I've been borrowing my father-in-law's Passlode cordless framing nailer for years decades. It has served very well, but it's on its last legs now (after several trips to the repair depot), so I'm looking at buying one for myself (and loaning it to him whenever he needs it, of course).

I've made my decision on brand and power source, but there is the option of 21° or 30° nails. I understand that the 21° nailer supports full-head nails while the 30° nailer supports only clip-head nails. It seems to me that the clip-head nails hold just fine, as our garage, build with clip-head nails, has shown no signs of being worse for wear.

  • What are the other pros and cons of a 21° nailer and a 30° nailer?
  • What (other) things should I consider when making this final decision?

None, assuming you're not in a hurricane or seismic zone or other area where their use is prohibited. They're just proprietary standards. Some manufacturers provide both to accommodate your existing tool set and nail supply, and so they can sell nails to owners of other gun brands. It's mostly a matter of a different magazine, so it's cheap to do so.

I've fired tens of thousands of both and never detected a practical difference in performance. Early guns used full-head nails probably because D-head hadn't been invented yet. The D-head design was initially to get more nails in a "stick"--they don't require spacing with wax or wire--and to allow the use of paper as a cheap binder.

D-head nails are still more likely to pull out of the secondary member than they are to pull through the primary member (though the initial bite of the adhesive coating makes pull-through possible in modern fast-grown lumber, which is softer).

Use whichever gun seems most appropriate, and consider cost and availability of nails in your area. Also consider what your cohorts are using. Nail-sharing and organization can be a factor.

  • 1
    Clipped head , moon head of D heads are not allowed in some areas. Earthquake and hurricane they are a no no , I live on the west coast and remember them but the jurisdiction I lived in banned them back in the 70’s. – Ed Beal May 22 '20 at 13:28
  • I'm in the Midwest, @EdBeal, so neither of those are concerns (for me). We just have to look out for the Wicked Witch of the West in her tornado. Nothing was said about our clipped nails when we built our garage 25 years ago, but things may have changed since then. Thanks for pointing that out. – FreeMan May 22 '20 at 14:37
  • I would verify just incase “tornado ally” may have similar requirements. – Ed Beal May 22 '20 at 14:51
  • more nails in the stick, +1. If you need heads they come in a coil (code withstanding?; I also live Midwest and never seen anyone with a 21); i.e., roofing nail guns. - Not that you should with a 30 (because toe nails are supposed to be ~50) toe nailing using the sheath as a guide is completely out of the question. They're also 'larger'. - Less nails; less spaces you can get it in; less people have them. – Mazura May 23 '20 at 20:16
  • @Mazura I'm not certain, but that comment really looks like you're trying to answer. You want to fluff that out some more and make an answer out of it? – FreeMan May 26 '20 at 11:05

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