A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: August 29, 2021
Outdoorsly is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Some people believe summer is the best time to go fishing. But what happens when you want to go fishing in the winter months? If you live in a region where it snows and the lakes freeze, you may want to try ice fishing. To take up ice fishing you need the correct tools to cut through the ice so you can get to the fish. The tool you need is a hand ice auger!
So how do you pick the best hand ice auger for the job? We hope that our review below will help you find the best hand ice auger you’ve been looking for. We’ve given you an extensive overview of the six top hand augers on the market. You may want to look at the Eskimo hand auger, which is our top choice, because its sharp blades cut through the ice like a hot knife through butter. The Eskimo hand auger also has an ergonomically designed structure for easy handling. But if you want to look further, there are other models to choose from.
These top six hand augers are portable devices that are easy to store and to travel with. It’s important that you check what materials hand augers are made from as they will be exposed to harsh environments. The augers on our list are all made with durable metals to ensure they don’t oxidize over time. The blades of the augers are exceptionally sharp and they keep their edge well. To make it even easier to pick the best hand ice auger we’ve provided you with a comparison table, reviews, a buying guide and a quick FAQ on the applications. So are you ready to select an ice auger for your fishing trip? Let’s take a look at what each hand ice auger has to offer you.
At the top of our list is the Eskimo hand ice auger and it’s no wonder why this application is our Editor’s choice. Some ice fishing requires an auger that can cut deep and fast & the Eskimo hand ice auger is the tool that makes short work of it. You can cut precise holes into the ice as the Eskimo auger blades are exceptionally sharp. But if you ever need to replace the blades you can do so by using the cross-bolt system. To keep the blades sharper for longer use the Eskimo blade protector to cover the application.
What we like about the Eskimo hand ice auger is that it has adjustable heights of 49″ to 58″ so you can cut through ice that has a deeper ice thickness of 14″. The Eskimo hand ice auger has a non-slip grip handle with a pommel for an ergonomical design. The handles allow you to keep a firm grip on the auger while you’re cranking the device to cut through the ice. To make it easier to use the device you can attach a drill adaptor to the Eskimo ice auger if you’re feeling too tired to manually drill. A motorized drill adapter will help you cut holes through thicker ice quicker.
The Eskimo hand ice auger is made with durable stainless steel that won’t rust or chip. The blades keep their edge no matter how many times you use it.
The Strike Master Lazer ice auger is a solid application that is a budget-friendly alternative to the Eskimo. This hand ice auger is powder-coated to prolong the durability of the application as it creates a robust finish.
Strike Master’s Lazer hand ice auger has a handle that extends easily so you can adjust the height of the device from 48″ and 57″. Adjusting the height helps you find a length that’s more comfortable for you to work with. It’s also designed to cut through thicker ice. To adjust the height, simply slide it in or out of the shaft tubing and secure it with the T-handle.
The diameter of the Strike Master Lazer hand ice auger is 4″ which is perfect for catching perch fish. You’re able to purchase Strike Master Lazer hand augers in wider diameters of 5″, 7″ and 8″.
Strike Master’s Lazer hand ice auger has sharp blades that require no effort to cut through ice. The blades keep their edge so you won’t have to replace them, which makes this an economical device. These blades are made with chrome-alloy stainless steel which means they won’t oxidize, chip or dull.
To make it even more comfortable for you to operate, Strike Master manufactured the Lazer hand ice auger with soft rubber grips. The grips are made with non-slip material to ensure you keep a strong hold of your hand ice auger.
Strike Master makes some of the most durable and easy to use hand ice augers on the market. This hand ice auger is the Ice Fishing Mora. It’s slightly heavier than the Strike Master Lazer auger but it has a wider diameter blade of 8″ suitable for walleyes, crappies and northern pike fishing. These blades are exceptionally sharp as they’re made from high alloy carbon steel which is stronger and more durable than most metals. These blades will keep their edge for longer so you won’t have to sharpen or replace them often.
The Strike Master Ice Fishing Mora drill is powder-coated to prevent ice from building up on the application. Powder coating creates a stronger and more durable finish than standard paint.
Strike Master’s Ice Fishing Mora has an adjustable handle with lengths of 48″ to 57″. Adjusting the height allows you to find a comfortable handling position so you can cut through the ice more effectively. Extending the height also allows you to cut through thicker ice easily.
The handles are made with soft rubber to prevent calluses from forming on your hands. To prevent your hands from slipping, the handles are made with non-slip rubber and it has a pommel to ensure a sturdy grip on the application.
This auger is made with a high-quality design and with the best materials & the same structure as the Strike Master Lazer. The advantage is the Ice Fishing Mora is more budget-friendly for those looking to replace their old hand ice augers at a satisfactory price.
Professional ice fishers will know that there’s a time and place for manual ice augers & motor drill applications. That’s why Nils has created the Master UR600C ice auger that can be converted from a manual device to a cordless motor drill application.
The motor drill helps you cut through ice that’s more challenging to get through. Converting the Nils from manual to a motor drill will help you cut through ice as thick as 18″ faster. You can attach any 1/2″ cordless drill to your Nils Master UR600C application.
The Nils Master UR600C weighs 9lb which is lighter than most augers, so you can go hiking to the best ice fishing spot without the device weighing you down. The diameter of the blade is 6″ which is the ideal size catching walleyes, crappies and panfish. The Nils Master UR600C auger blades are made from durable chromium steel that won’t rust, chip or bend. The cutting head is sharp and will cut through thick ice easily.
The length of the Nils Master UR600C handle is 47″ but can’t be adjusted. If you require a different height you can purchase an application with the length you prefer from Nils.
Nils makes ergonomically designed hand ice augers to make it more comfortable and easier for you to cut through ice. The handles are made with soft rubber that’s non-slip, to ensure you always have a firm grasp on your application while you’re drilling into the ice.
Do you want to bring bigger fish to the surface when you go ice fishing? The RAZR8 hand ice auger will help you because the diameter of the blade is a large 8″. You can cut bigger holes easily with the RAZR8 hand ice auger. You’re able to catch most ice fish species such as northern pikes, crappies, walleyes and perch.
It’s a lightweight hand ice auger weighing 9lb which means you can travel on foot with the RAZR8 without it weighing you down much. It also comes with a protective cover for the cutting head to prolong the life of the blades and to prevent you & other people from getting cut accidentally.
The RAZR8 has an ergonomically designed crank handle so you can cut through thick ice faster. It has a stable structure so it won’t wobble or bend out of place while you’re drilling through the ice. The sure-grip free spin handles ensure there’s no resistance when you’re drilling and you’re able to keep a firm hold on the application while you’re churning through the ice.
The RAZR8 hand ice auger blades are made from durable stainless steel that’s curved and won’t chip, corrode or bend. The blades will keep their edge for longer and you’re able to cut through the ice with no resistance.
RAZR8 hand augers come with a 1-year warranty so if you receive a faulty product, or the application stops working in the warranty period, you can get a replacement product.
For ice fishermen that go hiking for many miles to find the best spots to catch fish, you may find that the HT Enterprises MNAK-7 is the best hand ice auger for you. This is because the device is lightweight at 4lbsso it’s easy to travel with. It also has a large blade diameter of 7″ so you’re able to cut larger holes to catch crappies, walleyes, perch and panfish. The HT Enterprises MNAK-7 is a compact hand ice auger that can be stored easily in a shed, closet or carry bag as it comes with a convenient foldable handle.
The HT Enterprises MNAK-7 comes with a universal drill adapter and extension so you can convert it from a manual device to a motorized application easily. Attaching a motor drill to your HT Enterprises MNAK-7 will help you cut through thicker ice faster without overexerting yourself.
The handle is fully adjustable from 44″ to 62″ making it ideal for short and tall people to use. Simply slide the handle in and out of the pole shaft to adjust the height & secure it with the lock pin. Make sure the lock pin is always secure so the handle doesn’t slide while you’re drilling.
The HT Enterprises MNAK-7 handles are comfortable and it has fast-spinning capabilities to ensure there’s no resistance while you’re drilling. The handles are made with soft rubber with pommels to ensure your hands stay safely in place at all times.
On the application, you’ll find a sharp cutting head with blades made with durable rugged ultra-sharp hardened steel alloy non-chip blades. The HT Enterprises MNAK-7 blades are incredibly sharp and will keep their edge for longer making them highly economical.
Why did it make our list?
Durable sharp cutting head
Easily adjustable heights
Comes with a universal drill adaptor
Foldable handle for easy storage
What is not ideal about it?
Things to Consider
Did you find a model you liked from our ice fishing hand auger reviews? If you’re still not sure which hand ice auger to pick perhaps our buying guide will help you recognize a few important specs to look for. As mentioned before, we’ve also included FAQs to help you maintain and operate your hand ice auger correctly.
Features to consider while choosing hand ice auger
Selecting the correct hand ice auger for your fishing trip is essential as some applications are smaller than others. In order to find a hand ice auger to suit your needs, you should look at the size of the holes you want to cut and the depth of the ice it needs to go through.
The species of fish you’ll be chasing will often help you determine which auger will benefit you. This is because some fish are big and so you’ll need to cut a larger hole which means you’ll need wider auger cutting heads.
Let’s go more in-depth with auger sizes and maintenance. Here is a short overview of specs you should look at before buying a hand ice auger to ensure it’s exactly the device you need for the type of ice fishing you’ll be doing.
The first aspect of your manual hand ice auger to consider is the size of the holes it can cut out. Bigger holes might be a lot of work for you because it will require more body strength to cut larger pieces of ice when done manually. But if you select a premium hand auger it will cut through the ice easily.
Your ideal auger blade diameter will also depend on the species of fish you’re catching. Of course, some fish are larger than others and so you’ll require a larger drilled hole to get them out. For example, if you’re fishing for panfish a 4 1/2 ” to 6″ auger drill will be suitable, like Nils Master UR600C. The most popular auger drill diameter is 8″ as it’s the ideal application to drill through first and last ice, as it is in the case with Strike Master Fishing Mora and HT ENTERPRISES MNAK-7.
Blades and their replacement
Manual ice auger blades must be exceptionally sharp in order to work effectively. Since you’re cutting through the ice with no help from a power drill it can take longer if the blades are blunt.
Most auger blades are made with durable stainless steel. These blades are robust because they don’t oxidize when exposed to water for long periods of time. The steel is also strong and won’t chip or lose their edge when cutting through ice.
But if your auger blades lose their edge over time you can either sharpen them or simply replace them.
Sharpening your auger blades works the same way you sharpen a knife, so you’ll need stones of various grits to grind the edges. You have to sharpen your auger blades at the correct angles to prevent damage.
If you prefer to replace your auger blades with a new, sharper edge application, you’ll need to know how to disassemble the old piece correctly. Every auger is different so refer to your user manual which will provide you with the necessary disassembly steps.
When installing your new blade ensure the beveled edge is facing towards the auger and the flat side of the application is pointing to the ice.
When selecting auger height you’ll need to factor in how tall you are and the depth of the ice you’re cutting through. You don’t want an auger that’s too long as you won’t be able to use the handle to manually drill the hole. The height of the auger should reach the middle of your stomach so you can lean in on the top of the auger easily to drill your holes.
The industry-standard height for hand ice augers is 42″. But if you want a longer application consider purchasing a Nils device as they offer various auger heights to select from.
The longer the warranty period is the better. Some hand augers come with a short 2-year warranty which may not be suitable for people who go ice fishing on a regular basis and want a long-term investment.
When you purchase your hand ice auger, check what the manufacturer covers and what will be replaced should the product break during the warranty period.
Some users had excellent customer service with Eskimo when they received a faulty product as their applications were replaced immediately. A brand that offers full refunds or to replace your product should it break within the warranty period shows that they have product quality assurance.
Adjustable heights: Perhaps you want a hand ice auger that provides you with extra beneficial features. Some auger applications such as the Eskimo auger have adjustable heights to make it comfortable for you to use. The adjustable heights also allow you to drill through thicker ice.
Drill motors: Other applications can be attached to a drill motor so you can alter your application into a motorized device. This might be ideal when you need to cut bigger holes because you won’t have to overexert yourself by doing it manually. When you select an electric drill for your ice auger ensure that it’s a lightweight design with a powerful 18V motor. It should also be a cordless device so you can travel with it on the ice. You can attach electric cordless drills to the Eskimo and the Nils Master UR600C hand ice augers.
Compact design: You may want to purchase a hand ice auger that folds or disassembles into two parts. A compact hand ice auger is easier to travel with especially if you’re hiking through snow and ice. Compact augers can be stored anywhere as they don’t take up too much space.
Blade covers: Consider purchasing a hand ice auger with a blade cover so you can protect the application from getting damaged.
Easy disassembly: To easily replace auger cutting heads you should opt for a device where it’s easy to disassemble the blades. The Eskimo hand ice auger has a cross-bolt design that allows you to remove the blades easily without the need for unnecessary tools. The cross-bolt design also helps you install the blades correctly because replacing the bolts won’t work if the blades are upside down.
Drill coating: Typically, the drill of the hand ice auger is powder coated instead of covered in a standard painted finish. This is because powder-coating leaves a tougher finish and prevents the metals underneath from rusting or chipping. Powder-coated augers prevent ice sand build up because the ice simply slips off the drill easily and prevents resistance when you’re drilling.
Rubber grips: Augers also have soft rubber grips at the bottom which prevent the device from moving when you’re drilling. The soft rubber feature is ideal because it helps keep the auger upright and sturdy while you’re cutting through the ice.
What is the Appropriate Size of the Best Auger for Ice Fishing?
A 10” auger is the most common size in the ice fishing industry as it can be used for any situation or species of fish you’re chasing. You can use a 10” auger for first ice and last ice fishing as it will cut larger holes for smaller and larger fish species.
Best Auger Sizes for Different Types of Fish
To pick the correct auger size for the type of fish you’d like to catch, take a look at the information below. These are the most common fish to catch:
Walleyes – 6” and 8” hand ice auger
Northern Pike – 8” and 10” hand ice auger
Perch – 4” hand ice auger
Crappies – 6” to 8” hand ice auger
Panfish – 5” hand ice auger
How to Maintain Hand Ice Auger
If you take excellent care of your hand auger the blades will keep their edge and you’ll have an application that lasts. It’s important to follow the correct steps to maintain your hand ice auger so it can serve you well when you go ice fishing:
Protect the cutting head: The first aspect you need to remember is to never damage the cutting head because this is the part of the blade that starts the drilling process. If the cutting head is damaged you won’t be able to get through the ice. Ensure that the cutting edge is covered with a protective bag to prevent it from chipping or bending.
Auger storage: When you store the auger make sure you don’t place the auger upright where it’s resting on the cutting head because it can damage the blades. Simply lay it down flat when you’re storing the auger to prevent the blades from bending or chipping.
Correct drilling: Another way to maintain the cutting head is to always drill straight through the ice before pulling the auger back up again. Sometimes people don’t drill straight through and a chunk of ice may bend the cutting head when they pull the blade out. Don’t force the auger if it has some resistance. Simply drill deeper into the ice until you can remove the auger easily. Always remember to drill at a consistent angle. Moving the auger around while you’re drilling will make it more difficult for you to get through the ice and it will damage the blades.
Cleaning and oiling the blades: When you come back from your ice fishing trip, thoroughly dry the auger blades but be careful because the edges are extremely sharp. Apply a layer of oil to the blades to prevent them from rusting. For safety and blade maintenance, always keep the blade guard on. It will extend the life of the blades & protect you and others from cuts.
If you’re still unsure on how to maintain your hand ice auger, refer to your user manual. It will inform you how to clean the head cutters and how to oil them correctly.
Most people get their hand ice auger blades sharpened by professionals. But if you feel comfortable with sharpening your own blades you can: carefully remove the blades and sharpen them with different grit stones. But there are special auger tools made specifically for blade sharpening. Strike Master makes auger sharpening tools that are economical and easy to use.
Installing ice auger blades incorrectly is a common mistake people make. It’s important to install the blades correctly to prevent damaging the auger and the blades. If the blades are installed incorrectly you won’t be able to cut through the ice. As mentioned before you must install auger blades with the beveled edge facing toward the auger and the flat side pointing to the ice.
Now that you’ve read through the best hand ice auger reviews, which one did you feel will work best for your ice fishing? Let’s go over the top three hand ice augers on the list.
In first place on our list—the best hand ice auger is the Eskimo because it has a large blade diameter, it’s light in weight and it has an ergonomically designed structure. It’s stable and made with durable materials so it’s also economical. Eskimo is one of the strongest and easiest hand ice augers to use and maintain. So, if you want a hand ice auger that’s going to cut through ice with no resistance get this one. Eskimo is the leading brand in hand ice augers, so you’re guaranteed a quality device that will make your fishing trips more exciting.
The Strike Master Lazer is the best value as it’s made with premium materials and it’s compact and lightweight. But if you want to cut bigger holes faster the Strike Master Fishing Mora has the sharpest cutting head that will slice through thick ice easier and is also budget-friendly.
Now, which one will you add to your 2020 fishing gear?