A framing nail gun is only needed if you plan to nail your framing together, as opposed to screwing it. A long time ago I used screws to fasten the framing together on the first house I built, but after using a nail gun on the second I decided I would never go back. The nail gun makes the framing so easy, it’s not uncommon for us to frame an entire house in just one day.
There are different styles of nail guns, including strip nailers and coil nailers. With strip nailers, the nails that are loaded into the gun are in a straight strip, whereas with coil nailers the nails come in a coil. Regardless of which type you choose, you will want to make sure the nails have a ‘full head’. On some strip nails, a part of the nail head is removed so that the nails can be tightly stacked together. This style of nail does not hold very well and is against local codes in many places. I personally use a coil nailer because of its higher capacity, but the gun is bulky to use and the nails are hard to find (I have to special order them).
In our search for the best framing nail gun we evaluated 13 different models and tested 4 of them. The unanimous winner was the RIDGID 21-Degree 3-1/2 in. Round Head Framing Nailer . Ridgid's air tools are well respected, and this gun deserves that respect. It was comfortable in our hand, lightweight, and easy to use. We fired no less than 250 nails through this gun and they all sunk to the proper depth without a single jam. The price also won’t break your budget, and is around half of what some of the coiler nailers cost.