Top 8 Best Cordless Drills
By | Last updated: July 7, 2020
best cordless drills

There will be a few in our readership who are going to immediately point out that cordless drills aren’t strictly an automotive tool or accessory. And, for once, they’re technically correct. The first genre one generally thinks of when an ad for cordless drills appears is the construction industry. An maybe the props department for a science-fiction B-movie.

But there are plenty of uses for a cordless drill in the garage. How about attaching a polishing tool for buffing paint? A wire wheel for cleaning metal before welding can come in handy. And let’s not forget about those of us who still rivet stuff together as if we lived in the 1920s.

With that in mind, check out these picks from Amazon.

1. Editor's Choice: DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Drill

To say that DEWALT has a variety of hand tools is akin to saying that Canada has a variety of bacon. This particular selection slips in under a hundred bucks and included the drill, battery, charger, and carrying case. You’re on your own for bits and attachments.

That’s not a wholly bad thing, however, since it means you’re not paying for stuff you may not ever use. By picking up the basics, you’ve pocketed some cash to go out and buy the ancillary items you actually need, instead of having a bunch of weird sized bits that’ll rattle around in your toolbox forever. A 4.6 out of 5 rating is stellar considering there are 6,000+ reviews.

Pros/Great name, focuses on the core product
Cons/Beginners will need to buy bits
Bottom Line/Just the facts, ma'am

2. BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Cordless Drill

This brand has taken a few knocks over the last couple of decades, a result of chasing profit margins and market share at the expense of using good internal parts. As an example, your author still has a B&D corded drill his grandfather used in the ’70s.

Recently, these issues have been addressed – at least partially – leading to much better than average ratings on this particular drill. It comes with an array of accessories, some of which you’ll never use. Reviewers recommend picking up a second battery, despite the brand’s assertion that one holds a charge for “18 months”.

Pros/Good for general use and hobbyists
Cons/Not good for concrete
Bottom Line/A brand on the rebound

3. Craftsman V20 Cordless Drill

Some people have been shying away from the Craftsman brand since Sears went under, logically assuming that they’d be in the same boat as all of us who had/have Kenmore appliances and need service.

However, thanks to a licensing agreement that’s only slightly more complicated than a middle eastern peace treaty, Craftsman is still a going concern. This drill is part of the brand’s V20 cordless system, meaning the battery can be swapped between different tools in its ecosystem. Brushless motors are said to provide up to 25 percent more run time and improved durability compared to conventional units.

Pros/Sky-high real world ratings, looks good for a drill
Cons/Brand anxiety
Bottom Line/They're still around ... for now

4. Makita 18V Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2" Drill Kit

Seeing this brand always reminds your author of Stan Mikita, the Blackhawks great who dominated the NHL 50 years ago. Useless hockey associations aside, this drill is nearly a pro-grade unit, with a mechanical two-speed transmission just like a Chevy Powerglide.

Makita says the electronically-controlled BL Brushless motor efficiently uses energy to match torque and RPM to the changing demands of the application. In other words, hitting a knot in a board should ‘make drill go BRRRR’. Its torque rating is higher than others, too.

Pros/Robust electric twist, half-inch chuck
Cons/Priced north of many other drills
Bottom Line/Expensive but good investment

5. Kimo Cordless Drill/Driver Kit

This brand first appeared in the 1990s and has grown to include a power tool line aimed at both ‘tool gurus and DIYers’. Like others, they have developed a lithium-ion single-battery system to power each of their 20V tools. A built-in LED is a very helpful inclusion on this drill.

Its 11.6-inch shaft is said to be designed for extending bits into narrow space, twisting and rotating at different angles. This always sounds like a gimmick with a weak point that’ll fly apart at any second but customers seem to give it the thumbs up. I’ve never had any luck with them.

Pros/Highly rated, included a lot of kit
Cons/Paying for some accessories you'll never use
Bottom Line/Off brand, on price

6. Avid Power 20V MAX Lithium Ion Cordless Drill

Avid Power might sound like a nerdy superhero but is actually the name applied to a series of budget power tools. Priced in the under-$40 class, this power drill set should be enough to get the cost-conscious hobbyist off to a good start.

