Currently set to Index
Currently set to Follow

Best Drill Powered Ice Augers Reviewed In 2022

Written by: Pete D
Last Updated:
SHARE: 

While gas-powered augers largely replaced their manual alternatives decades ago, they’re now dying a slow death due to improvements in battery tech. 

Now, the right cordless drill can provide the torque and speed needed to spin an 8-inch auger, chewing dozens of holes in deep ice on a single charge. Lightweight, quiet, and emissions-free, this new generation of augers is truly changing hard-water angling, and it’s clear there’s no looking back!

If you’re looking for a new auger system, a “convertible” or drill-driven auger is a smart investment.

We’re here to help, and below, you’ll find reviews of some of the best drill-driven augers on the market, as well as a complete buying guide.

Quick glance at the best drill powered ice augers:

Related:

Best Drill Powered Ice Augers Reviewed

K-Drill - Best Pistol Bit Auger for Dirty Ice and Clearing Frozen Holes

k-drill auger

Available at: Bass Pro | Cabelas

Diameter: 6”, 7.5”, and 8.5”:

Length: 36” blade

Blade Type: chipper

Weight: 5 lbs.

K-Drill is one of the most recognizable names in convertible augers, having won a dominant place on the ice.

Available in 6-, 7.5-, and 8.5-inch models with chipper blades, this auger, as its name suggests, isn't truly “convertible” but rather has been designed from the ground up for use with a cordless drill.

And the K-Drill in either size has a lot going for it. When driven by a powerful drill like the Milwaukee 2804 M18, you’re going to find that it’s hungry for the hard water. Its aggressive chipper blades make short work of dirty ice, and they make re-opening a hole a joke.

That’s ideal if you fish from a more or less permanent shelter.

K-drill also offers free sharpening. All you need to do is send your blades in and they’ll come back ready for work.

But not everything about the K-Drill is awesome. 

Due to its short overall length, if you’re drilling deeper ice, you’ll need to bend over - maybe even squat - to get your hole cut. That’s a real issue that gets old, fast.

And those aggressive chipper blades, while murder on dirty ice, also eat into battery life.

You may not care about absolute speed, but some ice anglers need to cut lots of holes quickly when the weather’s bad. That’s not the K-Drill’s strong suit.

It’s probably the slowest popular drill-driven auger, and when you combine that with shorter battery life, this is not the model I’d want if I were looking to cut 50 holes in -20 F.

So if you’re running and gunning, moving quickly and drilling hole after hole, this is probably not the best auger design for you.

On the other hand, if you fish from a permanent shelter, the K-Drill is a great option.

Pros:

  • Greater chipper blades that really eat dirty ice
  • Excellent for re-opening iced-over holes
  • Free sharpening

Cons:

  • Not as fast as the competition
  • Expect lower battery life because of the aggressive chipper blades

StrikeMaster Lite-Flite Lazer - Best Pistol Bit Auger Overall

StrikeMaster Lite-Flite Lazer Drill Unit 6'

Amazon 

Diameter: 6” and 8”

Length: 47” blade

Blade Type: shaver

Weight: 4.4 and 5.3 lbs.

StrikeMaster’s Lazer auger blades aren’t an advertising gimmick, and they’re proven themselves in the real world as perhaps the fastest option on the market.

Head-to-head, I don’t think you’ll find a convertible auger that can out run the StrikeMaster.

It’s that fast.

But don’t take our word for it:

Available in 6- and 8-inch models, for my money, there’s no auger that’s as hungry for the ice.

If you need to get dozens of holes drilled in a hurry, there’s probably no better choice for you, though I wouldn't recommend this auger for clearing any iced-over spots. 

There, the K-Drill really shines.

Strikemaster’s Lite Flite Lazer comes with a plastic flange to save your expensive auger should you not properly tighten your chuck, so no worries there.

And the pilot point and shaver blades get you off and running immediately, spinning into the ice with no pressure needed.

I can’t find any flaw to the StrikeMaster, and I think it’s simply the best convertible auger on the market.

Pros:

  • Extremely fast
  • Excellent build quality
  • Good length

Cons:

  • Not as light as the Eskimo

Eskimo Pistol Bit - Lightest Pistol Bit Auger

Eskimo 35600 Pistol Bit 8' Ice Auger Drill Adaptive Ice Auger Weighs only 3.9 Pounds, Centering Point, Redrills Old Holes Easily Extremely Fast Cutting, 42',3-Year Warranty

Amazon 

Diameter: 6” and 8”

Length: 40” blade

Blade Type: shaver

Weight: 3.2 and 3.9 lbs.

