Best Cordless Drills of 2018

J.D. Chadwick ·
Multimedia & Home Improvement Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We gathered 11 of the finest cordless drills on the market today to determine which is the best overall. At the end of our testing, the Makita XFD10R came out on top – it earned high scores on our user experience survey and has a long battery life as well as a lightweight, versatile design. This cordless drill has a maximum turning speed of 1,900 RPM and can produce up to 480 inch-pounds of torque. In addition, it only weighs 3.3 pounds and has an ergonomic, soft rubber grip that makes it a pleasure to work with.   

Best Overall
Makita XFD10R
This tool earned an A+ in our user experience survey, and it also performed well in our battery life test, earning a B+. Even though it only weighs 3.3 pounds, it creates an adequate 480 inch-pounds of torque.
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Best Value
Kobalt 1424A-03
Of the drills we reviewed, this Kobalt model is the best deal. It scored an A- on our user experience survey, turns at 2,000 RPM and produces 650 inch-pounds of torque – all for under $150.
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Best for Professionals
Milwaukee M18 FUEL
This drill is a powerhouse and has a long-lasting battery. It received an overall B grade in our user experience survey and has the power, durability and versatility demanded by professional builders and contractors.
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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Performance
Specifications
Accessories
Warranty
Clutch Settings
Length (inches)
Weight (pounds)
Battery Type
Volts
User Experience
Maximum Turning Force (torque)
Battery Life
Maximum Speed (RPM)
Charge Time (minutes)
LED Work Light
On-Tool Bit Storage
Batteries Included
Belt-loop
Battery Warranty
Tool Warranty
$169.00 Amazon
9 10 9.3 8 7.3
21
7.25
3.3
Li-ion
18
A+
480 in-lbs
B+
1,900
30
N/A
2
3 Years
1 Year
$260.36 Amazon
8.9 8.3 8.8 10 8.7
15
7.2
3.5
Li-ion
20
B+
360 UWO
B+
2,000
35
2
3 Years
3 Years
$277.42 Amazon
8.9 9.5 7.2 10 8.7
24
7.9
5
Redlithium
18
B
650 in-lbs
A+
1,850
60
2
2 Years
5 Years
$176.62 Amazon
8.7 8.9 8.6 10 4.7
20
7.4
3.75
Lit-ion
18
B+
442 in-lbs
A-
1,700
60
2
1 Year
1 Year
$112.99 Amazon
8.7 7.7 8.9 10 8
18
7.8
3.7
Lit-ion
20
B-
531 in-lbs
B
2,000
60
2
1 Year
20 Years
$169.70 Amazon
8.6 8.9 10 6 10
23
7.5
4
Lit-ion
24
A-
650 in-lbs
C
2,000
60
N/A
1
3 Years
5 Years
$110.99 Amazon
8.6 8 9.8 8 8.7
23
7.1
3.1
Lit-ion or Ni-Cd
18
B-
340 in-lbs
B+
1,600
60
2
N/A
3 Years
3 Years
$134.99 Amazon
8.6 8.4 9.7 8 7.3
22
7.75
3.5
Lit-ion
20
A-
330 UWO
C+
1,600
40
N/A
2
2 Years
3 Years
Best Overall

Makita XFD10R

When we tested, rated and ranked the best cordless drills on the market today, the Makita XFD10R came out on top. It outperformed every other tool on our user experience survey, receiving an A+ grade and nearly universal praise from our reviewer team.
Several of them even called it out as their preferred drill – participants commented that it was powerful, well balanced, comfortable to hold, light and even good for small hands. Our team is diverse, representing different sexes, physical statures and levels of experience with power tools, and their widespread approval means that no matter your situation, you will likely enjoy using this drill. One of the main reasons this drill scored so well is it has an excellent design. Its has a soft rubber, ergonomic grip that makes it comfortable to hold, which is a huge boon when you need to use it for hours on end. It also has 21 clutch settings, so you can fine-tune it for specific projects. In addition, its dual LED work lights make it easy to see exactly what you’re doing, even in less-than-perfect lighting. This drill turns at a top speed of 1,900 RPM and produces up to 480 inch-pounds of torque. Although it isn’t the most powerful drill in our review – others can produce up to 650 inch-pounds of torque and spin at 2,000 RPM – this is still enough muscle to complete almost any drilling task.
Pros
  • Scored an A+ on our user experience survey
  • Dead battery recharges in just 30 minutes
  • Very light, only 3.3 pounds
Cons
  • Only average power – 480 inch-pounds of torque
  • No on-tool bit storage
  • Short warranty period – only one year
$119Amazon
Best Value

