Pros: Very reliable, tough, useful/small case, easy-to-use, sexy design
Ever since I was a boy, my dad has told me, "boy, you ain't never gonna drive these brads like yo pa." I spent countless hours trying to best my father, many late nights practicing on the neighbor's deck after he'd fallen asleep. Still, my father was right - I just couldn't drive those brads like he could. I told my doctor I couldn't sleep because I spent all the night hours nailing. The doctor sent me to a psychiatrist, who was quick to give me a prescription for an air compressor (all hail the Ridgid Tri-stack) and a brad nailer. She refused to prescribe a generic, stating that the Hitachi was free with the purchase of the Hitachi miter saw (which was 50% off). And so, my ailment was cured....
A simple plastic case with a cardboard sheath. The case has two plastic latches and a small area in which a name is to be inscribed. Inside, there is sufficient room for some brads and oil. I have 1" Bostitch brads, 2" Porter Cable brads and Bostitch oil all packed in there perfectly; I have no idea if this was deliberate, but I really appreciate it, as it helps to keep everything neatly organized.
Ergonomics and Aesthetics
Hitachi tools remind me of weapons from alien movies or video games...this one is no different. The body is silver with an aggressive unique shape and black accents. Well, just look at the picture and you'll see what I mean.
In the hand, it feels pretty decent. It's not quite the rubber overmolded Bosch beauty to which I've become accustomed, but it feels good enough nevertheless. There is rubber about the grip and rubber on the trigger surface, but the handle itself is fairly straight and does not conform to the hand like most good drills. The weight isn't really an issue at all - the air hose pull matters more than the actual weight. In my case, I typically have it connected to a recoil hose...great for putting it away, not as great for use.
This gun has two modes of operation: single shot and kill, or 'automatic' if you will. The latter allows the user to hold the trigger and with each depression of the 'muzzle safety'/nose end guard the gun will fire a nail. This is a great feature to have once you're comfortable with the gun, as it can really speed up things with rough carpentry; beginning users may wish to learn using single fire mode initially.
The magazine is plenty large and accommodates brads up to 2" in length. It's easily opened with a button on the bottom. A latch located at the top of the magazine can be drawn back to reveal any jams that should occur, and a thin flathead screwdriver can be used to clear them. A depth adjustment guide allows some additional control over depth of firing, and it is easily adjusted with a small knob upfront. This was the only thing that struck me as a little cheap on this gun due to all the play in the mechanism, but I haven't had any real issue with it.
This is where this little tool makes money. It consistently drives the brads every bit as deep as I like, regardless of brad length or wood type. I've used this to drive thousands of brads, and not once has it jammed on me (edit: I finally got it to jam on me, although this is also the only instance I forgot to oil it before use). The nose guard is dual beveled to allow for 45 degree nailing...very handy. The rear air vent is adjustable, so that you can direct the flow of air...it's nice not being blasted by compressed air after each shot.
As far as durability, this has yet to fail me. It's taken far more drops than I'd like to admit, and it doesn't appear to be scathed a bit.
Nailers require high pressure and low flow from their compressors. So, this will run off about any unit that will do 80-100 psi.
A nail gun is a valuable tool to have, and a brad nailer like this is a good start for small carpentry jobs. Hitachi has put about every feature you'd need in a brad nailer and made it reliable to boot. I got mine for free with miter saw, but knowing how nice this is, I wouldn't hesitate to spend the $60.00 or so for it.