Best Cordless Drill of 2021
$148.99 at Amazon
$159.00 at Amazon
$134.99 at Amazon
|$180 List||$160 List|
$103.88 at Amazon
|Pros||Powerful, great battery life, fantastic integrated worklight||Excellent drilling performance, tons of driving power, decently convenient||Compact, powerful, good battery life||Burly construction, tons of power||Phenomenal driving performance, solid drilling power|
|Cons||Expensive, only includes a single battery||So-so battery life, somewhat pricey||No battery level indicator||Heavy, costly||Subpar battery life|
|Bottom Line||The highest scorer in our group, this is a heavy-duty drill that can keep up with all your toughest projects||The DCD777C2 is one of the best drills we have seen and would have claimed the top spot if it only had a better battery life||If you want a compact drill that packs plenty of power, the Atomic is where it's at||This beefy drill features industrial build quality with an all-metal chuck but was just slightly outmatched when it came to drilling power||The DCD771C2 is a good option if you value driving performance above drilling power|
|Rating Categories||Kobalt KDD 1424A-03||DEWALT DCD777C2||DEWALT ATOMIC DCD708C2||Milwaukee M18||DEWALT DCD771C2|
|Included Battery (20%)|
|Specs||Kobalt KDD 1424A-03||DEWALT DCD777C2||DEWALT ATOMIC DCD708C2||Milwaukee M18||DEWALT DCD771C2|
|Battery Capacity (Included)||2 Ah||1.5 Ah||1.5 Ah||1.5 Ah||1.3 Ah|
|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 Weight||3 pounds
|3 pounds 3.7 ounces||3 pounds
|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 Overall Cordless Drill
Kobalt KDD 1424A-03
With excellent performance and voltage, the Kobalt stands out, earning top scores in our tests. This drill performed exceptionally well even on some of our more challenging tests, such as drilling through a 5" solid-core door. It easily dealt with fasteners and larger lag bolts. The battery life of this model is excellent, and we found it could keep drilling holes and driving screws long after other drills called it quits.
This model boasts excellent performance, but that is offset somewhat by cost. The Kobalt is one of the more expensive cordless drills in our group, but it only includes a single battery that will take over an hour to recharge if it dies in the middle of your project. It is also one of the heavier options, and swapping batteries can be difficult. Still, it remains our number one recommendation for those looking for a powerful cordless drill that can handle pretty much any project you have in mind.
Read Full Review: Kobalt KDD 1424A-03
Best 12-Volt Drill
Milwaukee M12 FUEL
The Milwaukee M12 FUEL makes up for its lower voltage, packing a surprising punch. It successfully drilled through steel sheets and operated the 5" hole saw with minimal struggle. It also did an excellent job driving screws while being convenient to use. This drill is fairly compact and includes two different-sized batteries, creating versatility depending on your needs.
While it does a great job for a 12-volt model, the relative lack of power was illustrated by our lag screw test, in which it could drive the larger lag screws, but only with difficulty. This model is pricey compared to other 12-volt models, but that is somewhat offset by the additional extra-large battery. If you are looking for a compact, 12-volt drill that can handle some more challenging drilling tasks, then the M12 FUEL is an excellent choice.
Read Full Review: Milwaukee M12 FUEL
Best Bang for the Buck
We think it'd be hard to go wrong with the Ryobi P252 if you are hoping to get the most for your dollar out of a cordless drill. This model performed very well in the most critical tests while priced at a fraction of the top drills' cost. It did a respectable job with the toughest drilling tasks and drove large lag screws in without too much trouble.
Even though this drill performed well in the challenging drilling tasks, we don't believe it's the best purchase if you're going to be using it daily to drive in large lag bolts or with giant hole saws. To keep the price down, this drill is sparse in features, so there is no battery indicator or belt clip. However, it is surprising how many projects around the home or garage that the Ryobi P252 can crush. Another perk of the low price point on this drill is that you can buy an extra battery or more tools with the money saved.
Read Full Review: Ryobi P252
Best on a Tight Budget
This tool is one of the least expensive options out there but holds its own against the more costly tools. The Craftsman did surprisingly well in some of our toughest tests, handling the 5" hole saw without issue and offered plenty of control when setting countersunk fasteners to the appropriate depth. It isn't overly heavy and would be a great addition to the occasional DIYers or a homeowner's toolbox.
However, if funds are tight and you're looking to use this drill as the foundation for your eventual cordless tool collection, the Craftsman isn't our top recommendation. Overall it is a much smaller drill, and we don't think the library of compatible tools is as popular or readily available as other battery systems. Combined with the fact that you only get a single battery, we'd suggest investing in a different drill if you plan to purchase more cordless tools in the future. Despite that, we were impressed with the Craftsman's performance, given its affordable nature. If you only want to buy a drill, we would definitely recommend it.
