I bought the following studded winter tires last year for all four wheels:
You can view subjective assessment of tire performance in the "Survey" tab, and get objective measuremnts under "Tests. " Here are some additional absolute performance measurements sent to me by TireRack after I requested them:
(These relate to the following test: http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=123 )
Ice Surface Tire Characteristics:
10-0mph Braking (feet)
General Altimax Arctic (unstudded) 30.7’
General Altimax Arctic (studded) 20.8’
Firestone Winterforce (unstudded) 36.0’
Pirelli Winter Carving Edge (unstudded) 34.5’
60’ Acceleration (seconds)
General Altimax Arctic (unstudded) 5.309
General Altimax Arctic (studded) 4.093
Firestone Winterforce (unstudded) 6.402
Pirelli Winter Carving Edge (unstudded) 5.764
These are also a Consumer Reports recommended Winter Tire. They are the only winter tires to get a rating of "very good" or "excellent" rating in all of the following categories: snow traction, ice braking, wet braking, and hydroplaning. Surprisingly, not many tires are rating well for wet braking, which can be a big deal when ice/snow is melting.
I've driven 5,000 miles on these tires, combination highway and local roads. In my opinion, they were the best investment I've ever made in my car, besides the car itself, and they were very well priced. The studs have held up just fine, there has been little wear to the tread. The handling between these and my all seasons (Michelin Pilot MXM4) was night and day. My driveway has about a 15-20 degree incline, and I was able to get up in any amount of snow, so long as it wasn't higher than the clearance of my vehicle.
Surprisingly, the tires are not very noisy.
I do not believe studless tires give you any better traction that this particular set of studded tires, because these tires have a very good, very soft, tread compound (similar to studless) in addition to the studs.
Read reviews and test chart data on TireRack & Consumer Reports to make your decision. Careful objective study of the characteristics of each tire is a better way to make a decision than going by subjective opinions.
If you want my subjective opinion, these tires provide the best wintertime performance on snow, ice, and wet roads, in comparison to other winter tires, and happen to also be the least expensive.