Best Cordless Drill Cordless Drill Reviews & Impact Drivers

Best Cordless Drill Reviews 2020


We tested more than 50 tools to find the best cordless drill among dozens of brands. After comparing scores of models and doing countless cordless drill reviews, we’re ready to release our Pro recommendations. Regardless of whether you want the most power, the fastest drilling, or the very best value, we can help you understand what is the best cordless drill for your needs.

Plus, after running various torque and speed tests, as well as real-world applications, we know the best cordless drill driver may not be the same for everyone. Because of this, we break it all down for you and recommend models that lead in performance, features, ergonomics, and value. After all, the best cordless power drill for an electrician may be different than the model we recommend for serious DIYer.

Best 18V Cordless Drill

After hours of extensive testing, we feel the best 20V cordless drill is the DeWalt DCD997 20V XR brushless hammer drill driver. Of course, it’s also the best 18V cordless drill. Since 18V is simply the nominal voltage for 20V Max, the reality is that comparing 20V Max vs 18V tools means nothing. The voltage is exactly the same—only the marketing differs. Same cells. Same voltage.

Interestingly, you can find the same thing with 24V Max tools and 21.6V (22V) tools. 21.6V simply represents the nominal voltage of 24V. The key difference, however, is that these tools use 6 cells in series as opposed to 5—you actually have the potential for more power delivery from those packs over comparable 18V/20V batteries. The above article explains it all in more detail.

OK, Back to the Best 20V Cordless Drill

With that said, in terms of sheer power, the DeWalt DCD997 delivered more torque than any tool except the four-speed Hilti drill. This 20V cordless drill also includes Tool Connect and the chuck spins at a very high speed—getting your work done quickly.

In fact, with three speed modes and Tool-Connect, this 20V cordless drill remains one of the more easily customizable tools we’ve encountered.

DeWalt also managed to make the lightest tool in our Heavy-Duty drill lineup and toed the line in nearly every category we tested. If you’re a Pro who wants the most possible power without a ridiculous amount of weight, this tool should satisfy your requirements.

best cordless 20V drill
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And if you absolutely want the one with the 18V sticker on it…you can go ahead and pick up the impressive Ridgid R8611506 18V Octane Brushless Hammer Drill. It delivers tons of torque while having a reasonable size and weight for a heavy-duty 18V cordless drill. Next, we love the features—from the hex grip handle to the LED light ring that surrounds the chuck. We even love that the light comes on right when you grasp the handle.

Finally, this affordable best 18V cordless drill presents an outstanding value at just $139 for the bare tool and $159 for the kit with battery and charger.

Best 18V Cordless Drill
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We also recommend

  • Hilti SF 10W-A22 Drill Driver with ATC
  • Ridgid R8611506 18V Octane Brushless Hammer Drill

Editor’s Note on the Best Cordless Impact Drill

By the way, if you’re looking for the best cordless impact drill, you may be either referring to a hammer drill or an impact driver. To help clear that up, see our hammer drill vs impact driver article. In either case, this article on the best cordless drills also includes the best cordless hammer drills which aid in penetrating concrete more quickly than traditional cordless drills.

Best Brushless Cordless Drill

Ten or so years ago, the best brushless cordless drill may have been a particular recommendation and a standout tool. Today, however, most cordless drills—even DIY models—come with brushless motors. While this certainly doesn’t cover all models, the truth is that most cordless drills use brushless motors.

Manufacturers use brushless motors in cordless drills for good reason. In general, they provide more power, runtime, and control. With a brushless motor, you get electronics that can “talk” to the battery pack to regulate speed under load. That means your drill can apply more power when it encounters a particularly tough material or job. Before brushless motors, your motor would simply lose speed when it hit a knot or ran into a particularly tough spot.

Brushless motors have revolutionized cordless drills, and they have fundamentally made them better and even allowed for advanced technologies like tool customization and electronic torque and breaking controls.

Best Cordless Hammer Drill

Check out our comprehensive head-to-head review for the best cordless hammer drill. After testing dozens of hammer drills we recommend several in various categories based on how you might use them. Our top cordless hammer drills for concrete and masonry applications exceeded 1,000 inch-pounds of torque in our testing. That’s a significant barrier for a hammer drill and not one that many tools can achieve.