Read Full Review: Craftsman CMCD700C1
Best 12-Volt Value Option
If you are on a budget and like the pistol grip style and compact size of a 12-volt drill, check out the Bosch PS31-2A. This model is an excellent option for the average homeowner — someone who might want to undertake a fair number of DIY or home improvement projects but will not be doing any major renovations. This pint-sized model packs plenty of punch and did quite well in our drilling and driving evaluations, all while being one of the more convenient tools to operate. This handy cordless tool is lightweight, ergonomic, and a great addition to any DIYers arsenal.
Unfortunately, the Bosch PS31-2A can't quite compare to the top-tier, higher voltage tools with drilling and driving performance. The 12-volt Bosch struggled to drive the ½" lag screw in and struggled when getting the 5" hole saw to its full depth. The battery life of the Bosch PS31-2A is also somewhat lackluster. However, it is a compact option that is a good bargain and easily capable of handling light-duty tasks.
Read Full Review: Bosch PS31-2A
Why You Should Trust Us
At TechGearLab, we will never ask for or accept any free products from companies for our reviews to ensure that you can have total faith that financial incentives don't compromise our opinions. To test and review drills, we buy all the products we test from major retailers at standard 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 . He has worked on an oil rig and has undertaken extensive renovations on his own home. David worked as a mechanical engineer and has used cordless drills on all sorts of projects , ranging from deepwater surveying robots to Formula SAE race cars. He also apprenticed and assisted his dad, a general contractor with over 30 years of experience, on various job sites.In addition to our own experience with these products, we also consulted with other contractors, professionals, and dedicated DIYers. We used their opinions to design our scoring and testing plan and to pick out the drills that had the most potential. We put these tools to the test in both controlled side-by-side evaluations, and we used them for various home renovation projects we undertook throughout the testing period. We drilled hundreds of holes in metal and wood with these tools, using everything from standard twist drills to paddle bits and giant hole saws. We drove in well over 1000 screws — everything from standard #9 wood screws to hulking ½" lag bolts. We also did an exhaustive battery test to see just how many holes you could drill or screws you could drive with each drill before it ran out of juice. Finally, to finish out the tests, we rated and scored the ergonomics, comfort, and convenience features of each power tool.
Related: How We Tested Cordless Drills
Analysis and Test Results
To see which cordless drill is the best, we researched and compared customer 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
If you are on a budget and shopping for a new drill, you will notice a pretty direct correlation between the cost of the tool and its performance. This does not mean you should get discouraged if you are on a tight budget — many people don't need the drilling or driving performance that the premium products offer. Even some of the cheapest drills in our test offer enough power for homeowners who don't have a ton of DIY aspirations. The BLACK+DECKER LDX120C does not compare to its competition well, but it can reliably drill into drywall and fasten screws for very light home projects. If you do a reasonable number of DIY and home improvement projects but still want to save some cash, you should consider the Ryobi P252, the Craftsman CMCD700C1, or the Bosch PS31-2A. These drills cost a bit more but offer a much better overall performance than the LDX120C. If you are a serious DIYer or use tools on a professional level, then you are going to want to be shopping in the highest echelon of these tools — the Kobalt and the Milwaukee M12 FUEL are our favorites.
The first thing we tested — and pretty much the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cordless drills — is how well they did at drilling holes. This metric, which accounts for 35% of each tool's total score, is based on how well each product did when drilling holes with a paddle bit, drilling through steel, and using a giant hole saw. Specifically, we used a ¼" and ½" twist drill in each tool to make holes in the equivalent of a 16 ga. steel sheet, a 1" spade bit to drill tons and tons of holes in a standard 2x12 (wood), and saw how each drill handled a 5" hole saw in a solid-core door. We looked at how long it took each tool to accomplish each drilling task and how much it struggled while doing so and scored accordingly.
Delivering 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 earned a 10 out of 10 for drillin' like a villain. These drills crushed it with our hole saw test, powering through the door like a hot knife through butter in less than 20 seconds. We didn't even have to shift into the lower gear.
Both of these drills also did very well with the 1" spade bit, though the Kobalt drilled a little faster than the DEWALT DCD777C2. The DEWALT also struggled somewhat in its higher gear, while the Kobalt had no issues. Both of these powerhouse tools punched through the steel plate exceptionally quickly, each taking only 1-2 seconds with the ¼" drill and 3-4 seconds with the ½" drill.
