Best 12V Cordless Drill Head to Head Review
Familiar Names Lead the Best 12V Cordless Drill Competition
We love the 12V class for its lighter weight and smaller footprint than 18V/20V max models. There’s always been a trade-off in speed and power. But while the 18V class continues to advance, so does 12V and some of the best 12V cordless drill models compete with compact 18V drills.
Best 12V Cordless Drill Overall
Bosch PS32 12V Max EC Brushless Drill Driver
Bosch’s PS32 takes the 12V creed to heart—start with a lightweight, compact design and build from there. As both the lightest and most compact, its performance is still on par with what we expect from a Pro model. You won’t find a much better blend of everything you hope to get from the best 12V cordless drill than the Bosch PS32!
Best 12V Cordless Drill Runner Up
- Ridgid R82005 12V Drill Driver
The Ridgid 12V drill driver continues to perform well despite its relative age compared to many of the others on our list. It doesn’t light the world on fire in any category except value, but its steady top half performance across nearly every other metric guide it to a steady second-place finish.
Best 12V Cordless Hammer Drill
Makita PH05 12V CXT Brushless Hammer Drill
If hammer drill capabilities are a must, look to Makita’s PH05. It has the highest drilling speeds in our testing, including in concrete. Blending in higher torque and lighter weight than its competitors, it finishes with a healthy gap over Milwaukee and Hilti.
Most Compact 12V Drill
Bosch PS32 12V Max EC Brushless Drill Driver
Bosch’s PS32 is the most compact 12V cordless drill, edging out Ridgid for the win. It truly makes for an incredibly easy drill to use.
Most Powerful 12V Cordless Drill Driver
Bosch GSR12V-140FC FlexiClick 12V Drill Driver
There isn’t nearly as much difference from the lowest torque to the highest in the 12V class as there is in the 18V. However, Bosch’s FlexiClick has enough to edge out Metabo and Skil in power.
Fastest Drilling 12V Cordless Drill
Skil DL529001 12V Max Brushless Drill Driver
Skil says they’re a DIY brand, but their performance continues to compete with and beat Pro brands. If speed is your goal, Skil’s 12V Max Brushless Drill Driver is the one to beat and Metabo is pretty much the only one in sight of it.
Best Value Cordless 12V Drill
Ridgid R82005 12V Drill Driver
Ridgid’s R82005 is no spring chicken, but it continues to offer the best value in the 12V class. Part of it is the performance. Part of it is the $84 kit price. They throw in their lifetime service agreement and include replacement batteries in the deal. If that’s not enough, you can jump up to the 2-tool combo kit and get the impact driver for $129.
Why 12V Cordless Drills?
The best 12V cordless drill models do a lot of work for both Pros and DIYers. They’re able to handle around 80% of the work that 18V/20V Max models can. Even compared to the compact 18V class, these are lighter with a smaller footprint.
They’re easier to use, but the trade-off is more than just speed and power. They also have fewer bells and whistles. That simplicity is a benefit to some users while others want more versatility to help generate great results.
Check out our Best Cordless Drill main page for testing details.
Heavy Load Testing
Heavy load testing is a bit misleading if you’re used to 18V power. With a smaller engine, we ask each model to drill a 3/4″ Bosch Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bit as fast as it can.
Skil (1252 RPM) and Metabo (1196 RPM) crush the competition with a gap of more than 200 RPM to Makita’s PH05 (963 RPM) in third place.
Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi) forms the base—not a surprise for a tool that’s been around as long as this model. Milwaukee (747 RPM) is uncharacteristically near the bottom but still driving plenty of RPMs to keep things moving along. Bosch’s FlexiClick does a little better at 769 RPM while their PS32 hits 799 to wrap up the sub-800 RPM group.
For efficiency, Skil is your best bet, holding onto 77% of its no-load speed. Metabo and Bosch’s PS32 tie for second at 66%. Milwaukee (48%) sits at the bottom with Metabo HPT (54%) and Hilti (58%) climbing up from there.
Light Load Testing
Milwaukee’s 1/2″ Shockwave Titanium Twist Bit provides the resistance for our light load testing. Skil (1420 RPM) and Metabo (1362 RPM) continue to dominate the speed testing. Ridgid finishes off the podium group at 1088 RPM.
Milwaukee still holds up the base at 781 RPM, supporting Metabo HPT (810 RPM) and Makita’s FD07 (888 RPM).
Skil maintains its efficiency lead at 87% of its no-load speed. Bosch’s P32 (81%) is in second with their FlexiClick, Ridgid, and Metabo tying for third at 76%.
Milwaukee’s efficiency rises from the previous test to 50%. Hilti (61%) and Makita’s FD07 (64%) run second and third.
Three of our 12V drills are hammer drills, so we let them go head to head with a 1/4″ Bosch MultiPurpose Bit.
Milwaukee easily wins the day by drilling 3″ deep holes just under 11 seconds. Makita (12.73 seconds) is nearly 2 seconds back and leaves a healthy gap to Hilti in third with 15.73.
We prefer 18V drill for light concrete drilling, but all three of these are very capable as long as you don’t mind taking your time.
Our torque results come from a soft torque test. Check out our shootout main page for the full testing details.
Most people don’t buy 12V tools for their torque. Even though some are better than others, this entire class is only separated by 17 in-lbs. Bosch’s FlexiClick leads the pack with 116 in-lbs of torque. Metabo settles into second with 108.8 in-lbs and Skil is right just behind it with 107.6 in-lbs.
The lowest torque goes to Hilti with a still-relevant 99.2 in-lbs. Milwaukee sits a little higher at 102 in-lbs before we hit a log jam around the 104 in-lbs mark.
Compared to 18V drills, even the best 12V cordless drill is fairly tame when it comes to features. Here are some of the things that stand out along with which models have them:
- Bosch PS32
- Metabo BS 12 BL Q
- Milwaukee 2503/2504
- Makita FD07
- Makita PH05
- Skil DL529001
- Milwaukee 2503/2504
Interchangeable Chuck System
- Bosch GSR12V-140C
- Metabo BS 12 BL Q
Bosch (1.96 lbs) wins the weight war as the only tool/battery combo under 2 pounds. Their FlexiClick model is in second at 2.24 pounds and the Makita FD07’s 2.33 pounds takes third.
Milwaukee (3.21 pounds, 3.23 for the hammer drill version) has the only models to break the 3-pound barrier with their 2504 hammer drill slightly heavier than their drill driver. Skil gets close with its 2.89-pound weight.
Most of these drill drivers keep their footprint tight, but none tighter than Bosch’s PS32 (6.2″ height, 6.4″ length). Ridgid isn’t far behind with a shorter height (5.9″) and longer head (6.9″). Bosch’s FlexiClick wraps up the super-compact side with a 6.2″ height and 7.0″ length.
Metabo HPT heads up the large side of the designs. Its 7.3″ height and 7.8″ length are visibly larger with Skil (7.7″ height, 7.1″ length) and Hilti (7″ height, 7.7″ length) not too far ahead.
After gathering all the other results plus the bare tool and kit prices together and tossing it into our algorithm, four models rise well above the rest in value. Ridgid leads with their R82005 posting solid performance and design with an $84 kit price. Skil is still in sight thanks to its combination of performance and $80 kit price. Metabo edges out Hilti in a tight race for third.
If you’re the type of guy or gal that doesn’t mind registering your tool, the warranty can add a lot of value to your purchase.
- Metabo HPT DS10DFL2: Lifetime warranty
- Ridgid R82005: Lifetime service agreement
- Hilti SF 2H-A: 20 years
- Milwaukee 2503/2504: 5 years
- Skil DL529001: 5 years
- Bosch PS32: 3 years
- Bosch GSR12V-140FC: 3 years
- Makita FD07: 3 years
- Makita PH05: 3 years
- Metabo BS 12 BL Q: 3 years
Here how the pricing works out. For tools that don’t have a kit available, we add the cost of a battery/charger starter kit.
Best 12V Cordless Drill Final Rankings
- Bosch PS32 – $139
- Ridgid R82005 – $43.99 (tool-only)
- Metabo BS 12 BL Q – $229
- Skil DL529001 – $48.02
- Bosch GSR12V-140FC – $157.28
- Makita FD07 – $157.99
- Makita PH05 – $95.41 (bare tool)
- Metabo HPT DS10DFL2 – $98.66
- Hilti SF 2H-A – $215.06 (kit)
- Milwaukee 2503-22/2504-22 – $169 / $179
Best 12V Cordless Hammer Drill Final Rankings
Best 12V Cordless Drill: 5 Takeaways
1. How Did Milwaukee End Up at the Bottom of the Rankings?
We’re not used to seeing Milwaukee that far down the rankings, but it’s a little deceiving. Despite the rank, both models are able to handle the work easily. What hurts it is that it’s still the heaviest in a group that prizes lightweight and compact designs.
If you’re an M12 fan, don’t lose any sleep over this one. It’s a fine tool that we don’t mind using at all.
2. Metabo has a 12V Line… and it’s Legit
Metabo was keen to get their first 12V tools in our hands for this shootout and we’re really glad they did. They sacrifice some weight and size to get better power and it works out beautifully if you’re looking for a 12V drill that emphasizes performance. They really nailed the handle design and weight balance. Overall, it’s a design that other brands can learn from.
3. None of These Are Bad Tools
This ties in with Takeaway #1 and it’s worth repeating. There’s less than a 15-point spread from worst to first and none of these drill fall to reach a scoreline that keeps us from recommending it. So if you’re already on a battery platform, stick with it. If you’re looking to buy into one, there’s not a bad tool in the bunch, though Metabo HPT’s line is due for an update.
4. Skil Keeps Racking Up Quality Results
Skil’s target user base is the newest generation of DIYers and you see nods to that with USB charging battery packs and chargers. But their performance keeps scoring higher than we expect from DIY and Prosumer brands. They give up some weight and footprint, but they’re consistently showing us their brushless lineup has the performance to meet Pro needs.
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.