I can’t even guess how many holes I’ve punched during my years on the ice, but I’d have to say it probably approaches six figures. A lot of them were cut with an ice chisel; even more with a hand auger or spoon drill. But it’s certain I’ve perforated more hard water with a gas-powered auger of one type or another than with anything else.
I’d never used any sort of an electric auger until I put my hands on StrikeMaster’s new Lithium Lazer this winter—and, so far, I’m impressed. Like I said, I don’t have experience with other electrics, so I can only compare it to the fuel-burning models I’ve used.
First off, I was surprised that it’s as light as it is—24pounds. The Lithium Lazer comes with an 8-inch screw and the whole outfit weighs the same as the company’s gas-powered Lazer Mag equipped with a 7-inch bit.
Fit-and-feel was good, too. It’s neither top-heavy, nor cumbersome to use, even when wearing my bulkiest cold-weather gear. There are a lot of things to like about this ice drill, but my favorite has got to be the absence of a starter cord. It’s incredibly nice to simply punch the power button and thumb the rocker-switch “throttle” when I want to open new holes—and both of them are large enough to be easily activated while wearing heavy gloves or mitts.
Power comes from a 50-volt lithium battery that slides and locks into place on the motor housing. Installing the battery is a simple one-hand operation. Removing it for charging and storage, however, I found requires both paws, and you have to make sure the release buttons on either side of the battery case are depressed fully or it won’t budge.
On the ice, the unit’s twin stainless steel Mora Lazer Blades dig in, as they should, and make the machine do the work for you. It’s no more than I expect from a well-tuned power auger with sharp blades, and it did not disappoint.
Anglers will also want to know how long the machine will operate on a single charge. In its advertising message StrikeMaster claims it will cut 56 holes through two feet of ice per charge. To save you the trouble of doing the math, that’s 112 feet of ice. The thickest ice we could find during our test measured 17 inches, and we were able to drill exactly 77½ holes before the battery died (watch the video below). According to StrikeMaster’s calculations we should have been able to punch 79 holes.
I refuse to quibble over a hole-and-a-half, so I’ll say right here that the Lithium Lazer lived up to its claim.
Its ease-of-use and the lack of exhaust fumes make it a stellar option for anglers who fish in a wheel-house or other more permanent shelter, but I see no reason why it won’t fulfill the needs of those who, like me, prefer to run-and-gun. Certainly, if you’re among the rare few who regularly drill 100 or more holes a day, stick with something like the Lazer Mag. But for the majority of anglers, I can recommend giving the Lithium Lazer a hard look.
One cautionary note straight from the Operator’s Manual:
“Do not lay down or store auger in any position or location where the electrical components (battery, motor, switch, etc.) are in contact with snow, water and other moisture. Be sure to situate the auger correctly.”
Sure, that means I take an extra few seconds to lay the unit across the pickup’s tailgate, or lean it atop a 5-gallon bucket. Likewise, I don’t leave the battery in the pickup bed overnight, and on bitter-cold days, bring it into the shelter with me. But, so far, the overall convenience the Lithium Lazer offers far outweighs those minor bothers.
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