There are several manufacturers of powder actuated tools used in the suspended ceiling industry: Hilti, Ramset, Powers, Simpson and Bluepoint. The Hilti DX 350 powder actuated tool (PAT) and its cousin the DX35 has been the standard of the industry for many years. Most of the other manufacturers began making similar tools (knock offs) when Hilti’s patent expired. The extension poles offered by these manufacturers can be more expensive than the powder actuated tool itself. Luckily there are other companies making extension poles. The Long Shooter brand of pole tools for instance has a proven track record of high quality and is available at a low cost.
Typically an extension pole consists of a fiberglass pole with a means to secure the PAT tool on one end and a trigger pull on the other. The installer has to be protected from shock in case an electrical conduit is pierced by the PAT nail. Therefore, PAT extension poles are usually made of fiberglass and have a dielectric coupling to withstand up to 10,000 volts.
Ceiling wires pre-wrapped to an angle clip and a concrete pin are available at some of the larger distributors. Pre-wrapped ceiling wire assemblies coupled with an extension pole allow a single worker to install 700 or more ceiling wires in an average day. Most contractors customize their pole tool by attaching a short section of electrical conduit or PVC pipe to the side of the pole. This is used to hold a number of ceiling wire assemblies to cut down on trips back and forth to re-stock.
Ramset’s Viper tool was developed specifically for the suspended ceiling industry in the US. Early versions of Ramset’s Viper tool did not require a trigger-pull mechanism. Instead, the tool was pressed against the ceiling and the impact or “BUMP” activated the tool. This “BUMP” feature allowed the tool to be place on a simple and inexpensive telescoping pole. The latest version of the Viper, the Viper4, requires a trigger pull mechanism and a special extension tool. The Viper 4 is not a “BUMP” tool.
Powers Fasteners makes a “BUMP” tool similar to the older versions of the Viper. Powers calls their tool the Sniper. Most fans of the “BUMP” tool are switching to the Sniper.
In summary, extension poles for powder actuated tools increase efficiency, improve safety and greatly reduce cost. There are videos on-line that demonstrate how PAT tools are mounted to extension poles, as well as how they’re used.