Since the ps20 arrived on the scene a few years ago it has been the measure by which we judge the sub-compact. It’s well balanced, powerful and durable. Bosch says the new ps21 is all that the old model was and more. Of course, they always say that. We thought it would be better to find out for ourselves. A hands-on test was in order.
First we took a look at the newcomer. It’s shorter, if a bit more barrell-chested than the ps20. The ps20 was very exciting because it was light, felt like a compact 9mm in your hand, and if painted black looked like one. The ps21 feels a bit heavier in the hand because the weight is all at the top and looks like a travel hair dryer. Advantage — ps20.
The old ps20 spun around at 400 rpm and produced 80 in/lbs of torque which is respectable by any standard. The ps21 features two gears (low and high) which put out 1-350 rpm and 1-300 rpm on the high end — and if that wasn’t enough, the granny gear maxes out at 265 in/lbs of torque. In the span of four short years the younger sibling has turned the ps20 into a lightweight in a category it created. Advantage — ps21.
The old standard 3-inch screw test was close to sickening as well. We first fired up our faithful old plug and began to drive screws into 2×4. With the new batteries and new charger running for the ps20 the results were about what we’d expected — 114 screws driven on one charge. It’s what we’ve come to expect from years of service with the ps20.
After a period of charging up, the ps21 had its turn to shine. To make things as fair as we could, we put the newcomer in low and set the torque selector to max just as we had in the last test. The first thing we noticed was that the ps21 wasn’t even trying. Same screws, same wood, just more grunt. A lot more — so much, in fact, we thought for sure we were burning more battery to pull the power. Wrong again. The ’21 drove a whopping 165 fasteners home before calling it quits.
Just for kicks, we swapped batteries and drove about 35 in on high. After a bit of practice we found it was pretty easy to drive our 3” test screws into 2×4 in about 1 second flat — and there was still plenty of power. Advantage — ps21, by miles.
Just to get a handle on the replacement Bosch is so confident in, we left the ps21 around the shop for a few weeks. It sat in the tool tray or on the bench with the ps20 and we decided to look at which one saw the most use. It wasn’t even a contest. The ’21 just out performs its predecessor on almost every level except looking good.
There’s nothing wrong with the ps20. It’s still a great rig and still seeing operation in the shop. However, if the ’21 is sitting right next to the ’20, the younger, more powerful model will have a full dance card.
Street pricing for the ps21 combo kit of two batteries and a charger starts at $125.