Sometimes old tools are cool, and sometimes they just suck. I’ve been living in the dark ages when it comes to staple guns. I think mine was made circa early 80’s. . . a time when big hair was in, pegging your tight jeans was stylish, and staple gun tech left a lot of room for improvement. My old skool staple gun was the kind you needed to actuate by pulling the handle/trigger towards yourself, rather than pushing into it. This action tended to pull the gun away from whatever you were stapling. The trigger action was also stiff enough to give you a great forearm workout. That’s ideal if your forearms need conditioning. However, if you need to fire off a couple hundred staples, the forearm benefit becomes dubious. At the National Hardware Show earlier this year, thoughts of my “retro” staple gun led me to the Arrow booth.
I was happy to see that staple gun had in fact evolved and progressed in recent decades. Arrow sent off one of their T50 elite models for us to review and I’ve had some time to play around with it and put it through it’s paces. Let’s cover a few of the features that set it apart from earlier generations:
Dual Power Settings
I tried out the low power (minus sign) setting which fired off staples into doug fir with no issues. The high-power setting (plus sign) drove staples into solid oak without batting an eyelid.
One of the things I was surprised to learn about the T50 Elite is that it is also a light duty brad nail gun. This also turned out to be my only real disappointment with this tool. The tool states that it fires up to 1″ brad nails (or 25mm if you’re all metric like the rest of the world). Unfortunately we couldn’t get the T50 to fully sink a 1″ brad. In fact it could only sink the brad about half way. We tried driving brads on both hard and soft woods, applying lots of pressure to the gun, and applying light pressure to the gun. In every case a substantial length of brad was left standing proud. You might have better luck with short brads, but given that I rarely have a need for a brad shorter than 1″, my advice is stick to a pneumatic nailer when it comes to brad nailing.
The T50 Elite’s curvaceous grip just begs to be pressed. And, unlike my vintage staple gun, your forearms won’t be aching from lactic acid saturation after driving a few staples. I found my best results by applying a little pressure to the front end of the gun with my other hand. Using your second hand definitely isn’t a necessity, but if you do, the front corner of the T50 Elite is nicely rounded and comfy as well. The parts of the gun you might be gripping are a grippy rubber which is both comfortable and will help prevent you from slipping off the grip if you’re work is sweaty or you happen to be stapling in a rainstorm. Kudos to Arrow Fasteners for making a user-friendly grip.
Integrated Low Voltage Wire Guide
smoking team of lawyers would like us to emphasize the words LOW VOLTAGE in this section. Trying to use this gun to tack your 120v Romex up is not a good plan. However, if you’d like to quickly tack up low voltage wiring, this guide is a great feature. You’ll want a long enough staple to get a good bite into the wood since the staple will deliberately stand proud so it doesn’t crush your low voltage wiring. I tried it on some Cat 5 cable and in most cases the staple stopped right about where you’d want it to. In a couple spots it did depress the cable a bit. I’d be a little wary of tacking up mission-critcal data cabling with this (staples are so thin I’d be concerned they might still cut into or damage the wiring). For quick tacking of most low voltage cabling that isn’t likely to get yanked around, the T50 Elite is ultra-efficient and convenient. If you’re extremely obsessive about your low voltage cabling like I am, you may want to stick to specialized fasteners that have an integrated plastic shield to cradle the wiring in place.
No, it’s not something that counts how many shots of tequila you’ve downed. Regardless of how many staples my old gun held, it felt like I was always running out of them. Arrow thoughtfully included a cutout in the frame of the T50 Elite so you can keep tabs on how much ammo you have left. The theory is that you’ll notice you’re about to run out and reload. That way, you avoid that awkward moment of firing what you thought was a staple and then spending five minutes before you realize you just ran out. After years of staple-gunning sans window, I inevitably forget to look at what’s left. For those of you lacking years of bad habit formation, the window might come in quite handy.
Arrow Fastener touts a jam resistant mechanism resulting is less downtime. Given that our previous gun was frequently jamming, and the T50 didn’t jam at all during testing, we’re inclined to believe their claims. Jamming wasn’t an issue in our particular testing.
To Sum It Up
Recommended for staple gun usage? – most definitely.
Recommended for brad nailing (especially the longer 1″ brads)? – not so much.
If you’re ready to start firing off some staples in ergonomic style, you can find the T50 Elite for $27 at Lowes. Don’t to forget to pick up a few packs of staples while you’re at it (the T50 Elite uses 6 sizes of T50 staples from 1/4″ (6mm) to 9/16″ (14mm). Happy stapling!