Getting the best cordless drill will ensure more productivity and an easier time working. And it will last longer than their average or subpar counterparts, too.
This guide is designed to help you save money and do more in your home or on the job by buying the best cordless drill for your needs the first time. We don’t want to make it confusing so that we have selected only top cordless drills for the price.
By the end of this post, you will be able to decide which cordless drill suits your needs and budget.
Best Cordless Drills 2018
There are several things you should avoid when looking at and reading about drills. Some tools are simply not made to the same minimum standards of quality as the top cordless drills on the market–and while grabbing the cheapest thing you can find might save you money in the short term, it’ll cost more when you have to buy a new drill over and over again.
|Cordless drill name||Volt||Our Rating|
|Bosch PS32||12 volt||4.6/5|
best cordless drills for home use
Unfortunately, getting a cordless drill for your needs isn’t as simple as going into your local hardware store and grabbing the cheapest or the nicest looking cordless drill right off the shelf. This is true for two key reasons:
- Different drills are made for different applications.
- The quality of standard isn’t the same from one brand to another.
That means that before picking a drill, you need to think about what you’ll most likely be using your drill for most of the time, what advantages are must-haves and what disadvantages you’re willing to live with. You’ll also need to think about how long your investment in a drill should last.
While getting into the nitty gritty about what drill best suits your needs, there are some pretty easy rules to follow for getting yourself one of the best cordless drills across the board rather than something that’ll burn out on you in 6 months.
Makita XFD10R – Best 18V Cordless Drill
Makita is one of the toughest and most respected names in the power tools business, especially for professional level and high end consumer tools. While their products are often a bit pricier than some of those offered by their closest competitors in the market, they’re known for making long lasting, powerful power tools.
The XFD10R model does not disappoint and continues in their tradition of both innovation and toughness. It boasts several key features that will make it attractive to both professionals and homeowners, especially in terms of speed and battery efficiency.
Let’s take a look at the batteries first. These things are surprisingly innovative. While the engineering of the batteries was little more than an afterthought when cordless drills first hit the market not all that long ago, the battery is now where some of the best and brightest innovation happens.
Pretty much every decent drill these days features lithium ion battery technology, which makes for much longer running and safer to use batteries, as well as boasting a much longer shelf life. However, Makita has gone well beyond the now simple use of lithium ion in their XFD10R cordless drill–and this may be one of the features that makes the XFD10R stand among the cordless drills on the market today.
The battery and charger are designed, first and foremost, for fast charging. In addition to charging up quickly, though, they’re designed to last for the long term. Both the batteries themselves and the charger feature several key innovations to protect them from common battery problems.
For example, the charger boasts a fan system to keep the battery cool during charging, and also has “smart charge” features to prevent overcharging of the batteries.
It’s not just the charger that’s smart, though: the batteries themselves are designed to discharge smarter, too. Their low battery shut off technology means you’ll never drain your battery too low to bring it back, and that the tool’s output remains consistent even as the battery starts to drain.
Enough about the batteries, though. What does the drill itself have going for it? Its speed its a key feature, as its dual transmission design allows it to reach 1900 RPM without breaking a sweat.
To keep you comfortable while working at such high speeds, the grip is ergonomically designed and rubberized, making it much more comfortable to use for long periods of time. It’s also easier and safer to use at odd angles due to its compact size!
There is one downside to the drill’s high speed capacity that I should mention, though. It can be a bit hard to control the speed, especially when it comes to lower speed applications when you need to take a gentler approach. While this drill is perfect for tough work on the job site, it may not be as well suited to more casual tasks in the home due to its tendency to overperform a little bit.
That lower precision comes from the biggest shortcoming of this drill: the lack of a brushless motor design. Brushless motor technology is relatively new, but it improves both the speed modulation of a drill and its durability and user comfort level. With all the other innovation going on in this model, I’m a bit disappointed that it doesn’t also incorporate a brushless motor.
On the other hand, its tough and yet ergonomic design is built to counteract most of the downsides of traditional brushed motors–meaning that you won’t need to worry about comfort or durability in this model, even compared to some brushless cordless drills. It’s only the speed control that really suffers, and that’s not a deal breaker for a lot of users.
In fact, this is one of the more durable cordless drills available today, both inside and out. In addition to its tough, solid motor and smart batteries and charger, it boasts increased water and dust resistance on the outside. While you still probably shouldn’t throw your drill down a well or anything, this offering from Makita is designed not only to survive but to thrive in the toughest job site conditions.
