Buyer's Guides Cordless Drills

Best Cordless Drill: In-Depth Buyer’s Guide for 2020

Contractor with Power Tool

Having the best cordless drill in your garage will allow you to perform driving and drilling tasks easily and anywhere around and in your home all without having to worry about using an extension cord or staying close to an outlet. But finding the right type of drill to suit your needs and your budget can be a challenge, especially considering how many new and powerful models are on the market.

Fortunately, I have tested out several of the most popular models of cordless drills around and have narrowed it down to six of the leading models that every DIYer, contractor, or woodworker would love to have in their tool arsenal. I’ve also created a buyer’s guide that will walk you through the different features you have to choose from, which features you’ll need to have based on application, and how to find the perfect drill for you based on your needs, budget, and skill level.

Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists each of the models that made it onto my best of the best list, their stand-out features, and how they rated.

Cordless Drill Comparison Chart

Product Power Battery Life Variable Speed Rating
DEWALT Cordless Drill

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20V30 Mins Yes
BLACK+DECKER Cordless Drill

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20V30 Mins Yes
CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Drill

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20V20 Mins Yes
Kobalt Cordless Brushless Drill

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24V20 Mins Yes
Milwaukee Electric Tools Hammer Drill Kit

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12V20 Mins No
Avid Power Cordless Drill

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20 Mins Yes

DEWALT Cordless Drill


Our Rating: (5/5)

Compact, lightweight, and designed to fit into tight areas, the latest cordless drill by Dewalt is turning heads. This model is able to deliver up to three hundred-unit watts out of high-performance power and can be used for a wide range of applications. The drill’s high-speed transmission delivers two speed options that can be used for driving and drilling applications. The keyless half-inch single sleeve ratcheting chuck offers a tight bit grip strength, while the ergonomic handle provides improved user control and comfort.

Pros

  • Ergonomic handle
  • Twenty-volt
  • Variable speed
  • Comes with two battery packs

Cons

  • Heavy, weighing in at a little over three and a half pounds

Conclusion

This twenty-volt battery-powered high-impact drill is durable, comes with two battery packs for a longer runtime, and features an ergonomic grip that’s designed to improve user comfort. The heavier weight of the drill can cause user fatigue and discomfort if the drill is used for a long period of time, but considering the overall quality and power, for most users, this will not be a deal-breaker.

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Cordless Drill


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This latest cordless drill from Black and Decker is perfect for drilling into metal, plastic, and wood. In fact, it can handle most types of drilling tasks around the home or job site. The drill runs on a lithium-ion battery and features a longer runtime than competing models at thirty minutes per charge. The eleven-position clutch provides improved user control when dealing with tougher materials.

Pros

  • Long runtime
  • Eleven-position clutch
  • User-friendly
  • Twenty-volts

Cons

  • Chuck constantly loosens during use

Conclusion

The drill’s variable speed options allow the user to countersink without damaging material, while the longer runtime makes it easy to quickly and efficiently handle any jobs around the home, without the fear of the battery dying in the middle of a job. Overall, considering the low price, ergonomic design, and the many features that are designed to improve user-comfort, this model is a steal for the price and one that you’ll find yourself relying on for jobs around the home, big or small.

CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Drill


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model offers two hundred- and eighty-unit watts out. This type of high-performance motor allows you to complete a wide variety of applications. The half-inch keyless chuck allows you to quickly and easily change out bits during a job, while the built-in LED light improves your visibility when you’re working in low light conditions. The lithium battery comes in at twenty-volts and provides an excellent runtime, so you can complete the work you need around the home, without the fear of the battery draining in the middle of a job. The battery also features a shorter charge time of just sixty minutes, which is significantly shorter than competing models.

Pros

  • Two-speed options
  • Built-in LED work light
  • Short charge time
  • Three-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Runtime is only twenty minutes

Conclusion

This model by Craftsman comes with plenty of bells and whistles that the pro and DIYer will appreciate. The shorter charge time is a big selling point for most buyers who are used to cordless drills with a two to three-hour charge time. The variable speed control option will allow you to choose the right speed based on the application. Compact, durable, and built tough, this drill will be the perfect addition to your tool arsenal.

Kobalt Cordless Brushless Drill


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This Kobalt cordless drill is pro-quality all the way, offering twenty-four volts of power. This model runs on a 2.0Ah lithium-ion battery and comes with a double-ended driver bit, belt clip, bit holder, and charger. The brushless motor provides six hundred and fifty pounds of torque, which is more than enough for small jobs around the home. If you’re looking for a workhorse that you can rely on at the job site, this model is it.

Pros

  • Two variable speed ranges
  • Twenty-four volts of power
  • Pro-quality
  • Built tough

Cons

  • Heavy
  • High price tag

Conclusion

This model has what it takes to make it in a pro-environment, offering more than enough power for big and small jobs around the home or at the job site. This heavy, bulky design can cause user fatigue and can make it difficult to drill in tight areas, however, the overall power and the many features it has to offer is a fair tradeoff for most buyers.

Milwaukee Electric Tools Hammer Drill Kit


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model features a twelve-volt battery, a compact design that makes it easy to access tight spaces, and a reputation for being twenty percent faster in application compared to competing models. The drill delivers an output of over thirteen-hundred pounds of torque and measures in at just five inches long. The compact, lightweight design is one of the drill’s biggest selling points. However, the lower motor power makes this drill unsuitable for pro use. If you’re simply looking for a moderately powered drill that you can use to tackle jobs around the home, then this model is a great buy.

Pros

  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Low price

Cons

  • Low-powered motor

Conclusion

This drill is designed with home use in mind, offering exactly what some users are looking for in terms of ease of use, drilling speed, and a lightweight design that makes the drill easy to use and handle.

This is the perfect drill for the beginner or homeowners who have simple drilling jobs to tackle around the home. The low-powered battery makes the drill a poor choice for the pro, but the new DIYer will get plenty of use out of this durable, compact model that allows you to easily and quickly get the job done when you’re working in tight spaces.

Avid Power Cordless Drill


Our Rating: (4/5)

This is a twenty-volt cordless drill that comes with a lithium-ion battery pack that features a USB output that’s compatible with phone charging. The fifteen position clutch settings provide improved user control for driving, which will prevent stripping wood. This model can handle drilling into metal, plastic, drywall, ceramic, and wood, easily. The drill’s ergonomic design makes the drill more user-friendly and easier to handle. The lightweight, compact design will minimize user fatigue, while the rubber-covered grip also provides a more comfortable user experience. This set comes with an extension bar, ten driver bits, and ten drill bits.

Pros

  • Built-in LED work light
  • Lightweight design
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Fifteen clutch positions to choose from

Cons

  • Can easily overheat when working with tougher materials

Conclusion

The variable speed, built-in LED work light, and the compact, lightweight design, makes the drill easier to handle, improving user experience. The drill can easily handle working in tight spaces and comes with everything you need to get started drilling, right out of the box. However, the drill does have a reputation for easily overheating when you’re drilling into tougher materials. Because of this, you’ll need to take breaks often in order to avoid putting too much stress on the motor. Overall, this is a handy drill to have, but in terms of motor quality, I wouldn’t recommend it for the pros, yet it will be a great buy for jobs around the home.

Cordless Drill Buyer’s Guide

In the past, many DIYers and the pros would pass a cordless drill by, since they didn’t have the type of power needed to take on bigger or more challenging jobs. But over the years, these power tools have undergone a serious makeover and now provide the type of power that can give corded models a run for their money.

In this buyer’s guide will go over all the common types of drills available on the market, their uses, battery life, power needs, and any other information that will help you determine which model will work the best for you. When you’re shopping for a drill, there are several features to look for. I have included the most important features to consider, how they can impact your work, and how many benefits these types of drills have to offer.

Below, you’ll find a list of all the important benefits this type of drill has to offer, whether you’re an amateur or a pro.

Benefits of Owning a Cordless Drill

Diy tools

For many beginners the cordless drill is one of the first tools to by. Recently, cordless drills have become more popular than even their corded counterparts. Why? Because these drills are now more powerful than ever before, and they offer many advantages.

  • The cordless drill is essentially two tools in one. It works as a drill and a screwdriver.
  • There’s no cord needed, which means you’re able to move about your home or garage freely and get the job done quickly and efficiently.
  • Over time, these drills have become more powerful, affordable, and lighter. These days, since they’re so affordable they’re no longer a power tool that’s used only by professionals. In fact, many DIYers on a budget are able to purchase a model that’s affordable and powerful. The key is knowing what features to look for.
  • Obviously, the main advantage of this type of drill is the fact that you will not be limited in terms of where you can go because of cord length. This type of drill can be used anywhere.
  • Their lightweight design allows you to use this type of drill for longer without causing user fatigue.
  • Many new and improved battery packs allow you to use your drill for longer and offer more power than ever before. Several years ago the first battery packs used had many shortcomings. Older battery packs had a lower capacity and memory effect. Later down the line nickel-metal hyride battery packs offered a longer lifespan and a higher capacity compared to battery packs of the past. Modern battery packs are usually lithium-ion. These battery packs are significantly lighter, having issues with memory effect, and are more powerful compared to batteries. Unfortunately, Lithium-ion batteries are also significantly more expensive.
  • In order to use a cordless drill as a screwdriver, the drill must support reverse drive, torque control, and variable speed. A lower speed is required if you’re using a cordless drill as a screwdriver which is why variable speed control is essential. Speed control will shut the drill down once a certain turning force has been reached.

Other Important Features

Below, you’ll find a list of many of the important features cordless drills have to offer including design, construction, grip, and power.

Grip Design

When you’re shopping for a cordless drill keep in mind that the grip design will be important. The drill should come equipped with a grip that feels good in your hands. Most models now come equipped with ergonomic grips that feature a flat battery pack that’s attached to the handle’s base. Some lighter duty models will feature a pivoting handle that permits you to use the drill in tighter spaces.

Chuck

The chuck is a clamp that rotates and holds a drilling bit or driving bit. The size of the chuck determines the max drill bit diameter that the drill is able to use; Basic cordless models will come with a common chuck size of 3/8 of an inch which will accommodate most types of drill bits. More powerful models will have a chuck that measures in it half an inch which is designed for heavy-duty applications. Light-duty models will come with a chuck that is a quarter of an inch in size. In order to adjust the clamp, some models will require a key. However, these days, many of the leading drills come with keyless chucks.

Torque

The rotating force of a drill is referred to as torque. Many models will feature adjustable torque control. The clutch can be placed on a lower setting in order to adjust the amount of torque used to prevent over screwing, control depth, or avoid stripping screws. A higher clutch setting will allow the tool to bore at its highest capacity, while a lower setting will be used for simple screwing projects.

Speed

Heap of metal screws

The speed of the drill is measured in revolutions per minute or rotations per minute. A higher rotations per minute value means a drill that’s much faster. Many of the top models on the market offer variable speed trigger settings which will allow you to control how fast the drill spins. You’ll use a higher speed when you drill through wood, or a significantly lower speed for screws. Many cordless models are also reversible, which means that they can be used to remove or loosen screws.

Amp Hours

Amp hours indicate the battery’s energy capacity or life. A higher amp hour rating will mean longer operating times. A battery that comes with a 3 amp hour rating will last significantly longer than one with a one and a half amp hour rating. However, a higher-capacity also means that a battery will weigh more. While it may not seem like much,  this added weight can increase the chances of user fatigue which can reduce the amount of time you’re able to use the drill.

Battery

A drill is only as powerful as its battery. Models that feature a higher voltage equals more power. Currently, the most common rating is an 18-volt. This power rating is suitable for most DIY uses. Voltage ratings span from just 4-volts of 28-volts. Obviously, a 28-volt model will be used for jobs that are considered heavy duty.

In the past, a drill with a higher voltage rating would only be used by the pros and were much heavier than the lightweight battery packs of today. Models with a 12 to 18-volt range are still high in demand, especially when it comes to small jobs around the home. Many of the more powerful models can be used for both pro and home use.

Basically, more voltage will mean more power. If you intend to use the drill on tough materials, then make sure you purchase a high voltage drill.

A light-duty drill is a great choice for smaller jobs around the home and usually features six volts up to twelve volts.

So, what’s the best choice for home use?

Medium-voltage drills range from twelve up to eighteen volts is usually the most popular option. These drills are suitable for most types of driving and drilling jobs, with the exception of those tough heavy-duty jobs.

What voltage is considered pro-quality?

