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Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer
It's got gas!
Text photos and video by Tom Hintz
Gas powered finish nailers are growing in popularity because of their ultimate portability and performance. It just stands to reason that Hitachi would jump into this foray. The new Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer is proof positive that their engineers took this project seriously. This 15 gauge, 34-degree angled nailer should be very popular with contractors and woodworkers alike.
The Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer is surprisingly trim and lightweight. Its overall dimensions of 12" tall by 12"-long and 5" wide (to the outboard extremes) means getting this nailer into relatively small places is easy. Even more surprising is that fully loaded with the gas cylinder, battery and 100 nail, the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer only weighs 4.4 lbs!
The Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer has a very comfortable pistol grip, fitted with inset rubber panels on either side that give a very secure grip. The trigger is smooth operating and easy to reach. The balance of the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer is better than any nail gun I have tried, especially hose-equipped versions. That excellence in balance will be a major contributor to long-term use without fatigue.
Hitachi added a belt loop/clip that makes it easy to take the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer with you on the job with an extra hand free. The loop/clip can be installed on either side of the gun.
The bottom-mounted magazine holds 100 nails from 1-1/4' and 2-1/2" long. A simple push button on the follower releases it to insert a fresh strip of nails. The 34-degree angle of the magazine serves its intended purpose of making the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer much easier to use in corners and confined spaces.
The nose features a traditional compression lock out that prevents firing a nail without the gun being pressed against the wood. A dial on the side of the firing head effectively regulates how deeply the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer sinks the fastener in the wood. Hitachi also added a dry fire lockout that also prevents the gun from operating when the magazine is down to 6 or 9 nails.
The Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer also has an easy to use jam clearing feature. A finger-friendly latch makes it easy to pop open the nail path to clear a damaged nail. The whole nail clearing process can be completed in seconds without tools. Nice touch.
The Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer comes with two 3.6V Li-ion (lithium ion) batteries. The batteries are used primarily to ignite the fuel, creating the force that drives the nails. A battery pack plugs into the handle. An indicator light on the side of the magazine shows the condition of the battery.
Included with the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer kit is a fast charger that refreshes a 3.6V pack in about 60 minutes. The included charger plugs into normal 110V current, as you would expect. However, the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer kit comes with an adapter for powering the converter in the car or truck using a co1mmon cigar lighter or power outlet found in many cars these days. Another nice touch!
Its Got Gas
The Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer develops its power using fuel cells that Hitachi sometimes call "fuel rods". Whatever the terminology, these little cylinders have 0.6 oz of propane/butane fuel in them but use it in a miserly fashion. Hitachi literature claims each cylinder is good for 1200 nail shots. I know that sounds like a lot from such a little cylinder but everything I have done with the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer during this evaluation seems to bear those claims out. This thing gets good mileage.
In the Shop
The Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer is easy to use and does what you expect it to. I shot nails in all types of wood from oak to junk pine and was able to control nail depth in all of them. The power developed by the engine within the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer is impressive and certainly seems capable to handle any relatively sane nailing job. It also recovers very quickly making a series of closely timed shots not only possible but very consistent.
The grip on the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer is nicely shaped and very comfortable in all nailing situations I could think of. The balance is remarkable and not doubt augmented by not having an air hose dragging around but most is pure engineering.
The nose safety works as expected and doesn't have a visual impact that prevents putting nails where desired. I was surprised at how little recoil the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer generates, even when driving 2-1/2"-long nails in hardwood. Despite its light weight, the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer is surprisingly docile in use.
The magazine works so cleanly it is easy to forget there is one. I had no problem loading or unloading nail strips from it. The no dry fire safety is annoying only when you have one more nail to drive and it cuts out when there are really 6 or so nails left. This is a small price to pay for preventing the potential damage dry fires could cause.
The jam-clearing feature works nice when I played with it but that has been the only time it was used. The Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer never miss-fired or damaged a nail. Don't worry though. You can open the jam-clearing mechanism to wipe down the nail path when your friends are around so you can show it off.
The Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer is a surprisingly light, well made nail gun that lets you leave the frustrations and limitations of hoses and compressors behind. Whether you are a contractor or a home woodworker/handyman, the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer will make lots of jobs easier and faster. Not having to get compressed air to the job will save the day more often than many of us think.
With a street price of $354.95 - (8-26-2008) the Hitachi NT 65GA Gas Finish Nailer is as good of a value as it is effective.
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