All in all, Makita has created a tough drill with a lot of useful features at a very low price. I’d recommend it to homeowners for their tougher jobs, and definitely to the contractors and handymen among you. While it may not be the hero for hanging pictures, it’s great for the tough applications professionals see every day.
- Features some of the smartest batteries and coolest charging technology available today. This kit comes with 2 18 volt 2 amp batteries, a fast and smart charger, and of course the drill itself. They also throw in a nice case!
- Seriously tough outer construction with increased dust and water resistance for those hard hours on the job site.
- Ergonomic design and rubberized grip for safer, easier, and more comfortable use, especially over long periods of time.
- One of the fastest 18 volt drills available today!
- Dual LED lights with a nice afterglow feature to light the work area make it a lot easier to use this drill in both dark environments and tight spaces.
- Does not feature a brushless motor, though it compensates for this through other key design choices made to enhance both durability and comfort.
It’s not as easy to control the speed on this drill, especially for lower speed and more delicate applications, which means it may not be suited to homeowners who just need a drill for light work.
DeWalt DCD790D2 – Best 20v cordless drill
If you’re a tool user, you’ve likely heard the name DeWalt before. Long admired for their innovations and tough builds for both professionals and consumers, DeWalt is looking to innovate again with this feature rich, brushless drill for their 20V MAX series of power tools.
First and foremost among its features is the brushless motor, which relies on the latest cordless drill motor technology to grant you more precise control over the speed, greater comfort and reduced fatigue from long periods of use, enhanced durability, and reduced noise.
Because the moving parts inside the brushless motor create less friction with one another than the mechanical bits and bobs of a traditional cordless drill motor do, they wear down much more slowly. This means that your drill will last much longer before the motor burns out, which as you know usually spells the total death of the drill.
While being longer lasting and more durable was the reason behind the brushless revolution in drill motor technology, there are several other benefits to reduced friction inside the motor, too. First and foremost among these is enhanced comfort and reduced fatigue.
I like the fact that this drill is more comfortable to use because it’s really good for everyone. If you’re totally new to using power tools, the brushless motor will help you ease into the wonderful world of drilling. If you’re already a seasoned professional, the increased comfort and reduced fatigue will allow you to work harder for longer.
The brushless motor offers another key feature that’s really great for everyone: greater control over the speed and power based on how hard you squeeze the trigger. While pretty much every one of the best cordless drills allows some variation in speed based on the trigger pull, it’s seriously noticeable with brushless drills like this offering from DeWalt.
Essentially, that means that you can use the same drill for assembling the book case you just bought and drilling an anchor directly into a wall stud. Talk about versatility!
The drill also offers a lot of power, since it sits right at the top of the levels of voltage that a cordless drills for both home and professional use tend to offer. While I’m sure the day will come when we all have 38 volt drills, it’s still a long way off yet!
Of course, what makes a tool great isn’t just its big features. The little details are really what it takes to go from having a pretty great drill to one of the best cordless drills.
One of my favorite tiny but very helpful details on this product from DeWalt is the placement of its LED light. While a lot of drills feature LED lights that power on when the trigger is squeezed, in order to highlight your workspace and help you see what you’re doing, most are mounted directly under the chuck.
This often results in shadows being cast by the chuck, which in the worst cases can completely defeat the purpose of having an LED light mouted on the drill in the first place. DeWalt has solved this problem with a unique and cool solution.
Instead of being mounted directly under the chuck, the LED on this drill is actually built in just above the battery compartment, angled in such a way that it illuminates the area in front of the drill perfectly, with virtually no shadows!
However, there are some small flaws with this product too. The biggest thing I noticed is that the battery doesn’t fit as snugly into the base of the drill as I’d like it to. While I’ve never heard any horror stories about the battery falling out during use or anything like that, it can cause some rattling when you’re running the drill hard, and may reduce the durability and longevity of your batteries over time.
All in all, though, the flaws in this tool are small. While the price is pretty steep, which may be a serious drawback for those of you who are on a very tight budget, the old saying holds true: “You get what you pay for.” This is a durable, powerful, feature rich drill that’s perfect for professionals and homeowners alike.
- Brushless motor enhances durability and comfort, allows for more precise control, and reduces noise.
- Compatibility with all of the other tools, batteries, and chargers in DeWalt’s 20V MAX line can help you save money and work smarter, especially if you already have other tools or accessories in the series.
- Packs massive power at 20 volts, and can run DeWalt’s 4 amp batteries as well as the 2 included 2 amp batteries. Of course, the charger charges the 4 amp batteries, too!
- Better light placement leads to a workspace you can more clearly see, enhancing both your effectiveness and your safety.
- The price may seem a little steep to many buyers, though DeWalt justifies the high price by packing in plenty of value and manufacturing a deeply feature rich product.
I wish the battery fitted more snugly into its slot. While I don’t think it’s a major concern, the rattling can be annoying and may reduce the longevity of batteries a bit, even if not noticeably.
Porter Cable – best budget 20v cordless drill
Porter Cable is a brand whose tools are well known for their toughness. They’re also one of the biggest innovators when it comes to designing tools that are truly comfortable to use, with their uniquely padded grips, which makes them a big hit among seasoned professionals and homeowners completely new to tools alike.
First, the basics. The PCCK600LB packs plenty of power and versatility at a whopping 20 volts and with a ½” chuck. It also features the aforementioned rubberized grip and extremely ergonomic design, which results not only in more comfort for the user but in reduced fatigue even over the longest working hours.
However, I’ve found that the chuck of this drill is its real highlight. While most of the good cordless drills available today feature all metal chucks just like this offering from Porter Cable, its superior ½ inch chuck also features a ratcheting design that does a great deal of work to avoid loosening during drilling and the bit slipping.
If you already work with drills, you know how frustrating it is to have a drill bit slip out of alignment (or worse, fall all the way out of the chuck), and if you’re new to drills, it’s better for you never to find out. This product by Porter Cable does a lot of work preventing that from happening.
The consciously designed chuck made of tough materials is also indicative of the overall tough mindset and focus on durability of this Porter Cable cordless drill more generally. A lot of the little features on this drill seem to be focused on enhancing its durability, and it’s also simply built of tough materials.
Even that ergonomic rubberized grip can improve the drill’s durability in the event of a fall!
Of course, nothing is perfect, and that’s even the case with the Porter Cable PCCK600LB cordless drill. Although the flaws are few and far between, they are worth mentioning.
First and foremost, there was a problem with the first line of this model that resulted in some defective batteries causing the drill to keep spinning even when the drill’s trigger wasn’t depressed. While every sign indicates that this problem has been solved, I still felt it worth mentioning, as some of that bad batch of batteries is likely still out there driving homeowners batty!
The other thing I’ll mention isn’t necessarily a flaw. In addition to a unique design, Porter Cable’s tools have a very unique look that’s a little more eye-catching than most tools. While most tool manufacturers go for solid, bright color designs to increase visibility only, Porter Cable’s tools seem designed to turn heads. Some reviewers have compared their look to a sports shoe rather than a tool.
Personally, I like the look of Porter Cable’s tools, and think it’s a cool innovation in its own way. A lot of people simply won’t care one way or the other what a tool looks like. Still, I thought it was worth mentioning!
All in all, this is a great tool at a steal of a price, especially in the kit with 2 batteries, which is by far the best deal. Like many offerings from Porter Cable and other top tool manufacturing brands, it’s built to last, and on top of that it offers some cool features all its own that will surely boost its appeal among both homeowners and professionals.
- Lots of power and versatility come from the 20 volts of sheer power and ½” chuck.
- Ergonomic and heavily rubberized design greatly increases comfort and reduces fatigue, and also increases the tool’s overall durability.
- A powerful ratcheting metal chuck that’s designed not to fail and let the bit slip, even in the toughest circumstances.
- While I personally like the aesthetic look of this tool, it’s been polarizing in the reviewer community.
There have been some issues with this model’s batteries in the past, though all signs point to these problems being completely resolved now!
DeWalt DCD771C2 – Best quality 20v cordless drill
This offering from DeWalt is similar to many other drills in DeWalt’s 20V MAX series of tools, batteries, and chargers, and is fully compatible with all of the 20V MAX batteries and chargers. Of course, it also comes with 2 2 amp batteries and one of DeWalt’s great 20V MAX fast chargers, which can fully charge a 2 amp battery more quickly than virtually any other charger on the market.
While the differences between this and other drills in DeWalt’s 20V MAX series are slight, they’ll be what determines whether or not this is the tool for you if you’re already interested in a product from this series.
