Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

2015 Pro Tool Innovation Awards: Cordless Tools

2015 Pro Tool Innovation Awards: Cordless Tools

When we talk to manufacturers, there’s no hiding how excited they are about cordless tools. Technology has allowed them to push the limits of what a cordless tool can do. They’ve designed cordless tools that can keep up with corded models – and in some cases, exceed corded performance. Following the trend these days, there are a ton of cordless tool entries covering everything from angle grinders to rotary hammers – and even a few brand new categories for the group.

One thing you’ll notice is that the 18V and 20V Max tools are grouped together – that’s intentional. To find out why, check out our article 20V Max Vs. 18V: Setting the Record Straight.

2015 Pro Tool Innovation Awards: Cordless Tools

Winner – Batteries 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee M18 RedLithium High Demand 9.0 Battery Pack 48-11-1890Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: With the introduction of the M18™ REDLITHIUM™ HIGH DEMAND™ 9.0 Battery Pack, Milwaukee will deliver up to 5X more run-time, 35% more power and run 60% cooler than standard lithium-ion batteries. This massive jump in run-time is the next big step towards full corded replacement. Users can now focus completely on finishing the job at hand, without the distraction of cords or worrying about losing productivity. The ability for the M18™ REDLITHIUM™ HIGH DEMAND™ 9.0 Battery Pack to run significantly cooler also means users will be able to push their cordless tools harder and longer than ever before.

What we say: Ummm…. did you say 9.0 amp hours? For the record, Milwaukee did come out with a 6.0 amp hour battery pack. They also developed a way to allow the pack to run cool enough to slap an additional set of cells in it. Please don’t ask us to do a run time test with deck screws this. 9.0 amp hours brings the RedLithium packs to a level where one battery will run most tools all day – and some for several days. It also opens the door to cordless tools that we’ve only been dreaming of. All eyes are going to be on next year’s Milwaukee New Product Symposium.

Winner – Cordless Angle Grinders: 18V/20V Max

Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Angle GrinderPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Makita delivers corded grinding performance without the cord with the 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 4-1/2” Cut-Off/Angle Grinder. It’s powered by a Makita brushless motor for longer run time, increased power and speed, and longer tool life. For the most demanding applications, Makita’s exclusive Automatic Speed Change Technology automatically adjusts speed and torque during operation for optimal performance. The 18V LXT 4.0 Ah battery provides 35% more run time per charge than the BL1830 (3.0Ah) battery, yet it charges in only 40 minutes for less downtime and increased productivity.

What we say: Makita’s Automatic Speed Change feature is one that we love on their cordless angle grinder. Optimizing the motor to deliver either higher torque or more speed depending on the situation helps preserve the battery when it can while delivering the power when it needs to. Of course, going with the BL Brushless Motor on this angle grinder is a no brainer for both life and run time on such an aggressive tool.

Winner – Cordless Angle Grinder: Braking, 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 18V Lithium-ion Cordless Brushless 4-1/2″ /5″ Braking GrinderPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Stopping accessories in under 2 seconds and delivering up to 10X longer tool life, the M18 FUEL Braking Grinder is the only cordless braking grinder on the market with the power to grind. The new cordless braking grinder also features the same metal housing and gearing system responsible for delivering the legendary performance and durability found in Milwaukee’s high performance corded grinders. A removable Job Site Armor screen is in place to prevent debris contamination overtime. In addition, the M18 FUEL Grinder is a 100% tool-free product thanks to the FIXTEC nut. To increase comfort and reduce fatigue during extended use, an anti-vibration handle reduces vibration, while an extremely thin body design delivers optimized balance to rest easily in the users hands.

What we say: When you create a new category of tool, you’re going to raise eyebrows – and win a Pro Tool Innovation Award. Milwaukee brings the first braking cordless grinder to the industry, addressing a significant safety issue. Whether an angle grinder is dropped or set down, the spinning accessory has the potential to do some serious damage. We love that Milwaukee has made this completely tool-free and lowered the vibration.

Winner – Cordless Combo Kits: Compact 18V/20V Max

Ridgid R9205 Gen5X Brushless 18V Compact Hammer Drill/Driver and 3-Speed Impact Driver Combo KitPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: RIDGID introduces their next generation of cordless tool with the GEN5X Brushless 18V Compact Hammer Drill/Driver and 3-Speed Impact Driver Combo Kit. The 18V Brushless 2-Piece kit has best-in-class torque for the most demanding applications. RIDGID brushless has up to 50% more run time and longer motor life. Powered by 4.0Ah Hyper Lithium Technology, an innovative battery technology built for high performance. With free registration, this kit is covered for life. Free Batteries, free Parts and free Service, for Life.

What we say: When the Ridgid Gen5X 5-Piece combo kit came out with significantly higher specifications than the X4, we thought it would be another generation before we saw Ridgid go brushless. They surprised us to offer professional level brushless performance at an attractive price point and are bringing their Lifetime Service Agreement along with it.

Winner – Cordless Combo Kits: 18V/20V Max

Ridgid Gen5X 5-Piece Combo Kit R9652Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said:  GEN5X permanent magnet motors have been engineered to provide best-in-class power, performance,
and run-time, giving you the advantage on any jobsite. This kit is powered by 4.0Ah HYPER™ Lithium-Ion batteries that have 4X run time compared to standard lithium-ion batteries and an arsenal of features such as; 50% Longer Life, Triple Protection Electronics, Best-in-Class Extreme Weather Performance and Fuel Gauge. The GEN5X 5pc Combo Kit consisting of a Hammer Drill, 3-Speed Impact Driver, Circular Saw, Reciprocation saw, and an LED Flashlight is full of best-in-class features and is the only 5 tool kit offered in The Home Depot. All these features are backed by the industry’s best warranty, the RIDGID Lifetime Service Agreement.

