Product Review: The Makita AN922 Nail Gun
The Makita AN922 Nail Gun Is Definitely A Framer's Nail Gun
By Damien Andrews
I would argue that the two most popular handheld, air-powered tools in use today are the air impact wrench and the framing nail gun. Air impact wrenches air those guns you see and hear working at service stations. They are used for fast, effortless removal and installation of the lug nuts on wheels – and many other things. They make a loud whirring sound when they are being used. Framing nail guns are used to build the frame or skeleton of a structure. A framing carpenter with a nail gun can do the work of several carpenters using handheld hammers and loose nails. Also, at the end of a busy day, the carpenter who used a framing nail gun will be much less exhausted than a carpenter who has had to swing a 12 ounce hammer all day.
As this photo clearly shows, the Makita AN922 is noticeably larger than the Paslode F350S. You can also see the difference in the grip areas of both nail guns. The Makita has a much larger area for the operator's hand – a difference I appreciate.
The Makita AN922 nail gun is a pneumatic (powered by compressed air) nail gun designed specifically for wood framing work. On the jobsite, tools like the pneumatic Makita AN922 nail gun are simply referred to as 'nail guns.' Thirty years ago, one almost never saw a nail gun on a construction jobsite. Today, it's not uncommon to see several nail guns sharing a compressor during the framing and decking steps of construction. The unrivaled popularity of nail guns for construction explains why several years ago Makita, like several other tool manufacturers, started to manufacture nail guns like the Makita AN922. Until that time, if you wanted a nail gun, you had almost no model or maker choices at all.
I have been framing with my Paslode model F350S for many years. It's fired countless nails and never failed me once. I very much like my Paslode, but it shoots 'clipped head' nails that are mounted on strips of paper. A clipped head nail does not have the full, round head that traditional nails have. Rather, part of the round head has been clipped off to facilitate the mechanical functions of the nail gun. Nail guns are fed by strips of collated nails that are held together by paper, plastic or wire. Paper collated nails leave a small piece of paper sticking out under the heads of most driven nails. This is sometimes not desirable, such as when nailed areas are to be painted over.
The Makita AN922 nail gun drives full, round head nails that are collated by a band of hard plastic. There are differing opinions among nail gun users on whether or not there are any advantages to full, round head nails over clipped head nails. My opinion is that round head nails offer carpenters two advantages. 1) When you are nailing to draw wood together, the additional surface area of the round head will help a bit. 2) In projects where the nail's head will be visible, the round head nail is always more aesthetically appealing.
Close up view of the Makita AN922 Framing Nail Gun. 1) On-the-fly nail depth adjustment. 2) Selector switch for single or sequential firing. 3) The nail tensioner and pusher block. 4) The large, nicely curved trigger.
Plastic collated nails, such as those used by the Makita AN922 nail gun, do not leave small pieces of paper on the finished job. However, there is a tradeoff. As the Makita AN922 nail gun fires each nail, small bits of hard plastic are sent flying from the nail gun's nose at very high velocities. Because of this, eye protection is urgently recommended. Personally, I also recommend wearing a long sleeved shirt. The tiny plastic projectiles definitely sting when they hit unprotected skin. And on occasion, I've even had these miniscule missiles draw a drop or two of blood. Also, the remnant plastic from the collating strips must be cleared off the jobsite. Paper will just blow away.
Safety note: If you are using a Makita AN922 nail gun, or any nail gun which uses plastic collated nails, with a helper, be sure they have adequate eye protection before firing the gun. Whenever you use a nail gun with plastic collated nails, be sure nobody without eye protection is within 30' of your work area.
The Makita AN922 nail gun is an excellent tool, but it's not without its shortcomings. Here are the things I think Makita needs to work on to make the Makita AN922 nail gun an even better tool:
1) The Makita AN922 nail gun is very well balanced, but it is large and sometimes feels bulky – especially when framing windows and doors.
2) I don't really care for the way the operator must load nail strips into the Makita AN922 nail gun. To ensure that the strips do not break during loading, the operator must put the tool down and use both hands to slide the strip in and operate the nail strip tensioner simultaneously.
