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Best Cordless Drills of 2019

Tuesday November 5, 2019
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We researched over 100 different cordless drills, then bought the 16 most promising models currently available and tested them side-by-side to find the top tool of them all. We compared and scored the performance of these drills by driving in well over 1000 screws and 350 holes, pushing these products to their limits with things like a 5" hole saw or massive lag screws. On top of our drilling and driving performance metrics, we also measured and evaluated the battery life of each product and judged the overall convenience and ease of use of each drill. Check out our full review to see which drill is the best for heavy-duty work, which has the best battery life, and which ones you should get if you are shopping on a budget.


Top 16 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 16
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Awards Editors' Choice Award     
Price $180 List
$134.95 at Amazon
$160 List
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$160 List
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Star Rating
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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 want a heavy-duty drill that can keep up with all your toughest projects, the Kobalt is the best you can getThe DCD777C2 is one of the best drills we have seen and would have claimed the top spot if it only had a better battery lifeIf you want a compact drill that packs plenty of power, the Atomic is where it’s atThis beefy drill features industrial build quality with an all-metal chuck but was just slightly outmatched when it came to drilling powerThe DCD771C2 is a good option if you value driving performance above drilling power
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Rating Categories Kobalt KDD 1424A-03 DEWALT DCD777C2 DEWALT ATOMIC... Milwaukee M18 DEWALT DCD771C2
Drilling (35%)
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8
Driving (35%)
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10
Included Battery (20%)
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Convenience (10%)
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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

Best of the Best


Kobalt KDD 1424A-03


Editors' Choice Award
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$134.95
(25% off)
at Amazon
See It

89
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Drilling 10
  • Driving 9
  • Included Battery 8
  • Convenience 6
Battery Type: 24V, Lithium-Ion | Included Battery Capacity: 2 Ah
Great drilling performance
Fantastic for heavy-duty applications
Awesome battery life
Expensive
Heavy

Claiming the top score out of the entire group, the Kobalt earned an Editors' Choice award, showing that voltage truly makes a difference when it comes to performance for these products. This cordless drill did exceptionally well across the bulk of our tests, totally crushing it in some of our hardest tests, like drilling through a solid-core 5" door. In addition to an excellent drilling performance, the tool is also great for driving in fasteners, not even struggling in the slightest with larger lag bolts. On top of all that, it has an excellent battery life, driving screws and drilling holes long after the other products called it quits.

Unfortunately, this top-notch performance does come at a bit of a price and the Kobalt is one of the more expensive drills of the group. Even with its higher price, it also only includes a single battery, which can actually be quite frustrating, as it means you are forced to stop for over an hour to let it recharge if it dies in the middle of a project. It also is one of the heavier drills and it can be a little more difficult to swap batteries on, but it is our top recommendation for anyone who wants a powerful cordless drill that can handle every project you throw at it.

Read Full Review: Kobalt KDD 1424A-03

Best 12-Volt Drill


Milwaukee M12 FUEL


Editors' Choice Award
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$139.99
(18% off)
at Amazon
See It

60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Drilling 7
  • Driving 6
  • Included Battery 4
  • Convenience 6
Battery Type: 12V, Lithium-Ion | Included Battery Capacity: 2 & 4 Ah
Surprisingly good at drilling
Solid at driving
Smaller battery doesn't have a long runtime
Battery is annoying to swap

If you were looking at the Kobalt and thinking that it was a far burlier drill than you need, then you might want to consider the M12 FUEL by Milwaukee. This 12-volt drill packs a surprising punch and did quite well in our tests, even though it is at a bit of a disadvantage with its lower voltage. It did very well in our drilling test, making it through the steel sheets and even using the 5" hole saw without too much of a struggle. It does a great job of driving in normal screws and is solidly convenient to use. This compact drill includes two different size batteries so you can maximize its runtime or its portability, depending on your project needs.

However, this drill does lack the power of the higher voltage models, which was clearly evident in our lag screw test. The M12 could drive in the larger lag screws, but you could tell that it was a bit difficult for it. This drill is also a bit on the expensive side for a 12-volt model, but it does include the additional extra-large battery. If you like the compact nature of a 12-volt drill, but still want the power to handle harder drilling tasks, then the M12 FUEL is the perfect choice for you.