What we say: When we got our hands on the Gen5X kit, we were a little disappointed that it wasn’t brushless. Disappointment quickly led to excitement when we saw how much additional power the Gen5X motor was delivering compared to the X4 system! With improvements to LED lights, ergonomics, and a 7-1/4″ circular saw, you won’t feel a need to replace this kit any time soon. As always, Ridgid is bringing professional performance at a price point others can’t match and backing with their Lifetime Service Agreement.

Winner – Cordless Drill Press: Magnetic, 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-1/2″ Magnetic Drill 2787-22Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The M18 FUEL 1-1/2” Magnetic Drill is faster than its corded counterparts, delivers the strongest magnetic hold on ¼” steel, and can drill up to (40) 13/16” holes per charge. With a focus on vertical and overhead drilling environments, Milwaukee has improved the traditional ergonomic design of the tools to speed up the positioning and drilling process in these orientations. The drill features a patented magnetic base that delivers safer drilling in ¼” steel by providing the strongest magnetic hold on this material. The new tool utilizes permanent magnets so that the magnetic base operates without electricity; ensuring that the magnet does not deactivate if the battery is drained. Equipped with Auto-Stop lift-off detection, power to the motor is automatically cut if excess rotational motion is detected while drilling. The M18 FUEL 1-1/2” Magnetic Drill provides industry leading tool set-up and bit change speed. Also equipped with a 2-Speed gearbox, the drill is optimized for annular cutters up to 1-1/2” and twist drill bits up to ½”.

What we say: Milwaukee did a lot of things right with the design of their M18 Fuel Magnetic Drill. Aside from the fact that it’s a cordless magnetic portable drill press, going with an electric-free magnet is a huge win for safety. As one of only a couple professional level cordless magnetic options on the market, it also scores major points for convenience. And yeah, it drills up to 40 13/16″ holes in 1/4″ steel on one charge.

Winner – Cordless Drills/Drivers: Under 12V

Hammerhead HCSD40 4V Lithium Rechargeable ScrewdriverPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Circuit Sensor detects live wires for work near electricity. With Circuit Sensor, you no longer need to guess whether you have turned off the correct breaker, nor do you need touch a wire with a tool to determine if it is live. The HAMMERHEAD 4V Lithium Rechargeable Screwdriver features Circuit Sensor Technology to safely detect live wires from up to 1 inch away in outlets, switches, cords and fixtures, then alerts you with light and sound The integrated LED worklights, wire stripper and wire bender mean you have the tools you need at hand. The integrated Lithium-ion battery is conveniently recharged with a USB cable.

What we say: Dr. Who fans rejoice – Hammerhead developed the sonic screwdriver! Seriously though, we’re skeptical of a lot of multi-tools that come our way. Many of them just pack more than you need or want into the package. Hammerhead’s 4V Screwdriver packs in 5 electrician-specific features in a really well though out package – and every one of them make sense!

Winner – Cordless Hammer Drill: 12V

Milwaukee M12 Fuel 1/2″ Hammer Drill/Driver 2404-22Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: This lightweight, versatile hammer drill/driver provides up to 10X longer motor life, 2X more power and 4X more runtime. The POWERSTATE Brushless Motor outperforms all leading competitors with constant power output, yet runs cooler and quieter with no wearable components. REDLINK PLUS intelligence ensures optimized performance and protects your investment from overload, overheating and over-discharge. It comes with a REDLITHIUM 2.0 Compact Battery Pack and 4.0 Extended Capacity Battery Pack, which deliver more work per charge and more work over pack life than the competitors, even in extreme conditions.  An all-metal ratcheting locking chuck provides maximum grip, bit retention and durability.

What we say: It’s almost unfair that Milwaukee engineers get so much out of their batteries and motors. What’s innovative about Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel Hammer Drill is the fact that they’re using the same innovations as their M18 Fuel line with their brushless motors, electronic communications, and battery technologies – and using it to produce performance that professionals can depend on.

Winner – Cordless Drills/Drivers: 18V/20V Max Compact

Milwaukee M18 1/2″ Compact Brushless Drill/Driver 2701-22CTPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The most compact drilling solutions on the market, Milwaukee’s new offering will cater to users that desire the run-time advantages that a brushless motor provides, and prefer the size advantages of more compact tools. The new models will include the M18 1/2” Compact Brushless Drill/Driver, M18 1/2” Compact Brushless Hammer Drill/Driver and M18 1/4” Hex Brushless Impact Driver. Each the most compact in their respective classes, the new tools feature improved ergonomics for greater accessibility into tight work areas, as well as superior balance and control. With best-in-class power to weight ratios and brushless motors that are optimized for efficiency, users are able to work 50% longer on one battery charge.

What we say: Most manufacturers have two 18V/20V lines – brushed and brushless. Milwaukee created a third in between their top performing M18 Fuel line and mid-level M18 line. The M18 Brushless line is an intelligent move that allows users to move into Milwaukee’s brushless tools without moving to the top-tier price point but still taking advantage of the build quality and warranty they offer. We’re also hoping that this is a move to make the entire M18 line brushless – making Milwaukee the only brushless-only cordless company. Just don’t hold your breath on that one.

