After researching over 100 different models, we bought the 19 best cordless drills on the market today and tested them side-by-side to find out which tool came out on top. During our comprehensive testing process, we drilled over 400 holes and drove in more than a thousand screws, all to help you find the right tool to meet your needs and budget so you can finally tackle that DIY project. We pushed these tools to their torque and battery limits with enormous lag screws and giant hole saws. We also compared their ease of use before deciding on the award winners. Check out our review to see which drill we crowned best of the best, which is the most budget-friendly option, and which we found to be the most rugged.
Battery Type: 18V, Lithium-Ion | Maximum Chuck Size: ½"
REASONS TO BUY
Tons of drilling and driving power
Great battery performance
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavier than average
If you're on the hunt for a heavy-duty cordless tool and are looking for a tool-only option, then the Milwaukee M18 Fuel is a prime candidate. It is great for heavy-duty applications, offering more than enough drilling and driving power for just about every task imaginable. The battery is also efficient as it bores more holes and drives in more screws than other models using the same capacity battery.
The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is noticeably heavy, weighing quite a bit more than other contenders. It also lands on the pricier end of the spectrum. Those who don't plan on using a drill regularly or might not require the drilling and driving power for heavy-duty applications may find other options more suitable for their budget, or kits that also include batteries for similar prices, including the DeWalt Atomic 20V Max Brushless Compact 1/2 In. Drill/Driver Kit DCD708C2
Battery Type: 20V, Lithium | Maximum Chuck Size: ½"
REASONS TO BUY
Solid drilling power
Offers plenty of control for setting fasteners
REASONS TO AVOID
Mediocre battery life test
Not huge fans of the integrated LED
This tool is one of the less expensive options out there but holds its own against tools that cost quite a bit more. The Craftsman V20 1/2-In Drill/Driver did surprisingly well in some of our toughest tests, boring holes up to 5" in diameter without issue and offering plenty of control when it came to setting countersunk fasteners to the appropriate depth. It isn't overly heavy and would be a great complement to the occasional DIYers or a homeowner's toolbox.
The Craftsman isn't our top recommendation if you want to use this tool as the foundation for your eventual cordless tool collection. We don't think the library of compatible tools is as popular or readily available as other battery systems, and it's much smaller. Combined with the fact that you usually only get a single battery, we suggest investing a bit more if you plan to procure more cordless versions of your favorite tools in the future and want to use the same batteries across multiple tools — like you might with the Milwaukee M18 Fuel. Despite that, we were impressed with the performance of the Craftsman given its affordable nature and would readily recommend it if you're planning to buy only a drill.
Battery Type: 20V, Lithium-Ion | Maximum Chuck Size: 3/8"
REASONS TO BUY
Fine for light-duty work
REASONS TO AVOID
Not very powerful
Short battery life
If you have a limited budget and you're only looking to do light-duty DIY projects around your home, check out the Black+Decker 20V Max Drill/Driver LDX120C. This tool costs significantly less than the top models and has more than enough power for most tasks, all in a compact form that is easy to stash in a drawer. It's lightweight and easy to handle, making it the perfect option for beginners or entry-level DIYers, and it is very convenient and user-friendly.
In terms of drilling and driving power, the LDX120C is severely deficient and pales in comparison to premium models. We found the performance highly unimpressive when using larger hole saws and driving in big bolts. If prolonging its life is important, we can't say we recommend using this model for either of these types of tasks. The battery delivered an uninspiring performance during our battery life tests, and we felt it was less durable than other drills overall. While it is not the best for heavy-duty applications, it is our top recommendation if you want a bare-bones drill on a tight budget. However, for a relatively affordable drill with similar performance and better battery life, also consider the Craftsman V20 1/2-In. Drill/Driver Kit CMCD700C1. While a little more expensive, you'll be pleased with the improved performance and battery life.
Battery Type: 12V, Lithium-Ion | Maximum Chuck Size: 3/8"
REASONS TO BUY
Solid drilling performance
REASONS TO AVOID
Mediocre battery life
No belt clip
If you are shopping on a budget and like the pistol grip style and compact size of a 12-volt drill, then the Bosch 12V Max Drill/Driver Kit PS31-2A is a fantastic option for you. This model is a great option for the average homeowner who might want to undertake some DIY or home improvement projects but isn't doing any major renovations. This pint-sized device packs plenty of punch, doing quite well in our drilling and driving evaluations, all while being one of the more convenient tools to operate. This handy cordless is lightweight, ergonomic, and a great addition to any DIYers arsenal. Being smaller and lighter, this tool fits nicely into tight and dark spaces that larger tools cannot access, and it doesn't take up as much space on a tool bench.
Unfortunately, the Bosch PS31-2A can't quite compare to the drilling and driving performance of the top-tier, higher voltage tools. The 12-volt Bosch struggled to drive the ½" lag screw in and complained when getting the 5" hole saw to its full depth. The battery life here is also somewhat lackluster. While other 12-volt models, including the majority of the more recently tested 5-in-1 drills, outperform the Bosch overall, we found the price of the Bosch to be enticing, making this Bosch a good bargain for a tool that is more than capable of handling light-duty tasks and house projects. Another model worth considering in the 12-volt space is the Dewalt Xtreme 12V 5-In-1 Drill Driver Kit DCD703F1. It offers greater all-around performance but also includes angle changing heads that drastically improve convenience.
Battery Type: 12V, Lithium-Ion | Maximum Chuck Size: ⅜"
REASONS TO BUY
Solid overall performance
REASONS TO AVOID
Less battery life than 18 and 20v
The Dewalt Xtreme 12V 5-in-1 Drill Driver Kit highlights the benefits of its reduced weight and compact dimensions, all while delivering a level of power and performance that rivals drills with higher voltage ratings. This drill is an ideal choice for tasks performed overhead or in cramped environments, such as attics or crawlspaces. When used in combination with various attachments, it allows for significant adjustments in drilling angles and positions, greatly enhancing convenience when working in tight or obstructed spaces.
The Dewalt Xtreme 12V 5-in-1 Drill Driver Kit kit only includes one battery, as opposed to the two that are typically included by competitor brands. We also found that attachments can be a little finicky to line up and attach, and while this is a 12-volt model, it would be nice to see a chuck size up to a half inch as is seen on more powerful models, as opposed to the ⅜ inch chuck. Minor criticisms aside, if a 12-volt system meets your requirements for power, performance, and battery life, then you'll be more than satisfied with this compact and capable model. If you don't plan to take advantage of angle changing heads or the compact size of a 5-in-1 and prefer greater overall performance and longer battery life, you may appreciate the Milwaukee M18 FUEL.
To test and review drills, we bought all of the tools from major retailers at standard prices — just like you. At GearLab, we never ask for or accept any free products from companies, ensuring that our reviews aren't compromised by any financial incentives. We put these tools to the test in both controlled side-by-side evaluations and used them for various home renovation projects. We also did an exhaustive battery test to see just how many holes we could make, or screws you could drive, with each device before they ran out of juice. Finally, we scored each power tool's ergonomics, comfort, and convenience features. 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 on picking out the drills that had the most potential and designing our scoring and testing plan.
Over the years, we've purchased more than 30 cordless drills for testing. We put each model through multiple and repeated performance analyses to rate drilling, driving, battery life, and more. In total, each drill goes through more than 46 individual tests. We drilled hundreds of holes in both metal and wood with these tools, using everything from standard twist drills to paddle bits and giant hole saws. We drove in over 1000 screws — everything from standard #9 wood screws to hulking ½" lag bolts. The most critical metric is drilling, comprising 35% of the overall score. This metric is made up of drilling with a 5" hole saw (50% of total metric score), 1" spade bit (30% of score), and 16 ga Steel with twist bits (20% of total).
Our drill testing is divided across four rating metrics:
Drilling tests (35% of total score weighting)
Driving tests (35% weighting)
Battery Life tests (20% weighting)
Convenience tests (10% weighting)
Our testing team consists of Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Matt Spencer. Austin has extensive experience using tools in both an industrial and DIY setting, having worked on an oil rig and undertaking 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 deepwater surveying robots to Formula SAE race cars. He also has apprenticed and assisted his dad on various job sites — a general contractor of over 30 years. Matt is currently studying engineering and has worked on GearLab projects such as pressure washers and other outdoor tools.
Analysis and Test Results
To see which model is the best of the best, we researched and compared 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.
