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