Best Cordless Drills for $100 or Less
CR’s expert picks from Craftsman, DeWalt, Hilti, and More
If you want a cordless drill to hang some shelves or fix a wobbly door hinge, there’s no reason to spend more than $100.
At Consumer Reports we’ve tested dozens of cordless drills, using a machine called a dynamometer to help us calculate run time, power, and speed. And though we find that the very best drills tend to be the most expensive, for most folks a lesser drill will be just fine.
“The trick is to know when and where to compromise,” says John Banta, who oversees CR’s drill testing.
Banta’s first tip if you’re on a tight budget is to choose a drill that rates highly in our speed and/or power tests but maybe not as well for run time.
“For any drill that comes with two batteries, as many do, run time isn’t critical because you can always charge one battery while you’re using the other,” he says. An inexpensive drill that scores well in power and speed tests can do most of the same tasks as a pricier model, just for a shorter period of time between battery charges.
Here are five of the best cordless drills from our ratings, listed in alphabetical order, that typically retail for $100 or less.
CR’s take: This simple model from Craftsman is quick to drill holes and drive screws, and it’s powerful enough for most tasks. It comes with only a single battery, but you should be able to complete moderate projects, such as building a bookcase, on a single charge.
CR’s take: This DeWalt cordless drill offers a lot of power and speed for the money. It comes with two lithium-ion batteries and a charger, plus it includes a generous three-year warranty. It also has nice little extras, including an integrated LED work light and a belt hook. It’s lightweight, about 2.5 pounds, and is quieter than most cordless drills.
CR’s take: This drill has a fixed, ¼-inch chuck, which isn’t a problem if you’re not drilling large holes. It’s pretty average when it comes to run time, but that’s okay because it comes with two batteries, so you can always keep one charging while you work. A built-in LED light helps you see what you’re doing, and the drill’s modest 2.2-pound weight makes it easy to wield. It comes with a 20-year warranty, which goes far beyond the usual three years for cordless drills.
CR’s take: This 20-volt Skil does fast work of drilling holes and driving fasteners. It’s also light and comfortable to hold, and weighs a little over 3 pounds. It comes with only one Li-ion battery but charges up very quickly, and it has an LED work light and a belt hook. This model comes with a generous five-year warranty.
CR’s take: This unique drill falls in our light-duty category because of the limitations of its fixed ¼-inch chuck. But it blurs the lines because it’s powered by a 20-volt battery, which would otherwise place it in the heavy-duty class. It’s a one-off design with two chucks, allowing you to load two bits at once and easily switch from drilling to driving by rotating the wheel at the business end of the tool. The dual chuck might be more of a liability than an asset for some. The mechanism makes the tool a little unwieldy and difficult to maneuver in tight spaces—say, inside a sink cabinet—which might be why you’d want a light-duty drill in the first place.