Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

Best Budget Cordless Drill Head to Head Review

Best Budget Cordless Drill

The Best Budget Cordless Drill For You Depends on Whether You’re Targeting Price, Performance, or a Balance of Both

We tested more than 50 cordless drills and we didn’t ignore the wallet-friendly brands. The best budget cordless drill is different depending on whether you’re doing occasional projects around the house or if you’re a value-minded Pro. Here are our picks for the cordless drills that won’t break the bank!

Best Budget Cordless Drill: 18V Drill Driver Class

Skil HD529301 20V Max Brushless Drill Driver

The essence of the best budget cordless drill for DIYers focuses on an easy-to-swallow price and easy-to-use size without losing the ability to do the job well. Skil’s compact DL529301 embodies that beautifully with a user-friendly design.

Best Budget Cordless Drill

It does all that with a trade-off in performance. It performs all of the tasks we asked of it without an issue, just slower. If you’re looking for something that gets closer to Pro performance, look to the bigger drills. When you’re targeting a do-anything drill driver that nearly anyone can comfortably use, this is a great one to have in your home.

Runner Up

Ryobi P252 18V One+ Brushless Drill Driver

Ryobi’s P252 brushless drill driver goes after the same general design characteristics but is narrowly behind Skil in every category except value. That makes it a worthy (and close) second choice. With two batteries and a brushless impact driver in the kit along with a deep line of compatible tools, Ryobi is an appealing option on multiple levels.

Best Budget Cordless Drill

Best Budget Cordless Drill: 18V Hammer Drill Class

Skil HD529501 20V Max Brushless Hammer Drill Driver

Skil’s 20V Max Brushless Hammer Drill Driver is easily the most powerful and fastest drilling in the Budget class. Its performance is much closer to the professional level than what we expect from DIY. It’s on the pricey side for the high-performing Prosumer end of DIY, but still less than what you pay for Craftsman and Masterforce.

Best Budget Cordless Drill

Runner Up

Craftsman CMCD721 20V Max Brushless Hammer Drill

The Craftsman 20V Max Brushless Hammer Drill doesn’t have the same kind of speed or torque that Skil does. But it has an advantage as the lightest model in the group and earning a higher value score than Skil.

Best Budget Cordless Drill

Best Budget Cordless Drill: 12V Class

Skil DL529001 12V Max Brushless Drill Driver

When Skil entered the 12V class, they were pretty much alone in creating a line that has more than just a couple of tools for DIYers. They don’t have any competition in this race and win by default, but it’s not a “here’s your trophy for being the only one” kind of scenario. This model places 4th overall against Pro brands and has the fastest drilling speeds against names like Makita, Milwaukee, and Bosch.

Best Budget Cordless Drill

Best Budget Cordless Drill for Homeowners

Black & Decker BCD702 20V Max Drill Driver

Black & Decker makes a great homeowner’s drill that’s less than $40 for the kit. It’s able to drill our Bosch Daredevil 3/4″ High-Speed Auger Bit at close to the same speed it does our Milwaukee 1/2″Shockwave Titanium Twist Bit. For drilling holes and driving screws around the house, it gets the job done for a much lower price than Craftsman, Ryobi, or Skil.

Best Budget Cordless Drill

Runner Up

Worx WX176L SwitchDriver 20V Drill Driver

The Worx Switchdriver is significantly faster drilling than Skil and has marginally more torque. Its unique 2 x 1/4″ hex collet lets you put your drill bit in one and driver bit in the other so you can make your hole and set your fastener without swapping out bits or needing a second tool. It’s that design that hampers it somewhat—you have to use 1/4″ hex bits since there’s no standard chuck.

Best Budget Cordless Drill

For the most part, that’s not an issue. Driver bits, twist bits, and even spade bits are available with a 1/4″ hex shank. It’s only round shank bits or 3/8″ hex shank bits (like our Bosch Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bits) that you can’t use. If you’re okay with that, this is a higher performing drill than Skil and the Switchdriver chuck is genuinely useful.

The Elephant in the Room

The Hercules HC92K1 20V Hammer Drill earned performance results high enough to win the Hammer Drill category and place second in the Drill Driver category. The problem is that we stripped the gears with our first model so easily that we can’t recommend it to anyone. If you decide to pull the trigger, go ahead and buy the extended warranty to cover yourself.