Read Full Review: Milwaukee M12 FUEL

Best Value


Ryobi P252


Best Buy Award
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$100
List Price
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64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Drilling 7
  • Driving 7
  • Included Battery 5
  • Convenience 5
Battery Type: 18V, Lithium | Included Battery Capacity: 1.3 Ah
Decent at drilling and driving
Inexpensive
Not a terribly impressive battery life
Bare-bones when it comes to features

If you are searching for solid value and hoping to get the most bang for the buck out of your cordless drill, it is hard to go wrong with the Ryobi P252. This cordless drill did very well across the most important tests, all while costing a fraction of what the top drills do. This tool did a respectable job with even the toughest drilling tasks and drove in large lag screws without too much complaining. It's also fairly convenient and easy to use and has a decent battery life.

While this drill did do alright in our toughest drilling tasks, you can tell that it might not be the best idea to get this drill if you are going to be using it every day with giant hole saws or to drive in large lag bolts. This drill is also a bit bare-bones when it comes to features, which keeps the price down, but means you aren't getting a battery indicator or a belt clip. However, you would be surprised just how many projects around your home and in the garage the Ryobi absolutely crushes and you can use all your savings to buy even more tools or an extra battery!

Read Full Review: Ryobi P252

Best 12-Volt Value Option


Bosch PS31-2A


Best Buy Award
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$79.00
(39% off)
at Amazon
See It

53
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Drilling 6
  • Driving 5
  • Included Battery 4
  • Convenience 6
Battery Type: 12V, Lithium-Ion | Included Battery Capacity: 2 Ah
Great value
Solid drilling performance
Compact
Mediocre battery life
No belt clip

If you are shopping on a budget and like the compact size and pistol grip style of a 12-volt drill, then the Bosch PS31-2A is a fantastic option for you. This drill is a great option for the average homeowner — someone who is going to undertake a fair number of DIY and home improvement projects but isn't going to be doing any major renovations. This pint-sized drill packs plenty of punch, doing quite well in our drilling and driving evaluations, all while being one of the more convenient to operate tools. This handy tool is lightweight and ergonomic and a great addition to any DIYers arsenal.

Unfortunately, the PS31-2A can't quite compare to drilling and driving performance of the top-tier, higher voltage tools. The 12-volt Bosch solidly struggled to drive the ½" lag screw all the way in and definitely complained when getting the 5" hole saw to its full depth. The battery life of the PS31-2A is also fairly lackluster. However, it's a great little drill for small to moderate DIY projects that is both compact and a good budget buy.

Read Full Review: Bosch PS31-2A

Great for the Tightest of Budgets


BLACK+DECKER LDX120C


Best Buy Award
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$60
See It

35
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Drilling 4
  • Driving 3
  • Included Battery 3
  • Convenience 4
Battery Type: 20V, Lithium-Ion | Included Battery Capacity: 2 Ah
Cheap
Convenient
Fine for light-duty work
Not very powerful
Short battery life

If you have been reading about our other award winners and thinking that there is no way that you are going to spend that much on a drill, then the LDX120C is a fantastic option. This budget drill costs a mere fraction of what the top drills cost and can handle simple projects around your home without issue, whether it is hanging a picture or assembling some furniture. The BLACK+DECKER is lightweight and compact, making it easy to stash in a drawer until needed for your next project.

Regrettably, the LDX120C is severely deficient when it comes to drilling or driving power and pales in comparison to the top-tier products. We were thoroughly unimpressed with its performance when it came to using larger hole saws or driving in big bolts and aren't sure we would recommend using this drill for these types of tasks if you want to prolong its life. The BLACK+DECKER's battery delivered an uninspiring performance in our battery life tests and we overall thought it seemed much less durable than other drills. It's not the best for heavy-duty applications but it's our top recommendation if you are looking for a bare-bones drill on a tight budget.

Read Full Review: BLACK+DECKER LDX120C


A lineup of some of the top drills on the market.
A lineup of some of the top drills on the market.

Why You Should Trust Us?


