One of the most important power tools any professional contractor or DIYer needs to own is a cordless drill. It’s an essential addition to any tool arsenal when you work around your home or job site. Using the allows you to loosen or tighten bolts with ease, but what’s the right choice for your next purchase?
There are many features, price ranges, and capabilities to choose from. After countless hours of using my cordless drill and researching the options out there, I’ve been able to gather all the information you need to make the best decision.
The Four Best Cordless Drills
Let me show you my pick for the best cordless drill and several runner-ups that would also work if you need a quality tool.
The Winner –
DeWalt is a favorite brand among many power tool users simply because of the versatility and design. For those who’ve owned a DeWalt power tool, it’s often a game changer. This offers a long life, variable speeds, and numerous features, making it ideal for the home DIYer or the professional contractor.
On top of that, there’s an extensive 3-year warranty that protects your investment. This drill is also quite comfortable to hold, even after long hours of driving screws.
The offers 700 in/lbs of torque which is superior power capability when compared to the cheaper cordless drills on the market. It also has three variable speeds plus 11 clutch settings for varying torque requirements.
This cordless drill has a chuck size of up to ½-inch. In addition, it features an XR lithium-ion battery which offers more power than previous DeWalt models. The XR actually stands for “extreme run-time” so you know you won’t be disappointed with the performance.
It only takes about 40 minutes to achieve a full battery charge, so it’s easy to get up and running in a jiffy. This drill also supplies up to 34,000 BPM which allows fast drilling in masonry materials.
Both the controls and settings on the are easy to use. You’ll find the switch for the standard drilling or hammer drill located above the chuck. A quick glance is all that is needed to ensure you are in the proper mode.
The handy work light stays lit for 20 seconds after you depress the trigger. This is enough time to ensure you’re lined up with the work you are drilling. It’s also helpful when working in low-light conditions.
The grip on the is superior to many others. In fact, even after long days of work, your hand will not be tired and sore. When the battery is in the unit, the balance is exceptional, making the drill easy to hold and handle.
The Runner-Up –
This comes with your standard list of features and is a reliable choice for anyone operating on a budget. It’s missing a brushless motor, but that’s the trade-off for needing something lower in price.
With that said, it still offers plenty of perks that make this a great all-around drill for most DIYers and professionals alike. It’s not your average low-cost drill and will stand up to numerous years of abuse.
The does offer a variable speed trigger to help you get the job done right. It also offers 300 in/lbs of torque which is lower than some, but great when working with a budget. It’s rated to handle ½-inch holes in steel plus 1-inch holes in wood.
Despite the fact that it isn’t a brushless motor, it’s still quite powerful and efficient when compared to previous generations of drills. The battery life is easy to check simply by glancing at the gauge found on the bottom of its handle. This is a handy way to ensure you don’t get caught without a drill in the middle of a project.
The also comes with a 3-year warranty which is exceptional considering the price. It also has an LED work-light and quick directional switch to make projects simple and easy.
What you’ll notice about this cordless drill is that it fits where others simply can’t. It’s only 7.75-inches long – making it smaller than most of its competition. In addition, there is a rubber grip found on the handle, making it comfortable without having too much overmolding.
At only 3.5 pounds, this best cordless drill is ideal when you need to handle it often. With the combination of a small, compact design and lighter weight, you won’t grow tired of working all day. In addition, it’s constructed of solid materials ensuring that you’ll get many years of use from this drill.
An Honorable Mention –
The is a lightweight and compact cordless drill that easily fits into most enclosed and tight areas. It features a high-performance motor and is a great value for someone looking to own a DeWalt without spending a fortune.
It still includes the three-year warranty for protection even though you aren’t putting out a lot of dough. That just goes to show you that the company stands by the products they make and helps to give you additional peace of mind.
The has a high-performance motor offering 300 unit watts out of power. That allows it to complete many fastening and drilling applications with ease. It also comes with a dual-speed transmission with low and high options. During its low speed, this delivers 450 RPM while the high speed produces 1500 RPM. With this dual-speed transmission, you have exceptional control over your work.
It’s powered with the help of two rechargeable 20v lithium-ion batteries, ensuring that you have power for long hours of work without fade. You’ll find that it works great for drilling or fastening in metal, wood or plastic. It’s ideal for installing cabinets, framing applications or doing HVAC work.
With its ½-inch single-sleeve keyless ratcheting chuck, you’ve ensured a tight grasp of your bit. This bit retention allows you to receive increased precision plus accuracy during your fastening or drilling projects. The only downside to the performance of the is that the charging time can take over an hour. If you need the lower price option, you’ll have to trade-off for the wait time.
Just like my other choices, the can be considered for the best cordless drill because of its compact design. You’ll easily be able to reach confined and tight locations with ease. In addition, it only weighs 2.6 pounds making it easy to transport and use for longer jobs.
With the ergonomic handle, you have the additional comfort you need plus the control you desire. The also offers 16 position clutch settings to allow more versatility over drilling and driving applications. Unlike many other options, this drill comes with two lithium-ion battery packs, a compact charger plus a contractor bag making it an exceptional value. There are also multiple options available when making this purchase, including a kit with a USB power source and a titanium speed tip drill bit set.
The is made from high-quality materials and also features an LED light to illuminate your working surface. It’s useful for any home project and handy to have when working as a professional as well.
Another Honorable Mention –
You’re in luck if you need another budget-friendly option. This is smaller in size than most 12Vdrills and still plenty of power for most applications. This cordless drill has been regarded as the best cordless drill for some time among home users, so you know it’s a winner.
Like many cordless drills, this Bosch option has a variable speed trigger and safety auto-lock. The low gear provides 0-400 RPM to offer higher-power fastening while its high gear delivers 0-1300 RPM for faster drilling. It also has 20 clutch settings so you can easily dial the torque to be applied.
The delivers up to 350 inch lbs. of torque. This easily handles drilling and driving into wood, metal and plastic at decent speeds. Its maximum capacity in metal is 3/8-inches with a capability of 1-inch in wood. In addition to that, it has LED lighting so drilling in hard-to-see spaces is much easier.
The comes with two 18V Slim Pack batteries with Electronic Cell Protection. This helps to maximize the battery life to ensure you have a quality drill for many years.
With a head length of just 7.1-inches, this cordless drill offers superior maneuverability. In addition, it only weighs 3 pounds, making it easy to transport and use. This drill kit comes with the two batteries I discussed earlier and a charger plus carrying case.
On top of that, it comes with a one-year limited warranty. I realize this isn’t as great as the three-year warranties the other drills came with, but this is a budget-friendly option. If you need a compact cordless drill that features exceptional balance and decent power, the warranty length isn’t going to be a deal-breaker.
Finally, this model features a tight, gripping chuck, but it’s important to note that the clutch is made of plastic. With this is in mind, if you can spend a little more for a drill, you should pick one of the other models above.
Features of the Best Cordless Drill
There are numerous features of the best cordless drill to be aware of. You’ll need to consider which of these are important to the tasks at hand to help you determine what’s best for you.
All of the drills I showed you use lithium-ion batteries. They used to be a luxury in the power tool market, but now they are a regular staple and are competitively priced.
Lithium-ion batteries have several advantages over the previous NiCad option. They charge faster than ever before which makes these essential when you have a job to get done. They also offer the same amount of power that a standard drill affords.
Other benefits include:
- You don’t need to worry about self-discharge – meaning they can be put in storage and won’t lose the charge
- More powerful than previous cordless tools
- Will last longer
- You don’t need to fully discharge them before recharging
- Operate effectively in a wide array of temperatures
Variable Speed Trigger
If you’ve ever stripped a screw due to the speed or power applied, then you know how important a variable speed trigger can be. It allows you to have more control over your speed.
The further you push the trigger, the more power you receive. It’s a simple way to ensure you only get the power you need, and it doesn’t add much more money to the drill. You’ll find that using a variable speed trigger is most important during low torque situations.
It’s important that you drill the pilot hole to the proper depth; otherwise, it’s critical that you remain cautious about those last couple rotations when tightening the screw. Otherwise, it’s possible to take the head clean off the screw. With a variable speed trigger, you have much more control over this.
There is nothing new about brushless motors; they’ve been around for many years. The reason they’ve become so popular recently is that they are now more affordable than ever before. There are several reasons to consider a brushless motor with your best cordless drill purchase.
First, they are more efficient than a brush-based motor. That’s because the circuits inside the motor sense the load to draw the proper amount of power from the battery. This increases your battery’s life and overall performance.
A brushless motor also has less friction internally. This leads to a long life and more power.
Hammer Drill Functionality
If you need to drill through concrete and other hard materials, you’ll need hammer drill functionality. This feature allows the cordless drill to vibrate during work so it penetrates hard materials more effectively.
Understanding Cordless Drill Terms
When you are searching for the best cordless drill, you are inevitably going to come across several terms you might not understand. Here’s what you’ll need to know to make the best decision.
Chuck Jaws – Most 18V cordless drills handle up to ½-inch diameter bits.
Clutch – This controls how much torque is applied to your drilling project. Varying jobs require different torque amounts, so it’s best to have flexibility in this department.
Forward/Reverse Switch – If you want to use your cordless drill with one hand, this is essential. You aren’t going to want to hold your drill with one hand while you switch directions with the other. This is especially important if you are drilling in unusual positions.
Hand Grip – You want the grip of your best cordless drill to be comfortable, allowing you to grip solidly at all times.