Kobalt 1424A-03

If you’re on a budget, the Kobalt 1424A-03 is the drill for you. Our team of reviewers gave it an A- on our user experience survey.
It is also surprisingly powerful for a drill at its price. It spins at a maximum speed of 2,000 RPM and can produce up to 650 inch-pounds of torque, which are the highest speed and torque specs of any drill we reviewed. But it isn’t a perfect drill by any means. In our battery life test, it received the lowest score, a C. Its short battery life is compounded by the fact that it only comes with one battery, which takes a full hour to recharge. If you run out of power during a job, you have to wait instead of simply swapping out the dead battery for a full one on your charger. It’s also relatively heavy compared to the competition. It weighs 4 pounds – the average weight of the drills we reviewed is 3.5 pounds. This may not seem like a big difference, but when you’re working on an intensive task for hours, that extra half pound makes a difference. Despite these issues, we feel that this drill is a perfect fit for a home tool set. And at just $99, you get way more than you pay for.
Pros
  • Produces a lot of torque
  • Spins at high speeds
  • Costs less than $100
Cons
  • Only comes with one battery
  • Runs out of power quickly
  • Battery takes a full hour to recharge
$139.04Amazon
Best for Professionals

Milwaukee M18 FUEL

If you’re a professional builder or contractor, you need more than just power and a comfortable grip – you want a drill that’s durable, versatile and long lasting. The Milwaukee M18 FUEL offers all these things in spades.
Like the Kobalt model we tested, this drill has high power ratings – it spins at a maximum speed of 1,850 RPM and produces up to 650 inch-pounds of torque. However, it succeeds where the Kobalt fails. It scored an A+ in our battery life test, which is probably due to its unique REDLITHIUM battery, and you get two of them instead of one. Even though it takes an hour to fully recharge a dead battery, you can expect it to last a very long time. This drill scored a B in our user experience survey. Several users noted that it feels heavier than the rest. One even commented that it “would wear me out fast.” At 5 pounds, it is indeed the heaviest drill we tested. However, given the power it provides and how long it lasts, we feel it’s a fair tradeoff for the extra poundage. High power plus a long battery life makes the Milwaukee M18 FUEL an excellent choice for people who use a cordless drill on a daily basis.
Pros
  • Longest-lasting battery
  • Highest power rating – 650 inch-pounds of torque
  • Most versatile drill we evaluated
Cons
  • Heaviest drill we reviewed
  • Hour-long recharge time
  • Not a good fit for home users
$333.20Amazon
Longest Warranty
The Rockwell RK2852K boasts the longest warranty of the drills we tested. Its 20-year warranty is 15 years longer than the next best.
That should give you confidence that if your drill breaks down, you’ll be covered. The drill reaches up to 2,000 rpm, one of the fastest drill speeds we encountered. The drill also produces up to 531 inch-pounds of torque, which is an impressive feat for a drill. During our comparison, our testers felt this was comfortable to hold while in use. It is lightweight and balanced, so it won’t fatigue your arms after prolonged periods. It comes with two batteries, so you can always have one charging while the other is in use. It’s a good thing there are two, because the batteries take up to an hour to fully charge. This was the slowest charge time we recorded. Once charged, you can expect about 40 minutes of run time.
Pros
  • It has a lengthy 20-year warranty.
Cons
  • The battery takes an hour to fully charge.
US$167Rockwell Tools
Read the full review
Most Torque
There is a lot to like about the Kobalt 1424A-03. It falls right in the middle of the pack in terms of price, and our users had a great experience with this drill. It boasts 650 inch-pounds of torque; only the Milwaukee drill can match that.
Our testers enjoyed the amount of power and drill head speed the Kobalt provides. Most testers liked the combination of ergonomics and power. There is a downfall though – it only comes with one battery, and the battery life was lackluster. It takes 60 minutes to charge and we only got 22 minutes of run time during our testing – not a great ratio. Kobalt does have interchangeable batteries though. So if you have other Kobalt tools around the house, you can swap them out, but be aware of the short battery life.
Pros
  • This drill is powerful and ergonomic.
Cons
  • The battery life is lackluster.
US$123.29Amazon
Read the full review

Why Trust Us? 

