Updated on May 18, 2023
Choosing a quality cordless drill is not as cut-and-dry as simply selecting the model with the biggest battery. Drills of different voltages may prove more useful in certain situations, and brushless motors tend to run longer than their counterparts on the same battery.
The best cordless drill for one person may feature quick-charge ability while torque and battery life are higher priorities for another. Despite the superior power of an impact driver, cordless drill drivers are better-suited for those who don’t want to carry around multiple power tools.
The DeWalt vs Milwaukee battle is probably strongest with cordless drills but other brands are definitely starting to catch up.
The following drills have earned their place in any garage or contractor’s toolkit and we believe are the best bang for the buck. Since it’s unfair to compare 18-volt and 20-volt with smaller 12-volt models, we’ve split them in two different groups.
Related: 41 Kinds of Drill Bits (w/ Pictures)
Our 9 Favorite Cordless Drill Kits
|Product||Voltage||Max Torque||Max Speed||Brushless?|
18V & 20V Cordless Drills
|DeWalt DCD791D2||20V||620 in/lbs*||2,000 RPM||Yes|
|Milwaukee M18 2801-22CT||18V||500 in/lbs||1,800 RPM||Yes|
|Makita XFD131||18V||440 in/lbs||1,900 RPM||Yes|
|Ryobi ONE+ HP PSBDD01K||18V||400 in/lbs||1,700 RPM||Yes|
|Ridgid R8701K||18V||425 in/lbs||1,750 RPM||Yes|
12V Cordless Drills
|Bosch PS31-2A||12V||265 in/lbs||1,300 RPM||No|
|Milwaukee M12 2407-22||12V||275 in/lbs||1,500 RPM||No|
|DeWalt DCD701F2||12V||509 in/lbs*||1,500 RPM||Yes|
|Makita FD09R1||12V||250 in/lbs||1,700 RPM||No|
18/20V Cordless Drill Reviews
#1 – DeWalt DCD791D2 20V MAX
This popular brushless drill is designed to be both lightweight and more maneuverable than many other drills out there and it packs a punch.
While DeWalt no longer provides torque numbers using inch-pound numbers, we found the manufacturer does list the Newton-meters value on its European websites. After converting the number, we end up with approximately 620 in/lbs of maximum (hard) torque, making it one of the most powerful cordless drills out there.
The 2-speed transmission is capable of either 0-555 or 0-2,000 RPM for faster application speeds while the XR Lithium ion battery provides 33% more capacity than the competition.
An ergonomic grip and 3 mode LED add to the functionality, and the LED’s spotlight mode has a 20-minute shutoff for longer work time in darker spaces. Finally, the metal 1/2-inch ratcheting chuck provides superior grip so your bits won’t become loose during extended use.
There’s a lot to love with this little drill, but most of the hype focuses around the power, batteries, and LED light. Unlike a lot of LEDs out there, the light on this drill is incredibly bright. Likewise, the new XR batteries last far longer than regular ones and buyers love the fact that this drill comes with not one, but two of them.
The chuck of this drill has been known to give some customers problems. The brake feature often jars the chuck when stopping from a high speed, causing the bit to loosen. Additionally, some buyers have received refurbished or repackaged products when purchasing from lesser known sellers.
>> Check current price <<
#2 – Milwaukee M18 2801-22CT 18V
This compact, lightweight drill/driver has an impressive 500 in-lbs of torque and is a proud member of the top-selling M18 family. The brushless motor runs at either 500 or 1800 RPM, giving it a high degree of versatility.
Two M18 RedLithium CP2.0 batteries are included, as well as a carrying case and M18/M12 multi-voltage charger so you can get started right away. Armed with a 1/2-inch metal chuck and REDLINK technology to protect against overloads or excessive temperatures, this kit is an excellent choice for both amateurs and professionals.
This is a pretty easy drill to work with and the grip is ergonomic and comfortable. Both the drill and charging station have rubber pads to keep them from sliding on surfaces. Also, the power tends to be consistent throughout your project.
See Also: 30 Different Types of Drills and Their Uses
The only real issue with this drill affects lefties. The placement of the reverse switch makes it difficult for left-handed individuals to properly grip the tool. Also, and small number of consumers have complained that the batteries have arrived defective, which will be a problem while you get the issue resolved if you don’t have other M18 tools.
>> Check current price <<
#3 – Makita XFD131 18V LXT
This cordless, brushless drill driver has a mechanical transmission that runs at either 500 or 1,900 RPM. The BL brushless motor provides 440 inch pounds of max torque and is electronically controlled to help optimize battery life.
A rubberized soft grip provides ergonomic handling while a built-in dual LED light helps illuminate the work area. The kit includes an 18V LXT Li-ion 3.0Ah battery, charger, and tool bag.
Perhaps the biggest draw of this tool is in its batteries, which have a long life and are compatible with other Makita products. The drill is also quite powerful and responsive for its size. Consumers also love the battery indicator, which allows you to tell the charge status at a glance.
The vast majority of issues with this drill are from customers receiving a refurbished or repackaged product. As a result, parts are often missing or broken, and the box is often damaged or poorly padded. Purchase from a reputable retailer to minimize the odds of this happening.
>> Check current price <<
#4 – Ryobi ONE+ HP PSBDD01K 18V
With a brushless motor that provides up to 400 inch pounds of torque, this new addition to the ONE+ family comes with (2) 1.5 Ah Lithium ion batteries, charger, and carrying bag. Ryobi power tools continue to get better and are one of the best values around.
Two speeds are available at 450 and 1,700 RPM, while the 24-position, single sleeve ratcheting clutch ensures superior control.
An onboard LED fuel gauge ensures you always know how much power’s left while the LED worklight makes it easier to put that power to use in darkened areas. Best of all, it’s backed by Ryobi’s 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.
The chuck tends to be the biggest troublemaker for customers. It has fine plastic knurling that tends to easily cut bare skin, and it sometimes have trouble holding onto the bit, especially if switching to reverse. However, it provides an audible click so you always know when the bit’s properly engaged.
The rubber grip, ability to put the drill into safety mode using the reverse switch, and surprisingly reliable power of this tool more than make up for the chuck design issues.
>> Check current price <<
#5 – Ridgid R8701K 18V
This 18V SubCompact drill/driver has a single sleeve ratcheting chuck that holds 1/2-inch bits securely. The brushless 2-speed motor provides 425 inch pounds of max torque at either 450 or 1,750 RPM.
As with other drills on this list, the RB701 has an LED worklight and 24-position clutch ring so you have superior control over your projects. A reversible belt hook and bit holder mean left-handers aren’t left out.
The kit comes with (2) 2.0 Ah Li- ion batteries, a double-ended bit, 18V charger, and carrying bag. Best of all, when you register the drill within 90 days of purchase, you get RIGID’s free lifetime parts and service warranty.
Related: Ridgid vs Ryobi Power Tools
This tiny drill-driver is small, lightweight, and easy to use. It’s also surprisingly durable and quiet. The battery charger is designed to flash so you get a better indication of when the battery is charged, which can be helpful for red/green colorblind individuals.
The chuck is once again the weakest spot on this drill, and has been known to lock up on rare occasions. The trigger lock can get bumped if you’re holding the drill too tight. Also, keep in mind that the drill has less power than many other RIGID products but still has a lot for its small size.
>> Check current price <<
12V Cordless Drill Reviews
#1 – Bosch PS31-2A 12V
While DeWalt and Milwaukee are considered to be the two best options in 18-volt drills, this small Bosch is considered by many to be the best 12-volt cordless drill out there.
This kit has everything you need with 2 Lithium-ion batteries, 12V charger, and screwdriver bits in a soft carrying case. It has an impressive 265 inch pounds of max torque and 20+1 torque settings for improved control on jobs. A brushless version offers the same torque but with longer runtime and even better durability.
Two speed settings of 350 and 1,300 RPM give it even more versatility, while the 3/8″ single-sleeve 3 jaw chuck helps ensure your bits won’t slip in the middle of a task. An integrated LED light, soft grip, fuel gauge, and Bosch’s Electronic Cell Protection (EPC) technology ensure you can work longer and with confidence.
Best of all, the drill is covered by Bosch’s ProVantage warranty, which will replace the tool for the first year and repair it for the second and third year – all at no charge. The batteries include a two-year warranty.
The PS31-2A has a lot of great features that you might not even notice at first. For example, the LED is designed to come on before the chuck so you can adjust your positioning. The bag, which is normally a throwaway part of drill kits, actually has straps to help secure the tool and its accessories. Also, the compact design helps ensure longer battery life and superior maneuverability in tight spaces.
Some users mention they have some difficulty removing the battery, which is designed to be removed while the drill is held upside down. While this feature is there to ensure the battery doesn’t come loose during operation, it may also be a headache for some.
>> Check current price <<
#2 – Milwaukee M12 2407-22 12V
Boasting an all-metal single-sleeve ratcheting chuck and up to 275 in/lbs of max torque, this compact drill/driver can run at either 400 or 1,500 RPM.
Its onboard LED light and fuel gauge ensure fewer interruptions while working, while the RedLithium battery allows you to do more for longer periods before needing a recharge. An ergonomic handle reduces stress from long sessions.