Keyless Chuck – This is a must-have when looking for the best cordless drill. With a keyless chuck, you simply turn the chuck and it locks down the bit to hold it in place securely.
Speed-Range Switch – You’ll want high speeds for drill and lower speeds for driving lag bolts or other high-torque needs.
Voltage – The higher voltage drill allows more power. This also means the drill has added weight. The best cordless drill for everyday use right now is an 18-volt drill.
Functions of the Best Cordless Drills
When you pick the best cordless drill, you’ll need to consider what you’ll be using it for. There are several functions that cordless drills offer.
The most used purpose of these cordless tools is to drill. Most are capable of drilling through wood and metal while some heavier-duty models can go through concrete as well. When determining the drilling capability, it’s important to consider both the torque and speed.
The proper amount of speed and torque helps to push through various materials with ease. In addition, hammer functionality is helpful when working with concrete and masonry. This feature gives the drill a hammering motion while spinning to push through those dense materials.
Almost as important as the drilling process is driving capability. A high-quality 18V cordless drill is great for torquing lag bolts into dense woods, but they are also good at the low torque levels needed to drive a drywall screw in place.
This is where the variable trigger comes in. You can effectively increase or decrease your speed by applying varying pressures to the trigger.
When you need a larger hole, it’s easy to use your cordless drill with a to create the space you need. The key is to purchase the best cordless drill made from high-quality materials. Otherwise, your drill could fall apart under the additional strain of boring.
If the paddle bit isn’t big enough or you require a cleaner cut, you can use a . This will put your drill to the test. That’s because you’ll need consistent levels of torque and power to get through thick materials.
Most cordless drills are capable of handling a three-inch hole saw, but it’s going to depend widely on the material you are cutting.
Did you know that you can use a drill for stirring? It’s true! While most people don’t use their cordless drills for this purpose, many painters know that paint can be mixed easily while on the job site with a little bit of innovation. You don’t need much torque to get the job done, just speed.
All you need is a and a drill that can spin fast under minimal loads. Imagine the time saved in comparison to mixing the paint by hand. It’s also wise to use a variable speed trigger so you can slow the speed down to get off excess paint with ease.
Picking the Best Cordless Drill for Your Needs
When you pick the best cordless drill, you need to make sure you’ve evaluated your individual needs. The general breakdown of usage is as follows:
- DIY will use the drill occasionally
- Semi-Pro needs a drill for medium usage
- Professional requires a heavy usage drill
The drills I’ve evaluated for you will work for any of these categories. That’s because they’re built for the heaviest levels of usage with a solid chassis and durable gears. They’re also lightweight, powerful, and small so you can use them for many applications.
A low-cost cordless drill might save you some money upfront, but they don’t offer the same amount of durability for the long haul. What you save now will be eaten up later when you need to purchase a replacement drill.
Cordless Drill to Withstand Daily Abuse
Out of all the drills I’ve used, it’s easy for me to conclude that the is the best cordless drill on the market right now. With the variable speeds, heavy-duty construction and efficient batteries, this drill is ideal for any professional or home user.
With the three-year warranty, you have the peace of mind knowing that you made the best decision. You’ll be capable of driving screws for hours on end until your job is completed to perfection. If you find that model doesn’t suit your unique needs or your budget, you’ll find the runner-up and honorable mentions to be great alternatives.
While you are busy building your in-home tool collection, make sure you check out the best miter saw as well.
Q & A:
Q: What’s the difference between a corded and cordless drill?
A: The difference between the two is mainly weight and mobility. A cordless drill offers many features and a higher level of mobility. The downside is that you don’t have unlimited power; only what the battery will supply. That’s why it’s helpful to keep a spare battery on hand when you are recharging.
Q: What are some other tools good for drilling and driving?
A: Aside from a cordless drill, other tools that provide drilling and driving capability include impact drivers, rotary hammers, air drills and powered screwdrivers.
Q: What is the most popular brand of cordless drills?
A: Each brand seems to have its own following in the marketplace but the top-selling brands include Bosch, Craftsman, DeWalt, Porter-Cable, Hitachi, Makita and Ryobi.
Q: What is the best voltage for a cordless drill?
A: You have three main choices when it comes to voltage: 12, 18, or 20 volts. These drills are all ideal for DIY projects plus larger-scale tasks like building a deck or remodeling. For completing jobs associated with drilling concrete, it’s best to use a cordless drill with maximum voltage.
Q: What is considered a quick charging time?
A: Charging times vary between the different cordless drills. Some take as little as 15 minutes while others can take several hours. Quick charging is a great feature to have as long as the battery still has a long-life. Sometimes you sacrifice long-lasting battery power for a quick charge which doesn’t help unless you are only doing small tasks at any given time.