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Updated Mar 16, 2022 2:54 PM

A good cordless power drill is perhaps the most indispensable tool in a workshop. Equally adept at drilling holes as it is driving screws, this must-have tool is a key player in projects as wide-ranging as building a bookshelf to installing a towel bar. 

If you’re looking to add a new cordless drill to your tool arsenal, you have a broad range of models to choose from. There are affordable 12-volt drills for common household tasks and 18-volt powerhouses for pros and serious DIYers. It’s also important to consider such characteristics as torque, speed, and brand when shopping for a cordless drill. Read on to find more about this workshop staple and learn about some of the top models on the market.    

How We Selected These Products 

Methodology 

I regularly use a cordless drill to complete numerous home projects large and small. I used that experience to review more than a dozen cordless drills to produce our list of the top five. Power is key when choosing a cordless drill, so I went with models that offer excellent speed and torque whether selecting models for a 12-volt drill or an 18-volt model. A cordless drill should be easy to wield for short or long jobs, so I chose models with manageable weights of 2 to 3 pounds and ergonomic grips. Brand is crucial with any power tool. With that in mind, I chose cordless drills from some of the most respected names in tools. Some of these brands come with a premium price while others offer reliable yet affordable cordless drills. 

Best Cordless Drills: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Cordless Drill: DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Drill

With its 20-volt battery, DeWalt’s most affordable cordless drill can reach speeds of up to 1,500 RPM. DEWALT

Why It Made The Cut: DeWalt’s drill packs enough power for serious DIYers and pros alike at a price that won’t break the bank. 

Specs:

  • Power: 20-volt
  • Torque: N/A
  • Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Length: 8-1/2 inches

Pros:

  • Excellent speed and power at a reasonable price
  • Comes with two batteries
  • Carries the respected DeWalt name

Cons:  

  • A bit bulkier than other cordless drills
  • No definitive torque rating

This cordless drill is rugged and powerful enough to be worthy of a pro job site while remaining affordable enough for a DIYers budget. Powered by a 20-volt battery, DeWalt’s cordless drill can reach speeds of up to 1,500 rpm, making it fast enough to handle jobs that require a lot of fasteners. A slower speed option with a max of 450 rpm adds versatility and maximizes the drill’s torque output. 

The drill’s torque, unfortunately, is a bit of a mystery as DeWalt, believing it was unfair to equate torque with how quickly a drill could complete a job, stopped releasing that data point for its drills more than 10 years ago. Instead, it uses a value called UWO, which while useful for comparing DeWalt’s line of drills, does not help when comparing it with other brands, none of which use UWO. This model has a 300 UWO, which puts it among DeWalt’s most powerful cordless drills. 

At 8-1/2 inches long and weighing in at 3.6 pounds, this is one of the bulkier drills on the market, but DeWalt makes up for that with an ergonomic handle that makes it comfortable to hold for longer jobs. DeWalt’s drill comes with other useful features, including a ratcheting chuck that makes it easy to secure bits by hand, and an LED light with a 20-second delay for added visibility. Adding bang for the buck to this kit is the inclusion of two 1.5 amp rechargeable batteries. 

Best Budget: Black+Decker 20V Max Cordless Drill

This affordable cordless drill is a great option for general use around the home. BLACK+DECKER

Why It Made The Cut: With its 20-volt battery and 300 inch-pounds of torque, this drill offers more bang for the buck than any other drill we reviewed. 

Specs:

  • Power: 20-volt
  • Torque: 300 inch-pounds
  • Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Length: 7 inches

Pros:

  • Half the cost of high-end cordless drills
  • Large 20-volt battery
  • Fairly lightweight
  • High torque output

Cons: 

  • Includes only one battery

Black + Decker may lack the reputation of some of the higher-end name brands in the power tool business, but that’s a good thing if you’re looking for a deal. And what a deal this drill is. It comes with a hefty 20-volt battery that delivers enough power to create a max 300 inch-pounds of torque with speeds up to 1,400 rpm, putting it up there with the bigger brands. 

And while it may be a little bulkier than other drills at 3.4 pounds and 7 inches long, it makes up for it with a rubberized ergonomic handle that makes the drill comfortable to grip for long sessions of driving screws. It also includes several nice added touches, including a built-in LED light and two speed options. Although it only comes with one battery, it is compatible with Black+Decker’s line of PowerConnect cordless power tools.  

Best 12V Power Drill: Bosch Power Tools Drill Kit

Best 12V Power Drill

This sleek cordless drill boasts 265 inch-pounds of torque and features a battery integrated into the handle. BOSCH

Why It Made The Cut: Of the 12-volt drills we reviewed, this model offers more power in a streamlined design that makes it one of the easiest cordless drills to wield. 

Specs:

  • Power: 12-volt
  • Torque: 265 inch pounds
  • Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Length: 7 inches

Pros: 

  • Best in class torque output 
  • Compact size for high power output
  • Incorporates Bosch technologies that extend tool and battery life

Cons: 

  • Smaller battery doesn’t supply as much power as other cordless drills

Despite its smaller battery, this 12-volt cordless drill packs enough punch to handle even larger projects around the house. It produces a respectable 1,300 rpm and maximum torque of 265 inch-pounds all in a svelte frame that weighs a hair over 2 pounds. 

While that may not cut it for framing a house, that’s enough juice to handle basic around-the-house jobs and even some bigger DIY projects. Bosch places the battery inside the handle of this drill, creating a more even balance than drills that have large batteries hanging off the bottom of the handle. 

Though the smaller 12-volt battery gives this drill a shorter run time, Bosch makes up for it by including two batteries in the kit. There are also two speed options and 20 clutch settings plus one for drilling, adding the versatility needed to handle a variety of jobs.

Other thoughtful features include an LED work light and a battery gauge. The Bosch 12-volt cordless drill’s price tag is also on the lower end of the spectrum, making it a good buy for those who may only use a cordless drill for a few projects a year. 

Best for Pros: Milwaukee M18 18-Volt Brushless Cordless Drill

Best for Pros

This cordless drill boasts a best in class 500 inch-pounds of torque and features technologies that extend the life of the drill and battery. Milwaukee

Why It Made The Cut: We couldn’t find a cordless drill that produces more raw power than Milwaukee’s M18 cordless drill. 

Specs:

  • Power: 18-volt
  • Torque: 500 inch pounds
  • Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Length: 6-1/2 inches

Pros: 

  • Best in class torque output 
  • Compact size for high power output
  • Uses technologies that extend tool and battery life

Cons: 

Milwaukee’s M18 may be the most expensive cordless drill on the market, but its performance makes it the drill of choice for professionals and serious weekend warriors. Its ability to produce 500 pounds of torque with a max speed of 1,800 rpm, a benefit of its brushless motor, positions it firmly at the top of the industry when it comes to raw cordless drilling power. 

Despite its large 18-volt battery, the drill maintains a lightweight of just 3.4 pounds and a compact length of 6-1/2 inches. A molded grip and large pressure-sensitive trigger make the M18 easy to control. 

With a Milwaukee brushless tool, you also get the benefit of its RedLINK and RedLithium technologies. RedLink is a technology that allows the battery to communicate with the tool to prevent the battery from overloading or the tool from overheating by regulating RPM when it reaches levels that could cause excessive wear. RedLithium is Milwaukee’s proprietary rechargeable battery, which regulates battery temperature and output to increase run-time power and the number of charges you’ll get before the battery quits. These technologies add to the drill’s cost but also  extend its life, helping to offset its high price tag. 

Best Compact: DeWalt Atomic 20V Max Cordless Drill

This drill maintains ample speed and power despite its compact size. DEWALT

Why It Made The Cut: DeWalt’s cordless drill has a shorter head than other cordless models we reviewed, allowing it to fit into tighter spaces. 

Specs:

  • Power: 20-volt
  • Torque: N/A
  • Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Length: 6-1/2 inches

Pros:

  • Doesn’t compromise on power with 20-volt battery
  • Shorter length allows it to fit into tighter spaces
  • Light overall weight
  • Ergonomic handle and trigger

Cons:  

  • Comes with smaller 1.3 Ah batteries
  • DeWalt tools carry premium price 

Typically there’s a compromise in power with tools that are labeled “compact.” That’s not the case with the DeWalt Atomic Max 20, which attaches a powerful 20-volt battery and a brushless motor to a drill with a head that’s a full inch or more shorter than most cordless drills. At 6.3 inches, the Atomic Max 20 is notably shorter than the 7-inch length of a standard cordless drill, making it ideal for jobs that require fitting the drill into tight spaces. Despite its small size, it still produces 1,650 rpm.

DeWalt’s tools are known for their ergonomic designs and the Max is no exception. A contoured grip that features plenty of soft rubber and a large variable speed trigger makes it one of the more comfortable drills to use for extended use. It’s also one of the lighter cordless drills on the market at just 2.4 pounds. 

Other notable features include an LED work light on the base and a convenient belt hook. Though one of the pricier cordless drills on the market, DeWalt adds value by including two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in the kit. 

Things to Consider When Buying the Best Cordless Drill

Voltage and Power: When it comes to cordless tools, it’s important to pay attention to the battery voltage and amperage. Cordless drills generally come in 20-, 18-, and 12-volt varieties with some smaller models. A 12-volt drill is suitable for smaller household projects, such as constructing prefabricated furniture or mounting a coat hook on a wall. Larger 18- and 20-volt models are used by pros and avid DIYers who engage in more advanced carpentry projects, such as building a bookcase. 

Don’t be confused by the 18-volt and 20-volt batteries, which in fact are the same thing. When a drill first fires up, it briefly reaches an output of 20 volts before quickly dropping to a sustained 18 volts. Some manufacturers choose to label their drills with 18 volts while others use the peak burst of 20 volts. 

In addition to voltage, it’s also important to pay attention to amp hours, which determine how long a battery will run. Most cordless drills come with 1.3- to 1.5-Ah batteries, which provide adequate battery life. Larger 3.0- to 4.0-Ah batteries provide longer-lasting performance but add weight to the drill.

Speed and Torque: A real measure of a drill’s might is its speed and torque. Speed is given in revolutions per minute (rpm) while torque is measured in inch-pounds. A drill’s maximum torque is the amount of turning power it has at lower speeds. Torque is how well a drill can drive a screw or drill bit through thicker material, such as a 2×4. RPM determines how fast a drill will drive a screw or drill a hole, which is key for projects that require driving in a lot of screws or drilling numerous holes. 

Size and Weight: Cordless drills range in weight from as little as 2 pounds up to 3.5 pounds. They also have heads that range in length from around 5.5 inches for the most compact to 7 inches. Weight determines how easy a drill is to handle while the size is important when working in tight spaces. 

Brushed vs. Brushless: Like many cordless power tools, cordless drills come in both brushed and brushless models. Cordless tools with brushless motors run with less friction. This allows them to produce more speed and torque, plus run longer on a single battery charge. They are also subject to less wear and tear, so they don’t wear out as quickly as brushed motors. 

FAQs

Q: What is the highest torque cordless drill?

The highest torque cordless drill is the Milwaukee M18 18-Volt Brushless Cordless Drill, which boasts 500 inch-pounds of torque. Keep in mind that hammer drills, which are different types of cordless drills, can produce torque as high as 1,200 inch-pounds. 

Q: Is 18V or 20 v better?

An 18-volt battery is just as powerful as a 20-volt battery. In fact, they are the same thing. When an 18-volt battery first cranks up it produces 20- olts before quickly dropping to a constant 18 volts. When labeling their batteries, some manufacturers choose to go with the 20-volt peak power while others use the constant 18-volt power output. 

Q: What drill should I buy for home use?

The Bosch Power Tools Drill Kit, with its 12-volt battery, is a great option for performing most tasks around the home as well as lighter DIY projects. 

Final Thoughts

When purchasing a cordless drill, it’s important to think about how it will be used, especially considering the large price range for these power tools. While you don’t want to purchase a 12-volt drill that lacks the capacity for bigger jobs, paying a heavy-duty price tag for a cordless drill that will only see light duty around the house is a waste of money. Consider the type of jobs you plan on using that cordless drill for and purchase one that meets those needs while remaining within your budget.

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