Winner – Cordless Drills/Drivers: 18V/20V Max Heavy Duty

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1/2″ Drill/Driver with One-Key 2705-22Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said:  Tool Control: The M18 FUEL 1/2″ Drill/Driver with One-Key™ will be among the first Milwaukee cordless solutions to offer end users the ability to wirelessly communicate with their tools, up to a 50’ range. By connecting to a ONE-KEY tool, users will be able to customize the performance and save up to four custom settings to the tool’s memory. This will give users ultimate control over their tool’s speed, power and torque, leading to unmatched flexibility on the jobsite, and repeatable results time and time again. Inventory Management: Creates a central place for users to manage all of their tools and equipment across their network of jobs and operators. Tool Reporting: With the ability to wirelessly synchronize with the web based program, the user will be able to upload data and history to create custom reports that track the success and timing of electrical terminations.

What we say: Milwaukee’s One Key technology is a massive leap forward for the smart jobsite. There’s a whole lot more to it than what we can offer in a few lines here, so check out “Milwaukee One-Key Technology – All You Need to Know”. The 2705 is also part of Milwaukee Gen 2 Fuel line. They improved the electronics and motor to get even more performance and heat reduction along with including their 5.0 amp hour battery packs with this one.

Winner – Cordless Drills/Drivers: Collated, 18V/20V Max

DeWalt DCF620 20V Max XR Brushless Lithium-Ion Drywall ScrewgunPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: DEWALT’s 20V MAX XR Brushless Lithium Ion Drywall Screwgun with Extreme Runtime is ideal for both residential and commercial drywall hanging applications‚ driving screws into both wood and steel studs. The DCF620 cordless screwgun offers users 4,400 RPM, which is the speed expected of a corded screwgun, in a cordless package. The screwgun packs high performance into a small, lightweight package weighing only 3.3 lbs with a DEWALT 2.0Ah battery pack, and measuring only 8-3/4″ in head length (both shorter and lighter than DEWALT’s leading corded screwgun offering).

What we say: Installing the DCF6201 collated magazine attachment makes DeWalt’s 20V Max Drywall Screwgun a drywaller’s best friend. Lightweight and compact, the brushless motor helps maximize the run time while delivering corded performance. The kit comes with a pair of batteries, so you should be good to run all day.

Winner – Cordless Drills/Drivers: 18V/20V Max Right Angle

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Hawg 1/2″ Right Angle DrillPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Milwaukee Tool delivers ground-breaking performance with the introduction of a cordless right angle drill that will not only power through 6” holes, but can drill over (75) 2-9/16” holes per charge for a completely cordless rough in. Optimized for Plumbing and HVAC applications, the M18 FUEL™ SUPER HAWG is the first cordless tool of its kind, delivering game-changing productivity for professionals drilling with up to 4-5/8” self-feed bits and up to 6” hole saws.

What we say: When we got the chance to drill some 6″ holes with the new Super Hawg at Milwaukee’s media event, I was left with the impression that this thing could just about replace a helicopter engine. It’s got an impressive amount of power. Dropping the 5.0 amp hour battery in it gives it the run time to a day’s worth of plumbing or HVAC work on one charge. Here’s to the cordless revolution!

Winner – Cordless Impact Drivers: 18V/20V Max

Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Quick-Shift Mode 3-Speed Impact DriverPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The XDT09 has more torque and more speed than previous models, yet it has more features and the most compact size in the 18 volt category. The XDT09 offers users three speed settings, as well as Makita’s exclusive Quick-Shift Mode for increased fastening control. Quick-Shift Mode is an automatic electronic controller that downshifts to reduce rotation and impact speed prior to driving the screw into place. When the driving process begins, the impact driver starts driving at 3rd speed (3,600 RPM). As the screw nears the fastened position, Quick-Shift Mode is automatically engaged and downshifts to 2nd Speed (2,100 RPM). The Makita-built BL™ Brushless Motor delivers a full 1,550 in.lbs. of Max Torque in the 3rd speed setting.

What we say: What stands out most obviously is Makita’s Quick-Shift automatic downshifting for fastening duties. It worked well when we reviewed the XDT09. Once we put the tool in our hands, we were amazed how light and compact it is. It also happens to be Makita’s most powerful impact with 1,550 inch pounds of torque. Big things really do come in small packages.

Winner – Cordless Impact Wrenches: Under 1/2″, 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 3/8″ Impact Wrench 2654-22Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Milwaukee Tool Corporation continues to expand the fastest growing 18V platform in the industry with the introduction the industry’s first 18V Compact Impact Wrenches with over 200 ft-lbs of torque. The new tools feature Milwaukee’s exclusive combination of the POWERSTATE Brushless Motor, REDLINK PLUS Electronic Intelligence and REDLITHIUM 2.0/XC4.0 Battery Pack to deliver up to 2X more runtime, up to 50% more torque and a proprietary 3-Mode DRIVE CONTROL feature. The new M18 FUEL Compact Impact Wrenches are available in two sizes and three anvil style options for various applications and user preferences.

What we say: For applications where 700 foot pounds of torque isn’t required, you could downshift your heavy duty impact wrenches. The better option is going with a compact model – but you often have to trade off too much torque. Milwaukee’s compact M18 Fuel 3/8″ Impact Wrench still gives you 200 foot pounds of torque in a much lighter package that can reach areas the heavy duty models can’t get to.

