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What's behind our cordless drill & tool kit Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 52 models in cordless drills & tool kits to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Based on speed, power, run and charge times, handling, and noise. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points.
  • Speed
    Based on drilling holes and driving screws.
  • Power
    Twisting force for driving and loosening bolts.
  • Run time
    Reflects how much work the drill can perform per battery charge, as measured on a dynamometer.
  • Charge time
    Based on how long it took to fully recharge a discharged battery.
  • Handling
    Based on the drill's weight and balance, along with the effort needed to position the head.
  • Noise at ear
    Denotes sound pressure, measured in decibels.
  • Weight
    Includes the drill and battery pack, to the nearest tenth of a pound.
  • Volts
    As specified for the battery pack the cordless drill uses.


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Recommended cordless drills & tool kits

Recommended cordless drills & tool kits are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
After months of drilling holes, driving screws, and rip-sawing lengths of pine beams, we found some heavily promoted cordless tools to be light on performance. But others were up to the task. Something to look for: More cordless drills and tool kits feature lighter or longer-running lithium-ion cells. If you're looking for information about cordless drills & tool kits, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ cordless drill & tool kit reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our cordless drill & tool kit buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings and cordless drill & tool kit reviews to help you choose the best cordless drill & tool kit for your needs.

Cordless drill & tool kit buying guide

Months of drilling holes, driving screws, and rip-sawing lengths of pine beams confirm that even high-priced, heavy-duty cordless tools can be light on performance. We've also found that you don't have to pay extra for lithium-ion batteries, though their lighter weight and longer run time helps.

Lighter lithium-ion cells are helping cordless drills shed some bulk. Our top picks weigh as little as two pounds and start at under $100. One top-scoring drill includes an impact driver with added torque, or twisting force, for roughly half what you'd pay if you bought both tools separately.

Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries power more and more drills and drivers. Added power and run time per pound over the familiar nickel-cadmium (NiCd) cells are the major talking points. Greener design is also a plus, since Li-Ion batteries don't contain toxic cadmium, which can leach into ground water if spent NiCd batteries are thrown into the trash instead of recycled. But Li-Ion cells could die an early death if you aren't careful. Several lithium batteries from multiple brands couldn't be recharged after we ran them down to full discharge. That makes using every last minute of run time a potentially expensive mistake, since replacement Li-Ion cells can cost $100 or more.

Although all the advantages and added cost of Li-Ion batteries also apply to nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries, Li-Ion cells are quickly becoming the hot items in the industry. But NiCd-powered tools still make up some of the market, thanks to their lower cost and decent performance for most needs.

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