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The Best Ice Augers Drills: 2022 Review and Buying Guide

Written by: John B
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If you’re looking for a reliable, lightweight, quiet, and indoor-approved ice auger, one option that’s increasingly common is a convertible - or drill-driven - auger.

If you’re not using a snow machine or ATV to drag a sled onto the ice, you know that every pound matters, and with the right drill, a convertible auger can rival the performance of a gas-powered model, at a fraction of the weight.

A convertible set-up also won’t set you back nearly as much as a good electric auger, and for most fishermen, that matters, too.

But be aware that not just any drill can drive an 8-inch auger through feet of ice. For that, you need plenty of power, a motor that doesn’t know the word “quit,” and a battery that shrugs off the cold like a sled dog.

If you’re looking for a drill to power your convertible auger, we’re here to help. Below you’ll find reviews of the best drills, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed.

Quick glance at the best drills for ice augers:

Related: Top Ice Fishing Augers Reviewed For 2022

Best Drill For Ice Augers Reviewed

Milwaukee 2804-22 M18 Fuel - Best Drill for a Convertible Auger

Milwaukee Electric Tools 2804-22 Hammer Drill Kit

Amazon 

RPM: (2 speed) 0-550 / 0-2,000
Torque/UWO: 1,200 in./lbs.
Battery: 18V
Side stabilizer arm: yes
Chuck size: ½”
Weight: 3.2 lbs. (tool only)

Milwaukee’s 2804-22 is the hammer drill sibling of the 2703-22, duplicating its performance when set for standard drilling mode.

And as you’d expect, it’s more than capable of spinning a big auger through thick ice, generating both plenty of speed and torque to spare. A foot of ice is simply a warmup for this drill, and it’s more than capable of eating as many holes as you want to make.

This drill can power an auger through ice as fast, or faster, than a gasoline-powered auger.

Don’t believe it?

Check this out:

Typically, hammer drills are a bit more sturdily built than similar tools without that option, so longevity may be better with this model than the already exceptional 2703-22.

Running the same M-18 batteries out of the box as its brother, expect cold-busting power and ultra-long life.

The 2804-22 M18 is the standard against which all other drills running augers are compared.

It’s that good.

Pros:

  • Excellent batteries
  • Awesome torque and speed
  • Shrugs off the cold

Cons:

  • Expensive!

DeWalt 996P2 - Best Buy Drill for a Convertible Auger

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Hammer Drill Kit, Brushless, 3-Speed, Cordless (DCD996P2)

Amazon 

RPM: (3 speed) 0-450 / 0-1300 / 0-2000
Torque/UWO: 820 UWO
Battery: 20V/5A
Side stabilizer arm: yes
Chuck size: ½”
Weight: 4.7 lbs.

Dewalt’s 996P2 is a three-speed hammer drill that’s ideal for convertible augers when set to standard drilling mode.

Essentially duplicating the performance of the 991P2 at a nearly identical price, it’s a mean machine to turn a big auger blade, and it’ll chew ice with the best of them. Probably more heavily built internally than the 991P2, this hammer drill would be my choice if I were going with a DeWalt model.

Plenty of hard-water fans use the 996P2, and it’s not going to disappoint - guaranteed!

It, too, comes with a pair of excellent, powerful, long-lasting batteries, and just like its non-hammer drilling sibling, expect awesome cold-weather performance.

Many fishermen find that this DeWalt can drill dozens of holes with an 8-inch auger without draining the battery, and for the price, both the 991 and 996 are hard to beat, though the added durability of a hammer drill would push me toward this model.

Overall, this is probably the best buy on our shortlist.

Pros:

  • Great price!
  • Excellent batteries
  • Awesome torque and speed
  • Shrugs off the cold

Cons:

  • ???

Ridgid R8611503 Gen5X - Best Budget Drill for a Convertible Auger

Ridgid R8611503 Gen5X 18V Lithium Ion Cordless 1/2 Inch 780 Inch Pound Hammer Drill with LED Lighting and Textured Handle (Battery Not Included, Tool Only)

Amazon 

RPM: (2 speed) 0-450 / 0-1,600
Torque/UWO: 780 in./lbs.
Battery: 18V/5A (with the AC840089 battery pack)
Side stabilizer arm: yes
Chuck size: ½”
Weight: 4.27 lbs.(tool only)

While you’ll occasionally see people using a Ryobi or some other brand on the ice, the only other drill that ice anglers recommend is the Ridgid. The new Gen5 has replaced the Octane, and the R8611503 is a powerful hammer drill capable of spinning a big auger.