For our review of cordless drills, we bought all of the tools that we tested. At TechGearLab, we will never ask for or accept any free products from companies for our review, to ensure that you can have total faith that our reviews aren't compromised by any financial incentives. We buy all the products we test from major retailers at normal prices — just like you would! Our cordless drill testing team consists of Austin Palmer and David Wise. Austin has extensive experience using tools in both an industrial and DIY setting , having worked on an oil rig and undertook extensive renovations on his own home. David has formal training as a mechanical engineer and has used cordless drills on all sorts of projects, ranging from Formula SAE race cars to deepwater surveying robots. He also has apprenticed and assisted his dad — a general contractor of over 30 years — on various job sites.

In addition to our own extensive experience with these products, we also consulted with other contractors and professionals, as well as other dedicated DIYers to get their opinions when it came to picking out the drills that had the most potential and our scoring and testing plan. We put these tools to the test in both controlled side-by-side evaluations and by using them for various home renovation projects we were undertaking throughout our testing period. In total, we drilled hundreds of holes using in both wood and metal with these tools, using standard twist drills, as well as paddle bits and giant hole saws. We drove in well over 1000 screws — everything from a standard #9 wood screw to a hulking ½" lag bolt. We also did an exhaustive battery test to see just how many holes you can drill and screws you can drive with each drill before they died. Finally, we rated and scored the ergonomics, comfort, and convenience features of each power tool to finish out our test.

Related: How We Tested Cordless Drills


Analysis and Test Results


To see which cordless drill is really the best of the best, we researched and compared user reviews and manufacturer's specifications of all the top tools around, then bought the most compelling to test side-by-side. We rated and scored these tools in tons of different tests, grouping them into four weighted rating metrics — drilling, driving, battery life, and convenience — with our results discussed below.

Related: Buying Advice for Cordless Drills

Value


If you are shopping for a new drill on a budget, you will notice that there is a pretty direct correlation between the cost of the tool and its performance. However, this doesn't necessarily mean you should start to despair if you are on a tight budget, as many people don't need the drilling or driving performance that the premium products offer. Even the cheapest drills in our test usually offer enough power for most homeowners that don't have a ton of DIY aspirations, with the BLACK+DECKER LDX120C earning the Best Buy on a Tight Budget Award and is our top recommendation for anyone on the hunt for a drill without spending a ton. If you do a reasonable number of DIY and home improvement projects but still want to save some cash, then you are going to want to consider the Ryobi P252 and the Bosch PS31-2A. These drills cost a bit more but offer much better overall performance than the LDX120C. If you are a serious DIYer or use tools in a professional setting, then you are definitely going to want to be shopping in the highest echelon of these tools — the Kobalt and the Milwaukee M12 FUEL are our favorites, both earning an Editors' Choice Award.

1" spade bit testing with the M12 FUEL.
1" spade bit testing with the M12 FUEL.

Drilling


The first thing we looked at — and pretty much the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a cordless drill — is how well it does when it comes to drilling holes. For this metric, which accounts for 35% of the total score for each tool, is based on how well each product did at drilling holes with a paddle bit, drilling through steel, and using a giant hole saw. Specifically, we used a 1" spade bit to drill tons and tons of holes in a standard 2x12, used a ¼" and ½" twist drill in each tool to make holes in the equivalent of a 16 ga. steel sheet, and saw how each drill handled a 5" hole saw in a solid-core door. To award points, we looked at how long it took each tool to accomplish each drilling task and how much it struggled in doing so.


Delivering a top-notch performance and tying for the top spot when it comes to drilling holes, both the Kobalt KDD 1424A-03 and the DEWALT DCD777C2 both earned a 10 out of 10 for drillin' like a villain. Both of these drills absolutely crushed it with our hole saw test, powering through the door in less than 20 seconds like a hot knife through butter. We didn't even have to shift into the lower gear.

5" hole saw testing with the Kobalt through a solid door.
5" hole saw testing with the Kobalt through a solid door.

Both of these drills also did very well with the 1" spade bit, though the Kobalt drilled a little faster than the DCD777C2. The DEWALT also struggled a little in its higher gear, while the Kobalt had no issues at all. Both of these powerhouse tools also punched through the steel plate exceptionally quickly, each only taking 1-2 seconds with the ¼" drill and 3-4 seconds with the ½" drill.

The Milwaukee M18 and the DEWALT ATOMIC followed suit, both earning a 9 out of 10 for their drilling performance. The M18 did just as well as the DCD7772 at drilling holes with the paddle bit, but it took a bit longer than the top drills to drill to the full depth of the hole saw. The top drills did it in about 17 seconds, whereas it took the Milwaukee M18 30-35 seconds to drill to the same depth. It also easily drilled through the steel plates with the twist drills, but it again took just a couple of seconds more than the top DEWALT and the Kobalt.

Drilling through 16 gauge steel with the M18.
Drilling through 16 gauge steel with the M18.

The DEWALT ATOMIC matched the performance of the Kobalt and the DCD777C2 at drilling through the steel with the pair of twist drills, quickly and easily making holes without any struggle at all. It also made short work of the 2x12 with the 1" spade bit, only ever stalling for a brief moment right as it punched through the wood.

The DCD708C2 easily drilled through dimensional lumber with larger twist drills and spade bits.
The DCD708C2 easily drilled through dimensional lumber with larger twist drills and spade bits.

However, the ATOMIC did struggle a bit with the large hole saw. It just about matched the top tools with its best performance but it was wildly inconsistent in our tests. It would easily power through the solid core door to the full depth of the hole saw in one test and then repeatedly stall in the next one and take more than twice as long.

Next, the DEWALT DCD771C2, the Ridgid R86009K, and the Bosch GSR18V-190B22 all earned an 8 out of 10 for their great performance in our drilling tests. Of these three, the Ridgid did the best at the hole saw, performing comparably to the Milwaukee M18. Neither the Bosch or the DEWALT really struggled with the big hole saw, drilling nice and smoothly, but they both took about 10 seconds longer than the Ridgid and the M18.

However, the DEWALT DCD771C2 is the best of this trio with the spade bit, only taking a tiny bit longer than the Kobalt to punch through the board. We never had to shift into the lower gear with this DEWALT unless we were drilling through particularly stubborn sections of wood, like a big knot.

The Bosch GSR18V couldn't handle the paddle bit in its higher gear, but did a great job once we downshifted, though this meant it is much slower at drilling the 1" holes than the drills that could handle it in their higher gears. The Ridgid was a little weaker than the M18 in this test and kept stalling when it was in its higher gear, but eventually made it through if we kept stopping and restarting it.

The Ridgid had a nice showing with the 1" spade bit.
The Ridgid had a nice showing with the 1" spade bit.

All three of these drills finished out with a strong showing when it came to drilling through steel, though the Ridgid was slightly faster than the Bosch, followed by the DEWALT. However, all three drilled ¼" holes in the metal sheet in less than three seconds and ½" holes in less than nine seconds.

The PORTER-CABLE PCCK607LB, the Ryobi P252, and the Milwaukee M12 FUEL followed, all meriting a 7 out of 10. These tools all did a fine job at drilling through the metal, taking less than two seconds with the ¼" drill and less than 10 seconds with the ½" drill. However, all three of these drills performed considerably worse than the top ones when it came to using the 5" hole saw and the paddle bit. These three could all use the spade bit reasonably well — with the Ryobi having a slight edge over the M12 and the Porter-Cable — but we did have to downshift to a lower gear and you could tell they were struggling slightly.

The M12 and the PORTER-CABLE had an easier time with the 5" hole saw than the P252 did, both taking just under a minute to reach the maximum depth of the saw. The P252 kept pace with them for the most part but it began to struggle and stall right towards the end. It still managed to drill the full depth but took a little longer than the M12 and the PCCK607LB.

The Porter Cable didn't take long to devour the 5" hole saw test.
The Porter Cable didn't take long to devour the 5" hole saw test.

The 12-volt Bosch PS31-2A and the Makita XFD10R came next, each earning a 6 out of 10 for their slightly above average performance at drilling holes. The Makita did well with the twist drills in steel and with the 1" spade bit, holding its own with the top tools, but did absolutely terrible with the hole saw. We would start with a fully charged battery and it would immediately die after 20-30 seconds of use. This happened to us multiple times with different batteries and we even reached out to the manufacturer to see if we had somehow gotten a dud set of batteries, but it never got resolved. We successfully made it through the door once with the Makita in low gear, but it took tons of tries with the batteries dying rapidly in every other one to get to that point.

The Bosch PS31-2A powered through the steel sheets, but you could hear it struggling. It also did about the same with the paddle bit, but it would get quite hot after drilling two holes in a row. It did make it through the door with the hole saw and didn't get too warm, but it did take longer than a lot of the other drills — around 70 seconds.

Even the 12-volt models were able to complete the hole saw test albeit with some struggles along the way.
Even the 12-volt models were able to complete the hole saw test albeit with some struggles along the way.

Performance dropped quite a bit with the remaining drills, with the BLACK+DECKER LDX120C earning a 4 out of 10. This drill didn't love drilling through the metal and using the spade bit and it was a total struggle for it, but it did eventually poke through. It also solidly struggled with the hole saw and began to smell quite bad and overheat while it was drilling. However, it eventually did make it through, though it took 90 seconds. This operation definitely wasn't kind to this drill and we weren't sure if it would have lasted all that long if we did this test too many times.

The WORKPRO and the DEWALT DCD710S2 followed, each earning a 3 out of 10. The WORKPRO did an alright job drilling through the steel sheet — better than the DEWALT, which solidly struggled with the ½" twist bit. However, the DCD710S2 did much better with the spade bit, powering through the wood, albeit slowly and you could hear it straining. The WORKPRO only would drill about ⅛" into the wood with the paddle bit and got extremely hot, with its exhaust air almost being warm enough to burn you.

The DCD710S2 also outperformed the WORKPRO with the 5" hole saw. It stopped just shy of getting the hole saw to its maximum depth in about two and a half minutes. However, it did overheat and need a pause halfway through the test. This was a marked improvement on the WORKPRO's performance, which began to smell horrible and start smoking, causing us to abandon the test — and grab the fire extinguisher, just in case!

Earning the worst score of the entire group when it came to drilling performance, the BLACK+DECKER BDCDD12C merited a 1 out of 10. This drill did a barely acceptable job with the smaller twist drills in wood but that is about it. It overheated and had a very hard time with the larger spade bits and hole saws, even struggling with the smaller twist drills when making holes in the metal sheet.

The DEWALT DCD710S2 (12-volt) hard at work driving in a lag screw.
The DEWALT DCD710S2 (12-volt) hard at work driving in a lag screw.

Driving


After drilling performance, our next metric focused on the driving performance of each tool, or how proficient it is at driving in screws. This is equally significant as driving performance, also responsible for 35% of the total score for each cordless drill. To assess performance, we used each drill to drive in dozens and dozens of typical wood screws through a pair of 2x12s stacked on top of each other. Then, we attempted to drive in a 5" long, half-inch diameter lag screw to its full dept. We did drill a pilot hole for the lag screw but only punched a small starting point for the smaller screws to help them get started. We awarded points based on the amount each drill struggled while driving in the two types of screws and if they were able to sink them to the full depth.


When it came to driving in screws, one tool thoroughly distinguished itself from the rest: the DEWALT DCD771C2. This drill did exceptionally well in both tests in this metric, earning a 10 out of 10 for its top-notch performance. The DCD771C2 did a great job of driving in the screws to their full depth without any difficulties at all, even the giant lag screw. It also offered plenty of control to set the countersunk heads to their proper depth.

This model makes quick work driving in 3" wood screws.
This model makes quick work driving in 3" wood screws.

Closely following the DCD771C2's excellent performance, a group of drills all tied for the runner-up position. The Kobalt KDD 1424A, the DEWALT DCD777C2, and the Milwaukee M18 each earned a 9 out of 10 for their driving efforts. Of these three, the Kobalt took the lead when it came to driving in lag bolts, matching the performance of the DCD7771C2. However, the Kobalt isn't as proficient as the DCD7771C2, the DCD771C2, or the M18 at driving normal screws. For the most part, it drives the screws in quickly and easily, but it occasionally struggles at setting the countersinks if the hole wasn't pre-drilled — something that none of the other ones struggled with. It always managed to set them eventually, it just took a tad bit longer every so often.

The DCD777C2 didn't struggle at all at setting the countersinks. It's fast and strong at driving in standard screws, all while feeling very controlled. It also didn't really struggle with the lag bolts at all, it's just a bit slower than the Kobalt or the DCD771C2. The M18 is almost identical to the DCD777C2 when it comes to driving in a lag bolt, but is slightly inferior with standard screws. It's solid while driving and doesn't struggle at all, but it isn't the fastest. However, it doesn't lock up at all if you stop and restart while the screw is only partially driven in.

Next, the PORTER-CABLE PCCK607LB and the DEWALT ATOMIC DCD708C2 both received an 8 out of 10, struggling a noticeable amount more than the top-tier products to drive in the screws. The PCCK607LB does a great job of driving in screws, having plenty of power to drive them in fast. It also packs enough punch that you can slow it down and gently control how deep you want to set the countersink. The PORTER-CABLE did struggle when it came to driving in the larger bolt though. It managed to set it to its full depth, but it stalled out right towards the end and was protesting for the last ⅛" or so.

The Porter Cable powering through the lag screw test.
The Porter Cable powering through the lag screw test.

The ATOMIC did a phenomenal job at driving in the standard wood screws, performing equivalently to the top models overall. It drives in the screws extremely quickly and can easily set the countersunk heads flush or below the surface of dimensional lumber. It offers a ton of control to set the heads to the right depth but did take a little bit of time to get used to it, as it is so powerful that we habitually over-drove the screws the first few times we used it.

It's a breeze to set countersunk screw heads with the ATOMIC DCD708C2.
It's a breeze to set countersunk screw heads with the ATOMIC DCD708C2.

Regrettably, the ATOMIC couldn't maintain this level of performance with the large lag screw, barely performing above some of the budget drills. It started strong but faltered with the last inch or so of the lag screw. We did manage to eventually drive the screw to the full depth but it took a long time and a lot of persuasion, with the drill motor smelling like it wasn't happy by the end of it.

The Ridgid and the Ryobi followed, both meriting a 7 out of 10 for their rather rousing performance at installing screws. The Ryobi drives normal-sized wood screws about the same as the PORTER-CABLE but it is just a little bit slower. The Ryobi also has sufficient power to set the countersunk head in a controlled way without overdriving — you need to go full power with some of the weaker drills, making it hard to control how deep the head ends up.

The Ridgid has more than enough power to set the heads of countersunk screws below the surface of the wood but we found it lacked a bit of finesse, as you also need to have close to full power to accomplish this, similar to the Ryobi P252. However, both the Ridgid and the Ryobi did about the same at driving in the ½" lag bolt. They managed to sink it to its full depth but there was quite a bit of complaining towards the end, with both drills stalling frequently — performing almost identically to the DEWALT ATOMIC.

The Ryobi completed the lag screw test  but not without some coaxing.
The Ryobi completed the lag screw test, but not without some coaxing.

The Milwaukee M12 FUEL followed, earning a 6 out of 10 — the first of the 12-volt drills. This tool held its own against the higher voltage drills when it came to driving normal screws, matching their speed and easily setting the countersinks in a controlled manner. It also could drive many more screws in succession without heating up than any of the other 12 volt models. Unfortunately, its lack of power was a bit evident in the lag screw test. It drove it to its full depth, but just barely — stalling out even more than the Ridgid or the Ryobi.

Both Bosch drills followed, with the PS31-2A and the GSR18V-190B22 earning a 5 out of 10. Even though these drills have different voltages, we were a bit surprised that they performed essentially identically. Both stalled out with about an inch to go with the lag and both do a good — not great — job at setting normal screws. These drills both tend to stall out if the resistance increases, but both can drive the screw to the full depth.

This pair of drills followed was followed by the Makita XFD10R and the DEWALT DCD710S2, which both earned a 4 out of 10. The Makita did an excellent job at driving standard screws, matching the performance of the top drills overall — the DEWALT DCD771C2 and the DCD777C2. However, it struggled with the lag bolt. It initially seemed like it was doing well, driving the bolt in with more force than the Ridgid or the Ryobi, but the battery continued to inexplicably die on us — similar to the hole saw test.

The DCD710S2 gets close with the lag screw, but it stalls out with a little over an inch to go and can't successfully drive the bolt into its full depth. It's fairly fast at driving in normal-sized screws but it does complain and struggle when it comes to setting the countersink and can take a bit more time than other drills.

