I remember the sick feeling I had as I watched my brand new roofing nailer slide off the roof and smash into the concrete walkway below. Climbing down the ladder to retrieve it, I fully expected to find a bunch of shattered pieces.
It was my first shingle job as a roofing contractor, and I couldn’t afford to replace a brand new nail gun.
To my surprise, the roofing nailer was still in one piece. In fact, it barely had a scratch on it. And to my total amazement… It still worked perfectly!
It’s moments like that which create the intense loyalty craftsmen have for a certain tool. You could try to sell me another brand until you’re blue in the face, but it ain’t gonna happen! I’ll give up my nail gun when you pry my cold dead fingers off it!
In determining the best roofing nailer to get, you have quite a selection. When I started roofing, twenty-some years ago, there were only a few nailers to compare. Now (if my count is correct), you have a choice of 38 makes and models.
I don’t know of anyone who’s done a thorough test of every roofing nailer on the market. It’s not a typical consumer product that gets a lot of scrutiny.
The best test I’ve found was done by Mike Guertin, who is a builder and author in Rhode Island. He field-tested 11 of the most popular models on heavyweight shingles, which were laid over 5/8″ sheathing in cold weather, as well as more moderate temperatures. That’s a good test, because those are tough conditions for a roofing nailer.
Mr. Guertin carefully checked out each roofing nailer to compare the various features. Then he focused on which nailers had the most power, least recoil and fastest speed. Those are some of the main factors which make a tough job a little easier.
Each nail gun had it’s strengths and weaknesses, but there was a three-way tie for the best roofing nailer. They were the Bostitch RN46, the Dewalt D51321 and the Hitachi NV45AB2.
I’m not surprised the Hitachi made the cut. It’s the nailer of choice for many professional roofers, who like it for its toughness and reliability. Mr. Guertin said you could probably drive an 18-wheeler over this tool and it would still work!
I tend to agree with that, because that’s the roofing nailer which survived the fall and… I still use today!