Winner – Cordless Impact Wrenches: 1/2″, 18V/20V Max

Ryobi P261 18V One+ 3-Speed 1/2″ Impact WrenchPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Ryobi’s impact mechanism produces 300 ft-lbs torque and up to 3,200 impacts per minute (IPM) for a variety of heavy-duty applications. The 3-Speed Selector Switch offers greater control over a wide range of fastening applications. 0 – 2,900 RPM for maximum torque, 0 – 2,300 RPM for controlling driving depth and fastener tension, and 0 – 1,800 RPM for precision fastening. Tri-LED light increases work area visibility while the 1/2 in. square anvil with detent pin retention creates easy and secure socket connections. A new and improved GRIPZONE overmold for optimum grip and user comfort.

What we say: Are there higher performing 1/2″ impact drivers on the market? Sure, but the Pro Tool Innovation awards aren’t just about the top performing tools – they’re about innovation. What’s remarkable about Ryobi’s P261 is that they’ve packed 300 foot pounds of torque and a 3-speed motor in a package that’s priced at just $119. You’re not going to find that kind of bang for your buck anywhere and still have it backed by a 3-year warranty.

Winner – Cordless Impact Wrenches: 3/4″ and Over, 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee M18 Fuel High-Torque Impact Wrench 2764-22Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Delivering up to 750 ft-lbs of max fastening torque, the M18 FUEL High Torque Impact Wrenches are the most powerful cordless tools of their kind, delivering unmatched performance, durability and versatility. “Traditionally, users facing repetitive high torque fastening applications have needed to resort to corded or pneumatic impact wrenches due to run-time and power challenges,” says Mike Monteleone, Product Manager for Milwaukee Tool Corporation. “With the combination of M18 FUEL technology and an optimized impact mechanism, these new tools can challenge all cordless, corded, and even pneumatic competitors.”

What we say: It’s a cordless impact wrench that boasts 750 foot pounds of fastening torque and 1,200 foot pounds of nut busting torque! Other brands are starting to get within sight of Milwaukee’s 2764 Impact Wrench, but no one seems poised to overtake them anytime soon. It’s got the power for many shops to kick the compressor to the curb and new 6.0 and 9.0 amp hour batteries are going to create some converts.

Winner – Cordless Rotary Hammers: 12V

Milwaukee M12 Fuel 5/8″ SDS Plus Rotary Hammer 2416-22XCPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Providing up to 2X more run-time, up to 75% more speed and the largest SDS Plus bit capacity in its class, the M12 FUEL 5/8” SDS Plus Rotary Hammer has combined Milwaukee’s exclusive POWERSTATE brushless motor, REDLITHIUM battery pack, and REDLINK PLUS intelligence to deliver a 12V Rotary Hammer that rivals compact 18V tools on the market today. For maximum versatility, regardless of application or orientation, the tool features 2-Mode Operation, Rotary Hammer and Rotation-only.  The POWERSTATE motor provides up to 6,200 BPM and up to 900 RPM, putting the M12 FUEL 5/8” Rotary Hammer in a class of its own. The POWERSTATE motor also reduces noise and cools more rapidly, delivering years of maintenance-free performance.

What we say: I have to wonder how the conversation went down in the Milwaukee R&D department. “Hey Tim, let’s make a cordless rotary hammer.” “Okay Paul, we can do that.” “Here’s the deal Tim, if the Brewers don’t make it to the World Series, you have to make it 12V.” “You’re on!” Okay, so it probably didn’t go down that way, but Milwaukee has a 12V SDS Plus Rotary Hammer that can actually make a 5/8″ hole in concrete more than once… and the Brewers didn’t make the World Series. Coincidence?

Winner – Cordless Rotary Hammers: 18V/20V Max SDS Plus

Festool BHC 18 Rotary Hammer Plus 564598Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Combined with a compact and ergonomic C-handle design, the BHC’s light weight and low vibration makes for efficient and comfortable one-handed use. Built for the toughest demands, the BHC was designed to withstand the toughest abuse you can dish out, with a powerful motor that’s built to last. The compact C-handle design delivers a streamlined pressure point, resulting in greater control and more comfortable handling, while maintaining power and capability, even for hard-to-reach applications. Building on Festool’s existing 18V platform with 5.2 Ah battery packs, the BHC is further supported by a complete range of SDS bits, Centrotec accessories, plus an accessory drill dust nozzle that offers a cleaner workspace.

What we say: What really set Festool’s BHC Rotary Hammer apart from the competition is its vibration reduction that results in some of the smoothest drilling we’ve ever experienced in this class of tool. Always elegant under pressure, Festool seems to have brought a sense of control to a very aggressive tool.

Winner – Cordless Rotary Hammers: 18V/20V Max SDS Max

Milwaukee M18 Fuel SDS Max Rotary Hammer 2717-22Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: By utilizing proprietary M18 and FUEL technologies, Milwaukee has developed a single battery system solution that meets the full range of user needs in each distinct rotary hammer market segment. Their full solution now includes a lightweight M18 FUEL SDS Max Rotary Hammer with 1-9/16” drilling capacity. This SDS Max Rotary Hammer is the first of its kind to provide SDS Max drilling and chipping in a cordless solution. Milwaukee’s M18 FUEL technology and new 9.0 High Demand Battery power the M18 FUEL SDS Max Rotary Hammer to deliver the performance required for the most demanding applications, including dry coring and medium duty chipping in both block and poured concrete.

What we say: Managing Editor Kenny Koehler may or may not have used the M18 Fuel SDS Max to chip “PTR” into the concrete at Milwaukee’s most recent media event. The fact is that we went to town on concrete, chipping and drilling into new realms with what battery power can accomplish. Even more capable than ever with the 9.0 amp hour battery, Milwaukee looks to convert more professional users to the cordless revolution.

