Ryobi vs Craftsman: Battle of the Mid-Range Tools


If you’re a DIYer looking at different tool manufacturers, you’ve doubtlessly considered the merits of Ryobi vs Craftsman. These two brands are some of the best examples of high-quality budget tool manufacturing with both making tools that the average DIYer or homeowner can afford.

While both of these brands feature impressive lineups, there are significant differences between them in terms of warranty, tool selection, and performance.

Let’s take a closer look at Ryobi vs Craftsman so you’ll have a better grasp on their respective strengths and weaknesses.

Brand History

Ryobi

Ryobi Seisakusho Co. started out as a Japanese die-cast manufacturer back in 1943. It branched out into producing power tools starting in 1968. By 1973 the company changed its name to the one we recognize today – Ryobi.

ryobi one+ 18v tools
Ryobi One+ 18v tools. [Source]
In 1999 the brand was bought by Hong Kong based TTI (Techtronic Industries Co.), the manufacturer which had been supplying them with many of their cordless tools. These days, TTI is a massive company that owns well-known brands like Milwaukee, Dirt Devil, Hoover, Empire, and Hart.

Nowadays, the majority of Ryobi tools are made in China, with a small number of accessories being made in the US. This is a change from the 80s and 90s when a large portion of their tools were manufactured in the US.

Craftsman

Craftsman traces its history back to 1927 when the Sears brand set out to create a superior line of tools. They hired Arthur Barrows to head the company’s hardware department, who liked the name Craftsman and paid the Marion-Craftsman Tool Company $500 for the rights to use the Craftsman name on their products.

craftsman logo
Image source.

Sears’s tool line used a “good, better, best” pricing structure for their tool lineup, with Craftsman being positioned as their mid-level tier. Competing tool brands competing at this level were Husky, Kobalt, and UltraPro/Napa.

Moving on to current times, the Craftsman brand is acquired by Stanley Black & Decker in 2017. This leads to a revamp of the Craftsman brand and a rollout of the new Craftsman lineup at retailers like Lowe’s and Ace Hardware.

The relaunched Craftsman brand seeks to provide quality affordable mid-range tools with a strong brand reputation.

Ryobi vs Craftsman Comparison

As both Ryobi and Craftsman are similarly positioned in terms of market segmentation and price point, they stack up quite similarly in a number of different ways.

If you were to group tool manufacturers into three segments based on price and performance, both Ryobi and Craftsman would fit squarely in the middle segment for both metrics.

They both offer mid-priced tools, suitable for the average DIYer as well as for typical homeowner use. Other brands in this tier would be Porter Cable, Skil, Ridgid, and Metabo.

Step up one tier, and you’ve got the so-called professional/tradesman brands like DeWalt, Makita, Bosch, and Milwaukee. Go down one tier and you’ve got the basic homeowner brands like Black and Decker, Harbor Freight, and Hart.

Being that both brands are direct competitors and are so similarly positioned, we can easily compare the two without needing to compare apples and oranges.

Lineup

If we take a look at both tool manufacturers’ respective lineups we can see how well they stack up against one another.

Ryobi’s tool lineup is fairly extensive, with a wide variety of tools ranging from basic DIYer tools to an extensive lawn and garden collection, as well as a variety of unique and specialized tools.

Their 18V power tool lineup has a proven track record of success, although it’s starting to show its age – as it’s one of the few lineups still using a ‘stem’ style battery pack rather than a sliding one. On the other hand, their new 40V outdoor lineup is on the cutting edge of cordless yard tools, offering leaf blowers, lawnmowers, trimmers, and chainsaws with gas-like performance.

ryobi 40v chainsaw
Ryobi 40v chainsaw. [Source]
One notable feature of Ryobi’s tools is their focus on backward compatibly for their batteries. This means you’ll be able to use your older Ryobi batteries when new tools are released, and won’t be left with obsolete tools or batteries over time.

Craftsman’s tool lineup is also fairly extensive, with a wide range of products from your run-of-the-mill power tools to a wide selection of automotive tools, storage solutions, accessories, and lawn and garden tools.

craftsman tools
Craftsman tools. [Source]
Their 20V cordless lineup is fairly new, but Stanley Black & Decker has plenty of experience manufacturing tools of this type. I’d expect them to continue rolling out and refining this lineup, so I’d have no hesitation buying tools in this new ecosystem.

As the lineup is newer than Ryobi’s you’ll notice the power tool selection is somewhat less extensive. For example, Ryobi offers 7 different drills versus 4 for Craftsman. Once again, I’d expect Craftsman to continue expanding this lineup over time, so this isn’t a major issue.

Price

Both Ryobi and Craftsman are positioned around the mid-level price range for most of their tools, so they tend to compete fairly closely when it comes to price. If we take a look at each manufacturer’s respective lineups, it’s obvious that there are a lot of similarities.

Ryobi tends to have a wider range of price offerings, with both a mid-priced option and a budget-priced option for a lot of their tools.

If we take a look at Ryobi’s drill/driver offerings, there’s a mid-price One+ 18V (tool only) model sold for $70 as well as a cheaper One+ 18V drill retailing for $28.95.The same sort of pricing scheme can be seen with a lot of their saws, drivers, sanders, and outdoor tools.

Craftsman tends to focus on the mid-range price level and has fewer budget-priced tools than Ryobi.

Quality

As you might expect from such close competitors, the quality level of each tool manufacturer tends to be fairly similar.

Both companies manufacture the majority of tools in China, although Craftsman has some products labeled ‘Made in the USA with Global Materials’. It appears that Craftsman will be focusing more on US manufacturing in the future, as they are opening a number of new plants across the US.

In my own experience using tools from each manufacturer, I’ve noticed no quality issues, and have been pleasantly surprised by some of the cheaper options from Ryobi.

Warranty

Craftsman offers full or limited lifetime warranties on most of their hand tools, automotive and mechanics tools, and electronic measuring tools. They offer 3-year limited warranties on most power tools, wet/dry vacuums, and pneumatic nailers and staplers.

Outdoor power tools have either a 1 or 3-year limited warranty, while gas-powered outdoor equipment mostly has a 2-year limited warranty.

Ryobi tends to offer slightly better warranties than Craftsman. They offer a 3-year limited warranty on most power tools, batteries and chargers, and outdoor power equipment as well as a 5-year limited warranty on all 40V Lithium-ion outdoor tools.

Hand tools and modular storage feature lifetime warranties.

Which Brand is Best for Me?

When it comes to Ryobi vs Craftsman, deciding which brand is best for you will depend a lot on your personal taste and preferences, as both brands tend to offer similarly priced products of similar quality.

If warranties are a major concern for you, then keep in mind Ryobi tends to offer longer warranties, especially on its outdoor power tools. Ryobi also offers a wider selection of tools than Craftsman, particularly in the lower-priced ‘budget’ tool segment.

Craftsman 20V lineup is newer than Ryobi’s One+ 18V lineup, which is starting to show its age and is one of the few manufacturers still using a ‘stem’ style battery.


Featured image source.


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