For the deep ice-core drilling community, the 2005/06 Antarctic season was an exciting and fruitful one. In three different Antarctic locations, Dome Fuji, EPICA DML and Vostok, deep drillings approached bedrock (the ice–water interface in the case of Vostok), emulating what had previously been achieved at NorthGRIP, Greenland, (summer 2003 and 2004) and at EPICA Dome C2, Antarctica (season 2004/05). For the first time in ice-core drilling history, three different types of drill (KEMS, JARE and EPICA) simultaneously reached the depth of ‘warm ice’ under high pressure. After excellent progress at each site, the drilling rate dropped and the drilling teams had to deal with refrozen ice on cutters and drill heads. Drills have different limits and perform differently. In this comparative study, we examine depth, pressure, temperature, pump flow and cutting speed. Finally, we compare a few parameters of ten different deep drills.