The kit comes with two M12 RedLithium CP1.5 Ah battery packs, an M12 Li-ion charger and carrying case, plus a 5 year warranty on the tool and 2 year warranty for the batteries.
When used for light duty or home use (as intended), this drill has a good battery life and plenty of power. However, more heavy duty applications may drain the batteries faster and the drill might not have enough power for the task.
Most complaints are either from consumers attempting to use the tool for heavy jobs or who have received refurbished products from third party sellers that are damaged or missing parts.
>> Check current price <<
#3 – DeWalt XTREME DCD701F2 12V MAX
This compact cordless 3/8-inch drill driver has a two-speed transmission capable of 425 or 1,500 RPM and 15 settings for the ratcheting chuck. An LED light helps illuminate the workspace. The kit includes two 2.0 Ah Li-ion batteries with a charge indicator, 12V and 20V MAX charger, belt clip, and tool bag.
As with other MAX products, this drill benefits from a longer battery life despite being lighter and easier to use than a lot of the competition. When used around the house or for light duty, it has plenty of power.
Note that the batteries can require a little extra push to get them to lock in place on the charger, causing many users to have problems charging batteries that haven’t been seated properly. A few have also complained about the chuck loosening up.
>> Check current price <<
#4 – Makita FD09R1 12V Max CXT
With a max torque of 250 inch pounds and two-speeds of 450 and 1,700 RPM, this little 3/8-inch driver drill is perfect for home use. The ergonomic handle features a rubberized soft grip for improved comfort and has a 12V max CXT slide battery design which allows the tool to stand on its own.
The batteries have an on-board LED charge indicator and the drill is compatible with CXT Li-Ion 4.0 Ah batteries. A battery protection circuit helps protect against overloads. The kit includes a 12V max CXR Li-ion 2.0 Ah battery, 12V max CXT charger, and a carrying case.
Despite the light weight, this drill has a good amount of power and a long battery life. It has a sturdy design that will continue to provide reliable service for years to come. Just be warned that this kit is especially notorious for being refurbished and/or repackaged by third party sellers, so you should inspect it upon arrival and try to only buy from well known merchants.
>> Check current price <<
Finding the Best Cordless Drill
There are a lot of drills out there, and a good number of the ones on this list are actually drill/drivers (meaning they double as an electric screwdriver). So how do you know which one to get?
While there’s no drill that’s perfect for everyone, we can help you narrow down the choices to find one that best suits your own individual needs.
Cordless vs Corded
It doesn’t seem like that long ago when cordless drills were so inefficient they weren’t worth owning. But this has really changed over the years.
These days, cordless drills can keep going for a couple hours, recharge in the same amount of time (or less), and most manufacturers have their own battery systems which means you can swap the batteries out with other tools you own by that company.
Granted, corded drills will still provide longer usage time, but they also require a cord that can get in the way while you’re working and cause a potential trip hazard. While corded tools remain a good option for some tasks that require constant usage, cordless models have become the go-to for home use and most commercial tasks.
Home Use vs Professional Use
This brings up the question of WHERE you plan to use the drill most. Home use tends to be more occasional and needs less torque or running time than commercial use.
For example, a drill with 250 inches per pound of maximum torque can easily cut through drywall, as well as most types of wood and even aluminum with little effort. But it will be useless against quality steel and may have problems with the hardest (and rarest) types of wood.
For contractor use, you’ll want a drill with at least 400 inch pounds of max torque and a higher RPM simply because the drill will have to work harder to get through the tougher materials. A high battery capacity is also important, or you’ll be spending more time changing batteries than actually drilling.
See also: Best Hammer Drills for Concrete and Masonry
12V vs 18V/20V
Speaking of batteries, you’ll find that all of the drills on this list can be broken down into 12V and 18V/20V.
It’s important to know that there’s literally zero difference between an 18V and 20V battery, and companies often boast about having a 20V battery to get you to buy what is essentially an 18V with a fancy name. So when looking at a drill, don’t base your decision on whether it’s 18V or 20V.
Meanwhile, 12V batteries are better suited for light duty and are ideal for most homes where the drill won’t be used every day. They can power smaller, lighter drills designed to be used with wood and softer metals such as aluminum. They can also get into tighter spots and be more comfortable to use due to their lower weight.
However, they may not be powerful enough for heavier duty use or in home workshops where they’re being used for long periods every day.
As a general rule: Use a 12V drill for basic home tasks but an 18V drill for medium to heavy duty and commercial use.
Brushed vs Brushless
Let’s be perfectly honest here: brushed drills are slowly on their way out. While they can still be quite reliable, brushless drills usually tend to have a little more power, are more efficient (batter lasts longer), wont overheat as easily, and will likely have a longer lifespan.
Drills using brushless motors are preferred when it comes to cordless drills but expect to pay a bit more.
Related: Is a Brushless Drill Worth the Extra Money?
Max torque is an important factor in buying a drill. For softer woods or drywall, you’ll need less torque to get the job done. However, heavier duty jobs will require more torque.
While a relatively rare feature, some drills now allow you to adjust the torque setting so you don’t waste power on easier jobs. Think about the types of materials you’ll mainly be working with and choose a max torque that best suits those jobs.
The best drills have more than one speed setting. This is because a high RPM on something soft like drywall can do more damage than good, while a low RPM will likely be useless when dealing with something hard, such as metal.
When using drills around the house, you won’t need a very high RPM and 1,300 to 1,700 will almost always be enough, whereas faster drills will be needed for heavy duty commercial use where harder materials are being used regularly.
Think about how much you’ll be using your drill and who will be using it most often. Compact drills are a lot smaller, so they’re great for getting into tight spaces but aren’t always as powerful as a full-sized model.
Likewise a lot of the drills on this list weigh four pounds or less with the battery in. This can be great for people with smaller hands and less upper body strength but may not be as stable when used for heavy applications.
As a result, you’ll usually want a heavier drill for heavy duty use but need to temper that weight based on how long you’ll be using it in one go.
For example, if you’re doing a lot of work with metal, you may prefer to use a heavier drill, but when working with wood and in smaller spaces, a compact, lightweight drill works best.
As technology evolves, expect cordless drills to continue getting lighter, smaller, and more powerful.
It seems like every company now has its own “superior battery”. But it can be a little difficult to compare a Milwaukee RedLithium to a DeWalt MAX when it comes to power. This is because their efficiency is based on standard Li-ion batteries. Instead, look for the Ah rating.
Standing for Amps/hour, this rating tells you how long a battery will last UNDER IDEAL CONDITIONS. For example, a 2.0 Ah battery can last for up to an hour if you’re drawing two aps per hour. However, the game changes a little if you’re drawing a different amount of Amps from a 5.0 Ah lithium-ion battery.
This is because Li-ion doesn’t fall under Peukert’s law (don’t worry, we’ll try to avoid getting too technical here). Simply put, a 5.0 Ah battery will last 1 hour at 5 amps, 30 minutes at 10 amps, 20 for 15 amps, etc. while a 5.0 Ah lead-acid battery will last one hour at 5 amps but only around 13 minutes at 10 amps.
That said, a 2.0 Ah Li-ion battery is perfectly suited for most household drills, while a 5.0 Ah is better suited for heavier use. But this rating is strictly about capacity and won’t tell you how long a charge will last under various conditions without a bit of calculating on your part.
A Simple Summary
When buying a drill for home use, the 12V Bosch is a perfect example of what to look for. You’ll need a lower max torque, lower RPMs (but should still aim for at least two speed settings), a compact size and lighter weight, and can get away with a smaller battery capacity, such as 2.0 Ah.
When buying for commercial or daily use, it’s almost essential to go with an 18V/20V model. These have a much higher max torque, faster speeds (again, you’ll want at least two settings), and higher capacity batteries such as a 4.0 Ah or 5.0 Ah.
Compact drills will work better in tight spaces, but you may need a heavier weight if trying to work with steel or other hard materials. You may also need to go corded in situations where the drill will be used almost nonstop but are better off with a cordless if you will be working with multiple tools, especially ones that share the same battery system.
3 thoughts on “9 Best Cordless Drills (That Are Better Than Ever)”
I have the Dewalt and I also have the Ryobi and prefer the Ryobi over the Dewalt! The Ryobi battery charge lasts longer and the batteries are cheaper!
Interesting. I’ve never been a big fan of Ryobi drills for the exact reason… the poor run time I got from their batteries. I’ve also had a battery completely fail within 3 months and had to exchange it. To me they’re fine for occasional use but wouldn’t want to do a big project with. I’m a big fan of Ryobi nail guns though. Go figure.
I prefer Ridgid power tools, I over the years purchased most major tool brands spending hundreds of dollars on brands like Milwaukee, DeWalt, Craftsman, and Makita to name a few. But unlike Ridgid the other brands have one major flaw, when the batteries die it’s almost cheaper to buy a whole new set, then just purchase the batteries by themselves. But with the Ridgid brand they have a Lifetime Warranty on every drill, battery, grinder, Table saw ect. whatever as long as you bought it from Home Depot under their LSA warranty for free. I know when I by Ridgid brand it is the last time I will ever have to purchase that tool for my entire life. As such I have over $1000 in Ridgid Tools.