Best 18V Cordless Drill Head to Head Review

Finding the Best 18V Cordless Drill for You Means Knowing All Your Options

Looking for the best 18V cordless drill? You’re in the right place! Unlike other voltages, 18V drills have a wide range of sizes and power levels. It’s that kind of versatility that lets Pros carry two or more drills from the same manufacturer for different jobs. We’ll start by pulling back the curtain on each of our winners and then look at the 3 distinct groups in the 18V cordless drill class.

Best 18V Cordless Drill: Heavy-Duty Class

DeWalt DCD997 20V Max XR Brushless Hammer Drill Driver with Tool Connect

When it comes to pure power, DeWalt’s DCD997 gave us one of the highest torque measurements we’ve yet tested. In fact, it’s only topped by Hilti. DeWalt then backs it up with lots of speed and great features like Tool Connect. It also weighs less than most other heavy-duty drills and holds its own in every other category we evaluated.


Best 18V Heavy-Duty Cordless Drill Runner Up

Ridgid R8611506 18V Octane Brushless Hammer Drill Driver

Best hammer drill

Ridgid’s Octane hammer drill is the slowest drill in this class but makes up for it with excellent torque. It has a solid feature set and sets the standard for value, making it an excellent choice if getting the most bang for your buck is high on your priority list.

Also Highly Rated

Makita XFD07 18V Brushless Drill Driver


Best 18V Cordless Drill: Medium-Duty Class

Kobalt KDD524B-03 24V Brushless Drill Driver

Topping the torque charts and finishing in second in speed and efficiency, the Kobalt 24V Brushless Drill Driver rose up to seize the Medium-Duty crown. It scored very well across the board and even put a 6-point gap on second place.

Best 18v cordless drill

Best 18V Medium-Duty Cordless Drill Runner Up

Bosch GSR18V-755CN 18V Brushless Drill Driver

Best Cordless Drill
GSB18V-755CN Hammer Drill pictured

The Bosch GSR18V-755CN has a better fit and finish than Kobalt along with a deeper 18V platform centered on the Core18V battery. Solid performance, the lightest weight in the class, and a feature set that includes a Bosch Connected-ready design highlight a tool that any Pro can look forward to using.

Also Highly Rated

Milwaukee 2806 Gen 3 M18 Fuel Drill Driver with One-Key

Skil HD529501 20V Max Brushless Hammer Drill Driver


Best 18V Cordless Drill: Compact Class

Metabo HPT DS18DBFL2 18V Brushless Drill Driver

The Metabo HPT DS18DBFL2 scored a win in the Compact class thanks to torque. The results put a wide gap between it and every other Compact drill driver. It also holds its own in speed and efficiency and earns a solid value score as well.

Best 18V Compact Cordless Drill Runner Up

DeWalt DCD797 20V Max XR Brushless Compact Hammer Drill Driver with Tool Connect

Best Cordless Drill

No one else in the Compact class can touch DeWalt’s speed. Backing that up with a second-place torque finish and Tool Connect app control, the DCD797 has a comfortable lead over the third-place finisher.

Choosing the Best 18V Cordless Drill For Your Needs

Heavy-Duty Class

The best heavy-duty 18V cordless drill class contains models that have at least 900 in-lbs of torque on their spec sheet. These drills are capable of using the largest accessories and usually come with an auxiliary handle that you really should use.

If 1st gear has a low enough speed (or you can program it), you can get away with using the drill for mixing. But check with the manufacturer first—you can burn up the motor on some of these tools!

Size, weight, and value are not as high of a priority as performance compared to other classes.

Medium-Duty Class

Today’s medium-duty class is yesterday’s heavy-duty group. These range from 650 in-lbs of torque to 899 in-lbs. This is the most powerful group that some manufacturers enter. Realistically, there’s not a ton of need to go with a more powerful drill than this unless you frequently drill large holes or prefer to have power in reserve.

Best Cordless Drill

Size and weight are a bit smaller in this class and this garners a slightly higher priority.

Compact Class

The best compact 18V drills run up to 649 in-lbs of torque. This class is defined by a much smaller footprint and weight than the other two classes. Even so, these tools can still produce 90% or more of the work of full-size drills.

Best 18v cordless drill

In this class, size and weight are critically important—as is the performance of the drill. Pros like to work with these drills as their first option because they cause less fatigue even though they’re often slower when using identical bits.

A 4th Class?

Makita has what they call their Sub-Compact class. These 18V cordless tools have a similar footprint and power level to 12V. DeWalt recently joined them with their Atomic series. Their goal is to give you the benefits of smaller tools without making you shift to a different battery.

Best 18v cordless drill

But Sometimes Specs Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Once we started getting results from our torque results, we saw a need for some category movement—both up and down. It’s not all torque, though. Before we shifted one way or the other, we looked at the speed to see how the manufacturer prioritizes it compared to torque. We also looked at the size and weight to get a holistic picture of the tool.

As we brought those four areas into focus, we made a determination as a team whether to move some tools. For the Best Cordless Hammer Drill classes, each move was a unanimous choice. Here are the tools that shifted categories:

  • Milwaukee 2706 – moved down to Medium-Duty
  • DeWalt DCD997 – moved up to Heavy-Duty
  • Festool PDC18/4 – moved up to Medium-Duty
  • Ridgid R86116 – moved down to Compact

Testing Results

Check out our Best Cordless Drill main page to see the details on how we tested these drills.

Heavy Load Testing

Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy Duty Self Feed Speed copy

Hilti (708 RPM) was the only drill in the group able to drive a 2-9/16″ Milwaukee Switchblade Self-Feed Bit in any gear other than low. That propelled it to an easy win for the Heavy-Duty class, stacking almost 200 RPM over the second-place Metabo HPT MultiVolt at 509 RPM. Makita sat in a respectable third place with 474 RPM.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy Duty Self Feed Efficiency copy

How close a drill can work to its no-load speed gives you an idea of how hard it’s working. The higher the percentage, the less strain the motor is under. Efficiency was a much different story than the speed with Metabo’s BS 18 LTX-3 BL Q I holding onto 99% of its no-load speed. Metabo HPT’s MultiVolt followed right behind it at 98% and DeWalt hit 95%.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium Duty Self Feed Speed copy

Things were a bit closer in the Medium-Duty class where Skil’s 20V HD529501 pushed 472 RPM. Kobalt was close behind with 459 RPM and Milwaukee followed on its heels at 446 RPM.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium Duty Self Feed Efficiency copy

By far, Ryobi proved the most efficient in this group. It maintained 97% of its no-load speed. Hilti’s SF 6H-A22 dropped to 87% while Kobalt and Skil tied at 86%.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Compact Self Feed Speed copy

The Compact class dropped to a 1-1/2″ Milwaukee Switchblade Self-Feed Bit. The DeWalt DCD797 put a huge gap on the field with a 550 RPM average. Craftsman followed up with a 451 RPM effort and the Hilti SFC 22-A scored a distant third at 426 RPM.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Compact Self Feed Efficiency copy

DeWalt also led in the efficiency department at 97%. The Metabo HPT DS18DBFL2 put in a solid 92% efficiency rating followed by Craftsman and Masterforce tying in third at 80%.

Light Load Testing

Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy Duty Auger Bit Speed copy

Metabo laughed all the way to the Heavy-Duty finish line by driving a 1″ Bosch Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bit more than 1000 RPM faster than anyone else in the field. Its 3039 RPM effort dwarfed DeWalt (1906 RPM) in second place. That put a big gap on third-place Hilti (1657 RPM).

Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy Duty Auger Bit Efficiency copy

DeWalt easily led in efficiency at 95%. The Metabo HPT MultiVolt drill driver took second at 86% and their 18V model topped out the third spot at 84%.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium Duty Auger Bit Speed copy

DIY brand Skil led the Medium-Duty class with a 1438 RPM average in a tight race over Ryobi (1424 RPM) and Festool (1404 RPM).

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium Duty Auger Bit Efficiency copy

This group isn’t as efficient as the Heavy-Duty class with Ryobi mustering the win with 81% of its no-load speed. Hilti’s SF 6H-A22 places second at 77% with Kobalt and Skil tying up third place with 74%.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Compact Auger Bit Speed copy

For the Compact class, we used a 3/4″ Bosch Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bit where DeWalt continued its speed dominance with a 1948 RPM average. Hercules managed to pull off second place at 1409 RPM and the Makita XFD12 took third with a 1347 RPM average.

DeWalt (98%) sat atop the efficiency rankings again while their Atomic series DCD708 (81%) made its first appearance on the podium in second. Metabo HPT wrapped up the top 3 with 80% efficiency.

Torque Results

Our torque results come from a soft torque test, so they don’t match up with manufacturer’s listed specification unless they list a soft torque. Check out our shootout main page for the details.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy Duty Torque copy

Hilti showed why they’re a favorite on industrial sites with a bone-crushing 677.2 in-lbs effort to lead the Heavy-Duty class. DeWalt wrapped up second place with 618.8 in-lbs and the Ridgid 18V Octane finished in third by a fraction with its 615.6 in-lbs average.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium Duty Torque copy

Two models rose above the rest in the Medium-Duty class. Kobalt 24V (562.8 in-lbs) and Bosch 18V (523.2 in-lbs) both exceeded what some of the Heavy-Duty drill drivers were capable of. Festool sat way back in third with a 392.4 in-lb average.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Compact Torque copy

Similarly, Metabo HPT (312 in-lbs) put a big gap on second place DeWalt (220.8 in-lbs). The Ridgid R86116 (190.4 in-lbs) sat third alongside the DeWalt Atomic drill with 189.2 in-lbs.

Feature Set

Some features matter more than others. Here’s what stands out from the norm for our Best 18V Cordless Drill contestants:

Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy-Duty Class

DeWalt DCD997

  • Tool Connect custom controls, diagnostics, and tracking
  • Bind-up control
  • 3 gear settings

Best Cordless Drill

Hilti SF 10W-A22

  • Active Torque Control (ATC)
  • 4 gear settings

Metabo BS 18 LTX-3 BL Q I

  • Interchangeable chuck system
  • Available 3x torque multiplier attachment
  • 3 gear settings

Metabo HPT DV36DA

  • Available AC adapter
  • Batteries are backward compatible to Metabo HPT/Hitachi 18V tools

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium-Duty Class

Best hammer drill

Bosch GSR18V-755CN

  • Optional module gives you custom controls, diagnostics, and tracking
  • Kickback control

Festool PDC18/4

  • Interchangeable chuck system dialed in for woodworkers
  • 4 gear settings

Milwaukee 2706

  • One-Key custom controls, diagnostics, and tracking

Best 18V Cordless Drill Compact Class

Best 18v cordless drill

Bosch GSR18V-535CN

  • Optional module gives you custom controls, diagnostics, and tracking
  • Kickback control

DeWalt DCD797

  • Tool Connect customizable controls, diagnostics, and tracking

Metabo BS 18 LT BL

  • Interchangeable chuck system


Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy Duty Weight copy

Despite a ton of muscle, none of our Heavy-Duty cordless drills broke the 6-pound mark, even with a battery. DeWalt was the lightest at 4.88 pounds, the Metabo HPT 18V took second at 5.14 pounds, and the Makita XFD07 wrapped up these relative lightweights at 5.30 pounds.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium Duty Weight copy

Bosch (4.74 pounds) led the Medium-Duty class, sitting pretty close to DeWalt in the Heavy-Duty class. The difference was that only one of these 18V cordless drills broke 5 pounds. The Hilti SF 6H-A22 just edged out Bosch at 4.75 pounds with Kobalt not far behind at 4.83 pounds.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Compact Weight copy

The Compact class brought the weight down even further. In fact, a couple of models weighed under 4-pounds. The Makita Sub-Compact XFD11 weighed a minuscule  2.89 pounds—including the battery. The Skil DL529301 (3.01 pounds) barely cracked the 3-pound barrier, and the DeWalt DCD708 topped out at just 3.15 pounds.


Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy Duty Footprint copy

While none of our Heavy-Duty 18V cordless drills truly qualify as “compact,” some carry better than others. Metabo sat lowest in the class (7.75″) with a mid-range head length (8.4″). Makita flipped the dimensions with an 8.6″ height and 7.8″ length. Both Metabo HPT models had the same footprint (8.3″ height, 8.1″ length) to tie for third smallest.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium Duty Footprint copy

The dimensions begin to drop for the Medium-Duty class. The Milwaukee 2706 (8.1″ height, 7.2″ length) looks small enough to fit in the compact class. Skil (8.1″ height, 7.5″ length) is no slouch, either. Kobalt takes third with its 8.3″ height and 7.5″ length.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Compact Footprint copy

The sub-compact drills led the Compact class in this area with the Makita XFD11 (7.8″ height, 6.4″ length) edging out the DeWalt DCD708 (7.9″ height, 7.2″ length). Meanwhile, the Milwaukee 2801 M18 Compact Brushless Drill Driver (not a Fuel model) sat right behind them with a footprint of 7.8″ x 6.6″.


Value represents more than just the price of the tool. Take the performance, weight, footprint, and feature set, toss it in a blender with the price (and a little secret algorithm sauce) and you get our value score.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy Duty Value copy

Ridgid dominated the Heavy-Duty class in value thanks to its $159 price and solid performance. Metabo HPT made a nice run for second place by balancing solid scores across the board with reasonable pricing. Both models also got a boost from their lifetime service agreement/warranty plans. Makita wrapped up the 3rd position with only Ridgid offering a better value when you look at kit pricing.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium Duty Value copy

The Kobalt 24V drill gave us the best bang for the buck in the Medium-Duty class. Kit prices drop below bare tool prices when they’re on sale. Ryobi made its presence known in value with its P251 that cost just $129 for the kit. Skil barely edged out Hilti for third.

Best 18V Cordless Drill Compact Value copy

The Compact class was much tighter at the top with Metabo HPT  barely edging out Skil. Ryobi isn’t far behind thanks to its brushless impact driver kit bonus.


Several manufacturers have killer warranty programs—just remember some require you to register your tools for the full benefit!

Best 18V Cordless Drill Heavy-Duty Class

  • Metabo HPT DV36DA: Lifetime warranty
  • Metabo HPT DS18DBL2: Lifetime warranty
  • Ridgid R8611506: Lifetime service agreement
  • Hilti SF 10W-A22: 20 years
  • DeWalt DCD997: 3 years
  • Makita XFD07: 3 years
  • Metabo BS 18 LTX-3 BL Q I: 3 years

Best 18V Cordless Drill Medium-Duty Class

  • Hilti SF 6H-A22: 20 years
  • Kobalt KDD524B-03: 5 years
  • Milwaukee 2706: 5 years
  • Skil HD529501: 5 years
  • Bosch GSR18V-755CN: 3 years
  • Festool PDC18/4: 3 years
  • RYOBI P251: 3 years

Best 18V Cordless Drill Compact Class

  • Metabo HPT DS18DBFL2: Lifetime warranty
  • Ridgid R86116: Lifetime service agreement
  • Hilti SFC 22-A: 20 years
  • Milwaukee 2801: 5 years
  • Skil DL529301: 5 years
  • Bosch GSR18V-535CN: 3 years
  • Craftsman CMCD720: 3 years
  • DeWalt DCD708: 3 years
  • DeWalt DCD797: 3 years
  • Makita XFD11: 3 years
  • Makita XFD12: 3 years
  • Masterforce 241-0464: 3 years
  • Metabo BS 18 LT BL: 3 years
  • Ryobi P252: 3 years
  • Hercules HC92K1: 90 days

Best 18V Cordless Drill Final Rankings

Heavy-Duty Class

  1. DeWalt DCD997 $369.00
  2. Ridgid R8611506 $159
  3. Makita XFD07 $229.95
  4. Hilti SF 10W-A22 $449.00
  5. Metabo HPT DS18DBL2 $115.10
  6. Metabo BS 18 LTX-3 BL Q I $399.00
  7. Metabo HPT DV36DA $399

Medium-Duty Class

  1. Kobalt KDD524B-03 $179.95
  2. Bosch GSR18V-755CN $169.00
  3. Milwaukee 2806 $444.37
  4. Skil HD529501 $129.99
  5. Hilti SF 6H-A22 $153.03
  6. Festool PDC18/4 $350.00
  7. Ryobi P251 $78.97

Compact Class

  1. Metabo HPT DS18DBFL2 $124.07
  2. DeWalt DCD797 $228.48
  3. DeWalt DCD708 $134.95
  4. Skil DL529301 $149.99
  5. Makita XFD11 $109.00
  6. Metabo BS 18 LT BL TBA
  7. Milwaukee 2801 $207.14
  8. Ridgid R86116 $149.57
  9. Bosch GSR18V-535CN $129.00
  10. Craftsman CMCD720 $59.00
  11. Ryobi P252 $59.00
  12. Masterforce 241-0464 $159.31
  13. Makita XFD12 $154.49
  14. Hercules HC92K1 TBA
  15. Hilti SFC 22-A $150

Best 18V Cordless Drill: 5 Takeaways

1. You Can’t Make a Bad Choice in the Heavy-Duty Class

The final scores in the Heavy-Duty class only range 11 points from top to bottom. The only thing you have to decide is if you want to prioritize speed, torque, features, size/weight, value, or a balance of all of them. From where we’re sitting, there’s not a single bad choice in that group.

2. Metabo HPT Notches Its First Win

Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi) hasn’t done well in our shootouts historically. For us, it’s worth celebrating their performance in the Compact class with a solid win, including dominating the torque test.

3. Check Out DeWalt’s Newest Drills

Winning the Heavy-Duty class and taking second in the Compact class shows just how well-designed DeWalt’s newest generation of drills is. They don’t really lose focus in any category, and it’s that balance of performance and design that sets them apart from their competition.

4. Great Accessories Make a Huge Difference

When we designed our tests, we looked at the maximum capacity for each drill class. Then we reached out to bring in the following:

What we found in testing is that these accessories are so efficient that we could have easily used larger sizes. Buying quality accessories like these makes the job go faster and lets your hammer drill work more efficiently, giving you longer battery runtime and tool life.

5. The Final Call is Still Up to You

We weight our results based on what our Pros agree is most important. If money is the biggest priority for you, your final rankings will look different than ours. We love diverse opinions, so tell us what you think is most important and which model you think is the best 18V impact driver.

Just remember that there are real people who do the work and who are contributing through their comments. I hate having to delete comments and ban people for acting like middle schoolers, so keep it on topic and clean.

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