Tools In Action 2015 Tool Awards – The Best of the Best


Once a year we like to give credit to the best products that we have tested.  There is no entry fee for our awards. They are judged by the editors of Tools In Action and professional contractors that we closely work with. We take into account value, performance, quality, ergonomics and innovation.  In full disclosure some of the companies that have won a TIA award have or do advertise with us.  However that is not a factor for being chosen.


Best 18/20V Line – Milwaukee M18

m18 batteryThe ever-expanding M18 line has been growing like wildfire.  This year Milwaukee took the top spot hands down with the introduction of generation 2 FUEL.  The tools are getting smaller while the power increases.  You truly have to feel the power in your hand to understand what generation 2 FUEL is.  Like the M12 line, the M18 line has even more trade specific tools to turn anyone’s tool box red.


Best Outdoor Cordless Line – DeWALT 40V Max

dewalt 40vDeWALT is helping change the landscapers mind about battery power.  The 40V line is powerful and rugged.  Designed to live up to the harsh commercial environment, it is giving gas-powered equipment a run for the money.  Even some of the most stubborn old school gas fans are turning their heads to this new line up.  “DeWALT TOUGH” is evident in this platform.




Best Budget Power Tool Brand – Ryobi

list_e64bddf7-dadb-415f-b374-f52f97f05aabLithium-ion was one of the best things that happened to Ryobi.  People really started to see what a great tool line it was with the new-found power and runtime.  We see more and more Ryobi on the job sites.  The semi-pro/pro likes it because it is cost-effective, easily available at a Home Depot and gets the job done.  The Ryobi line has matured into a big line with a variety of tools that won’t break the bank.  Good job Ryobi.



Best Hand Tool Brand – Klein

KLEIN toolsWhenever we get a hand tool we compare it to Klein quality.  Rarely does any other hand tool match up to the workmanship and quality that goes into a Klein tool.  The fit and finish are perfect every time.  Ask any electrician and he will have a Klein tool in his belt with a story. Klein also manufactures most of its hand tools right here in the USA.  If you want the best, Klein is the way to go.




Best 12V line – Milwaukee M12

m12-Battery milwaukeeMilwaukee has been an innovation machine these past few years.  Their M12 line has grown into the biggest in the industry.  They also have unique trade specific tools like the Milwaukee 2432 Pex Expander.  The addition of their lighting and brushless FUEL technology put the M12 Milwaukee line over the top for 2015.




Best Retailer – Home Depot

2000px-TheHomeDepotWe like Home Depot because of their prices, knowledge and customer service.  Home Depot has always price matched and made us a happy customer.  Their stores are everywhere and their employees are knowledgeable.  Great product selection and prices make The Home Depot our favorite retailer for 2015.




Most Innovative Outdoor Power Equipment – Troy-Bilt Flex

troy-bilt flexTroy-Bilt may not have been the first to come up with the single engine and attachment idea, but they sure perfected it.  A true machine for all seasons, just one motor to maintain and store.  Currently they offer a mower, blower, pressure washer and a snow blower which all work rather well.  Lots of new attachments are in the pipeline so keep am eye out.



Best 18V/20V Drill – Milwaukee Gen 2

Milwaukee-2703-M18-Fuel-Brushless-Drill-DriverThe 2703 and 2704 hammer drill really blew our minds this year.  The drills got smaller while the power was increased to 1200 in-lbs.  For 2016 they are the ones to beat.





Best 18V/20V Impact Driver – Milwaukee Gen 2

Milwaukee-2753-M18-Fuel-Impact-Driver-Gen2The 2nd gen 2753 impact driver is small, powerful and smart.  It has 3 speeds and a 4th self tapping screw mode.  It controls the screw speed from start to finish.  Features such as One-Key will enhance this product line even more.





Best Cordless Framer Nailer – DeWALT DCN692 20V Max Brushless Framing Nailer

dcn692m1DeWALT has been around the block and knows nailers.  So when they took their proven 20V platform and mated it to a nailer, they came up with a reliable framing nailer that did not require air or a fuel cartridge.  The tool requires no oiling and is extremely reliable. It has changed framing nailers forever.