A close up of one of the driving test boards.
A close up of one of the driving test boards.

Next, the BLACK+DECKER LDX120C and the WORKPRO each earned a 3 out of 10 for their less than stellar screw driving performance. The WORKPRO was just barely able to set the countersunk head of a screw flush and that was if we only drove in a single screw and gave it a chance to rest. Performance fell off significantly if we drove in multiple screws one after another, with this drill even failing to come close to driving them to their full depth. It also couldn't drive in the lag screw, leaving it over an inch above the surface of the board when it called it quits. The LDX120C did even worse with the lag screws, quitting when there was close to two inches of screw left to drive. However, it could effectively drive in the normal wood screws and set the heads flush without too much issue, albeit very slowly.

Finishing out the back of the group overall, the BLACK+DECKER BDCDD12C received a 2 out of 10. This 12-volt drill did the worst of them all with the ½" lag screw, stopping about 2.5" short. However, it did do a little better than the WORKPRO at driving in normal screws, setting the heads a little easier even though it sounds quite unhappy while doing so.

Many drills and many chargers.
Many drills and many chargers.

Included Battery


The battery is vital to how each of these cordless tools functions, with this metric accounting for 20% of the total score. For this group of assessments, we tested and compared the battery life of each tool head-to-head, as well as looked at how long they took to recharge and the number of batteries included with each drill. In total, these account for 20% of each tool's total score.

After assessing drilling and driving performance, we next ranked and compared the performance of the battery of each of these cordless tools. This is a fairly critical metric — hence the "cordless" part of cordless drills — accounting for 20% of the final score for each product. We tested each drill side-by-side, alternating between driving in 16 screws and drilling three 1" holes through a 2x12 with the spade bit until each product died, awarding points based on the number of sets completed. We also looked at the number of batteries included and the time it took each battery to recharge when determining final scores.


The Kobalt KDD 1424A stood out from the rest of the drills when it comes to batteries, earning an 8 out of 10. The Kobalt did by far the best, only falling five screws short of making it through 11 cycles of this. It also only took an average amount of time — 75 minutes — to recharge its 2 Ah battery. However, this drill only includes a single battery, so you need to purchase an additional battery if you want to have a backup on the charger.

The progress of some drills during battery testing.
The progress of some drills during battery testing.

The DEWALT ATOMIC followed the Kobalt, earning a 7 out of 10. This drill made it through a respectable 7 full cycles and 12 screws into the 8th before dying. The kit we got includes two 1.5 Ah batteries, which recharge quite quickly. In our test, a completely dead battery took about 68 minutes to fully recharge.

The PORTER-CABLE PCCK607LB, the Ridgid R86009K, and the Bosch GSR18V followed, each receiving a 6 out of 10. The Ridgid lasted the longest, making it through just over six cycles, followed by the PORTER-CABLE, which only fell short of six cycles by a single screw. The GSR18V finished exactly five. However, the Bosch is the fastest of the group to charge, fully recharging in about 45 minutes. The Ridgid only took a little longer — about 53 minutes — but the PORTER-CABLE is a little on the slow side, taking 85 minutes to charge, especially given that all three of these drills have 1.5 Ah batteries. These drills all include two batteries as well.

The DEWALT DCD777C2, the M18, and the Ryobi P252 all are about average when it comes to battery life, earning a 5 out of 10. These drills also all came with two batteries, with the M18 and the DCD777C2 both having 1.5 Ah systems, while the Ryobi has a 1.3 Ah system. The DCD777C2 did the best in the battery life test, finishing just over five cycles, followed closely by the M18 and the Ryobi, which finished just under five.

The Milwaukee is by far the fastest to charge of these three, taking just over 30 minutes, while the Ryobi and the DCD777C2 take closer to an hour.

Next, the DCD771C2, the M12 FUEL, the Bosch PS21-2A, and the Makita XFD10R all merited a 4 out of 10. These drills also include two batteries, but the M12 FUEL includes both a 2 Ah and a 4 Ah battery. For this test, we used the 2 Ah battery with the M12, as it more closely compared to the other products, but you could expect it to last roughly twice as long when using the larger battery. The Makita charges the fastest of this group, taking less than 30 minutes, followed by the M12 which took around 40 minutes. The DEWALT is next, taking just about an hour, while the Bosch takes even longer — about an hour and a half.

