Clipped Head vs. Round Head Nailers – The Differences

A nail head refers to the topmost part of the nail that remains visible even after the nail has been driven deep into the wood. Part of the online discussion is that the type of head has a direct influence on how far the nail goes.

The two types of nail heads are clipped head and rounded head. The clipped head nails are D-shaped as part of its head has been chipped. The round head nails, on the other hand, have a full round head.

You can develop myths and speculation about a particular product. For instance, there is a very big discussion about clipped head vs. round head nailers in the handyman/DIY forums.

From the onset, you could think that nailers have been created equally and therefore there is no need to focus on details like the kind of head.

On the flip side, a number of people feel this is not the case. This is the reason I have compiled this article to help you understand more about clipped head vs. round head nailers.

Historically, many people believe that clipped head nailers arrived in the market much earlier than the round head nailers. The arrival of round head nailers is surrounded by many controversies.

Some people believe that the manufacturer introduced it because it had a superior performance than the clipped head counterpart. Others believe that it was introduced as a marketing gimmick for areas prone to natural disasters.

Either way, the building code enforcers across the world bought into the idea round head nailers were superior to clipped head nailers. This somehow contributed to many builders investing in the round head nailers.

What is the difference between clipped head and round head nailers?

As indicated before, the clipped head nailer uses clipped nails in its gun. The spacing between these nails is well spread resulting in a neat nailing job.

With clipped nails, you can pack and fit more nails within the nailing gun. The production cost is generally low with this nailer. The clipped nails can be wedged deeper into the wood than the round head nails.

Many building experts believe that the clipped head nail is just as strong as the round head nail. It’s however important to note that not all building codes permit the use of clipped head nails.

The round head nailers, on the other hand, uses fully rounded nails. These nailers have more holding power than the clipped head counterparts. They are therefore a much better choice in areas experiencing hurricanes.

Most building codes permit construction using round head nails. The nails can be pulled out easily in case there is a fault in the nailing. The round head also prevents nails from going too deep hence protecting your wood from shears.

One important thing to note is that round head nails are preferred by many people because they hold strongly.

What To Compare?

Holding power

In terms of holding power, the clipped head nailer holds about 20 to 30 percent more nails than a round head nailer within the same magazine size. This is made possible by the way in which the nails are placed in the nailer.

For the clipped head nailer, the flat end of the nails can be placed next to each other hence saving on space. This increases the number of nails that can be placed in a magazine.

For the round head nailers, the heads occupy full width as they can not line up with each other. This causes them to occupy more space than their clipped counterparts.


Most building engineers will advise you that the performance of the nail’s hold depends on the size of the shaft and not the shape. In theory, therefore, the shape of the head doesn’t affect performance.

It’s however important to note that clipped head nailers pack more tightly than the round head nailers. This means that the magazine for a clipped head nailer is relatively shorter than that of the round head nailer.

This allows the clipped head nailer to maneuver more in tight spaces. It is also less weighty than the round head nailer. On the contrary, the longer and heavier magazine of the round head nailer gives it more balance.


The nails within a round head nailer are collated either in straight strips or in round coils. The round head nailers accept plastic collation of nails. This means that the nails are held together using a plastic material.

Clipped head nailers, on the other hand, accept strip collation of nails. The material used in this case is paper. The paper collation of nails produces clean finishes with no materials left once the nails have been hammered in.

The plastic collation of nails tends to throw small pieces of plastic at you during nailing. Small pieces of plastic are also left between the material and the nail head.

Best Clipped Head Nailers – Our Picks


BOSTITCH F28WW Clipped Head 2-inch to 3-1/2-inch Framing Nailer

This is one of the most popular clipped head nailers on the market today because of its durability and versatility.

One of the features it has is a push button. This button can be pushed to an appropriate depth to enable its user position the nails properly.

Its popularity stems from the fact that it can perform its tasks quickly and conveniently. The weight of the trimmer is about 7.6 pounds and is flexible enough to handle tasks even in tight spaces.

An innovative design that comes with this machine enables it to work in different environments. It can be used to nail floor joints with top plates or reinforce new hot tubs under a low deck. You can have a sequential trigger installed to ensure faster production and optimal control.

Its magazine has a 16-inch layout indicator that helps you achieve the right distances between studs. Having been housed in a lightweight magnesium material, it is quite easy to handle and durable.

This unit features 1,050 inch-pounds of power that can drive 2 to 3-1/2 inches of wire collated nails even in toughest lumber applications.


  • There is a lot of power within this nailer
  • Can be used in multiple framing tasks
  • Has protective features


  • Can only be used for nails of sizes between 2 inches and 3.5 inches
  • You have to wait for all the nails to run out before loading others to avoid jamming
  • Bit on the expensive side


SFR3490 34-Degree Clipped Head Nailer by Numax

Numax is one of the biggest players in the market when it comes to power tools products. Its SFR3490 is a unique product and one of the most effective for daily nailing jobs.

The aluminum construction makes it lightweight, durable, anti-dry and safe to use. As a result of its limited magazine capacity, this nailer is easy to handle and minimizes fatigue.

A single and consecutive mechanism is included in the triggers to enable it to perform smoothly. The rubber handle provides a better grip for the user.

Its weight is 10.7 pounds while its dimensions are 20 by 6.5 by 14.2 inches. The paper collation head for this nailer is between 2 and 3.5-inches.


  • Price
  • A long-lasting performance from a blend of modern materials
  • Ability to work in multiple areas


  • Magazine handles a fewer number of nails compared to other nailers
  • There are no features to prevent damages to the work surface


PowRyte 500026 Elite Clipped Head Air Framing Nailer by PowRyte

This is a clipped head ideal nailer for sheathing, subflooring, decking, strapping & siding, crate & box assembly and pallet repair.

It drives both paper and wire collated nails and can handle some of the demanding jobs.

One of its great features is the selective actuation feature that allows the user to switch between sequential and contact fire in a flip of a switch. This makes it quite convenient to use even with varying materials.

Its convenience is enhanced further by a tool-free depth feature on its drive dial. An open nose design enables this nailer to provide you an easier access so as to clear jamming.

There is also a hardened claw tip for reducing nose wear and minimizing slippage. The motor life is improved by its dry-fire lockout feature.

Some of its other features include a plastic trigger, non-slip rubber grip, and adjustable exhaust port.


  • Changing between contact and sequential modes is quite easy
  • High precision


  • Quite bulky

Round Head Nailers – Our Picks


BOSTITCH F21PL Round Head Framing Nailer

This is a rounded head nailer professionally designed to help in framing, subflooring, sheathing, and bracing jobs.

It features a strong magnesium body, a 16-inch layout indicator, metal connector nails and quick change nosepieces.

Being a compressor tool, it features a fastener collation, 1.5 to 3.5-inch nailer, fastener depth control, sequential and bumps trigger.

Its driving power is 1,050 inch-pounds and it comes with a seven-year warranty period. In terms of weight, the nailer weighs 8.1 pounds while its dimensions are 14.25 by 20.5 inches.

The BOSTITCH F21PL nailer comes with two quick change nosepieces that convert to a metal connector and framing applications. It has integrated skid pads and rubber grip in its magnesium housing.


  • A powerful machine that is slightly lighter than its competitors
  • The steel guards inclusion makes the nailer pretty rough, tough and durable
  • Directional exhaust port enables you to change the direction of hot air away from the exhaust


  • Quite noisy when being used in single firing mode
  • Difficult to maneuver in tight spaces
  • Lacks a casing


Makita AN923 3-1/2″ Framing Nailer by MAKITA

This is a powerful machine that combines robust performance and rugged construction to enable it to perform commercial framing applications.

Having been engineered for many applications, this nailer can be used for wall framing, floor framing, the framing of roofs, construction of the roof, floor & subfloor, and wall siding/sheathing.

It features a three-mode selector switch for contact, sequential. and lock. This allows for the user to control the nailing options. It has a large air capacity chamber that increases its driving power.

The generated power is able to drive nails between 2 inches and 3.5 inches. There is an inbuilt air filter within the tool to minimize the debris and dust entering it.

Another important feature is the tool-less depth adjustment. The tool-less depth adjustment has been designed to countersink nailing to provide you more precision. There is a retractable hook that allows the tool to remain close to you.

Whenever three nails remain in the magazine, the tool stops so as to prevent you from dry firing.


  • Rubber grips ensure comfortable handling and better control
  • The use of rubber bumpers protects it from damage
  • Quite durable


  • The side protection plates have some adhesive issues
  • Quite bulky
  • Customers have complained about jamming of the machine


PORTER-CABLE FR350BR 22-Degree Round Framing Nailer, 3-1/2″

This is a lightweight, powerful and round framing nailer from PORTER-CABLE that comes with plenty of features. As a factory reconditioned machine, it uses 22 degrees plastic collated nails.

Although its light in weight, it comes with a powerful driving force that can push a 3.5-inch nail through the hardest lumber material.

The pneumatic nature of this machine means that its driving power is generated from air.

This Porter-Cable nailer weighs about 9 pounds while its dimensions are 23 by 7 by 18 inches.

A reversible rafter hook feature is included in its design and it is quite helpful when working up a ladder.


  • Comes with an air compressor which removes any need for refueling or recharging
  • There is a tool-less depth adjustable drive that helps the user easily get the right settings
  • Price


  • The trigger lock as well as the selectable trigger are somehow sensitive and requires some bit of learning
  • Customers have complained about the nailer failing to fire when there are less than 6 nails
  • The nose piece should have been more secure to support toe nailing


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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