A top rated cordless drill is essential regardless of whether you are learning how to maintain your home in a simple way or are expanding your arsenal of home tools for advanced touch. With a cordless model, you can quickly make holes or drive screws without looking for a nearby electrical outlet. The best cordless drill is perhaps the most versatile tool capable enough to do maximum diverse jobs, at home or in the shop. It not only can make holes into any kind of material without A/V connection indoors, but also can drill and screw quickly in the outdoors. We are featuring some cordless drill reviews towards the end to help you find the right one.

best cordless drill
via Mark Hunter

The good news is that several types of such drills are available for shopping. Well, the bad news is that it creates ambiguity when it comes to choosing the best one. However, you can prevent this ambiguity by considering the types of jobs you take up frequently and then find out the model that comes with the task-fulfilling features or capabilities. It truly becomes easier to get the best drill, when you comprehend and analyze the following buying factors that also include the possible features to consider. So, let’s check them out!

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How to Choose the Best Cordless Drill for You?

Factor 1: Types of Cordless Drills

Cordless drills are available come in a variety of styles, power capacities, and sizes. They are available either with a professional grade or homeowner grade. The modern models accelerate the process of fixing as well as removing fasteners without using a wrench or a screwdriver. They are efficient and durable enough to run longer than expected, prior to demanding for a re-charge. The credit certainly goes to the lithium-ion batteries! Given below are the five types of cordless drills, each of which is designed for a set of specific jobs.

  • Cordless Screwdrivers: These are ideal for a variety of lighter weight tasks of simple household projects, such as putting frames, putting furniture together, and taking off cabinet doors. They are small but powerful and comfortable enough to use and get the desired results quite faster, even through you may have other types of drills. These screwdrivers are not for installing lag screws or drilling holes.
  • Hammer Drills: These tools are ideal for driving fasteners as well as thrilling through masonry items by generating a forward force as well as rotation. They are bulkier than other varieties as well as demand more battery power than the conventional models. Nevertheless, the robustness and strength are commendable for those regularly working with metal, wood, and concrete.
  • Rotary Hammer Drills: These units are certainly more power generators for carving through masonry or concrete, with least problem. Consider such a model if you need more power as well as effectiveness than a hammer drill for removing material or drilling and chiseling regularly. The cordless versions are truly portable even though their weight can be more than 10 pounds. The drawback due to this weight is that it can become tiresome to use it constantly for a long time.
  • Drill Drivers: These are most popular amongst professionals and homeowners. They can drive any kind of fastener via any type of material; they are that versatile! Due to free chuck, you can swiftly change the bits. The standard drivers are bigger due to which they are not for small spaces. Cordless drivers facilitate high-speed rotary drilling for several home jobs, such as drilling in metal or interior walls and metal. However, they do not facilitate hammer drilling desired for heavy-duty jobs, although they are ideal for all household tasks.
  • Impact Drivers: These tools are for those who seek for higher torque than a standard driver. Torque is the force used for spinning the screw. They can quickly install and remove fasteners, bolts, and nuts. While ideal for rough carpentry and automotive tasks, these units are not for drilling holes. However, impact driver are more compact than drill drivers due to which they can show great performance even in tighter spaces. These units work with hex shaft bits, types of bits that are easily removable with just a pull, making themselves suitable for many jobs but with a chuck. A chuck determines of the bit held by the drill. Consider this unit if you are a professional performing heavy-duty jobs.

You are recommended selecting the drill type, according to the kind of jobs you undertake.

Small Cordless Drills

A small cordless drill is always an ideal choice for those who are going to use a drill infrequently and for light duty tasks. It usually comes with low power, ranging from 12 to 14 volts, but that power is adequate for light tasks such as hanging frames and driving screws. It appeals to all those professionals and homemakers who need to deal with such jobs. However, for bigger or heavy duty jobs, larger drills are recommended, which are more powerful as well as expensive.

Cheap Cordless Drills

Not all cheap cordless drills are worth buying. With a low price, you may also bring home an unreliable driller with low torque, although the power may be more. So, there is a difference between expensive and cheap drills, in terms of what you get. The cheap ones relatively take more time to charge as well as last for less time before the next recharge.

