There are plenty of solid frame nailers at work, but the Metabo HPT model has always been a tradesman's favorite. The NR83 and NR90 models are reliable, low-maintenance, and highly functional, building trusses, windows, subfloors, roofs, and all other types of framing in uncountable quantities. Neither companies nor customers are willing to change a good recipe. Therefore, the Metabo HPT returns to the popular NR83 platform, but with an upgraded trigger actuation option. The result is the Hitachi A5 Series Nailers. We tested the Metabo HPT NR83A5 Air Framing Nailer – it adds a drive depth adjustment to the NR83A5(S) nailer.
UPDATE: As you'll see in the comments below, we've had a few issues including inconsistent drive depth (often letting the nails stick out) and sticking sticks in the magazine. Well, less than 12 hours after the review was originally posted, I got a call from the Metabo HPT Product Manager. This was the first time Metabo HPT had heard of these issues with their new flagship nailer and they immediately dispatched a replacement. Apparently our first gun had to be a lemon – something that happens to the best manufacturers every once in a while. The new gun works perfectly.
Hitachi NR83A5 Framing Nailer Main Features
Magazines and Fasteners
When I say the Metabo HPT maintains the original design, I mean it. The new NR83A5 shares all the same internal components as the original NR83. This means parts are battle-tested, readily available and familiar to the mechanic (if necessary). Importantly, however, the new version lacks the composite/plastic parts we found on the old version.
The Metabo HPT NR83A5 Air-Powered Framing Nailer drives 2 to 3-1/4 inch plastic strip alignment nails with a diameter of 0.113 to 0.131 inches. It has an industrial steel magazine angle of 21 degrees – about the middle of the magazine angle, certainly enough for framing.
Editor's note: Check out our best framing nails article for our top picks.
Now, for a definitional upgrade to the original design: a trigger that can be switched between a single fire and a burst. The Metabo HPT's patented Selective Drive design allows the trigger to be in single drive mode by default, the bump fire mode can be changed by removing the locking pin and sliding the change lever forward.
It's important to note that the locking pin is installed at the factory, keeping the trigger in single start mode by default – but the user can discard it after removing it. At first, I was worried that I would have to trace the little pin to restore the trigger to single actuation after bump ignition was removed, but that's not the case. Simply move the change lever to switch drive types.
cylinder and steel tip
The Metabo HPT NR83A5 Air Framing Nailer—as well as other A5 Series nailers—features a drop cylinder valve actuation system. It's designed to fire and "charge" quickly, and to generate a lot of force relative to air pressure. The cylinder valve actuator has only three moving parts and is self-cleaning, which is why the original NR83 design had a low-maintenance reputation.
The claw tip noses are hardened steel – very durable. It is especially useful for toenail accuracy and general safety.
other notable features
The Metabo HPT includes a factory-installed 1/4-inch inlet, a ambidextrous rafter hook, and a rubber handle. The tool-less drive depth—a distinguishing feature between the NR83A5 and NR83A5(S) models—is easily accessible at the top behind the tip. The entire package is lightweight at 8.8 lbs or 9.1 lbs (with rafter hooks). You've heard other reviewers mention that the ease of use of a stapler depends largely on its weight, so this is an auspicious start for the Metabo HPT. The gun comes with safety glasses and is covered by Hitachi's 5-year tool warranty.
Hitachi NR83A5 framing nailer performance
full cylinder ignition
We have Metabo HPT NR83A5 Air Framing Nailers throughout the Central Florida area. We've always been lucky to have jobs – but after Hurricane Irma, there was a lot to do. BTW, there is a shortage of small litter boxes for this reason, so I had to bring 30 cubic yards of roll off even for small jobs!
UPDATE: As mentioned above, the first gun left nails intermittently, but the replacement gun drove to a consistent depth without any issues.
Regardless, Metabo HPT has always been known for the comfortable ergonomics of its nailers, and the NR83A5 is no exception. It's ultralight, maneuverable and comfortable. You can get a lot of work done with it and drive home with some energy. We found the gun to leave a 1/4" bump intermittently, which was a bit disappointing. The gun has enough chops to drive every nail, so it's a pain to hammer in a nail every once in a while.
I really like the fire bump feature. This nailer requires less skillful work than getting the job done. Simply bump your nose into the workpiece and you're ready to pull the trigger and be productive. The tips of the claws bite well into the toenails. If you want to switch back to single actuation, just move the trigger's replacement lever.
There's no adjustable exhaust, but that's not a big deal at all. With framers, the exhaust usually points away from your face. It's not like many finish nailers that can blow dust and grime into your eyes. The intake doesn't have a swivel either, but that's okay too. As Jeff Crisp recently pointed out in the Senco FinishPro 30XP, the swivel air intake is another potential point of failure or leak!
As strong as this nailer is, we had chronic issues with magazine loading. It works fine with one row of nails, but the problem occurs with two rows of nails in the magazine. Many times when we are loading a new strip with a few nails on the first shelf, we will let go of the strip spring and a pile of nails will build up in the staple magazine. You can see the problem in the photo. Maybe the ribbon spring tension is too high? Or is the magazine channel playing too much? The repair time should not be too long, but it will reduce the user-friendliness of the Metabo HPT NR83A5 Air Framing Nailer. This is a bit of a disappointment, as the gun is otherwise easy to use.
UPDATE: The new nailers they sent have no jamming issues. I haven't had this problem so far.
the bottom line
Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi) built the NR83A5 on the trusty NR83 platform, but upgraded the gun to exclude plastic parts and give the trigger an actuation option between single shot and bump. Old and new platforms even have interchangeable parts – you have to stick with what works, right?
We've seen Metabo HPT hit a few home runs recently, and the replacement NR83A5 feels like another one. The intermittent pride nail and magazine jams we initially experienced seemed to be a fluke, and Metabo HPT's excellent customer service quickly replaced it with a gun that didn't have the hiccup. It has great ergonomics and is very lightweight. And, as we discovered, one company can quickly fix any performance issues that arise. This is admirable.
- Cylinder valve actuation system for fast response and increased durability
- Selective trigger trigger allows sequential or contact spikes
- Includes rafter hooks for easy use on the job site
- Tool-free drive depth adjustment for increased control and flexibility when securing to various types of wood
- Equipped with an industrial 2-piece magazine to withstand jobsite abuse
- Accepts two nails at a time, locking feeder system makes refilling quick and easy
- Open nose design for easy extraction of stuck nails
- Ergonomic, non-slip rubber grip on the handle helps maintain a secure hold and comfort during use
- Hardened claw tips prevent nose wear and minimize slippage when driving at an angle or "toe pegs"
- 8.8 lbs (or 9.1 lbs if rafter hooks are installed) is lightweight and well balanced for easy handling
Metabo HPT NR83A5 Air Framing Nailer Specifications
- Fastener Type: Full Round Head, Plastic Strip Finishing
- Magazine angle: 21 degrees
- Fastener Length Capacity: 2 to 3-1/4 inches
- Fastener diameter range: 0.113 to 0.131 inches
- Magazine Capacity: 64
- Magazine Loading: Top
- Connector: 1/4″ Industrial
- Working pressure: 70-120 PSI
- Jam Clear: Open Your Nose
- Depth Setting: Tool-less
- Drive selectivity: (sequential/contact)
- L x W x H: 21-13/16 x 4-1/4 x 13-3/8 inches
- Weight without hook: 8.8 lbs
- Weight with hook: 9.1 lbs
- Price: $289