Craftsman makes an Autoloading screwdriver, or at least they used to. It had a nice grip and was a step up from the Autoloader and auto-loading screwdrivers that the same OEM company made for other tool brands. I bought one a few years back, and rather like it. That screwdriver is on clearance at Sears for $15.
Craftsman is replacing their Autoloading screwdriver with a new auto-loading ratcheting screwdriver, which is shown at the top of the page.
I haven’t seen the new auto-loading screwdriver yet in person yet, but it looks to be significantly different compared to the now-clearanced one.
The new design features a bit cartridge at the front of the tool, rather than within the handle. This makes the handle slimmer and more ergonomic looking. That’s actually my main complaint about the older design – the handle is large and chunky.
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Plus, the new screwdriver has a ratcheting mechanism.
As with the previous version, bit changes are done with a pump-action motion. You pull back on the handle to retract the bit, rotate the cartridge to select the bit you want, and then push the handle forward to select your bit. With the previous model, you rotated the handle.
I’m assuming that you’re supposed to rotate the bit cartridge with the new model. The bit holder is offset from the cartridge, and so rotating the cartridge looks to be the only way to change the bit selection.
The screwdriver comes with 12 screwdriver bits: Phillips #1, #2, #3; slotted 1/8″, 5/32″, 3/16″, Torx T10, T15, T20; hex 3 mm, 4 mm, 5 mm.
If it wasn’t for my positive experiences with the older Autoloading screwdriver design, I would have dismissed this new one to be a holiday-timed gimmick destined for thousands of kitchen junk drawers.
Compared to the older/other auto-loading design, this new Craftsman driver does look to offer a number of improvements. There’s the offset bit holder, which makes it easier to access fasteners near an obstruction, a more ergonomic handle shape, and a ratcheting mechanism.
If the ratcheting mechanism is half-good, this might be a good home/auto/portable multi-bit screwdriver.
I’d wait until the holiday season to see if it drops in price. Otherwise, the regular Autoloader screwdriver that’s on clearance is a bulkier but safer buy.