Best Cordless Drill in Action 1

The Best Cordless Drill

One of the first lessons I learned when I started building houses over 30 years ago was having the right tool for the job can be the difference between success and failure. It should come as no surprise that the cordless drill is the most popular power tool in the world. It’s versatility, portability and ease of use make it an essential tool for both Do-It-Yourselfers and professional tradespeople alike.

In this review, we’re going to show you the different cordless drill designs and features that will make whatever project you are working on a success. And we’re going to look at different brands and models to help you make the right decision on what is the best cordless drill for you. We’re going to break it down into three categories- cordless drills, cordless impact drivers and combo kits.

*I hope you’ll love the products I recommend! Just so you know, Plumb and Lined may collect a share of sales or other compensation from some of the links on this page. 

THE BEST OVERALL

Makita XFD10R

MAKITA XFD10R

The Makita XFD10R is compact and lightweight, weighing only 3.3 pounds with the battery. The weight is balanced well over the ergonomic, soft-grip handle, making it comfortable to use for extended periods of time. The perfect blend of speed (1,900 rpm) and power (480 inch-pounds of torque) combined with a quick charger, and a sturdy case make the XFD10R a solid value.

Click here to see today’s price on Amazon 

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MAKITA BRAND and HISTORY

Makita was founded in 1915 in Nagoya, Japan. At first, the company repaired lighting equipment, motors and transformers. Later in the 1920’s, they began to manufacture their own motors and electric generators. The late 1950’s and early 1960’s saw the introduction of portable electric planers and a circular saw. Makita began selling products in the US market in 1970, eventually creating its first cordless drill in 1978. While they didn’t invent the brushless motor, Makita was the first company to use them in power tools, first for the aerospace industry in 2003, and then producing a brushless impact driver in 2009.

BEST OVERALL

Makita XFD10R
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MAKITA XFD10R

The Makita XFD10R has the best blend of features, specs and performance in a kit that is a solid value. It comes with 2 long lasting batteries that supply plenty of power and the quickest charger of any drill in our lineup. If you’re looking for a quality tool that will last, and aren’t ready to jump into a brushless model, this might be the best one for you.

The Good: High RPM motor, Quick charger

The Not So Good: Adequate but not generous torque

Click here to see today’s price on Amazon

MAKITA

XFD10R
BEST OVERALL
  • 18 Volts
  • (2) Lithium Ion Batteries 2.0 ah
  • 480 in-lbs Torque
  • 1,900 RPM
  • Brushed Motor
  • 30 Minute Charger

RYOBI

P1815
BEST VALUE
  • 18 Volts
  • (2) Lithium Ion Batteries 2.0 ah
  • 460 in-lbs Torque
  • 1,800 RPM
  • Brushless Motor
  • 30 Minute Charger

MAKITA

XFD061
BEST TORQUE
  • 18 Volts
  • (1) Lithium Ion Battery 3.0 ah
  • 530 in-lbs Torque
  • 1,550 RPM
  • Brushless Motor
  • 60 Minute Charger

DEWALT

DCD771C2
BEST BUDGET
  • 20 Volts
  • (2) Lithium Ion Batteries 1.3 ah
  • 500 in-lbs Torque
  • 1,500 RPM
  • Brushed Motor
  • 90 Minute Charger

MILWAUKEE

2702-20
BEST FOR PROS
  • 18 Volts
  • (2) Lithium Ion Batteries 2.0 ah
  • 500 in-lbs Torque
  • 1,800 RPM
  • Brushless Motor
  • 30 Minute Charger

CORDLESS DRILLS WORTH CONSIDERING

BEST VALUE

Ryobi P1815

RYOBI P1815

If you’re looking for a professional grade tool at a DIY price, the Ryobi P1815 might just be the cordless drill for you. A brushless motor with great speed (1,800 RPM) and part of the ever expanding Ryobi 18V ONE+ line of tools means you’ll have plenty of choices to add on and upgrade in the future. When it comes to value, it’s hard to pass on the P1815.

The Good: Brushless motor, Great speed, Quick charger

The Not So Good: A little low on the torque       

Click here to see today’s price on Amazon 

BEST TORQUE

Makita XFD061

MAKITA XFD061

The highest torque brushless motor of any drill in our lineup has power to spare, but the Makita XFD061 comes with only one battery. You’ll need to purchase a second battery to make it useful, because there’s nothing more frustrating than having to stop a project while you wait for your battery to charge.  

The Good: Great power                                                   

The Not So Good: A little slow on the RPMs, Only one battery in kit

Click here to see today’s price on Amazon

BEST BUDGET

DeWalt DCD771C2

DEWALT DCD771C2

If you’re on a budget, the DeWalt DCD771C2 is worth serious consideration. Basically the same specs as the more expensive DCD777C2 with a conventional brushed motor instead of the brushless. When it comes to bang for your buck, it’s the best cordless drill.