At a glance, this drill could be confused for a Craftsman thanks to its color scheme. Whether this is a good or bad thing is up to you. Complaints from customers include carping about battery life and charging units going on the fritz. However, several reviews mention that the company’s customer support is helpful.

Pros/That price makes for a low-cost entry to the DIY lifestyle
Cons/Possible battery issues
Bottom Line/Price vs potential quality

7. Goxawee Cordless Drill with 2 Batteries

Straying into the “never heard of ’em” end of the pool is this pistol-shaped tool that’s alternatively marketed as a cordless drill and cordless screwdriver via some wonky English translations. It does come with drill bits, permitting its inclusion on this list.

A pair of batteries are included, speaking to either a long run time or the lack of juice in a single pack. It does feature a variable speed motor and a two-speed setting. Basic stuff, yes, but necessary for even the most entry-level of DIY. Reviews are largely positive.

Pros/Unique shape, two batteries
Cons/'Say what?' brand name
Bottom Line/It's a $40 cordless drill (or maybe screwdriver)

8. SKIL 20V 1/2 Inch Cordless Drill

Free of extra addenda, this $70 drill is packaged simply with a battery and charger. That’s it. Extra bit sets are available for about twenty bucks … but you’ve already got a million of those, right? The annoyingly all-caps SKIL brand boasts of a longer run time and battery life than its competitors.

An LED light illuminates your work area when the trigger is pressed and, in a fit of practicality, the light remains on 10 seconds after the trigger is released. The PowerCore line of battery-powered tools includes the likes of grinders, vacuums, and saws – the latter of which are so ubiquitous that some people (raises hand) simply refer to a circular saw as a SKIL saw.

Pros/Known quantity, PowerCore system
Cons/Some carping about bit grip
Bottom Line/Plays well with other SKIL tools

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: monticello / Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

19 Comments on “You Know the Drill: Best Cordless Drills...”

  • avatar

    I have a 12 volt bosch hammer drill. Light and fantastic – wood, metal, brick, it doesn’t care. My friend has a Milwaukee version -a little heavier, but vaey good. How are these lists generated?

    • 0 avatar

      I purchased a corded Black and Decker drill over 20 years ago. This drill had built a deck, basement, garage and basement shelving, drilled everything from cars to tree stomps. Installed kitchen cabinets and whatnot. And it is fine and well, and I don’t think I paid more the $20 for it.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    I think the higher end cordless tools are more or less equal for everyday work.
    What I think is most important is common batteries.
    Having 5 different types of batteries in the tool collection is crazy.

    Therefore, before investing in a certain manufacturer, check out the range of tools the same battery will fit as you will be married to that brand and we all know divorces are costly.

    • 0 avatar

      Technology changes though so I’ve been through many systems over the years. Tools that I’ve had over the years.

      Makita stick.
      Makita wart.
      DeWalt wart
      Milwaukee Brick

      Then lithium came on the scene and now it is Milwaukee M12 and M18 with multiple battery pack capacities. So yeah I’ve got 7 different battery types/sizes with at least two of each.

      The M12 is great for light duty use of a drill or impact driver and also good for the riveter, multi tool and inspection camera and outerwear. M18 for the serious drilling, impact driver, or screw gun as well as the circular saw, Hackzall or Sawzall and the outdoor equipment like the blower and string trimmer.

      • 0 avatar

        I should clarify, those batteries are all M12 or M18.

        When the M12 line was introduced there were 2 batteries, 1.5 and 3.0 Ah and since then they have packed 2.0 and 4.0 in the same pack size. Then I have the 3 sizes of M18. The big monsters for the outdoor equipment, as well as the medium and standard version.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s why I’m on the Ryobi system. No, they’re not contractor grade tools (although many pro’s swear by them) but for a home gamer, it’s hard to go far wrong. That system has everything you can imagine and theyve committed to keeping the batteries backwards-compatible with older tools. So good tools don’t have to get scrapped when the batteries inevitably die or get supplanted by superior chemistry.

