No need to spend a small fortune on the Milwaukee fuel. Checkout places like Neus hardware or CPO for good deals on salesmen samples or reconditioned units. 5 yrs ago I picked up a kit at neus which included the Milwaukee Fuel M-18, 2 XC 4ah lithium batteries, charger and side handle for $199. To this day the drill hasn't missed a beat and the batteries are as good as the day I bought them.
On a side note, I pair it up with either my 5" or 6" lazer Strikemaster auger. I remove the chuck and replace it with a 14" threaded stainless steel rod. When using the 5" the entire unit weighs slightly less then 9 lbs.
With the 5" unit and keeping the batteries warm, I can dill all day long with up to 20" of ice with no problem.
Check out places like e-bay for used strikemaster lazer augers. I would bet you could set up a unit such as mine for well under $300.
I just started fishing through the ice about 3 years ago. I figured the Eskimo Augers were on the lower quality end but I paid 270 for a brand new Mako 43 cc. Haven't had any problems and punches holes pretty easy. That's why I thought over 400 for that setup was expensive.
"Wow. I just went on KDrill site and the MKE drill is $275? The auger $200?
I guess you get a quality drill for use other than drilling holes but that seems like an expensive setup."
8" Jiffy propane Model 44Pro is right around 450. The 46x-treme is over 500.00.
You can get the Milwaukee Fuel 18/KD set-up, with Clam plate and adapter for less than 500.00 if you shop right. If you want to keep it close to 400.00, then don't run the Clam plate.
Auger set-up without plate is about 10lbs, with it, it's about 15lbs.
It seems like the people who still think propane augers are better than electric are the ones that jumped on the propane bandwagon before the electric ones gained popularity and are still bitter about their $400 waste of money ;)
After buying my MKE drill and K-Drill, I don't understand why anybody would run a gas or propane auger again, outside wanting a 10" hole.
Cleaner, quieter, lighter..all for about the same price, if not cheaper than a Jiffy, Eskimo or StrikeMaster.
I decided to go with the Milwaukee 2703-22. After a couple months of research and getting insight from all sorts of people, I decided to go with the drill that the manufacturer recommends. The lifetime Rigid warranty was tempting, but with a 3 year warranty from Milwaukee I feel comfortable it will last that long and then some. I ended up getting a good deal on the drill, two 5ah batteries and charger for ~$220. If the drill only lasts 4 years, by that time there will probably be something new and amazing out and I'll want to upgrade anyways. I also like that the Milwaukee has the 9ah battery option. We'll see how the 5ah holds up, but for $100 i'll likely get the 9ah down the road anyways.
I did contemplate getting the nils auger. But from what I gathered, it is a horse a piece and you can't go wrong with either. Nils is faster but I don't like the blades being the whole head of the auger. Something about that threw me off. Not to mention when I contacted Nils their customer service didn't seem the best and their website is pretty terrible. My kdrill and drill came in last week and I love the feel of it, i'll post a follow up once I get a few holes in with it (hopefully in a 5 weeks or so ;) )