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Best Hand Ice Augers: 2022 Reviews and Buying Guide

Written by: Pete D
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Maybe you’re just old-school, or perhaps your fishing hot spot only requires a few well-placed holes to produce. Maybe you’re on a tight budget or just looking for an ultra-light, ultra-dependable option for the hard water.

As legions of anglers can attest, a hand auger makes sense for a variety of reasons, and the best of the bunch can cut through the ice as fast as a powered auger.

That’s no exaggeration, and if you’re looking for an efficient, fast hand auger for your ice fishing, we’re here to help.

Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorite hand augers, as well as a buying guide to help get you up to speed.

Quick glance at the best hand ice augers:

Related: Best Ice Augers Reviewed For 2022

Best Hand Ice Augers Reviewed

Nils USA High-Velocity Hand Auger - Best Hand Ice Auger

Nils Hand Ice Auger

Available at: Cabela's | Fish USA

Diameter: 4 ½”, 6”, and 8”

Length: blade length of 32” in the smaller sizes, 34” for the 8” auger

Blade Type: shaver

Weight: 8-10 lbs.

Nils’ hand auger is a well-known performer on the ice, and its sharp blades and ergonomic design help it chew through the ice faster than you’d imagine. 

Don’t believe us?

Check this out:

Designed and manufactured in Finland, this simple tool is all work. In fact, fit anglers can get these shaver blades through an inch of ice per second, which is as fast as any power auger can manage.

The secret to this high-speed drilling is the offset handles, which require both arms to work the auger. That imparts more force and speed to the blades, in turn eating into the ice much faster than less well-designed competitors.

Lightweight, easy to transport, and simple to use, it’s a great alternative to finicky gas models and other heavy augers when you’re not drilling 50 holes in thick ice.

Available in a range of diameters, most people won’t have trouble with even the larger diameter blades. Be careful, though: dirty ice will dull this auger quickly.

Pros:

  • Light and easy to transport
  • Incredibly fast
  • Simple and effectively unbreakable
  • Usable inside your shelter
  • Silent

Cons:

  • Dirty ice will dull these blades quickly

StrikeMaster Mora Ice Auger

StrikeMaster Mora Hand Ice Auger

Available at: Fish USA

Diameter: 5”, 6”, 7”, and 8”

Length: adjustable; 48-57”

Blade Type: shaver

Weight: 6-8 lbs.

Like Nils, Strikemaster hails from Scandinavia, where cutting holes in the ice each winter is a long-standing tradition. In this case, the famous knife Swedish knife company Mora is involved, and that pretty much guarantees no-nonsense quality.

Strikemaster’s auger is controlled with one hand and cranked with the other, and as a result, it isn’t quite as hungry for the ice as the Nils. That’s not helped by the relatively flat blades, either, as this auger has a tendency to wander as you try to start a hole. And like all shaver-style augers, you’ll need to be careful with dirty ice, or you’ll dull your blades in no time.

As a thoughtful feature, this auger sports an adjustable handle, allowing you to select the length that’s right for you and the ice. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially for taller or shorter anglers, or when you need the extra length to cut deep ice.

Pros:

  • Light and easy to transport
  • Simple and effectively unbreakable
  • Usable inside your shelter
  • Silent

Cons:

  • Not as fast or efficient as the Nils, and probably a step behind the Lazer

StrikeMaster Lazer Auger

Lazer 2pc Hand Auger 8'

Avialable at: Amazon  | Cabela's | Fish USA

Diameter: 4”, 5”, 6”, 7”, and 8”

Length: adjustable; 48-57”

Blade Type: shaver

Weight: 5.5 - 8.5 lbs.

StrikeMaster designed a blade that’s swept the industry by storm, appearing on its entire range of products.

The Lazer features a relentlessly sharp and hungry set of blades, as well as a pilot point that stops wandering instantly. Until you see this auger in action, it’s hard to believe.

Adjustable for a range of heights to help save your back, the StrikeMaster is a great auger that plenty of ice anglers swear by.

Right off the bat, I’ll say that StrikeMaster Lazer and Nils fans are as die-hard as Chevy and Ford enthusiasts, and you can start a fight on the ice in no time over which one is better and why.

We’re big fans of the Lazer blade on powered augers - no question about that - and StrikeMaster gets the nod from us for sure when it comes to electric augers. 

But to be fair, the offset handle design on the Nils is simply a stroke of genius, and it substantially reduces the effort you’ll need to drill. In thicker ice, this makes a massive difference, as it will if you’re cutting more than one or two holes.

Does that make the StrikeMaster Lazer a bad buy?

Not by a mile!

But if you want the most efficient, fastest auger out there, the Nils is almost certainly the place to start.

Pros:

  • Light and easy to transport
  • Simple and effectively unbreakable
  • Usable inside your shelter
  • Silent

Cons:

  • Not as fast or efficient as the Nils

Eskimo Hand Auger - Most Budget-Friendly Hand Ice Auger

Eskimo Hand Auger HD08 Hand Auger with 8' Dual Flat Blades

Amazon 

Diameter: 6”, 7”, and 8”

Length: adjustable; 49-58”

Blade Type: shaver

Weight: 6.5 - 7.5 lbs.

Eskimo’s hand auger doesn’t get much love in terms of speed or efficiency, and you can’t expect this no-frills auger to keep up with the Lazer or Nils. 

That’s just a plain and simple truth.

Head-to-head, it’s slower and less efficient than either of those options, taking more work to accomplish the same task.

But it is remarkably inexpensive and performs well enough, especially on thinner ice. That makes it a great option for occasional hard-water anglers and anyone who’s watching every penny in their budget.

The blades are sharp and hungry, and the handle is adjustable, as it should be.

Available in 6-, 7-, and 8-inch diameters, I’d recommend going with the smaller sizes unless you’re really strong and fit.

Pros:

  • Light and easy to transport
  • Simple and effectively unbreakable
  • Usable inside your shelter
  • Silent

Cons:

  • Not as fast or efficient as the Nils or Lazer

What We Look for When Buying a Manual Ice Auger

Why go with a hand auger?

Don’t kid yourself: even with a sharp blade, drilling dozens of holes in thick ice is going to be a real workout for all but the fittest hard-water anglers. If you routinely need to cut through feet of ice and drill dozens of holes, skip a hand auger and go for a powered model.

But for casual ice angels who might make a few trips every winter with friends and family, and who plan to drill two or three holes per person, a hand auger makes a lot of sense.

Ditto that if you’re out on early ice that’s not thicker than 6 inches or so and you’re not running dozens of holes for tip-ups.

And for anglers who need a light, ultra-portable auger that’s easy t tote on and off the ice, nothing beats a hand auger.

Beyond that, hand augers have a few advantages that are worth considering.

Fuel type

There are five categories of ice augers, and each has strengths and weaknesses depending on your needs.

Hand augers

Hand augers are a surprisingly effective option for the right situations.

Very quiet even when compared to electric models, you can drill all the holes you need without scaring nearby fish.

And because they’re emissionless, you can safely use them in an ice shelter or shanty

Hand augers are also budget-friendly, even when you consider the most expensive options like the Nils, and of course, they’re much, much lighter than even the most svelte powered alternatives.

And their performance is surprisingly excellent. A quality hand auger like the Nils can eat a few feet of ice in no time, rivaling the speed of the best powered augers until you tire.

But keep in mind that they absolutely depend on your fitness, and larger augers diameters can be challenging in deep ice unless you’re strong and fit. 

Convertible or drill-driven augers

Convertible augers attach to a high-torque drill, and with the right set-up, are amazingly effective.

Lightweight and relatively quiet, this is a good alternative to manual augers for anglers who don’t want the weight and cost of an electric auger.

The drill is typically the weak link in this system, and unless you own a cordless model with the power to push a big blade, you’ll be spending hundreds on a big DeWalt or Milwaukee that can get the job done.

Check out our full buying guide on the best drill ice auger and the best ice auger drills

video showing two drill-powered augers at work, including the K-Drill

Electric augers

Electric augers are revolutionizing ice fishing because they offer instant, hassle-free starting and plenty of power for even the most hard-core angler.

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

Quiet and emissions-free, they can be used indoors safely.

There’s also no fuel to spill, keeping your favorite fishing spots safe for future generations.

But they are expensive, and for fishermen watching every penny, they may not be the best option.

head-to-head speed test of K-Drill vs. Strikemaster vs Ion

video of ice pros discussing how electric augers are replacing gasoline

Gasoline augers

Gas augers are the old stand-by. 

Fueled by a gas tank attached to the motor, these are powerful. They’re also very, very loud, and cranking one of these up early in the morning is going to wake the dead!

Gasoline augers, like all gas-powered tools, are easy to start when they’re well-maintained. But if you’ve ever struggled to get a lawnmower, string trimmer, or chainsaw to start, you know the frustration that can result. Cold weather makes these augers even more finicky.

Because they spew carbon monoxide, they can’t be used in a shelter or indoors, and every year, people die because they ignore the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning in ice shelters.

Refueling them on the ice can be a real pain, and spills are unfortunately common.

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

head-to-head Jiffy 8” vs Strikemaster 10”

Propane augers

Propane augers replace gasoline with clean-burning propane, offering easier fueling and no dangerous emissions.

Powered by a small propane tank that can be easily replaced in seconds, they offer plenty of power and torque to spare. They can be used indoors, too, and there’s no danger of spills and contamination.

But keep in mind that they can be even more temperamental in the cold than gas-powered alternatives, and they’re certainly just as loud.

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

propane vs. gasoline to demonstrate that propane has the power

Blade quality and type

If the engine is the heart of your auger, the blade is its teeth. The better the blade, the faster you can drill, saving time and fuel.

Only high-quality augers made our shortlist, but it’s important that you understand the differences between blade styles.

  • Chipper blades - are serrated, and they excel at cutting dirty, uneven ice.
  • 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.

We recommend that you think about the ice where you fish to make the best choice for your needs.

Auger diameter and length

Given that you’re going to be turning the blades on a hand auger with muscle power, you really need to think hard about blade diameter.

The larger the blade, the more ice you’re powering through, and the more energy you’ll expend over time. So while it might be tempting to go for an 8-inch model, realistically assess your fitness level.

Our advice: go with the smallest diameter you can for the species you’re after.

Length is typically not a problem, as hand augers are plenty long enough to reach through feet of ice.

Whether you want to be the engine accomplishing that goal is another question entirely!

Our Pick: The Nils USA High-Velocity Hand Auger!

While we know that there are die-hard fans of the StrikeMaster Lazer, the ingenious design of the Nils just makes cutting holes in hard water more efficient and less time-consuming.

Sharp blades and excellent ergonomics combine to create an ice-eating machine, and there’s no denying how fast the Nils cuts big holes or how much easier it is to turn in deep ice.

For the budget-minded, the Nils might be too pricey, and the Eskimo might be the better buy. No, it won’t keep up with the Nils, and yes, you’ll get tired faster, but it is remarkably inexpensive for its quality.

As always, we hope this article helped you make the best decision for your needs and budget, and if you have a question or 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.
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