Be aware that this is the drill only; you’ll need a pair of AC840089 batteries to go with it, as well as the charging station. Even then, this drill is the least expensive option on our list, and it’s worth noting that Ridgid and Milwaukee are produced by the same parent company.

This Ridgid hammer drill offers plenty of torque to turn an auger, but despite its size and considerable weight, it can’t compete with the much more expensive Milwaukee or even the moderately priced DeWalt.

Both of these alternatives offer greater speed and power, though the Ridgid Gen5 will get the job done.

The AC840089 battery pack provides plenty of juice for this drill, but I really don’t think it can compare head-to-head against the big boys on the hard water. Expect some overheating and a shorter practical duty cycle than with either of its premium competitors.

What it can do, however, is offer reasonable performance at an affordable price, and if every penny counts, this is not an option you should overlook.

DeWalt and Milwaukee are the undisputed kings of the ice, but if your budget won’t stretch to the DeWalt, give the Ridgid Gen5 a close look.

Pros:

  • Very budget-friendly
  • Good batteries
  • Good torque and speed

Cons:

  • Can’t compete with the performance of DeWalt or Milwaukee

Milwaukee 2803-22 XC M18 Fuel

Milwaukee Electric Tools 2803-22 Drill Driver Kit

Amazon 

RPM: (2 speed) 0-550 / 0-2,000
Torque/UWO: 1,200 in./lbs.
Battery: 18V
Side stabilizer arm: yes
Chuck size: ½”
Weight: 3.2 lbs. (tool only)

On the ice, the Milwaukee/DeWalt debate is as contentious as the Ford/Chevy debate in a garage, and there’s simply no question that Milwaukee offers more powerful, longer-lasting aftermarket batteries for the M18 Fuel lineup.

If you want the (theoretically) highest performing batteries available for your drill, Milwaukee offers the REDLITHIUM, a 12 Ah battery that theoretically delivers way more power over time than DeWalt or Milwaukee’s standard power packs.

In the real world, however, these batteries still need some work, as plenty of construction tradesmen can attest.

Right out of the box, with the standard battery pack, the 2803-22 is clearly a beast. Generating as much as 1,200 inch/pounds of torque, it’s going to spin any auger you want, as long as you’ve got a firm grip on the stabilizing arm and plenty of traction!

Its two-speed transmission is probably better off in the lower gear, where it generates ridiculous amounts of torque and won’t spin water and slush all over your legs.

Milwaukee’s 18V batteries are excellent, and their performance in the real world is unquestionably excellent. They’ll take a beating from the cold and continue delivering power, and with a warm spare ready to go, you're not going to need more holes than this drill can deliver.

If there’s a downside to the powerful models of the M18 lineup, it’s that they’re pricey.

Pros:

  • Excellent batteries
  • Awesome torque and speed
  • Shrugs off the cold

Cons:

  • Expensive!

DeWalt 991P2

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Brushless Drill/Driver 3-Speed, Premium 5.0Ah Kit, Cordless (DCD991P2)

Amazon 

RPM: (3 speed) 0-450 / 0-1300 / 0-2000
Torque/UWO: 820 UWO
Battery: 20V/5A
Side stabilizer arm: yes
Chuck size: ½”
Weight: 4.6 lbs.

DeWalt’s line of cordless drills are used by professionals the world over, and they’ve built an enviable reputation in the construction trades for dependable, no-nonsense power.

The 991P2 is a real work horse, easily capable of spinning an 8-inch auger through feet of ice. Featuring a three-speed transmission, the mid setting is probably the best place to start, but you can slow down and produce ridiculous torque with this drill.

The batteries that come with this DeWalt are excellent, offering juice to spare and handling the cold well. Keeping them warm will keep them alive longer, but trust me, they can handle tough conditions and deliver.

This excellent drill is one of the least expensive options capable of handling an auger, and plenty of anglers think it keeps up with the best Milwaukee can offer!

But don’t take our word for it:

Pros:

  • Great price!
  • Excellent batteries
  • Awesome torque and speed
  • Shrugs off the cold

Cons:

  • Probably not as durable as a hammer drill

What We Look When Selecting a Drill to Power a Convertible Ice Auger

Why choose a convertible auger?

Convertible augers are a popular choice on the hard water, and they offer some distinct advantages.

Convertible or drill-driven augers - Convertible augers attach a sharp blade to a powerful, cordless drill.

As quiet as the best electric augers, and of course emissions-free, they’re perfect for use in an ice shelter or shanty.

But their real advantage is that pound for pound, nothing can compare with their performance, especially if you’re cutting multiple holes in the ice.

While a good manual auger is lighter and less expensive, they’re just not well-suited for dozens of holes in deep ice.

Lightweight and less expensive than electric augers, convertible options offer hassle-free power, instant-on, and more than enough power to get the job done.

Check out our buying guide on the best ice auger drill attachment

Electric augers - Electric augers are gaining popularity rapidly, but they can be expensive.

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 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 them. 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.

Check out our buying guide and reviews of the best battery powered ice 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 questioning that they save time and energy.

Check out our buying guide and reviews of the best hand ice augers

Gasoline augers - Gas-powered augers are the old stand-by. 

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.

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

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 when the mercury plummets, 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.

Propane augers - propane augers are essentially just gas augers with an easier to handle, no-spill fuel source.

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.

Check out our buying guide and reviews of the best propane ice augers

Convertible augers are very cost-effective, but the drill won’t be cheap

Right from the start, realize that you’ll need a high-end drill.

The experts at K-Drill, the manufacturers of one of the most popular convertible augers, recommend the following specifications as a minimum:

  • side stabilizer arm (for a secure two-handed grip)
  • 1/2” drill chuck
  • 18 Volt/4 Amp lithium ion battery (or higher)
  • brushless motor design
  • 500-750 RPM with a minimum of 725 in/lbs of torque or 820 UWO

Anything less than that just won’t get the job done, so cheap drills with anemic torque are out.

Begin your hunt for the right drill with the realization that you’ll need a real beast!

K-Drill, for instance, only recommends certain Milwaukee and DeWalt drills for use with its convertible augers. 

That may be going a bit far, but there’s no questioning the minimum specifications you’ll need.

Side stabilizer arm

When you're using a drill that generates significant torque, you’ll need a side stabilizing arm to control it.

Lots of torque makes a side stabilizer arm a must.

If you’ve ever had a powerful drill twist in your hands when it bound, you’ll know exactly what I mean!

A drill that can drive an 8-inch auger through feet of ice is no joke, and the pistol-grip won’t provide enough leverage. You’ll want that bar, and it makes all that power easily manageable.

Stabilizing arms slip over the front of the drill, typically near the chuck, and provide a long lever and a comfortable handle.

½-inch chuck

You need a big chuck to mate with your convertible auger.

Powerful drills typically come with a ½-inch chuck. If you’re looking at a drill that doesn’t, even if you somehow managed to attach it, it won’t have the RPMs or torque you need.

Battery

Your drill’s motor is only as good as the battery that powers it.

If its lithium ion power pack freezes quickly or runs dry in a hurry, your day on the ice is going to end in frustration.

A good drill battery for convertible ice augers will generate 18V/4A, or perhaps a tad more, and all the drills on our shortlist meet or exceed this standard.

Brushless motor

Power tools have motors that either include “brushes” or are designed to be brushless.

Brushes “are installed on the fixed part of a motor to ensure optimal transmission of power to the rotor (the rotating part),” but experts note that while this system works well for many applications, it has significant disadvantages for hard use.

Chief among these is overheating under continuous load - the kind of load generated by drilling 30 holes in two feet of ice, for instance.

It’s important that you choose a brushless drill to avoid this issue; otherwise, your drill will stop functioning when you need it the most!

RPM and torque

RPM is just an abbreviation for “revolutions per minute.” It tells you how fast a drill can spin, though some manufacturers provide figures given under no load. That means they report how fast the drill spins in mid-air, not how fast it spins as it’s trying to push a screw through oak (or an auger through ice).

Torque is a measure of rotational power. It tells you how much force the drill generates.

For a convertible ice auger to work properly, your drill needs both speed and power.

500-750 RPM is really a sensible no-load minimum; any lower, and you're just not going to spin the blades fast enough for optimal performance.

It’s hard to get too much torque (as long as you’re using a side stabilizing arm). 

K-Drill’s recommended minimum is 725 in./lbs. (60 ft./lbs.) or 820 UWO (unit watts out), another measure of work output (speed and torque combined) common to the drill industry.

All the drills on our shortlist meet or exceed these numbers.

Final Thoughts

We can’t tell you which drill is right for you and your budget, but we can guarantee that any of the DeWalt or Milwaukee models on our shortlist will impress you with their performance.

That’s not to knock the Ridgid, but instead to tell you the unvarnished truth.

DeWalt and Milwaukee have built a reputation on the hard water, and they don’t have realistic rivals in terms of power, durability, and battery life.

But if you’re budget won’t stretch to reach either DeWalt, the Ridgid will get you chewing holes in the ice.

As always, we hope we’ve helped you make the right choice for your angling needs, and if you have a question or comment, please leave a message below.

About The Author
John B
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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