Nailgun Contact vs Sequential Trip Triggers

By Robert Robillard on Workshop tips

Nailgun Contact vs Sequential Trip Triggers

Nailgun Contact Trip vs. Sequential Trip

Nail Gun Safety:

In the United States, about 37,000 people every year go to emergency rooms with injuries from nail guns, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Forty percent of those injuries occur to consumers. Nail gun injuries tripled between 1991 to 2005. Foot and hand injuries are among the most common.

Contact Trip versus Sequential Trip Triggers what’s the difference?

The most common firing mechanism is the dual-action contact-trip trigger, which requires that the manual trigger and nose contact element both be depressed for a nail to be discharged.   Approximately 65% to 69% of injuries from contact-trip tools could be prevented through the use of a sequential-trip trigger, according to the CDC.

Contact Trip:Using a nail gun safely

A nailgun with a Contact Trip (black trigger) installed will drive a nail whenever both the trip [tools nosing] and the trigger are depressed at the same time.

Many contractors, framers and roofers prefer this method because it allows the tool to be used to rapidly drive nails by holding the trigger pulled and repeatedly bumping the trip against the work to be nailed (called “Bump Nailing”).  A nail is driven each time the nail gun [trip] is bumped against the work surface.

The Contact Trip (black trigger) can also be operated by holding the tool against the work with the trip depressed and then pulling the trigger (called “Place Nailing”).

When using a Contact Trip for Place Nailing, the tool tends to bounce off the material being fastened.  This recoil is dangerous and if the tool is allowed to re-contact the work surface while you are holding the trigger pulled, a second nail will be driven. I’ve seen a recoil bounce the nailer off the wood and shoot a nail off into the distance.   People have also been shot with nails in this same situation described.

I’m not a big fan of this method because of safety.  Sometimes nailgun operators hold down the trigger when moving between nailing applications or they slip and fall while holding the trigger.   During these situations the nailer has the potential to accidentally drive nails if the  trip is bumped against any object or their own body or the body of another person.

Safety tip:  Never hold or carry the tool with your finger on the trigger unless driving fasteners.  Treat a nailer like a firearm.  finger off the trigger until your ready to fire.

Sequential Trip

A nail gun  with a Sequential Trip (silver-gray trigger) offers a safety advantage since it will not accidentally drive a nail if the tool is bumped against any surface or anybody while the operator is holding the tool with the trigger pulled.

I like this feature because when I’m “place nailing” I do not have to worry about the tool recoiling and shooting a second nail at someone.

The Sequential Trip (silver-gray trigger) means that to drive a nail, the operator must first depress the trip against the work and then pull the trigger. To drive a second nail, the operator must lift the tool from the work, release the trigger, and then repeat the above sequence.

This process, or “sequence” can be done quickly and accurately with practice.

Many nailers come with both triggers, I recommend you consider keeping the Sequential trip on your nailer!

Stay safe~ concord carpenter


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor / Writer / Video Talent

Robert Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter and operates a remodeling company located in Concord, MA. He is the editor of and ToolBoxBuzz, and a has a weekly column in the Sunday Boston Globe. Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals, he hosts the Concord Carpenter Cable TV Show, offering advice on home repairs and maintenance. On his website, Rob uses his knowledge and experience to help and educate on best practices in the remodeling industry. His motto: “Well done is better than well said!”. Contact Rob at:

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