We spent more than 80 hours using, evaluating and ranking the best cordless drills on the market today. Depending on the drill, we either bought it or the manufacturers provide it for us. No manufacturer was given information about our testing methodologies or had any say in how we evaluated its drill. We used every drill we reviewed daily for more than two weeks, and our reviewers noted what they liked and disliked about each model. These real-world tests and comments are reflected in the scores we gave the drills, and they informed our reviews of the products.

The main takeaway from our real-world tests is that the right drill depends on the person who is using it and what they are using it for. We found that people who want a drill for occasional around-the-house tasks can get away with buying one with low power and few accessories. On the other hand, someone who uses a drill regularly should spend some extra cash to get the torque and speed they need for hefty jobs. There are also great options for shoppers on a budget if they’re willing to use a heavier drill with less-than-perfect battery life.

In the end, the best drill for you is the one that feels the best in your hand. If you can try out multiple drills before you buy, you should. Our user experience survey is a good guide for what you can expect from each drill, but it’s your own personal experience that should be the deciding factor. 

How We Tested 

We assembled a team of more than a dozen expert reviewers to put each drill through its paces. The reviewers completed a user experience survey, rating each tool based on its balance, handling, power, weight and grip using a scale of one to five, with one being the worst and five being the best. After collecting the surveys, we averaged out all the scores and awarded each drill a letter grade.

We also conducted a battery life test. In this test, we attached a fully charged battery to each drill, taped its trigger down and timed how long it took for it to run out of power. Some died in as little as 20 minutes, while others lasted longer than an hour. We calculated a letter grade for each of the drills based on the results.

Quick Tips

If you have never used a cordless drill before, something as minor as getting the bit to insert and stay in the drill may seem confusing. For all the first-time users, you should give this Popular Mechanics article a glance. It’s a great read for novice users to become familiarized with a cordless drill and their features. 

What Key Features to Look for When Buying a Cordless Drill?

User Experience
Asking other people about their experiences with and opinions of their cordless drills is a good way to find the best one for you. Since we tested the drills we reviewed in real-world scenarios, the our user experience survey results are a great place to find this information. You can also ask your friends and family which cordless drill they own. If you have a chance, try out several different tools before you buy one – you might be surprised by which one you like best.

Power
Power is measured in two ways: turning speed and torque. Turning speed is measured in RPM and torque in inch-pounds. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry – you’re probably not a general contractor or professional builder, so your drill will mostly be used for small- to medium-size projects. If you don’t plan on using your drill on a regular basis, speed and torque become less important, and your choice should primarily be based on which model is the most comfortable to use.

Battery Life
Running out of power during a drilling job isn’t just annoying – if the drill stops in the middle of boring a hole in wood, it can damage the wood, the bit and the tool itself. Consult the results of our battery life test, and if you can, get a drill with a backup battery. This allows you to keep one on the charger while you work, so when you run out of power, you can just swap out the battery.

Price
The best cordless drills in our review can cost hundreds. Our best pick for professionals, The Milwaukee 2703-22, will run you almost $350. And even our best value pick, the Kobalt 1424A-03, costs about $200. Both of which are fine tools and worth every penny. But if you just want to have a cordless drill for those just-in-case scenarios, you don’t have to shell out that much cash. While it was our lowest scoring product, the Porter-Cable PCCK600LB, can be picked up for less than $50. Of course, it won’t perform as well or last as long on a full battery, but it might be just what you need for quick jobs that pop up around the house from time to time. Based on our research, the best cordless drills can range anywhere from $75 to $260.


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