Why Budget Cordless Drills?

Budget is the key with these drills—Pros and DIYers look to this group for a cordless drill that’s more affordable on a tight budget. If you’re looking at this class, it’s probably not just the price. I’ll bet you’re still looking for the most bang for your buck and not just the cheapest you can get your hands on.

Secondarily, weight and footprint are significant. These drills spend time on household projects that men, women, and children all may be a part of. Making a design that’s easy to work with is another high priority.

Testing Results

Check out our Best Cordless Drill main page for details on our testing methods.

Heavy Load Testing

Our Prosumer drills get to show their muscle by drilling as fast as they can with a 1-1/2″ Milwaukee SwitchBlade Self-Feed Bit. Many of these are capable of drilling in high speed, but you want to use low for the best results and lowest risk of injury.

Best Budget Cordless Drill Self-Feed Bit Speed Drill Drivers 01

Skil’s HD529501 (466 RPM) leads overall with a short lead over 2nd. That spot goes to Craftsman (451 RPM), with an average just 15 RPM lower. Hercules and Masterforce slide into a tie for third place at 423 RPM.

Best Budget Cordless Drill Self-Feed Efficiency Drill Drivers 01

A drill’s ability to work efficiently and maintain its speed under load is a big deal. Ryobi’s P251 is the efficiency leader holding an impressive 97% of its no-load speed. Skil’s HD529501 sits well back in second with 85% and Craftsman settles in right at 80%.

Light Load Testing

Best Budget Cordless Drill Auger Bit Speed Drill Drivers 01

Bosch’s 3/4″ Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bit is our muse for testing a lighter load. Skil’s HD529501 (1541 RPM) has an advantage over Ryobi’s P251 (1499 RPM) and Hercules (1409 RPM) at the top. None of the others crack 1300 RPM, though Craftsman is close.

Best Budget Cordless Drill Auger Bit Efficiency Drill Drivers 01

The P251 from Ryobi leads in efficiency with 85% of its no-load speed. Skil’s hammer drill slips to second at 77% and Hercules is slightly ahead of Masterforce at 74%.

Skil’s 12V posts 1252 RPM to out-drill more than half of the 18V models and maintains 77% of its no-load speed.

On the homeowner side, Black & Decker holds 72% of its no-load speed while chugging along at 379 RPM. Worx isn’t able to compete in this test because of its chuck design.

Skil and Worx are better suited for light duty work and we sent them on a mission to test their speed and efficiency using a 1/2″ Milwaukee Shockwave Titanium Twist Bit.

Worx’ 2-speed motor helps it achieve a much higher average at 1260 RPM than Black & Decker’s 402 RPM. Worx holds an impressive 99% of its no-load speed as well while Black & Decker only maintains 76%.

Concrete Drilling

Best Budget Cordless Drill Concrete Drilling Hammer Drills 01

Bosch’s Daredevil MultiPurpose Bits are great for drilling concrete and make each of these budget cordless hammer drills that much easier to work with. Skil posts the fastest average time of 5.08 seconds with a pretty decent gap over Ryobi at 6.23 seconds. Masterforce averages 7.18 seconds to solidify itself in third.

Torque Results

Best Budget Cordless Drill Torque Drill Drivers 01

Skil’s HD529501 easily crushes the rest of the budget class in torque with 322.8 in-lbs in our soft torque test. The Ryobi P251 comes in a distant second with 230.4 in-lbs, nearly 30% lower. From there, the group drops even further to Masterforce with 195.6 in-lbs with the rest unable to muster even 50% of Skil’s muscle.

Be sure to see our main shootout page for our methods and to understand why these results are different from manufacturers’ specifications.

Feature Set

By definition, shopping for the best budget cordless drill means making trade-offs in features to get the lower cost you’re looking for. It’s no surprise that we don’t see things like smart customizable controls. But that doesn’t mean they’re all completely bare bones. Here are some of the features that stand out:

Brushless Motors – longer runtime, longer life

  • Craftsman CMCD721/CMCD720
  • Masterforce 241-0464/241-0480
  • Ryobi P251
  • Ryobi P252
  • Skil DL529001
  • Skil DL529301
  • Skil HD529501

Auxiliary Handle – less risk of injury in high-torque applications

  • Masterforce 241-0464/241-0480
  • Ryobi P251
  • Skil HD529501

SwitchDrive – Quickly switch between drilling and driving with one tool

  • Worx WX176L


Weight makes a big difference when you’re looking for a comfortable drill to pick up and use. It’s why so many Pros turn to their compact 18V or 12V drills when they don’t need a ton of power.

For the 18V Prosumers models, you won’t get any lighter than Skil’s compact DL529301. It weighs 2.3 pounds bare and 3.2 pounds with a battery. Craftsman is only a few ounces heavier at 3.5 pounds and Ryobi’s P252 weighs 3.6 pounds.

Black & Decker (2.6 pounds) and Worx (2.9 pounds) both keep the weight under the 3-pound mark. Skil’s 12V also keeps it lightweight at 2.9 pounds with a battery.


Best Budget Cordless Drill Footprint Drill Drivers 01

If you’re looking for the best budget cordless drill that stays out of the way and gets into tight spots, Skil’s compact 18V is your best bet on the Prosumer side. It’s just 7.4″ tall and 7.1″ in head length. Ryobi’s compact P252 (7.4″ height, 7.3″ length) is solid as well. The race for third place is tight and Masterforce’s 241-0480 (8″ height, 7.2″ length) emerges to take it, though its hammer drill model slips quite a bit thanks to adding nearly an inch for the hammer mechanism.

Skil’s 12V drill (7.7″ height/7.0″ length) keeps its footprint tighter than any others aside from Skil’s 20V Max compact.

Black & Decker (7.5″ height/7.5″ length) matches up with the better Prosumer models while the Worx (7.6″ height/8.4″ length) design is one of the longest in our testing.


The value a tool (or any product, really) has is a function of its ability to meet your needs, the price, and how much over the minimum you get for your money. In other words, it’s how much bang you get for your buck.

Best Budget Cordless Drill Value Drill Drivers 01

After tallying all the results and sending them through our algorithms, Ryobi sits in a familiar spot at the top with their P252, thanks in large part to the inclusion of a brushless impact driver in the kit.

Best Budget Cordless Drill Value Hammer Drills 01

Ryobi also leads in value for the hammer drills, where their P251 has a significant advantage over Craftsman and Skil.

Black & Decker’s $39.99 kit gives it the highest value overall considering what you’re able to accomplish at that price. Worx is no slouch, either, and their sub-$100 price is attractive for homeowners that want to do more.

Hercules performs well enough to rank very high in value, but its gear failure earns it a 50% penalty for poor build quality.


There are a couple of ways to look at warranties. A) You’re the kind of person that registers everything just in case and you like to know how long you’re covered. B) You see it as an indication of how confident the manufacturer is in their product.


Either way, longer is better and no one beats Metabo HPT with their lifetime warranty on lithium-ion tools. Skil offers an impressive 5 years on theirs. The only one we’re really concerned about is Hercules and its 90-day Harbor Freight warranty.

  • Metabo HPT: Lifetime
  • Skil: 5 years
  • Craftsman: 3 years
  • Masterforce: 3 years
  • Ryobi: 3 years
  • Worx: 3 years
  • Black & Decker: 2 years
  • Hercules: 90 days

Best Budget Cordless Drill Final Rankings

Best Budget Cordless Drill: 18V Drill Driver

  1. Skil HD529301
  2. Ryobi P252
  3. Masterforce 241-0480
  4. Ryobi P251
  5. Skil HD529501
  6. Craftsman CMCD720
  7. Metabo HPT DS18DGL
  8. Hercules HC92K1

Best Budget Cordless Drill: 18V Hammer Drill

  1. Skil HD529501
  2. Craftsman CMCD721
  3. Ryobi P251
  4. Hercules HC92K1
  5. Masterforce 241-0464

Best Budget Cordless Drill: Homeowner

  1. Black & Decker BCD702
  2. Worx WX176L

Best Budget Cordless Drill: 12V Drill Driver

  1. Skil DL529001

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Grant Ford

Would have been nice to see the price ranges for the above article


How do these compare to the $99 holiday buys on something like the Milwaukee brushless m18 or DeWalt holiday special?

I think a lot of people will cross shop the entry level pro brands.

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