If you are a homeowner or weekend warrior DIYer that is hoping to undertake small projects around the house and don't want to spend a ton of cash, then the Bosch PS31-2A is a great drill for you. We think this is the best value 12-volt drill around, earning it the Best Buy award. It can't match the drilling and driving power of the high-end professional grade projects, but it should provide more than enough power and durability for all but the most ambitious home or DIY project.
Bosch PS31-2A Review
Pros: Small, great budget buy, convenient to use
Cons: So-so driving power, lackluster battery life
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bosch PS31-2A finished right behind the Milwaukee M12 FUEL and ahead of the Makita XFD10R. Both the M12 and the Bosch are roughly the same in terms of convenience features and both suffer from the same slightly subpar battery life, but the M12 does pack a bit more power than the Bosch when it comes to drilling and driving performance. However, the Bosch is quite a bit less expensive than the M12, making it a better overall budget buy. The Makita is about the same as the Bosch when it came to drilling performance, battery life, and convenience features, but the Bosch did a bit better in our driving test and is much less expensive than the Makita.
To pick out which cordless drills are worthy of our awards, we compared tons of different models, bought the best and tested them head-to-head in a variety of different evaluations and assessments. We divided these tests among four weighted rating metrics, with the Bosch's results outlined below.
As you would expect, the drilling performance of each cordless drill is responsible for a large portion of the total score, accounting for 35% of the final tally for each tool. We looked at how the Bosch PS31-2A did at drilling holes with a normal drill bit, a spade paddle bit, and a massive hole saw. The Bosch did a little above average, earning it a 6 out of 10 in our drilling tests.
The PS31-2A did about average at drilling holes in a 2x12 with a 1" paddle bit. You could definitely tell that it was weaker than the higher voltage tools, but it usually made it through without too much of a struggle or severely stalling. However, you could definitely tell the drill was starting to heat up significantly if you started drilling another hole right after, dropping its score slightly.
The Bosch had a much easier time with some standard twist drills, even with the fact that we were drilling through a 16 gauge steel sheet. It took about 2.4 seconds for the Bosch to drill through the sheet with a ¼" drill, powering through the metal without too much fuss and only showing the slightest sign of a struggle. It took a bit longer to make it through with a ½" drill — around 8-10 seconds — and you could definitely tell that the drill was struggling a bit. It almost made it the entire way through in its high gear, but we did have to downshift right at the end to make it through.
For our final drilling test in this metric, a 5" hole saw, we were pleasantly surprised with the performance of the Bosch PS31-2A. It wasn't the fastest or the best by any means, but it didn't really struggle at all with this difficult drilling test.
It made it to the full depth of the hole saw in a solid core door in a little over a minute — significantly slower than the 20-30 seconds of the best drills — but it didn't seem like it was going to overheat.
Equivalent to our drilling metric, our driving metric is also responsible for 35% of each cordless drill's overall score. We tested out the Bosch's screw driving capabilities with both some smaller wood screws and with a massive lag bolt, noting how easily it drove in the screw and if it could properly set the countersunk head without too much difficulty. The PS31-2A did about average, earning a 5 out of 10.
The Bosch did a good, not great job at driving in the countersunk wood screws into a pair of stacked 2x12s. It does fine most of the time but tends to stop and stall anytime the resistance increase — like if you hit a knot. It does have the power to drive the screw heads flush, but we could feel the drill starting to overheat after we had driven in 16 screws in rapid succession.
The PS31-2A unfortunately, did not do very well in our lag screw test. We tasked each drill with driving a 0.5" diameter lag screw that is 5" long through a 2x4 into a 4x4. This little 12-volt drill lacked the power to complete the task, completely stalling out with a little more than an inch left to go and no amount of coaxing would get the drill to drive the screw any deeper.
Worth 20% of the total score, a trio of tests make up our battery metric. We looked at the battery life of the Bosch PS31-2A, as well as the time it takes to recharge a battery and the number of batteries that were included to determine its score. It overall was a little disappointing, earning it a 4 out of 10 for its lackluster showing.
To assess the battery life of each drill side-by-side, we kept cycling between driving in 16 wood screws and drilling three 1" holes, awarding points on the number of times they could do this before dying. The 2 Ah battery of the Bosch only made it through 3.5 sets of this before dying — much less than the 8-10 sets the top drills managed before dying.
We were also a little disappointed that the PS31-2A didn't charge particularly fast, taking 85 minutes to completely recharge a totally dead battery. However, this drill did at least include two batteries, so it did earn some points for that.
Finally, we compared and scored all the different features and capabilities that these tools have that are supposed to make them easier and more user-friendly to operate. This accounts for the remaining 10% of the final score, with the Bosch PS31-2A finishing out with a decent performance, earning a 6 out of 10.
This drill has a built-in battery meter and an LED work light. We found the battery meter to be quite handy, letting you keep track of the charge so you can make sure the extra battery is fully charged or charging when you start to run low. The integrated light is decent, but it isn't as bright as some of the other models, so you may want to consider bringing some supplemental light if you are working in a really dark location.
This tool has two different operating speed ranges and the chuck can hold bits with up to a ⅜" shank. It is also one of the smallest and lightest drills, weighing in at a little more than two pounds.
However, the battery can be a little more difficult to swap than some of the other models, with the locking tabs occasionally binding up a bit. We also wished that it had a belt clip — invaluable when working on a ladder — but you can always buy a third-party holster to make up for this.
This drill is a great value, earning it the Best Buy award. It packs a solid amount of power into a tiny package, all while retailing at a very reasonable price.
If you want a lightweight and portable drill to tackle most home improvement projects, we would definitely recommend that you check out the Bosch PS31-2A. It is a fantastic addition to any DIYer's arsenal, able to tackle the vast majority of drilling and driving tasks required in most projects with ease. It might not have the power to match the professional grade tools, but it also costs a whole lot less.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer