Best Cordless Drills in 2017 - Guide & Reviews
The drills needed for a lot of DIY handyman tasks often require a power cable that you’d have to plug in to an outlet. That’s not always the best option in certain cases, however. What if you’re in a temporary worksite where there’s no power outlet yet? Moreover, the the cord can be a distraction to your work, as it just gets in the way. It’s for all these reasons that having the best cordless drills can truly come in handy.
Things to Consider Before Buying
So now the question you’re probably asking is: Just how exactly do you determine which of the cordless drills are the best? There’s the price factor, of course, but that’s hardly the only thing you need to consider. You also need to check the following:
Often you need a drill to insert screws in tough materials, as you just can’t do this by hand. So of course you need power. For this, you need to check the watt output, as well as the maximum rpm the drill can offer.
Your main options are either lithium ion or nickel cadmium batteries, and each type has their own sets of pros and cons. Ni-Cad batteries are generally less expensive, yet you can charge and discharge them more times before they die out completely. However, you need to use up this battery until it’s totally recharged before you recharge it again so you can avoid the memory effect.
Lithium ion batteries, on the other hand, are much more compact. Their charging times are shorter, you can charge them at any time without suffering from the memory effect, and you can operate it safely at a wider range of temperature.
The battery for cordless drills are often set at 18V, as this allows for a broad range of use including tasks such as drilling holes, fastening screws, and using circular saws. However, you may want a lower voltage if you’re going to use your drill mainly for fastening small screws. With higher voltage, it can give you more power and a longer run time.
Obviously, cordless drills are more portable since you can use them outdoors and in places where there isn’t any power outlet. But it negates the cordless advantage if you’re left with a drill that’s bulky and heavy.
It’s better when you have several speed settings to choose from, so that you can apply just enough rotational force for the job you’re doing. Also, if you don’t need that much rpm, then then lower setting can let you work longer on a single charge of the battery.
Additional Ease of Use Features
Many of the better drills allow you to make bit changes more easily, so that you don’t waste too much time changing the bit. The quality of the handle also matters, as you need a secure and comfy grip. Other drills also offer extra features such as an LED light that illuminates the work area so you can see what you’re doing.
For the most part, the best initial sign of high quality and durability is the brand name. You should stick to proven brands like Dewalt, Black and Decker, and Porter-Cable. These companies have been in the business of making tools for decades (if not for a hundred years) and they’ve managed to last long because their products are generally high quality and long lasting. These brands work very hard to maintain the high reputation they’ve achieved over the years.
Most of the time, cordless drills will come with a charger. But others also come with a bag and perhaps you may even get an extra battery. It may come with a bit set too, though in general you’ll need to pay extra for these accessories. Now that we got all these factors out of the way, here are our top recommendations for the best cordless drills:
Recommended Best Cordless Drills
This is an 18V cordless drill, and that’s sufficient power for most construction jobs that you may have to do. Your purchase includes a double-ended screwdriver bit and a kit box, plus 2 Ni-Cad batteries and a charger, along with a contractor bag to carry everything with you. With its power, you can use it to drill and fasten screws into several types of work materials.
You have 2 batteries though you need only 1 to power the drill. This allows you to keep working continuously, as you can charge one battery while you use the other. One advantage here is that these batteries can offer you more charge cycles, though on the other hand one battery doesn’t really store a lot of power compared to a lithium ion battery. At least it only takes you an hour at the most to recharge a battery completely.
It offers 2 speeds, with either 450 or 1,500 rpm. This allows you a lower setting when you don’t want to set your screws too tight.
Lightweight and Compact
It’s designed to really minimize fatigue when you use it. It’s compact at just 9 inches long, and it only weighs 5.2 pounds.
This comes with a half-inch single-sleeve keyless ratcheting chuck that grips your bit tightly, so that you don’t get any looseness that can affect the precision of your work. It’s a bit noisy, though, so you may want refrain from working in the living room when people are trying to relax.