For example, 18v lithium-ion batteries recharge in a few minutes and last for hours, but nickel–metal hydride (NiMH) batteries consume three hours to get fully charged, while it lasts for just a few minutes. At the same time, NiMH batteries cannot power 240v appliances that are somewhat similar in terms of size.

Second difference is in terms of the drive line. Cheap drills are lighter due to gears and parts made up of plastic. Obviously, these are not powerful enough to last long. On the other hand, quality models in the medium-range of price and above feature drive lines made up of steel. These are heavy and last long.

So, buying a cheap quality product is different from buying a product at cheap price. The word ‘cheap’ should actually apply to only ‘price’ and not quality. As per the kind of projects, getting a small or cheap model is fine, but do not compromise with quality, although durability and battery charging efficiency may not be under your control.

Should You Buy More than One Cordless Drill?

It is common for several homemakers and professionals to buy multiple cordless drills, such a screwdriver, impact driver, and a drill, for dealing with different drilling jobs. However, this does not mean that all professionals or homeowners should do the same.

What is important is that you decide for both the type and number of drills in a way such that they are sufficient to do all desired jobs with more speed and less difficulty. While there are models that have one or more styles, it is ideal to have two to three different types to remain prepared for every kind of task.

Factor 2: Popular Brands

Believe it or not, brands tend to affect your choice. It is obvious that you will prefer a model of that brand, which is popular, esteemed, and known for maximum positive reviews from customers. Given below are some popular brands to consider fro cordless drills.

  • Black & Decker and Craftsman: These are major brands whose cordless drills are marketed with multiple sizes, voltages, and features. Of the two, the Craftsman models are sold with both Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) and Li-ion batteries.
  • Bosch, DeWalt, Makita, and Hitachi: The cordless drills of these brands are costlier but are for serious homemakers and professionals who need to use them too frequently. These drills are for the contractors and are found in several voltages, weights, and sizes. The DeWalt drills come with several lines such as compact and heavy-duty ones.
  • Skil: The drills of this brand are purely for the consumer market. They are also found in a variety of voltages, weights, and sizes.
  • Ryobi: The drills of this brand, available only via Home Depot, are also for the consumer market. However, they are made by the one that also makes the models of Craftsman and Milwaukee brands. Available with both NiCd and Li-ion batteries, Ryobi drills are unique because of the One+ rechargeable battery usable with several other products. Skil and Ryobi drills are chiefly for home owners.

Factor 3: Bit Speed

The speed of bit is measured in terms of Rotations Per Minute (RPM). The least expensive drills, also known as single speed models, usually operate at 300 RPMs to screw things around the house. You can even find models with 1200 to 1500 RPMs, which are obviously more expensive ones designed to drill into highly dense item such as metal, hardwood, or masonry. As a generic rule, the more the speed, the higher is the cost.

However, for metal, it is best to work with a lower speed, somewhere around 700 RPMs. Any higher speed specification can end up burning the bit or overheating the metal, in case of metal drilling. The best bet is to get a drill with variable speed so that a trigger can make you switch easily from one speed level to another.

For repair tasks and more refined carpentry jobs, the best cordless drill is the one with a trigger and a single two-speed switch for variable speed control. In case you are more into drilling than driving, several cordless drill reviews suggest choosing a speed of 1,000 RPMs or more.

Factor 4: Power

Power is gauged in terms of battery voltage. Any model with a high voltage indicates more strength of the torque for spinning the screw, while conquering resistance in tough jobs. Since the past decade, the upscale voltage has increased to 18 from 9.6 but you can easily find models having a power of 24, 18, 14.4, 12, 9.6, 7.2, 6, 4, and 2 volts. The higher-voltage models can drill big holes even in flooring or in framing wood. The more the voltage, the more is the strength, power, as well as weight.

Yes! You also gain more weight of the unit in your hands. A usual 9.6V unit is likely to have a weight of 3.5 lbs., while an 18V one is almost around 10 lbs.

A 14v drill is just fine for household jobs and light projects. However, if you need much torque strength for handling tough materials, an 18v drill is what you need. 12 and 18v models are the most popular choices for light-duty tasks at home. They are fast and prevent any handling difficulty.

Factor 5: Chuck Size

Chuck helps in holding the spinning bit in place. It is essentially important to look for an ideal chuck size, as it determines the size of the bit that the tool can utilize. The most common sizes are 1/2″ and 3/8″. The half-inch chuck size is ideal for performing more of heavy-duty work easily. Even the bigger drills come with this chuck size.

Factor 6: Clutch

Nestled behind the chuck is an adjustable clutch, which distinguishes the models from the cordless ones. It separates the drive shaft with a click sound, once the determined resistance level is detected. The outcome is that the screwdriver bit has stopped running, while the motor has not.

A clutch enables you to control the tool properly, so that you do not strip off a screw or over drill. It also safeguards the motor in case there is much resistance in tightening a bolt or driving a screw. Most modern models come with separate clutch settings, the number of which differs as per the make and type. For example, drills may have 24 such clutch settings, which are sufficient for fine tuning the power.

Consider a lower number of settings for small screws, as higher ones are for bigger screws. Maximum clutches also come with a drill setting option for driving the bit at optimal power. For the basic household jobs, a variable clutch setting is not required.

Factor 7: Drill Bit Types

Bits are interchangeable amongst a majority of drills. You only need to loosen the chuck for replacing the bit and then tighten it for use. You also need to select the right bit as per the drilling material, as there are exclusive bits for cutting large holes.

  • High-speed steel:  For both professional and self drilling of plastic, wood, and metal
  • Titanium-coated: For drilling abrasive items, as the coating augments the surface hardness for a longer lifespan
  • TCT Masonry: For prolonged drilling into hard items such as stone, concrete, brick, and masonry; Feature a tungsten-carbide tip of high quality and are meant for the use with only a hammer action
  • Lip and Spur: For drilling clean and precise hole into wood as well as for dowelling, due to a high point in the center for precise positioning
  • Flat: For cost-effective drilling of big holes into wood at high speed by scraping the wood, making a less clean hole than an auger; for hanging/storage, and for pulling cords via holes
  • Augers: For quicker and cleaner drilling, especially between joists and at low speed with a machine-pitched screw point, a wide edge retaining the direction while at an angle, and open spirals for quick shaving removal
  • Glass and Tile: For drilling ceramics, mirrors, and glass through hard tungsten-carbide tip and at low speed as well as light pressure
  • Boring/Spade/Paddle: For drilling cylindrical cuts into wood or tearing the wood (splinter), provided you use a dust mask and safety goggles to get rid of those several flying little shavings
  • Step: For electricians, car body drilling, and easy hole cutting of varying sizes with one bit

If you have a reduced size shank, you can use larger drill bits than the optimal chuck size. For example, if the chuck size is of 10mm, you can use a drill bit of over 10mm but the shank should be leveled at 10mm.

Factor 8: Batteries

All cordless appliances work on batteries. Regardless of how better or expensive a cordless drill is, an inferior battery can make it look futile. Performance improves as well as the unit lasts longer with a better battery. The longevity of battery longevity is also affected by the temperature, material being drilled, and continuous or intermittent use.

More expensive drills come with battery power indicators showing the left battery life. This helps you to avoid draining the battery completely, in the middle of an ongoing task. You can easily plan for longer projects and have all the essentials for fully charging the battery or keep a backup ready.

Battery Type

When it comes to a top rated cordless drill, professional models tend to have NiCd batteries performing well when you need to work hard frequently. Well, these batteries are more toxic and consequently less eco friendly than the lithium-ion batteries, which are in par at rendering a power of high range over the shelf life. Although a few NiCd drills are also preferred even today, Li-ion based units are most popular.

NiCd batteries are less expensive and last longer. They can recharge themselves almost over 1000 times, making themselves popular. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries are costlier but are lighter and feature twice the energy density than NiCd batteries. They do not last as long as the NiCd counterparts, but are free from all toxic chemicals present in the NiCd batteries.

It is a practice to buy a second pack of batteries so there is no need to face any downtime while the drained battery is being recharged. It is cheaper to buy a two-battery kit than investing in an extra battery later on.

You may find another type of battery called Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) batteries. They are advanced types running longer despite being smaller in size than NiCd batteries. They are also less toxic when it comes to disposal, as they do not have cadmium. Brands such as DeWalt, Hitachi, Bosch, and Makita provide NiMH batteries.

Depending on a battery charger, the recharge duration can range from 20 minutes to 3 hours. However, less time does not mean better. As a contractor, you may desire a fast recharges but homeowner shall not mind having a slow recharge at home, particularly with two batteries in hand. Moreover, fast charging can later bring up issues such as battery damage due to excessive heat. In case you desire a quick recharge, consider getting a drill from Hitachi, Makita, or Panasonic, as they offer smart chargers featuring temperature sensors and quick recharging capability in just nine minutes.

Nevertheless, the best cordless drills rely upon Li-ion batteries available in small 1.5 Ah (rechargeable in less than 30 minutes) or big 3.0 Ah sizes (rechargeable within an hour). Well, the size only influences the runtime and weight, not power. These batteries also hold their charge better than the other two types. They are expensive to replace, but are affordable in the long run.

Factor 9: Other Important Features

The available features in different cordless drills vary as per the style and type of drill. Apart from the above primary features, you need to consider some more features to choose the right drill at the right price. Considering these features is likely to make your selection process easier.

  • Weight and Balance: It is true that modern cordless drills are lighter due to which you can even choose a unit below six pounds. However, it is not only the weight but also tool’s balance that you should consider for comfort. It is suggested to test the balance by taking it in your hand. Similarly, you can also get a feel of the handle’s grip in your dominant hand by uplifting it toward the wall just like you would do for driving a screw. The chuck needs to be straight towards the wall without tilting much.
  • Ergonomic Grip: This is essential for comfort, particularly while working with the drill for hours. Most modern drills come with this feature for a better user experience. A considerable number of models come with rubberized grips for additional comfort. Look for a lighter and gripped model if you have elbow, wrist, and shoulder problems. Do take the promising model in your hand and check the grip comfort. Hold the drill vertical and horizontal positions and know how the grips feel.
  • Handle: You will mostly find a T-handle in cordless models, which ensures better balance, especially in case of bulkier models. The handle base is such that it averts hand slippage. Further, such drills can often work in tighter spaces, as the hand is away in the drill’s center. However, for heavy-duty work and large screw drilling, a pistol grip seen in traditional models can be the choice, as it allows applying pressure higher up for putting more force.
  • Forward/Reverse Switch: Having such a switch allows changing the direction in a single press. This is useful for screwing and unscrewing fasteners, and while doing other tasks quickly.
  • Brushless Motor: Most impact drivers and upscale drills feature brushless motors.  It is a brushless motor that makes a cordless drill more expensive, but the drill performs more quietly, generates less heat, and demands no replacements. Such models are also powerful. There is no risk of wearing down with time or motor replacement, as there are no brushes present. While drill motors come with carbon brushes for generating electric current, brushless motors have no brushes due to which you are ensured of less rotational friction, more power and runtime per battery, as well as drill’s longevity.
  • Onboard Work Light: This is truly handy if you are working in a small room with poor lighting.

 5 Best Cordless Drills of 2016 Reviewed

DEWALT DC970K-2

DEWALT DC970K-2 Compact DrillDriver Kit

This Amazon best seller packs 18 volts of drill power in its small size and in small spaces. It is ideal for fastening and drilling plastic, wood, and metal, wood, and plastic, which a professional contractor or a do-it-yourself experienced person does often. It minimizes fatigue while giving high performance through its motor’s dual-speed capability (450/1,500 RPMs). The drill is also light weight with 5.2-pounds. Its plastic 1/2-inch single-sleeve keyless chuck ensures a tighter grip for the bit, for better precision and accuracy. The drill comes with two NiCad batteries, a one-hour charger, and a bag for easy carry.

