Degrees of Difference: Framing Nail Gun Angles

[Updated 02/06/2023]

Clipped head, wire coil, plastic strip: Framing nail guns come in a wide range of types and collations. Ever wonder what's the deal with all the framing nailer angles? Never fear. From 15-degree to 34-degree nailers, we've got the angle on framing guns.

The first thing to know is that the angle degree refers to the nail collation and more specifically the angle of the magazine, not the slant that the nail is driven. Nails are driven straight or perpendicularly into a surface. The second thing you should know is that the framing nailer degree you need may depend on the geographic location of your project. More on that later. 

White folded angular paper with the text "what's the deal with all the framing nailer angles?" on top. NGD:Nail Gun Depot logo in the upper right corner

Stick and coil collation are the two main types of framing nailers. Stick collation refers to nails that are held together with paper or plastic and come in a long, straight strip. On the other hand, coil collation refers to nails that are wire-bound with two thin wire strips and come in a circular shape, a few outliers namely DuoFast come in a plastic collation versus the predominant wire coil. 

15-Degree Framing Nailers

Stats: Full-round head nails. Wire coil collation.

An image of the 3-1/4 Inch Coil Framing Nailer | Metabo HPT NV83A5<br />
with text "15° stats: Full-round head nails | wire coil collation"

There are two main kinds of framing nail collation—stick and coil collation. All framing nailers in the 15-degree group are wire-coil collated. This means that their nails are held together by two thin wire strips and slanted at a 15-degree angle. The nails themselves have a fully round head and the collation is circular in shape. More often than not, the full-round-head nail that these nailers drive is the preferred head shape for building code.

The main benefit to the coil-style framing nail gun is that it can access floor joists, wall studs, and the tight corners often found in framing applications. The other benefit is the amount of fasteners the magazine can hold. The Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi) NV83A5M, for instance, holds 200-300 nails. That means less stopping to reload, which is great for extended work. A bonus benefit, the wire coil collation is not as harshly affected by moisture, as is the case with paper collation. If you work in a wet climate, that's a definite plus.

The downside? Holding all of those fasteners adds weight, which can be strenuous for large projects, especially when working overhead. Another thing to consider is that full-head wire coil nails are mainly sold in 3,000-count quantities.

21-Degree Framing Nail Guns

Stats: Full-round head nails. Plastic strip collation. 

An image of the  Dewalt DWF83PL<br />
with text "21° stats: Full-round head nails. Plastic strip collation."

This framing nailer magazine angle typically varies between 20-22-degrees, depending on the manufacturer. Generally, a three-degree variance allows the user some leeway in angle clearance. Similar to the 15-degree coil nailers, the 21-degree framing nailer drives a full-round head nail. The difference at this angle is the collation type, with nails held together by plastic strip, as opposed to wire coil.

A 21-degree framing nailer, the Dewalt DWF83PL Framing Nailer

These framing nail guns can hold approximately 60 to 70 nails, so not as many fasteners as the 15-degree nailer, meaning more reloads. Their increased magazine angle, however, gives better access to tight corners. Check out the Dewalt DWF83PL (above), for example.

The plastic strip that holds the nails together breaks apart when the nail is fired. You can expect there to be small pieces of plastic flying out, so you definitely need protective glasses during use. There will also be small pieces of debris littering the work area, which might require cleanup.

28-Degree Framing Nailers

Stats: Full-round offset or clipped-head nails. Wire strip collation. 

On the other hand, 28-degree framing nailers are collated by wire strip. The nails come either as full-round offset head, or clipped-head. To save magazine space, and thus create a more compact tool, the nails of 28-degree framing nailers are “nested” closely together, so their heads overlap somewhere.

A 28-Degree Angled Framing Nailer, the Bostitch F28WW

The Bostitch F28WW framing nailer (above) holds 100 nails and drives 2" to 3-1/2" framing nails that are wire strip collated. Some building codes do not permit clipped head or offset-head type nails, so check first before buying.

30-Degree Framing Nailers

Stats: Full-round offset or clipped-head nails. Paper strip collation.

These framing nail guns come angled from 30- to 34-degrees. The angle of the degree being the greatest, they provide the greatest access to tight angles in framing applications. A popular framing nailer in this segment is the Senco FramePro 325XP, shown below, which drives 2" to 3-1/4" paper collated strip nails.

Example of a 30-degree angle framing nailer, the Senco FramePro 325XP

Initially, 30-degree framing nailers were made by Paslode. This degree of nailer was created to fire their RounDrive offset full-round head nails. The nails are collated by paper strip. A popular model, the Paslode F350S PowerFramer has a two-strip, 88-nail capacity magazine.

The collation for this degree of framing gun is paper strip, with most nail magazines designed to hold two strips of nails, for less reloading. Paper strip nails are easier to store and leave less mess than plastic collation but are prone to failure if introduced to moisture. 

Final Note(s) on Framing Nailer Degree

In construction, some areas of the country may require a specific framing nail collation or nail head type to pass building code. In places that see more dramatic weather activity (hurricanes, for example), the codes often call for a full-round head nail, which has a greater pull-through resistance. Always check with local building regulations to determine the nail type you need before buying.

Make sure the nails you buy fit the manufacturer’s wire gauge and length specifications. Some nailers claim you can only use the brand’s specific nails. There may be some truth to this, depending on the type of driver blade the nailer has. Drivers come in round, crescent, or T-shaped driver types. Typically speaking though, most nail guns will run other brands of nail with no issue, assuming the nail collation and size matches the tool's required specifications.

Another thing to consider before shopping framing nail guns is ease of finding the correct collated fastener for your nailer. Look to Nail Gun Depot for the best deals on collated nails, from 20-degree to 34-degree framing nails.

Explore More

15-Degree Wire Coil Framing Nailers

21-Degree Plastic Strip Framing Nailers

28-Degree Wire Strip Framing Nailers

30-Degree RounDrive Paper Tape Framing Nailers

30-Degree Paper Tape Framing Nailers