If you are shopping for a new drill on a budget, you will notice a pretty direct correlation between the cost of the tool and its performance. However, this doesn't mean you should start to despair if you are on a tight budget because many people don't need the drilling or driving performance that the premium products offer. Even some of the cheapest models in our test offer enough power for homeowners without a ton of DIY aspirations. The Black+Decker LDX120C is our top recommendation for searching 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 should consider the Craftsman CMCD700C1 or the Bosch PS31-2A. These models cost a bit more but offer better overall performance than the LDX120C. If you are a serious DIYer or use tools in a professional capacity, you will want to be shopping in the higher echelon of these tools. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel is a favorite, and when used frequently, its performance advantages outshine the upfront costs. In the compact 12-volt 5-in-1 sector of the drill driver market, we found the Dewalt Xtreme 12V 5-in-1 Drill Driver Kit to offer extreme convenience and great performance at a reasonably affordable price.
This metric, which accounts for 35% of the total score for each tool, is based on how each product fared when drilling holes with a paddle bit, drilling through steel, and using a 5 inch 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 make tons and tons of holes in a standard 2x12 (wood), and saw how each model 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 while doing so.
The DeWalt DCD777C2 delivered a top-notch drilling performance. It delivered fast results in 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.
The DeWalt did struggle a bit in its higher gear drilling through steel sheets, but this powerhouse punched through the steel plate exceptionally quickly, taking only one to two seconds with the ¼" drill and three to four seconds with the ½" drill.
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel, Milwaukee M18, and DeWalt Atomic followed suit for their impressive drilling performances. The Milwaukee M18 did well 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 models did it in about 17 seconds, whereas it took the Milwaukee M18 30-35 seconds to drill to the same depth. We found it to be prone to stalling when using the higher gear. We eventually made it all the way through without downshifting, though it took quite a bit of convincing on our part. It easily drilled through the steel plates with the twist drills, but it again took just a couple of seconds more than the top DeWalt.
The M18 Fuel did very well with the spade bits and twist drills, delivering top-tier results. It only took around 15 seconds to drill the hole saw to the full depth but seemed to catch and stall more in the higher gear than some of the other drills.
The Ryobi ONE+ HP 18V made quick work with the hole saw, chomping through the door faster than most other models in our review with a measured time of 20 seconds. When we used this model to make 1" holes with a spade bit into a 2 x 12 board, we found that it hardly struggles and drills very quickly provided that you are in the appropriate gear setting. When we used twist bits, the PBLDD01 was quick and easy with the ¼" size with a measured time of 1 second but slowed down to 4 or 5 seconds with a ½" bit.
The DeWalt Atomic matched the performance of the DeWalt DCD777C2 at drilling through the steel with twist drills, quickly and easily making holes with little to no struggle at all. It also made short work of the 2x12 with the 1" spade bit, only stalling for a brief moment right as it punched through the wood.
The Atomic performed very inconsistently during the 5" hole saw test, boring into the door effortlessly in one trial and then binding up and taking almost twice as long in others. We aren't entirely sure what caused this inconsistency, but it happened often enough to be mildly concerning.
The Bosch GSR18V-190B22 ranked next when it came to our drilling tests. This tool drilled ¼" holes in the metal sheet in less than three seconds, and the ½" holes took less than nine seconds. For perspective, the Bosch did take about 10 seconds longer than the Milwaukee M18.
If you're in the market for a compact 12-volt drill, the Dewalt Xtreme 12V 5-in-1 Drill Driver Kit DCD703F1 exhibited impressive results in our drilling tests, especially considering its lighter and more compact design. Its drilling performance actually rivaled and even outcompeted a few of the less performant higher voltage models we tested, proving it is not only a convenient and compact model but a very capable one also.
The Bosch 12V Flexiclick 5-in-1 Drill Driver System GSR12V-300FCB22 and the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Installation Drill Driver Kit 2505-22 exhibited decent performances, with the Milwaukee M12 taking the lead. Both are reasonable options for drilling tasks in the compact 12-volt tool sector, even if they aren't up to the tasks that more powerful models better handle.
Our next series of evaluations focused on how well these devices 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 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 Milwaukee M18 Fuel and Makita XFD14Z distinguished themselves from the rest. These devices did exceptionally well in both tests in this metric, earning a perfect score for their top-notch performances. They did a great job driving the screws to their full depth without any difficulties, even the giant lag screw. We also love how these tools offer plenty of control to set the countersunk heads to their proper depth.
The Ryobi ONE+ HP 18V, DeWalt DCD777C2, and Milwaukee M18 (non-Fuel version) each earned high marks for their driving efforts.
