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, have been the industry standard for many years. Most other manufacturers started making similar tools (imitations) when Hilti’s patent expired. The extension poles offered by these manufacturers can be more expensive than the powder actuated tool itself. Fortunately, there are other companies that make extension poles. The Long Shooter brand of post tools, for example, has a proven track record of high quality and is available at low cost.
An extension pole typically consists of a fiberglass pole with a means to secure the PAT tool on one end and a trigger on the other. The installer must be protected against shock in case the PAT nail pierces an electrical conduit. Therefore, PAT extension poles are typically made of fiberglass and have a dielectric coupling to withstand up to 10,000 volts.
Roof cables pre-wrapped on an angle clip and concrete dowel are available from some of the larger distributors. Pre-wrapped roof cable assemblies along with an extension pole allow a single worker to install 700 or more roof cables on an average day. Most contractors customize their pole tool by connecting a short section of electrical conduit or PVC pipe to the side of the pole. This is used to hold a number of roof cable assemblies to reduce round trips to resupply.
The Ramset Viper tool was developed specifically for the suspended ceiling industry in the US Early versions of the Ramset Viper tool did not require a trigger 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 attached to a simple and inexpensive telescopic pole. The latest version of the Viper, the Viper4, requires a trigger mechanism and a special extension tool. The Viper 4 is not a “BUMP” tool.
Powers Fasteners make a “BUMP” tool similar to earlier versions of the Viper. Powers calls his tool Sniper. Most of the fans of the “BUMP” tool are switching to Sniper.
In short, extension posts for powder actuated tools increase efficiency, improve safety, and dramatically reduce costs. There are videos online that demonstrate how PAT tools are mounted to extension poles, as well as how to use them.