10 Best Cordless Drills

Much like computers or cell phones, cordless drills keep getting smaller, yet provide more power for the end user. In 2012 many manufacturers released new models with the focus being 18v lithium ion drills. Many companies also introduced brushless motors which provide more power, longer life, and longer run time.

Below is our list of the top 10 best cordless drills. Keep in mind that many of the tool companies offer a full size model and a compact version and this list combines both. We recommend the full size models for professionals and the compact version for DIYers. Do you need some more buying advice or tips? Then check out our Cordless Drill Buying Guide.


Milwaukee 2603-22 M18 FUEL 18-Volt Brushless 1/2 in. Drill Driver

The 2603-22 is Milwaukee’s newest high performance Li-Ion 18v drill/driver in their M18 FUEL series of cordless tools. We love this drill and rated it the best of this list with a 9.6. Professionals this one is for you. For the occasional user there are cheaper choices.

The best part of this cordless drill is the power. It provides best-in-class torque of 725 in-lbs which is more than enough to handle the toughest tasks on any jobsite. It has 2 speed ranges with a max RPM of 1850. It also has all the amenities you want for the serious professional like the auxiliary handle, bright LED light, all metal ratcheting chuck, and 3.0 Ah rated batteries.

The only downsides are the weight and price. At 4.9 pounds, it is over a pound heavier than compact models and with a pricetag of about $279 it is almost $100 more than many compact versions.

Visit the Official Site for the Milwaukee 2603-22.


Bosch DDH181-01 18V Brute Tough Drill Driver

This one is another cordless drill geared toward the professionals. The Bosch DDH181-01 features 700 in-lbs in torque and 3.0 Ah Li-Ion batteries with fuel gauge. It also has what Bosch calls their Durashield housing which is designed to easily survive falls of up to 12 feet. So far users on Amazon love this drill, giving it an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Again the only downsides are for occasional users who would like a lighter, cheaper drill. It weighs 5 lbs and normally sells for $269.

Visit the Official Site for the Bosch DDH181-01.


Hitachi DS18DBL 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Brushless Driver Drill

The DS18DL is Hitachi’s first 18v cordless drill with a brushless motor. This is the second lightest drill, weighing 4.4 pounds, of our Top 10 that features 3.0Ah batteries as opposed to the slimmer 1.5Ah batteries found on compact models. It has 593 in-lbs of torque and features Hitachi’s lifetime warranty on the tool itself (but not the batteries which have a 2 year warranty).

There really are not too many negatives with this unit. At $259 it is slightly cheaper than other full size models, but offers a bit less power. Overall this one is a good compromise of performance, weight, and price that we would recommend for not only professionals, but also for homeowners tackling serious projects.

Visit the Official Site for the Hitachi DS18DBL.


Bosch DDS181-02 18-Volt Compact Tough Drill Driver

The Bosch DDS181-02 is our top choice for homeowners and DIYers. It is Bosch’s compact 18v version which weighs in at just 3.4 lbs (just .1 pound heavier than the lightest drill on this list) yet still has 600 in-lbs of torque which is the most for any drill under 4 pounds. It comes with 2 1.5Ah Li-Ion batteries, but can also use the 3.0Ah Fatpack batteries as well. Users on Amazon seem to really like this drill as well scoring it at 4.5 out of 5 stars.

There are a few minor downsides for professionals. There is no auxillary handle and it has less torque and fewer clutch settings than the DDH181-01 which means less precise control. However, priced from $159 this one is hard to resist.

Visit the Official Site for the Bosch DDS181-02.


Milwaukee 2603-22CT M18 FUEL 18V Compact Lithium-Ion Drill Driver

This drill is very similar to our #1 rated 2603-22, but it is Milwaukee’s compact version. It has 1.5 Ah batteries and a little bit less torque at 650 in-lbs. That results in a half pound of saved weight at 4.4 lbs.

Although there are cordless drills that have more torque and some that are lighter, this model is a good compromise between the two. We would recommend it more for professionals, especially with a price tag of $229 and up.

Visit the Official Site for the Milwaukee 2603-22CT.


DeWalt DCD980L2 20-Volt Max Li-Ion Premium Drill Driver

The DCD980L2 is DeWalt’s full size high performance 18v cordless drill with 3.0 Ah batteries. It has 535 unit watts out of torque (DeWalt measures torque in uwo as opposed to in-lbs) with a best in class 2000 RPMs. It also has 3 speed ranges and an all metal transmission for superior performance in high torque applications.

The main downside is the weight of this drill at 5.2 pounds. That is the heaviest one on this list.

