BEST CORDLESS DRILLS | JUNE 2017

Whether you tackle the occasional home improvement project or you're a professional contractor, a cordless drill is a crucial part of your toolbox. With that in mind, our team did extensive research to discover the best cordless drills for three key categories – cordless drills for home use, compact cordless drills and professional-grade cordless drills – to help you make an informed purchase decision. For each product selected, we outline the specifications, key features and other considerations. If you're not sure what features you want or need, check out our buying guide below to learn more about cordless drills, including battery types, motors and more.

 

We looked at more than 200 cordless drills by some 25 manufacturers before selecting our top picks that appear below. Our product selections are based on both data analysis and independent research. Read more about our methodology.

Best Overall Milwaukee 2697-22 M18
96

The Milwaukee 2697-22 M18 is an 18-volt cordless drill that utilizes a ¼-inch hex quick-change chuck. It’s an all-purpose drill with excellent battery life and short charge time. A sensitive, variable-speed trigger enhances control over speed and torque.

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85

The Black & Decker GC01200C is a basic cordless drill with 24 clutch positions and two trigger controlled speeds. A keyless chuck makes changing out bits fast and simple. Its lightweight design prevents fatigue while the soft-grip handle increases control.

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Best by Category

Best Cordless Drill for Home Use

94

Makita XPH102 Hammer-Driver Drill Kit - At only 3.9 pounds, this ergonomic drill/hammer driver is not only comfortable to use but also has enough battery power to last through bigger projects. With two speeds and variable clutch settings, it can handle a wide range of jobs.

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Best Compact Cordless Drill

91

DeWALT DCD791D2 Brushless Compact Drill/Driver Kit - Brushless design extends run time and increases power. The three-mode LED lights provide adjustable illumination for the job at hand. Excellent battery life and quick charge times make it a great pick.

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Best Professional-Grade Cordless Drill

85

DeWALT DCD985M2 Premium Hammerdrill Kit - Excellent balance and a powerful 20-volt Li-Ion battery make this drill a standout. All-metal gears give it incredible durability even for daily use on a job site. With three adjustable speeds, good battery life, and short charge times, this drill can work through long projects with ease.

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Cordless Drills BUYING GUIDE

  • KEY CONSIDERATIONS

    Batteries

    There are two main types of batteries: Lithium-ion and Nickel Cadmium. Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries cut down the overall weight and bulk of a cordless drill while running longer and recharging faster. However, Li-Ion batteries can be damaged if completely depleted of power. They are also accompanied by a heftier price tag than other battery types. Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries still make up a large portion of the cordless drill market. With good performance and lower cost, NiCd batteries create a balance when looking for a decent drill at a lower price. NiCd batteries must be disposed of properly as the cadmium can seep into groundwater. It's worth the money to buy a cordless drill that already comes with two batteries so that one battery can charge while the other is in use. Extra batteries can often be as expensive as the drill itself.

    Motor Power

    Motor power is measured in voltage with 12-volt cordless drills being suitable for light use and tightening jobs. For larger projects, 18-20-volt motors work best. They can handle tougher materials, larger bits, and longer fasteners. Big jobs are going to need 1500 rpm or more. Brushless motors provide higher rpm using less electricity, giving longer battery life and greater power.

    Clutch

    An adjustable clutch allows for a larger variety of jobs to be done with the same tool. Cordless drills with adjustable clutch speeds will help prevent a screw from driving too deeply or quickly, or becoming stripped. Most cordless drills have at least two speeds with many models having 20 or more clutch settings for fine tuning.

    Chuck

    The chuck, the portion of the drill that holds the bit, should hold the bit securely with no wobble. Be sure to check chuck size before purchasing as it can vary from ¼ inch to ½ inch, depending on the drill. Keyless chucks have three or more metal prongs that grip the bit. They can be tightened and adjusted by hand. Hex chucks are an innovative design that makes changing bits fast and efficient. They also work well for jobs that put extra stress on the bit such as driving long screws or working in materials like concrete. However, hex chucks only work with hexagonal bits.

  • PRICE BREAKDOWN

    For $50 or less, you can get a basic 12-volt cordless drill with one battery. Budget cordless drills are typically made of lower quality materials and do not have the same power and battery life as more expensive models. Drills in the $100-$250 range have good durability and can be anywhere from 18-24 volts. In this price range are compact and full-sized drills that would satisfy the needs of most homeowners and those that do larger DIY projects. Many come as a set with an impact driver and other accessories. At $250+, are pro-grade models suitable for regular heavy use by contractors and construction workers. Cordless drills in this range can reach prices of $500 or more. They are larger with a heavier build and extra features like additional handles to be used when working with high torque in tough materials. Many have three speeds and up to 24 clutch adjustments.

Detailed product reviews

We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.

695 products
considered
52K RATINGS
ANALYZED
26 research
hours
Best Overall

Milwaukee 2697-22 M18

The Milwaukee 2697-22 M18 has the durable construction often associated with the Milwaukee brand. The 18-volt battery gives enough power to drill through cement and other tough materials. A ¼-inch hex chuck makes bit changes fast and allows larger, longer bits and fasteners to be used. The drill stays at full power until the battery runs out so work can continue uninterrupted. This is an impressive drill with the features that make it a good choice for those that do large projects on a regular basis.

  • 96overall
  • 87quality
  • 57value
  • 91brand

Why We Recommend It

  • All-Metal Hex Chuck. All-metal construction of the chuck gives extra durability at a high stress point on the drill. The hex chuck allows it to be used in a greater variety of jobs and materials.
  • Size to Power Ratio. Small enough to fit into tight spaces, but powerful enough to get the job done, this drill is the right combination of size and torque.
  • Construction and Design. Solid metal construction and high-quality materials in the over molding protect it from drops and scrapes.
  • Battery Life, Design, and Charger. With two Li-Ion batteries that have a long run time and quick charging, this drill is a pleasure to use. Battery life indicator lights give a heads up when it's time to charge. The charger adjusts the battery temperature (up or down) before it begins charging to protect the battery. An overload protection feature protects the battery and motor in abusive situations.
  • Variable Speed Trigger. A sensitive variable speed trigger gives excellent control over speed and torque. LED lights are activated when the trigger is pressed for quick and easy use in dim conditions.

Other Considerations

  • Takes Getting Used To. From snapping the battery into the charger to trigger sensitivity, this drill can take a little time to use effectively.
Best Value

Black & Decker GCO1200C

The Black & Decker GCO1200C has the basic features for the average DIYer or homeowner that does an occasional project. Lightweight and small size make it ideal for those that struggle with wrist or hand strength. A 24-position clutch and keyless chuck provide some adjustment and convenience features that make it ideal for small projects.

  • 85overall
  • 85quality
  • 85value
  • 88brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Size and Weight. Compact enough to fit in tight spaces and small enough for smaller hands to grip, this drill is comfortable and helps prevent fatigue.
  • Battery. The 12-volt battery contributes to the lightweight of the drill. While it doesn’t have a long run time, for the type and size of battery, it does well.
  • Trigger-controlled Speed. Adjust between two speeds with one hand on the trigger, leaving the other to hold screws or fasteners.
  • Adjustable clutch. With 24 clutch adjustments, this drill provides a good range of adjustments for the price.

Other Considerations

  • Includes One Battery. Projects may get interrupted while waiting for the battery to recharge.
  • Construction. The plastic isn’t as durable as drills with metal components.

BEST BY CATEGORY

Best Cordless Drill for Home Use

why buy?

Home projects can range from building a bookshelf to remodeling a bathroom. Drills in this category have the settings for smaller jobs with the power for an occasional big project around the home. A full-size drill maybe needed for those that do larger construction projects around the home while a powerful compact drill maybe more useful for those who do smaller projects or know they’ll be working in tight spaces. Drills in this category start at 18-volts, giving them more power and speed.

Top Pick

Makita XPH102

The Makita XHP102 is a full-size cordless drill with an 18-volt Li-Ion battery. It comes with extreme protection technology (XPT) that provides added resistance to water and dust during harsh conditions or treatment. At 7 ¾-inches long, it can still fit in most tight spaces. Weighing in at only 3.9 pounds, it can help prevent fatigue.

  • 94overall
  • 93quality
  • 83value
  • 92brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Battery Life. Li-Ion batteries provide the best battery life on the market while also being lighter weight than NiCd batteries. Makita uses a durable battery that not only has a good run time but also charges within 30-45 minutes.
  • Protection Technology. Makita uses a Star Protection Technology that helps prevent overloading and overheating. This contributes to safety and longer tool life.
  • Lightweight. The lightweight design makes this an ideal drill for seniors or those that may struggle with wrist or arm fatigue without compromising on power.
  • Case. It comes in a hard case rather than a canvas contractor bag.

Other Considerations

  • Includes One Battery. Purchasing a second battery will allow for work to flow uninterrupted but they can be pricey.
Also Great

Dewalt DC970K-2

The DeWALT DC970K-2 is an 18-volt drill that provides power with excellent battery life to get through many home projects. It comes with two batteries meaning workflow won’t be interrupted for battery charging. Accurate torque settings make it easy to adjust to prevent splitting materials. The NiCd batteries may add a little weight but they are durable and hold a charge well.

  • 93overall
  • 94quality
  • 91value
  • 93brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Battery Life. NiCds are not the latest technology in batteries, but they have proven their worth time and again. These batteries will last through most home projects. It comes with two, so one can be used while the other is charging. With a one-hour charge time, there won’t be any waiting around for the drill.
  • Design and Balance. This DeWALT is well balanced cutting down on user fatigue and making it easier to use.
  • Chuck. Keyless ratcheting chuck makes switching bits fast and simple.
  • Torque Settings. There are 17 torque settings each with a half setting as well. These settings will help prevent burying a screw too deep or splitting materials.

Other Considerations

  • Some Limitations. While this drill packs a lot of power, it may have trouble tackling jobs that require drilling into tough materials, such as concrete and stone.

Best Compact Cordless Drill

why buy?

Compact cordless drills have become more popular than ever as new battery design has made them as powerful as some full-size drills. Their small size and lightweight helps to reduce user fatigue while allowing easy access to tight spaces. For those that carry a cordless drill with them all day, a good compact drill will take up less space and still provide the necessary power to get through many different jobs.

Top Pick

Dewalt DCD791D2

The DeWALT DCD791D2 Max XR is a 20-volt brushless compact drill that can handle steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Three-modes on the LED lights provide adjustable illumination when working in tight, dim conditions. A fuel gauge on the Li-Ion batteries helps to prevent running them completely out of power and damaging them. The durable construction of this drill helps it to withstand the harsh outside conditions.

  • 91overall
  • 95quality
  • 60value
  • 93brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Brushless Motor. Brushless motors can more readily adjust to changes in material, making them more efficient. It increases the run time while using less battery power.
  • LED Lights. While many cordless drills have LED lights, they don’t usually have three modes like this one. It even has a spotlight mode when a focused light is needed.
  • Metal Chuck. The ½-inch metal chuck is far more durable than a plastic counterpart. This one holds bits tight with no wobble.
  • Speed. A high-speed transmission with two speeds and adjustable clutch settings make quick work of screws and fasteners.

Other Considerations

  • Sensitive Trigger. The sensitive trigger can be tough to get used to as the drill will stop with the slightest release.
Also Great

Hitachi DS18DGL 18-Volt Cordless Compact Drill Driver Kit

The Hitachi DS18DGL 18-volt cordless drill is an excellent compact drill for a homeowner or DIYer that wants reliable battery life in a compact model. With 22 torque settings with half settings, users have the ability to adapt for the job at hand. The ½-inch keyless ratcheting chuck works well and holds bits tight.

  • 89overall
  • 90quality
  • 74value
  • 91brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Hitachi Warranty. Hitachi has a lifetime Li-Ion tool warranty and a two-year Li-Ion battery warranty. That’s hard to beat.
  • Lightweight and Compact. The Li-Ion battery is lightweight but still has the power to get through jobs around the home. It’s comfortable to hold and well-balanced.
  • Case. It comes with hard compact case that also fits the battery charger, keeping everything you need together for easy storage.
  • Battery Life and Charging. It has good battery life with quick charging for a drill of this size.

Other Considerations

  • Torque. It doesn’t have the torque of some more expensive, larger models, which means it won’t have the speed some users would prefer.

Best Professional-Grade Cordless Drill

why buy?

Professional-grade cordless drills can come with a heavy price tag. Many come as part of a kit that includes an impact driver. Many have all-metal transmissions, making them highly durable for the rigors of a construction site. Brushless designs will provide the most power for the size of the battery. The power and torque on these full-sized drills should be able to handle the toughest of materials like concrete and different metals. Contractors or construction workers will need the power and durability of drills in this category.

Top Pick

Dewalt DCD985M2 MAX Premium Hammerdrill

The DeWALT DCD985M2 MAX Premium Hammer/Drill is a 20-volt cordless drill that has powerful torque for heavy jobs and tough materials. A three speed all-metal transmission moves fast and may require the use of an additional handle for stability. With two batteries and an excellent battery life, this drill will help power through a day for the pro-builder.

  • 85overall
  • 89quality
  • 50value
  • 93brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Battery Life and Warranty. The 20-volt Li-Ion battery balances out a long run time with power that doesn’t slow down. It comes with a three-year warranty on the battery.
  • Hammer/Drill Combo. This hybrid can be used as a drill or impact hammer depending on the setting. Having one tool for multiple applications means fewer tools and more space. It works equally well in any of the settings.
  • Torque. The torque on this drill can get through almost anything. Finding the right settings is important as it can easily split through soft or thin materials.
  • LED Lights. The LED lights automatically come on when the trigger is pressed and stay on an additional 20 seconds after release. The extra time after release gives users a chance to check their work before moving on.

Other Considerations

  • Weight. All that power also means more weight. Its hefty for all day use.