Best Cordless Drill For Ice Auger

Our Pick
DEWALT 20V Max Cordless Drill Combo Kit
5.0
$139.00

The one-half-inch ratcheting chuck ensures a tight grip on the ice auger, with no slippage when you hit hard sections and the torque jumps up.

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11/28/2022 12:08 am GMT

Ice fishing is a popular sport across the northern states and Canadian provinces. It once required heavy equipment, but now you can take your cordless power drill, but an auger that fits tightly inside the drill chuck, and power through the ice all afternoon or night.

Finding the best cordless drill for ice auger use doesn’t have to be hard. The quest to find the best ice auger drill starts at your hardware store and ends at a sporting goods shop, but before you go, you need to know a few things to look for first.

First a step back in time.

Digging Through to the Fish, a Step Back in Time

best cordless drill for ice auger

It was an inevitable conversion of technologies. For centuries men walked out onto the ice with heavy digging bars, steel-tipped wooden bars, and even oak handles tipped with bronze points as found in archeological sites in Scandinavia.

In the late 19th-century, heavy steel augers challenged the chipping technique, but these were made of industrial age steel, weighing dozens of pounds.

By the 1940s, lighter, high tensile steel took the place of those heavy early ice drills.

In the last half-century, the gas-powered ice auger began to replace the hand-powered models, but they came with noise, exhaust, and you had to carry fuel out on the ice with you. They weren’t exactly featherweights, either.

In the 1970s, cordless power tools entered the consumer market. By the turn of the century, they began to gradually increase in power and voltage, until now when 18 and 20-volt models are the standards.

These higher-voltage drills have the torque to turn a six or eight-inch auger through inches, and sometimes feet, of frozen water.

The result is quieter, easier to handle, lighter, and much easier to drag behind you on a sled.

Our Picks

Our Pick
DEWALT 20V Max Cordless Drill Combo Kit
5.0
$139.00

The one-half-inch ratcheting chuck ensures a tight grip on the ice auger, with no slippage when you hit hard sections and the torque jumps up.

Shop on Amazon
11/28/2022 12:08 am GMT
Premium Pick
Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Compact Brushless Cordless 1/2" Drill Kit
5.0
$254.00

This is one of the pricier models on our list, but if you’re after torque, this baby delivers. This drill is rated at 440-inch pounds of torque.

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11/28/2022 04:51 am GMT
Milwaukee18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Brushless Cordless 1/2 in. Drill/Driver Kit
4.0
$207.99 $126.58

It is lightweight at 3.4 pounds including the battery and just 6.5 inches long. If space and weight are a premium in your ice fishing ventures, this might be the drill for you.

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11/28/2022 12:05 am GMT
CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Drill/Driver Kit, Brushless
$131.00 $89.00

The charger will restore the battery to full power in less than an hour, and the product carries Craftman’s well-established 3-year limited warranty.

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11/28/2022 12:02 am GMT
Worx 20V Power Share 1/2" Cordless Drill/Driver with Brushless Motor
$99.99 $87.06

A relative newcomer to the cordless power tool market, Worx is “working” its way into the market with low-cost, high-power cordless equipment. This 20-volt drill costs half to a third of the price of competing models and still delivers good performance.


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11/28/2022 12:03 am GMT
WORKPRO Pink Cordless 20V Lithium-ion Drill Driver Set
$75.99 $52.79

This is the least expensive drill, and possibly the most fashionable. If you’re looking for either of those considerations, this is a drill for you.

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11/28/2022 12:03 am GMT

What to Look for in the Best Drill for Ice Auger Use

ice hole

You’re going to quickly see the merging of technologies when you start to look into the performance standards you’ll require in a cordless power drill when you take it out on the ice.

The first is power, power measured in torque. There are a lot of inexpensive cordless drills that wind up to very high speed, but bind up, and heat up, often ruining the electrical components inside when you require torque.

Torque is the ability to turn the drill against heavy resistance. In powering a six or eight-inch auger through sub-zero ice, that can be three feet thick, you’re going to experience resistance, and your drill will experience substantial torque.