It is priced from around $249 which is a bit cheaper than other brands full size models. We recommend this unit only for professionals, as homeowners can find much lighter versions.

Visit the Official Site for the DeWalt DCD980L2.


Makita LXFD01 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 1/2 Inch Driver-Drill

The LXFD01 is Makita’s 18v cordless drill in their LXT lineup of tools. It is the only drill that weighs under 4 pounds, 3.8 to be exact, that uses 3.0Ah li-ion batteries.

The main thing lacking in this unit is the power. At 480 in-lbs of torque it is much less than other company’s high performance full size models. It will also set you back about $279.

If weight and runtime are your primary concerns, then this is a solid tool for you. But if you need a lot of torque to tackle difficult projects then we recommend you look somewhere else.

Visit the Official Site for the Makita LXFD01.


RIDGID R86008K Fuego 18-Volt Compact Drill/Driver

This one actually surprised us with its performance. Ridgid really stepped up their game to take on the more well-known manufacturers. It features a solid, but unspectacular, 535 in-lbs of torque. It feels really comfortable in your hand and scored high grades from users at the Home Depot who give it 4.4 out of 5 stars. The R86008K also has the best warranty of any cordless drill on this list – a full lifetime guarantee provided that you register your specific Ridged product.

It is listed as a compact drill with 1.5 Ah li-ion batteries, but it comes in a little bit heavier compared to other brands comparable models at 4.3 lbs.

With a price of $159, overall we feel that this one would make a fine choice for home owners and DIYers or even for professionals as well.

Visit the Official Site for the Ridgid R86008K.


DeWalt DCD780C2 20-Volt Max Li-Ion Compact Drill/Driver

This DeWalt compact cordless drill is amongst the lightest on the market at just 3.4 pounds. It comes with 1.5Ah li-ion batteries. Users on Amazon give it a great 4.7 out of 5 stars.

The DCD780C2 has a little less power at 350 uwo. With a cost of $199 it is also a little bit more expensive than some brands compact models.

Visit the Official Site for the DeWalt DCD780C2.


Makita LXFD01CW 18-Volt Compact Lithium-Ion 1/2-Inch Driver-Drill

This is Makita’s compact 18v cordless drill in their LXT line of tools. It is the lightest one on this list at just 3.3 pounds. One thing we really like about this unit is the charge time. It only takes 15 minutes to recharge the battery so even though it comes with 1.5Ah batteries, you don’t have to worry about run time

It has 480 in-lbs of torque and a max RPM of 1500 which while good is not great.

Costing about $169, this is a cordless drill we would recommend for anyone to tackle all but the most demanding jobs.

Visit the Official Site for the Makita LXFD01CW.

Cordless Drill Buying Guide / Advice / Tips

Cordless drills can be used on a wide variety of tasks from hanging pictures to building decks. It is important to know what projects you want your tool to be able to handle. Are you mainly going to be doing basic household tasks or do you plan on tackling serious construction? While keeping this in mind, when shopping for cordless drills the three main factors you should consider are battery, torque and weight.

The battery is the most important criteria since it supplies the power for the tool. Cordless drills come in different voltages ranging from 7.2v up to as much as 36 volts. The most popular is 18v and is a good compromise for homeowners and people who use their power tools for a living. The best battery composition is lithium-ion, or Li-Ion for short. Stay away from older NiCd or NiMH battery technology since they take longer to charge and won’t last as long through many recharging cycles. The amount of run-time is measured in amp-hours, or Ah. You will normally see either 3Ah battery packs which are longer lasting but bulkier or 1.5Ah packs which don’t last as long but are more compact. Most models you buy come with two batteries and a charger so one can be charging while you are using the other one.

Torque is simply the measure of the amount of twisting force the drill applies in inch-pounds. The higher the torque, the better the drill can handle tough tasks. Other factors related to torque are the number of clutch settings and the speed in RPM’s. The clutch setting along with the different speed settings allow you to control the drilling / driving at the correct pace.

Weight is obviously important because you want something that is easy to use and these things can get heavy through constant use. Generally a lighter model is also smaller in size which makes it easier to get into tougher spots. Manufacturers usually offer a standard or high performance model which is heavier, but has the most torque and Ah and a compact model which is smaller and lighter, but has less torque and less Ah.

Some other features you might want to look for include a fuel gauge, work light, an auxiliary handle, and warranty length of both tool and batteries. Also remember that many brands now offer kits with multiple cordless tools that all use the same batteries.

In summary we recommend an 18v Li-Ion model. You have to decide how much the other factors matter to accomplish the tasks you need to do.

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