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The DA250B Kit could be the one-gun solution for your shop!
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Porter Cable DA250B 15 Ga. Angle Finish Nailer

A versatile powerhouse for your shop

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

   Adding an air-powered nailer when your shop is on a budget means versatility, range of nail length and price are all important considerations. The Porter Cable (PC) DA250B 15 Ga. finish nailer meets those criteria and more. In terms of quality, ease of use and capability, the PC DA250B is going to be very tough to beat.

Initial Impressions

   For a nail gun capable of driving 2 ½"-long finish nails, the PC DA250B looks and feels smaller than expected. The angled magazine contributes to the smallish appearance but lightweight alloys combined with sophisticated design and manufacturing keeps overall weight down to "use it all day" proportions.
   Fit and finish of the DA250B is typical Porter Cable high quality. Casting, machining and assembly are first rate. The included slim line case fits the PC DA250B well and affords very good protection for your investment without taking up more storage space than necessary.

This is a comfortable nailer to use in virtually any position.
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   The instruction book is multi-lingual, small but thorough. Clearly written text is augmented with line illustrations and cleanly printed photographs. Safety information is also provided, clearly explained and illustrated.
   The PC DA250B kit includes the gun, case, air tool oil, instruction manual and 1000 2"-long nails. In addition, a ¼" air fitting with dust cap is factory installed.

Grip and Balance

   Despite the PC DA250B's angular shape, it feels very well balanced in the hand. The shape of the handle and location of the trigger are both comfortable. The rubber-like insert surrounding the grip area not only reduces vibration but also gives a solid, no-slip feel even when holding the gun at odd angles.
   The design of the grip and balance of the PC DA250B are important considering the authority with which it drives 2 ½"-long nails.

Power

While slim, the air cylinder is powerful. Note the "blast" deflector arrow) that can be aimed as needed.
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   Though the air cylinder appears small for the nail driving capacity, Porter Cable design and engineering has coaxed a surprising amount of power from it. The user-oiled air cylinder operates on 70 to 120 PSI line pressure but seems to have a small air consumption rate for the substantial power generated.
   To maintain consistent operation with each fastener driven, the piston is repositioned after each shot by an automatic stop that insures consistent power and stroke length. With the range of fasteners this gun is capable of handling, this is an important development.
   To best accommodate different length fasteners, the line pressure can be adjusted within the 70 to 120 PSI range. Using only the amount of air pressure needed for the fasteners being driven reduces long-term wear on the overall tool.
   While operating the PC DA250B produces a surprisingly light recoil, we do get a hint of big things happening inside the air cylinder by the inclusion of the large, positionable exhaust deflector on the head. It may seem like overkill to secure the deflector in seven positions with detents until you read a passage in the manual describing what comes out of it as "the exhaust blast." Take the hint and make sure the exhaust (blast) deflector is aimed away from you or anyone else before installing nails.

Driving Mechanism

   The channel and related hardware through which the nails are driven appears well designed and finely machined. The care with which this mechanism was designed and built explains how it can drive untold numbers of nails without a failure. While the number of nails driven with this PC DA250B is still rather small, I have yet to have a failure with any of my Porter Cable nail guns, all of which feature the same basic driver design. Suffice it to say Porter Cable has trouble-free nail driving figured out.
   A removable no-mar tip covers the end of the safety foot to prevent scratching sensitive materials. When not needed, the tip can be removed and stored on the side of the magazine.

Depth Control

The depth control dial (arrow) is effective and easy to use.
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   To harness the power of the PC DA250B, an adjustable depth control is built into the driving mechanism. A simple finger-operated wheel is turned to increase or decrease the depth to which the nails are sunk below the surface of the wood. To make sure the adjustment stays where you put it, the wheel has detents every ¼-turn.
   A few test shots in scraps of the material being worked with are all that is necessary to set the depth control. Remember to re-set the air pressure first and then make depth adjustments.