The Good: Low price, High torque                                           

The Not So Good: A little slow on the RPMs, Slow battery charger

Click here to see today’s price on Amazon

BEST FOR PROS

Milwaukee 2702-20

MILWAUKEE 2702-20

The Milwaukee 2702-20 has a great mix of power and speed and comes with two batteries that have a significantly longer run time, thanks to the brushless motor. Anyone who has ever burned up a tool will appreciate the REDLINK intelligence Feature. It’s an electronic overload protection circuit that protects against abusive applications by monitoring the temperature of the tool and battery, so both will last longer. The 2702-20 is a pro grade tool that is built to last, but it comes at a price.

The Good: Excellent RPMs, Excellent torque                                      

The Not So Good: Price

Click here to see today’s price on Amazon

Why Trust Me?

I always chuckle when I see the websites with the reviews of tools when they say “we spent over 20 hours evaluating these tools, trying to simulate real world conditions in our test lab” and that is somehow supposed to convince you that that makes them some kind of authority on the subject. And because they’ve spent all that time, you therefore should trust them to recommend the Best Cordless Drill. That’s funny. 

I guess maybe there is some value in knowing that a brand new tool was able to drive 143 screws into a piece of wood before the battery ran out, but you might want to know how well that tool performs after it’s a few years old. Or you might want to know if the tool can hold up to daily use and abuse like it is subjected to in the actual real world.

Over the last 30 plus years as a general contractor, I’ve been making my living using these tools at jobsites day in and day out. My crews and subs make their livings using these tools too. And we all talk. Word quickly gets around about an innovative new design, and probably even more quickly when someone made the mistake of buying a piece of junk.

There’s nothing worse than spending your hard earned money on a tool that you are expecting to make it easier and faster to tackle all kinds of projects around the house, only to find out that the tool comes up miserably short of meeting your expectations. My goal here is to keep you from buying that piece of junk.  

Why You Need A Cordless Drill

It should come as no surprise that the cordless drill is the most popular power tool in the world. It’s versatility, portability and ease of use make it an essential tool for both Do-It-Yourselfers and professional tradespeople alike.

There are actually two types of cordless drills- a cordless drill is used for drilling holes and a cordless impact driver for driving screws and lag bolts (click here for my review of the best cordless impact driver). The cordless drill operates on a fast speed to allow the drill bit to bore holes into wood, metal or plastic. The cordless impact driver has more torque to make it easier to drive screws and lag bolts.

In a perfect world you would have one of each so you don’t have to switch out the drill bit and replace it with a screw tip every time you want to pre drill and then drive a screw. If you are not ready to invest in both tools right now, a cordless drill driver has two speed range settings so it can do both jobs, hence the name “Drill Driver”.

 

Best Impact Driver 2

Cordless Drill Features- What's What and What's Important

Power

Power is measured in two ways: torque and speed. Torque is how much force acting on an object causes that object to rotate and is measured in inch-pounds. More is definitely always better because it makes driving a screw easier. Speed is measured in revolutions per minute or RPM. When drilling holes, the smaller the diameter hole, the faster the speed is better. In other words, drilling a 1” hole in a piece of soft wood is best done safely with a speed of around 1,000 rpm, while a 3/4” hole should be around 1,400 rpm. Here’s a handy reference chart with recommended speeds for all types of bits and materials.    

Batteries

Battery power is measured in volts. While there are numerous manufacturers producing 12-volt batteries, the majority of them fall into the toy category and aren’t worth considering. The 18-volt and 20-volt models are the most popular, and rightly so, because they have plenty of power for most any task.

Battery capacity is expressed by how many Amps for how many hours a battery will last before needing to be recharged. Typical quality batteries will be rated between 1.4 ah to 3.0 ah.

There are two types of batteries commonly used in cordless tools- Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) are the old technology containing environmentally unfriendly cadmium, and the far superior Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) models. Lithium Ion batteries provide longer run time, more power, and are lighter than NiCd batteries. They cost a bit more, but are worth it.

Charging Time

There’s nothing quite as frustrating as putting your project on hold because your battery needs charging. I recommend buying a kit with two batteries, so you can always have one charged and ready to go. Charging time varies greatly, but most are reasonably quick, in the 30 to 90-minute range.

Brushed or Brushless?

Is brushless really better or is it just the latest trendy “must have” marketing feature? To be Honest, it’s yes to both questions. Brushless motors in cordless drills are technically better because their design reduces the friction involved with the brushes, providing a little more power and extending the battery run time. Will you notice the difference in power? Probably not. The downside to brushless motors is they cost more, but they are undoubtedly better.

Value for the Money

Moderately priced professional grade cordless drill kits range from about $100 to $200 dollars for a cordless drill, two batteries, a charger and a carrying case of some sort. Under $100 will get you a tool in the homeowner category. Industrial grade cordless drills run in the $200 to $400 range. 

Steve Wright

Steve Wright is a general contractor who over the last 30 plus years has built hundreds of new homes, ranging from first time affordable homes to multi-million dollar custom homes and everything in between.

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