As our second fastest hammer drill for concrete drilling, few models surpassed the Makita XPH07T in raw torque. That excellent combination, plus the ability for this hammer drill to keep up its speed under load made it our favorite cordless hammer drill for concrete. Even when the tool bore down on a large hole saw or 2-9/16” wood-boring bit, the motor and battery compensated by supplying additional power. It had the second-highest torque overall—but in the smallest overall footprint. Having a powerful tool that feels compact appeals to a lot of our Pro users.

Our best cordless hammer drill for concrete even rates well in value. That can often be very difficult for a flagship tool, but Makita somehow pulls it off.

Makita XPH07T Hammer Drillwith Hole Saw 2
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We also recommend

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

Best High Torque Cordless Drill

We can’t possibly address the best high torque cordless drill without mentioning the Hilti SF 10W-A22 Drill Driver with ATC. Unique among high torque drills, this tool features four speeds and 15 torque increments. Accessible at the top of the tool, the Hilti SF 10W-A22 lets you maximize your torque by choosing any of these modes when tackling work. It can perform at very low speed with high torque for mixing duties and all the way to high speed with low torque for drilling applications. This unique high-torque drill definitely earns its place in our list.

This muscular 4-speed cordless drill exerted the most torque in our internal testing. Because of the way Hilti sells direct to industrial professionals, and its lengthy warranty and service contract, this tool also deserves mention as the best commercial cordless drill.

best high torque cordless drill
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We also recommend

  • Metabo SB 18 LTX-3 BL Q I with optional torque multiplier

Best High-Speed Cordless Drill

Testing with a Bosch 1″ Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bit, the Metabo SB 18 LTX-3 BL Q I simply decimated the rest of the Heavy-Duty hammer drills in our testing. It put out an incredible 3039 RPM that topped the next highest contender (the DeWalt DCD997) by more than 1,000 RPM! It also outperformed the next highest tool (the Makita XPH07) by nearly 2 seconds when drilling 1/4-inch x 3-inch deep holes in concrete.

This high-speed cordless drill also uses an interchangeable chuck system and has a three-speed gearing system. Lastly, you can also get tons of torque off this beast by adding the optional 3x torque multiplier attachment.

If you want the fastest cordless drill money can buy—look no further than the Metabo SB 18 LTX-3 BL Q I. You may not be able to ever remember the model number, you’ll have a reliably fast tool.

best fastest high speed cordless drill
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We also recommend

  • Ridgid R8611506 18V Octane Brushless Hammer Drill Driver

Best Professional Cordless Drill

The Milwaukee 2806-20 18V hammer drill competed with 50 other drills and demonstrated one of the most robust feature sets as well as a truly compact design. With weight that won’t fatigue Pros who use their tools all day long, we choose the Milwaukee 2806-20 with One-Key as our best professional cordless drill.

While it misses the very top spot for torque, its compact design and excellent warranty resonated so well with our professional users, we find it easy to recommend as the best cordless drill for contractors. As an added value, you can grab this tool as part of the Milwaukee 2997-22 kit with their 18V impact driver and two 5.0Ah batteries.

Best Cordless Drill for professionals electricians plumbers
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We also recommend

  • Makita XFD07 18V LXT drill

Best Cordless Drill for Electricians

We also can’t forget to point out that Milwaukee One-Key gives this drill some capabilities that make it particularly suitable for construction and trade use. Tool tracking and inventory features make it great for any Pro. Customizable tool controls may land it as the best cordless drill for electricians because it lets you set presets for common usage. That means training apprentices in using proper torque and speed just got a lot easier. It could even end up saving you lots of money on accessories over the long haul.

Best Cordless Drill for Plumbers

While it may seem like we’re repeating ourselves, we also suggest the Milwaukee 2806-20 18V hammer drill as the best cordless drill for plumbers. The reason has to do with the excellent cordless Milwaukee Hole Hawg we see used on so many job sites. Pros have come to regard the Hole Hawg as the “tool to beat” when doing plumbing rough-ins. This hammer drill seems perfect for plumbers wanting a great combination of power, size, and weight.