Best Cordless Finish Nailer – DeWALT DCN660 20V Max Brushless Finish Nailer

DCN660B_dewalt nailerSticking to the DCN692 design DeWALT lightened the tool. This nailer produces reliable, precise strikes every time and there is no need to oil the tool after every job. This tool works and fires when you expect it to. Stellar ergonomics and quality build make this the best finish nailer we have tested so far.




Best 18V/20V Impact Wrench – Metabo SSW 18LTX 400 BL

metabo impactWe recently tested this compact impact and were amazed at its ability to remove lug nuts from a heavy duty pick up truck.  The 295 ft-lbs of torque combined with the new LiHD batteries make this a powerful combination.  Metabo is known for quality and this tool is ready for any industrial environment.




Best 18V/20V Circular Saw – Makita XSH03M Brushless Circular Saw

MAK-XSH03M-3Makita has brought a bunch of new tools to market this year.  This saw is lightweight, powerful and has a great line of sight.  If your looking for a saw to power through pretty much anything, this is your saw.  Great ergonomics and precise control makes this a home run.





Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw – Milwaukee FUEL Sawzall 2720

Fuel SawzallMilwaukee invented the reciprocating saw in 1952 and today owns the reciprocating saw market with the FUEL M18 Cordless SAWZALL.  The saw feels perfect in your hand and absorbs most of the vibrations, so you don’t have to.  Power and run time are class leading thanks to the FUEL technology.  This saw sets a new bar in the reciprocating saw category.




Best Cordless JigSaw – Bosch JS120BN 12v Max Barrel Nose Jig Saw

JS120BN bosch jigsawBosch is known for German engineered quality.  When it comes to Jigsaws using a Bosch is like driving a BMW, it feels like quality and is precise. The barrel nose allows you to control the tool comfortably and with ease.  Quality and ergonomics makes the JS120 stand out from the crowd.




Best Cordless Rotary Hammer – Dewalt DCH273P2 20v MAX Brushless SDS Rotary Hammer

DCH273P2_20V sdsDeWALT TOUGH is their slogan for a reason.  The DCH273P2 can handle any job you throw at it.  It includes their SHOCKS Active Vibration Control that almost virtually eliminates all vibration from reaching the user.  21.1 joules provides corded like power.  This is 20V MAX to the extreme.




Best Sander – DeWALT DWE6423K 3 Amp 5 in. Corded Variable Speed Random Orbit Sander

Dewalt SanderDeWALT has always had a reliable, comfortable disc sander.  This new variable 3.0 Amp sander is even more comfortable. You can barely feel any vibrations when using this tool..  The DWE6423K has a one handed dust bag lock for easy emptying. The DeWALT Perform and Protect is very evident on this tool and it manages dust very well.  A rubber skirt helps keep dust contained and the twist lock system mates directly to DeWALT dust extractors.



Best Cordless Miter Saw – DeWALT DCS361 20V MAX 7-1/4 in. Cordless Miter Saw

Cordless Miter Saw DeWALTThe Dewalt 20V miter saw has been on people’s minds for years, this year it finally came to fruition and it did not disappoint.  It has the same top-notch quality as its bigger sibling the DWS780.  It also has the same XPS sightline system.  This saw is great for those quick smaller cuts.  Weighing only 31 lbs. and with built-in handles, it’s easy to carry around. This is a great accurate portable miter.



Best Corded Miter Saw – DeWALT DWS780 12″ Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

DWS780 miter sawThe DWS780 truly is the king of miter saws.  It is found on almost every major job site.  It takes a beating and still produces straight reliable cuts.  I believe this is the fourth year in a row this saw has won best miter. Quality construction and a reliable XPS LED sight line add to the list of features on this saw. If you are serious about production work and want a saw that will last and not have any downtime pick the 780.



Best Table Saw – DeWALT DWE7491RS 15 Amp 10 in. Jobsite Table Saw

Dewalt table saw aAccuracy, durability and reliability is what makes a successful job site saw.  DeWALT brings it with the DWE7491RS.  The rack and pinion fence is accurate and easy to adjust. DeWALT table saws are a job site icon.





Best Corded Circular Saw – Skillsaw Wormdrive SPT77W-22 15 Amp 7-1/4 in. Worm Drive

Skill worm driveThe saw that built America!  The wormdrive saw is the go to tool for any kind of production cutting on a job site.  It has unmatched torque and power to go through thick material.  Skillsaw invented the wormdrive and it still rocks today.  They even come with a Diablo blade.




Best Jigsaw – Bosch JS572EBL 7.2A Barrel-Grip Jig Saw Kit

Bosch Jig Saw JS572EBL, JS572EBN (EN) r36087v33This corded barrel-grip jig saw is the cats meow when it comes to jigsaws.  The 7.2 Amp motor is powerful and will get you through any material with ease.  With the included L-Box insert, this is a perfect pick.





Best Miter Saw & Reciprocating Saw Blades – Freud Diablo

logo-game_changerWe can’t say enough about Diablo, they truly are changing the game.  They continue to innovate and get better every year.  Their blades hold up to the toughest applications.  The Extreme Metal cutting blades are in a class of their own.  Give them a try and you won’t be disappointed.





Best Goggles – Uvex S3970DF Stealth OTG Safety Goggles

Uvex GogglesI needed some goggles to protect my eyes and came across UVEX on Amazon.  I had never heard of them before, but they had good reviews.  They are one of the most comfortable goggles I have ever used.  They also do not fog up or break the bank. Under $12 on Amazon, click above.




Best Utility Knife – Milwaukee 48-22-1901F Fastback Flip Open

Milwaukee Fastback knifeThe Milwaukee Fastback knife is a great utility knife for a few reasons.  It easily flips open with one hand, just push the button and swing.  Blade changes are as simple as pushing a tab and sliding in a new blade.   It fits better in your pocket than other knives and feels better built also. It has never let us down.




Best Air Compressor – ROLAIR JC10

JC10 ROLAIRWe have been touting Rolair for years.  They are a quality compressor manufacturer, ask any pro and they will know of Rolair.  The JC10 is light and quiet which makes it perfect for indoor jobs also.





Best Ladder – Werner MT-22 Telescoping Multi-Ladder

Werner LadderWe had a little argument over the best ladder.  We know a lot of people like the Little Giant, but we have to give it to Werner as the best Folding Multi Ladder.  While the ladder is a little heavier than the Little Giant, the Werner is more sturder.  The Little Giant has more flex, while the Werner is more solid.  Considering you’re using a ladder and you’re above the ground, safety is a main concern.  So for the extra safety with less flexing, the extra weight is well worth it.  This ladder is very easy to open up and also carry around.  We love the fact you can remove a section of the ladder, so when coming off a roof, it’s easy to get around the ladder and climb down.



Best Radio – Bosch Power Box 360 PB360C

Bosch PB360C Power Box Jobsite AM-FM Radio-Charger-Digital Media StereoWhen it comes to job site radios, there is no other choice.  Bosch did an excellent job with the design of this radio.  They created a great protection system with the roll cage.  The placement of the speakers means you can truly hear the music in any direction.  The ease of use and ability to play just about any station or electronic device makes this a perfect job site radio.  This radio even has an integrated app.



Portable Fan – Ryobi P3320 18-Volt ONE+ Hybrid Portable Fan

RYOBI HYBRID FANThis compact 18V/120v fan is great for almost anyone.  It runs the entire day on one battery and also can be plugged in for infinite run time.  There is no extra external adapters, it uses a standard extension cord.  It will be your best friend on a hot day!




Best HoleSaws – Bosch Daredevil Carbide Hole Saw

Bosch Daredevil carbide Hole SawThe Daredevil hole saws will change the way you look at cutting large diameter holes forever.  They speed though wood like lightning and are designed so the plug can easily drop out.  The quick change arbor system also makes this the front-runner in innovative hole saw technology.




Best Pressure Washer – RIDGID RD80944 3000 PSI Pressure Washer

RD80944_ RIDGID 300 psi pressure washerWith Subaru power and a Cat pump you can’t go wrong with this unit.  The frame is sturdy and will last a long time in even the harshest of environments.  The wand is something that really stands out.  It is not your standard cheap plastic generic wand.  It is made like a tool, it feels like a quality tool and even has an over molded rubber grip.



Best Cordless Mower – Ego 56V Mower

Ego MowerWhen it comes to cordless lawnmowers, EGO has it down.  With 56V power and 7.5Ah battery, you have a long run time.  Storing the mower is easy for those of us who have limited room.  It’s a breath of fresh air to have a cordless lawnmower produce the results of a gas-powered lawnmower, something we rarely see in other cordless lawnmower.




Best Outdoor String Trimmer – DEWALT DCST920P1 20V Max XR Brushless String Trimmer

DCST920P1 20v string trimmer
This string trimmer is tough and well-balanced.  This professional grade tool works well for both consumers and pros a like.  Powered by DeWALT’s proven 20V battery technology this trimmer will give you years of trouble-free run time.




Best Outdoor Cordless Blower – DEWALT DCBL720P1 20V Max XR Brushless Blower

Dewalt 20v BlowerThis blower is our go-to blower. I grab it for almost every clean up job around the garage or job site. 20V may not be the most powerful, but it does deliver a whopping 400cfm at 90 mph.  This blower will give you many faithful years of service.




Best Chainsaw – DeWALT DCCS690M1 16″ 40V XR Brushless Chainsaw

DeWALT 40v Chain SawThis chainsaw impressed even the professionals this year.  The ease of use and ergonomics really stood out on this saw.  It has an Oregon bar and chain with a tool-less chain adjustment.  If you are looking for a top-notch cordless chainsaw this should be your first choice.




Best Cordless Snow Blower – Snow Joe 40V iON18SB

Snow JoeWhile most people don’t know the name, the Snow Joe surprised us with its run time and ease of use.  Having an electronic movable chute is a great feature.  This snow blower does a great job cleaning up walkways and driveways, due to its rubber paddles and scraper.  We like the use of rubber paddles over plastic as it helps reduce the noise.



Best GeneratorRIDGID RD903600 3,600-Watt Generator with Subaru Engine

RIDGID subaru generatorGenerators are one of those things that you may never use, but it can save your life. If you own a house I highly recommend you get a generator.  I like this RIDGID unit because of its Subaru power plant and quality build.  You can get up to 11 hours of run-time off of 4 gallons of fuel.  It makes a great emergency generator.




Heated Gear – Milwaukee

milwaukee gear

When it comes to heated work gear, Milwaukee owns this space.  Not only do they offer a wide range of styles, they offer quality jackets.  The jackets are comfortable, stylish and easy to clean.  Plus they can take a pretty good beating.




Work boots – Keen Utility

Keen utility work bootsWe had never heard of the KEEN brand until earlier this year.  After testing out a few pairs we are huge fans.  They are very comfortable and have great gripping power even in snowy conditions.  You can’t even tell you are wearing steel toes.  Keen is by far our favorite work shoe brand of the year.




Best Shirt – TIA Shirt

TIA shirt

Seriously are you surprised by this plug?  These are cool shirts and come in a variety of styles and colors.  Take one home today and be the envy of your block.





Best Wheeled Organizer – Keter Modular Tool Chest

keter chest

This was one of the biggest surprises to us regarding tool storage.  Yes they are plastic, but they are quality.  The sliders are great, the drawers are strong and having the ability to wheel these around your shop makes this our top pick.




Best Tool Chest – Milwaukee Tool Chest and Rolling Cabinet Set 48-22-8510-8520

Milwaukee tool chestThere is no denying that this tool chest has driven a ton of excitement to the tool chest industry.  It’s quality, has heavy duty casters and frame.  The drawers are smooth and have a soft close. The chest has two integrated surge protectors and a pull out laptop table.  The list goes on.  Even the red, black and white looks awesome.  Let me gloat about one last thing on this box, the price!  It is affordable!



Best Work Bench – Husky 46 in. 9-Drawer Mobile Workbench with Solid Wood Top

HUSKY work bench400You see this workbench in pretty much every video we do.  In-fact some have followed our lead and used it in their videos.  It’s a quality workbench at a great price.  A replaceable top and quality construction make this a chest anyone would want in their garage or even kitchen!  Yes, it is that nice.




Best Lighting Line – Milwaukee

Milwaukee tool lightLighting is becoming a huge staple in the tradesman’s tool kit.  Milwaukee has delivered with a huge 12v and 18v lighting line.  Their Trueview technology shows colors without distortion, giving you almost daylight results.  Innovative designs, selection and a solid 5 year warranty make Milwaukee lighting our top pick for 2015.




Best Spot Light – DEWALT DCL043 20V MAX Job site LED Spotlight

DCL043 20V DewaltThis 20V max spotlight has 3 LED lights that light at a range of over 1500 feet away.  It also has a red LED to preserve night vision and reduce glare. The head pivots 90 degrees so you can set it down and aim it where you need to.  If you are in the market for a spot light the DCL043 should be your first choice.




Best Portable Work LightRyobi P720 18-Volt ONE+ Dual Power LED Work Light

Ryobi Work lightRyobi really hit a home run on this light.  Lightweight and powered by either AC or an 18V battery. All you need is an extension cord. Variable mounting points and a great price point make this the best portable work light you can buy.





Best Garage Lighting – Big Ass Lights

Big Ass lightLED lights are here to stay.  There has still been limited options for shops and garages until the Big Ass Light came along.  These lights are so tough that you can run over them with a F250 Super Duty pickup truck.  Made in the USA using quality components, Big Ass Lights are our pick for best permanent shop lights.  They also have different mounting and sensor options making them very versatile.



Best Flashlight – Zero Trace

Zero Trace LED Flashlight

Developed by a Navy Seal, do I really need to say more?  These flashlights are strong and the lighting is great. It can even charge your phone. If you have to own one flashlight, this should be your top pick.  You can recharge the battery using a USB port.



Stud Finder – Franklin Pro Sensor 710

Flanklin stud finderSimple, easy and reliable.  What else can we say about the Franklin Sensor. It works every time with zero calibration.  We highly recommend this one.





Best LDM – Bosch GLM 80 265-Feet Lithium-Ion Laser Distance Measurer

Bosch LDMWhen it comes to Laser Distance Measurement tools, no one compares to Bosch.  Not only are they very durable and accurate, but they make them so easy to use.  Put that along side some of their mobile phone apps and they make any job easier and more precise.  We love the fact Bosch has so many LDM’s in their line up.  A user can pick and choose what functions they need and don’t need on their LDM’s.


Rotary Laser – HILTI PR 30-HVS Rotating Laser

Hilti PR 30-HVS

HILTI makes some of the best Rotary Lasers available.  They are not only accurate, but they are tough.  They can take a fall and you will still be ensured it will not only work, but still be accurate.  If you want the job done right, depend on HILTI.




Line Laser – Bosch Bosch GLL3-80


This has been out for a couple of years, but we have yet to find a laser that even comes close to this laser.  Bosch makes some of the best lasers around.  This is not only accurate and durable, but practical.  The 360° lines makes this perfect for all most any application.




Best Dust HEPA Dust Extractor – Dewalt DWV012 10 Gallon Dust Extractor

DWV012_4_500X50015 amps produces 140 CFM in this rugged HEPA extractor.  The filter stays clean thanks to a 2 filter system that pulses to clear the filters. Part of the Perform and Protect line this unit would make a great addition to any job that you want to keep clean.





Best Corded Vacuum – RIDGID WD1851 16 Gal Wet/Dry Vac

RIDGED VACRIDGID has dominated the vacuum industry for years.  Their units are tough and keep running no matter what you put them through. The WD1851 is packed with accessories. A powerful motor produces massive suction for every job.  The lifetime warranty really takes the cake!




Best Cordless Vacuum – Ridgid WD0319 18V Cordless Wet/Dry Vac

WD0319_1_Final_72dpiThis cordless vacuum has corded like performance.  Finally we have a portable vac that you can take anywhere and get the job done.  This unit is lightweight and easy to operate.  The 3 gallon tank will suck up anything including liquids.  If you are in the market for a portable cordless vacuum and you need maximum power, the WD0319 is for you.


  1. I had the Werner 22 for ladder and returned it – replacing it with the Little Giant 22 foot ladder. Why? Little Giant’s “rock locks” make adjustments much easier; ratcheting levelers are always there and ready to use (no installation required); wheels make it easier to move; it works with my LadderMax ladder standoff/stabilizer (Werner has a cross brace that prevents installation); as you said, it’s lighter.

  2. Perfect list guys. I always look forward to this time of year. I can’t close out the year until I see this list. Thanks for a great 2015.

  3. I really like the list, I agree with nearly all of the choices(of which I actually have an opinion on). Klein is pretty much the only one I disagree with, think Wiha or Felo probably are better…though the pricing is higher. I haven’t used a lot of Klein tools that I really liked, they’re just ok in my opinion. I get it though, I can see why you chose them but what’s a list without disagreement.

    Also wish there could be some sort of higher end value line award because Ridgid should be recognized for the reasonable pricing and tech they’ve been coming out with…or maybe even recognizing their rather revolutionary warranty.

    Tough list to come up with, thanks for putting in the time to put this together for us.

  4. You guys nailed it!! Thanks Dan and Eric for all the time and effort for the real tool awards. That’s why TIA is #1. Plus always takes care of its crew!!!

  5. Pretty good list. Too bad you guys haven’t tried the Makita DTD 148 impact driver. It is smaller than every other impact and outperforms everything in its class including the fuel 2. Paper specs aside , it has more torque and speed than every other 18 v impact driver

  6. Great list! Not surprised on most of the winners. There were definitely some tools that stood out from the crowd this year.

    I should just copy and paste this list with the header “Dear Santa” lol!

  7. Great choices guys very solid picks it puts a smile on my face to see the dws780 on top for the fourth year in a row I love my 780 Thanks to ur guys review on it and that Dewalt 20v trimmer is on my wish list as well. Great job guys I love awards week!! T.I.A#1!!!!

  8. Excellent choices Dewalt tools are the best. I have a few. I am looking at buying Milwaukee power brand tools for christmas!

    • They are red biasd my brother works in Home Depot and milwaukee tools are always being returned because they don’t hold up and they sell more dewalt 3 to 1 and dewalt get way fewer returns even makita gets way fewer

      • Yeah I can tell, I love my Bosch HDS182-02, and all of my Makita tools have been exceptional. I’m also a fan of Dewalt tools since parts are so easy to come by. It’s kind of a shame they favor the Red tools and the Orange store so much, but I guess it pays the bills.

    • Wow, that’s unfair, just because they disagree with you then apparently they’re paid off by Red and OJ? Ridiculous. I purchased the Red Gen2 because of all the good reviews out there and the drills back up all the reviews. I used the hammer drill function working on a masonry building and I could use it all day basically with the 5mAH battery packs. Much more power than the Makita hammer drill that I had to return because it would take forever to drill into masonry.

  9. Hi guys! The list looks pretty good & you really can’t argue with any of the choices. Well, you could, but all are pretty good choices. I still see that the Franklin sensor is still kicking butt. I’ve had this sensor since you guys first reviewed over 4 years ago (maybe longer). This sensor is truly amazing. What about a selection for cool man gear, like the Leatherman Tread, not how much a tool it can be, but it sure is cool looking & I want it.

  10. great list I would disagree with the cordless lawnmower tho… I had to recharge the battery 5 times to mow my lawn… I bought a $100 Worx battery mower off craigslist works way better not a lithium but had way more run time and I could finish the lawn on one battery lifecycle Worx battery lawnmowers are WAY better… buyer beware of ego weakes runtime ever!!!

  11. Well, there goes this years tax returns… I am in for the 40v snowblower, Dewalt dust extractor, and the Dewalt String Trimmer.

  12. The few tools I woulnd’t mind having is the Dewalt Dust Extractor, Dewalt Cordless Miter than may change if Miwaukee does one, Dewalt cordless Trim nailer EGO lawnmower, and Milwaukee tool chest. The rest are just tools that would be interesting to have.

  13. I have most milwaukee tools. Love the look and power of the new metabo Impact wrench. Would make a great Christmas gift for myself lol. I own one dewalt drill. The compact brushless version. I’d pick that over any drill just because of how it feels on your hands. Love it. Love all the information. Thanks tools in action. Milwaukee on top as always!

  14. love the list except the dewalt 40 volt outdoor winner.They should not have won when they don’t offer a lawnmower too.If I am going to mess with gas for the mower might as well do the same with a blower and trimmer and get much better results


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