Winner – Cordless Paint Sprayer, 18V/20V Max

Graco TrueCoat Pro II CordlessPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The TrueCoat Pro II handheld cordless sprayer is built with the same piston pump technology as Graco’s larger professional airless sprayers. A powerful 20V Lithium-ion battery gives you the freedom to spray wherever you need. ProControl Pressure Control System lets you dial in the perfect pressure to match your project, and the Tilt-N-Spray pendulum suction tube allows for a full range of motion when spraying.

What we say: We love that Graco didn’t cheap out on the piston pump with their cordless paint sprayer. With the versatility to handle different paints and stains to handle everything from decking to exterior applications, the TrueCoat Pro II Cordless Sprayer makes small, finish, and touch up jobs much more convenient.

Winner – Cordless Planers: 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee M18 3-1/4″ Planer 2623-20Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Featuring a powerful motor that delivers up to 14,000 RPMs and a two blade design, the new unit delivers the fastest material removal in its class. With 20 locking positions for maximum versatility and accuracy, the new tool has an adjustable depth of 0 to 5/64”. Eliminating the need to re-zero the dial between cuts, the depth knob locks from 0 to 5/64” to increase productivity and minimize downtime. The M18™ 3-1/4” Planer also features a best-in-class rabbet depth of up to 27/64” and an innovative adjustable chip ejection feature. Creating a clear cut line, this feature allows users to eject chips on either the left or right side, keeping chips out of their line of site.

What we say: Milwaukee’s M18 Planer features dual blades that create an outstandingly smooth cut. Depth control is outstanding and the adjustable chip ejection allows you to throw debris out to either side. This was one of the tools that flew under the radar a little bit at Milwaukee’s media event, but really deserves more attention. They took the best features among cordless planers and put them all in one tool.

Winner – Cordless Plumbing: Augers, 18V/20V Max

Ryobi 18V One+ Drain Auger 4001Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The Ryobi One+ Drain Auger clears clogs with ease from drains up to 2 in. wide including sinks, toilets, and bath tubs. The 25 ft. reinforced cable minimizes kinking while the powered forward and reverse feeding mechanism prevents user fatigue. An auto-feed lock engages the bearings without having to squeeze the pommel also preventing user fatigue. A cable clamp holds cable in place while tackling tough clogs. The on-board rear drain port prevents water build up in the drum. Feet keep the rotating drum off delicate surfaces. New and improved GRIPZONE overmold provides optimum grip and user comfort

What we say: For less than the cost of calling a plumber, Ryobi has developed a tool that will help with the most common homeowner plumbing issues. Not only is an 18V drain auger a first for Ryobi, it’s a first for the market among the mainstream manufacturers. Look for these to be a popular addition for Ryobi One+ fans.

Winner – Cordless Polishers: 12V

Milwaukee M12 Variable Speed Polisher/Sander 2438-22XCPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Optimized to provide the fastest and most precise detail work, the M12 Variable Speed Polisher/Sander performs the work of two tools in one by easily switching between polishing and sanding modes. Featuring Dual Mode Control and a variable speed trigger, the M12 Polisher/Sander delivers increased user control, regardless of the application. A tool-free accessory change allows the user to quickly change between polishing and sanding accessories. Powered by any Milwaukee M12 LITHIUM-ION battery, the new tool delivers the performance professionals have come to expect from pneumatic polishers. On just one battery charge, the M12 Polisher/Sander can perform a full pass on exterior trim, which was not possible with cordless units in the past.

What we say: It’s pretty incredible how fast Milwaukee’s M12 Polisher/Sander works considering it’s running on a 12V battery. It’s easy to think that this is just another drill, but I don’t know any drills that can spin at 8,300 RPM for sanding duties! As we’ve come to expect, Milwaukee continues to get an impressive amount of power and run time out of their motors and batteries.

Winner – Cordless Polishers: 18V/20V Max

Ryobi 18V One+ 10 Inch Orbital Buffer P435Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The Ryobi 18V One+ 10 Inch Orbital Buffer features a full-size 10 in. buffing applicator and bonnet to complete jobs quickly. The powerful motor maintains optimum performance during extended use. Cordless convenience allows the option to operate the buffer in remote locations. A crescent-shaped handle provides comfort and access to hard-to-reach spaces. Random orbital action delivers a swirl-free finish while an elastic band keeps the bonnet securely in place. New and improved GRIPZONE overmolding offers optimum grip and user comfort.

What we say: Ryobi again packs a lot of features into a value-priced package. The 18V One+ Orbital Buffer’s ergonomically designed handles are a big plus considering it will run for up to an hour and a half on a single charge with the 4.0 amp hour battery. At less than $40, the DIYer and mobile car detailer can certainly make good use of this model while reducing the time they spend hand waxing and buffing.

Winner – Cordless Sanders: Finish, 18V/20V Max

Ryobi 18V One+ Corner Cat Finish Sander P401Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The Ryobi 18V One+ Corner Cat Finish Sander features 11,000 orbits per minute for fast and efficient stock removal. Its unique shape allows users to sand easily in corners and tight spaces. An on-board dust port accepts an optional dust collection attachment for easy clean up with wet/dry vac (sold separately A32VCDT). Orbital action provides a virtually swirl-free finish while the new and improved GRIPZONE overmold delivers optimum grip and user comfort.

