After comparing close to 100 different models, we bought the 15 best cordless drills on the market in 2019 and compared their performance head-to-head to see which tool truly comes out on top. We drilled over 300 holes and drove in over 1000 screws, to really push these drills to the limits and see what they can do — we even tortured them with a 5" hole saw. In addition to ranking and scoring their drilling and driving performance, we also scored the battery life of each drill and looked at any other features they have which makes them more convenient and easier to use. Keep reading to see which drill drove their way to an award, which is the best for heavy-duty applications, and which is the best when you are shopping on a budget.
Best Cordless Drills of 2019
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|$180 List||$160 List|
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|Pros||Powerful, great battery life, fantastic integrated worklight||Excellent drilling performance, tons of driving power, decently convenient||Burly construction, tons of power||Phenomenal driving performance, solid drilling power||Good driving power, solid all-around performance, less expensive than premium products|
|Cons||Expensive, only includes a single battery||So-so battery life, somewhat pricey||Heavy, costly||Subpar battery life||So-so with the spade bit, slow to charge|
|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 get||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||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||The PCCK607LB is a good choice if you are looking to save some cash over the premium models but still want plenty of power|
|Rating Categories||Kobalt KDD 1424A-03||DEWALT DCD777C2||Milwaukee M18||DEWALT DCD771C2||PORTER-CABLE...|
|Included Battery (20%)|
|Specs||Kobalt KDD 1424A-03||DEWALT DCD777C2||Milwaukee M18||DEWALT DCD771C2||PORTER-CABLE...|
|Battery Capacity (Included)||2 Ah||1.5 Ah||1.5 Ah||1.3 Ah||1.5 Ah|
|Drill Model Tested||KDD 524B-03||DCD777||2606-20||DCD771||PCCK607|
|Box Model (Kit) Tested||672823||DCD777C2||2606-22CT||DCD771C2||PCCK607LB|
|RPM||Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 500
High: 0 - 1750
|Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1800
|Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1800
|Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1800
|Peak Torque||650 in-lbs||340 UWO||500 in-lbs||300 UWO||270 in-lbs|
|Measured Weight||3 pounds
|Measured Charge Time||75 minutes||65 minutes||31 minutes||58 minutes||85 minutes|
|Battery Indicator Location||Battery||N/A||Battery||N/A||Drill|
|LED Location||Above the battery||Above the trigger||Above the trigger||Above the trigger||Above the battery|
|Included Belt Clip||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|
Best of the Best
Kobalt KDD 1424A-03
Claiming the top score out of the entire group, the Kobalt earned the 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 one 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
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 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
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
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.
However, this 12-volt tool can't come close to matching the performance of the bigger and burlier models — it definitely struggled with some of the more arduous tasks, solidly protesting at the 5" hole saw and the larger lag bolts, but it still managed to finish these tasks. It also doesn't have an amazingly long battery life but if you are a homeowner of DIYer looking for dependable little drill on a budget, it's hard to go wrong with the PS31-2A.
Read Full Review: Bosch PS31-2A
Great for the Tightest of Budgets
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.
Unfortunately, this drill is definitely weaker than the top drills and we would recommend against using it for large lag bolts or hole saws on a regular basis if you want to extend its lifespan. It also doesn't have an amazing battery life and definitely seems like it lacks the durability of some of the top models. Regardless, if you are looking for a cheap drill for light-duty applications, the LDX120C is our top recommendation.
Read Full Review: BLACK+DECKER LDX120C
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 sort 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 additions 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 made over 300 holes with these products in both wood and metal, 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 over 100 different models, then bought the 15 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 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.
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.
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 followed suit, earning a 9 out of 10 for its drilling merits. 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 punch through the door with 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.
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 though if we kept stopping and restarting it.
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 the lower gear and you could tell they were struggling slightly.
The M12 and the Porter-Cable both did a bit better with the 5" hole saw than the Ryobi, drilling to the full depth in about 50 seconds. The Ryobi only struggled significantly right towards the end, taking five seconds longer than the other two.
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.
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 DEWALT also did better with the hole saw, almost making it through the entire door in about 150 seconds, though it did overheat and stop even with a brief pause partway through. This was far better than the WORKPRO, which started smelling terrible and smoking, forcing us to cancel the test out of fear that it was going to ignite.
The 12-volt BLACK+DECKER finished in the back of the group, earning a 1 out of 10 for its results. It might be fine for twist drills in wood, but it overheated in pretty much all of these tests and severely struggled across the board.
For our next metric, we moved on to ranking and scoring how well each drill does at driving in various fasteners. This is just as important as drilling — you actually might end driving screws considerably more frequently than drilling holes — and also accounts for 35% of the final score for each cordless tool. To determine scores, we drove in over a thousand screws in total, looking at how easily and quickly each drill drove the fasteners into a pair of stacked 2x12s. We didn't pre-drill for the smaller screws at all, only using a punch to make it easier to get them started and keep them from walking around before they caught. Additionally, we also used each tool to drive in a 5" long, ½" diameter lag bolt into a properly pre-drilled pilot hole, again noting how much each cordless drill struggled and if they were even powerful enough to drive the lag screw to its maximum depth.
In this test, one drill stood out from the rest, earning a perfect 10 out of 10: the DEWALT DCD771C2. This drill absolutely crushed both of our tests, quickly and easily driving the screws in until they hit their maximum depth. It had no issue at all driving the lag bolt in so that its head was flush on the surface of the wood and it easily set countersunk wood screws flush or below the surface, even without a countersunk pilot hole.
Closely following the DCD771C2's excellent performance, a trio 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 earned an 8 out of 10, following the frontrunners by a small amount. The PCCK607LB does a great job at 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. It 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 definitely protesting for the last ⅛" or so.
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 suffers from this problem — it has the power to set the screw heads below the surface, but you can definitely overdrive it as you have to use this drill's full power. It definitely affords you a lot less control than the best models. 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.
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 to set it than other drills.
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 barely will drive the normal screws flush and it gets quite upset drilling multiple screws in a row in. It also couldn't drive in the lag screw, leaving it over an inch above the surface of the board when it quit. 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.
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.
The Kobalt KDD 1424A stood out from the rest of the drills when it comes to batteries, earning an 8 out of 10. To test out battery life, we alternated between driving in 16 screws and drilling three 1" holes through a 2x12 with the spade bit until the drill died. The Kobalt did by far the best, only falling five screws short of making it through 10 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.
Next, 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. 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.
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 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.
A group of drills followed, with the Kobalt, the DCD777C2, the M18, the DCD771C2, 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", with the exception of the PS31-2A, which is limited to ⅜". However, they all have integrated lights and two different operating speeds.
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 — with the exception of the DEWALT models — but only the Kobalt, Makita, and 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.
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 with the exception of 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.
At this point, you should — hopefully! — have a pretty good idea of which tool tops them all when it comes to meeting your needs and budget. Additionally, while it might be tempting with all the marketing and our scores to lean towards the premium powerhouse drills, you should feel confident about getting a budget model if you aren't a professional or serious DIYer. Even the worst drill of the group is more than capable of hanging a picture or driving in a few screws, so don't feel too much pressure to buy more drill than you actually need.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer