Product Reviews

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8 Cordless Drills for the Do-It-Yourselfer

Check out these interesting models from our tests

Cruising the tool aisle at a home center, you’ll find an overwhelming array of cordless drills, and online your options balloon into the thousands. We're here to help narrow your choices—down to the 26 models we recently purchased and tested, for starters.

We perform the bulk of our tests on a benchtop instrument called a dynamometer. It measures torque under different loads in order to derive scores for power, speed, and run time. To give you a sense of what’s involved in our drill reviews, CR engineers could drive 53,219 wood screws into pine boards for the total work they measured during testing. (Our engineers use 1½-inch-long #8 screws.)

Check out our cordless drill ratings for detailed results of all that effort. There you'll find models from contractor favorites DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee, as well as brands for the average homeowner: Black+Decker, GreenWorks, Hitachi, Panasonic, Porter-Cable, Ridgid, Skil, and Worx. We also tested the brands Kobalt (Lowe’s) and Ryobi (The Home Depot).

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

Here are eight models we wanted to call out for the dedicated DIYer, from the weekend warrior to the future master carpenter. They’re broken down into three categories—general use, heavy- duty, and light-duty—and listed alphabetically, not by CR rank.

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

Bosch PS32-02

CR’s take: The lone brushless model in our general use category delivers good 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 like 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 an excellent option.

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

    2
    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 3-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

      3
      Heavy-Duty Drills (18 to 24 volts)
      Black+Decker BDCDDBT120C

      Black+Decker BDCDDBT120C

      CR’s take: This bargain-priced drill has a big 20-volt battery that seems like a mismatch for its small ⅜-inch chuck and lightweight 2.5-pound body. It’s half the weight of some of the largest 20-volt tools in our ratings—good for handling but perhaps not so terrific for power. It comes with a lone battery that takes nearly 4 hours to charge vs. only 30 minutes for some other models in our ratings.

      What’s included: One 2.0 amp-hour (Ah) battery and a reversible Phillips/flat-head bit 

        4
        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 compact enough that you won’t tire from using it to swap 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

          5
          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 ($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 bit, and a hard-sided case

            6
            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 ginormous battery makes the drill heavy; at 4.65 pounds, it’s more than double the weight of some stellar 12-volt models 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

              7
              Ridgid R86116K

              Ridgid R86116K

              CR’s take: If you don’t mind working with a drill on the bulkier end of the spectrum, you may want to check out this model, because it’s the only tool in our ratings with a built-in hammer-drill setting. That’s a handy function for projects like 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, then 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 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

                8
                Light-Duty Drills
                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 different 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 hard 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 bit, and a soft-sided case

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                  Paul Hope

                  As a classically trained chef and an enthusiast 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 in the 1850s farmhouse my wife and I are restoring while raising our two young children.