Eskimo’s pistol bit augers are available in 6- and 8-inch models, and anyone who’s been out on the ice knows this company’s reputation. From shanties to bibs, augers to ice chisels, Eskimo is often the name to beat.

Their pistol bit augers are among - if not the - lightest you’ll find, weighing in at an incredible 3.2 and 3.9 pounds. For long treks without a sled or snowmachine, that makes a big difference, and if weight is more important to you than speed, the Eskimo might be the right choice for you.

Though not as fast as the StrikeMaster, it’s not surrendering a lot of performance despite a much more toteable weight:

At 40 inches, this auger won’t have you stooping to cut shallow ice, either, something folks who move from the K-Drill to the Eskimo really appreciate.

And if you forget to tighten your chuck, Eskimo’s got you covered with a big plastic flange that’ll save your auger from the drink.

Overall, this is a very solid auger that’s ideal for people who need the lightest weight possible.

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Excellent build quality
  • Very light!
  • Good length

Cons:

  • Not as fast as the StrikeMaster

Nils USA Convertible Hand Auger

nils convertible ice auger

Available at: Bass Pro | Cabelas

Diameter: 4 ½”, 6”, and 8”

Length: 47” blade

Blade Type: shaver

Weight: approximately 9 lbs.

Nils is a respected name on the ice, and this convertible auger was one of the first of its kind. Years later, it still has fans of its no-nonsense performance and solid build quality.

Available in 4 ½-, 6-, and 8-inch models, Nils uses sharp shaver blades that eat ice with appetite. When powered by an appropriate drill, like the DeWalt 996P2, you can count on this auger to chew hole after hole through even the deepest ice, no sweat.

Before the introduction of the StrikeMaster Lazer, The consensus was that the Nils was the fastest auger around, and even now, it’s still capable of drilling ice more quickly - and more smoothly - than the K-Drill.

But in terms of raw speed, the StrikeMaster is about twice as fast:

As with all convertible augers, you need to be sure to check and recheck your chuck, ratcheting it down tightly to avoid the blade slipping free. If that does happen with the Nils you won’t lose your expensive auger, as it comes with a steel plate that’s larger than the diameter of the blades.

But the Nils has weaknesses, too.

First off, the manufacturer does not recommend you sharpen the blades yourself and requests that you send them in for reconditioning when necessary. That’s not a free service, either.

Build quality is excellent and the all-steel construction is confidence inspiring. But it is heavy as well, and the light weight is one of the selling points of this type of system.

Finally, a minor point: the included blade cover is poorly designed, and you’ll want an aftermarket model to protect the sharp edges when not in use.

Does this make the Nils a bad choice?

Not at all!

But it is slowly being eclipsed by new tech.

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Excellent build quality
  • Very smooth cutting

Cons:

  • You must send the blades back to Nils for resharpening; that isn’t a free service
  • Heavy
  • Bad included blade cover
  • Not as fast as the StrikeMaster
  • Not as light as the Eskimo

What We Consider When Selecting a Drill Auger

Why use a cordless drill and a convertible auger?

Before battery tech reached its current level of performance, the idea that you could generate enough power to run a beast of a drill, and keep that power coming all day in cold weather, was just a pipe-dream.

You needed internal combustion - gasoline or propane - to meet those demands.

But now, cordless drills and their batteries are more than capable of spinning an 8-inch auger just as well as a gas motor, but without the ear-shattering buzz, the stinking odor, the weight, or the risk of spilling gas or oil.

And unlike gas and propane, electric drills start instantly. Keeping the batteries in good shape is as simple as throwing them in a cooler or insulating bag.

No hassle, no fuss.

And the overall weight of a drill and auger is as light or lighter than the very best - and most expensive - electric augers available.

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives:

Electric augers - Electric augers are gaining popularity rapidly.

The best of the bunch are powered by large lithium-ion batteries that offer long run times and plenty of torque to chew through the hardest, thickest ice. They don’t give up any power or performance to gasoline or propane, but they typically do cost a bit more.

They also start instantly, run quietly, and don’t produce any dangerous emissions. That makes them ideal for use in a shelter or shanty.

