January 29, 2008

JacPac - Review

jacpac_case.jpgWe've been interested in Supplierpipeline's JacPac ever since we first laid eyes on it last month. It's a little portable pneumatic power source that clips on your belt, making you a one man mobile nailing army. It seemed to us that this might be one of those tools that really could change the way you work. Just imagine what it would be like to have all the ease and versatility of your nail guns without all the weight, noise, and hassle of the compressor setup. But we also had a nagging feeling that this whole thing would be a bit of a gimmick, that it wouldn't shoot nails very well, or that it be poorly made and fall apart after the first use. Well, thanks to the nice folks at Supplierpipeline, we got the opportunity to test one out and here's what we found.

The tank itself is filled with liquid CO2, which is easily available at any paintball supply store and it's pretty cheap. A quick google search located the nearest paintball emporium and $3.45 later the tank was ready to go. The rest of the setup is easy enough, just screw the tank into the regulator and you're done.

jacpac_regulator.jpgThe tank and regulator are very lightweight (under 5 lbs) and after a bit, we sort of forgot that they were hanging off of our belt. The belt clip itself is very nice with a piece that catches the underside of the belt, ensuring that crouching down won't knock the tank off your hip. The air hose is 10' long and is in a very tight coil, so it manages to stay out of the way when not fully extended. The regulator is very basic and thus easy to use; there's just one knob that controls the desired pressure (from 0 to 120 lbs). For the most part, everything is well-built and feels nice and sturdy.

jacpac_busted_o_ring.jpgWe did have a problem with the little o-ring that sits at the end of the tank. After only three times screwing the tank on and off the regulator, the ring was completely munched, broken, and useless. The kit comes with five extras, but it might be worth looking into getting either a big bag of them or a more heavy duty one down at the paintball store.

We tested out the JacPac with all sorts of guns and had success with everything from brad guns to roofing guns to framing guns. The manual comes with a little chart letting you know the averages of how many shots the different guns can get off of a single tank. For a 10oz tank (the size that comes with the kit), a headless pinner can get about 750 shots off, the brad/staple gun that comes with the kit can manage 375, and a roofing gun about 150. Framing guns aren't even on the list leading us to assume that they're in the under 100 range and not a great match for the JacPac.

jacpac_psi.jpgAfter a few days of testing the JacPac, we started to see our nail guns as truly portable tools. We had to go to a job where we knew we'd only need to shoot a few brads, so we threw the JacPac in the truck and before we knew it, we were done. No lugging a compressor around and no noise. We just plugged in, tacked our brads, and packed up. Even around the workshop, it came in handy, not having to have a hose crawling all over the floor.

jacpac_on_belt.jpgWe also wrapped up a few projects in the house that had hit that dreaded final 2% left. For about three months we've been looking at a few pieces of trim in need of a few pins. With the JacPac, we just ran in the house, did the work, and called it a day five minutes later. On our way back to the workshop, we also did some repairs to the woodshed that we've been meaning to do for a while. With a compressor those two simple tasks would have taken much longer and been a far greater production, which is probably why we'd been ignoring them for so long.

One drawback that we found is that there is no way of knowing how much CO2 is left in the canister. After a while, you might be able to gauge this by weight of the canister, but as far as planning a work day around the JacPac, things will get more difficult. Like we said, one tank can shoot about 400 brads. So unless you're rain man, after a while you'll lose track of what's left in the tank which might cause you to come up short with no compressor backup in sight.

jacpac_gun.jpgThere are two kits available; one with a brad/staple gun and one without. As far as the gun goes, it's nice, but really nothing special. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to the one that Grizzly sells for $30 (although that one only shoots brads). The JacPac gun also shoots staples, but the gun itself is a stripped down, no-frills affair. This isn't to say that this is a bad gun, but if you already own one that you like, this one likely won't be replacing it. The kit without the gun is around $100 and with the gun it's $160, so you make the call on that one.

One thing that we do recommend is to go out and buy an additional canister, so you'll always have a backup. A 10oz tank seems to go for around $10 and your local paintball retailer probably has one. Seeing as the JacPac is designed to accept any standard CO2 container, there's also the option of upgrading to a larger tank, resulting, obviously, in the ability to shoot more nails.

This is a great tool and a worthy investment for any contractor or advanced DIYer. It won't completely replace your compressor, but it will make a lot of jobs much easier. With the amount of convenience that it will add to your workday, you'll make up the $100 in no time.

JacPac with Brad/Staple Gun at Amazon.com
JacPac at Amazon.com
Additional CO2 Tanks at Amazon.com

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at January 29, 2008 6:08 AM
Recent Comments

Those urethane o-rings are a common hassle for paintball players, too. Urethane swells in the presence of pressurised CO2 (which makes a good seal) but the o-rings also become very brittle when cooled by the escaping CO2 while detaching the tank. The combination of a swollen, brittle o-ring results in a lot of breakage.

There are other materials that can be used in a "tank-seal" o-ring - ask the staff at your o-ring supplier for something other than urethane.

Posted by: Crosius at February 4, 2008 8:59 AM
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