3) Suitable nails for the Makita AN922 nail gun are much harder to find than those used by my Paslode.
Here are the things I like most about my Makita AN922 nail gun:
1) I like the no-skid rubber material that is placed on the air chamber of the Makita AN922 nail gun. This allows the nail gun to be placed on angled surfaces, such as roof decks, without sliding.
2) The on-board air pressure adjustment on the Makita AN922 nail gun is wonderful. It allows me to constantly and accurately adjust impact, and therefore nail depth, on the fly. Saves walks to the compressor.
3) The grip of the Makita AN922 nail gun is extremely well designed. The area of the grip is large and open. The grip is covered with an excellent no-skid rubber material. The trigger is an arc, thus preventing finger slippage while nailing.
4) The Makita AN922 nail gun drives nails very reliably and very consistently. My Makita AN922 nail gun has never jammed. It also drives each nail to almost exactly the same depth. It is much better about depth control than my other framing nail gun. Also, I do not need to apply as much pressure to the Makita AN922 nail gun when driving 3½" nails as I do with my other framing nail gun.
5) As mentioned earlier, the Makita AN922 nail gun uses plastic collated nails instead of paper collated nails – and the nails have traditional round heads.
6) Even when driving 3½" nails with the Makita AN922 nail gun, the impact to the operator's hand, wrist and elbow are minimal.
Close up view of the Makita AN922 Framing Nail Gun nose. This nose is nicely designed to ensure the gun does not slip during firing, and also to not mar the job. The nose must be adequately depressed or the nail gun will not fire. This is a standard safety feature on all nail guns.
Here are the benefits and specifications for the Makita AN922 nail gun as seen on the Makita website:
Makita AN922 Framing Nailer Model AN922:
•Fires standard 2" to 3 - 1/2" plastic collated 22° round head stick nails
•Weighs only 8.4 lbs. for easy operation
•Large capacity air chamber for increased power
•Depth setting knob for easy adjustment of 9 nailing depths
•Nose piece with sure-grip spikes prevents slipping
•Non-marring auxiliary nose piece protects workpiece; stores conveniently on tool
•Easy load magazine; just insert nails and pull back on pusher block
•Ergonomic handle with rubber grip for comfort
•Nail mode selector provides sequential or bounce fire for increased flexibility
•Flush face on gun head enables excellent corner nailing
•Built-in air filter prevents dust or foreign matter from entering the tool
•Rubber bumper protects tool housing
•Dry fire prevention system prolongs life of tool
•Rugged aluminum magazine has a large nail holding capacity
•Silent sheet reduces noise when disconnecting coupler
•Lightweight and well balanced
Specifications of the Makita AN922 nail gun:
Operating Air Pressure (PSIG): 65 - 120
Nail Size: 2" - 3-1/2"
Nail Diameter: .113 - .162 (plastic or wire collated)
Size (L x H x W): 21-1/2" x 14-3/4" x 4-1/4"
Net Weight (lbs.): 8.4
As much as I like my Makita AN922 nail gun, I cannot in good conscience recommend it to everyone looking for a framing nail gun. If you want to get a nail gun that is used for more than just framing, you might do well to view other makes and models. However, if you want a solid framing nail gun that will be used for wood construction framing, you'll have a hard time beating the Makita AN922 nail gun. I use my Makita AN922 nail gun for driving 3½" smooth shank nails ONLY. For ring shanks and shorter nails, I use my Paslode.
If you're interested in purchasing a Makita AN922 nail gun, be sure to do some research on the internet. At this writing, I found the Makita AN922 nail gun for sale online for as low as $139.00 and as high as $799.00. At $139, it's a real bargain!
Pro Tip: To prevent dirt and debris from getting into your air gun's air system, go to the hardware store and purchase a plastic cap for the male disconnect on your nail gun. Just snap it on after each use to ensure many years of trouble-free service.
Top: Plastic collated, full round head, 3½" nails for the Makita AN922. Middle: Paper collated, clipped head 3½" ring shank nails for the Paslode F350S. Bottom: 2½" paper collated, full round head nails for the Paslode F350S.