Best Cordless Drills of 2021

Consumer Reports puts models from top brands, including DeWalt and Makita, through their paces

A Consumer Reports tester using a cordless drill to drive fasteners onto a dynamometer device
Photo: Brian Finke
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Shopping for a new cordless drill can be overwhelming. For starters, any given manufacturer may offer dozens of drills. Put them all together and you’re choosing among hundreds of options. (Then you might wonder, as you shop, whether you should get a brushless drill.)

If you haven’t bought a new cordless drill in the past decade, you’ll notice that they’ve gotten much lighter and more energy-efficient, thanks to advancements in lithium-ion battery technology.

“A more recent trend we’re seeing is interchangeable batteries that work among a brand’s entire suite of power tools,” says Peter Anzalone, a senior test project leader at Consumer Reports. “So you can use the same batteries for your drillchainsaw, and string trimmer. You can adjust the voltage to match the project you’re working on and save money by buying bare tools to complete your set.”

If drill performance is your priority, we’ve got you. We narrowed down the field to 35 of the most widely available models and ran them through a series of tests in our cordless drill lab, where we test on a dynamometer device that measures torque under different loads. We translate those readings into scores for power, speed, and run time.

Our top 10 cordless drills are listed here in alphabetical (not rank) order. For more details on drill types, see our cordless drills buying guide.

Bosch PS32-02
Bosch PS32-02

    Bosch PS32-02

    CR’s take: This 12-volt drill is one of only three models with a brushless motor in the general-use category. That means the drill can deliver a tad more power than if it used a traditional “brushed” motor. It also means it will run longer on a charge and probably have a longer life span. The Bosch is highly rated for handling, too, because it weighs only 2 pounds, less than half the weight of a number of heavy-duty drills we tested. The slim pistol-grip profile makes it easy to wield but also prevents it from standing upright when not in use. The compact size lets you maneuver the drill into the most awkward of positions and accommodates a built-in LED light and bit storage.

    What’s included: Two 2-amp-hour batteries, five bits, a belt hook, a soft-sided case, and a three-year warranty.

    DeWalt DCD701F2
    DeWalt DCD701F2

      DeWalt DCD701F2

      CR’s take: This 12-volt general-use drill is light enough that you won’t tire when swapping out an overhead light fixture but forceful enough to bore holes in hardwood without bogging down—that’s what you get with a brushless motor. The drill ranks at the top for its power and speed scores, and its price earns it a CR Best Buy badge of honor.

       

      What’s included: Two 2-amp-hour batteries, a belt hook, a built-in LED light, a soft-sided case, and a three-year warranty.

      DeWalt DCD991P2
      DeWalt DCD991P2

        DeWalt DCD991P2

        CR’s take: This 20-volt heavy-duty brushless DeWalt is one of our best performers, snagging top ratings for power, speed, and run time. But the hefty 5-amp-hour battery that produces all that power makes this drill heavy, unbalanced, and a bit awkward to handle. Weighing in at 4.7 pounds, it’s at least 1 pound heavier than most other heavy-duty drills and more than double the weight of some 12-volt models we test. Unlike most drills in our ratings, this one is equipped with three speed settings, providing a handy middle option for drilling into soft metals such as aluminum, when the slow speed required for steel isn’t enough and the fast speed for wood is too much.

        What’s included: Two 5-amp-hour batteries, a belt hook, an LED light, a hard-sided case, and a three-year warranty.

        DeWalt DCD791D2
        DeWalt DCD791D2

          DeWalt DCD791D2

          CR’s take: This dynamo can drill fast, garnering a top rating for speed. Its performance and great price earn this compact DeWalt a CR Best Buy designation. The 20-volt heavy-duty brushless drill weighs a little over 3 pounds, which makes it easy to handle. But don’t be fooled: It packs a punch. It’s fast at drilling holes and driving screws, with enough power to handle most DIY jobs easily. One downside? This drill is noisier than most others.


          What’s included: Two 2-amp-hour batteries, a belt hook, an LED light, a hard-sided case, and a three-year warranty.

          Hilti SFD 2-A
          Hilti SFD 2-A

            Hilti SFD 2-A

            CR’s take: This unique drill falls in our light-duty category because of the limitations of its fixed, ¼-inch chuck. That’s not a problem, though, if you’re not drilling large holes. Plus, it goes for half the price of many cordless drills with similar capabilities while still proving to be reasonably powerful. A built-in LED light helps illuminate your workspace, and the drill’s modest 2.2-pound weight minimizes strain and fatigue.

            What’s included: Two 2.6-amp-hour batteries, a belt hook, an LED light, a soft-sided case, and a 20-year warranty, which goes far beyond the standard three years for cordless drills.

            Makita FD06R1
            Makita FD06R1

              Makita FD06R1

              CR’s take: While it’s not the right choice for anyone who needs to sink thousands of screws, this light-duty 2-pound Makita is the right tool for the discerning but budget-conscious hobbyist. It provides solid performance in a compact design, ideal for tight spaces and overhead tasks such as putting in a ceiling fan. It’s lightweight and ergonomic, and it handles like a dream. While the ¼-inch chuck isn’t as versatile as the chucks of general- and heavy-use drills, it gets light drilling and driving jobs done, and done well.

              What’s included: Two 2-amp-hour batteries, a belt hook, an LED light, a hard-sided case, and a three-year warranty.

              Makita FD07R1
              Makita FD07R1

                Makita FD07R1

                CR’s take: This general-use Makita is the third brushless model in our general-use category. It weighs just over 2 pounds and stands barely 6 inches tall. Despite its slim profile, the Makita aced our power test and packs a serious punch, making it a solid alternative to some of the larger 18- and 20-volt models. It doesn’t rate as well as some others for run time, but the kit comes with two batteries and a rapid charger, which tops off an empty battery in an impressive 60 minutes.

                What’s included: Two 2-amp-hour batteries, a belt hook, an LED light, a hard-sided case, and a three-year warranty.

                Makita XFD12R
                Makita XFD12R

                  Makita XFD12R

                  CR’s take: This 18-volt heavy-duty brushless Makita will drill plenty of holes fast. (It aced our speed test.) It also has the quickest battery charge time by far. The charger juices up a dead battery in a mere 30 minutes; most others in this category take about an hour. Also noteworthy is the drill’s form factor: A compact and well-balanced design makes it easy to handle while still maintaining the ability to tackle tough jobs. This Makita will perform well enough to serve as a tackle-any-task option for the average homeowner.


                  What’s included: Two 2-amp-hour battery, a belt hook, an LED light, a hard-sided case, and a three-year warranty.

                  Ridgid R86116K
                  Ridgid R86116K

                    Ridgid R86116K

                    CR’s take: If you don’t mind wielding a drill on the bulkier end of the spectrum, you may want to check out this 4-pound bruiser. It’s one of the few in our ratings with a built-in hammer-drill setting. That’s a handy function for projects such as drilling into masonry—think fastening a ledger board to the foundation of your house to build a deck. (If you don’t know what a ledger board is, you probably don’t need this drill.) This brushless Ridgid also has an astonishing 115 clutch settings, which allow for precise control when driving screws. And though not quite as powerful as the very best drills in our ratings, it tops the chart for speed.

                    What’s included: Two 2-amp-hour batteries, a belt hook, an LED light, an auxiliary handle, a double-ended bit, a soft-sided bag, and a three-year warranty.

                    Ryobi P1815
                    Ryobi P1815

                      Ryobi P1815

                      CR’s take: For drilling into wood, drywall, or various composite materials, this brushless Ryobi is more than adequate. It’s also one of the few high-scoring heavy-duty models under $200 in our ratings. It’s great for sinking screws, too, with 24 clutch settings to help you avoid damaging fasteners or other hardware. And while many 18-volt batteries take hours to reach a full charge, the 2-amp-hour battery on this drill takes a better-than-average 70 minutes. 

                      What’s included: Two 2-amp-hour batteries, a belt hook, an LED light, a soft-sided storage bag, and a three-year warranty.

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                      Cordless Drills Rated
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                      Perry Santanachote

                      A multidimensional background in lifestyle journalism, recipe development, and anthropology impels me to bring a human element to the coverage of home kitchen appliances. When I'm not researching dishwashers and blenders or poring over market reports, I'm likely immersed in a juicy crossword puzzle or trying (and failing) to love exercise. Find me on Facebook