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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.

ps21 Driver [Bosch]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


13 Responses to Hands-On: ps20 vs. ps21

  1. kyle says:

    what is the price on the ps21

  2. Sean O'Hara says:

    Sorry about that. Cut the bottom off my own post. Pricing is included now.

  3. browndog77 says:

    I’ve been using the Idriver for a couple of years now & was worried the line may go by the wayside. Good to see there are new additions still coming out. I like this one! I always carry a full-sized drill in the bag as well as the driver, and this will fit that bill and cut down on weight, space & batteries!

  4. Brau says:

    You gave the advantage to the *longer* ps20 for it’s looks?? Dude, it’s tool, not a fashion show, and any tool that clearly bests its predecessor while performing (& storing) inside much smaller spaces is the one I’ll use. Advantage ps21 in every category !!

    Looks like a Hairdryer … pshaw! 😉

  5. dex says:

    How old was the PS20?

    Where was the PS20 made and where is the PS21 made?

  6. ToolGuyd says:

    The PS21 really is an amazing upgrade to the PS20. Smaller, faster, more powerful, and even more feature-rich without a single compromise. I wonder what else is due to come out of Bosch’s 12V labs this year.

  7. aaron says:

    Brau OTM totally.

  8. John S says:

    With the price on the ps-40 Impactor coming down so much, why would anyone choose the ps-2*?

  9. ToolGuyd says:

    John, for one, the PS2* has an adjustable clutch.

  10. ttamnoswad says:

    Improvements aside for a moment…..I just wish the Bosch 12 volt system felt better in my hand……just a bit too clunky feeling.

    A main reason I ended up investing in a particular brands cordless system was because of the way that brands handles fit in my hand ergonomically speaking. Better grip/control is worth serious design consideration, something some firearms mfg’s are getting keen on lately too..

    The same thing happened more than several years ago in the Mtn. bike world. Someone put really thin grips on their handlebars, and it was quasi-revolutionary in terms of bike control.

    Bosch seems to think that bulkier tool handles is more macho or something. I’ve decided to go with the Milwaukee 12v system only because it fits better in my hand.

    Apologize for being a bit off topic.

  11. fred says:


    I guess that it would be nice if we had the luxury of sitting back and waiting until the ultimate tool in its class came to market or we could do hand-testing for each of our crew members. What happens more often for us, is that needs build up over time until they seem to reach a critical mass and you decide that its time to buy a new batch of tools. With corded tools it mattered less – and we bought a greater variety – but with battery-operated tools standardization seems more cost-effective. Years ago we bought PC Magnequench 12volt drills. When most of their batteries died – we moved to Makita 12 volt impact drivers and 14.4V NiMH drills. Then onto the Makita 18V LXT line and Milwaukee M12 tools. If the battery platforms were standardized to allow swapping – we might buy some of this Bosch tool – but have too much invested in the M12 line. BTW – I personnaly like the feel of the M12 line – but have not compared it to anything else in its class.

  12. busf says:

    Both the PS21 and PS20 are made in Malaysia along with all other Bosch 12V tools and some other cordless tools.

  13. busf says:

    ttamnoswad Says:
    June 10th, 2010 at 6:28 pm
    Improvements aside for a moment…..I just wish the Bosch 12 volt system felt better in my hand……just a bit too clunky feeling. … Bosch seems to think that bulkier tool handles is more macho or something. I’ve decided to go with the Milwaukee 12v system only because it fits better in my hand.

    That’s a weird observation ttamnoswad. When comparing the two tools I found the opposite to be true. The milwaukee is taller, longer and bulkier than the bosch. I owned an orginal ps20, my coworker had a milwaukee and I compared the two and he even thinks the bosch has a better grip. He just got is milwaukee at a good price.

    Next i purchased the ps20-2a updated model about a year ago and this tool was a bit better and a bit more powerful than the original. Recently I saw the ps21 at a Bosch show and can’t wait to get my hands on one.

    Also my batteries held up longer than my coworkers, he recently stepped up to the Bosch. At the bosch show I picked up a catalog and in the catalog they list a new impactor the ps41, I have the ps40. Can’t wait to see this and read about what other toolmongers think.

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