Trigger

   The PC DA250B comes with a sequential trigger. That means it fires one nail each time the safety foot is pressed against the wood and the trigger is pulled. To fire another nail the gun is lifted, repositioned, the safety foot depressed and the trigger pulled again.
   A "bump fire" trigger conversion is available from Porter Cable free of charge for those who need it. This allows holding the trigger down and bumping the safety foot on the wood to fire nails in rapid succession. As long as the trigger is held down, a nail fires each time the safety foot is "bumped" on the wood.
   While the "bump fire" mode can be useful to a skilled professional, it has little use for woodworkers or for working around the home. Without a specific need and the experience to use it properly, the "bump fire" kit is best left at Porter Cable.

Jam Clearing

Clearing jams, if one ever occurs, is very easy using the flip-up cover that exposes the entire nail channel.
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   Though nail jams appear to be a very rare occurrence (I have never had one) with Porter Cable nail guns, they build in the easiest to use clearing system in the business. On the PC DA250B, a buckle-like lever is released to open a door that exposes the entire driving pathway. With the door open, the errant nail can be extracted easily with a needle nosed pliers, if it doesn't simply fall out on it's own. Close the door, secure the latch and the process is complete.
   Note: Opening the jam clearing door also creates a direct path to the nails in the magazine. Remember to retract and lock the nail follower before opening the door or the remaining nails can be pushed out unexpectedly when the jammed nail is removed.

Magazine

Loading the angled magazine is easy as is seeing how many nails remain.
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   The most obvious difference between the PC DA250B and many air-powered nailers is the angled magazine that tilts upward from the driving tip to the butt of the handle. The position of the magazine does more than make it look different. The angle makes getting the gun into odd positions to properly drive nails far easier than with the common flat-mounted magazines.
   Up to 100 nails are loaded from the rear of the magazine, pushed forward past a spring retainer and then the follower pulled back to maintain pressure on them. The follower has knobs on either side of the magazine to make operating it easy regardless of which hand it is in.
   The sides of the magazine have open "windows" that let dust fall out rather than contaminate the workings, plus you can see how many nails remain at a glance.
   Note: In case you haven't noticed already, the PC DA250B uses nails set in angled strips that correspond with the angle of the magazine. Straight strips or stacks of individual nails cannot be used in this gun! Porter Cable and other manufacturers offer fasteners designed for use in the PC DA250B and will clearly state their compatibility on the package.

In the Shop

Toe-nailing and other odd jobs are made easy by the angled magazine.
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   The PC DA250B is remarkably comfortable to use despite its 4 ¼ lbs. total weight and large power output. Recoil is minimal even when driving 2 ½-long nails in hardwood. The relatively light weight makes using the PC DA250B on large jobs less tiresome. Even when fully loaded with nails and the air hose attached, the PC DA250B feels nicely balanced in all of the nailing positions I could think of.
   Most surprising is how the angled magazine makes the PC DA250B seem smaller than it is when nailing in confined spaces or close to an obstruction. The angled magazine also acts as a handy gauge when toe nailing. Hold the gun with the magazine parallel to one surface and the nail is driven diagonally through pieces such as shelves in dados.
   Adjusting the depth to which nails are driven is easy and effective. The depth adjuster dial makes changes consistently, which makes finding the right setting for your job easy and very fast. Once the depth is set, it stays put and does not vary noticeably as line pressure fluctuates through compressor on/off cycles.

Conclusions

   Being able to handle 1" to 2 ½"-long nails means the PC DA250B can handle virtually any job in the shop. It is just as useful in the home when it comes time to install molding, frames and more that you have created. There probably is no perfect do-it-all finish nailer, but the PC DA250B is very close.

   The wide-ranging capabilities combined with the legendary Porter Cable quality make the DA250B a value-laden nailer for hobbyist and professional woodworkers in the shop or when handling home improvement tasks.
   With minimal care, the Porter Cable DA250B will be an investment that keeps on working for many years.

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