The Makita did the worst of this quartet in our battery life testing, dying after completing three full cycles of drilling three 1" holes and driving in 16 screws. The Bosch did a little better, dying just before it finished four, while the DCD7771C2 and the M12 completed four full cycles and drove in a few more screws before they were totally depleted.

The WORKPRO and the BLACK+DECKER LDX120C followed with a 3 out of 10 for their disappointing performances. These both include only a single battery and take a comically long time to charge — over 200 minutes! They also only made it through about 3.5 cycles in our test before dying, so you are definitely going to want to consider purchasing additional batteries.

Once again at the back of the group, the BLACK+DECKER BDCDD12C earned another 1 out of 10. It only included a single battery, took 200 minutes to charge, and died before it finished two full sets of drilling and driving. Additionally, we even swapped out the 1" paddle bit for a ½" twist drill since this drill lacks the power to even use the spade bit and it still did terribly.

We liked drills that had good lighting and a belt clip.
We liked drills that had good lighting and a belt clip.

Convenience


For the remaining 10% of the total score for each drill, we rated and scored all the features that make these products easier to use, looking at everything from the size of the chuck to the ease of swapping batteries.


The PORTER-CABLE and the Ridgid both stood out for being packed full of handy features, earning both tools a 7 out of 10. These drills both have a maximum chuck size of ½", built-in LEDs, and a belt clip, as well as a battery level indicator and two different speeds. The PORTER-CABLE is a bit lighter than the Ridgid, but we thought it was less of a hassle to change out the Ridgid's batteries.

The Ridgid had two buttons that you press to release the battery.
The Ridgid had two buttons that you press to release the battery.

A group of drills followed, with the Kobalt, the DEWALT DCD777C2, the DCD771C2, the ATOMIC DCD708C2, the Milwaukee M18, the M12 FUEL, the Bosch PS31-2A, and the Makita all earning a 6 out of 10. These all have a chuck that can expand up to ½", except for the PS31-2A, which is limited to ⅜". All of the drills in this group have an integrated work light that we found to be fairly good and have two different speed/torque operating ratios.

The Kobalt has excellent lighting.
The Kobalt has excellent lighting.

The higher voltage models all are about average in weight, though the 12-volt models (PS31-2A and M12 FUEL) are a bit lighter, both weighing in at under three pounds. All of these drills also have a battery indicator — except for the DEWALT models — but only the Kobalt, Makita, the ATOMIC, and the M12 FUEL have belt clips. Finally, it is relatively easy to swap batteries on all the drills except the M12 FUEL, whose locking tabs can be a bit stubborn and finicky.

The M12 FUEL battery can be tough to remove.
The M12 FUEL battery can be tough to remove.

Ranking about average when it comes to convenience, the Ryobi P252, the Bosch GSR18V, the DEWALT DCD710S2, and the WORKPRO all earned a 5 out of 10. The Ryobi and the GSR18V both can hold up to a ½ shank in their chucks, while the WORKPRO and the DCD710S2 are limited to ⅜", but they do both have belt clips — something the Ryobi and Bosch lack.

The WORKPRO is the only one of this group to have a battery indicator, which isn't great, but all four have two operating speeds and integrated work lights. They are all middle-of-the-road when it comes to weight and it is a snap to swap batteries in all of them except for the DEWALT DCD710S2. It has a release button that can be a little difficult to get locked in place and secure the battery.

Earning a 4 out of 10, the pair of BLACK+DECKER drills, the LDX120C and the BDCDD12C brought up the back of the group. These drills both lack a battery indicator and a belt clip, as well as having a chuck that is limited to ⅜" at its max. These drills only have a single speed, but they do have integrated LED lights and are fairly lightweight. It also isn't the easiest to swap batteries on, though the LDX120C is less of a hassle than the BDCDD12C, which has a similar mechanism as the DCD710S2.

Conclusion


Whether you are looking for a powerhouse of a cordless drill for professional work or a budget option for light DIY, we hope that this review has given you some help picking out the perfect product for your needs and budget. We know how hard it can be to sort through all the different marketing claims and buy and test all these products side-by-side, so you don't have to.


Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman