[UPDATE 11/6/2013: Recent models seem to be prone to jamming. Read the Amazon reviews - Mark Frauenfelder]
One of the joys of producing Cool Tools is the delightful moment a reader turns me on to a better tool than the one I just reviewed. I got a note (below) letting me know that the good old standby Staple Gun which I ran last week has a superior improvement: the forward action stapler. You increase impact by squeezing toward the point of contact (on the left side in the illustration here.) I immediately got one and was hooked. It’s ergonomically ingenious, more effective, and no more expensive than the standard type. Takes the usual T-50 staples. It is so much better that I will retire that early review. This good “new” standby is the one that belongs in the most basic toolbox.
There’s no doubt that a staple gun is, well, a staple. And far be it for me to knock the old school tools – age, or more properly staying power, seems to correlate very highly with usefulness when it comes to tools, but I have to say I think there are better staple guns. The problem with the classic design is that the stiff spring requires you to place the bulk of your squeeze pressure as far up the handle as possible – that is, away from the staple-point. This has the unfortunate tendency of causing the staple point to lift in a sort of pre-recoil when the trigger engages, leaving you with staples that are not-quite-in. Experienced users learn to counterbalance and apply extra pressure to the front — also to anticipate the recoil — but these adaptations speak to a need for revision.
The newer school of staple guns have very sensibly reversed this arrangement. The handle now inclines towards the front, with the trigger mechanism at the rear. Now the strain of battling the spring causes you to bear down directly on the staple point. You can get both consumer and contractor-grade “forward action” staplers.
[Here's a warning about this tool from reader Barbara Dace: "It was a really good idea...but check out the reviews on Amazon and you'll see the problem. They jam, and you cannot clear the jam without disassembling the unit, which is then very difficult to reassemble. Whereupon...it jams again. Mine lasted for all of 3 staples. A most Uncool Tool, I'm afraid..." -- Mark Frauenfelder]