The DeWalt DCD777C2 didn't struggle 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 if you stop and restart while the screw is only partially driven in.
The Ryobi ONE+ HP 18V was very fast and easy at driving 3" wood screws. It was easy to get the screw heads flush with the board, and this model had great speed control during this part of our assessment. When we performed the lag test with this model, it was able to drive the screw head about ¼" short without stopping. With multiple trigger pulls, the PBLD01 was able to drive the lag the rest of the way.
The Dewalt Xtreme 12V 5-in-1 Drill Driver Kit DCD703F1 did the best of the 12-volt cordless drills in this metric, holding its own against the higher voltage models when driving standard screws, matching their speed, and easily setting the countersinks in a controlled manner. It could also drive many more screws and bore more holes in succession than other 12-volt models.
The Bosch 12V Flexiclick 5-in-1 Drill Driver System GSR12V-300FCB22 and the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Installation Drill Driver Kit 2505-22 both exhibited reliable driving performances but were less impressive than the Dewalt Xtreme 12V 5-in-1 Drill Driver, and cannot perform as well as much stronger 18 and 20-volt models — although the Dewalt Xtreme 12V 5-in-1 did rival the performance of a few higher voltage models.
After assessing drilling and driving performance, we next ranked and compared the battery performance of each of these cordless tools. We tested how efficiently each device used its battery power, alternating between driving in 16 screws and boring three 1" holes through a 2x12 with the spade bit until each product died. We awarded points based on the number of sets completed. We used the included batteries for the test or a comparably-sized battery from the manufacturer if the device was purchased as a tool-only option. We used the standard manufacturer's charger for the charging test to compare charge times.
Get a Rapid Charger
Many manufacturers and third parties produce rapid chargers for cordless tool batteries. If you frequently wait for your batteries to charge, consider getting a rapid charger to reduce your charging time.
Both the Milwaukee M18 Fuel and the Makita XFD14Z did exceptionally well in this metric. They completed nine cycles and a partial tenth before the battery was exhausted. We used a two amp-hour battery for both of these models for this test.
We also liked that both of these battery brands charged very quickly, with the Milwaukee taking 25 minutes and the Makita taking 23 minutes.
The DeWalt Atomic made it through a respectable seven full cycles and 12 screws into the 8th before dying. A completely dead battery took 68 minutes to fully recharge in our test. Showing nearly identical results, the Ryobi ONE+ HP 18V completed seven full cycles and 14 screws into the 8th round before running out of juice and could fully charge in 63 minutes.
It is worth mentioning that while the best 12-volts can't compete with the best 18 or 20-volts in terms of battery life, similarly rated 2 amp hour batteries charge relatively quickly in 12-volt models. Many of the compact 12-volt model drill driver kits include two batteries, meaning you will be able to handle most home and DIY tasks with little to no downtime.
The remaining contribution of each model's total score came from convenience. 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 — and, in the case of compact 5-in-1 models, the ease of changing and versatility of angle-changing attachments.
When it comes to convenience, compact 5-in-1 12-volt models are unmatched. Their compact size, lighter weight, and angle changing attachments make working in tight or overhead spaces a breeze. While they may not be as powerful as the 20-volt models on the market, they can reach places larger, more powerful models cannot, and in the case of the top performing 12 volt, the Dewalt Xtreme 12V 5-in-1 Drill Driver Kit DCD703F1, they can sometimes rival the performance of more powerful models for shorter durations.
In addition to angle-changing heads, every model accepts standard ¼" hex shanks, so you'll have the same feel, make use of the same bits you have for your bulkier higher voltage tools, and use them to reach normally unreachable spaces.
Behind the 5-in-1 models, the Porter-Cable stood out for being chock full of handy features. It has a maximum chuck size of ½", built-in LEDs, a belt clip, a battery level indicator, and two different speeds.
The DeWalt DCD777C2, Atomic DCD708C2, Milwaukee M18, Milwaukee M18 Fuel, Makita XFD14Z, Ryobi ONE+ HP 18V, and the Craftsman CMCD700C1 all have a chuck that can expand up to ½".
The Bosch 12V Max Drill/Driver, DeWalt DCD701F2 Xtreme 12V Max Brushless, and every 5-in-1 12-volt model tested all have chucks limited to ⅜". All of the devices in this group have two different speed/torque operating settings and integrated work lights, which are common features on most drills today. However, 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.