Following suit, the Milwaukee M18 and the DEWALT ATOMIC earned a 9 out of 10 for their impressive drilling performance. The Milwaukee 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 get 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 easily drilled through the steel plates with the twist drills, but again it took just a couple of seconds more than the top DEWALT and the Kobalt.
The DEWALT ATOMIC also drilled through steel quite well with the pair of twist drills, quickly creating holes without a struggle. It also made short work of the 2x12 with the 1" spade bit, only stalling for a moment right as it punched through the wood.
However, the DEWALT ATOMIC couldn't quite match the ease at which the Kobalt drilled into the solid door with a 5" diameter hole saw. The DEWALT ATOMIC performed very inconsistently during this test, boring into the door effortlessly in one trial and then binding up and taking almost twice as long in others. We aren't sure what caused this inconsistency, but it happened often enough for us to be mildly concerned.
Next, the Ridgid R86009K, the DEWALT DCD771C2, and the Bosch GSR18V-190B22 also performed respectably in our drilling tests. Of these three, the Ridgid did the best at the hole saw. Neither the DEWALT nor the Bosch struggled with the big hole saw and drilled smoothly, but they took about 10 seconds longer than the Ridgid.
The best of this trio with the spade bit was the DEWALT DCD771C2, taking only slightly 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, such as a big knot.
The Bosch GSR18V struggled significantly with the paddle bit in its high gear setting but did a good job when we shifted to the higher torque ratio of its slow speed gear. This does mean that it takes a bit longer than the tools that could handle the task in their high gear, but it still successfully drilled the 1" holes. The Milwaukee M18 delivered a slightly stronger performance than the Ridgid with the paddle bit, but we found it prone to stall in the higher gear. Though it took quite a bit of convincing on our part, we were eventually able to drill all the way through without downshifting.
All three of these drills finished out with a strong showing when it came to drilling through steel. 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 the ½" holes took less than nine seconds.
Our next series of evaluations focused on how well each of these cordless tools performed at driving in fasteners. These assessments were given equal weight to our drilling tests, accounting for another 35% of the final score for each tool. Scores were based on the results of two different tests: wood screws and lag screws. We compared how quickly and easily each cordless tool drove in wood screws to a pair of stacked dimensional lumber boards, checking if they could countersink the heads flush. We also attempted to drive in a monster lag screw — ½" diameter, 5" long — completely, starting with the appropriate pilot hole.
When it came to driving in screws, the DEWALT DCD771C2 was the one tool that thoroughly distinguished itself from the rest. This drill did exceptionally well in both tests in this metric, earning a perfect score for its top-notch performance. It did a great job driving in the screws to their full depth without any difficulties, even the giant lag screw. It also offered plenty of control to set the countersunk heads to their proper depth.
Closely following the DEWALT 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 high score 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 some other models at driving standard screws. For the most part, it drives the screws in quickly and easily, but if the hole isn't pre-drilled, it occasionally struggles to set the countersinks — an issue that we didn't have with the other drills in this group.
The DEWALT DCD777C2 didn't struggle at all at setting the countersinks. It's fast and strong at driving in standard screws while still feeling very controlled. It also didn't struggle with the lag bolts a bit. When driving in a lag bolt, the Milwaukee M18 is almost identical to the DEWALT DCD777C2, but it's slightly inferior with standard screws. It's solid and doesn't struggle while driving, but it isn't the fastest. However, it won't lock up at all if you stop and restart while the screw is only partially driven in.
The PORTER-CABLE PCCK607LB and the DEWALT ATOMIC DCD708C2 struggled a noticeable amount more than the top-tier products in some of our drive tests. The PCCK607LB does a great job of driving in screws, with 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, however, struggled when it came to driving in the larger bolt. It managed to set it to its full depth, but it stalled out towards the end and protested for the last ⅛" or so.
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 exceptionally quickly and can easily set the countersunk heads flush or below the dimensional lumber's surface. It offers a ton of control to set the heads to the right depth, but there's a bit of a learning curve — it's so powerful that we consistently over-drove the screws the first few go-rounds.
Unfortunately, when it came to the giant lag screw, the Atomic struggled and delivered some thoroughly lackluster results. It would get off to a good start with the screw but stall out for the last inch. With lots of stopping and starting, we could get it to drive to the full depth, but by the time we got to the end of it, the drill motor gave off a concerning, unpleasant smell.
The Ridgid and Ryobi P252 showed a rousing performance at installing screws. The Ryobi P252 drives normal-sized wood screws about the same as the PORTER-CABLE, but it is slightly slower. The Ryobi P252 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, which makes it hard to control how deep the head ends up.
