In this Pro Tool Reviews Thursday Throwdown, we pit two of the most popular budget brands against each other. On paper, the Craftsman vs Ryobi hammer drill match looks like an easy fix. But it's a story that proves that specs and feature lists don't tell the whole story.
Interested in watching a video? Watch it on our YouTube channel!
Craftsman & Ryobi Hammer Drill Quick Tour
Aside from the base numbers, what's striking is that the Craftsman uses the unit watts for its torque rating, while the Ryobi uses the more standard inch-pounds. While both measurements are useful, you cannot convert one method to the other for direct comparison. That's why we test!
Read more about output per watt and torque.
high speed drilling
For our first test, we used a 1-inch Bosch Daredevil high-speed auger bit to drill through the layered OSB. Ryobi hesitated at the end, but it all went through. The end result was mixed, with everyone having their share of faster drilling.
We switched to 1" Bosch Daredevil Spade Bits to see if we could get some kind of result. Both tools have a mix of drilling and getting stuck while tearing, neither really outperforms the other.
At high speeds, the 1" bit seems to be right on the edge of what you can expect to drill effectively with either model.
low speed drilling
Kicking our impact drill down to low speed, we threw 2 9/16" Milwaukee Switchblade self-feed bits through a pair of untreated 2 x 4s. This test is less about speed and more about pass or fail.
The Ryobi is able to penetrate, though it stalls while tearing and requires an extra trigger pull. Craftsman is less able to pass the front 2 x 4.
Will Craftsman build it with a 4.0Ah battery instead of a 2.0Ah battery? If you're buying the kit, you're getting a 2.0Ah battery, and really, the little boost you get from the larger battery pack won't be enough.
Obviously, the 2 9/16" self-feeding bits are bigger than any drill you'd expect. With the Ryobi, you can go a little bigger, and 2 inches is about our recommended size. Craftsmen will need to stick to a smaller range, with a comfortable top height of about 1 1/2 inches.
With the Craftsman's higher speed and impact velocity, we thought it would win in our concrete drilling tests. However, the Ryobi kept pace, and when we tested them with a 1/4-inch Bosch Daredevil MultiPurpose Bit, there wasn't a noticeable difference between the two.
In fact, both hammer drills maintained a fairly constant speed. They get slower as you increase the bit size, but are excellent for 1/4" or smaller bits.
Speaking of basics, Craftsman and Ryobi are very similar in their respective feature sets. While both have brushless motors, neither uses advanced features like kickback control or smart controls.
Craftsman's slide-in battery packs have an advantage. It provides product designers with greater flexibility in handle design and makes the handle design more ergonomic.
Ryobi adds something that Craftsman left off. It has a Mag Tray for holding small fasteners and an onboard bit holder. Functionally, the P251 separates the mode switch from the clutch ring. It's really a preference, but we like it.
The Ryobi also includes a secondary handle, while the Craftsman does not. Whether you need one is a matter of power level, so this is more a difference in requirements than an omission of craftsman.
Neither feature set is a deal-maker or a breaker compared to the other, but the Ryobi offers a little more.
size and weight
Craftsman and Ryobi side by side don't look too different, but Craftsman is a little more compact. Without batteries, the Craftsman is 8.0 inches tall and 7.2 inches long. The Ryobi is slightly shorter at 7.9 inches, but is just over an inch longer (9.0 inches) at the top.
The Ryobi's battery is a bit taller overall, so the Craftsman feels more compact when you're using it.
Craftsman also has an advantage in weight. Bare weights are 2.73 lbs and 3.55 lbs with 2.0Ah batteries. The Ryobi weighs 3.2 pounds bare and 4.7 pounds with a 4.0Ah battery. For balance, we also measured it with a 2.0Ah battery pack, bringing it down to 4.1 lbs. Every way you look at it, the Craftsman is significantly lighter.
You can buy the Craftsman CMCD721 as a bare-bones tool for $119, or a pair of 2.0Ah batteries and charger for $179. You can find both versions at Lowe's.
Ryobi's P251 has a 4.0Ah battery and costs $159. Oddly the kit model number is P1813, so keep that in mind when searching Home Depot.
Both Craftsman and Ryobi offer 3-year warranties on their tools, making them a tie.
Both Craftsman and Ryobi have impressive tool lines that use the same batteries as the hammer drills we tested. However, Ryobi goes a step further with certain tools of the trade such as PEX crimpers and lifestyle products.
In our Craftsman vs Ryobi Thursday Throwdown play the final score was 7-4 with Ryobi winning with 3 zones tied. The Ryobi enjoys more low-speed power, a cheaper price, and a wider line of compatible tools. However, the Craftsman is lighter, more compact, and doesn't perform any worse. Both are great choices for entry-level or light professional work or as a main tool for the DIY enthusiast.