This is one drill that really works if you wish to drill holes into plastic, wood, or even metal. If you’re driving a screw in, it’s the tool you can use.
It features the LBXR20 20 Volt MAX Extended Run Time Lithium Battery which is noted for its longer life, smaller size, lighter weight, and most important of all, it doesn’t have any memory effect. This means you can recharge it even if you haven’t fully discharged the battery (which is something you should never do to your Ni-Cad battery, BTW).
It’s also a 20V model, and this means that you have more than enough power for many tasks in your workroom.
This is extremely lightweight, as it only weighs 3.5 pounds. It means you can carry it for a longer period of time before you get tired and you need to set it down. However, it’s not really extremely compact, though it’s compact enough as it 10.62 inches long. That should still be small enough that you can maneuver it well even in tight spaces.
With this feature, countersinking so that the screw is flush with the work surface is possible yet you won’t have to damage the work material at all.
This enables you to have the precise control you need for your drilling and screwdriving tasks.
It’s always nice to have LED light in your tool so that you can be very sure that you’re drilling in the exact spot you want. It can be annoying that in some workrooms, the lighting may not be sufficient.
One of the best things about drill models that have been around for a few years is that you know how durable they really are by reading updated customer reviews. The Dewalt DCD771C2 is one good example. Many report that it works like new even after a year of heavy use. What’s more surprising is that they say the same thing about the battery—they haven’t had the need to buy a new one even after a year.
Two Lithium Ion Batteries
Since you already get 2 batteries, you can use just 1 until it gives out, and then you can replace it with then other one while you recharge the first battery. This battery is terrific, as it offers many hours of drilling before it gives out. That means that you certainly will have the other battery at full charge when this happens.
Also this battery doesn’t slowly peter out as it loses its charge. It’ll work like it’s freshly charged, and then it will just stop working completely.
Compact and Lightweight
It’s less than 10 inches long which is great, although the height may be an issue at nearly 14 inches. Still, the weight is light enough at 3.9 pounds so you don’t easily get tired holding it up in your hand.
What adds to your comfort is the nice design of the handle, which seems like it’s shaped to fit your hands just right. It gives you the control you need to do your job right, while you also feel comfortable.
There’s a 1,500 rpm option for drilling, but you can opt to use the 450 rpm for smaller screws which you don’t want to screw in too tightly.
This drill kit comes with the option of including an accessory set of more than a hundred (109, to be exact) assorted accessories for various needs. Of course, this option does come at a price, though in all honesty it’s not exorbitant. It does save you a lot of time if you wish to buy various bits, and the price is the same as the cost of 1 or 2 cups of Starbucks coffee.
The drill is reversible, so you can put screws or take them out. The torque is adjustable as well, which means you can keep from inserting the screws in too tightly. The 24-position clutch also keeps you from stripping and overdriving your screws.
It’s strong enough for most jobs, though some may not be satisfied with the 300-pound torque. Other 18V or 20V drills can provide 400 or even 450 pounds of torque.
Again, there are pros and cons with this lithium ion setup. The battery does hold up a charge really well. As it is lithium ion, it even stays charged for a year and a half if you don’t use it. (Of course, if you can last that long without using the drill, you don’t really need one, do you?
However, there’s only one 1 battery with this purchase. That’s not exactly ideal, because you’d have to stop when your battery dies. You must buy another one so you can use one battery while you recharge the other one.
It’s extremely durable, and users have admitted that even after 2 years of using it 3 times or more each week, it still works very well. It helps that it has a hard storage case.
109-Piece Accessory Kit
Just get this—it’s a real bargain. You get drill bits for plastic, wood metal, and even masonry, and they come in 1-inch or 2-inch sizes.
Here’s another drill with just a single battery! So when you buy this tool online, make sure you buy a spare battery so that you can use one while the other is recharging. While it’s certainly annoying that it only has a single battery, Black & Decker does get many other things right.
Compact and Lightweight
This is one of the most compact cordless drills you can find. It’s just 8.9 inches long and 7.8 inches high. That means you’ll find it surprisingly easy to use in tight work spaces. The weight isn’t much either at just 4.2 pounds.
Power and Torque
The speed can go up to 750 rpm, while the torque is set at 300 pounds. That should be enough for weekend DIY enthusiasts, though others may want to get another model with stronger torque. Still, it offers great speed control so you can turn your screws with just the right amount of speed.
The handle has an excellent design, and it feels good to grasp even for long periods. It offers a soft feel that keeps your fingers from hurting when you use it for longer periods.
Having 30 accessories will save you the trouble of building your own accessory set (which would probably cost you more as well). Here you have nut drivers along with drill and screwdriving bits. They’re perfectly suitable for the magnetic bit tip holder in the drill.
Dewalt has packaged a nice kit for many DIY enthusiasts, which makes working on handyman tasks a true pleasure. This combo kit comes with the DCF885 20v MAX Lithium Impact Driver along with the DCD771 20v Max Lithium Drill/Driver.
The impact driver is only 5.55 inches long front to back, and you’ll barely notice the weight at 2.8 pounds. It even comes with a belt hook so you can use both your hands when you’re climbing up and down a ladder.
Dewalt doesn’t offer torque measurements, as they don’t think it really portrays the true power output of the drill. They do say that it delivers 300 unit watts out, which basically means it offers adequate torque for most residential jobs. However, in some circles this is considered a starter set, so it’s not meant for heavy use.
Variable Speed Setting
One speed goes up to 450 rpm, while the other one ranges up to 1,500 rpm. Now you have options that prevent you from putting in your screws too tightly.
Many subpar drills don’t really offer a proper grip on the bits, which can really affect the quality of your work (and of your temperament). However, this time the half-inch single sleeve ratcheting chuck offers enough strength in how tightly it grips the bit, so it won’t come loose easily.
Aside from the compact size and low weight, it’s comfy to use because the handle is ergonomically designed. It’s comfy to hold and the shape makes it easy to control.
Do you do a lot of wall mounting jobs? Then you’ll need a stud sensor as well as a drill and driver. That’s part of this purchase, and it’s very convenient. It can find studs through walls that are 0.75 inch thick.
This is an 18V model, and that’s enough power for many tasks and for a reasonable amount of run time. However, this is a Ni-Cad battery so you should make sure you drain the battery completely before you recharge it. It lasts about 5 hours with hard use, though for heavy use it only lasts for 2 hours.
You may notice that this package comes with just one battery. There’s another kit that comes with an extra battery, but this is the better option. That’s due to the fact that recharging the battery takes a very long time. If you’re lucky, it’ll take 12 hours, though more often than not it takes 15 hours.
So if you’re going to work the whole day, you may want to buy at least 2 extra batteries to be on the safe side. At least the slide pack battery makes it easy for you to remove and put in your batteries.
It’s easy enough to change bits with the keyless chuck, while the 24-position clutch allows you the control you need so you keep from stripping your screws. There’s also magnetic bit holder built in that can carry up to 6 one-inch drill bits.
Easy to Carry
It’s really not too big at all, as it 9.6 inches long and 13.3 inches high. It’s bigger than most, but not much bigger. It’s also a bit heavier than most at 5.4 pounds, but again the difference is barely noticeable for most men.
You can set the speed all the way to 750 rpm, and the trigger also allows you to go in reverse. You need this feature so that you can remove as well as put in screws.
It may be small, but it sure is powerful. That’s the combination of features that you get with this drill. Porter-Cable knows what it’s doing, as this company has been in the business since 1906.
Variable Speed Setting
Here you have 2 speed limits to choose from. One goes up to 400 rpm, and it’s ideal for fastening small screws. For tougher jobs, the other speed is better as it reaches up to 1,600 rpm. There’s no torque info except that it offers 330 unit watts out, and basically that means you get a lot of torque to use.
There’s only 1 battery in this kit, so you need to buy another one. Two should be enough, because the charging time takes far less time than the run time of a full charge.
Extremely Light and Compact
This is great for tight spaces, with a length of 8.8 inches and a height of just 9.8 inches. What’s more, the weight is almost negligible at a mere 3.5 pounds
At 20 volts, the motor does offer more than enough power for your attachments and tasks. It’s powered by a lithium ion battery, but you should buy a spare at the same time you get this set. If you’re new to drills, this is a good starter set to begin with.
Matrix Quick Connect System
This is the B & D setup that lets you change attachments easily and without tools. With this model, you can use up to 6 different attachments, though you’d have to buy most of them separately.
High Single Speed Setting
This does offer a single maximum speed of 800 rpm, though you can of course set it to a lower rpm to match your requirements.
Compact and Light
It only weighs 4.3 pounds, and it’s not really all that big. The height is manageable at 12.5 inches.
Buy a spare, and you’re all set. The lithium ion battery will run longer than the time it takes for you to charge the other one. Also, the power won’t slowly become weaker. It’ll give you full power, and then it’ll just stop when it’s drained out.
What if you don’t need a heavy duty drill? If you just need to drill small screws every now and then, you don’t need to spend too much money for an 18V drill. This 12V drill and driver is more than enough for your needs
Since you don’t really need much torque, here you get 130 in-lbs. of torque.
You also get 2 speed settings. There’s a 2 speed switch that lets you choose between up to 400 rpm and up to 1200 rpm. There’s also an indicator showing if you’re using the low or high setting.
SmartSelect Clutch System
Here all you need to do is to pick your project icon, and the drill will automatically adjust to the speed and power setting that’s right for the job.
This time, it’s like a smartphone. You don’t need to remove the battery in order to recharge it. The charge can hold for a long while, and then you only need 3 hours to get a full charge. The battery will last about 3 years before you need to get a new one to replace it.
Handy Tips for Buying a Cordless Drill
Now that you know which cordless drills you can choose from and you’re aware of which factors to consider, you’re ready to buy. Here’s how you go about buying the right cordless drill:
- Make sure you actually have a good reason to buy a cordless drill. It’s not really a good idea to get one if you’re just looking forward to not having any power cords to deal with. The problem is that the convenience of the lack of a cord is more than outweighed by the annoying need to recharge batteries all the time.
- Pick only from name brands. These brands generally offer better tools that work properly and last longer. Or better yet, limit your options to the ones on our list!
- Buy online. Tools bought online tend to be much more affordable than the ones available in your local hardware store, though it’s not always the case.
- Try them out. It’s still a good idea to go to your local hardware store to look at the various drills so you can get a proper feel for them in your hand. Hold one and see if how comfy it is. Is it too heavy? Are the contour and the texture of the grip to your liking? Does your finger fit nicely around the trigger?
- Read online reviews. Most online retail stores allow customers to post online reviews. First check how many there are. If there are only a few dozen reviews, then you’re gambling on the real quality of the drill. You need a high average rating based on hundreds of reviews. This means these things are popular and there are good reasons why a drill is popular.
Then read some of the more comprehensive reviews to check how easy it is to use, and how long they last. Reviews from customers can provide a pretty fair picture of what you can expect from a drill. Some can also report on the durability of a drill, so they can write about whether the drill still works well after being used for several months or even a year.
- Pay attention to the most recent reviews. Sometimes a company which used to manufacture a high quality model may decide to cut down on expenses by producing lower quality units of a well-regarded model. So you should check out the most recent reviews to see that most of them are still offer rave reviews.
When you use a cordless drill, you no longer have the need to work near a power outlet. This opens up a range of possibilities. You can work at campsites. You can work in your backyard. You can work on your ceiling without worrying about the lamentably short 6-foot length power cords.
All these advantages are yours, and you can minimize the potential drawbacks by picking one of the best cordless drills we’ve recommended in this guide. We strongly recommend that you ignore cheap no-name brands. In the end, they will just probably conk out on you, and you’ll end up spending more money buying replacements. Start with the best, and you get better results right away. It’s more cost-effective (and much less frustrating) in the long run.