When the Bosch Colt came out in 2005, it filled a void in the marketplace and got lots of very positive reviews from the woodworking magazines and forums. The small, lightweight Colt was (and still is) easy to maneuver, with great ergonomics and plenty of power - perfect for intricate detail work or other light duty jobs.
Although there are a number of different brands of trim router models in its price range today, the little Bosch is still rated as one of the favorites. It does have a few quirks and shortcomings, but the vast majority of people who own one are quite pleased with it.
There are two different versions of the Bosch Colt available, a single speed and a variable speed. There is also a third model number that comes with some extra accessories. All three models are rated at 1.0 HP and 5.6 amps, have a soft-start motor, and come with Constant Response Circuitry that maintains the motor's speed under load. They all have a spindle lock so you can change bits with a single wrench, and come with a 1/4" collet.
First up is the basic model, the Bosch PR10E. This version has a single speed motor that runs at 35,000 RPM. It comes with a fixed base that allows the use of bits up to 1-5/16" in diameter and has 1-3/16" of depth adjustment. Judging from the number of available reviews, this model is not as popular as the variable speed versions, but it gets good overall ratings:
Next up we have the popular Bosch PR20EVSK. This model has a variable speed motor with a range from 16.000 to 35,000 RPM. It has a fixed base that has the same specs as the PR10E, but it also comes with an edge guide and a carrying case. This version gets somewhat better overall reviews, and there are lots more of them. The ratings are:
Finally, we have the Bosch PR20EVSNK. This is the same tool as the PR20EVSK, but it comes with several additional accessories. First up is a nifty little offset base, which uses a belt and pulley to allow you to get closer to an obstruction than you can with the standard centered base. It also has a tilting base for angled cuts, a roller guide, an underscribe attachment for use when creating seams between separate sheets of laminate, an edge guide, and a plastic case to carry it all.
Reviews are good, although there aren't as many out there as there are for the model without all the accessories. The accessories add a considerable amount to the price, and a large number of woodworkers just don't need all the extra stuff. Here is how the ratings stack up:
The Bosch Colt has been featured in a number of different magazine comparison tests over the past several years, and has been chosen as the top pick in quite a few of them. ConsumerSearch.com currently (3/2012) rates the PR20EVSK as the "Best Trim Router". Here are the magazine tests I found:
Popular Woodworking Magazine did a comparison test of nine palm routers in their April 2010 issue, and the Bosch PR20EVSK won the "Editor's Choice" award. They found it to be at the top of its class in power, ease of depth adjustment, and visibility of the bit. They also said it had the best "feel" of any trim router they tested.
Popular Mechanics Magazine tested seven trim router models in October of 2009, and rated the Bosch PR20EVSK the "Best Overall". They said it was well designed for a variety of jobs, and had the best depth adjustment in the test. They also liked the wide range of speed adjustment.
The Fine Woodworking Tool Guide 2009 has a test of ten trim router models, and the PR20EVSK won both the "Best Overall" and "Best Value" awards. They liked the way it fits in the hand, and said the soft start feature made it easy to handle. It was the only router in their test with a good fence and a threaded fine height adjustment mechanism. In their reader's poll, the Bosch PR20EVSK was ranked second only to the Festool MFK 700, which costs five times as much as the Bosch!
WOOD Magazine gave the Bosch PR20EVSK their "Top Tool" award in a 2007 review of twelve trim routers.
Canadian Woodworking gave the Bosch Colt five stars in an April 2006 test, saying that it had "... quick, easy to adjust, precise bit depth settings" and that it quickly became one of their favorite routers.
Tools of the Trade gave the variable speed Bosch Colt their top ranking in a 2005 test of five palm routers. They said it had the best base and was the most ergonomic of the bunch, and they really liked the soft start feature.
Many of the comments I found were from woodworkers that also own a "full size" router. Over and over again, folks commented that they find themselves reaching for the little Bosch Colt more often than their larger - heavier - more powerful routers. It is just so much easier to maneuver precisely. In general, owners love the ergonomics and say it has plenty of power for its size.
The Bosch Colt is not without its shortcomings, though. The most common complaint that I found is that the spindle lock is difficult to use. The return spring is too strong, and it is difficult to get it pushed in far enough and hold it there. If you let it slip, the spindle will spin, and after it does that a few times the corners get rounded off and the spindle lock will not hold at all. You can use a second wrench to hold the spindle though, and Bosch is now including the second wrench in the kit for that purpose.
The second most common complaint really seems to stem from people not reading the owners manual. There are a number of reports that the height adjustment does not lock securely, allowing the depth to change during a cut. The Bosch Colt requires one extra step when changing the depth adjustment - you have to set the height, then twist the motor to the "LOCKED" position, and THEN close the locking lever.
I found numerous Bosch Colt owners that said they did not realize at first that you have to twist the motor to "lock" it. They had trouble with the depth changing in the beginning, and then found that the issue went away once they started using the tool properly! I believe most of the complaints of the depth changing during a cut are the result of people not twisting the motor to the "LOCKED" position when they change the height adjustment, and these complaints bring the overall rating down somewhat.
There are a few other less common complaints. Some folks found the motor to get excessively warm during periods of extended use, and Bosch actually now makes an insulated base cover (available separately) for that reason. There were a few reports that the base is not exactly perpendicular to the motor, and one magazine review found that a paper shim corrected this issue. This can also be caused by not twisting the motor to the "LOCKED" position - again I wonder how many people are leaving out that step!
A few owners find it difficult to get a precise height adjustment. Several others aren't comfortable with how close your fingers can get to the spinning bit if you use the "Finger Support Pockets" to steady the tool - there has been at least one injury from this, too. And of course, with the thousands of these tools that have been sold over the years, there are a few reports of defects and failures.
Sidenote: There are a number of great router books available. A good book can help you understand the tool's capabilities and learn new techniques, and each one of the books has something a little bit different to offer. The books that are recommended most often on the woodworking forums are:
All in all, the little Bosch Colt is a good trim router that fills the gap between laminate trimmers and full-size routers. You can get detailed specs on all the different versions of the Bosch Colt at BoschTools.com.
However, a number of folks in the forums find that they prefer the Dewalt DWP611 in this class. When the Bosch Colt first came out in 2005 it was the best option at its price point. The Dewalt DWP611 seems to have taken over that role since it came out in 2010. That is not to say that the Bosch Colt is not a great tool, it is just that the Dewalt may be a little better.