What we say: Ryobi took what we love about the Corner Cat’s ability to get into corners and tight spaces and put it in a more compact housing this time around. Priced at under $30 from The Home Depot right now, the 18V One+ Corner Cat is another example of how Ryobi delivers solutions that allow DIYers to come up with professional results.

Winner – Cordless Sanders: Random Orbit, 18V/20V Max

Ridgid Gen5X 18V 5″ Random Orbit SanderPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: RIDGID introduces the GEN5X 18-Volt 5 in. Random Orbit Sander. Featuring its innovative GEN5X Motor Technology, this sander maintains full speed and power under a heavy load. With a new ergonomic Hex Grip handle, this sander feels better than ever in your hand and runs for over 40 minutes on a 4.0Ah HYPER Lithium-Ion battery for longer run time. With a 6-Speed variable speed dial this sander can run from 7,000-11,000 RPM. Includes: R8606 Sander, 2 Pcs 80 Grit Hook and Loop Sandpaper, 1 Dust bag, and Operator’s Manual. Battery and charger sold separately. As always this tool is backed by the RIDGID Lifetime Service Agreement. Free Batteries, Free Parts, and Free Service, For Life.

What we say: Ridgid nailed it with the new Gen5X motor technology. As one of only a couple cordless random orbit sanders on the market, the Ridgid Gen5X is powerful and has more run time than David C. Smith could handle without a break. Ridgid is beginning to push some boundaries that other brands haven’t been willing to test – and they’re succeeding.

Winner – Cordless Saws: Circular Saws, 18V/20V Max

Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless 6-1/2″ Circular Saw Kit

Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 6-1/2” Circular Saw, model XSH03M has an efficient brushless motor with the exclusive Automatic Speed Change Technology for unmatched cutting performance. It’s powered by the efficient 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 4.0Ah battery for longer run time and the industry’s fastest charge time. The XSH03M is powered by Makita’s efficient BL Brushless motor, which is electronically controlled to optimize battery energy use for up to 50% longer run time per charge than similar non-brushless tools. This delivers 5,000 RPM for faster cutting and ripping. With a 6-1/2” blade the XSH03M has a cutting capacity of 2-1/4” at 90 degrees and a bevel capacity of 0 – 50 degrees. The reinforced magnesium base is engineered for added durability and less weight.

What we say: In our 7-1/4″ Cordless Circular Saw Shootout, Makita’s XSH01Z had the fastest average cutting time along with excellent ergonomics and a smooth cut. Very little changed between that full size saw and the 6-1/2″ XSH03M aside from the single battery and smaller size. It’s got an outstandingly smooth and confident cut, great ergonomics, and comes with one of the industries best stock blades.

Winner – Cordless Saws: Circular Saws, 18V/20V Max Metal Cutting

Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless 5-7/8″ Metal Cutting SawPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The first 18V cordless metal cutting saw to cut 2” conduit in a single pass Makita believes that the tool and the accessory must work together for optimal performance and results. Makita is offering a more efficient solution with a new 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless 5-7/8” Metal Cutting Saw and a series of 5-7/8” blades. The new XSC02 features an efficient brushless motor with 3,900 RPM and Automatic Speed Change technology. It is ideal for electrical contractors since it will cut 2” conduit in one pass – a huge time saver. Makita is the first in the industry with a cordless metal cutting saw with a 5-7/8” blade. Makita 5-7/8” metal cutting blades have an ultra-thin kerf design that provides smoother cuts with minimal material loss. The ultra-thin kerf also means less drag on the motor, which helps extend the run-time of the fast-charging Makita 18V battery.

What we say: We don’t get tired of talking about how great Makita’s stock blades are. When they set out to develop a metal cutting saw with the blades to pair with it, we knew it was going to be something great. Makita’s 5-7/8″ Metal Cutting Saw is a great example of the innovation that comes from developing a system solution as opposed to developing a tool and hoping for a third party to make a good accessory.

Winner – Cordless Saws: Track Saws, 18V/20V Max

Festool TSC 55 Plus-XL-FS Cordless Track Saw 561702Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: A whole new standard for portable circular saws, the new TSC 55 Cordless Track Saw builds on years of system innovation to deliver the most versatile, precise cutting system available, allowing you to go wherever the work takes you. The TSC 55 can zip through 100 meters of sheet goods on a single charge, while still delivering all the benefits you’ve come to expect from the Festool Track Saw System. With the FS Guide Rail System, you’ll get laser-straight, splinter-free cuts in seconds. Splinterguards on both sides of the blade ensure that you’ll make zero-tearout cuts in virtually any material. Not only can you replace large, stationary equipment with the incredibly precise, handheld track saw system, but now you can go wherever work needs to get done, without the cord.

What we say: Festool’s 18V Track Saw is more than just a circular saw on a track. It’s a precision track saw that really does offer incredibly straight cuts. Powered by two batteries, those cuts are also powerful. One of the things Festool does really well is design tools around a system – a system that usually includes class-leading dust collection. The TSC 55 is no exception and even does a phenomenal job of dust collection with just the collection bag attached to the dust port.

Winner – Cordless Saws: Band Saws, 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Deep Cut Band Saw 2729-21Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: A game-changer for the industry, the M18 FUEL Deep Cut Band Saw delivers half to a full days run-time on one charge and provides the same legendary durability that has made Milwaukee Corded Deep Cut Band Saws second to none for decades. This combination of performance, durability, and run-time eliminates the need for a cord in most environments. Externally, Job Site Armor Technology protects the tool from drops and debris with a proprietary composite material and crush zone barriers to absorb impacts. Internally, an all metal direct drive system provides maximum tool life, and requires less servicing than the chain drive alternative. A gear protecting clutch extends gear and motor life by absorbing high impact forces caused by blade lock-ups, and the completely sealed design of the direct drive protects the internal gears from water and debris contamination over time.