There is one advantage that the DCD771C2 has over other tools in the 20V MAX line, and one disadvantage. However, depending upon your needs and your budget, you may think of the disadvantage as an advantage also!
Let’s start with the objectively good standout feature of the DCD771C2 that separates it from some of the other tools in DeWalt’s 20V MAX series and puts it comfortably among the best cordless drills on the market today: its impact driving capabilities.
While almost all of the cordless drills have some impact drive features built in, they’re a major highlight of this model. That means that drilling into hard surfaces like solid wood studs is a lot easier with this drill, and that doing so won’t wear down this model as quickly as it will others. With this big of a focus on the drill’s impact driving capabilities, it’s essentially like the drill does a lot of the work for you when driving into tough materials.
Of course, we also need to talk about the other difference between this drill and some similar models from DeWalt: its lack of a brushless motor.
While most tool users will think of this as a disadvantage, because it means that this drill doesn’t retain all the great extra features that a brushless motor offers, here are two things to consider:
- Because brushless motors are still such a new technology, they’re very expensive. Foregoing the brushless motor can save you more than $100 compared to similar drills, meaning that the DCD771C2 may just be the way to get DeWalt’s quality, durability, and capability on a tight budget.
- The drill is ergonomically designed and built from extraordinarily tough materials to offset the wearing and fatigue inducing effects of a traditional brushed cordless drill motor, meaning that you may not even be able to tell the difference between this and a similar brushless model, at least in terms of durability and ease of use.
Essentially, this DeWalt tool forces you to ask yourself the question: how much does brushless matter to you?
All in all, while I think a brushless motor is a great standout feature to include in any drill, this product has a ton to offer. For homeowners and those of you on a tight budget, the value is sure to be a key feature. For those of you who really want to push your drilling capability to the max, the sheer power that’s offered and the focus on impact driving capability in the design might just impress you more than anything else.
- All the great power and versatility features you’ve come to expect from DeWalt’s 20V MAX line of tools, including complete compatibility with other batteries and chargers from the same series.
- A drill design more focused on impact driving means those tough jobs simply won’t feel as tough anymore for most users.
- This is one of the best ways to get a DeWalt tool with all the features and toughness you expect when you’re on a tight budget.
- The only major con here is the lack of a brushless motor, though this may not be a big deal depending on your specific, personal needs (and your budget).
Bosch PS32-02 – Best 12v cordless drill
Last but not least, let’s take a look at this offering from storied and respected power tool manufacturer Bosch.
With two 12 volt batteries and a completely brushless motor, this is one of the quietest and most fatigue reducing drills on the market. It weighs only 2 pounds, too, making it perfect for overhead drilling and long hours of use.
While the price may seem a little steep for a drill with 12 volts of power as opposed to 20, the strong brushless motor and focus on driving mean that this 12 volt packs a lot more torque than some of the 20 volt models on the market.
While it’s still more suited to precision tasks than to drilling straight into tough material, every professional knows that sometimes you need to take a lighter touch–but that doesn’t mean you want a weak product.
By bringing toughness to the world of smaller and lower voltage cordless drills, Bosch is really seeking to bridge the gap and meet the needs of both the homeowner and professional.
This is underscored not only by the drill’s torque, but by its incredible versatility. This lightweight ergonomic design is perfect for getting into nooks and crannies that would frustrate larger drills, and its all metal gearbox and patented Durashield exterior make it more durable than many drills at twice this price.
However, there are even more features designed to enhance this tool’s versatility, such as its shorter drill head, which makes for more balanced and precise handling. Its two speed settings allow for both maximum torque and maximum speed to be applied depending on your needs.
To further increase this drill’s versatility and precision, it boasts one of the most successful variable triggers on any cordless drill on the market today, putting more control in your hands.
Whether you want to focus this drill’s power capability on rapidly tightening a series of screws or punching holes in drywall, it’s completely up to you–and all the professionals know there are plenty of opportunities to do both.
- Brushless motor, tough but flexible housing, and smarter battery design means that this drill is built to last a very long time.
- At an extraordinarily light 2 pounds, this drill may just be ideal for overhead or extended drilling work.
- A shorter drill head results in both better weight balance and more precise handling.
- Highly successful variable trigger and simple but richly varied speed and torque selection mean that you can perfectly suit the levels of power, torque, and speed to virtually any job you can think of.
- At 12 volts, this drill is designed more for precision work than for raw power.
- Some users may find the price to be a bit steep, though with so many features pack in, it may just bring enough value for every dollar spent.
Cordless drill Buyer’s guide
The good news is that by avoiding a few risky factors, you can still get a great drill for not too much money–one that’ll last for the long haul and work hard for you for years to come.
One thing I always recommend avoiding is any cordless drill with the battery built in. Having the battery built in isn’t an indicator of bad quality, as several of the brands make some really solid drills with built in batteries. However, these investments won’t last as long–because the simple fact is that even the best batteries go bad eventually, and usually long before the motor in a drill goes.
Having a removable, replaceable battery can go miles in the way of protecting your investment. However, you can break this rule if you don’t plan to use your drill very often, if you’re very prone to losing things like removable batteries, or if a drill with a built in battery is all you can afford. While I don’t recommend going for a product with a built in battery, a well made cordless drill with a built in battery will still be a much better investment than a bad one with a detachable battery.
It’s more important to focus on the brand you’re buying from. In fact, this can be one of the single most important factors you can consider when it comes to determining whether or not a drill is worth the money and will last a long time.
The Big Brands
There are plenty of products where the name brand versions aren’t really any better than their generic counterparts. In the world of tools, this generally isn’t true.
While I’m sure there’s at least one great drill out there with a brand on it that no one’s ever heard of, I don’t think that’s a wise risk to take. Going with a major tool manufacturer offers several huge advantages.
First and foremost among these is that you know what you’re getting, and that what you’re getting is much more likely to be good. Many of the top cordless drill manufacturers, like DeWalt, Porter Cable, and Makita offer long histories of standing behind their products.
However, there are some other major benefits, too. For example, most big brands that make cordless drills also make other cordless power tools–and their batteries and chargers are often compatible with each other. This means you can use the same batteries and chargers to run saws and other power tools, and even in some cases outdoor and landscaping equipment.
Also, the big brands almost always offer several product tiers, meaning that you can find a solid budget choice if you’re short on cash, rather than rolling the dice with an unknown brand.
I will also say that if you absolutely can’t afford something made by one of the biggest brands out there, some of the national home improvement store chains have solidly built store brands that are slightly cheaper, and still a lot better than the brands you’ve never heard of. Look for a good deal, though: you can often get a better deal online than in store!
All About the Specs
Besides looking at the all-important brand and at some of the impressive and deeply innovative new features that are becoming more and more common every day in modern drills, it’s important to understand the basic specifications.
Voltage and Amperage
Voltage and amperage are often mixed up, so here’s a quick science lesson. While I won’t go into a ton of detail about how the electricity actually works, in a practical sense it pretty much comes down to this:
- The voltage determines the overall power of the drill. 12 volt drills are common for smaller household tasks like hanging pictures, while 20 volt drills are often used in construction projects. If you’re going to do a lot of different things with your drills, it may be best to have one of each! There are also 18 volt drills that offer a more balanced approach.
- The amperage determines how long a battery will last before it needs to be recharged. 2 amp batteries are the most common, but there are lots of extended life batteries with amperages like 4 as well. Different amperage batteries are usually compatible with the same tools and chargers, as long as the voltage, model, and brand match up.
The voltage capacity is essentially built into the drill, so you get what you see on the package. The amperage has a lot more to do with the battery. Most drill kits include basic 2 amp batteries, but higher amperage batteries for the same tool can be purchased separately.
Chuck Size: How Much Does It Matter?
One of the other most common specs you’ll frequently see advertised and discussed when it comes to cordless drills is chuck size.
The chuck is the adjustable part of the cordless drill that actually holds the drill bit while the motor turns it. Having a well made chuck is essential to having a well made drill, but the chuck factor goes beyond just quality. Different sizes of chuck are good for different types of applications.
The chuck size determines how much power and torque can be applied to the drill bit, and also what size drill bits the drill can accommodate. The most common chuck sizes for handheld cordless drills are ⅜” and ½”.
½” chucks are a bit more versatile and can often be more powerful and apply more torque. However, they can also be a bit trickier to work with if you’re not used to using drills yet, and also generally cost a bit more.
If you’re a contractor or other professional, you probably need the extra power and versatility of a ½” chuck. However, if you’re a homeowner who will mainly use your drill for smaller tasks like putting together furniture, a ¾” may be easier to use and cheaper. Size matters, but nowhere near as much as quality.
Have you used or bought cordless drills yourself? How did it hold up to or exceed your expectations? Let us know in the comments!