There was a time when drilling a hole or driving a screw was done by hand. Of course there was also a time when Abe Lincoln was President. For as long as anyone reading has been alive, however, we’ve had something called the power drill which allows us to drill those holes and drive those screws in a fraction of the time using a fraction of the effort that used to be required. Within the power drill universe the cordless drill reigns supreme today because of its many advantages over plug in drills. You can take the cordless drill anywhere and perform any task because it’s, well, cordless. No external portable generator required. In this review and guide we’re going to take an up close look at what we consider to be the 10 best cordless drills on the market today. Keep in mind that the opinions expressed here are ours. As such yours may differ.
Our Top Picks For Best Cordless Drills
1. Makita 18V LXT
The Makita 18V Cordless Drill/Hammer Driver can be fully charged in only 30 minutes, sports a compact profile that lets you deliver the torque in tight places and can handle drilling, driving and hammering into an array of materials ranging from wood to metal to concrete. The 4-pole motor is a compact beast delivering 480 in-lbs. of torque at up to 1900 RPM. And the kit includes the cordless drill driver, the 18V Lithium-ion battery and Makita’s Rapid Optimum Charger.
- Weight10.3 lbs
Easily handles jobsite hazards like dust, dirt and water by way of Makita’s XPT technology.
The Lithium-ion battery in the LXT Cordless drill has the fastest charge times in its class.
Can be used as either a cordless drill, driver drill or a hammer driver drill.
Not the most powerful cordless drill on the market for those large scale commercial jobs.
Some have questioned the battery’s ability to hold its charge though we had no problem.
2. Dewalt MAX
The DeWalt DCD771C2 20V Lithium-ion Compact Cordless Drill Driver kit provides the pro and dedicated DIYer alike the ability to bring the right amount of force to bear on tasks large and small. The DeWalt’s 2-speed transmission provides tactical versatility while the unit itself is as easy on the forearms as it is on your wallet. Not that it matters to most guys but this may be the best looking cordless drill on the market at any price.
- Weight3.64 lbs
The cordless drill driver is designed with both operator comfort and effectiveness in mind.
The 1/2 inch ratcheting chuck provides a tight grip on whatever the bit.
Deceptively compact construction allows you to get around, up, over and into those places your standard cordless drill just can’t reach.
Not the most powerful cordless drill on the market for those large scale commercial jobs.
At 3.6 pounds it’s sometimes tough to get enough oomph behind it.
3. WORX Switchdriver
The Worx Switchdriver Cordless Drill is the kind of cordless power tool that makes so much sense you wonder why you don’t have one already. How many man hours have been spent in the last 50 years stopping to replace this bit with that one and then stopping to switch them back again? The short answer is more than anyone can count. That incredibly inefficient practice has finally met its match with the Worx Switchdriver Cordless Drill and Driver.
- Weight2.9 LBS
Dual 1/4 inch chucks rotate 180 degrees with just the push of a button and flick of the wrist.
The driver drill aspect of the Switchdriver cordless drill means you can not only switch between bits you can switch between drilling screws and hammer drilling into solid concrete.
The 20V Lithium-ion battery can be shared between an array of Worx power tools.
If you need to switch to a third drill bit you still have to shut things down while you replace it.
Not the most comfortable cordless drill handle ever created.
4. DEWALT 20v Combo Kit
If there were ever a drill combo worth having, it’s this one from DeWalt. You have their 20V Lithium-ion powered cordless drill partnered with their state of the art impact driver that’s never seen a surface it couldn’t drive a screw into. Together they provide you not only flexibility but the ability to take on a range of projects both easy and arduous. The 3 light LED array delivers illumination where you need it and does so in a shadow free fashion so you get a clear look at what you’re doing. While the cordless drill/driver will allow you access to places most any other cordless drill just can’t.
- Weight9.8 lbs
Both of these units hold a charge as well as any other power drills on the market.
Both tools are compatible with all DeWalt’s 20V MAX battery system components.
1/2 inch single sleeve chuck provides one of the tightest grips you’ll find.
Chucks have been known to occasionally come loose.
These will inevitably get separated negating the snazzy combo bag.
5. WORX 20V
While you’re probably not going to use the Worx 20V cordless drill to build the Kingdom Tower, it’s nonetheless ideal for a load of projects around the shop and around the house. You’ll find it’s right at home on the construction site, as well delivering powerful, high torque force where and when you need it. The Lithium-ion battery supplies ample runtime for every application and the battery can theoretically hold a charge for up to 18 full months.
