset sales. Funds are earmarked to pay down debts—Toys “R” Us was spending more annually on debt payments than it was on its website and stores—even as cash reserves are depleted. Before the buyout, Toys R Us had $2.2 billion in reserves.”

    Pretty scary. Like I said, now is the time to be buying parts and service kits for our old NR83A nailers, and any other Hitachi nailers we fancy. In 10 years, it is just as likely nothing will be left of the former legacy that Hitachi established. This is said based on past history with other LBOs that KKR has sunk its fangs into to for profit, not for the enduring value of the product or brand.

    That is exactly what has happened. The only winners in a deal like that are the managers. Very good description of the process. Hitachi will likely suffer the same fate.

    BE the change you want to see.
    Even if you can’t Be The Pro… Be The Poster you’d want to read.

    #706007
    CB
    Spectator

    Just a follow up… I did end up buying the new Hitachi NR90AC5.

    I paid full retail, as I never did find the gun discounted anywhere.

    The gun was announced January of this year (2018) but did not begin shipping until around April. I held off most of the summer, waiting for any supplier to offer them on sale, and finally caved in August and bought one for a job where the inspector was looking for 90mm nails (3 1/2″ x .162″ true 16D common), not just 83mm (3 1/4″ x .131″ 12D diameter sinkers that are misnomered as “16 shorts”).

    This thing HITS.

    It’s a good thing I don’t put much stock in online reviews. People confuse the NR90AC with the NR90AE, mistakenly believing that the “E” is a newer, later iteration of the “C”. And since the “E” is literally half the price of the “C”, guess which nailer gets 500 times more reviews? Skimming through those reviews looks like lemmings following lemmings.

    The “C” is an entirely different gun. I’m running knarly looking hot dipped galvanized full length 3.5 x .162 Tree Island Halsteels through this thing, and it sinks them to the head as if they were brads. One needs a GOOD air compressor however, to extract the full power of the air cylinder on the NR90AC5. I have half a dozen portable air compressors spread across several concurrent jobs, and only my newest and best compressor has the woojam to fully take advantage of the this gun’s grunt. I had never noticed the difference so acutely with my other nailers, including the NR83A I’ve had for the last 25 years.

    Speaking of that NR83A… the depth adjustment feature of the NR90AC5 was so handy, I decided to also buy a new NR83A5. It helped that a hardware store chain in my area was closing, and I was able to pick up the NR83A5 new in a sealed box for just $200, still all genuine Hitachi, before the label changed to MetaboHPT.

    So those two nail guns should tide me over until the nails are readied for my coffin. Bigger, faster, younger, stronger, high production carpenters will likely prefer and be more adept at handling the heavier ammo load of coil guns, but at my pace and age, I prefer the lighter strips.

    What is nice now is that I no longer have to hand hammer true 16D commons when required. And I no longer have to risk splitting the genetically engineered fast growth Douglas Fir mirch now being passed of as “premium” grade “structure 1″ studs by shooting 3 sinkers instead of two commons.

    BAM. BAM. Did I mention that this AC5 hits? It hits hard.

    The only thing I dislike about the AC5 it is the aluminum magazine. Having grown accustomed to the simplicity and speed of loading the NR83 steel magazines, the NR90AC aluminum magazine is a clumsy cluster. It’s too bad that there isn’t an NR83 steel style magazine that can hold 90mm .162 nails that could fit the NR90AC. But I suppose if such a magazine existed, I would have rather fitted that magazine to my NR83 and cranked up the compressor.

    There is still something about the NR83A (and now, the NR83A5) that I prefer using for any and every other nail size except the 3.5” fat ones. That is when it is nice to now have the NR90AC5. California Earthquake Code ready.

    #706025
    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Thanks for the gun review. Man I’m glad I don’t have to go through what you guys do over there. We do use a lot of metal and lots of geo surveys for footings but from what I hear on the forums from guys like you and Mike (CaliDecks) you have a lot more to go through.

    #706063
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    ust a follow up… I did end up buying the new Hitachi NR90AC5.

    Thank you for the nice review and congrats on your tool, enjoy.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #706068

    @CB very good insight and info about companies going bankrupt.

    Great read about the nail gun ,
    What did you mean exactly about the aluminum being clumsy
    Does it jam or not slide right. Or just feels cheaper than the typical steel rail

    #706119
    CB
    Spectator

    It isn’t that it jams. It isn’t that it doesn’t slide right. It isn’t that it feels cheaper than the steel rail (if anything, it “feels” “richer”).

    It’s that it is a #%$# *&$% pain in the %$#^& ^*&$ to use, that’s all.

    First, the gun has a “feature” (aka “fault”) that figures out when you have 5 nails remaining in the strip, and stops firing. So, am I going to waste four nails per strip? That’s a 10% loss in materials. I buy USA made nails that run $200 per case. I’m not tossing $20 just to avoid a dry fire.

    Anyone who has spent more than a day working with a nail gun can hear the difference between a dry fire versus a sunk nail. It may take two beats to register, but it is a simple matter to reload and go back and fill the two hammer dents in the material with a nail. So I don’t really see the need for the feature in the first place.

    Second, the feature is circumvented if you rack the slide after it happens. Ok, that’s an unnecessary interruption, but I’d rather do that than have accumulated a bunch of little 4 nail strips that I’m afraid to reload as a littered ensemble back into the rail for fear of a nozzle bending jam at each transition between mini strips.

    Third, when you rack the slide, and happen to be holding the gun at a certain angle because you are balancing your body on an extension ladder holding on for dear life because you’ve run out of hose length again and the hose is caught on a pile of scrap cut offs on the ground but you only have 2 feet more to go and two more nails to fire and it will reach and the ammo is there but for the “feature” that prevents you from using the last four nails… whew, anyway… when you rack the slide, there is always one left in the chamber that has already broken free of the plastic collating strip, and that loose nail droops out of the barrel at an angle, while the four remaining nails drift back along the rack, so now you are trying to sort all this out just to hit two more nails?

    That’s when I hook the nailer back on my belt, reach in my pouch and hand bang the remaining two so I can get down off the ladder and get it sorted safely. I never had these issues with Hitachi’s traditional steel rail. I’m sure it is just operator error, me getting used to the new to me aluminum rail which loads from the rear, instead of drops from the top. But until I get used to it, I don’t like it.

    Not that big of a deal. I only use the NR90AC to shoot one size/type of nail. The paragraphs above describe my adventures nailing heavy redwood trim (2×12 rough, where the “2” is actually 1 7/8″, not 1 1/2″) and the extra 1/4″ of nail length just gives me the warm fuzzy, even though the trim fastener size and schedule isn’t regulated.

    #706212
    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Moderator
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    @CB Does the magazine not fit two or 3 additional clips with the 4 nails still in it like the Paslode and Hitachi guns I have. they have the 4 nail stop, bit will take additional full clips od nails, 2 or 3 depending on manufacturer with the 4 nails still in the gun. I have never had to take those nails out of any gun I have had.

    #706221
    CB
    Spectator

    Great question, and a fair question Kurt.

    And the answer serves to illustrate what I can’t stand about the aluminum back loading magazine.

    Yes, it can hold 2 strips sequentially. Actually, it can hold about 2 and a half strips, so yes, it can hold those four nails, plus two fresh strips of the type I buy.

    BUT, and this is a big butt, as in pain in the butt… in order to load more strips into the aluminum back loading magazine, the manner in which the follow block is released to load in additional strips stacked against the four nails remaining ends up dislodging the four nails remaining.

    It is completely unlike the steel magazine of NR83A, where you just pull the lever back, top drop in another strip or two, and keep firing happily away.

    The issue has nothing to do with aluminum or steel. I think Makita will demonstrate this with their upcoming A924 framing nailer, that has a new aluminum magazine that is a top drop style, as opposed to their outgoing A923 nailer that has the same back loading crap that the NR90AC has.

    I almost bought the Makita A923 to hit that code nail, as it shoots .162’s, but I’ve never seen anyone on any jobsite anywhere with a Makita framer. And despite my trust in Makita tools, including pneumatic tools (I believe you and I both have the same Mac Big Bore 5200 compressor we purchased around the same time).. in the end I simply trusted Hitachi nail guns more, not really realizing how fussy the 21 degree aluminum back loading magazine is to work with, because I’ve only used NR83As for framing nailers. That is what everyone in my area uses, period.

    There is no doubt that the NR90AC5 packs a mean punch. There is some doubt that I’ll get over 30 years of habit and eventually find back loading magazine as easy to reload as a top loading magazine, but maybe the next large framing job will cure this old dog into learning a new trick.

    Nevertheless, I find it interesting that Makita changed their magazine design from a rear loader to a top loader for their recently announced but yet to be released new framing gun. That kind of tells me I’m not the only one who prefers the drop from the top design.

    On the A924 note, what is weird is, Makita also changed the entire air cylinder of their new framer to look almost exactly like an NR83a. Interestingly enough, there are also now several knock off, no name, Chinese copy cat nail guns that have the same appearance as the NR83a, littered all over Amazon, eBay, and AliBaba… for around $70-80.

    I wonder if Makita conscripted one of these knock off manufacturers to private label an NR83a copy cat design under the Makita brand? I wonder if all these copy cats are the reason why the Hitachi head honchos at headquarters got out of the small pneumatic/electric tool business… jettisoning the entire lot to the KKR private equity fund that bankrupted Nabisco and Toys R US, and now have gobbled up Metabo, with a nod to the former Hitachi brand calling it HPT.

    In any event, Makita’s new A924 is a non starter for anyone wanting shoot code nails, as it maxes out at .148, which is a downgrade from the previous A923’s capacity of .162. Now, that A923 had the sucky backloading magazine, similar to the NR90AC5. Makes me wonder if any other vendor has a top loading magazine that can accept .162?

    It only makes me wonder. I’m certainly not switching. I’ll deal with it, and maybe get better at dealing with it. But yes, to answer your question, 2.5+ strips can be loaded in the clumsy style magazine, but adding nails later isn’t nearly as easy as the venerable, even if bendable, NR83 magazine.

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