      • 0 avatar

        +1 Been on the Ryobi system for over 20 years now. It used to be blue. I picked up a cheap refurb set that started my kit. While the battery tech has changed every single tool from that starter kit still works fine. I’ve rebuilt two foreclosure homes with them and continue to add to my now mostly green colored collection.

    • 0 avatar

      I do facilities for a non profit, so I get stuff donated. We have Makita (9.6V, 12V, 18V), Ridgid (12v and 18v), Bosch, DeWalt (20V and 8V), Milwaukee (12v and 18v), Ryobi (18 and the little one). My wall-o-chargers is magnificent. Before the new generation, the Ridgids were my hands down faves, now they are mostly all the same. The Ryobi actually isn’t bad, it has a bit holder and a little magnetic tray. Makitas are freaking indestructible, I still have 2 9.6V sticks in the rotation.

  • avatar

    You want a cordless drill in addition to your cordless “impact” driver, but get the impact driver first.

    That’s different than a cordless 1/2″ impact “wrench” for lug nuts and such. The impact driver is way more versatile than the other two, and can somewhat do both their jobs.

    I did a complete remodel and restored a truck without ever dusting off my cordless drill.

  • avatar

    Eh… I use tools so infrequently I’ve switched back to corded. Used my el-cheapo Harbor Freight drill to hang some blinds today.

  • avatar

    I have the #1 rated DeWalt and was just using it today. Awesome tool.

    But yeah, the battery form factor proliferation is a real hassle these days.

    • 0 avatar

      I have DeWalt, too (20v MAX). I’m been thinking about a Milwaukee Fuel M18 1/2″ impact, for removing lug nuts and stuff like that, but I may just get a DeWalt, to stay in the same system. I use my DeWalt cordless impact for spinning lug nuts off and on, but I also use a ratchet or breaker bar to get them loose, and a torque wrench to tighten.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    This list is junk since it doesn’t have Ryobi on it.

    I have a dc brushless drill and standard drill and both have been tanks. Batteries are cheap when they are on sale, and they have every tool under the sun to use with their battery packs.

  • avatar

    That the Black & Decker and three, count them THREE, no-name specials are even in this list makes me strongly suspect the objectivity.

    I mean, there’s no REAL objectivity in affiliate advertisements, but this looks worse than most.

    The lack of both Milwaukee and Ryobi makes me think that whoever is behind this ad really doesn’t like those brands’ corporate overlord, Techtronic Industries.

    Similarly, the presence of Dewalt, Craftsman, and Black & Decker (both owned by Stanley Black & Decker) in the top 3 makes me think this is just a thinly veiled SB&D ad. Funny that Makita, which is as good or better than Dewalt, is 4th after the three SB&D brands. Probably just added for the appearance of authenticity along with the 3 no-names and SKIL (owned by Bosch).

    • 0 avatar

      When I was researching the Hart tools at Walmart, I found a jpeg file (called “Tool Brand Behemoths”) that’s a graphical representation of all the tool brands (pictures of logos) and who owns or makes them. I saved it in my phone. Very enlightening.

      • 0 avatar

        Yah, same here. It’s pretty telling.

        If you don’t watch Arduino Versus Evil (AvE) on YouTube, his videos are awesome. Lots of how-to-do-things as well as tool tear-downs with tons of information. He’s got an army of patreon subscribers so his bias level is lower than people that get free tools for review.

  • avatar

    If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, then Hart (sold only at Walmart) is another brand to look at. They’re owned by TTI in Taiwan, that also makes Milwaukee and Ryobi cordless tools. They also make some Homelite stuff, and some Ridgid tools under contract with Emerson.

    I saw their stuff at Walmart and blew them off, but then I read about them being made by TTI. I guess they’d be good for home and occasional use.

  • avatar

    Pay top you can afford for a good brand and back them up with $30 drills from Harbor Freight,

  • avatar

    The answer is easily Rigid. Has all the features of all the ones listed, and the drills and batteries (when purchased together) both have a LIFETIME WARRANTY. Means you never have to spend a dime on cordless drills again. You’ll be replacing those Dewalt batteries in 3 years at $100 a pop while I am still not spending any more in drills.

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