The second thing to consider is battery power. There are dozens of 12, 14, and 15.6-volt drills on the market. They might be able to drill a few short holes, but they won’t have the torque, and they won’t last long.

A higher power rating, at least 18 or 20 volts, guarantees longer battery life. That means more holes without changing or charging the battery. It works on the same principle as 120 versus 240 volts in AC. The lower voltage will do the job for most applications, but ovens, pumps, welders, and central air conditioning units need the bigger punch of 240 volts. The greater power means less is generated, and though the voltage is higher, it uses less electricity since the appliance is more powerful under load and doesn’t pull as much power. That’s the essence of the 18 or 20-volt battery in action.

Don’t worry about cold conditions, portable power tools as with all electronics function much better in cold temperatures than they do in hot.

Warranty / Manufacturer

The reputation of the manufacturer is an important consideration. When dealing with DeWalt, Black and Decker, Milwaukee, or Makita you’re working with global companies, who have extensive track records in the market, ample repair parts, accessories, extra batteries, and most importantly, will honor the warranty they put on their products. Not all lesser-known companies will do that.

Batteries

Probably the most frustrating consumer experience in cordless power tools is the marketing concept of some companies in producing low-cost tools, with ridiculously high-priced batteries. It’s a marketing ploy, and you’ll fall victim to it if you don’t look at the cost of replacement batteries when you make your initial purchase. Sometimes a drill with a battery costs less than the replacement battery by dozens of dollars. Be careful.

The chuck

Every drill has a slightly different chuck. The chuck is the opening at the business end of the drill that takes bits, or in this instance, the shaft of an ice auger. Check the size of the chuck, and the diameter of your ice auger, before you leave the store. If the ice auger shaft is one-half inch, and the widest opening on the chuck is just seven-sixteenths, it’s not going to fit.

It’s much easier to test it in the store before you buy. Tell the people at the store what you’re doing and take the drill with you to buy an ice auger, test it with the auger and make sure it fits. If you have the auger, just do the reverse. Vendors want to sell to you and won’t mind if you carry one or the other into their establishment.

The Best Cordless Drill for Ice Auger Reviews

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Cordless Drill

It’s probably not a surprise that a 20 volt DeWalt drill is the first one on our list. DeWalt is an industry leader in the construction industry with a long, well-established history of quality products.

This drill uses a brushless motor, that features a 57% increase in runtime over brushed models. It’s lightweight at just 3.4 pounds, has an ergonomic comfort grip that works well with bare hands, but more importantly, works equally well while wearing gloves on sub-zero days out on the ice.

The one-half-inch ratcheting chuck ensures a tight grip on the ice auger, with no slippage when you hit hard sections and the torque jumps up.

A nice addition to this model is a 3-Mode LED that illuminates the area directly in front of the drill. Many ice anglers do their best work in pitch-black conditions in the middle of the night. This feature eliminates the need for a headlamp or lantern while drilling through the ice.

The only caveat on this model is the price of replacement batteries. The unit comes with a single battery, and the replacements are pricey, not astronomical, but something you need to be aware of.

DeWalt batteries recharge at an average speed, so plan for a couple of hours to get one back to full strength.

Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2″ Driver-Drill

This is one of the pricier models on our list, but if you’re after torque, this baby delivers. This drill is rated at 440-inch pounds of torque. What does that mean? It means if you’re on smooth ice or have a little water on the surface of the ice, and you hit a hard section while drilling, you’ll most likely rotate around the hole rather than the auger dig in. That is torque.

The Makita model comes with a mechanical two-speed transmission. The power setting is 0-500, that’s what you’ll use on the ice, but the standard setting ranges from 0-1900 RPM and is more at home in your shop.

One of the benefits of Makita cordless tools is the speed of the charger. The included charger can fully charge your battery in as little as 30 minutes.  But, as with its rival at DeWalt, you only get one battery and replacements are expensive.

This Makita drill is one of the more pricey models listed here, it’s also one of the heavier at 7.6 pounds.

Milwaukee 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Compact Brushless Cordless 1/2 in. Drill/Driver

Milwaukee is best known for its high-quality saws, grinders, and powered plumbing/pipe fitting equipment, but they also make a quality cordless drill.

This cordless drill from Milwaukee is an 18-volt, lithium-ion battery-powered drill with a one-inch chuck. It is lightweight at 3.4 pounds including the battery and just 6.5 inches long. If space and weight are a premium in your ice fishing ventures, this might be the drill for you.

CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Drill/Driver Kit, Brushless

Most of us grew up with Sears, and while their catalog no longer arrives in the mail (your mailman is thankful) their Craftsman product line continues to offer quality hand tools, power tools, and cordless tools as well.

This 20-volt drill is a powerhouse, with a two-speed gearbox offering speeds of 0-600 in the power mode, and 0-900 in the higher setting.

A ratcheting chuck ensures a good grip on the auger shaft, and the brushless motor demands less power for the same performance, increasing battery life. The charger will restore the battery to full power in less than an hour, and the product carries Craftman’s well-established 3-year limited warranty.

Worx 20V Power Share 1/2″ Cordless Drill/Driver with Brushless Motor

A relative newcomer to the cordless power tool market, Worx is “working” its way into the market with low-cost, high-power cordless equipment. This 20-volt drill costs half to a third of the price of competing models and still delivers good performance.

This is a high-speed drill operating at speeds of 2000 RPM.

It is packed with the features found in competing models, including a ratcheting clutch, LED front-end illumination, and a two-speed clutch. The jury is out on this new model, but the lower speed offers great torque.

If you’re on a limited budget, but you still want a reliable drill to take out on the ice, this might be one to consider.

WORKPRO Pink Cordless 20V Lithium-ion Drill Driver

They say pink is the new camo, no they don’t, no one does, but if you don’t mind the color, this drill has the features you need for a day or night out on the ice. The pink color might even come in handy if it falls off your sled or four-wheeler on the way to your favorite location on the lake. It’ll be easy to spot against the stark, white background.

Workpro built this 1500 RPM drill around a solid 20-volt battery. With two speed settings of 0-400, and 0-1500 RMP it has tremendous torque in the lower speed setting.

The chuck is a little small at 3/8th of an inch, and may not work with all ice augers, but there are augers with shaft diameters of one-quarter and 3/8th that will work with this unit. The motor in this drill is an older brush model. You’ll notice that when you run it at night since brush motors always have a spark visible through the housing when they start. This isn’t a malfunction, it’s just how the technology works.

This is the least expensive drill, and possibly the most fashionable. If you’re looking for either of those considerations, this is a drill for you.

Conclusion

ice fishing

There are a lot of cordless drills out there. You can buy 12-volt varieties for under $30, but they won’t deliver the torque or the battery duration you need for a day or multiple days on the ice that you will get from the best cordless drill for ice augers.

You usually don’t have the option of recharging batteries when you’re ice fishing unless you bring a portable generator with you. So long battery life and backup batteries are a must if you plan on staying out an entire weekend, or even longer if you’ve got a few days to spend out in the ice hut.

Batteries and chuck size are the most important considerations. Get a model with an 18 or 20-volt battery, and find a backup battery that won’t break the bank. It takes a while to look, and many manufacturers are hesitant to clearly price their backup batteries since it is a very viable revenue stream for them. But, do your homework. Find the model that does the job, with the lower-priced battery, and consider it.

The ice is no place to run out of power.

For more guidance on choosing ice fishing gear, check out the pages below:

Randy Tucker

Randy Tucker

I am a fishing enthusiast and writer from Wyoming. I travel all over the world to experience different types of fishing and often write about it for different publications. I mostly fish for walleye, perch, catfish, crappie, trout, bass, and ling. The outdoors has been an important part of my life since childhood, and I am fortunate to make a living while enjoying what I love.

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