So I've had a Hakko 936 for fucking ever, and it's a sick iron. But somehow I split up the element and the iron and the stand and I think the element is in a storage unit in another state. So while I didn't really need a new soldering iron, because the 936 is a beast, I wanted something a little different anyways and had to solder shit, so I got to researching what was out there at the sub $100-150 price point. Since I still have the 936, and that's a great iron, but my main complaint is it's cumbersome, I looked at more portable options.
First thing. I looked at Hakko, they don't do slick black units like the 936 anymore. They've switched to a hideous Fisher Price color scheme. Besides, I kind of wanted something more self contained or even wireless. Hakkos only sub $100 wireless is kind of wimpy.
I looked at all the major brands in the circuit/pedal type scene. Then I noticed Milwaukee had a soldering iron out. Normally you don't think of the major power tools brands for soldering irons in the same way you think of Weller or Hakko, but since Milwaukee had one I checked out what other "serious" (e.g. non Craftsmen, non Black and Decker) power tools brands had them.
I was going to buy the Milwaukee one, but it was pretty expensive, and I read some reviews that were like, "this thing just doesn't have enough power, it doesn't have more power than the tiny $30 portable Weller/Hakko ones. Cool tool, but not worth it".
I was never really a Ryobi fan, more of a Makita and Bosch fan. In terms of hardware brands, Makita/Bosch/etc. didn't offer irons. Besides Milwaukee, the only one offering it was Ryobi.
I never really used anything Ryobi, but a few years back I worked with a contractor who had just bought their whole lineup of tools, and all of them were solid as fuck. Impact drivers and shit like that, so I was fairly confident it would be a good unit.
Unlike the Wellers, the coiled stand actually snaps into place and doesn't jiggle around. I've been around Wellers forever, on account of having a bunch of family in EE, and I've always hated the coiled iron holders that fall out of the base. In fact, I just fucking hate having a separate base/holder bit period, one of the things I don't like about the 936.
This one is hybrid wireless/wired. It doesn't have the ultra small form factor of a pen type wireless, but it doesn't sacrifice power either, it takes the same batteries as their other power tools. The Milwaukee one was definitely more portable, but I read a bunch of reviews that brought up power concerns. This thing can go either wired, or it can take a serious battery. Not as portable as a pen type deal, but still significantly better than the "tethered" feeling I always have with the 936.
Only con I can think of for the unit is that the actual iron doesn't plug into the element. But it is solid as fuck, and I bet you can replace it internally if the need should ever arise, so I doubt it's an issue. It doesn't have an LCD temperature gauge, But considering soldering is a "done by feel" sort of thing, I don't personally care about that. The form factor is solid, and the tip holders and stuff are nice.
Presumably, it's a con to not go with something like a Weller or a Hakko, since there aren't as many replacement tips available, but I decided to risk it. I've read a couple reviews that a bunch of tips that aren't the official Ryobi replacement ones work, so there's that.
Also, needless to say, I like Ryobi's color scheme. All the hardware brands have one. Milwuakee has red, Makita has a dark blue/green, etc. etc. Ryobi's color scheme happens to match a lot of my other gear. Makes their tools easy to find too.
So yeah, if you are in the market for a new iron for guitar related stuff, highly recommended, cool iron. Unless you need an ultra serious manufacturing grade work bench grade one, it's definitely one you should consider along with the Wellers and Hakkos at the ~$100 price point.