Last week, we had the opportunity to visit with the folks at Bosch in Chicago about their 2009 lineup. The first item on the long list of new gear Bosch is rolling out this year is their Full Force Technology nailers, the stars of which –- mostly ‘cuz they’re the only ones out yet — are the SN350 series framing guns. The phrase “lean and mean” was tossed around a lot by many folks at the event, and while we admit that it’s largely a catchphrase, it applies in this case.
The Full Force in the name refers to Bosch’s new pneumatic system which was designed from the ground up and works differently than the traditional gun. To start off with, it’s around twenty percent smaller than, say, a Paslode or Hitachi, and it’s a little more powerful.
The standard way to return the piston is with a return camber that builds up air when the gun is fired and eventually pushes the piston back to the reset position when enough pressure is put into it. Bosch’s new Full Force system uses a separate, much smaller blast of air to return the piston on the trigger release -– of course, if the gun’s in multi-shot mode it’ll do it automatically. But what’s important is that there’s a second chamber in charge of nothing but the back stroke; that means the entire blast is dedicated to driving the nail, not split between driving and returning the piston.
Bosch makes the housing as rugged as any gun on the market today, with a solid aluminum frame and no plastic parts except for on the trigger. Going a step further, Bosch also added a metal plate on the butt-end, for guys who like to use their gun like a hammer to nudge boards in the right direction before fastening them.
The bumper or tip of the gun also underwent serious scrutiny as the most likely part of the gun to wear out — Bosch designed the tip with aggressive teeth to hold wood on toe-ins, and it won’t deform easily.
The most interesting part of the whole gun to us was the detachable magazine. The lever’s located to the side and out of the way, plus it doesn’t seem to come loose unless the operator disengages it — even when we threw it around (read: across the room) at the Bosch event.
With one clean flip of a lever the magazine comes completely off the gun in case of jamming. Even the best of guns jam on occasion because fasteners get stuck for one reason or another, and the simple fact that the operator can just slap another mag on with the flick of a lever and deal with the jam later is very sweet indeed.
As far as we can tell this is one of the largest leaps forward in pneumatic gun design in the last few decades. A great deal of thought and practical engineering went into the Full Force system, and with all the other guns on the way we think this is a lineup worth checking out if you’re in the market.
Of course, like anything else, you get what you pay for, and you’ll notice your wallet is a little lighter after shelling out the $350 for this rig. It’s a price tag at the upper edge of the market — however, as far as we can tell from first glance, the gun is more durable and well-put-together than anything we’ve seen.
Bosch has done some in-depth testing and shakedown of the new system, and it shows. If the guns hold up half as well as we suspect they will when the test units show up, Hitachi, Paslode, and DeWalt should be shaking in their boots.
SN-350 Framing Guns [Bosch]