A heavy-duty drill is used by contractors and has a longer battery life and more power. These are often rated anywhere from eighteen volts up to 28-volts. Some models may even be rated as high as thirty-six volts.

In most cases, an 18-volt model should be able to handle the job when it comes to most remodeling jobs, DIY tasks, and household work.

Safety Features-Adjustable Resistance

Higher power drills require a mechanism that can help control the torque that’s produced is called the clutch the job of the clutch is to disengage the drill’s spinning the force. When the drill reaches a maximum depth a couple of things can occur. The drill bit may catch in the head of the screw, or the force of the drill can strip out the head of the screw. Modern drills feature a clutch that is easy to adjust so when the screw is fully inserted it will stop moving, causing the clutch to disengage the spinning force. When you’re shopping for a drill try to find a model that features a minimum of 10 clutch settings which will allow you to adjust the torque to just the right level of resistance needed for a wide variety of applications.

Bits

In terms of the bits used on these drills, some are inserted directly into the chuck. However, most bits will need to be placed into a bit holder. Keep in mind, the type of drill bit you use will change with the job. A project that requires a drill might need a flat head or Phillips bit, or even a square bit. Make sure you know the difference. For some heavy-duty projects, you may need to use a metal drill bit which will come in handy for creating holes.

Reverse and Forward Switch

handyman

A drill is operated by a trigger that is located on the base of a handle. To use, you’ll simply press the trigger causing the chuck to rotate. The user can change the direction of the rotation by simply flipping the reverse and forward switch located on the back of the drill. As an example, if you’re trying to remove a screw out of a piece of furniture or the wall the drill will go in reverse. Many models will have buttons located on the top that will regulate the speed and torque. Higher torque is best for driving screws while a faster speed is ideal for drilling holes.

Weight

The past 5 years cordless drills have become significantly lighter and feature a design that’s best described as compact. If you’re looking for a cordless model that’s easy to use and one that’s designed for longer use, then I recommend purchasing a tool that weighs around 5 lbs or less. In terms of comfort, weight will not be the only factor to pay attention to. The tool’s balance will also be important in order to test out the balance of your drill, grip the handle firmly then lift it toward the wall as if you’re about to drive a screw. If the tool is well-balanced then the chuck should be pointing straight at the wall without you having to fight to keep it from tilting.

Charging Needs

So, how often does a drill’s battery pack need to be charged? If you’re not using your drill on a daily basis then you won’t need to charge it often. You can put a piece of furniture together, install some shelves, and hang a picture and your drill will still be alive and running. However, you can expect the drill to provide a more powerful performance if it’s fully charged. So, once you’ve completed a big project remember to put your drill back on the charger.

Maximum Power Capacity

UWO, or unit watts out is a new standard that is now used to measure the max power. It involves a combination of torque and speed. The higher the unit watts out, the more powerful the drill.

Brushless and Brushed Motors

Brushless motors can sense resistance and will adjust accordingly. This means that it will pull only less power during a job that requires less force. When the drill is performing a heavy-duty task, the drill’s motor automatically draws more power. This will result in optimal battery power and a longer runtime.

Unlike a traditional motor, a brushless model will not experience voltage drop and friction. This can increase the lifespan of the drill. Additionally, these drills can be more powerful compared to motors equipped with brushes since there’s more space to make the motor bigger. Basically, brushless motors, unlike a regular motor, are more durable, powerful, and efficient. However, compared to a standard motor they’re more expensive by as much as thirty percent. Additionally, most will require the use of lithium-ion batteries.

Accessories

Any cordless drill package will come with a variety of accessories and features. Depending on how you intend to use your new drill, the following features may be worth the buy.

  • Interchangeable battery that works with other power tools made by the same manufacturer
  • Smart battery charger for a faster charging time
  • Extra battery packs
  • A variety of speed settings
  • Built-in level
  • Built-in work light
  • Warranty on battery pack and drill

Cordless Drill Uses

Cordless drills perform a couple of primary functions. It can be used for driving fasteners into materials by replacing the drill bit using a driver bit, or it can be used to serve the true function, which means it can be used to make round holes in material by drilling into it.