Whackbat: “Best cordless I have ever owned. Battery life for the work I do with it is long lasting. Turbo charge for the battery is solid as well. This does everything from putting together furniture to drilling holes in Hardie Backer.”

>>Click Here to See Reviews and Pricing on Amazon.com

Makita XPH012 LXT

Makita XPH012 LXT Lithium-Ion 12-Inch Hammer Driver-Drill Kit

Weighing only four pounds, this one is a lightweight but powerful driving and drilling unit delivering 480lbs of torque strength. It is versatile, as it can perform a variety of drilling functions with its variable 2-speed functionality (400/1,500 RPMs). This drill can also act as a hammer drill for hard applications. Other features include ergonomic design and built-in LED lights. It is ideal for both home and power users. The most distinct aspect of this drill is its Star Protection communication technology that prevents overheating, over-discharging, and overloading.

Marcus: “Love this drill it’s super helpful and much much better than my old orange and black drill won’t say the brand but I think you got it, I don’t use it super often, but I do use it at least once every 2 weeks and it’s stays charged pretty much all the time I think I’ve charged it 3 times max. Definitely recommend!!”

>>Click Here to See Reviews and Pricing on Amazon.com

Black & Decker LDX120C

Black & Decker LDX120C MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless DrillDriver

With just 3.5 pounds, this one is lighter but is more powerful with 20v lithium ion battery, 1 clutch settings, 3/8-inch clutch size, 115 inches-per-pound torque strength, and speed of 650 RPMs. The 11-position clutch ensures precise drilling control for plastic, metal, and wood, and all jobs of screwdriving. Further, an anti-slip soft grip ensures maximum comfort, while a LED work light ensures better and widened visibility by illuminating the surface in dark places. The unit also comes with variable speed functionality that does not damage the material. Consider this unit if you are looking for a less fatigue design and versatile functionality in confined spaces for light to medium usage in home or garage.

R.Singh: “Great all-around drill for your house nothing professional, but can take care of everything I can throw at.”

>>Click Here to See Reviews and Pricing on Amazon.com

Bosch DDS181-02

Bosch DDS181-02 Lithium-Ion 12-Inch Compact Tough DrillDriver Kit

This one is an upscale model with great value for both professionals and DIY fans. Weighing around 6 pounds, this is a lightweight and compact model with The Bosch DDS181-02 is compact and lightweight with an 18-volt battery for heavy household projects that can continue for hours. You will not experience fatigue even after making heavier drills. This unit uniquely comes with a Dura shield for defense against wear and tear and 35% more runtime. Other features include steel-reinforced collar to overcome extreme temperatures and rain, gear train and clutch, ergonomic grip zone, and modified orientation for increased comfort.

Firpo: “Great compact, light weight powerful drill. Works as described. I bought the drill because the serviceman who installed my over the oven microwave used a Bosch. And installs 10 to 20 microwaves a day.”

>>Click Here to See Reviews and Pricing on Amazon.com

Hitachi DS18DGL

Hitachi DS18DGL Lithium-Ion Cordless DrillDriver

Weighing just 3.7 pounds, this one is another cordless drill with two efficient batteries. With 400 in/lbs of torque, the unit can take up any tough job easily in compact spaces. It comes with a convenient LED light, keyless 1/2″ chuck for simple bit management, ergonomic grip, 22+1 stage clutch and  22 torque settings for highest control and precision, a drill mode, Lifetime warranty for lithium ion technology, and two-speed gear for speed. Consider this model for work around the jobsite.

Yogi: “What can you say, it’s a Hitachi. Well balanced and much lighter than my last Harbor Freight POS. Haven’t had any projects yet, but it has been used several times and I am still on the first batteries initial charge.”

>>Click Here to See Reviews and Pricing on Amazon.com

Conclusion

So, did you find the best cordless drill? Well, whether yes or no, it is recommended reading some cordless drill reviews before buying one. Why not navigate our site further for the same?

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