The only downside to electric ice augers is the need to recharge. There’s no instant top-up like with gasoline or propane, and cold can kill the life of cheap batteries.

That’s one reason why quality matters: you need a top-flight electric auger to get the performance you want.

Overall weight tends to be much higher than a drill and auger combo, while performance isn’t. That’s pushing more and more anglers toward the pistol bit option.

Check out our full buying guide on the best electric ice augers

Propane augers - Propane augers are driven by internal combustion engines.

Fueled by a small propane tank that can be easily replaced in seconds, propane augers offer all the benefits of gasoline, but with easier refueling and no dangerous fumes. They can be used indoors, which is great, but they’re even more unreliable in the cold than gasoline - and just as loud.

These drawbacks have led to their virtual disappearance from the market, with only Jiffy and Eskimo still producing a propane auger.

Check out our buying guide for the best propane ice fishing augers

Manual augers - Manual augers are simple and reliable, and they’re easily the lightest option on the ice. They’re also dead quiet and (obviously) fine to use in a shelter or shanty. Finally, they’re also a lot less expensive than any powered option.

But unless you’re super fit, drilling more than a few holes - or running a big hand auger at all - is going to be a real challenge. Most ice fishermen prefer a powered ice auger, and there’s no question that they save time and energy.

That doesn’t make manual augers a bad pick, just a very specific one that reflects trade-offs about weight, portability, ice thickness, and the number of holes to be drilled.

Check out our full buying guide on the best manual ice augers

Gasoline augers - Gas-powered augers are the old standby. 

Powerful enough for any ice, they’ve got brawn to spare. And, of course, you can carry as much fuel with you as you want, so you can drill pretty much as many holes as you want.

But they’re heavy, loud, and produce deadly fumes that make them outdoor-only. People die every year because they don’t heed this warning, and if you like the idea of being able to run an auger in a shelter, these are absolutely not an option to consider.

They also can be downright cranky in the cold, leading to frustration and wasted time trying to get them to start.

And spilling gasoline on the ice is a great way to kill fishing in a lake forever.

Check out our buying guide and reviews of the best gas ice auger

Auger diameter and length

Which auger diameter you choose depends on how much weight you’re willing to carry as well as the size of the fish you plan to catch.

As you can see from the videos, powerful drills have no trouble spinning an 8-inch auger through feet of ice, so don’t let that worry you.

For smaller species like panfish, a six-inch hole is fine. For big pike, muskie, and lake trout, you probably need that ten-inch auger. But keep two things in mind. First, the bigger the hole, the easier it is for you to drop something in it. And second, if children will be around, it’s essential to size the holes so they can’t accidentally fall through.

Auger length matters, too.

First, you might need to drill through really thick ice, depending on where you live. So make sure your auger’s long enough for the hard water you’ll be fishing.

Second, the shorter the auger’s overall length, the more bending you need to do. And since convertible augers typically were designed for a long handle above them, ditching that for a short drill means more bending than you might expect.

There’s no question that longer is better with a convertible auger.

Blade quality and type

Nothing about an auger predicts performance as well as its blade design.

  • Chipper blades - are serrated, and they excel at cutting dirty, uneven ice. They’re also great for re-opening iced-over holes, but they do create more friction with each turn, working your drill harder and burning more battery power.
  • Shaver blades - are sharp, plain edges that take paper-thin slices of ice off on each pass. They’re best for drilling clean, even ice.

Typically, you get longer battery life from shaver blades, but they’ll dull very quickly in sandy or dirty ice, and if you hit a rock, prepare for trouble.

Final Thoughts

If you fish from a “permanent” ice shelter and will be clearing a lot of frozen holes over the winter, the K-Drill might be the best choice for you. Ditto if you fish rivers where sand and dirt are likely to be an issue.

But if you frequently run 30, 40, or even 50 holes in clean ice, nothing beats the StrikeMaster. It’s faster than anything you’ve ever seen, and it doesn’t give up an ounce of performance to the best electric and gas augers.

Finally, if weight is your biggest concern, Eskimo is the way to go. Their augers are the lightest option on the market, and if you’re tired of toting a heavy auger out on the ice from hole to hole, the Eskimo will put a smile on your face.

We can’t tell you which auger on our shortlist is best for you, but we can guarantee that they all work hard and eat ice like they're starving.

As always, we hope this article has been helpful, and if you have a question or a comment, please leave a message below.

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram