Every year Tools In Action gives awards to the best products we have tested, products that really stood out. Our awards are 100% free and we do not charge an entry fee. In-fact the companies don’t even know they are getting an award until we tell them. Some of you may not see your favorite brand here because we didn’t test them. We cannot give an award to a product we haven’t tested or is not on the market yet. Awards are picked by our editors with the help of tradesman and contractors that we work with.
This year we are also giving our readers a chance to pick their favorite tools and let their voice be heard. The first annual Tools In Action Readers Awards – Vote Here
Best 18/20V Line
DeWALT – Every year we struggle with the top 18V top pick because there are so many great lines on the market. For 2016, the honors go to the DeWALT 20V max line up. They may not have the biggest line, but what they do have is a good solid quality line of tools that just got even more innovative with the release of FLEXVOLT.
Best 12V Line
Milwaukee Tool – While all most every major manufacturer has a 12V line of tools, no one is more comprehensive than Milwaukee Tool, they own the 12V market. The 12V line of tools is not only designed for specific trades but designed to make the daily tasks easier.
Most Innovative Product Line of 2016
DeWALT FLEXVOLT– DeWALT really blew everyone’s mind this year with the introduction of the 60V FLEXVOLT platform. It is backwards compatible with the existing 20V line and has the power to run a table saw and a 12″ miter saw with ease. They even have a 120V power station powered by 60 or 20V batteries. DeWALT dominated the tool news cycle this year with FLEXVOLT!
Cordless 18V Drill/Drivers/Impacts/Hammer
Winner – DeWALT DCD991
The DCD991 is a workhorse. It has 3 speeds to accomplish almost any task. It has a powerful innovative bright LED light on the front that can be set to stay on for 20 min. This allows you to illuminate what you are working on. Lots of power and a clutch for those delicate jobs round out the DCD991 as the best all around drill/driver for 2016.
Drill/Driver Sub Compact
Makita broke the mold this year when they introduced a new Sub-Compact drill/driver and impact driver. The XFD11ZB and the XDT15ZB run on the Makita 18V platform, but they are smaller and lighter than some of the 12V competitors tools. A huge win for the professional contractor.
Winner – DeWALT DCD996
The DCD996 is the hammerdrill version of the DCD991. All the great features of the 991 with the addition of a hammer mechanism for drilling into concrete. Powerful and reliable make this our 2016 pick for best hammerdrill.
Winner – DeWALT DCF887
One of my favorite impacts was the DeWALT DCF886 until the 887 came along. This compact 3 speed impact will get you into tight situations. Three LEDs with a 20 second delay will allow you to see your work with ease. Add a precision drive speed setting and you have yourself a great compact impact driver for every 1/4″ driving task.
Winner – Ingersoll Rand W5152 / W5132
Ingersoll Rand knows the automotive sector, their pneumatic tools can be seen at almost every car repair shop in the country. A few years back they released their IQ V20 line of tools which mechanics fell in love with. The W5152 1/2″ and W5132 1/4″ impacts are not only powerful but have features mechanics want. The dial on the back allows for different torque levels like hand tight, wrench tight etc.. Reverse is always full torque. The LED light ring is the best we have seen on a cordless tool.
Cordless 12v Drill/Driver/Impact/Hammer
When it comes to 12V tools, Milwaukee owns the market. Milwaukee makes an incredible 12V drill/driver, impact driver and hammer drill. Not to mention Milwaukee Tools has the largest line of 12V tools, this is hands down the clear choice.
Winner – DeWALT FLEXVOLT DHS790A
For as far back as I can remember the DeWALT DWS780 Dual Compound Miter Saw has been the top saw in our awards. DeWALT took that saw and gave it both corded and cordless capability making it the best 12″ Miter solution The DHS790A is powerful and makes reliable true cuts virtually anywhere. Add the XPS LED shadow line and you have yourself and awesome miter saw. The DHS790a truly is the most innovative miter saw we have tested.
Winner – DeWALT FLEXVOLT DHS790A
Well well the 790 appears again as the best cordless miter saw. Powered by 2 60V FLEXVOLT batteries this 12″ saw has the power of corded. When your batteries need a recharge simply plug in or have an extra set on hand to swap out while you charge.
Corded Table Saw
Bosch has one of the best table saws on the market. This year they stepped up their game with the introduction of the REAXX. The saw that not only performs but can save a trip to the hospital. This saw senses anytime flesh touches the blade and will instantly drop the blade while protecting you from any damage to your fingers and you don’t have to replace the blade.
Winner – DeWALT DCS7485T1
If you would have told me there is a cordless table saw on the market I wouldn’t have believed it. That is until the DeWALT FLEXVOLT appeared on the scene. With the addition of the famous DeWALT rack and pinion telescoping fence this is the real deal. Now you can rip sheets of plywood anywhere! This is a good quality unit that will be there when you need it.
Corded Circular Saw
Winner – Skilsaw Wormdrive SPT 77 WM-22
Skil started it all all. The powerful worm drive has been a staple of the trades since its inception. Today’s saw is basically the same with some improvements to make it a bit lighter. This saw will get the job done where others cannot.
Cordless Circular Saw
A ton of speed and power, plus a clear line of sight. The saw only weights 7.3 lbs (With battery) and boasts a 5,000 rpm brushless motor. Not too much will stand in the way of this saw.
Corded Jig Saw
Winner – Bosch JS572EK
When it comes to reliability and quality it’s hard to beat Bosch. Their jigsaws have been around for a long time. The first time you use one it’s like driving a BMW, precise and comfortable. You cannot go wrong with a Bosch Jigsaw
Cordless Jig Saw
When it comes to job site jigsaws, Bosch perfected the jigsaw. Doesn’t matter if you are talking about the 12V or 18V jigsaw, equally are impressive. Smooth, powerful, low vibration. When you have to get jiggy, look to the Bosch.
Corded Reciprocating Saw
Stand tall, stand proud with the tool that made demolition easier, the Sawzall. There is a reason people call all reciprocating saws a Sawzall. Powerful, well balanced and able to withstand any job site. If you are looking for a corded reciprocating saw, look no further.
Cordless Reciprocating Saw
Like it’s older brother, the corded version, the cordless Sawzall is in a class of its own. Powerful and able to put in a good day’s work, it’s a must-have for anyone in the demolition field. With added Bluetooth technology it is a step ahead of the competition.
Corded Band Saw
Winner – Milwaukee 6232-20
Milwaukee knows portable saws! This 11 Amp deep cut saw will survive a lifetime on the jobsite. The all metal drive is protected by a clutch. A 3 position tool free shoe will allow you adjust for any cutting situation while reducing downtime. Beat it and it will still be there for you.
Cordless Band Saw
Winner – Milwaukee 2729-20
Take the same corded knowledge in the 6232-20 add 18V Brushless FUEL technology and you have yourself a powerful and capable cordless band saw. This is a powerhouse that will give you corded like power.
Winner – Milwaukee
Milwaukee was an early adopter of the heated jacket craze and years later they are still the top heated jacket brand. They have innovative features like pocket warmers and carbon fiber heating elements. Great styles and the ability to be washed over and over make these the best heated jackets for 2016.
A new company to market has made a big splash for tough pants. Not only are they stylish, but tough. Best of all they are warm and allow you to move freely.
You will be walking on cloud 9 with Keen Utility work boots and work shoes. They have a ton of different styles to pick from. They are comfortable, tough and offer your feet protection from the job site elements. Cushion is built into all the right places which make this a perfect pick for those who are on their feet all day.
Seriously, was this even in question? The most comfortable shirt in the world. OK, maybe that’s not true and maybe we are biased on this pick, but can you blame us. Look cool and show off your colors with the TIA Shirt.
Another easy pick. This hat not only offers protection from the sun, but it will make all your friends, family, and co-workers jealous of you. Strut your stuff in style with the TIA Hat. What’s that? You want to buy one today. Just head over to Tiagear.com and pick one up
Winner – FIRMAN P03603
They might seem new to the market but FIRMAN has been building OEM generators for a long time. FIRMAN has support offices in Arizona and give you a ton of features for the money. The P03603 even has a remote start. For the price you can’t go wrong with this generator.
From a name that has been around for years with a proven track record, the Briggs Inverter is a top pick. Quiet, lightweight and sips gas makes this a top pick for anyone looking for power. They also make one of the most powerful inverters we tested this year.
Winner – Metabo WPB 18 LTX BL 150 Quick
Metabo is known for its stellar grinders. The Metabo WPB 18 LTX BL 150 Quick is a powerful cordless grinder that has features like a removable dust guard, LiHD batteries for long runtime and a swivel battery to get you into to tight areas. If you want the best grinder go with Metabo.
Winner – Metabo WP9-115 Quick
Tried and true, the WP9-115 will be the last 4 1/2″ grinder you will ever buy. It has an automatic safety clutch to prevent kickbacks, It also has the Metabo tool-less quick system for changing discs. In my opinion every grinder in the world should have the innovative quick system, no more tools to lose and always ready to go.
Winner – Klein tools
Hand tools is a huge category, many are trade specific. Klein is geared towards the electrician but can be used by anyone. They build a quality hand tool mostly right here in the USA. Ask any electrician or pick up a pair of their pliers and you will know why we picked them as best hand tools of 2016.
Winner – DeWALT DCN660
Pop in nails and a battery and go! This nailer requires no fuel cell or maintenance. Perfect for any finish job, the DCN660 nails it every time.
Battery technology has increased over the years, but if you want constant and consistent driving from your framing nailer, this is the tool to own. While it won’t keep up with a pneumatic nailer in regards to speed, it’s the best cordless option on the market.
Why look anywhere else when Bosch already perfected the oscillating tool for the job site. Extremely comfortable, low vibrations and a great all around tool to make your life easier. The Starlock system is just a plus. Quick and fast blade changes mean more efficiency. More efficiency means the job gets done quicker. When the job gets done quicker, it means you get more time to kick back and enjoy your breaks.
Just like the corded version, the Bosch cordless oscillating job site tool is a beast. Powerful, low vibrations and quick blade changes make this the top performer. Align this tool with the Bosch blades and there isn’t much that will stand in your way.
Test & Measurement
Is there anyone out there who offers more variations of the laser line? I think not. No matter what type of line or system you are looking for, Bosch will have it. Very easy to use, extremely accurate and tough enough for the demanding job sites, Bosch is the number one choice. For those tech savvy individuals, you will love they offer apps to help make your work easier and more organized.
High tech solutions that will even make Spock look over your shoulder. Designed for the professional tradesman, this LDM covers every aspect of your measurements. Easy to use software and very intuitive. The handheld system will allow you to take a multiple assortment of measurements, document the measurements and present them. While most LDM are only good in the field, this allows you to also work from the office.
Winner – FLIR C2
FLIR is synonymous with thermal imaging. The military and police depend on it. The C2 is like a small point and shoot camera that takes thermal and regular images. It can also combine them together to give you MSX, a technology which greatly enhances your thermal image. You can instantly spot trouble areas. Combine this with the ability to create reports and you have a great compact thermal imager.
An old name in a new look. Easy to read vials, sturdy frame and padded ends make this a great level to own. Designed for the professional, these easy to read levels offer the tradesmen accuracy in the palm of their hands.
Non-Contact Voltage Tester
Winner – Southwire – 40150N
This is by far one of the best non-contact voltage testers we have tried. Not only is this tester extremely accurate, but during our testing, it would detect voltage even an inch away. This unit is dual range 12-1000V & 100-1000V AC.
Winner – Husky Unbreakable
The Husky unbreakable flashlight is exactly that “Unbreakable”. This light is shock proof, water proof, dust proof, kid proof, just about everything proof! We tried to break one and couldn’t. It comes in a variety of sizes and has a bright LED at the source. Best of all they do not break the bank.
Milwaukee dominates jobsite lighting. They cover every area from spot lighting to area lights. They have started to incorporate their One Key Bluetooth tech into some lights which makes them one step ahead of the competition.
Winner – Big Ass Lights
For the second year in a row the Big Ass lights take the shop lighting award. Made in the USA from quality components these lights are super bright and backed by an awesome customer service team. The are so tough that they actually drove a Ford Superduty truck over them and they still worked.
This back back combines strength, accessibility and tons of storage pockets into a small lightweight package. Designed for the electrician it works for just about any tools user. Best of all it now comes in High-Visibility.
These tough boxes interlock and live up to their name. A rubber seal keeps your tools dry and safe. We drove a 1000lb Kawasaki Mule on one and it didn’t even blink! A good choice for the rugged job site.
Husky really blew us away this year with their tool chest solutions. Plenty of soft close drawers, integrated power strips and one even has an integrated cordless light. Covered in a matte finish these boxes perform and look great. So great in fact they are in the back of everyone of our videos.
Gas Power Pressure Washer
A reliable motor mated to a Cat pump is about as good as it gets for longevity and reliability. Combine that with a sturdy frame and one of the best wands we have ever seen and you have the best pressure washer of 2016.
Bosch knows concrete. They have designed some of the best concrete tools in the world. It doesn’t matter if you are ripping concrete or drilling some holes, you will find a solution with the large line of Bosch rotary hammers. These are time tested tools that will take a beating and keep on working in any environment.
Looking for a tough random orbital sander? Look no further. Dewalt has a job site sander designed to keep vibrations low and let you get the job done. The sander is quiet and does a decent job collecting waste into the provide bag. It locks directly into a DeWALT HEPA vac for easy tight dust free connections.
Porter Cable is one of the front runners in the router category. They have been around for a long time and have plenty of experience making some of the best routers for the job site. Making adjustments is easy and a smooth operation. Porter Cable offers a variety of routers to suit any tradesman needs.
Corded Compact Trim
There is a reason most compact CNC users use the DW611PK, it is a reliable powerful little router. Best of all it has an LED light to show you what you are working on. Thumbs up for this little guy.
Who would have thought there would be a cordless router. While a cordless router might not be your go to router, it does have it’s place in the workplace. For those times you need to make a quick cut or don’t have any power, you can jump to your Ridgid router. The router is built like a tank but operates extremely smooth with the adjustments.
We have been using this vac for a few years no for our CNC setup. It sucks like no tomorrow and never gets clogged thanks to the automatic filter cleaning system. Rugged and powerful define this HEPA vac. It has a hose locking system that is compatible with most DeWALT perform and Protect tools.
Being on a ladder can be dangerous and people end up in the emergency room every year. When you pick a ladder, you need one that is lightweight, but extremely sturdy. That is where the Gorilla ladder comes into play. This is one of the best Step ladders we have ever tested. Lightweight and sturdy.
Many of you have seen the infomercial for the Little Giant ladder and been amazed. Well it is one of the only Informercials that actually represents the product correctly. It is a marvel of engineering and best of all it is light weight!
Wener owns the ladder market. They have been in the business for a long time and it shows with their quality ladders. Built to last and built to take the daily abuse, Werner is our top pick for extension ladders.
Your tools are your life. They help you get the job done and put food on the table. Why let them sit around, get exposed to weather and theft. The Weather Guard truck box is the top pick for 2016. These boxes are build to last and the locking system is the best we have seen. With a ton of organizational options, this will be the last truck box you ever own.
I have had a few trailers in my life and nothing has been as quality as our 2013 PJ utility trailer. Everything from the welds to the axles are built to last. It has LED lighting with wires protected in an enclosed channel. That means that I will never have a lighting problem ever! Combine that with a solid dealer network and you have yourself a great trailer.
Winner – BeadBuster
The BeadBuster takes the place of a huge tire machine. Now you can change a tire off the rim just about anywhere. Simply clamp it on and run the screw down with an impact, job done! Simple is as Simple does! I tried to go all Forrest Gump on that one. It is a huge time saver and something everyone should have in their tool box.
These little RYOBI fans kick butt! They are portable and have a few ways they can hang. They also can be powered by the One+ battery or can be plugged in. They don’t break the bank so they are great for just about anywhere you need air moved.
Job Site Radio
There is no doubt that this is the best radio on the jobsite. We beat and dropped it from cranes and soaked it with a hose. It just kept working. On top of that the sound is phenomenal thanks to 2 subwoofers. It sounds more like a like a high end BOSE system than a jobsite radio,
Outdoor Power Equipment
Ego is easily the best cordless mower of 2016. With a large cutting capacity and ease of use, not to mention the quiet operation, any homeowner will be proud to own this mower. They offer a push mower or a self-propelled mower. The 56V platform means you can work a long time on a single charge and mow over some tall grass.
Cordless Handheld Blower
Ego offers two handheld blowers and both of them have enough power to clean your walks, help with fall left clean up or just clean your deck off. Powerful and decent run time, Ego is the blower to own. Runs off the 56V platform as their mower which means you will get a ton of work done with a single battery.
Cordless Back Pack Blower
Need more power than a traditional handheld blower? EGO has a 56V backpack blower that will give other blowers a run for their money. Quiet operation and a high cfm means you can get your clean up done in less time.
Cordless String Trimmer
Built with quality, power and run time in mind, the EGO line of trimmers are perfect for any homeowner. Just pop in a fresh battery and you’re ready to make your lawn look beautiful. Sell your gas powered string trimmer and check out the EGO.
Cordless Snow Blower
Snow doesn’t stand a chance. Doesn’t matter if it’s wet snow or the nice fluffy snow, the EGO snow blower will throw it to your neighbors house without even a hiccup. This is a solid machine and by far the best cordless snow blower on the market. Well designed and well thought out.
If you follow our channel it is no secret that we have a Ventrac and think highly of it and the brand. I want to call it the un-tractor because it is so much more than a conventional tractor. The great thing is the quality of this thing, it is built for the harshest of commercial environments and is right at home on a residential property. Best of all it is made right here in the USA.
Yardmax is a relatively new brand, but we got a chance to check out their 35 ton log splitter and boy were we surprised. Powered by a reliable proven Briggs and Stratton engine. Great build quality and innovative features like a spinning foot plate and U beam design make this one of the toughest log splitters we have ever seen.
Tiller – Mantis Dan
The Mantis tiller is one of the most useful tools you will ever own. It aerates, cultivates, tills, detaches and plows with available accessories. Powered by a 4-cycle Honda motor the Mantis will provide years of trouble free service.
Best Media Event
We go to lot of media events each year and honestly they all are awesome! But the one that really stood out was the Lowest KOBALT Tools media event. It pays to sponsor a NASCAR race team and even sponsor your own race, the Kobalt 400. I am not even into NASCAR but it was a great time. We also got to see their new 24V line of tools.
Fizzics – The only thing beer than beer after a hard day’s work is beer from the tap. Fizzics is a very cool system that using some sort of science (Sorry I would explain it better, but I flunked science) that creates a straight from the tap taste. Now I can’t say I drink beer every night, but the nights I drink it, I love using this system and enjoying a good tasting beer.
Most Innovative Tool of 2016
Bosch REAXX – A saw that truly creates a safer work environment is always worthy of a top pick. The Bosch REAXX is not only a safe saw but a designed for the job site. The portability with the top of the line gravity stands makes this system easy to set up, take down and move around. This saw is very easy to use, accurate and designed with the user in mind. A table saw is dangerous and sends a ton of people to the emergency room every year. The Bosch REAXX prevents this with their state of the art flesh detection system. If your finger or any part of your body comes in contact with the blade, the system will immediately kick the blade back into the saw protecting the user. If this system ever gets activated, it takes about one minute to set it back up and you’re ready to make the next cut. Now you may need more time to change your shorts, but that’s for another topic. You can even use the same blade as it keeps the blade intact.
Best Battery Platform of 2016
The FLEXVOLT might be in its infancy, but from what they have shown we expect to see big things for this line. Backwards compatibility with the 20V max system makes it a good choice for those who want to take advantage of the new FLEXVOLT tools while having an extra battery for their 20V tools. It might not be the biggest line, but t has huge potential.
_Winner – Multimatic 215 Multiprocess Welder
Miller Electric makes some of the best welders on the market. The Multimatic 215 is one of their best welders yet. A dial and digital display automatically sets the perfect voltage and speed to create consistant bead. It is simple to use and can do a variety of processes including Mig, Tig, Flux Cored and Stick welding. It can be used with either 110 or 240 V to weld up to 3/8” mild steel.
This 190,000 BTU torpedo heater is a beast and can be used with multiple fuels. It has a storage compartment at the front of the unit for gloves or whatever else you decide to put in there. Easy to maneuver this portable heater is job site tough.