A cordless drill is undeniably handy for household projects, giving you freedom to tackle that latest job wherever it may be, regardless of whether there’s a nearby outlet. Many cordless drills will include batteries so that you can use one while the other is charging, and most use lithium-ion cells that are lighter than older nickel cadmium batteries.
Experts say one of the most important steps before buying a cordless drill is to simply hold it in your hand. Does it feel balanced, comfortable to grip, and sturdy? Is it light enough to hold in an awkward position while tackling a hard-to-reach screw? If the answer is yes, then consider how much power you’ll need. One rule of thumb is to look for a ½-inch chuck (the part of the drill that holds bits). That typically indicates a more powerful drill, and a bigger chuck can accept bigger drill bits. Smaller or less-expensive models may have a 3/8-inch chuck. Keep in mind that this is still usually more than adequate for light duty around the house.
Best Overall: Hitachi DS18DSAL 18-Volt Lithium Ion Compact Pro Driver Drill
Experts and owner say the Hitachi DS18DSAL is the cordless drill to beat, praising its range of features, versatility, and power. This 18-volt model is available with either a brushed motor or a slightly pricier, more efficient brushless motor. Maximum speed is 1,500 RPM. It also weighs only 3.3 pounds and is under 8 inches long, making it light and compact enough to easily tote around the house or yard.
This Hitachi wins raves from experts for speed, power, handling and relatively quick charging times. Features are numerous, including a variable-speed trigger, a 22-stage clutch, a metal belt loop, an LED job light, and a ½-inch ratcheting metal chuck. The drill also comes with a hard carrying case, carrying strap, dual-tipped driver bit, two batteries, and a standalone five-position rechargeable LED flashlight that accepts the same battery as the drill. Owners say they love the precision this drill offers, and the power is great – 460 inch-pounds of torque – especially for the price. There are a few reports of battery issues, though. It’s backed by an impressive lifetime tool warranty and a two-year battery warranty.
Best Overall, Runner-up: Porter-Cable PCC601LB 20V Lithium Ion Drill/Driver
If you need a cordless drill with similar power as the Hitachi but don’t want to spend over $100, the Porter-Cable PCC601LB is worth your attention, owners say. It’s a 20-volt tool with a top speed that matches the Hitachi’s – 1,500 RPM – and is just a hair bigger at about 3.5 pounds and a little over 8 inches long.
The Porter-Cable has a 23-stage clutch, a ½-inch chuck, and an integrated LED job light to light up those hard-to-see screws. It comes with two rechargeable batteries and a soft-sided carrying bag, which might be better than a hard case for users who have limited storage space. Users say this model feels sturdy and well-balanced, with enough torque for most common jobs. A few do complain that the chuck feels wobbly, however, and there are some complaints about dead batteries. It’s covered by a three-year warranty.
Best Budget: Black + Decker GCO1200C 12-Volt Cordless Drill
If you don’t need a super-powerful cordless drill – just something to make quick work of furniture assembly and other household tasks – there’s no need to overspend. The 12-volt Black + Decker GCO1200C is a reliable little cordless drill at an equally small price, reviewers say. Top speed is 750 RPM, and reviewer say that’s more than enough for their needs.
This Black + Decker features a 24-stage clutch – that’s two better than the Hitachi – a soft-grip handle, variable speed and reverse, an easy-to-remove side-pack battery, a double-ended bit and a 3/8-inch chuck. It has 150 inch-pounds of torque. Though on the lower end when it comes to power, it suits most owners just fine, especially those who only need a drill occasionally. At 4.8 pounds, it’s not as light as the Hitachi, but it’s still easy to tote around the house. It’s backed by a two-year warranty.
Best Compact: Bosch PS31-2A 12-Volt Max Lithium-Ion 2-Speed Drill/Driver Kit
If you want a cordless drill that packs as much power as possible into a small package, check out the Bosch PS31-2A. Like the Black + Decker, this is a 12-volt model, but it’s speedier (high speed is 1,300 RPM) and more powerful, with 265 inch-pounds of torque. It also weighs just over 2 pounds and has a 7-inch head, making it super-easy to take anywhere you need it.
There are features galore on this Bosch drill, including a 21-stage clutch, variable speed trigger, 3/8-inch chuck, soft-grip handle, integrated LED work light, and side-mounted battery gauge that helps users figure out how much more work they can get done before a recharge. It comes with two batteries and a soft-sided carrying case. Testers with The Sweethome say battery life is phenomenal, outperforming even much larger 18-volt drills, though they do grouse about the lack of a belt hook and wish the LED were better-placed. Warranty is three years for the drill and two years for the batteries.
Best Cordless Tool Combo Kit: DeWalt DCK590L2 Five-Tool Combo Kit
If you need a cordless drill with the added convenience of a few extra tools, check out the DeWalt DCK590L2 Five-Tool Combo Kit. It includes a powerful cordless hammer drill, reciprocating saw, impact driver, circular saw, and LED work light. All of the tools are 20-volt models that run on the same rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Two batteries and a carrying case are also included.
The three-speed cordless drill in this set packs a powerful punch, with a top speed of 2,000 RPM. It has a ½-inch chuck and an all-metal transmission. The impact driver with a ¼-inch hex chuck is even faster, at 2,800 RPM, and it doesn’t have as much kickback as the drill. The lightweight saws add a ton of versatility to this kit, users say, praising the overall solid build of the tools. They also say all the tools have enough power for practically any home-based task, even though some users were initially skeptical of going battery-operated. The kit’s tools are covered by a three-year warranty.
Best Heavy Duty: DeWalt DCD950KX Drill/Driver/Hammerdrill Kit
If you’re willing to pay a little more for a professional-grade cordless drill that can handle heavy-duty demands like drilling thicker wood, steel, brick and even concrete, take a look at the DeWalt DCD950KX cordless drill/driver and hammer drill. This 18-volt drill will go 2,000 RPM on high and has 500 inch-pounds of torque. It is a bit heavier than other drills at more than 6 pounds, but that’s to be expected for a drill with this kind of power.
Features on the DeWalt are many and include a 22-stage clutch, all-metal transmission, ½-inch self-tightening chuck, a 360-degree side handle, a hard carrying case and an integrated LED work light. DeWalt’s XRP batteries are designed to provide more runtime than normal rechargeables, and two come with the drill. Users say there’s little this drill can’t handle, though a few do note that it’s a little heavy and could be overkill for smaller household tasks. It’s backed by a three-year warranty.