The Ridgid didn't struggle to fully seat the countersunk wood screws, but we don't think you have quite as much control as some other models. Occasionally a screw will end up deeper than planned because to set the screws you practically need to be at full power. Both the P252 and the Ridgid fared comparably with the ½" lag screw test. This pair of drills fully set the bolt but struggled a bit towards the end and stalled out a few times — almost the same experience as the ATOMIC.
The M12 FUEL did the best of the 12-volt cordless drills in this metric, holding its own against the higher voltage drills when driving standard screws and matching their speed, and easily setting the countersinks in a controlled manner. It could also drive many more screws in succession without heating up more than any other 12-volt model would. Unfortunately, its lack of power was a bit evident in the lag screw test. It just barely drove it to its full depth — stalling out even more than the Ridgid or the Ryobi P252.
The Craftsman CMCD700C1 did just a little better than the M12 FUEL with the smaller screws, driving them in slightly faster. However, it lacked the torque to fully seat the lag screw, leaving a little more than a half-inch of the bolt above the surface. No matter what we tried, we couldn't coax it to finish.
Both Bosch drills followed, with the Bosch PS31-2A and the GSR18V-190B22 performing almost identically even though they have different voltages. Both stalled out with about an inch to go with the lag and did a good — not great — job setting standard screws. Both of these drills tend to stall out if the resistance increases, but both can drive the screw to the full depth.
After assessing drilling and driving performance, we next ranked and compared the battery's performance of each of these cordless tools. This is a fairly critical metric — hence the "cordless" part of cordless drills. 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. We awarded points based on the number of sets completed. Other things we took into account were the number of batteries included and how long it took each one to recharge.
When it comes to batteries, the Kobalt KDD 1424A was the standout. This drill performed the best by far, only falling five screws short of making it through 11 cycles of the aforementioned test. It also only took an average amount of time — 75 minutes — to recharge its 2 Ah battery. Take note that this drill only comes with a single battery, so you might want to consider purchasing an additional battery if you want to have a charger backup.
The DEWALT ATOMIC 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 that also recharge rather quickly. A completely dead battery took 68 minutes to fully recharge in our test.
The Ridgid R86009K made it through just over six cycles, followed by the PORTER-CABLE PCCK607LB, which only fell short of six cycles by a single screw. The Bosch GSR18V finished exactly five. The Bosch only takes about 45 minutes to charge, and the Ridgid took about 53 minutes — but the PORTER-CABLE is on the slow side, taking 85 minutes to charge back up. Surprisingly, all of these drills have 1.5 Ah batteries. All these recharge times are somewhat negated, however, because these drills each come with two batteries.
The KIMO 13809S did decently well in the cycle test, almost making it through 7 complete cycles, falling a single 1" hole short of finishing the 7th set. It only includes a single 2.0 amp-hour battery and takes around 75 minutes to recharge.
For the remaining 10% of each drill's total score, we rated and scored all the features that make these products easier to use, examining everything from the size of the chuck to the ease of swapping batteries.
The PORTER-CABLE and the Ridgid stood out for being chock full of handy features. These drills have a maximum chuck size of ½", built-in LEDs, a belt clip, a battery level indicator, and two different speeds. The PORTER-CABLE is slightly lighter than the Ridgid, but the Ridgid's batteries were easier to swap out.
The Kobalt, the DEWALT DCD777C2, the DEWALT DCD771C2, the ATOMIC DCD708C2, the Milwaukee M18, the M12 FUEL, and the Craftsman CMCD700C1 all have a chuck that can expand up to ½". The Bosch PS31-2A and the KIMO 13809S's chuck are limited to ⅜". All of the drills in this group have two different speed/torque operating ratios and an integrated work light that we found to be fairly good, though the KIMO's is definitely on the dimmer side. The light on the Craftsman CMCD700C1 also isn't our favorite — if you're in a pinch, it will work, but supplemental lighting will be appreciated.
The higher voltage models — except for the KIMO 13809S — all are average in weight. The KIMO and the 12-volt models (Bosch PS31-2A and M12 FUEL) are slightly lighter, weighing in at under three pounds. These drills also have a battery indicator except for the DEWALT models, but only the Kobalt, the KIMO 13809S, the ATOMIC, and the M12 FUEL have belt clips. It is relatively easy to swap batteries on all of the drills, though we found the locking tabs on the M12 FUEL and the Craftsman CMCD700C1 to be stubborn.
Whether you are a professional looking for a top-tier premium tool or a beginner looking for the bare minimum to get started, we hope that this side-by-side comparison of the top cordless drills currently on the market has helped you find the perfect tool to match both your project requirements and your budget.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer