Powder Actuated Tools

Powder actuated tools or a Hilti or Ramset gun are actually nail guns that are used in the construction and manufacturing industries to fasten two hardened surfaces together. Most commonly, they’re used to fasten steel and concrete. This process which is referred to as direct fastening, relies on a discharge of a firing pin similar to a gun. Both a fastener and an explosive charge are necessary for use. There are two types of powder actuated tools, high and low velocity. While the high velocity tool uses the charge as a direct propellant of the nail, the low velocity tool uses a piston that will drive the nail into the material. the low velocity tools are defined as those that drive the nail at less than 492 feet per second.

As mentioned before, the two major manufacturers of powder actuated tools are Hilti and Ramset. They vary in style and design but perform basically the same. Hilti’s brand is identified by their DX line (351, 470, 462 and 860) while Ramset boasts their greatness through the Viper. Truly a mater of choice, they both bring unique features to their products.

In your powder actuated tools, you have cartridges or shots to propel the piston, fasteners or nails. The fasteners come in a variety of strengths, depending on how thick or dense the material you’re fastening to. Hardened steel pins are most commonly used and are needed to keep materials from shattering. Powder actuated tool cartridges work similar to a blank gunshot. Most of the charges are simply modified firearm casings. Moreover, Smith & Wesson is the major producer of the cartridges.

To use the cartridges, a strip containing the charges is inserted into the tool. Then, the end of the tool is placed against the material you’re fastening the pin to or to the two pieces you’re joining together. You then apply pressure to the end of the gun pull the trigger, thus joining the materials. Safety is always a concern with these tools and you should never use an automatic fastener without the correct protective equipment in place. This means you should always be wearing safety glasses. In today’s safety conscious world, manufacturers of powder actuated tools and nail guns are offering training and certification. Many projects as well as employers may require this before they allow an employee to use these tools. It is an OSHA violation to not dispose of the cartridges correctly, so OSHA requires training on these tools also.