What we say: When we got our hands on Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Deep Cut Band Saw, it was amazing how well it cut through metal pipes. It was also confidence building to watch a guy drop it on a concrete floor, pick it up, and resume cutting where he left off as if nothing happened. It’s the power, run time, and durability that set this model apart from its competition. Another aggressive tool, look for this to become even more popular with Milwaukee’s 9.0 amp hour battery pack.

Winner – Cordless Saws: Reciprocating Saws, 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Sawzall Reciprocating Saw 2720-22Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The M18 FUEL SAWZALL is the first cordless reciprocating saw to deliver true corded performance without the cord. Delivering up to 2X more run time, 30% faster cutting and 5X longer tool life, the SAWZALL reciprocating saw is the most powerful 18V cordless reciprocating saw on the market.  As with all M18 FUEL products, the new SAWZALL was engineered for the most demanding tradesmen in the world.  The POWERSTATE Brushless Motor works harder, lives longer, and converts energy into power more efficiently, giving the M18 FUEL SAWZALL the ability to deliver 30% faster cutting at the same level of power as some corded saws. In addition, the new cordless tool features an adjustable shoe, an integrated LED light, and a hang hook for easy storage on the job.

What we say: You can’t go wrong with the inventor of the reciprocating saw class of tools. While the 2720 isn’t brand new for 2015, it’s still the leader among cordless reciprocating saws in performance and features – performance that rivals corded models. We’re not saying it’s a guarantee, but the second generation of M18 Fuel products is beginning to roll out with improved brushless motors and electronics that are driving even greater performance. The M18 Fuel Sawzall may see its next big step forward there to stay on top in this class.

Winner – Cordless Saws: Miter Saws, 18V/20V Max

DeWalt DCS361M1 20V Max 7-1/4″ Sliding Miter SawPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The DCS361 offers portability and convenience, optimized for general contractors and remodelers for various applications including trim installation, flooring work, and cutting 2x material. The 7-1/4″ Sliding Miter Saw features a single left bevel which ranges from -3 degrees to 48 degrees left. With a 3-1/2″ maximum vertical, 3-5/8″ crown nested, and 2″ x 8″horizontal cut capacity, the DCS361 will handle most of the common cuts needed. The DCS361 spins at 3750 RPM and makes, on average 183 cuts of 2 x 4 pine or 275 cuts of 3-1/4″ pine base molding on a single battery charge. The DCS361 with a battery is lightweight at 31.6lbs and with the integrated cast-in side handles. Key ease-of-use features of the DCS361 include an integrated XPS blade light which casts a shadow showing where the blade will cut. A stainless steel miter detent plate makes it easy to adjust the saw.

What we say: DeWalt’s 20V Max Miter Saw does what it’s supposed to do – cut like a sliding compound miter saw only with a battery. The compact size is perfect for trim carpenters and work with material up to about a 2 x 8. It doesn’t feel under powered for a battery operated saw and DeWalt didn’t skimp by making a cheap base. This is a really solid option for those needing a compact miter saw, but wanting the convenience of cordless.

Winner – Cordless Wire Crimpers, 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee M18 Force Logic 6T Utility Wire Crimpers 2678-22Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Developed specifically for the challenges a lineman encounters on a daily basis, the new M18 Force Logic 6T Utility Wire Crimpers have been built from the ground up to optimize ergonomics, balance, speed and reliability. The new Crimpers feature the industry’s first adaptive pressure control system, Predictive Force Monitoring (PFM). With the ability to measure and modify all performance levels of the system, PFM pushes the hydraulics extremely hard and fast through the beginning of the cycle, and lands them softly at the right pressure during the completion of the crimp. As a complete problem-solving solution, all M18 FORCE LOGIC 6T Utility Crimpers are compatible with a new proprietary digital platform, One Key, which allows the user to sync the tool wirelessly with their mobile device or desktop.

What we say: Predictive Force Monitoring and One Key connectivity revolutionize what cordless cutters can do. Where as many cutters snap through the end of the cut, PFM allows it to come through gently and extend the life of the tool. One Key technology offers an entire article’s worth of benefits. Inventory control and successful cycle tracking reports, and service interval maintenance are just a few. If the technology itself isn’t enough, Milwaukee also created a much more ergonomic design with the 2678.

Winner – Cordless Wire Cutters, 18V/20V Max

Milwaukee Force Logic M18 Cable Cutter Kit with 750 MCM Cu Jaws 2672-21Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Milwaukee’s M18 FORCE LOGIC Cable Cutter is available with both 750MCM Cu Jaws and 477 ACSR Jaws. With a compact open jaw, 350 Degree Rotating Head and in-line design, the new product will redefine productivity for the Utility and Electrical Trades, delivering the fastest cuts in the tightest spaces. Featuring a compact open-jaw design, the M18 FORCE LOGIC Cable Cutters can easily cut through 477 Hen ACSR, 750 MCM Copper and 1000MCM Aluminum in seconds without the need to latch or loop. With a proprietary anti-spreading jaw, the tool is able to provide an unprecedented power to size ratio and flat, installation-ready cuts. In addition the open jaw design and automatic reset deliver maximum productivity. By repositioning the traditional 6-ton cutter grip to the center of the tool, the user experiences less fatigue and has superior control.

