The Makita 18V LXT Brushless Cordless 1/2" Driver-Drill scored very well compared to the rest of the drills that we tested, coming close to claiming the top spot. It delivered an impeccable performance when it came to driving in fasteners and did very well in most of the drilling tests (though faltering in our heaviest-duty tests). It has a great battery life with a handful of convenience features, though it is a bit on the heavier side. This drill doesn't seem to be commonly available as a combo kit with batteries and a charger, so you might need to purchase the tools accessories separately.Editor's Note: This review was updated on February 7, 2022, with new information about our favorite drills.
Makita 18V LXT Brushless Cordless 1/2" Driver-Drill XFD14Z Review
Pros: Great at driving fasteners, short length, good battery life
Cons: Struggled with the larger hole saw
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|Pros||Great at driving fasteners, short length, good battery life||Great for driving fasteners, heavy-duty, efficient use of battery life||Powerful, great battery life, fantastic integrated worklight||Impressive drilling power, strong steel drilling performance, good control, great price||Inexpensive, lightweight|
|Cons||Struggled with the larger hole saw||Heavy, takes some force to swap batteries||Expensive, only includes a single battery||Only includes a single batter, so-so battery life in our tests||Weak, minimal features|
|Bottom Line||This drill scored quite well across the board, though it is a bit on the heavy side||If you are looking for a top-tier drill to go with your existing Milwaukee batteries, this is your best bet||The highest scorer in our group, this is a heavy-duty drill that can keep up with all your toughest projects||A decent drill for DIY projects that won't deplete your savings||An okay drill for basic household tasks and assembly projects at a great price|
|Rating Categories||Makita 18V LXT Brus...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Kobalt 24-volt Max...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Specs||Makita 18V LXT Brus...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Kobalt 24-volt Max...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Included Battery Pack(s)||Tested w/ 2 Ah||Tested w/ 2 Ah||2 Ah||1.3 Ah||1.5 Ah|
|Drill Model Tested||XFD14Z||2803-20||KDD 524B-03||CMCD700||LDX120C|
|Box Model (Kit) Tested||Tested tool-only, no kit||Tested tool-only, no kit||672823||CMCD700C1||LDX120C|
|RPM||Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2100
|Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1500
|0 - 650|
|Peak Torque (manu)||1,250 in-lbs||1,200 in-lbs||650 in-lbs||280 UWO||N/A|
|Measured Weight||4 pounds 7.7 ounces||4 pounds 1 ounce||3 pounds
|3 pounds 7 ounces||2 pounds
Our Analysis and Test Results
Some nice features about the Makita 18V LXT Brushless Cordless Drill are the included clamp-on handle and the shorter length. The clamp-on handle makes it easier to hold the drill when using larger drill bits, and the shorter length can be very handy when using the drill in more confined areas.
Our testing process started by rating and ranking the drilling performance of each of these cordless tools. We determined scores by seeing how each drill handled, making holes with a 5-inch hole saw through a solid-core door, a 1-inch spade or paddle bit through stacked 2x lumber, and twist drills through a steel sheet. The Makita XFD14Z did well, earning an above-average score.
This drill got off to a fantastic start with the 1-inch paddle bit. It punched through the stacked boards — even in high gear — and never really caught or struggled to break through as it completed each hole.
The Makita XFD14Z also did quite well with the twist drills on the steel sheets. It only took around 1.5 seconds to drill a ¼-inch hole and didn't stall or catch at all. It struggled a bit more with the ½-inch drill, requiring us to drop down to the lower gear and take around 10 seconds to drill the hole.
Unfortunately, we found the performance of the Makita XFD14Z plummeted with the large hole saw compared to the drill competition. This drill did manage to achieve the full depth of the hole saw but struggled in its higher gear. It did better when dropped to the lower gear, taking around 20 seconds to complete the task, but we found the battery depleted after just the one hole, significantly hurting our opinion of this tool.
Our next round of tests rated and ranked how each cordless drill was driving in fasteners. For this metric, we used 5-inch long, ½-inch lag screws and standard wood screws, scoring each tool on the ease and speed at which it drove the different screws in. The Makita XFD14Z did exceptionally well, earning one of the best scores of the entire group.
This drill easily drove the large lag screw to the full depth, making it about half of the way in high gear, then easily finished it off in the lower gear. This test was through a 2x4 into a 4x4 on end, with an appropriate pilot hole drilled.
As expected, it also did very well with the standard wood screws. It can easily drive them to their full depth with just a bit of pressure. It also offers a decent amount of control when it comes to getting the screw heads flush, though we did find a few other drills that were just a bit better in this regard. The adjustable clutch has 21 different torque settings, making it easy to set not to overdrive or strip any fasteners.
Our next set of tests looked at efficiently each of these power tools utilized their cordless battery capacity. We purchased the Makita XFD14Z as a tool-only product, so we conducted these tests with a 2 amp-hour Makita battery — comparable to the type of battery most other products include when purchased as a kit. We based scores on a side-by-side usage comparison and the time it took for a battery to recharge with the stock charger. This Makita did very, very well, earning it a top-tier score.
We alternated between driving in 16, 3-inch wood screws through to full depth in stacked 2x12 boards and drilling 3, 1-inch holes using a spade bit for our side-by-side usage comparison. We started each drill in high gear, shifting down to the lower gear if the drill was struggling with either task.
The XFD14Z completed nine full cycles, dying on the 10th. However, it did manage to drive in all the screws and drill half of a hole on the 10th cycle. This cordless drill also easily managed these tasks in the higher gear for all but the 1-inch holes on the last full set. This is one of the best battery performances we have evaluated to date.
On top of all that, we love how fast this battery recharges. In our tests, the factory charger fully topped off a completely depleted 2 amp-hour battery in approximately 25 minutes — significantly better than the hours it took some of the other chargers for a similarly-sized battery.
Our last metric for these drills rated and ranked their overall user-friendliness and ease of use. We award points based on the convenience features such as an integrated work light, belt clip, or battery indicator. We also consider the ergonomics of each drill, ease of swapping batteries, usable drill bit range, and the number of different gears/speeds available. The Makita XFD14Z delivered solid results, earning it an above-average score.
This drill has two different speed modes, and the chuck can adjust to hold a bit with a maximum of a ½-inch shank. We love that you can turn on the integrated light without starting the drill and found it quite effective in tight, dark spaces. It provides decent illumination, with only a shadow above the drill bit.
The drill feels plenty comfortable to hold, though it is a bit on the heavier side, tipping the scales at about 4 pounds, 7.7 ounces. The XFD14Z includes a belt clip, and the batteries have a built-in indicator, though we weren't fans of the increased force it took when inserting or removing a battery.
Should You Buy the Makita XFD14Z?
Overall, we think the Makita XFD14Z is a great cordless drill. It gets the job done, scoring very well in most of our tests. Our main complaint was the battery dying during our 5-inch hole saw test, but we found very little to take issue with besides that. It efficiently uses battery power and does a great job driving in fasteners, all while being convenient and easy to use. While the Makita XFD14Z is one of the top-tier performers, it also comes with a top-tier price tag. It isn't the best value option, particularly if you aren't tackling heavy-duty drilling or driving applications projects.
What Other Drill Should You Consider?
The best of the bunch is the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1/2" Drill Driver, and it is slightly less expensive. With better drilling performance and a lighter weight, it could be the better tool depending on your goals. If budget is a concern, the Craftsman V20 1/2-In. Drill/Driver Kit CMCD700C1 is significantly less expensive, but it has some sacrificing of driving and the battery life but offers equal performance for drilling and convenience. Depending on project plans and how you will use your new drill, the cheaper model might be all you need.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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