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Best Cordless Drills of 2018

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

Looking for a new cordless drill is overwhelming: You can find dozens of models from a single manufacturer or hundreds of options if you search online. To help you choose, CR narrowed down the field to the 40 models in our cordless drill ratings and put them to the test.

We perform the bulk of our tests on a benchtop instrument called a dynamometer. It measures torque under different loads that we use to derive scores for power, speed, and run time. If you were to add up all the energy expended by the drills in our ratings and apply it to the real world, you could drive 79,292 1½-inch-long #8 wood screws into pine. 

“Across the board we’ve seen drills improve in the past decade,” says Frank Spinelli, who oversees cordless drill testing for Consumer Reports. Spinelli also notes that as a group, drills are getting lighter and more powerful every year.

For more on drill types, see CR’s cordless drills buying guide.

Below you'll find 10 of the best models from our tests, listed alphabetically (not in order of CR rank). They're broken down into three categories—general use, heavy duty, and light duty.

Go to Consumer Reports' 2018 Holiday Central for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

1
General-Use Drills (12 volts)
Bosch PS32-02
Bosch PS32-02

    Bosch PS32-02

    CR’s take: One of only three brushless models in our general-use category, this Bosch delivers solid performance at under 2 pounds, less than half the weight of a number of heavy-duty drills we tested. The slim, pistol-grip profile makes this 12-volt model comfortable to handle, and the downsized package still accommodates features such as a built-in LED light and bit storage. If you’re upgrading from an old 18-volt drill and don’t find yourself doing lots of heavy-duty work with your drill, this is a well-rounded option.

    What’s included: Two 2.0-amp-hour (Ah) batteries, five bits, and a soft-sided case

    2
    Makita FD07R1
    Makita FD07R1

      Makita FD07R1

      CR's take: This brushless Makita weighs just over 2 pounds and stands barely 6 inches tall. Despite its slim profile, the Makita packs a serious punch, making it a solid alternative to some of the larger, 18- and 20-volt models. It comes with two batteries and a rapid charger, which tops off an empty battery in an impressive 60 minutes, so you’ll never be without a drill. Also nice, the battery mounts to the bottom of the drill, so unlike the Bosch, it stands upright.


      What’s included:
       Two 2.0-Ah batteries and a reversible Phillips-/flat-head bit

      3
      Ridgid R82005K
      Ridgid R82005K

        Ridgid R82005K

        CR’s take: If you don’t harbor a lust for power tools but recognize that you need a drill of some sort, this is the one to buy. For $100, you get everything you need and nothing you don’t. Like the 12-volt Bosch above, this model has a pistol-grip profile, making it both comfortable and small enough to toss in the junk drawer. Plus it comes with a three-year warranty for the tool itself as well as the battery. That’s among the longest for drills in our ratings.

        What’s included: Two 1.5-Ah batteries

        4
        Heavy-Duty Drills (18 to 24 volts)
        Craftsman CMCD720D2
        Craftsman CMCD720D2

          Craftsman CMCD720D2

          CR’s take: This bargain-priced drill is a solid performer at a great price. It's one of the few high-scoring models under $200 in our tests, and it gets a rating of Excellent for power. The battery doesn't last as long between charges as the very best drills, but it comes with two, so you can always have one charged and ready. 

          What’s included: Two 2.0-Ah batteries and a reversible Phillips-/flat-head bit 

          5
          DeWalt DCD791D2
          DeWalt DCD791D2

            DeWalt DCD791D2

            CR’s take: This 20-volt drill from DeWalt (featured in the video above) is neither as brawny as the biggest 18-volt drills we tested nor as balanced as the best 12-volts. But by splitting the difference between those extremes, this model may be the Goldilocks of cordless drills for some users. That means it’s compact enough that you won’t tire when swapping out an overhead light fixture but forceful enough to bore holes in hardwood without bogging down. It’s well worth considering if you’re torn between voltage ratings.

            What’s included: Two 2.0-Ah batteries and a hard-sided case

            6
            Kobalt (Lowe's) KDD 1424A-03
            Kobalt (Lowe's) KDD 1424A-03

              Kobalt (Lowe's) KDD 1424A-03

              CR’s take: Exclusive to Lowe’s, this 4-pound bruiser is a whole lot of drill for the money. One way Kobalt keeps costs down is by giving you only one battery, albeit a big 24-volt unit. Consider buying a second battery, $50, for larger projects and always keeping one on the charger. This model will drill plenty of holes fast and perform well enough to serve as a tackle-any-task option for the average homeowner.

              What’s included:
              One 2.0-Ah battery, a removable side grip, a single Phillips-head bit, and a hard-sided case

              7
              Milwaukee 2705-22
              Milwaukee 2705-22

                Milwaukee 2705-22

                CR’s take: By pairing a powerful, brushless motor with a giant 5.0-Ah battery, this drill leaves you feeling like you could build a deck in an afternoon. (If you tried, there’s little doubt the drill could keep up.) That huge battery makes the drill heavy; at 4.65 pounds, it’s more than double the weight of some stellar 12-volt models that CR tested. And with so much of the weight concentrated in the battery, which snaps onto the base of the handle, it can feel unbalanced. The clutch has 14 settings, so you can dial back the beast for more delicate tasks, such as tightening a cabinet pull. Of course, if that’s all you’re doing, a screwdriver will work just fine.

                What’s included: Two 5.0-Ah batteries, a removable side grip, and a hard-sided case

                8
                Ridgid R86116K
                Ridgid R86116K

                  Ridgid R86116K

                  CR’s take: If you don’t mind a drill on the bulkier end of the spectrum, you may want to check out this model. It’s one of the few drills 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.) The Ridgid also has an astonishing 115 clutch settings, which allow for precise control when driving screws. And it’s as quick, if not quite as powerful, as the very best drills in our ratings.


                  What’s included: Two 2.0-Ah batteries and a hard-sided case

                  9
                  Ryobi P1815
                  Ryobi P1815

                    Ryobi P1815

                    CR’s take: Ryobi is a brand sold exclusively at Home Depot. This drill, like many of the brand’s offerings, provides quite a bit for the money, including a charger and two 18-volt batteries. The batteries also power an exceptionally broad slew of tools, including traditional power tools, such as a circular saw, an impact driver, and a work light, as well as some unique offerings, like an electric air inflator, pruning shears, and even a leaf blower.


                    What’s included:
                     Two 2.0-Ah batteries and a soft-sided case

                    10
                    Light-Duty Drill
                    Worx WX176L
                    Worx WX176L

                      Worx WX176L

                      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 is why you’d want a light-duty drill in the first place.

                      What’s included: Two 1.5-Ah batteries, a single Phillips-head bit, and a soft-sided case

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                      Paul Hope

                      As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.