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21 vs 30 Degree Framing Nailer: How They Differ

21 vs 30 Degree Framing Nailer
Written by Brent Butterworth
Last Update: May 3, 2023

Precision is necessary when it comes to construction projects. Getting the job done safely and adequately requires 100% accuracy. If you want to do the job well, you need the right tools.

Let’s discuss the differences between the two popular types of nailers to see which best suits your needs.

Why do nailers use angles?

Framing nails are always driven in on a 90-degree angle, so you might wonder why nailers come with different angles.

Packaging is the reason. The nails are angled onto paper strips and plastic, so the space on the strip is maximized. You don’t need as many stops to reload and more nails per section.

21 vs 30 Degree Framing Nailer: How They Differ

21 vs 30 Degree Framing Nailer

Take a quick look at key differences

Comparing factors  21 Degree framing nailer 30 degree framing nailer
Angle  20° to 22° 30° to 34°
Strips material Plastic strips Paper strips
Strip number  1
Number of nails Each strip of nails contains only 60 to 70 nails Can hold 88 framing nails in 2 strips 
Nail shank diameter  0.113 to 0.148-inches  0.113 to 0.131-inches
Nailhead  Full round head  Clipped or offset head
Nail size  2 to 3 ½ -inches 2 to 3 ½ -inches
Flexibility  Less flexible  More flexible 
Best usage  Siding, fencing, roof and wall sheathing, and framing Woodworking, decking, hard lumber jobs, framing, and siding
Parts availability  Easier to find  Relatively hard to find 
Magazine size Small Big 
Usability  Can be used in tight places  Tough to use in smaller places 

Nail Packaging

21 degree

A 21-degree framing nailer uses fewer nails than a large capacity nailer because it is mounted on plastic strips.

As each strip of nails contains only 60 to 70 nails, this type of nailer is best for small spaces like corners and bends.

30 degree

This nail gun can hold 88 framing nails on two paper strips. You get twice the capacity of what you would with a 21-degree nailer.

Also, the packaging is made of paper strips, so it isn’t as messy as plastic ones.

Where to use

21 degree

For siding, fencing, roof and wall sheathing, and framing, use a 21-degree framing nailer. 21-degree nail guns normally work with framing nails between 2″ and 3 1/2″.

30 degree

When it comes to flexibility, you’ll want a 30-degree framing nailer. Most are suitable for woodworking, decking, hard lumber jobs, framing, and siding.

Loading mechanism

21 degree

Step 1: Line up your framing nailer’s magazine with the guides on the plastic strip.

Step 2:  Insert the nail strip slowly. The nails should not be forced into the gun. When the nails are kinked, there is a risk of the nail gun jamming or misfiring.

30 degree

Step 1: Make sure there are no substances like oil on the paper.

Step 2: Feed the strips into the magazine slowly so you don’t tear the paper or create kinks.

How to use

21 degree

Step 1: Place the nosepiece of the nailer at a 90-degree angle against the wall.

Step 2: Hole the gun securely with one finger sitting on the trigger and one hand under the gun.

Step 3: Put one hand on the top of the gun and slowly pull the trigger. Try not to pull away from what you are nailing into.

30 degree

Step 1: Place the nose of your nailer onto the wood where you want the nail to go.

Step 2: Get a firm grip on the gun ad gently pull the trigger.

Pros of 21-degree framing nailers

  • Excellent holding strength
  • Complies with building regulations
  • Popular, so parts are easier to obtain

Cons of 21-degree framing nailers

  • Frequent reloading can waste time
  • Safety issues with the plastic potentially flying out, causing injury

Pros of 30-degree framing nailer

  • You can get into awkward places with the steep angle
  • No debris to clean up afterward
  • Carries out a wide range of jobs

Cons of 30-degree framing nailers

  • The collation makes it painful to use.

Which angle nailer should you use?

Different types of nail guns


The 21-degree nailers work well for corners, but unfortunately, they are not as flexible as the other type. As a result, you can’t hold as many nails, and you must reload more frequently.

The good thing is their full-headed nails comply with building codes.


If you prefer a versatile nailer, this model has the largest capacity. Unfortunately, you need to keep it away from moisture as the paper strips will be destroyed.

Be careful as some offset or clipped head nails don’t always comply with.

Safety tips for using framing nailers

  • You should wear safety glasses while loading, unloading, and operating a framing nailer
  • Be sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer
  • Only use nails designed for your framing gun type
  • Don’t disengage or modify the nailer’s safety features
  • Do not aim the nailer at a person or the air – only at your materials or the ground
  • The nail gun should be unplugged when it is not in use and when it is loaded or unloaded
  • Before using them, be sure to inspect framing nail strips for defects and discard any damaged ones


1. Is it possible to use 30-degree nails in a 21-degree nailer?

Ans. While nail clips come in various lengths and gauges, and even in different materials, it’s important to remember that you can only use 21-degree nails if you have a 21-degree nailer.

2. What types of nails can I use for framing nailers?

Ans. With a framing nailer, you can use nails as short as about 2 3/8″, while finishing nailers can use nails up to 2″.

3. How many nails do I need for framing?

Ans. For example, you would need around 55 lbs of nails to frame a basement. You want to to nail 8 nails per stud.

4. Does a lower degree framing nailer mean lower performance?

Ans. Compact framing is often better for most framing jobs. With a 30-or 34-degree framing nailer, you should be able to get the job done. Using this tool, you can take advantage of the close angles found in most framing applications.

About the author

Brent Butterworth

A Professional Woodworker & Custom Furniture Builder

Brent lives in Wisconsin and is a woodworker, custom cabinetmaker, interior consultant, and a freelance writer who got the opportunity to write several magazine articles for different publications on home improvement and woodworking. He’s always amazed at the depth and breadth of woodworking all over the globe, and feels proud to be a part of this great effort. Brent has built everything one can imagine, from unique art furniture to different types of home furniture to canoes and even a sailboat.

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