What we say: There’s a lot to love in the design of Milwaukee’s Force Logic M18 Cable Cutter. We quite literally effortlessly cut through power lines (not attached to the power grid) as the tool did all the work with the push of a button. The rotating head and open jaws allow for easy use in tight or awkward settings. One of the most impressive points is that the cut leaves a nice, flat cut that needs to finishing prior to installation. Milwaukee also did a great job with ergonomics on this model, balancing the tool better with a more central grip.

Winner – Radios: 12V

DeWalt Jobsite Bluetooth Speaker DCR006Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The DCR006 Jobsite Bluetooth Speaker is ideal for users who are very mobile and need a lightweight, portable and convenient music solution.  The DCR006 can run on either a 12V MAX or 20V MAX DEWALT lithium ion battery, or AC power via an AC adaptor (sold with speaker). The Jobsite Speaker includes one aux and one USB Power port. Contractors can use the Aux port to play music from their Bluetooth-compatible MP3 players and devices. The USB power port allows for convenient device charging while powered by battery or AC power. The unit includes the newest version of Bluetooth (4.0) and the two 2-½” speakers on the unit produce full, rich sound.

What we say: DeWalt’s Jobsite Bluetooth Speaker fills a unique niche in the jobsite entertainment category by allowing 12V and 20V Max users to take advantage of the same system. Like the majority of mainstream compact music players on the market now, you get USB charging, Bluetooth connectivity, and an auxiliary port to keep the music playing and device charged.

Winner – Radios: 18V/20V Max

Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Radio with Bluetooth Wireless Technology P742Pro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: Ryobi’s 18V One+ Compact Radio with Integrated Bluetooth Wireless Technology offers ultimate versatility to stream full audio more than 30 feet away. The 1 Amp USB Charger port charges many portable electronic devices including smartphones. Designed to have a compact size, the P742 is durable and easily portable for use on the jobsite or at home. Digital tuning with capability to save 10 FM and 10 AM station presets makes all your favorite stations easy to find. The premium speaker provides clear, crisp music at a range of volumes. An integrated auxiliary input with storage location allows smartphone use. A Low battery indicator advises when 18V ONE+ battery will need to be recharged.

What we say: Ryobi’s 18V One+ Compact Radio did one significant thing that bucked the trend of other compact options – they kept the radio. You can still stream Spotify or your own music via Bluetooth or auxiliary cord, but you’ll also be able to catch the 1:00 pm baseball game without chewing through your data.

Winner – Radios: 18V/20V Max Charging

Bosch Power Box Jobsite Radio with Bluetooth PB360CPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: This year Bosch has delivered even more capability with the introduction of the Bosch Power Box PB360C Jobsite Radio/Charger/Digital Media Stereo, which leverages signature 360-degree speakers with Bluetooth technology. With a connection range of up to 150 feet, the Bluetooth technology allows users to move freely around the construction zone without being tethered to a cable, and without fear of losing sound quality. It can all be controlled on the free Bosch PowerBox smartphone app. The entire console can run on either a 120V DC outlet or Bosch 18V Lithium-Ion batteries. From there, users can charge or power other devices by plugging into one of the four-way power outlets. That’s in addition to charging Bosch cordless power tool batteries right in the Power Box itself.

What we say: One thing I love about the Bosch Power Box is that they keep building on a successful platform. They’re not going after a radical redesign just to add one more feature. This generation finally gets Bluetooth connectivity. Combined with 18V battery charging, dual power sources, 360 degree sound, and the host of other features, this is the most well-rounded jobsite entertainment source available. David C. Smith’s personal favorite is the Power Box app that allows him to take over with the loudspeaker function. We’re getting a little tired of his attempts to win Pro Tool Reviews Idol.

Winner – Cordless Portable Fans: 18V/20V Max

Ridgid Gen5X Hybrid FanPro Tool Innovation Awards 2015 - Cordless Tools

What they said: The new RIDGID GEN5X 18-Volt Hybrid Fan is like nothing the work place has ever seen or heard, before. Featuring the new Covert Air Technology this fan is the quietest and most powerful fan on the market. This fan is hybrid, so it can run off 18-Volt HYPER Lithium-Ion batteries or plugged in for endless power. The GEN5X 18-Volt Hybrid Fan pushes out 475 CFM making it have best-in-class air flow. With a 240 degree rotation and over 10 different hanging options, this fan can cool down the work place wherever it is. This tool is backed by the RIDGID Lifetime Service Agreement. Free Batteries, Free Parts, and Free Service, For Life.

What we say: Ridgid’s Gen5X Hybrid Fan is the most impressive we’ve seen in the class so far. No one has come close to the 475 CFM air volume and we ran it on high for nearly six and a half hours on one 4.0 amp hour battery! Plenty of mounting options and 240 degree rotation mean you should never be without air flow. Plus, it’s only $59.97 at The Home Depot.

2015 Retail Sponsors

Acme Tools small
Nail Gun Depot
Ohio Power Tool
Tool Barn

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Joseph Florence

I have to say the Ridged drill was possibly the worst cordless drill I’ve used since the old 9v Makita. I had the hammer drill impact driver combo which I returned. Sure it looks cool, feels good, has stats, and is cost effective. But as a drill/ driver I thought it was terrible. First, the drill can’t go slow (important! ). I don’t know why but there is nothing between off and medium speed. This leaves the user jerking the trigger like a jerk when finishing a screw… seriously though there’s NO slow control. Another problem with the drill is… Read more »


Bosch only ranks on the radio? Really?


Where’s the Ridgid brushless picture? That’s the current brushed models ;)

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