Someone claimed on this site that you can't understand the difference between good drills and import (Chicom) drills until you use the good ones. So I decided to do just that.
After being baffled by the choices offered by made-in-USA drill companies (and by their hobbyist-hostile web sites) I decided to give Max Winters at Winters Drill Bit City a shot. He sells only USA drills and is very enthusiastic. I mean, the man gets excited by drills. I called him last night to place an order (phone or snail-mail orders only!) and discovered he was in town, at a truck show. So I just dropped by the show this morning, met him, and bought some taps and matching drills. He's a show-man. He was manning a little common drill machine, delivering patter, and drilling hole after hole in various hard metals.
The set I bought (spiral-point*, common course pitches from 6-32 to 1/2-13, matching split-point drills) came in a metal index that's remarkably well made. The drills and taps look strange - they've a smoky-grey finish with grey-black flutes. They're actually attractive. They're all covered in a light machine oil. The taps are for through-holes - except for the 7/16" and 1/2" taps - they might be considered plug taps.
Max gave me a 1/4" drill for evaluation. He said I'd be back next year to buy a set.
Now I'm going to go drill and tap.
More To Come.
* - thanks jtiers!