We’ve seen a lot of innovative new cordless power tools this year. Some of the new tools are evolutionary – which is okay, and some revolutionary.
Some new tools might invoke immediate “that will really benefit my work!” sentiments, while other releases might only be added to our wishlists.
It’s always hard to sort through which deserve special recognition. Following are some of the best tools that came out this year, among those I have had sufficient hands-on testing with.
There a few other tools that might have made it on this list, but either they’re not available yet, or I haven’t had a chance to vet them yet. My hope is to plan for an expanded end-of-the-year-update. But until then, here are the top tools I’ve been most impressed with so far.
Note: Tools considered for this post were either purchased, provided by brands as test review samples, or demoed at media events with sufficient time to form a solid opinion. The ones discussed here were all provided as no-cost review samples.
Milwaukee Cordless Stapler
I know, a cordless stapler doesn’t sound very exciting. I must have only fired around 20 staples at Milwaukee’s NPS17 media event, but it was enough to get a sense for what the stapler is about.
You grab the stapler, place some staples where you need them, put it back in your pouch, tool bag, wherever, and continue with your work.
There’s not a lot to fuss with, and when you’re done, it drops from your mind. With manual staplers, your hands will often have lingering reminder that you just drove in 10, 20, 50, or several dozen staples.
With this one, stapling is less of a physical exercise or source or fatigue, and isn’t that what we want to see in new tools?
Ridgid Cordless Air Compressor
Ridgid’s entry as the first-ever cordless air compressor has a lot going for it. It’s compact, delivers good performance (so far), is powered by a brushless motor, and it’s reasonably affordable for those already invested in Ridgid’s 18V cordless power tool platform.
As long as you’re realistic about what it is – a cordless air compressor with 1 gallon tank – it’ll happily serve your modest needs. It’s a quick trim compressor, likely ideal for small jobs. It can be powered using 1 or 2 battery packs, which is a convenience.
A few years ago, I couldn’t imagine that we’d see a cordless air compressor, but here we are.
Ridgid has come out with some very good tools recently – an expanded lighting portfolio, a cordless router, a brushless belt sander, and there’s more to come.
Buy Now (via Home Depot)
There’s currently a promo where you buy 2 select Ridgid tools and get a free starter kit, although you’ll likely want one or two high capacity battery packs to power the compressor.
Bosch Ergonomic Reciprocating Saw w/ CORE Battery Pack
I tested Bosch’s new compact reciprocating saw, and it’s a real beast. I wish the vibration was reduced further, but it does seem to be a big improvement over some of the same saws I’ve tested lately.
I don’t use reciprocating saws on a regular basis, but I was able to recognize that this saw has gobs of power. I’m still on the fence about whether the ergonomics are all I had hoped for.
If you’re in the market for a new cordless reciprocating saw, try to find a way to get some hands-on time with this saw. It’s a beast that delivers all of Bosch’s claims.
The saw was announced and released overseas in 2016, but only recently made it to the USA, as model GSA18V-125.
Makita XDT12 Brushless Impact Driver
Makita’s XDT12 was announced in 2016, and if I recall it started shipping in Q4 last year. I only recently had the opportunity to test it out, and it could very well be the best cordless impact driver I have ever seen, tested, or heard of.
It’s small, even astonishingly compact. Powerful. Its 4 speed ranges and 2 other settings have all the versatility most users will ever need. The brushless motor contributes to incredible runtime.
I haven’t had the time to pit it against my other current favorite impact driver yet – the Hitachi 18V triple hammer impact that Ben reviewed here. I honestly don’t know which would win.
But it’s fair to say that this Makita impact is at least one of the top 2 impact drivers I have ever come across. It could be the best yet.
While a little pricey, it’s less expensive than Hitachi’s and seems to be priced competitively with other brands’ most-premium impact drivers.
Runner Up: Milwaukee Rover RedLithium USB LED Worklight
Milwaukee’s USB RedLithium USB Rover LED worklight is among the best personal lighting products I’ve ever used. It’s quite different than the flashlights I own, and its functionality seems to be inspired by much larger worklights.
Its magnets mount quite well on bare steel surfaces, although one of the its two magnets doesn’t do quite as well on coated steel.
I am excited about what Milwaukee’s new USB-rechargeable 3.6V/4.0V Max battery cell might power in the future, or if it’s only destined to serve their personal lighting products.
The Rover flashlight can be recharged directly, or you can pop out the battery to be charged with an optional RedLithium USB charger.
While not as disposably cheap as the small worklights sold on the counter of some hardware and supply stores (or my local UPS store), its $60 price tag isn’t outlandishly expensive either.
There were 2 new Dewalt tools that were in the running for the top 5 selections – the new FlexVolt air compressor, and the FlexVolt track saw. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to test either of them, due to shipping issues. This post was already delayed, and I couldn’t wait any longer for Dewalt to sort things out. I wasn’t able to test either tool at Dewalt’s media event.
Festool’s cordless track saw is really, really good, and I wanted to see if the Dewalt held any advantage or was at least competitive.
Ridgid’s cordless air compressor is quite impressive, and I haven’t seen any reasonable limitations due to its small tank. It’s a compact and highly portable cordless-powered nailer. I’m especially curious about Dewalt’s special regulator, and whether there’s any performance difference to justify its added size and price. I had planned to mention both on equal standing – unless something majorly wrong with the Dewalt came up during testing – with comparison tests to follow.
Top Candidates for Future Testing
Following are some the tools that I anticipate being top contenders for the Q4 update, which will be expanded to feature 10 tools.
Bosch FlexiClick Multi-Head Drill Driver
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7-1/4″ Sliding Miter Saw
Milwaukee M18 Heat Gun
Milwaukee M12 Soldering Iron
Milwaukee M12 Fuel 2nd Gen Impact Driver (I’m also excited about the drill, but less so)
Ryobi Brushless Saws
Are there any tools you want to nominate for consideration in the expanded “Best Cordless Tools of 2017” followup?
Special Disclosures: There were no “entry fees,” “consideration fees,” or any other monetary requirements, conditions, or incentives. In fact, none of the brands whose tools were mentioned were alerted that this post was planned or in the works.
Ordinary Disclosure: Thank you to Bosch, Makita, Milwaukee, Ridgid, for providing the review samples. (Except for the stapler, which was tested at Milwaukee.)