  • All types of drills will accept two kinds of bits, a driver bit for driving screws in and out of material, and a drill bit for drilling.
  • As I mentioned earlier, this type of drill is gaining in popularity since they are now made more powerful than ever before and feature battery packs that provide a longer runtime. If you’re a woodworker, construction worker, or contractor, these drills can be used in remote places where you will have no access to electricity.
  • These drills are very convenient to use and are now commonly found in the homes for simple and heavy-duty DIY project use and repairs.
  • One of the best things about these drills is the fact that they can be used for pretty much any type of project. It will come in handy when you need to hang something on the wall or put together a piece of furniture. Basically, the cordless drill is one of the most convenient tools you can buy and it will help you complete any type of project significantly faster.

Are Cordless Drills Better than Corded Drills?

You may be on the fence about purchasing a cordless model, or wonder, aside from the cordless design, are there any other advantages to owning this type of drill over a corded model. The fact that these drills are extremely convenient is one of its biggest selling points. These drills can be taken pretty much everywhere and are beginner-friendly and simple to use. As long as you have a charged battery on hand, you can work anywhere.

These cordless models are highly portable. If you have experience with a corded model, then you know they have a heavy, bulky design and a cord that can prevent you from using the drill in tight spots. A cordless drill is easy to move into tighter spots, is easy to handle and easy to hold. When you’re doing a job that requires a lot of movement, using a cordless drill will make the process faster and easier. The biggest drawback of a cordless drill is the fact that it’s battery operated. Being powered by batteries can be both a pro and a con. On one hand, the fact that it’s cordless means you can take it wherever you need to go, but if the battery isn’t charged, then you’re left with a power tool that has no power. So, if you forget to charge the battery pack the night before you need it, then it can end up dying in the middle of a job. Then you’ll be left waiting for hours until the pack is fully charged. With a corded drill, the electric cables can be more powerful. Basically, a corded drill can offer the same type of power that a cordless drill can, but the cord is the big roadblock for many users.

While a corded drill is definitely bulky, some cordless models, especially those with larger motors, can be pretty cumbersome to use and hold after an hour or more. Additionally, a cordless model can experience some resistance when it comes to drilling through tougher materials. This means that the user will need to have an extra tight grip on it, which can lead to user fatigue.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to Look for in a Cordless Drill

If you’re shopping for a new cordless drill, make sure you pay special attention to the chuck and the clutch. More clutch settings will provide better control over the depth the screws are driven. The speed range switch is another great feature to have and one that provides improved user control, allows you to choose from a few different settings.

Are Corded Drills More Powerful?

A corded drill is much lighter, leaner, and can be more powerful than a cordless model. However, they can also significantly restrict your mobility, are bulky, heavier, and less convenient to use. Cordless models are incredibly convenient to use, yet they can also have a bulky design due to the battery pack. In the end, your choice will be more power, or freedom of movement and convenience of use.

How Many Amp Drill do I Need?

Many homeowners will be satisfied with a drill that offers a twelve to sixteen-volt range. Remember, the higher the voltage, the heavier the drill is going to be. A cordless model is measured in amps, with the power increasing as the amps increase. For home use, an eight-amp drill should be sufficient.

What Does 1 and 2 Mean on a Drill?

The 1 setting refers to a lower speed with higher torque, which is designed for driving screws. The next setting, the 2, refers to medium torque and speed and can be used for either driving or drilling. The settings are used to set the drill’s clutch in order to deliver the right torque range. The higher the number the larger the fastener that can be driven and the higher the torque.

What is the Difference Between 18v and 20v Drills?

Each of the cells in an eighteen volt or twenty-volt battery has a nominal voltage rating of 3.6v. When put together, this translates to eighteen volts. Another major difference is that a twenty-volt max battery is common in America, while eighteen-volt batteries are usually sold outside of America.

Final Thoughts

The best cordless drill will come with the type of power you need, based on the application and the type of materials you need to drive screws through. But aside from power, the drill should also offer a longer runtime, a shorter charge time, and feature a lightweight design that allows the user to drill for a long period of time, without pain or discomfort. The models in my top six line up are each packing some serious power, have a high user rating in terms of quality, durability, and user comfort, and are available at a price that won’t break the bank. If you’re new to cordless drill use, then this buyer’s guide has got you covered. Now you know exactly what features to look for to ensure you choose a model that can provide the type of power you need, in order to get the job done right.