- Weight2.9 lbs
No nonsense performance in all but the coldest weather and toughest circumstances.
High performance emanates from the outstanding overall balance of this cordless drill which aids in the ability to project force more efficiently.
Full compatibility with other Worx power tools and a 3 year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
The Worx 20V cordless drill is not a drill meant to be pushed hard continuously.
One of the most expensive 20 volt driver drills on the market today.
6. Festool CXS Compact
Festool has upgraded their popular CSX cordless drill to hold a larger capacity battery, which is actually smaller than the previous version. The new battery is also compatible with older CSX models so if you have one sitting around the shop you now have a secondary power source for it. The redesign also incorporates a “fuel gauge” that allows the operator to do a quick check of battery levels so they know where they stand. The extreme light weight of the CSX cordless drill is a major plus that helps stave off forearm fatigue and the LED light makes sure you always have a clear view of what you’re working on.
- ModelCXS Li 2.6Ah
- Weight7.85 lbs
Set includes the CSX compact cordless drill, Fast Fix keyless chuck system, right angle chuck, centrotec chuck, battery charger and 2, 2.6 AH batteries.
Innovative battery forward design makes for effortless projection of force.
Like many companies, Festool is making their battery tech adaptable to a range of products.
Probably not for tough industrial projects where you’re going to work the tool to the bone.
Fairly expensive for a stand-alone compact cordless drill.
7. PORTER-CABLE 20V Max
The Porter Cable Max 2 20 Volt Combo Kit is one of the great deals in power tools. Both the cordless drill and impact driver are engineered to last and both will provide years of reliable service. While they’re not as compact as some of the competition, they’re nonetheless beautifully balanced so extending yourself to reach that obscure screw or drilling location is not a physical problem. The LED light system also means you’ll see everything in those dark, obscure corners.
- Weight5 lbs
From the grip to the center of gravity to the weight distribution a truly thoughtful set of tools.
Battery recharges exceptionally fast and the battery holds a charge as well as any other.
Interchangeability of batteries is becoming commonplace but it’s still a nice feature.
Not much by way of a storage box or even deluxe storage bag.
While both of the tools look tough as nails, they’re not. That’s not to say they’re fragile, but you don’t want to drop them from any more than a foot or so.
8. Festool T18+3
It’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of the best, if not the best, cordless power drill on the market today. It’s got everything you’d want in a cordless drill: power, durability, toughness, versatility, long battery life, excellent balance and a full 3 year warranty. Of course all of that excellence comes at a price so this is not only the one of the best cordless drills you can buy, it’s also one of the most expensive.
- Weight10.91 lbs
Incredibly efficient cordless drill means you’re not making repeated trips to the charger.
Tough as all get out. Of course you don’t want to be banging it around if you don’t have to.
The right angle chuck can come in handy when working in tight spaces.
There’s only one really and it’s the price. While there’s no denying the quality of the Festool 18+3 Li cordless drill, there’s also no denying you may have to give up your vacation to buy it.
9. Hitachi 18-Volt
This Hitachi DS18DGL compact cordless drill and drill driver kit is a best bang for your buck. The company’s thoughtfulness is on display everywhere you look from the snazzy handle to the quiet and tasteful charcoal accents throughout.
- Weight3.7 lbs
The LED lighting system on this cordless drill is better than most.
The 22+1 clutch provides 22 drive settings along with a single drill mode for precision driving.
The 2 year Lithium-ion battery warranty is unexpected but very welcome.
The 2 speed gearbox settings are underwhelming especially for experienced pros.
The green just has to go. Whatever they were thinking it has to go. In our opinion.
10. BLACK and DECKER 3.6-Volt 3 Position
The Li2000 3 Position Rechargeable Screwdriver from Black and Decker is the least expensive item on our list, but one that every do-it-yourselfer should have in their power tool collection. With many a cordless drill there’s simply no way to get the unit into the space and you have to wind up doing things by hand. The 3 position handle versatility of the Li2000, however, lets you get as horizontal as need be or as compact. It’s an ideal tool for woodworkers, framers or those who specialize in the installation of window treatments.
- Weight1 lb
Incredible versatility for such an inexpensive tool.
A truly high quality Lithium-ion battery that will hold a charge for a year and a half.
Reliable Black and Decker build quality throughout.
It would be nice if there were some way to store extra drill bits.
The ergonomics of the handle are nothing to write home about.
What’s The Difference Between A Drill And A Hammer Drill?
he basic cordless power drill has been around for decades and you’re likely to find at least one in just about every home where there’s an adult male. They’re shaped like a gun with a thick handle, a trigger and a motor mounted horizontally that turns the drill bit. There’s nothing complicated about them. They have large, rechargeable batteries (a new cordless drill will often have a 20v battery) and can weigh anywhere from a couple of pounds to 2 or 3 times that. The hammer drill by comparison looks like a regular cordless drill but has a feature that drives the drill bit forward something like a jackhammer. This is intended to help you get your hole drilled faster, especially in concrete or other masonry surfaces. If you’re a woodworker, chances are you’re not going to need a hammer drill.
What’s The Best Brand Of Cordless Drill?
Our entries are all produced by top notch companies: Makita, DeWalt and Worx. So if you’re wondering what some of the top brands might be that’s as good a sampling as any you’ll find. Other top brands include Festool, Porter Cable, Black and Decker, Panasonic and Bosch.
What Is The Best Cordless Drill?
As we state in our review above the Festool T18+3 Li is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best cordless power drill on the market. The T18, while an incredible piece of engineering can’t really be labeled “affordable” by any commonly accepted standard. But that does not in any way negate its overall excellence.
Does Any Drill Bit fit Any Cordless Drill?
The short answer is “yes”. All power drills have 3 jaw chucks that clamp down on whatever drill bit you place in them. Round shank bit and hex head bits are all treated the same. Where you may run into trouble with the universality of bits is in things like the cordless screwdriver and the impact driver. Neither is a standard cordless drill. Impact drivers for instance have hexagon-shaped chucks that can only hold hexagon-shaped bits.
Things To Consider When Buying A Cordless Drill
There is many a cordless drill out there that looks great but not that many that actually are great. As such you’ll want to keep some things in mind when shopping for a new cordless drill to make sure you get your money’s worth and not the power tool version of a lemon. Here are some of those considerations.
Weight – This is right up front because if your cordless drill weighs in at 4 or 5 pounds you’re going to spend as much time with it laying on the floor while you massage your forearms as you are working with it. Fortunately as the technology has progressed, the weight of these power tools has steadily decreased, a phenomenon that can largely be attributed to advances in battery development. You should be able to get an excellent cordless drill today that weighs 3 lbs or even a bit less.
Torque – The torque is essentially the measure of the drill’s power. The greater the torque, the greater the amount of force the drill can bring to bear on the task. If you regularly drill into tough materials like concrete or plan to do so with your new drill, you’ll want a drill with plenty of torque. Most every cordless drill on our list maxes out at about 400 in-lbs. and in most cases that will be fine. However, if you really need your drill to have maximum muscle behind it you may want as much as 600 or even 1000 in-lbs.
Versatility – In the days of old a drill was a drill and that was that. Today, however, a cordless drill is a blissfully versatile machine. Today they will do everything from drill that simple hole or drive that wood screw to producing horizontal or rotary ‘shocks’ or pulses that help propel screws and drill bits into the toughest materials. Some have right angle chucks that literally let you screw or drill around corners, while other have rotating heads that let you switch between bits at will.
2 Speeds – Most every cordless drill today comes with a variable speed transmission. Higher speeds are typically used to drill smaller holes while slower speeds are used to drill larger holes. Lower speeds of 350 to 400 rpm are also typically used to drive screws. In addition, speed can typically be controlled by the amount of pressure placed on the trigger with more pressure equaling faster rotation. The bottom line is that settling for a single speed motor today would be like settling for rabbit ears on your TV instead of satellite or cable.
Comfort – There are some cordless power drills that look great and are from reputable manufacturers but which have handles that seem left over from the ice age. If you’re going to use your cordless drill a lot it’s important that the handle be ergonomically designed to aid in the proper holding of the tool and also that it’s comfortable even when you’re using it for long day on the job.
The cordless drill of today is incredibly versatile, energy efficient, lightweight and built to withstand anything the jobsite can dish out. They’re a must-have item in your power tool arsenal and that goes for whether you’re a busy contractor or a weekend do-it-yourselfer.
We hope you found the above review guide useful in helping you reach an informed decision regarding your next cordless drill and be sure to check back on a regular basis for more product reviews and comparisons.