So I'm a little confused. It seems like 21 degree fullhead framing nailers are fairly standard.

According to the http://codes.iccsafe.org/app/book/content/2015-I-Codes/2015%20IRC%20HTML/Chapter%206.html

R602.3(1) Fastening Schedule Item #16, 16d nails are required to attach studs to plates (which there'd be a ton of when building walls).

But when I go to try and find some plastic collated 21 degree 16d nails, they are non-existant. Lowes only sells 4 different products at 3.5" (non of which are 21 degree), Home Depot only has one and it seems a little sketchy, and Amazon has a couple of products but the ones that are actually rated seem really expensive. Am I missing something? It seems like something that is required by code would be sold all over the place.

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    Most subs building new houses do not buy their supplies at Home Depot and Lowes. Try a building supplier. Think of HD and Lowes like Walmart. Higher prices for equal or lesser quality; rarely better quality and rarely meaningfully cheaper than a true supplier.
    – Damon
    Feb 3, 2016 at 6:15

2 Answers 2


3 1/2” 16d nails are hand driven nails specified for Simpson connectors 0.162...many people make the mistake and think these are collated nails, but they are actually individual nails sold by the box. There is not a gun that will shoot them. If you refer to the Simpson manual, you will see the difference in the nails as far as diameter. As a former contractor and now an inspector, I still am amazed at the amount of “seasoned” framer that do not know the difference. Once, a framer brought me 5 different nails from his 5 separate crews, only one of them used the right nail. Most people think it does not make a difference, however the load factor drops significantly on the hanger being used, voiding the engineered product and causing failure. And yes, I have seen such failures in residential construction...

  • I have two PP joist hanging nail guns. One's for 1-1/2" and one's for 3s. You're telling me that my 3 has no application whatsoever? How important is that last half inch assuming the correct diameter of .162" ? 'no gun will shoot them', +1. TIL, if you find a gun that shoots 3-1/2"s that comes with a PP tip, with that tip it only shoots 2-1/2"s.
    – Mazura
    Mar 13, 2021 at 21:19

I have no idea what you are talking about. I get both coated and standard from big blue and little orange. They don't carry a ton of different ones at the store because why would they? They are really heavy, hard to stock, the boxes break all the time (ones with a lot in there because you know you want thing cardboard for nails naturally), and there isn't a brand that people would really prefer over another unless that is what you do for a living.

If you are a carpenter or contractor then you buy the quality you want online and pick up at the contractor's desk. I looked out in my garage and I have 5 different boxes of 21 degree nails. A couple I bought online the rest at the store. Really I am not that concerned unless it is outdoors.

  • I just did the online search 30 mins ago and those were my results. I had stopped by HD and they don't stock any 3-1/2". 3-1/4", sure, but no 3-1/2". I was kind of shocked so I had to grab someone that worked in the dept and they said they don't carry them. I could try hitting up Blue, but based on their Internet results, I'm not really expecting much better results. Feb 3, 2016 at 4:26
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    To take this further, some engineers who pay attention know that a pneumatic 16d nail at typically 0.131 " diameter nail is smaller diameter than a non-pneumatic 16d nail at 0.162" diameter. This matters because they use to spec the non-pneumatic ones as a standard and then the framers would use a pneumatic nail with a reduced capacity. Good engineers know this and will spec the smaller diameter so a pneumatic nailer can be used. Also, on our plans, we spec the diameter of the nail to make it explicit. But most people, including some engineers, don't know and don't want to know this.
    – Damon
    Feb 3, 2016 at 6:12
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    @Damon - good points. Other than rust/corrosion who has ever heard of nail quality causing an issue in residential buildings?
    – DMoore
    Feb 3, 2016 at 6:19
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    @Damon - I didn't want to make the paranoia worse but I guess I can mention it now. Hardly any 3 1/2" nails measure true to 3 1/2", In fact most 3.5" I get are pretty damn close to 3.25"...
    – DMoore
    Feb 3, 2016 at 6:27
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    @DMoore Ya, this industry is very frustrating with all the "should's" and "don't ask don't tells". This is just one of many. Oops, I've said too much.
    – Damon
    Feb 3, 2016 at 6:34

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