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Kobalt KDD 1424A-03 Review

The highest scorer in our group, this is a heavy-duty drill that can keep up with all your toughest projects
Kobalt KDD 1424A-03
Credit: Jenna Ammerman
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $160 List | $150 at Amazon
Pros:  Powerful, great battery life, fantastic integrated worklight
Cons:  Expensive, only includes a single battery
Manufacturer:   Kobalt
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  May 23, 2019
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89
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 18
  • Drilling - 35% 10
  • Driving - 35% 9
  • Included Battery - 20% 8
  • Convenience - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Earning the top score out of any cordless drill that we have tested to date, the Kobalt 1424A-03 claimed the Editors' Choice award and is our top recommendation for anyone who wants the top tool of them all when it comes to these products. This drill is exceptionally heavy-duty and powerful, handling even our most difficult drilling and driving tests with ease. This drill has an unmatched battery life and tons of integrated lighting so you can see what you are drilling or driving even in darker conditions. This drill is a bit on the pricey side --especially when you consider that it only includes a single battery — but we think it is the clear choice for the professional or serious DIYer who wants the absolute best.

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Kobalt KDD 1424A-03
Awards Editors' Choice Award     
Price $160 List
$149.85 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Powerful, great battery life, fantastic integrated worklightExcellent drilling performance, tons of driving power, decently convenientCompact, powerful, good battery lifeBurly construction, tons of powerPhenomenal driving performance, solid drilling power
Cons Expensive, only includes a single batterySo-so battery life, somewhat priceyNo battery level indicatorHeavy, costlySubpar battery life
Bottom Line If you are searching for a top-notch drill that can accomplish the hardest tasks with ease, then the Kobalt is our top recommendation for youThe DCD777C2 is a burly drill with tons of power but we wished it did a bit better in our battery testsThe Atomic DCD708C2 has tons of power in a compact packageAlthough it finished just behind the best drills, the M18 still has tons of drilling and driving powerWhile being absolutely amazing at driving in fasteners, the below average battery life of the DCD771C2 precluded it from winning an award
Rating Categories Kobalt KDD 1424A-03 DEWALT DCD777C2 DEWALT ATOMIC... Milwaukee M18 DEWALT DCD771C2
Drilling (35%)
10
10
9
9
8
Driving (35%)
9
9
8
9
10
Included Battery (20%)
8
5
7
5
4
Convenience (10%)
6
6
6
6
6
Specs Kobalt KDD 1424A-03 DEWALT DCD777C2 DEWALT ATOMIC... Milwaukee M18 DEWALT DCD771C2
Battery Capacity (Included) 2 Ah 1.5 Ah 1.5 Ah 1.5 Ah 1.3 Ah
Battery Voltage 24V 20V 20V 18V 20V
Max Chuck 1/2" 1/2" 1/2" 1/2" 1/2"
Battery Chemistry Lithium-Ion Lithium-Ion Lithium-Ion Lithium-Ion Lithium-Ion
Drill Model Tested KDD 524B-03 DCD777 DCD708 2606-20 DCD771
Box Model (Kit) Tested 672823 DCD777C2 DCD708C2 2606-22CT DCD771C2
RPM Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
Low: 0 - 500
High: 0 - 1750
Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1650
Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1800
Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1800
Peak Torque 650 in-lbs 340 UWO 340 UWO 500 in-lbs 300 UWO
Measured Length 7-3/8" 7-1/4" 6-3/16" 7-1/4" 8-3/8"
Measured Weight 3 pounds
15.2 oz
3 pounds
4.1 oz
3 pounds 3.7 ounces 3 pounds
12.6 oz
3 pounds
7.3 oz
Measured Charge Time 75 minutes 65 minutes 68 minutes 31 minutes 58 minutes
Battery Indicator Location Battery N/A N/A Battery N/A
LED Location Above the battery Above the trigger Above the battery Above the trigger Above the trigger
Included Belt Clip Yes No Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kobalt finished at the top of the group, narrowly outperforming the DEWALT DCD777C2. The Kobalt had a higher list price than the DCD777C2, but we have often found it on sale for less. Both of these drills perform almost identically in our drilling and driving tests and our about the same in terms of convenience features, but the Kobalt nabbed the top spot by having a significantly better performance in our battery tests.

The Kobalt KDD 1424A-03.
The Kobalt KDD 1424A-03.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Performance Comparison


In our quest to find out which tool topped them all, we bought all the most promising cordless drills on the market and tested them head-to-head, scoring their performance in a variety of different tests. We grouped these tests into four weighted rating metrics — drilling, driving, included battery, and convenience — with the Kobalt's performance outlined in the sections below.

The Kobalt makes quick work of the 16 gauge steel with the 1/2"...
The Kobalt makes quick work of the 16 gauge steel with the 1/2" twist bit.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Drilling


Obviously, drilling performance is a critical aspect of the overall performance of a cordless drill, accounting for 35% of its total score. For this test, we based the scores on how easily each drill did with a 5" hole saw, a 1" paddle bit, and standard twist drills. The Kobalt did phenomenally well, earning a 9 out of 10 for its superb performance.


Almost all of the drills we tested do a decent job at drilling through wood with twist drills, so we upped the difficulty a bit and tasked each drill with drilling through a 16 ga. steel sheet with both a ¼" and ½" twist drill, noting the difficulty and time it took for each drill to make it through. The Kobalt didn't show the hint of a struggle with the ¼" drill, punching through the steel plate in about 1.5 seconds. It locked up for a brief moment with the ½" drill but still made it through in 3-4 seconds.

The 24-volts of power allow the Kobalt to make easy work of thin...
The 24-volts of power allow the Kobalt to make easy work of thin steel.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Next, we moved on to the 1" spade bit. For this assessment, we drilled dozens and dozens of holes in standard dimensional 2x12's. The Kobalt delivered an absolutely beastly performance, never once catching or stalling. All of the holes were drilled extremely quickly, even leaving the drill in its higher speed, lower torque gear for the entire test — many drills needed to be downshifted to their lower gear once they caught or stalled to finish drilling the hole.

The Kobalt doesn't need to be downshifted to make it through with...
The Kobalt doesn't need to be downshifted to make it through with the 1" spade bit.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

For our last drilling test, we truly pushed these tools to their limits, tasking them with drilling a 5" hole saw through a solid core door.

The solid core door was no match for this drill.
The solid core door was no match for this drill.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Kobalt again thoroughly impressed us, ripping through the door like it was butter and finishing the hole in around 17 seconds.

The Kobalt has impressive driving power.
The Kobalt has impressive driving power.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Driving


Matching our drilling metric in terms of overall significance, our driving metric encompasses the other most common task that most people will use these tool for: driving fasteners. To assess the driving force of each of these tools, we drove in hundreds of typical wood screws, as well as some absolutely massive lag bolts, awarding points based on how quickly and easily they dealt with these fasteners. The Kobalt again delivered an exceptional performance, earning a 9 out of 10.


The Kobalt did very well when it came to driving in wood screws, but it couldn't quite maintain the top position. It drives in screws quickly and powerfully, setting the countersunk head flush with ease — most of the time. While it did only happen a few times out of the enormous number of screws we drove in, the Kobalt did falter when it came to fully setting the head.

The lag screw barely slowed down this drill.
The lag screw barely slowed down this drill.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

However, the Kobalt did redeem itself a bit when it came to driving in the monster 5" long, ½" lag bolt. We used a standard 2x4 and 4x4 for this test, drilled a pilot hole, then set the Kobalt to work on the lag screw. It had no trouble at all, driving it into its full depth.

This drill utilizes the 2 button release method. It is effective but...
This drill utilizes the 2 button release method. It is effective but not our favorite.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Included Battery


Moving beyond the drilling and driving performance of this cordless drill, we moved on to rating and scoring the thing that makes the Kobalt cordless: its included batteries. For this metric, responsible for 20% of the final score, we looked at the battery life, the time to recharge, and the number of included batteries. The Kobalt again did very well, receiving an 8 out of 10.


To test out battery life, we used the Kobalt to drive in 16 normal screws and drill 3 holes with the 1" spade bit, repeating this cycle until the drill died. This tool died in the middle of the 11th cycle, solidly outpacing the next closest drill, which only made it through 7 before quitting.

However, this exceptional performance in the battery life test was tempered slightly by the Kobalt being a little slow to recharge and only including a single battery. The lack of an extra battery is a bit of a bummer, as that means your project is put on hold when the battery dies, compared to other models where you can swap to your reserve and keep going. You could always buy an extra battery separately, but they can be a bit pricey. The Kobalt isn't the slowest to recharge, but it still took over an hour — 75 minutes — to completely recharge a fully depleted battery.

Most cordless drills use a keyless chuck, the Kobalt is no exception.
Most cordless drills use a keyless chuck, the Kobalt is no exception.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Convenience


Our last round of tests focused on the little things that make these tools easier and more enjoyable to use. Responsible for the last 10% of the total, this metric looked at the quality of the integrated work light, the weight, max chuck size, and different operating modes available, as well as the ease of swapping batteries, if there is a battery level indicator, and if the drill has a belt clip. The Kobalt KDD1424A-03 finished with a decent performance, earning a 6 out of 10.


The Kobalt has a solid integrated light, providing plenty of illumination for your work surface and stays on for about 10 seconds.

The Kobalt has excellent lighting.
The Kobalt has excellent lighting.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

This drill has a belt clip, but it is a bit on the heavy side, weighing in at close to four pounds. It has a high and low gear, with a chuck that has a maximum opening of ½".

The Kobalt has many clutch settings to help you reign in its power.
The Kobalt has many clutch settings to help you reign in its power.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

It fairly easy to swap the batteries and we found the built-in battery meter to be a very handy feature.

Value


While the Kobalt is a fantastic drill, you are definitely paying for all that power and it isn't the best value option out there if you are shopping on a budget and don't need professional grade power.

Conclusion


Finishing at the top of the group overall and delivering an unchallenged performance in many of our tests, it is easy to see why the Kobalt claimed the Editors' Choice award. This drill packs a punch, handling our toughest drilling and driving tasks with ease, all while having an unparalleled performance in our battery life test. It might be a bit more tool than a casual DIYer or weekend warrior needs, but it is our top recommendation if you want the absolute best of the best when it comes to these products.

David Wise and Austin Palmer