Aside from that, however, we also like the ease with which local authorized Milwaukee dealers handle warranty claims. A 5-year warranty impresses in and of itself. However, Milwaukee has a high concentration of local dealers. They can service your tools or send them off for repairs when necessary. This makes for a great support experience. Not having to package and mail your tools for warranty support adds up in our book—particularly when you’re out there trying to make a living. The same could probably be said for automotive mechanics and MRO (maintenance repair operations) professionals.

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Best Cordless Drill for Home Use

We typically focus exclusively on the Pro. At night, however, professionals and contractors go home and work on their own projects. The best cordless drill for home use should fit their needs too. It better not make them wish they had brought their Pro tools in from the truck or shop. For us, the Metabo HPT DS18DBFL2 18V brushless drill driver fits the bill.

Metabo HPT scored a win in our Compact class with their DS18DBFL2. This largely had to do with impressive torque results. It put a huge gap between it and everyone else in the Compact class. Its balance of competitive speed in High and class-leading soft torque in Low expands what we now expect from compact drills.

In the midst of all that, it keeps its weight and size in check. It also doesn’t overlook any major features and has an attractive price. When we strip away the subjective and look solely at the objective data, the Metabo HPT DS18DBFL2 is the most complete cordless drill in its class.

This drill simply makes for a great value since you get so much for your hard-earned dollars.

best cordless drill for home use
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We also recommend

  • Kobalt KDD524B-03 24V brushless cordless drill
  • Bosch PS32 12V drill driver
  • Makita PH05 12V CXT Brushless Hammer Drill

Best Lightweight Cordless Drill

We evaluated the best lightweight cordless drill across various categories. We chose Pro models, Prosumer lightweight drills, and even models targeting the serious DIYer.

For another option, the Bosch PS32 12V Max EC brushless drill takes the 12V creed to heart—start with a lightweight, compact design and build from there. As our best lightweight cordless drill and the winner of our best 12V cordless drill head-to-head, the Bosch PS32 lands itself as both the lightest and the most compact cordless drill we tested. At 1.96 lbs, Bosch wins the weight war as the only tool/battery combo we tested under 2 pounds. Notably, the Bosch 12V FlexiClick model fell in second at just 2.24 pounds.

Even with its excellent weight, performance still remains on par with what we expect from a Pro-level 12V tool. You won’t find a much better blend of everything from power to lightweight design, making this our best small cordless drill.

Best Lightweight Cordless Drill
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We also recommend

  • Skil DL529001 12V brushless drill
  • Makita FD07
  • Hart Tools HPDD25 20V Drill Driver

Best Budget Cordless Drill for Pros

We chose the Kobalt KDD524B-03 24V brushless cordless drill as our best budget cordless drill for Pros. It topped our Medium-Duty torque charts—finishing second in speed and efficiency. It also scored solidly across all our tests and left serious gaps between itself and the next contenders.

The 24V Max (21.6V nominal) battery used on Kobalt Tools features a 6-cell system instead of the 5-cell designs of 18V/20V Max packs. Because of this, the tool actually has more available power to help it drill and drive. For Pros looking for the best cordless drill for the money, the KDD524B-03 may be impossible to beat.

Of course, the newer Kobalt XTR line of cordless drills promises more power. If you want benefit of those advanced batteries, you may consider paying a bit more for the newest technology.

Best Budget Cordless Drill for Pros
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We also recommend

  • Skil 20V Brushless Heavy Duty Hammer Drill (HD529502)
  • Milwaukee 2504-20 12V FUEL drill

Best Value Cordless Drill for Homeowners

The Skil DL529301 20V Max compact brushless drill driver (DL529302 kit) quickly found itself as our best value cordless drill for homeowners. This tool has everything you want and expect from a drill that targets DIYers. It features a compact and lightweight design and comes with enough high performance to get the job done. We voted it one of the best price cordless drills you can grab for the money.

We feel the best value cordless drill for the homeowner or DIYer needs an easy-to-swallow price and easy-to-use size. It also has to do this while excelling at the various jobs it performs. The compact Skil DL529301 embodies this beautifully and further nails it with a user-friendly design.

It does all that with a slight trade-off in performance. It handled all of the testing we put it through without any issues—it just did it a tad slower. If you’re looking for something that gets closer to Pro performance, look to the Heavy-Duty model. However, if you want the best cordless drill for the money, this tool should fit perfectly in your home.

Best Value Cordless Drill for Homeowners
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We also recommend

  • Hart Tools HPDD25 20V Drill Driver

How We Tested

Speed Testing Under Load

To see how fast each drill could work, we put them through a series of increasing loads. We measured the RPM at a specific point in each test to see how fast it could drill under each full load and see how much of its no-load speed it maintained.

The higher the RPMs a drill maintains, the faster the bit moves through the material. On the other hand, the closer a drill is to its no-load speed, the more efficiently it’s working and the lower the strain on the motor. A balance of both gives you optimal performance and motor life, and we use both to calculate our scores.

We use glued up multiple layers of OSB subfloor (oriented strand board) for testing. OSB provides greater consistency than 2X dimensional lumber. Each final rating is based on an average of at least 3 samples. Outliers are dismissed and replaced with additional samples.

For concrete testing, we used 4000 PSI concrete mix that has been fully cured for several months. Since drilling in concrete is a function of both RPM and hammering, we take the average time it takes to drill a 1/4″ concrete bit 3″ deep rather than just measuring RPMs.

Matching the Accessory to the Power Tool

Each class has a different amount of muscle. You shouldn’t expect a compact drill to do what a heavy-duty one can. Our 18V Heavy-Duty and Medium-Duty drills run a 1/2″ Milwaukee Shockwave Titanium twist bit, 1″ Bosch Daredevil high-speed auger bit, and a 2-9/16″ Milwaukee SwitchBlade self-feed bit.

With 18V Compact drills and DIY Prosumer drills, we drop to a 3/4″ Bosch Daredevil high-speed auger bit and a 1-1/2″ Milwaukee SwitchBlade self-feed bit.

All 12V drills test like the Compact drills above but without the self-feed bits.

Finally, DIY Homeowner drills tested with just a 1/2″ Milwaukee Shockwave Titanium twist bit to keep things simple.

For all hammer drills, we also added a timed test using a 1/4” Bosch Daredevil Multi-Purpose bit. That was the only test with the hammering mode engaged.

Measuring and Understanding Different Bits

One thing we realized quickly is that there is very little difference between the twist bit speeds and auger bits speeds for most of these classes—sometimes just a few RPM. For the 18V classes, we only used the auger bit speeds in our internal scoring.

Each bit is different, so the point that we take the measurement varies. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • Twist bits: RPM when the final 1/2″ of fluted bit enters the wood
  • Auger bits: RPM when the final 1/2″ of fluted bit enters the wood
  • Self-feed bits: RPM when the top of the cup is flush with the wood surface
  • Concrete bits: Total time it takes to drill 3″ deep in cured concrete

Special Thanks

Many thanks go out to Bosch and Milwaukee for providing the accessories used in this comprehensive review. There’s a reason we selected the accessories we did. We recommend you give them a shot on your next job.

Milwaukee Shockwave Titanium Twist Drill Bits

Milwaukee’s Shockwave Titanium drill bits last up to 3 times longer than comparable black oxide bits. Their 135º tips resist walking when you start to drill. The variable flute width ejects metal and wood shavings better. They even come with a 1/4″ hex shank so you can use them in your favorite Milwaukee drill or impact driver.

Bosch Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bits

Bosch Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bits are ridiculously efficient and drill super-fast. In fact, they’re specifically engineered to use in high-speed with your cordless drill. The magic is in the decreased pitch of the tips. They don’t bind up in the middle of drilling. Also, when you hit a nail, the reinforced tip lasts twice as long as other auger bits. The bottom line is that you get faster drilling and more holes per charge on your cordless drill.

Milwaukee SwitchBlade Self-Feed Bits

Milwaukee SwitchBlade Self-Feed Bits drill up to 10x faster than standard hole saws. The self-feeding tip means you just need to control the drill instead of worrying about how much force to put on it. Best of all, you can replace the cutting edges when they dull instead of replacing the entire bit. That helps reduce your cost over the long haul.

Bosch Daredevil MultiPurpose Drill Bits

Bosch Daredevil MultiPurpose Bits use a tungsten carbide tip. This lets them drill through anything—wood, metal, PVC, concrete, stone, masonry, and more! Many multi-use bits seem to compromise. These bits, however, feel incredibly fast while drilling—especially in concrete. With 9x longer life in multi-material uses over other bits, you’ll want to keep a set in your toolbox to cover anything the job throws at you.

Torque Testing

We test soft torque by chucking each drill up to a rig that uses the front spring from a Ford Ranger to provide resistance. We let it drive as far as it will go on one trigger pull. Once the drill stops, we attach a Gearwrench 85079 digital torque wrench. We then back the socket off by 90º.

Next, we measure how much torque it takes to get the socket back to the position the drill stopped. By attaching a magnetic torpedo level to the torque wrench, we ensure that we move the socket exactly 90º backward and forward.

We attempted multiple ways of testing hard torque. Because of the nature of how cordless drills operate we could not achieve consistent and repeatable results on the torque testing rig we use for impact driver testing.

Weight

Using a digital scale, we weigh each drill as a bare tool and with the most appropriate battery that comes available in a kit. Heavy-Duty and Medium-Duty 18V drills (including hammer drills) use an advanced high-capacity battery for their full weight. Compact 18V, 12V, and DIY are weighed with a compact battery.

Footprint

Using a digital caliper, we measure the head length and tool height without a battery installed.

Grip

The comfort of each drill’s grip is subjective based on size and does not affect the score. We hold and use the tool with a bare hand to see if there are any uncomfortable seams or other oddities that might affect every user regardless of preferences.

Feature Set

In general, here are the features we look for on each drill:

  • Brushless or brushed motor
  • Number of standard modes
  • Smart controls
  • Smart tracking/inventory
  • Clutch design
  • Drill/driver/hammer drill selection design
  • LED light design
  • Chuck size/type
  • Belt hook
  • Unique features

Value

Value is more than just the price of the tool. We consider the whole picture of what you get for the price you pay. That includes the performance, feature set, ergonomics, warranty, bare tool price, and kit price.

Why Cordless Drills?

Few power tools are as basic for both professionals and homeowners as cordless drills. At its core, these are hole-making tools. They help us hang pictures, run wiring and plumbing, create pilot holes, and a host of other projects that require a hole in wood, metal, or drywall.

But the best cordless drill does more than that now. Drill clutch settings give us control over screw driving while hammer modes let us drill smaller holes in concrete and masonry. In short, cordless drills let us drill and drive in most any material without the need for a cord.

Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews

Ever check out a “review” site and you can’t tell if they actually tested the tools or if they’re just “recommending” the Amazon top sellers? That’s not us. We won’t recommend anything unless we’d actually use it ourselves, and we don’t really care who the primary retailer is. It’s all about giving you a legitimate recommendation and our honest opinion of each product.

We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the construction and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.

Each year, we bring in and review more than 250 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.

Pro Tool Reviews consults with innovators in the technology and design of tools to gain a broader grasp of where these products fit and how they work.

We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites. We consult with them extensively on testing methods, categories, and practical applications.

Our site will provide more than 500 pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers. That includes objective evaluations of individual tools and products.

The end result is information you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a tool.

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Tom Hovsepian

Thank you very much for this useful review. I’ve been in construction for 30 yrs and know the truth of the adage, “a workman is only as good as his tools”. Too often fooled by price and ended up paying the price due to something not lasting.
You’ve helped me a lot. Thanks

Last edited 2 months ago by Tom Hovsepian
Jay

It seems like this test was designed with enough categories so every drill could “win”. I’d rather see categories broken down by cost of a bare tool ( we already have batteries & chargers) so you can have best drill under “$250.00”. Give us the breakdown on speed & torque and we can figure out what is best for our use/trade/whatever.

CARL R BROTHERS

Of note, the model numbers matter greatly. I know until recently I had only paid attention to the brand.

Brennen martin

I wish you guys would post the data you found, to see how close each drill performed next to the best that you chose. You guys have earned the right to make the “best” statement for sure, I would love the data.

Mick

This seems more of a ‘thread bump’ from the 2019 test than an actual 2020 test.
That being said, love the format of these tests, showing relative performance and value. Need to get the Kobalt XTR and the Dewalt 998 in there.